National HIV Testing Day

By: Evan Woodford
Community HealthCorps Member
Harbor Health Services, Inc.

National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) is part of a campaign that encourages people to get the proper facts, get themselves tested for HIV, and join in the fight to spread awareness. Held annually on June 27th, NHTD aims to overcome some of the greatest obstacles involving testing by helping people to understand their need to get tested, even if they do not believe they are at any particular risk themselves. Connecting more people to testing services will help to reduce much of the stigma by helping it to become a more acceptable and normal practice.

NHTD focuses on connecting people with opportunities to become involved, especially through social media campaigns. There are a large number of campaigns dedicated to connecting many different target audiences to testing services and care. For example, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention “Act Against AIDS” initiative includes 12 different campaigns involving groups from Hispanic gay and bisexual men, to health care providers, to African American women, to name only a few.

Harbor Health Services offers many ways for you to get tested and know your status. Rapid HIV tests are offered from 3pm-7pm on Tuesdays at the Geiger Gibson Community Health Center and Wednesdays at the Neponset Health Center. At Harbor Community Health Center- Hyannis you can get tested Tuesdays from 10am-7pm. These tests all deliver your results in 20 minutes! Additionally, you can always talk to your provider about getting tested.

Interested in learning more information about how you can spread the word about HIV? Check out the links below!

Dorchester Day 2015 Pictures

Harbor Health Services, Inc. staff and clients from Neponset Health Center, Geiger Gibson Community Health Center and the Elder Service Plan of HHSI joined together to march in the 2015 Dorchester Day Parade! Sporting custom t-shirts from College Hype in Dorchester and carrying a banner in honor of Geiger Gibson Community Health Center’s 50th Anniversary, the group handed out frisbees and chanted “HAR-BOR HEALTH!” Check out pictures from the parade:

Brilliance: Sometimes a Blessing, Sometimes a Curse

By John Dabrowski, LICSW

Harbor Health Services, Inc.

John Nash died on May 23rd, thrown from a taxi cab on the Jersey Turnpike, along with his wife, also killed.  They were in their 80s.  Aside from this being a sad story and a cautionary tale about always using seatbelts, even on a cab ride, why might you care?  The man’s claim to fame was partly due to his being one of the great mathematicians of the 20th century, winner of a Nobel Prize.  If you’re like most of us, you’re totally bewildered by the scribblings of “higher” math;  all you really need to know is that our modern world would be far different – or nonexistent – without it, including the nonexistence of your marvelous portable electronic device and the internet that makes Facebook and cat videos on YouTube possible.  While John Nash’s brilliance didn’t bring us any device in particular, he played in the same league as those who did, and his abstract discourses are nowadays hugely influential in economics, the social sciences, and biology, and who knows what next.   Higher math is like that, which is all most of us math-bewildered people need to know.  And it’s only part of John Nash’s story.  If you’re a moviegoer who also happens to be a BH consultant, the other story is utterly tragic, compelling, and inspiring, and quite bewildering in its own way.  Just as the man’s brain was blessed regarding its ability to grasp complicated abstract concepts, it was equally cursed with those scrambled and unbalanced electrochemical circuits that evidence themselves in what the DSM labels as paranoid schizophrenic.  Which in real life plays out in tragic, painful, and sometimes fascinating ways.  The schizophrenic mind can be wildly creative, usually in ways that make normal living impossible.  John Nash’s story was told in a book that became a movie, which had some powerfully gut-wrenching scenes portraying the powers of a remarkable mind gone astray, a Beautiful Mind, as the title of the movie described it.   A marvelous beauty.   A terrible beauty.  The story is also about the beauty of resilience and recovery – often not the case with schizophrenics – and the power of family and friends.  Alicia Nash, who also died on Saturday, had divorced John in 1963, had taken him back in 1970 in a truly heroic act, and remarried him in 2001.   A beautiful story that ended too soon. 


Seasonal Allergies: April Showers Bring May Flowers…


By: Lorraine Burke, RN
Harbor Health Services, Inc.                     

