Thursday, May 24, 2018

Recap: ECHO Workshop #15 "Building Resilience: Community & Individual Emergency Preparedness"

On May 23rd, AAHI, in partnership with other Office of Community Affairs programs, African American Health Program, the Community Action Agency, and the Latino Health Initiative, hosted our 15th Empowering Community Health Organizations (ECHO) Workshop! This workshop, "Building Resilience: Community & Individual Emergency Preparedness", focused on disaster preparedness at the individual, community, and government levels. 

Our ECHO Project is a series of professional and practical training workshops designed to build the capacity and sustainability of community organizations.

The workshop began with a presentation by Patrick Campbell, Senior Planning Manager for Mass Care, who provided some history on different disasters in the United States, the preparation for each, and the impact of the disaster. Next Patrick discussed how whole communities can be prepared for disasters, focusing on what individuals need to do to prepare themselves and their families. 

After Patrick's presentation, attendees participated in a short activity where they were tasked with developing an emergency bag in ten minutes with the items they already had in their home.

In the second half of the workshop, Patrick moderated a panel discussion with the following panelists: Chuck Crisostomo, MPH, CEM, Operations Chief for Montgomery County's Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security; Adriana Rojas, PhD, Assistant Professor of Spanish, Eastern Mennonite University; and Cecilia Warren, MS, MBA, Director of Emergency Preparedness Policy for the Maryland Department of Disabilities. Panelists shared their expertise with emergency preparedness, specifically around disaster management, intercultural education, and differently-abled populations.  

The evening ended with a lively audience question and answer session. 

Thank you to our wonderful speaker, panelists, Steering Committee, and staff for making this a successful event. We look forward to seeing you again in our fall 2018 ECHO Workshop!

Stay tuned for the workshop summary which will be available in a few weeks. Please click on the image below to see more photos from the night!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

AAHI's April 2018 newsletter is now available!

The April 2018 issue of AAHI's newsletter was published yesterday and is now available online! Please click the image below to read a full-size version of the newsletter. Subscribe to our mailing list today to receive our quarterly newsletters via email!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

ECHO Workshop #15 Registration Now Open! - "Building Resilience: Community & Individual Emergency Preparedness"

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (MCDHHS) Office of Community Affairs would like to invite you to participate in a free training workshop as part of the Empowering Community Health Organizations (ECHO) Project 2018. Join us on May 23, 2018 for our 15th ECHO Workshop, "Building Resilience: Community & Individual Emergency Preparedness."

In today’s world, disaster seems to strike far too often. Floods, fires, tornadoes, collapsed buildings – it is vital for you and your family to be prepared and ready for it all. Join us for this important workshop on emergency and disaster preparedness. This free workshop will feature a panel of experts who will discuss what it actually means to be prepared, what you can expect from the government in a time of disaster, and how you, your family, and your community can develop an emergency plan. 

Registration is required due to limited space. Please RSVP by Wednesday, May 2, 2018. You can register online at or by calling Maria Lejano, AAHI Program Assistant, at 240-777-4517.

If you have any questions, or if you are unable to register, please contact Ms. Lejano via telephone or email at We hope you will join us in building a healthier community!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

AAHI in the News: Colorectal Cancer Prevention

Reaching the half-century mark is worth celebrating! As you look back on your 50 years of hopes and dreams, it is also important to take responsibility for your health. Did you know that cancer is the leading cause of death among Asian Americans? Among the different types of cancer, colorectal cancer is the third highest cause of cancer-related deaths within the Asian American community, but it does not have to be.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute strongly recommend people over 50 to be regularly screened for colorectal cancer. As we get older, the risk of getting colorectal cancer gets higher. Research has shown that over 90% of colorectal cancer cases happen to people over 50. Colorectal cancer is preventable. Yet, less than 50% of Asian Americans are screened. Asian Americans are also less likely than non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks to get colorectal preventive care.

Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, is a disease that occurs in the colon or rectum. Cells sometimes grow uncontrollably in the colon or rectum and these growths form what is known as a polyp. Over time the polyps may become cancerous.

Colorectal cancer does not always have symptoms at the beginning. It is possible to have polyps or cancer without knowing. Therefore, it is important to perform regular screening for colorectal cancer.

According to the CDC, some symptoms may include:
  • Blood in or on the stool 
  • Constant stomach pain and cramps 
  • Losing weight for no reason 
Although some risk factors causing colorectal cancer are uncontrollable, such as personal and family history and age, other lifestyle related risk factors may also contribute to the increased risk of colorectal cancer. These include alcohol consumption, tobacco use, obesity, low-fiber diet, and lack of regular physical activity. People with hereditary health conditions have a greater possibility of getting colorectal cancer. Those with a history of inflammatory bowel disease may put you at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer as well.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle and being screened regularly is the first step in colorectal cancer prevention. It is extremely likely that cells growing uncontrollably will develop into colorectal cancer. Thus, undergoing screening tests can help identify these growths early and the polyps can be removed before they turn cancerous. Early detection and treatment often leads to a cure. Deaths from colorectal cancer can decrease by 60 to 70% if screening tests are performed. Treatment upon early stage colorectal cancer is also more effective.

The recommended screening tests for colorectal cancer include:
  • Fecal occult blood testing (FOBT): Polyps and colorectal cancer can bleed and FOBT checks for the presence of blood in a patient’s stool that may not be visible to the naked eye. Blood indicates that there may be growths of polyps or colorectal cancer and it allows doctors to identify people who need further testing. 
  • Sigmoidoscopy: A long flexible light tube with a lens (sigmoidoscope) is inserted into the patient through the anus into the rectum and the lower third of the colon. This allows the doctor to view the lining of the colon and polyps can be removed for further analysis. 
  • Colonoscopy: Similar to sigmoidoscopy, a longer flexible light tube with a lens (colonoscope) is inserted into the patient through the anus into the rectum and the colon. This allows the doctor to view the lining of the colon, especially the upper portions of the colon which is not reachable by sigmoidoscopy, and polyps can be removed for further analysis. 
If you are between the age of 50 and 75, talk with your doctor about getting screened. After age 75, the decision to screen is based on an individual basis.

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services’(MCDHHS) Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI) encourages you to contact your primary care physician and get screened for colorectal cancer. If you are a Montgomery County resident, with limited-income, and uninsured, you can access primary and preventative health care services from Montgomery Cares Clinics. To learn more about colorectal cancer screenings, contact Montgomery County’s information line at 240-777-0311. You may also call the Cancer Control Program at 240-777-1222 for more information on how to get tested.

Friday, February 23, 2018

How Old Is Your Heart? Learn Your Heart Age!

Most U.S. adults have a heart age greater than their actual age, placing them at increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Watch this short video to learn why your heart age is important and what you can do to improve it. You can go to to use the Heart Age Calculator!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Healthy Heart, Healthy Body

Why do you need a healthy heart? Your heart plays a very important role in your overall health and well-being; it is the organ that pumps blood and essential nutrients throughout your body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the second leading cause of death for Asian Americans. In this column, we will discuss the risk factors of heart disease and the steps you can take to start maintaining a healthy heart.

Heart disease is an umbrella term that refers to various conditions where the heart and blood vessels are not working properly. The most common heart condition is coronary heart disease which involves the blocking or narrowing of the blood vessels by plaque buildup. Plaque is made of substances found in the blood such as fat and cholesterol. In addition to coronary heart disease, plaque buildup may lead to a heart attack, stroke, or chest pain.

Some health conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes may increase your risk of developing heart disease. Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, occurs when plaque narrows the blood vessels and the heart has to work harder to pump blood. This constant excess pressure can weaken the vessels over time. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is prevalent in the Asian American community, affecting about one in five Asian Americans. You are also more at risk for heart disease if you have an unhealthy lifestyle which may include smoking, excessive alcohol use, uncontrolled stress, and/or not exercising regularly. In addition, genetics and family history play a significant role in your risk for heart disease. If you have a family member with heart disease, it is important to get screened and have a healthy lifestyle to lower your risk of developing the disease.

