Archive - June 2017

Sound Advice and Sun Safety
A Walkable Village and Morrisville Complete Streets
June is Men’s Health Month
Summer Meals for Kids and Teens
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries and Reconstruction

Sound Advice and Sun Safety

By: Valerie Valcour

How often do you think about your ears? Do you protect your ears from the sun and loud noises? If you do, good for you! I’ve become increasingly aware of my ears after attending a local Farm Health and Safety training sponsored by the Vermont Farm & Safety Task Force.

Regarding hearing loss, the Farm Health and Safety training emphasized that hearing loss is preventable. I did not realize that being exposed to noises above 85 decibels such as noise from a lawnmower, shop tools or a chain saw for more than 2 minutes can cause permanent hearing loss. Check out these fact sheets for more information about protecting your ears:

Sun safety is another way to protect your ears. I am getting better at putting on sunscreen before going outside, but I still have to remind myself to apply it to my earlobes! According to the Vermont Department of Health Cancer Control Program, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and Vermont. Melanoma is the least common, but most serious, form of skin cancer. Vermont has one of the highest rates of melanoma incidence in the United States. Most cases of skin cancer are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, sunlamps, and tanning beds. Sunburns, especially during childhood, significantly increases an individual’s melanoma risk. It’s important to use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, even in the winter – and don’t forget your earlobes. Here are more Sun Safety Tips to keep you and your family safe from sunburns.

For more information about health promotion and disease prevention visit the Office of Local Health, Morrisville District website.

Valerie Valcour is a Public Health Nurse and specializes in chronic disease prevention and emergency preparedness at the community level for the Department of Health in Morrisville. Valerie has lived in Lamoille County most of her life. She graduated from People’s Academy in 1983 and worked as a nurse at Copley Hospital for several years. In addition to her work, she volunteers as a board member of both Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley and the Lamoille County Planning Commission.

A Walkable Village and Morrisville Complete Streets

By: Josh Goldstein

Josh Goldstein stands tall amongst the next generation of developers in Morrisville. He cares deeply about creating a sense of place in our community, and recently donated all the pavers and his time for the install for the new front patio of the Morrisville Food Co-op on Pleasant Street. Recently, Josh has focused his time on improving both the physical appearance and the functionality of downtown Morrisville – especially for pedestrians. As you will see in Josh’s below column, if we start to remake downtown Morrisville for pedestrians, more walkers and bikers will be able to take advantage of this infrastructure. And for me, the more people we have on our streets, the healthier our downtown (and its residents) will be. I hope you enjoy Josh’s perspective on our downtown as much as I do. Thank you and happy reading.

– Todd Thomas

After an entire generation of designing streets and roads around the car, truck, and snowplow, American cities from coast to coast are re-investing in and re-examining the use of streets and sidewalks. Bigger cities like Seattle, San Francisco Austin, Chicago, New York, and Miami have all adopted progressive policies toward multi-use streets by implementing dedicated bicycle lanes, traffic-calming implements such as raised/textured crosswalks, and green space “bumpouts.” There is also more public seating, pocket parks or “parklets’” and increased greening with urban trees and other landscaping. Scores of articles and research papers point out the socioeconomic benefits of better designed streetscapes and offer empirical evidence that shows how these re-designed or re-purposed streets are providing better health (both mental and physical), greater tax revenues through increased retail sales, less pollution, fewer traffic incidents and injuries, and other valuable civic benefits. These improvements have been studied  and well documented, and finding the results is as easy as a Google search. But less publicized efforts and results exist right here in Vermont.

Cities like St. Albans and Barre, and of course the Queen City of Burlington, are easy examples with a walk down their recently improved streets and sidewalks. New decorative light posts, brick pavers, granite curbing, and tree grates welcome pedestrians with aesthetically pleasing and safe walking zones.  Stores, cafes, restaurants, and other retail establishments are moving in and thriving in these new, vibrant streets.  Children and seniors are crossing the streets more safely. Bicyclists are coming in from outer regions of the city and have ample space to ride, or to park and lock a bike. These Vermont cities were, as little as a decade ago, facing high vacancy rates and depleted downtowns, and now look like bustling economic and community engines. And with recent projects like the Route 100 Truck Route and other community improvements, like the “Chair-art-able Project” and growing music series at the Oxbow, it’s high-time Morrisville re-thinks our downtown with an attitude toward “Living Streets” and greater connectivity.

