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Health briefs: Blood pressure kits available at Wis. libraries; Let's Talk Month encourages parents to talk to kids about sex

Ellsworth Public Library Director Tiffany Meyer (left) and Rose Breslin, Vibrant Health Family Clinics care coordinator, pose with a blood pressure-monitoring kit available at area libraries. Submitted photo

Blood pressure kits available at Wis. libraries

Vibrant Health Family Clinics began a project to expand access to blood pressure-monitoring tools through a grant from the Pierce County Aging and Disabilities Resource Center. Vibrant Health collaborated with library systems in River Falls, Ellsworth and Spring Valley to create a kit with a blood pressure monitor, instructions and other health information. The kits are available to check out free of charge for two weeks at a time.

"Having the kits available at the libraries allows access to more residents than a stationary monitor at a location such as a local drug store or pharmacy," according to a news release. "It also encourages self-monitoring of blood pressure and reaffirms the importance of checking your blood pressure."

Let's Talk Month encourages parents to talk to kids about sex

October 2018 was proclaimed Let's Talk Month in Minnesota by Gov. Mark Dayton, part of a nationwide initiative encouraging parents and caregivers to have open conversations with young people about sexuality and healthy relationships.

"We encourage parents to look for opportunities to talk to their children about sex and relationships," Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said in a news release. "Research shows parents can play a powerful role in improving their child's health through open, honest conversations. That ranges from having age-appropriate talks with young children about where babies come from to talking with teens about how to have a healthy relationship."

In Minnesota, 11 percent of ninth-graders reported having sex, and only around two-thirds of them used a reliable form of birth control, according to a 2016 student survey.

The state has set up a website with advice for parents and caregivers at


Suicide-prevention class in St. Paul

QPR is a free, one-hour presentation sponsored by NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) that covers the three steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide: Question, Persuade and Refer. Just like CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives. QPR is the most widely taught gatekeeper training program in the U.S., and more than one million adults have been trained in classroom settings in 48 states.

A QPR class will be offered noon to 1 p.m. Nov. 14 at NAMI Minnesota, 1919 University Ave., W., in Suite 400, St. Paul. For more information or to register, call 651-645-2948 ext. 198 or see "classes" at

Red Cross seeks blood drive hosts

The American Red Cross is looking for individuals and organizations to host blood drives to prevent blood shortages this winter. There is a need for about 500 more hosts for blood drives in the surrounding area for December-February, according to a news release.

"When someone hosts a blood drive, they give donors a chance to donate lifesaving blood, in turn helping to save dozens or even hundreds of lives," said Cliff Numark, senior vice-president, Biomedical Services. "Blood shortages are not uncommon during the winter months, and these shortages could cause delays in patient care. But with the help of volunteer blood drive partners, the Red Cross can be better prepared to meet patient needs all winter long."

To learn more, visit Blood drive partners who host a drive between Dec. 20 and Jan. 6 will receive long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirts for all who come to give, and if the partner achieves its donation goal, it will be recognized in a national newspaper highlighting its lifesaving work.