Bears, bills and health rankings

Helping kids, one bear at a time: Child Abuse Prevention Services partnered with GE Aviation employees to build 75 bears that will go to local children. photo courtesy of CAPS

An April 4 report on the NaturalNews Network claimed that legislation in the North Carolina General Assembly was about to "criminalize naturopaths, homeopaths, herablists, midwives, aromatherapists as felons." But the bill (SB 31), amended and passed today by the House, simply changes the current penalty level for people who "misrepresent themselves as licensed physicians," according to Rep. Susan Fisher, Democract of Buncombe County.

"It is a change in penalty to a felony for only those who misrepresent themselves as licensed physicians. It has to do with a case in Fayetteville where someone represented themselves as a licensed medical doctor," Fisher told Xpress via email.

Rep. Tim Moffitt, Republican of Buncombe County, concurred, saying that there was "quite the discussion regarding the Naturopathic side of medical treatment" in today's floor debate, but House members "were assured by Rep. Rick Glazier that these groups would not be affected."

The original bill, which amends one paragraph of the current state law G.S. 90-18(a), was passed by the Senate on March 7. Fisher noted that SB 31 was amended today to ensure that the law "remains as it has been for any other providers who misrepresent themselves."
— Nelda Holder

Build a bear, help a child

Local GE Aviation volunteers and Child Abuse Prevention Services staff built about 75 bears on April 7. Each bear will have a Blue Ribbon sticker reading “No Excuse for Child Abuse.” The bears will be given to children who have experienced abuse and are receiving counseling from CAPS.

“One in five children will experience abuse, half will be under 6 years old and tragically, four children will die every day from abuse and neglect,” said Bill McGuire, CAPS director.

According to the local nonprofit, there are over 5 million reports of abuse and neglect in the U.S. every year, more than 100,000 in North Carolina and about 4,000 in Buncombe County. Abuse crosses all lines and knows no boundaries: Usually the abuser is known to the child and often is someone who is supposed to love and protect them. “But child abuse is a preventable tragedy,” says McGuire. “That is why it is so critical to stop the hurt before it starts — to prevent child abuse and to provide counseling for children who have experienced [it], so the hurt can stop and the hope and healing can begin.”

GE Aviation’s Mike Fielder added, “awareness is key to action and prevention. We love the idea of these bears going to kids who can feel safe and loved.”

Last year CAPS educated and empowered 7,500 children with skills to protect themselves through prevention education; provided crisis intervention and counseling to 500 children and families who gained the opportunity to stabilize, get through the trauma of abuse, and learn new coping skills; and helped several hundred parents acquire increased parenting skills.
For information or to become a donor to Child Abuse Prevention Services call 254-2000, write to 50 S. French Broad Ave., Suite 152, Asheville, NC 28801, email or go to
— Margaret Williams

Healthy Buncombians

Buncombe County is the 17th healthiest in the state, according to data recently released by the County Health Rankings project. Overall, residents here have excellent health behavior and clinical care but still face problems with morbidity and environmental quality.

The figures, released March 30, rank Buncombe’s clinical care as the third best in the state, with a large number of primary-care providers and few hospital stays for health problems that can be prevented. The county’s health behaviors came in fifth. Buncombe residents were less obese and had more access to healthy foods than most counties, exceeding state averages and national goals in both areas.

“The rankings are just a starting point. They help us see where our community’s work is making a difference, such as the work to improve access to high-quality health care,” said Gibbie Harris, the county’s health director.

However, the picture is mixed: The high rankings in such areas were counterbalanced by the number of people reporting poor health days (especially mental health), poor air quality and low access to recreational facilities. And although fewer residents are obese than in other counties, the problem remains a priority in Buncombe because eight in 10 non-whites in the county struggle to keep their weight down.

“Since we live in a state that ranks 35th in the nation for overall health [American Health Rankings], we aren’t really focused on being No. 1 as much as we are paying attention to the benchmarks, and to our disparities in health that must be our focus if we want to see improvements overall,” said Harris.
David Forbes

— Send your health-and-wellness news to or, or call News Editor Margaret Williams at 251-1333, ext. 152.


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