NVRH Hosts COPD Health Fair

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NVRH COPD HEALTH FAIRST. JOHNSBURY- Northern Vermont Regional Hospital held its 3rd annual COPD health fair on Monday. The fair hosted numerous health organizations, all of which informed attendees about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and its effects.

Heather Nelson, the hospital's Respiratory Therapist, started the fair three years ago in order to inform the community on the disease as COPD is common in the St. Johnsbury area. "COPD is very heavy here in the St. Johnsbury community, and that's what we mostly see here in the emergency room and the admissions."

 According to Nelson, COPD mainly effects your lungs, causing a shortage of breath with most activity. She noted the causes of the disease, the most common being smoking. She also discussed environmental influences originating with dust, mold, or working in factories without proper respiratory masks.

Nelson went on to discuss her concerns for smoking in public parks. At last week's St. Johnsbury select board meeting, members discussed whether or not public parks should have smoking bans. Based on the public's reactions, the board made the decision to move the vote to Town Meeting Day on March 6th.

Numerous community members, including Nelson, are involving themselves in the effort to protect the health of others while at the parks. She discussed the effects of being subjected to second-hand smoke.

"If you are near a smoker, and you are out in the public, you really don't have a choice of breathing in that second hand smoke when someone else chooses to smoke around you. So I think that it is a valid concern that the community has. You know we have small children running around and just people trying to enjoy the fresh air," she said.

The town of Lyndonville has been successful in passing smoking bans for their parks, which include Bandstand Park and three others.

If the smoking ban does pass in St. Johnsbury, those who are caught using any form of tobacco products will be charged a fine.