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Handwashing: a small habit with a big impact

clasped hands under running water in a sink with soap suds

Washington State University is reminding students, faculty and staff that washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the tools identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for helping combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Studies have shown that handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related sicknesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections, such as a cold or flu. Handwashing prevents the spread of infections by reducing the number of germs introduced to our own bodies when touching our eyes, nose or mouth and reducing germs transferred to common objects like phones, hand rails, buttons, and door knobs.

Wash your hands often.

Washing hands at key times with soap and water is one of the most important steps you can take to get rid of germs and avoid spreading germs to those around you.

When you should wash your hands:

  • After using the bathroom
  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

Do it right.

Follow these five steps every time you wash your hands.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum “Happy Birthday” twice or sing the WSU Fight song (without all the clapping of course).
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

If soap and water aren’t available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

If you want to spread the word and not germs, you can get images, videos and posters to print and share at the CDC Health Promotion materials website. This information was provided by and adapted from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information visit https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/

Make your health a priority this year!

Front entrances of the Washington Building

Your health plays a major role in your success as a student. We provide comprehensive care right here on campus, making it easier for you to get the care you need.

Our highly-skilled health care providers and counselors understand the unique needs of students and offer a wide range of services to support all Cougs.

We’re here for you!

Make sure you’re familiar with our services and the resources we provide.

We hope you have a wonderful year. Stay healthy, Cougs!

Individual Counseling Available During Dead and Finals Week

Student visiting with CAPS Counselor

The end of the semester can be especially stressful! This year, Cougar Health Services is offering individual counseling sessions during dead and finals week to help you navigate this busy time.

These same-day appointments will be available at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) over the next two weeks:

  • Monday, Dec. 2 through Friday, Dec. 6, 9 AM – 5 PM
  • Monday, Dec. 9 through Friday, Dec. 13, 9 AM – 5 PM

You can schedule an appointment by calling CAPS at 509-335-4511 on the day you would like to meet, even if you are not currently seeing a CAPS counselor. Sessions are covered by your student health fee, and no insurance is required.

If you have questions, please contact CAPS at 509-335-4511.

November Peer Health Educator Spotlight – Makena Horne

Makena Horne

Makena Horne is a second-year sophomore at WSU completing a B.S. in genetics and cell biology and a minor in pre-genetic counseling. She joined the peer health education program in the fall of 2019. Her peers in the program nominated her for the November Peer Health Educator of the Month award. This award is given to peer health educators in recognition of their hard work and dedication to the program. We sat down with Makena to hear more about her time in the program and why she thinks other students would benefit from joining.

How has being a peer health educator been meaningful to you?

Makena Horne: [Being a peer health educator] has helped me learn some of the skills I felt I was either lacking or didn’t have as much training in. To be able to help people in need – like when my friends are going through a rough patch or somebody needs some advice – I feel I can better aid them.

How do you think being a peer health educator has built career skills?

MH: I think the best career skills I’ve learned are active listening and learning what makes a good and effective program/workshop. I personally want to work more on my public speaking skills. How can I keep an audience engaged and how can I deliver information in a clear manner so people can understand – I think that’s going to be really beneficial in a clinical setting.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned as a peer health educator?

MH: Well, I am working with the Peer Body Project this year and one thing I really took home was how to accept myself and how to help others accept themselves. And I think that’s really powerful. So I am really happy I get to be a part of that and to be able to help. I’ve also learned about the bystander effect and how to overcome this and be an active bystander. I feel I am in a better place to intervene in a situation I would see.

What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a peer health educator?

MH: I’d say go for it because it’s a whole lot of fun. Not only is everyone friends, but we all have similar interests and ideas, so we really vibe with each other. I was really worried at first about the time commitment – I have Honors classes and pre-med classes and just everything else I have to worry about – and it’s really not that bad. I don’t really feel strained or anything. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to get involved on campus. You don’t have to be pre-med to be a peer health educator. The skills you’ll learn are about teaching and those skills can go so far.

Want to quit vaping? We can help!

person using e-cigarette
person using e-cigarette

Quitting is tough, but we are here to help! Cougar Health Services provides a variety of free resources to help students quit vaping or using tobacco products.

As of October 15, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 1,479 lung injuries related to e-cigarette and vaping products in 49 states. Because of this, the CDC and Cougar Health Services are encouraging those who use these products to quit.

We provide brief cessation counseling to currently enrolled students who have paid their student health fee. During your appointments, we can help you:

  • Explore your options for quitting
  • Improve your motivation to quit
  • Learn ways to manage cravings
  • Reduce the stress of quitting
  • Reduce your e-cigarette and vaping product use if you have had previous attempts to quit, or are not able to entirely quit

Nicotine replacements (gum, patches, or lozenges) are also available at no charge to students who participate in nicotine cessation counseling. If you’d like to find out how we can help you quit, call 509-335-3575.

In the meantime, here are five quick tips to help you get started:

Set a quit date.

Choosing a specific quit date can help you get serious about your plan to stop using e-cigarettes and vaping products. Try to find a day when you won’t be too busy or stressed.

Celebrate the small milestones.

On top of the health benefits, quitting can save a lot of money. Reward your achievements and spend the cash you’ve saved on something you enjoy.

Don’t do it alone.

Tell the people in your life that you’re planning to quit, join a support group, talk to a counselor, or download an app to receive reminders and support. Counseling and nicotine replacements can significantly improve your chance of success and help ease the symptoms of withdrawal.

Take care of yourself.

Caring for your body and mind can help alleviate the stress of quitting. Exercise will improve your mood and energy. Strive for 7-8 hours of sleep every night, eat a balanced diet, and drink plenty of water.