Often referred to as a “silent killer,” heart disease does not usually show signs until the disease has progressed to a serious state. Some people only learn of their condition after a severe incident such as a heart attack or stroke. Signs and symptoms of a heart attack may include:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness that does not go away with rest
  • Feeling weak or light-headed
  • Breaking out into a “cold sweat”
  • Pain in the upper body including arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea/vomiting or dizziness
Fortunately, there are many ways to significantly lower your chances of developing heart disease or to reverse a current heart condition. To work towards being heart healthy, you can do the following:
  • Get screened - Make sure to get your routine blood work and your blood pressure checked. Talk to your doctor about how often you should get these screenings. 
  • Eat a healthy diet - Changing your eating habits can significantly reduce your chance of getting heart disease. Remember to read nutrition labels and choose healthier options that lower your sodium, fat, and sugar intake. Make sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. 
  • Exercise regularly - Routine exercise can help prevent high blood pressure and other heart problems by strengthening your heart. Remember to exercise with moderate intensity at least 30 minutes a day. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight - Being overweight or obese can increase your blood pressure and risk for heart conditions. Talk to your doctor about ways to achieve a healthy weight.
  • Quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake - Smoking damages your blood vessels, and too much alcohol depletes your body of vitamins and nutrients. Both have been shown to increase your blood pressure. 

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI) encourages you to take steps now towards a healthier lifestyle for your heart and overall well-being. Talk to your doctor if you would like more information or have concerns about heart disease. If you are a Montgomery County resident, low income, and uninsured, you can learn more about blood pressure and cholesterol screenings by contacting Montgomery Cares Clinics through MC311 by dialing 240-777-0311.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Recap: Health Promoter Osteoporosis Training

On January 25, AAHI hosted the bi-monthly Health Promoter Training focusing on osteoporosis. The purpose of the training is to ensure our Health Promoters have the most up-to-date information on osteoporosis and understand how this condition affects the Asian American community.

During the training, our Health Promoters learn about the preventative measures community members can partake to lower their risk of getting osteoporosis. One example is to eat food that is high in calcium but is non-diary, which is suitable for Asian Americans consumption due to lactose intolerance. Health Promoters also reviewed the procedures of the bone density screening so that cleanliness can be maintained during the screening for the clients.

The training was well attended and our Health Promoters actively participated in the interactive activity. Thank you for coming!

Click on the picture below to see more pictures from the evening!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

AAHI's January 2018 newsletter is out!

The January 2018 issue of AAHI's newsletter is now available online! Please click the image below to read a full-size version of the newsletter. Subscribe to our mailing list today to receive our quarterly newsletters via email!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Cervical Health Awareness Month

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and the Asian American Health Initiative wants you to know that there is a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer. Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. Cervical cancer can usually be cured if it is found and treated in the early stages.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity, and it causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV do not know they are infected. Vaccines that protect against infection with these types of HPV can greatly reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Having a Pap test to check for abnormal cells in the cervix or a test to check for HPV can find cells that may become cervical cancer. These cells can be treated before cancer forms.

The good news?
  • The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV.
  • Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests and follow-up care.
In honor of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, AAHI encourages:
  • Women to start getting regular cervical cancer screenings at age 21
  • Parents to make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12
Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they did not get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.

Taking small steps can help keep you safe and healthy. The Women's Cancer Control Program provides free mammograms, clinical breast exams, and pelvic exam/pap tests to low income uninsured women 40 to 64 years old who are Montgomery County residents. The program is for low income families who are uninsured. Proof of residence in Montgomery County and proof of income is requested. Online users may apply by creating a Service Request or call 240-777-1750 for more information.