Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Job Posting - Human Resources Associate

Human Resources Associate

Maternity Care Coalition (MCC), a dynamic nonprofit, works to improve maternal and child health and well-being through the collaborative efforts of individuals, families, providers and communities. 

MCC is seeking an HR Associate to support the HR Director in the day-to-day administration of human resources functions.  The HR Associate ensures that all HR policies, procedures and programs are implemented across the various site locations. Responsibilities include:

Staffing - Coordinates the recruiting requisition process, tracking and of reporting current job openings.
Posts job openings on the commercial job boards, those available as appropriate at area colleges, universities and professional organizations as well as the MCC intranet. Represents MCC at career and job fairs sponsored through area colleges, universities and professional groups.

Benefits - Supports the HR Director with the annual open enrollment preparation and process timeline.
Audits the monthly benefits invoices to ensure an accurate employee census for billing purposes.
Prepares the medical questionnaire forms for additional life insurance or short term disability.

HRIS/Payroll  - Assists with the preparation of the biweekly payroll.  Creates reports as needed to analyze turnover, workplace injuries, compensation, performance management and other data to support the HR initiatives of the organization.

Unemployment insurance - Ensures the timely completion of all requests for information from the State Unemployment offices.  Prepares COBRA notices for life insurance for separating employees.

Leaves of absences - Prepares the necessary paperwork for both FMLA and general leaves of absences.  Meets with employees to review the required paperwork and answer questions regarding the leave process and requirements.

Staff Appreciation - Research, plan and secure venues for the annual employee appreciation day.  Determines the roster of eligible employees for anniversary recognition during Staff meetings.  Works with the vendor to obtain the anniversary recognition gifts as necessary.

A Bachelors' degree in Human Resources Management or related field is required as well 1 – 3 years' relevant human resources experience.  Must demonstrate effective communication skills with people from diverse backgrounds. Possess strong verbal, written and listening communication skills. Ability to easily follow verbal and written directions.  Requires proficiency in all Microsoft Suite Applications as well as knowledge of ADP HRIS/Payroll applications.  Excellent organizational, problem solving, writing and negotiating skill are required.

Email your cover letter, resume, (3) professional references and a writing sample to Paul Antony, HR Director, at

For more information, visit our website:

Epsom Salts will Reduce Inflammation, Energize Plants and More

Epsom salt may seem like an unlikely go-to home remedy, however, the more I learn about it, the more I want to keep it around—in my kitchen, bathroom and even my garden shed.

My first experience with Epsom salt was as a kid was when I sprained my ankle. My mom made me soak my foot in a warm bucket of water with the salt mixed in. She said it would reduce the swelling and help with mobility. Sure enough, it made my sore ankle feel much better, and I continued the ritual twice a day until my ankle was fully healed.

I now know why this healing mixture was so effective. Epsom salt is actually not salt at all, but rather a mineral compound that is made from magnesium and sulfate. Both of these compounds are readily absorbed by the skin, which means they are accessible to the over 300 enzymes that are regulated by magnesium. This helps alleviate hardening of the arteries and improves muscle and nerve function.
In addition to working overtime to reduce inflammation, here are 4 other ways I have found to put Epsom salt to work for me:
Plant Fertilizer
I am an avid gardener, so any natural way I can make my harvest more plentiful is exciting to me. Recently, I found that Epsom salt makes a wonderful fertilizer, not only for grass but also for potted plants and veggies. I simply sprinkle a little salt around the base of each plant once a week and water, and my plants look amazing. To make your grass greener, mix one cup of salt for every gallon of water and use a sprayer to cover your lawn. Repeat this once every two weeks throughout the growing season.

Dry Lip Conditioner
Living out west, my lips take a beating. To keep them looking and feeling their best, try a homemade Epsom salt lip exfoliator. Mix equal amounts of organic coconut oil and Epsom salts together. Spread over your lips and rub gently in a circular motion. Rinse with water and apply a thin layer of coconut oil when finished. Not only will this help to remove dry skin, but it will also protect your lips from damage caused by sun and wind.

Sunburned Skin
After a recent trip to sunny Florida, I found that Epsom salt came in very handy to soothe sore, sunburned skin. Simply mix 1 cup of salt in warm bath water and soak for about 15 minutes. Not only does the salt help reduce inflammation, but it also gently exfoliates skin and reduces peeling.