Try and try again.

Most people try to quit smoking an average of 8 times before they succeed. Don’t give up! Each time you attempt to quit, you can learn something new about what does and doesn’t work for you, and what you need for success in the future.

Not sure where to start? Give us a call at 509-335-3575, and we can help you find the best option for you.

October Peer Health Educator Spotlight – Nathan Salyer

Nathan Salyer
Peer Health Educator, Nathan Salyer

Nathan Salyer is a third-year junior at WSU completing a B.S. in neuroscience and a B.A. in Chinese. He joined the peer health education program in the spring of 2019. His peers in the program nominated him for the October Peer Health Educator of the Month award. This award is given to peer health educators in recognition of their hard work and dedication to the program. We sat down with Nathan to hear more about his time in the program and why he thinks other students would benefit from joining.

How has being a peer health educator been meaningful to you?

Nathan Salyer: I’ve always been passionate about health education throughout high school. It has been good to be in a program where I can go out into the public and reach people who are interested in learning. It is a great way to help people become more comfortable with healthcare and learn to do things on their own.

How do you think being a peer health educator has built career skills?

NS: One skill has been the customer service aspect of health education. I want to become a doctor and learning how to teach is definitely vital. If someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying, you have to be patient with them. You try to find another way to explain to them so they can understand what you are trying to say.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned as a peer health educator?

NS: One of the most important things I’ve learned is it’s okay to not have the answer. There is a large amount of information I need to know to be able to present a workshop, but it doesn’t cover everything actually known about a topic.

If someone asks a question in a workshop I’m facilitating with someone else and I don’t have the answer, I can step aside and look it up really quick. If I’m by myself, I can say that’s a great question, but I don’t know and ask them to talk to me afterward. Then we can figure it out and look it up together or I can give them contact information for people who are much more knowledgeable than I am.

What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a peer health educator?

NS: I’d say go for it. The time and effort you put in to learn all the information is very beneficial if you want to have an impact on people. If you have any sort of passion for it, then go for it.

 

Become a peer health educator

Photo of Cougar Health Services Peer Health Educators

Peer health educators are a diverse group of undergraduate leaders who work with us to educate and empower their fellow students. Students who participate in this program facilitate workshops, represent CHS at campus events, table, and collaborate with campus partners.

We consistently hear from students who are interested in peer health education programs, and studies show that students view peer health educators as credible and trustworthy sources of information. The program is supported by the Service & Activity Fee and will help increase our collaboration with students.

Students who participate in the program will receive a range of professional development opportunities, including training and hands-on experience. Peer educators will develop leadership and public speaking skills, foster positive working relationships, and gain foundational knowledge in a variety of health topics, including violence prevention, mental health, substance use, and sexual health.

The application for becoming a peer health educator will open March 27. Due to COVID-19, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis rather than having a strict close date.

Students who are accepted into the program will receive BACCHUS training on Sunday, August 30 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Students will then take an exam for their peer educator certification. The program has a one-year commitment with 25 hours of involvement per semester and bi-weekly meetings which occur on Wednesdays from 4:00 –6:00 pm.

If you have questions about the program, please contact Peyton Prothero.

Vaping-associated Pulmonary Illness

As of December 4, 2019, 2,291 cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products have been reported to CDC. This includes 48 deaths. No evidence of infectious diseases has been identified; therefore the lung illnesses are likely associated with a chemical exposure. The CDC’s investigation has not identified any specific substance or e-cigarette product that is linked to all cases. Please consider not using e-cigarette products.

If you vape and you experience symptoms like those reported in this outbreak, seek medical care promptly. Some patients have reported that their symptoms developed over a few days, while others have reported that their symptoms developed over several weeks. A pulmonary infection does not appear to be causing the symptoms, which have generally not improved with antibiotic treatment alone. Patients in this investigation have reported symptoms such as:

  • cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • fatigue, fever, or weight loss

Regardless of the ongoing investigation young adults should not use e-cigarette products.

  • The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for teens and young adults.
  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.
  • E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine.
  • Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.

Additional information can be found on the CDC website. 

Those experiencing symptoms or who have questions about their health should contact their healthcare provider. Pullman students can contact Cougar Health Services at 509-335-3575 or schedule an appointment at https://cougarhealth.wsu.edu/appointments/

Faculty and staff guide for helping students in distress

Aerial view of Pullman campus
Picture of WSU Pullman campus on a sunny day

Faculty and staff are often able to recognize when a student is struggling, but it can be hard to know what to say or do.

To ensure students get the support they need, Student Affairs created a comprehensive guide that faculty and staff can reference when they’re concerned about a student.

The guide covers how to recognize common signs of distress, helpful ways to respond to a student, campus and community support resources, and reporting options.

Each WSU location has a guide with specific campus and community resources. View the guide for your WSU location below:

Join the Culture of Respect campus team

 

The Culture of Respect initiative had a great start as we welcomed nearly 35 campus and community partners to the kickoff event February 27. This campus-wide initiative uses a framework focused on broad participation which allows us to come together and collectively develop goals and next steps for WSU Pullman.

The first step we are taking is completing the CORE Evaluation by the end of April. We are using this self-assessment to determine which aspects of the Culture of Respect framework are most relevant for our campus. As we review what WSU is already doing to prevent sex- and gender-based violence, we are able to assess how we can build off this strong foundation and how we can collaborate to address gaps we identify.

If you missed the kickoff event, check out this video of the presentation above.

If you would like to know more about the Core Evaluation or are interested in becoming a part of our campus team, please contact Tara Johnson, Health Promotion Specialist, at tara.l.johnson@wsu.edu.