Health, Medicine & Nutrition
3 Things We Can Learn from Dying Hospice Patients PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 14:38
The Strongest, Most Content are Those with Faith,
Therapist Says

Does our society hold too narrow a view of what defines strength?

The things many would point to as indicators – youth, wealth, a fully capable body – fall short, says Charles Gourgey, a veteran hospice music therapist and author of Judeochristianity (, a book that explores the unifying faith elements of Judaism and Christianity.

“Youth is ephemeral, abundant wealth is for just a few, and we all experience some kind of disability, usually at several points in our lives,” he says. “A car accident, the loss of a job or a home, grief over a loved one’s dying: such things can happen to anyone and easily destroy our happiness.”

Gourgey says some of the greatest strength he’s ever seen was demonstrated by certain of his patients facing imminent death.

“Some people have complete love and grace when facing death – it’s how they’ve lived their lives, and at the end of their lives, it’s what supports them,” he says. “Those who, at the end, are peaceful, grateful and confident share some common characteristics.”

They are:

• Their love is non-self-interested. When we have awareness of and deepest respect and reverence for the individuality of others, we overcome the high walls of ego and experience a tremendous sense of freedom, says Gourgey. He says he continues to be inspired by patients who cared more for the well-being of others, including their fellow hospice patients, than themselves while facing their own mortality. Non-self-interested love – loving others for themselves without expecting or needing anything in return – is the greatest form of love, he says.

• They had an unwavering faith that transcended religious dogma. Faith is the knowledge that there is more to life than the apparent randomness of the material world; a sense that we are known to a greater reality and will return to that reality. No matter what their religion, the patients who were most at peace with their life’s journey were those who had faith in something higher than themselves. The problem with many concepts of faith, Gourgey continues, is that people attach specific doctrines to it, which means some people will always be excluded. A unifying faith – that all people are connected and love is the force that binds us – allows for trust, compassion and caring.

• They were motivated by an innate sense of what is good. They didn’t get mad at themselves; they didn’t beat themselves up for mistakes they might have made in the past. That’s because they were always guided by their sense of what is good, and they made their choices with that in mind. That did not prevent them from making some bad choices or mistakes over the course of their lives, Gourgey says. But when they erred, they addressed the problem with the same loving compassion they extended to others. “Their compassion overcame even any self-hate they may have experienced.”

Many patients left lasting impressions on Gourgey, and taught him valuable life lessons. He remembers one in particular.

“She was in hospice, a retired nurse who had developed a rare, incurable disease,” he recalls. “She would go around every day, checking to see what she could do for the other patients. She fetched blankets for a 104-year-old lady who always complained of cold feet. She sat with and listened to patients who needed company and someone to talk to. She had an attentive awareness about her, like she was fully in touch with her soul.”

Gourgey was with the woman when she died.

“She was radiant, she just glowed. She kept repeating how grateful she was for her life,” he says. “It was as if the life of love she’d lived was there to transport and support her at the end.”

About Charles “Carlos” Gourgey

Charles “Carlos” Gourgey, PhD, LCAT, MT-BC, is a board-certified and New York state-licensed music therapist. He has more than 20 years of experience working in hospices and nursing homes, and for 10 years was music therapist for Cabrini Hospice in New York City. He has published articles on psychology and religion in various journals.

Obesity is Now a Problem for Unborn Babies PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 12:47

Obesity isn’t just an American problem; in Britain, doctors have begun administering the diabetes drug metformin to the unborn babies of morbidly obese mothers-to-be to reduce the fetuses’ weight.

The reason: dangerously overweight pregnant women create excessive amounts of insulin, which results in “sumo babies” weighing 11 pounds or more. These extra-large newborns have twice the chance of becoming obese adults, and their numbers have risen by 50 percent in the past four years. Obese pregnant women are at a higher risk of dying while pregnant, and their babies are more likely to be stillborn.

“I don’t know how many more signs we need in Western society before we really get serious about our health,” says Gordon Filepas, author of Lean And Healthy To 100 (, a guide for achieving optimal health based on studying cultures where long lives are the norm.

“Are we really treating unborn babies for obesity?”

In his research, Filepas found many common practices and characteristics in especially healthy cultures. They include:

• Calories: It’s not necessary to count calories; people in healthy cultures don’t! Once you give your body what it needs, you’ll naturally consume fewer calories. This puts significantly less stress on the digestive system and reduces the potential of ingesting toxins.

• Heavy on nutrients: Human beings evolved as hunters and gatherers who took every opportunity for caloric intake. In the process, a wide spectrum of nutrients became the norm, and that is what bodies still crave today.