Poison Ivy
It is undoubtable that someone in my family has an up-close and personal encounter every year with poison ivy. Epsom salt is a great way to reduce the swelling and itch of this irritating condition and is also wonderful for mosquito bites and bee stings. Mix 2 tablespoons of salt with 1 cup of warm water. Soak a clean cloth in the mixture and hold on the affected area to remove pain, burning and itching.
Not only is Epsom salt a great alternative to a number of chemical-based products, but it is also inexpensive—that makes it extra great to me. Now, go out and get some and let us know what you use it for!
-Susan Patterson

The Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Diabetes

There are numerous studies on the potential health problems associated with vitamin D deficiency. It has been linked with rickets, increased risk for cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in the elderly, and possibly cancer.
Now, new research has linked vitamin D deficiency to the potential development of diabetes, as well.

Vitamin D and type 2 diabetes
A study that was published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reveals that there is a link between low levels of vitamin D and diabetes, which has no connection with body weight.

A “Scientific Statement on the Non-Skeletal Effects of Vitamin D” was released by the Endocrine Society, which explained the findings of scientific studies linking vitamin D deficiency with obesity. It further explained how these same individuals had a higher likelihood of also developing pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, compared to people with normal levels of vitamin D.

Obesity was not a consistent factor
The latest study was conducted on 118 participants at the University Hospital Virgen de la Victoria in Malaga, and 30 participants at the Hospital Universitari Dr. Josep Trueta in Girona, Spain. Researchers analyzed vitamin D biomarkers of the participants and classified them by factors such as body-mass index (BMI) and whether they had been diagnosed with prediabetes, diabetes, or glycemic disorders.

Measurements were taken of the participant’s blood levels of vitamin D, as well as the receptor gene expression of vitamin D in adipose tissue.

The findings revealed that participants that were obese but did not suffer from glucose metabolism disorders had much higher vitamin D levels than subjects that were diabetic. Participants with lean body weights who had been diagnosed as diabetic, or having a similar glucose metabolic disorder, usually had significantly lower vitamin D levels.

Researchers concluded that the direct link was between vitamin D levels and glucose levels, rather than any body-mass index factors such as obesity.

According to one author of the study, Manuel Macias-Gonzalez, Ph.D. of Complejo Hospitalario de Malaga and the University of Malaga:
“Our findings indicate that vitamin D is associated more closely with glucose metabolism than obesity. The study suggests that vitamin D deficiency and obesity interact synergistically to heighten the risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders. The average person may be able to reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough outdoor activity.”

Could vitamin D help regulate blood sugar?
diabetiesResearchers from different studies have come to believe there may be a link between vitamin D and the body’s ability to manage blood sugar. They are also interested in a possible link between vitamin D and the regulation of calcium, which also plays a role in blood sugar management.

Some scientific research has shown that young people with higher levels of vitamin D had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in their later years, as compared with those who had low levels of vitamin D.

However, there have also been some conflicting studies that did not show successful prevention of diabetes development from supplementation of vitamin D in subjects. Clearly, further studies are needed to work out all the definitive connections between vitamin D and its possible role in the prevention of glucose metabolic disorders.

For now, while we await further research, remember to enjoy safe and responsible time in the sun as often as you can – your body needs those healing rays!
-The Alternative Daily

Delaware County Family Center - Summer Activities for Children and Youth

Information session about summer activities for children and youth in Delaware County.

The session takes place on Thursday April 30th from 5:30-7 pm at St. Bernard Hall, 2nd floor on the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital campus on Lansdowne Ave. Please see the flyer for more detail, and pass it on to a friend.

Delaware County Family Center - Parenting Program

FREE Parenting program for mothers in Delaware County includes Childcare, Homework Help and FREE Dinner.

For 6 Tuesdays beginning Tuesday, May 5th through Tuesday, June 9th at the St. Bernard Hall, 2nd Floor on the campus of the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital on Lansdowne Ave. 

Sessions are from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm (dinner is served promptly at 5:30 pm). 

There will be discussions on Stress Management, Decision-Making, Financial Issues, Single Parenting, and Positive Discipline. 