The European woonerf (pronounced VONE-erf), Dutch for “living street,” functions without traffic lights, stop signs, lane dividers or sidewalks. Indeed, the goal is to encourage human interaction. Those who use the space are forced to be aware of others around them, make eye contact and engage in personal interactions. These spaces invite pedestrians, bicyclists, slow moving vehicles, playing children, peddling vendors, and just about any community member to pass through, stay and linger, or play and be active. It’s a beacon for life in the village, and more than 6,000 woonerfs exist in the Netherlands, alone, and thousands more across Europe and United States. Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace is our best local example, but the brick paved streets of Portland, ME or crowded Commercial Street in Provincetown, MA are familiar to New Englanders, as well. Couldn’t we create such a space near Pleasant Street, or in an oft-forgotten quad like the Brigham St. parking lot?

Walkability in the streets comes with measurable results. The Journal of the American Planning Association notes that just a 5 % increase in walkability is associated with “a 32.1% per capita increase in time spent in physically active travel, a .23-point reduction in body mass index, 6.5% fewer vehicle miles traveled, 5.6% fewer grams of NOx emitted, and 5.5% fewer grams of volatile organic compounds emitted.” The Landscape Architecture Foundation found that “an increase of walking for errands amounted to 70 more minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week.” In one Colorado case study, a newly improved streetscape lowered vacancy rates from over 13% to 7.2% over three years, and increased tax revenues over 16% in one year after construction, doubling the typical rates for all of metro-Denver. Morrisville counted 860 homes in the village in a recent census, with over 25% of those homes having children. Nearby, within walking distance, are The Manor, Copley Hospital, and other senior service centers. Surely our children and seniors would benefit from more pedestrian activities in and around town.  The AARP has been promoting “Complete Streets” for decades, supporting research and guides for implementation.  And, likewise, our retail and restaurants would benefit from more pedestrians on the sidewalks and streets.

With the upcoming addition of Morrisville’s first co-op and downtown grocery store since 1890, the village should piggyback off what is sure to be an exciting and vibrant addition by increasing the walkability and connectivity to a re-born Portland Street.  A vivid, colorful pedestrian mall or mixed-use plaza from the new MoCo on Pleasant Street would create just such an avenue, and could boast rich vegetation, interesting and functional paving patterns, public seating and shelter, and maybe some kiosks or carts selling local wares and crafts.  The plaza would encourage more commercial business activity and fill long-vacant storefronts on Portland Street, perhaps fostering growth to Hutchins or Brigham Street.  A pocket park, or parklet, would encourage community members to “linger” in town a little longer, and life brings life. More people equals more people. We should re-open dialogues about connecting downtown with the also-emerging commercial side of town, or “Morrisville-North,” with a walkable/bikeable recreation path that could follow the river through and over the Oxbow, or over to Clark Park.

The community should come together and voice preferences on these aspects, much like a well-attended Charrette between local planners, architects, community members, and businesses did in 1999. This local study and open-forum of ideas labeled many concepts we still hear milling about in Morrisville almost two decades later. The study is available at the town offices, and is still very relevant today.  Let’s re-open the conversation and capture the excitement of a burgeoning downtown to create a better downtown. To make it happen, though, will require holistic involvement from the people who will use it. In a quote about the lessons of promoting pedestrian malls and complete streets, one planner commented “it just can’t be the city. The private businesses, the community, and the public sector all have to strongly support it.”  I’m in.

June is Men’s Health Month

By: Nancy Wagner

Each year in June we celebrate men’s health. Why? Much of the focus is to bring awareness about men’s health to both men and women. Statistics tell us that men have more heart disease and cancer than women and have a shorter life expectancy. Some of this is genetics and lifestyle but some is also awareness, prevention and education. Men, as a group, don’t see their health care provider as often as recommended.

What would happen if men started going to see their provider more regularly and received regular preventative care and education? Perhaps we’d pick up warning signs and diseases earlier to help better prevent and treat them; creating longer lives or at least healthier lives. That’s the goal. So what can be done? Below is a list of suggestions from the CDC:

  1. Get good sleep: Adults need 7-9 hours per night.
  2. Toss out the tobacco: It’s never too late to stop smoking or chewing.
  3. Move more: Aim for at least 150 minutes per week of activity/movement.
  4. Eat healthy: Have a variety of fruits and vegetables daily and limit intakes of salt, sweets, fried foods and processed foods.
  5. Tame stress: while some stress is actually good for us, too much is not. Learn to deal with your stress in healthy ways.
  6. Stay on top of your game:
    1. See your provider regularly so problems are detected early.
    2. Pay attention to signs and symptoms and report them to your provider.
    3. Know your numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and BMI.
    4. Get vaccinated.