• Focus on whole and unprocessed foods, fats, and oils: Examples include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and grains. Meat, which is usually the main dish in Western culture, is often treated as a side dish in the cultures Filepas studied.

• Limited toxins: This includes few, if any, pollutants from processed food, water and other beverages, medicine and air.

• A sense of purpose: Individuals from these cultures feel like they are making a difference beyond earning money, and tend to work long days, six days a week.

• Innate exercise: Virtually no additional form of exercise is needed beyond their daily activity.

• Alcohol: Every culture has alcohol. Healthy populations drink regularly, but in moderation. And, they take a greater sense of responsibility for their health.

• Traditional cooking methods: This means low-tech methods, absent of microwaves.

Finding a lifestyle that naturally promotes excellent health became an obsession for Filepas after the deaths of his father and brother in a three-month time span. He wanted to ensure he and his wife and three sons would be together for years to come.

“I tell my friends, family and anyone who will listen: Whatever you hear about health in America, do the exact opposite and you’ll be much healthier than the average American,” he says. “Americans are bombarded with confusion and misinformation about health; it’s a life-or-death situation.”

About Gordon Filepas

Gordon Filepas spent 20 years researching Lean And Healthy To 100, interviewing physicians, attending seminars, and reading medical journals and other health-related literature. He is the founder of TGM Partners, a consulting and investment firm. Filepas says he was motivated to learn more about the requirements for optimal health following the deaths of his father and brother within three months of each other. He hopes to ensure the good health of his family, including his wife of 25 years and three sons.

May is Lupus Awareness Month PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Susan B. Kroska   
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 12:36

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system is unbalanced, causing inflammation and tissue damage to virtually any organ in the body. Lupus can be unpredictable and potentially fatal, yet no satisfactory treatment or cure exists. An estimated 1.5 million Americans and at least five million people worldwide have a form of lupus. Its health effects include heart attacks, strokes, seizures, miscarriages and organ failure.

New research has shown that most Americans, 59 percent, know little or nothing about lupus and its devastating impact.  This May for Lupus Awareness Month, the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA), Iowa Chapter is urging residents of Iowa and across the nation to Band Together for Lupus Awareness™ to improve the understanding of lupus, an unpredictable and sometimes fatal disease.

(Des Moines, Iowa) New research has shown that most Americans, 59 percent, know little or nothing about lupus and its devastating impact. This May for Lupus Awareness Month, the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA), Iowa Chapter is urging residents of Iowa and across the nation to Band Together for Lupus Awareness™ to improve the understanding of lupus, an
unpredictable and sometimes fatal disease that affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans, and support those who suffer from this terrible disease.

“A lack of awareness of the disease contributes to many people dismissing early warning signs of lupus, which can have serious health risks,” said Susan B. Kroska/Iowa Chapter Executive Director. “We are asking everyone to get involved and Band Together for Lupus Awareness, so together we can offer hope and improve the quality of lives of Iowa residents living with lupus.”

“When I tell people I have lupus, they typically don’t know what it is. And if they do know what it is, they tell me that I don’t look sick,” said Marie McNamara from Windsor Heights, Iowa. “It is hard to explain that while I may look totally fine on the outside, that I can be in so much pain or so sick on the inside. Awareness is very important so our family and friends understand what we’re going through and how they can support us.”

This year, the LFA is asking the public to Put On Purple for lupus awareness by wearing purple and telling people why they are showing their support for all people affected by this disease.  Put On Purple Day will take place on Friday, May 18, 2012.

Lupus Awareness Month activities, which include social media, online, and grassroots components, will empower individuals, organizations, and companies with a wide-ranging number of tools and resources so they can educate their communities about lupus. Tools range from fliers, to Web banner ads, to facts about lupus.


Iowa Company Balancing the Playing Field Against Allergy, Cold, and Flu Symptoms PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by David Clifton   
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 12:19

Iowans know a thing or two about allergies. Every spring and fall, pollen from alfalfa, Burr oak, butternut trees, and corn reek havoc on people’s eyes, noses, ears, and sinuses. And like most Americans, Iowans rush to stores for any relief from the sneezing and itching.

Embria Health Sciences, an Ankeny-based company, has a different idea on how to combat allergy symptoms – as well as those for colds and flu. Experts there believe the power lies in balancing the human immune system.

What most people don’t know is the human body shouldn’t be bothered by allergens such as tree and grass pollens. Our immune systems react to these “invaders” in much the same way as it does cold and flu bugs – seek and destroy before they can do harm. In reality, our bodies should see substances that cause seasonal allergy symptoms as harmless.