Spring has finally sprung with colorful flowers, budding trees and green grass—a welcome change in season after the winter we have endured.

The weather change and new blossoms may be appreciated by most people, but those who suffer from spring seasonal allergies will be dealing with some annoying symptoms. In April and May the most common allergen is pollen from trees

Symptoms of seasonal spring allergies include:

  • Itchy nose
  • Sneezing and sniffing
  • Clear drainage from the nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery and pink or red eyes

Minimize your seasonal allergies symptoms by following these tips:

  • Minimize your outside exposure to pollen, especially on windy days.
  • Change your clothes after being outside when pollen levels are high of if you are experiencing bothersome symptoms.
  • Shower and shampoo hair to help wash off pollen.
  • Wash your face and eyelids with water after being outside to clean of pollen.
  • Keep windows in your house closed, especially if someone is mowing their lawn.

If the above measures do not help control your allergy symptoms, call your provider for advice. Depending on your child’s symptoms various treatments are available, such as:

  • Eye drops for itchy, red and swollen eyes.
  • Nasal spray or nasal washes.
  • Antihistamines, either over the counter or prescribed by your provider.

The Melanoma Education Foundation: A New Approach to Skin Cancer Awareness


By: Amanda Mastrangelo, MA
Harbor Health Services, Inc.


Spring has finally sprung, and we all know that means summer isn’t far behind. Along with these long-awaited temporal seasons we have wedding season, prom season, and beach season: cue the base tan! It’s no wonder May is so cleverly designated as Skin Cancer Awareness Month.  Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, with more people having skin cancer than all other types of cancer combined. Over 86% of skin cancers are associated with exposure to UV radiation (from the sun and/or tanning beds), which is why Skin Cancer Awareness Month has typically focused on prevention methods and advice like, “avoid the sun during peak times (10AM-4PM)”, “use sunscreen at all times”, and the oh-so-unrealistic adage of “don’t get a sunburn” – as if anyone does this on purpose!

While this is, of course, excellent advice, it does not address the almost 15% of skin cancers that are not caused by UV radiation. Risk factors such as family history, skin color and type, hair and eye color, and how many moles you have are not controllable or preventable. This is why the Melanoma Education Foundation, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit, has taken a different approach to skin cancer awareness.

The Melanoma Education Foundation (MEF) was founded in the year 2000 by Steve Fine, after he lost his son Daniel to melanoma at the age of 26. The foundation focuses on melanoma because despite accounting for less than 2% of skin cancer cases, melanoma is the second most common type of cancer in individuals aged 15-29, and is the most deadly. One of the most well-known facts about melanoma is that it is highly treatable and survivable if detected and treated early, before the cancer spreads to lymph nodes and other organs. This is why it is recommended to perform a complete self-skin exam once a month. MEF empowers young people to take control of their melanoma risk in a different way than advising them to stay out of the sun. MEF has designed free educational lesson plans and videos for health and wellness educators, with the goal of reaching young people and teaching them to check their skin for early warning signs of this deadly disease. The MEF-developed lesson, called The Melanoma Lesson, is taught in over 1300 schools in 48 states, and has saved lives by motivating both students and teachers to get something on their skin checked out. Their videos have twice won the Golden Triangle Award from the American Academy of Dermatology.

The Melanoma Education Foundation is passionate about spreading their message, and they are constantly working to identify schools and programs that would benefit from their lessons. In order to keep up their hard work, they hold an annual Calendar Raffle Fundraiser. During the month of July, there is a different prize offered for each day, and all raffle tickets sold stay in the raffle every day – even the winners! Prizes range from restaurant and grocery store gift cards, to a Tom Brady autographed football, to Red Sox Field Box tickets, to a Martha’s Vineyard weekend. Raffle tickets cost $5 each, $10 for 3, and $20 for 7. Contact Amanda at to purchase tickets by June 24th. Help The Melanoma Education Foundation continue to make a difference in so many lives. Read more about MEF and their story here; watch their video on how to perform a skin check, and learn more about their educational program offerings here.