3 Key Nutrients for Better Brainpower

Protecting your brain from age-related damage can be as simple as snacking.

Blueberries, pecans, and Brussels sprouts are just a few foods that can boost brain health.

When it comes to what we eat, we usually worry more about our waistlines than our wisdom. But a diet that contains a wide assortment of healthy foods and nutrients doesn’t just benefit your body; it may protect your brain from cognitive decline as you age.
In order to defend against a variety of age-related conditions that can impair your memory and the general functioning of your brain, a good first step is to concentrate on incorporating three nutrients into your diet: omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, and vitamin E.

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Brain Volume

For your memory to function smoothly, your brain cells need to be able to communicate quickly and easily with one another. As people age, nerve cells shrink, nutrient-rich blood supplies to the brain decline, and inflammation often complicates the situation. The brain then produces smaller quantities of key messenger chemicals called neurotransmitters. At some point, communication between cells becomes less smooth and your memory skills suffer.
Omega-3 fatty acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been found to promote the efficient electrical signaling between nerve cells, reduce inflammation, and even appear to improve mental concentration and fight memory loss.
In a 2014 study published in Neurology, researchers found that postmenopausal women who had higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in their blood also had larger brain volumes, which was the equivalent of preserving the brain for an additional one to two years. Smaller brain volume has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease as well as the effects of normal aging.
Related: How to Stay Sharp As You Age
Because the body cannot manufacture omega-3 fatty acids, it needs to absorb them from food sources. Fish are one of the best sources of omega-3s, but try to avoid fish that are high in mercury and other heavy metals, such as swordfish and bluefish. Not a fan of seafood? There are many other non-fish foods that contain this brain protector.
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids:
  • Oily cold-water fish: herring, sardines, mackerel, salmon, halibut, and trout
  • Leafy greens: Brussels sprouts, spinach, arugula, mint, kale, and watercress
  • Oils: flaxseed oil, chia seed oil, cod liver oil, and krill oil
  • Eggs
  • Walnuts

Antioxidants and Brain Health

As your brain ages, it is more difficult for important nerve cells to protect themselves against highly reactive, rogue compounds called free radicals. Every cell in your body manufactures thousands of these unstable oxygen molecules every day, and you are also exposed to them in the world around you through tobacco smoke, pollution, and even ultraviolet radiation. Left unchecked, free radicals damage cells (a process called oxidative stress), which contributes to age-related degenerative diseases, including mental decline.
Fortunately, the body has a natural defense system to protect itself against oxidative stress: antioxidants. These substances, which help shield the body from the destruction of free radicals, include well-known nutrients such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, and selenium. Although researchers go back and forth on exactly how beneficial eating antioxidants can be for the body and brain, there are two antioxidants that appear particularly promising when it comes to brain health: flavonoids and vitamin E.

2. Flavonoids for Better Memory

When someone tells you to eat more colorful foods, these special antioxidants are probably the reason why. Almost all fruits, vegetables, and herbs contain flavonoids, which have been found to have many health benefits, including reducing inflammation, heart disease risk, and eczema symptoms. Studies suggest flavonoids are good for the aging brain, doing everything from increasing the number of connections between neurons to disrupting the development of amyloid plaques that clog the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients.
In 2012, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that older women who ate large amounts of berries – which are high in flavonoids – delayed their memory decline by more than two years compared to women who had low flavonoid consumption. Getting more flavonoids in your diet is pretty simple: The more colorful the produce, the higher the level of flavonoids. But you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that some of your favorite drinks are full of flavonoid goodness, too.
Foods high in flavonoids:
  • Berries: blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries
  • Leafy greens: spinach, kale, and watercress
  • Other colorful produce: butternut squash, avocados, plums, and red grapes
  • Coffee
  • Dark chocolate
  • Red wine

3. Vitamin E for Brain Protection

Vitamin E is well known as a free-radical fighter that prevents cell damage. While more evidence is needed, several studies have found that vitamin E delays the progression of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. In a 2014 study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Stroke, researchers found that one type of vitamin E, tocotrienol (found naturally in palm oil), may protect the brain from developing white matter lesions, which have been linked to increased stroke risk, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
The benefits of taking a vitamin E supplement remains a point of contention among researchers, but there’s little doubt that the foods containing this antioxidant are good for you.
Foods high in vitamin E:
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, pecans, peanut butter, peanuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds
  • Oils: wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, and soybean oil
  • Leafy greens: spinach, dandelion greens, swiss chard, and turnip greens