Embria scientists created a proprietary dietary supplement called EpiCor that helps “educate” the human immune system to boost and suppress itself when needed. Several clinical studies show the nutrients in EpiCor may indeed help us achieve immune system balance.

Gov. Terry Branstad wants Iowa to become the healthiest state in the nation by 2016, and prevention is a key to making this happen. Balancing our immune systems can be a top preventive measure Iowans can take in helping reach this goal. EpiCor can play an important role in the “Blue Zone” program sponsored by Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Healthways.

I’d like to offer a story angle on how Embria Health Sciences is taking a unique approach to combating symptoms of allergies, colds, and flu for a healthier Iowa. There are several expert resources available for interviews or who can provide detailed information about immune balance versus passively treating symptoms with sprays and pills.

  • Paul Faganel, Embria Health Sciences president, can describe how EpiCor came from a serendipitous start more than a decade ago.
  • Larry Robinson, Ph.D., is Vice President of Scientific Affairs for Embria. He can discuss the science behind EpiCor and how that science shows the efficacy of the ingredient.
  • Dr. Mark A. Moyad, co-director of the University of Michigan men’s health program, can discuss the results of clinical studies on immune balance and EpiCor he’s personally led, and why such balance can have benefits beyond allergies, colds, and flu.

For more information about Embria Health Sciences, please visit For information and science about EpiCor, please visit

Progress Iowa, SEIU Local 199 Ask Iowans To Say ‘Thanks’ for Health Care Reform, Community Health Center Grants PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Matt Sinovic   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 13:40

‘Thank You’ campaign launches in recognition of Health Care Professionals Week, May 6-12


DES MOINES, IOWA -- Progress Iowa and SEIU Local 199 today launched a campaign to thank Senator Tom Harkin and Congressmen Dave Loebsack, Bruce Braley, and Leonard Boswell for their continued support of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the recent announcement of $7.5 million in federal grants for community health centers in Iowa.


“As Iowans, we believe that health care is a right and not a privilege,” said Matt Sinovic, Executive Director of Progress Iowa. “We want to thank the members of the Iowa delegation who continue to fight for improved health care, and for their continued efforts to bring greater resources home for Iowa’s health care professionals.”


Cathy Glasson, President of SEIU Local 199, said, “Community health centers fill an important need in Iowa,” “The funding for people in places like Ottumwa and Sioux City to access much-needed basic health services is critical to keeping Iowans healthy and keeping costs down. Those millions of dollars from the Affordable Care Act ensure that our health care professionals can continue to provide the care to keep our communities healthy.”


River Hills Community Health Center in Ottumwa, Siouxland Community Health Center in Sioux City, Community Health Care, Inc. in Davenport, Crescent Community Health Center in Dubuque, Community Health Centers of Southern Iowa, Inc. in Leon, and Primary Health Care, Inc. in Urbandale are the local community health centers that were awarded $7.5 million in funding this week.


To conclude the “Thank You Campaign” and Health Care Professionals Week, Progress Iowa will participate in an event hosted by SEIU Local 199 on Friday, May 11 in Iowa City.


For more information about the Affordable Care Act and to say thank you for health care reform, visit






Community Health Centers receiving grants from the Building Capacity Program:


River Hills Community Health Center




Siouxland Community Health Center

Sioux City





Community Health Centers receiving grants from the Immediate Facility Improvement Program:


Community Health Care, Inc.




Crescent Community Health Center




Community Health Centers of Southern Iowa, Inc.




Primary Health Care, Inc.






Under the Affordable Care Act, Iowa families have received the following benefits:


●      42,015 Iowans on Medicare saved an average of $616 on prescription drugs, for a total savings of $25,876,475.

●      18,012 Iowans under the age of 26 gained coverage under the health care law.

●      388,676 people with Medicare in Iowa received free preventive services – such as mammograms and colonoscopies – or a free annual wellness visit with their doctor.

●      1,187,000 Iowans, including 433,000 women and 311,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime limits on coverage.

●      Insurance companies are required to spend 80% of premium dollars on health care instead of overhead.



Progress Iowa is a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization. Year-round, we promote progressive ideas and causes with creative earned media strategies, targeted email campaigns, and cutting-edge new media. With our allies, we work to significantly improve the communications effort of the entire progressive community in Iowa.


With 2.1 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, and nearly 6,000 in Iowa, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers--not just corporations and CEOs--benefit from today's global economy.

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