Men’s health is a family affair as it also impacts mothers, daughters and sisters.

More information can be found at:

Nancy Wagner is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and a Certified Diabetes Educator at Copley Hospital. She provides health and wellness to Copley employees through screenings, education and fun activities; educates patients regarding their nutrition and diabetes needs; and works with community members providing education to schools and businesses. Nancy enjoys helping others learn new things about nutrition, their health habits, and their chronic diseases.

Summer Meals for Kids and Teens

Summer meals for kids and teens


Looking to stretch your food budget, try new foods and support local farmers? This summer, 3SquaresVT will provide free meals to children 18 and under; no registration, no application, no reservation required. In fact, many who apply are surprised they qualify. Below is a list of local meal sites in our community.

If you need a different location, call 2-1-1 toll free or text “FOOD” to 877-877 to find drop-in summer meal sites anywhere in Vermont.

The 3SquaresVT program helps Vermonters stretch their food budgets and put three meals a day on their tables. 3SquaresVT is for everyone who qualifies, including individuals, families, seniors, and people with disabilities. Receiving a 3SquaresVT benefit this summer means automatic free school breakfast and lunch for your kids in the fall.

3SquaresVT is a federal USDA program administered in Vermont by the Department for Children and Families, Economic Services Division that helps put healthy food within reach. Visit to learn more and get an application,  or call 1-800-479-6151 for assistance.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries and Reconstruction

By: Leah Morse, MS, PA-C

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament, the “ACL”, is an important stabilizing ligament in the middle of the knee. It is at risk of being torn in skiers, soccer players, and other athletes who commonly use cutting or twisting movements. About half of the time, an ACL tear will be accompanied by a meniscal tear and/or medial collateral ligament tear due to the overwhelming rotational or hyperextension force to the knee. Patients with ACL tears typically experience sudden pain and giving way of the knee, sometimes with an audible “pop” at the time of injury.  The knee will typically swell with fluid, become painful and unstable.

If this happens to you, initial treatment includes a period of rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE), bracing, crutches, and anti-inflammatories. Early range of motion of the knee as tolerated with a trained physical therapist is also helpful. Then, an MRI is usually ordered to better visualize the ACL and further assess the knee injury.

Definitive treatment of an ACL tear depends on the patient’s age, desired activity level, and associated injuries. For young, active patients, ACL reconstruction offers a good chance of a successful return to sports and the pre-surgery level of activity.

Like many things in medicine, ACL reconstruction has advanced over the years. Mansfield Orthopaedics at Copley Hospital offers patients a minimally invasive “double-bundle” ACL reconstruction done arthroscopically. This reproduces the two naturally occurring components of the ACL, the anteriomedial and posterolateral bundles, through a few small incisions. Our orthopaedic suregeons can restore the location and orientation of the two ACL bundles using cadaver tissue or the patient’s own tissue to build a new ACL. Surgery usually takes 60-90 minutes, and any meniscal or cartilage injury can also be addressed arthroscopically at that time. (You can learn more here.)

Patients who undergo ACL reconstruction take on the small risks of surgery to regain knee stability and the ability to return to sports. Surgery is done on an outpatient basis and physical therapy is restarted one week after surgery. Rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction is a lengthy process – it takes many months for the body to reincorporate the new tissue into the knee. Patients who have undergone ACL reconstruction may start sports-specific agility training and drills five to six months after surgery, and running four months after surgery. It does take one year for full recovery and to properly rebuild muscle strength.

Leah Morse is a Certified Physician Assistant with Mansfield Orthopaedics at Copley Hospital. After completing Physician Assistant School and her Master’s Degree at Wagner College in New York City, Morse worked with the Neurointerventional Surgery team at Roosevelt Hospital in mid-town Manhattan. She relocated to her native Vermont in 2010 to work at Mansfield Orthopaedics, specializing in Hip and Knee joint replacement and sports medicine. Morse coordinates both the research program and the inpatient total joint replacement team.