County has lowest rates of most common cancers

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Dr. Chunfu Liu, Dr. Brandi Page, and Dr. Clifford Mitchell participated in a panel on cancer rates in Montgomery County. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAKDr. Chunfu Liu, Dr. Brandi Page, and Dr. Clifford Mitchell participated in a panel on cancer rates in Montgomery County. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAK  Incidences of the five most common forms of cancer are lower in Montgomery County than they are in the rest of the state and throughout the United States.

According to Dr. Chunfu Liu, chief epidemiologist for the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, “Montgomery County rates are consistently lower” in cancers of the lung, colon and rectum, breast, prostate and skin, he said, adding, “Cancer is the leading cause of mortality in Montgomery County,” accounting for 24 percent of deaths.

There are more than 100 types of cancers, he told those attending a March 28 public conversation on cancer in the community at the Silver Spring Civic Building, but he only focused on cancers with the highest mortality rates.

Liu did not state a reason for the County’s lower rates, explaining that there are too many risk factors to be able to come up with a specific reason. Smoking, obesity, excessive drinking, an unhealthy diet and a lack of activity increase a person’s chances of receiving a diagnosis of cancer, said Liu.


Homeless disagree with County

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A homeless man sleeping on the pavement in Silver Spring in July of last year. FILE PHOTO A homeless man sleeps on the pavement in Silver Spring in July of last year.      FILE PHOTO Despite optimistic talk of how more and more homeless people were moving into permanent housing, the tenor of Monday night’s community dialogue on homelessness changed when about 15 homeless people entered the meeting in the Silver Spring Civic Building and disputed how well the County is handling its homeless population.

“Morally it’s wrong to say you have compassion, and you don’t,” said Sharetha Wilson, who recently moved into her own place after four years living on the street.

“You say you have compassion, but you pass us on your way,” she told the packed meeting room. “If you see us on the streets, if you see us in church, why not say, ‘How can I help you?’” she asked. “You all snub your noses.”


Leggett plans budget cuts

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MoCo LogoMontgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett released his plan for $60 million in proposed cuts last week, after news the County is way short of its proposed revenues for the current year.

Leggett’s proposed cuts, most notably target schools – the largest part of the County’s budget – include a proposed $25 million cut to Montgomery County Public Schools and a $5.2 million cut to Montgomery College.

“There are very few options that are there, you don't go there unless you absolutely have to,” said Leggett of his proposed $30.2 million cut to schools.

In addition, Leggett also proposed a $3.8 million cut to police, a $2.6 million cut to the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, a $2.6 million cut to fire and rescue services and a $4.4 million cut to the Department of Health and Human Services to make up for the revenue shortfall.


MoCo sees slight dip in number of homeless residents

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Homelessness in Montgomery County decreased by 9 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to an annual survey conducted by Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

According to the survey, which was a one-night snapshot of the homeless population on Jan. 25 of this year, there were 894 homeless people in the County, as compared to 981 in 2016 and 1,100 in 2015.

The 894 people included 86 families and 172 children, according to the survey.

The survey, in its 17th year, tallied the homeless population in nine jurisdictions in the Washington, D.C. area. Overall, there were 11,128 homeless individuals in the nine jurisdictions, according to the survey which was released last week.

Amanda Harris, Montgomery County’s chief of special needs housing in its Department of Health and Human Services, called the numbers in the survey “typical,” although the survey noted that day was unseasonably warm.


Berliner says budget aggression will not stand

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Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner reassured activists and professionals in the Jewish community last week that the County’s proposed budget that includes a 1 percent cut in funding for nonprofits will not stand.

“It just simply can’t stand, and I know my colleagues feel the same way,” Berliner told the 60 participants at the 12th annual Jewish Community Relations Council’s Montgomery County Advocacy Day on April 6.

The reduced funding is proposed to come out of the Department of Health and Human Services Non-Developmental Disabilities Provider Services Contracts budget, which many nonprofits rely on to provide services to County residents.


Tillman remembered for community work

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Dr. Ulder TillmanDr. Ulder Tillman. FILE PHOTO  

Several hundred people crowded into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Friday morning to say goodbye to Ulder Jane Tillman, who was memorialized as a dedicated public health care worker, a wonderful teacher to young children, a religious woman and a great dancer who could really move her hips.

Tillman died suddenly Jan. 3 at the age of 67. For the past 13 years, Tillman had been the chief of Public Health Services for Montgomery County.

She had degrees from such prestigious institutions as Harvard University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, but those who know her well said she was never one to flaunt her education.

"She was humble and down-to-earth," said Uma Ahluwalia, director of Health and Human Services for Montgomery County. "Her dedication, her compassion, her commitment to public health is what everyone keeps talking about," said Ahluwalia, who had worked with Tillman for 10 years.


County health official Dr. Ulder Tillman dies

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Dr. Ulder TillmanDr. Ulder Tillman. COURTESY PHOTO

Montgomery County Health Officer and Chief of Public Health Services Dr. Ulder Tillman died suddenly today after 13 years of service working for the County.  

Tillman was known for her public health awareness campaigns on the Zika virus, Lyme disease and Ebola. Tillman gave several presentations to the County Council about Zika and lead a public awareness campaign about how residents could prevent mosquito bites and what they needed to know about the virus, during the Zika outbreak last year.


Council at odds with Executive Ike Leggett over Hispanic Gala

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Members of a County Council joint committee accused county departments of misusing public funds during a meeting last week.

In aggregate, four County departments donated the maximum amount of money allotted to sponsor events by the County Council – $9,999 – to the County Executive’s Hispanic Gala, which raises money for scholarships for Hispanic students.

Under a new County law, County departments must spend under $10,000 on sponsorships for nonprofit events. If a County department spends $ 10,000 or more, it has to be approved by the Council.

“I’m amazed, really just flabbergasted that we ended up with expenditures of $9, 999,” County Council member George Leventhal (D at-large) said. “I mean that is laughable …that was so clearly an end-run around the council’s intent that it creates friction and tension between the two branches of government that should not exist.”


Volunteers flock to G-burg to help the homeless

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MPI-0019Two children enjoy balloons and facepainting activities during the Homeless Resource Day at Bohrer Park. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  GAITHERSBURG – Almost 400 Montgomery County residents briefly set aside their concerns about finding housing, jobs and medical care and instead spent the day getting their hair done, receiving flu shots and generally being treated with respect.

The sixth annual Nadim Khan Memorial Homeless Resource Day, held Nov. 17 at Bohrer Park, was dedicated to helping residents who are either homeless or in danger of becoming homeless learn about all the benefits and programs they are entitled to. 

There were 1,100 homeless people in the County in 2015, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

The county’s Department of Health and Human Services in 2014 adopted a 10-year plan to end homelessness here.


NIH prioritizes youth suicide prevention

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BETHESDA – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) prioritized youth suicide prevention as part of its research agenda for the next decade.

A panel within NIH's Pathways to Prevention Program, which released a report detailing 29 recommendations to improve and facilitate research on youth suicide and prevention, formed an agenda that included the prevention push.

“If lives matter of any variety, then funding needs to be provided,” said panel leader Todd Little, a professor of educational psychology at Texas Tech University.

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