The Bottom Line on Brain Food

While no one has found a way to return aging brains to their youthful ability just yet, it is possible to strengthen your brain's ability to protect important neurons from degeneration or death. This is best accomplished when you make smart lifestyle choices. It's a good idea to avoid excess alcohol and nicotine use, and you can best help your brain stay sharp by following a healthful diet that's low in fat and cholesterol and loaded with fruits, vegetables, oils, and fish.

Soothe Your Mind With Music

Every society throughout history has embraced music of one kind or another. Why do we love music, and what does it do for us? Well, for one thing, research has shown that music influences our mind in interesting ways.

In a study conducted by the University of Helsinki in Finland, researchers studied the effects of listening to classical music on the human brain. A group of participants, involving some individuals with musical experience and others without, listened to the full 20 minutes of W.A. Mozart’s violin concerto Nr. 3, G-major, K.216.

What they found was that listening to the music caused both neuronal and physiological changes in the participants. The music enhanced gene expression in the secretion and transport of dopamine, synaptic neurotransmission, as well as memory and learning processes.
The researchers also found that listening to the music also down-regulated genes mediating neurodegeneration, while up-regulating genes that are involved in learning songs and singing in songbirds. This link with songbirds suggested a similar connection of sound perception across species.

“The up-regulation of several genes that are known to be responsible for song learning and singing in songbirds suggest a shared evolutionary background of sound perception between vocalizing birds and humans,” said lead study author Dr. Irma Jarvela, associate professor at the University of Helsinki.

One of the up-regulated genes that received the biggest impact from listening to the music was synuclein-alpha (SNCA). SNCA is found in the linkage region of the brain with the greatest involvement in musical aptitude, and is known to be a risk gene for Parkinson’s disease.
Considering that the exposure to the music down-regulated genes that are linked with neurodegeneration suggests that music has a neuroprotective role. However, these effects appeared to be isolated to participants with a background in musical experience.

“The effect was only detectable in musically experienced participants, suggesting the importance of familiarity and experience in mediating music-induced effects,” the researchers explained.

The Mozart Effect
The study from Finland is only one of many that has evaluated how classical music might impact the human brain. Nearly everyone has heard of the “Mozart Effect,” which was widely promoted following a study from the 1990s. The study was discussed in the journal Nature, and it sparked the idea that listening to the music of Mozart and other classical composers could make you smarter.
In particular, it was urged that parents should play classical music for their young infants to start them off on a journey to higher intelligence. However, upon review it was found that the study had been misconstrued. The original research had been conducted on adults, not children. Also, it involved a temporary cognitive improvement regarding spatial tasks that only lasted for approximately fifteen minutes.

A 2006 study conducted in Britain, which involved 8,000 children, showed that popular music of the time had an even stronger effect on cognitive improvement, determined by tests involving paper shapes. These findings would suggest that personal preference may also come into play in the effectiveness of musical exposure.
Boost your IQ by playing music yourself
musicThe biggest demonstrated improvement on intelligence from music has been shown to result in studies where participants played the music themselves. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that children who had music lessons while growing up developed faster brain responses to speech in their later years. This finding was true even when they had not played their instruments in quite some time.

Researchers involved in this study found that the longer a person spent playing instruments in their childhood, the faster their brains responded to the sound of speech.

“What happens when we get older is that neural responses slow down, especially in response to very fast and complicated sounds like consonants,” explained researcher Dr. Nina Kraus, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University. “After a year of training, the kids who have been in the music training are better able to synchronize to the beat and to remember the beat.”

Need more proof? Research by Jessica Grahn, a cognitive scientist at the Western University of London, Ontario, revealed that a year of piano lessons and regular, consistent practice can result in a three-point increase in IQ.

So, whether you’ve been playing for years or are a pure beginner, taking up an instrument, or tapping into the melody of your own voice, could do your brain a lot of good!
-The Alternative Daily