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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/

Protect yourself from flu

girl using hand sanitizer

We’re in the middle of a very active flu season and we’re starting to see cases of influenza at our medical clinic. Here’s how you can protect yourself from the flu and get the care you need!

Know the symptoms

Make sure you know the symptoms of flu and cold, and when to see a health care provider. Remember that flu viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics.

If you feel sick, stay home

You might not want to miss class, work, or other responsibilities, but the most important thing you can do is rest and avoid spreading germs to others.

According to the university policy on absences, instructors cannot require written excuses from health care professionals. If your instructor asks for a note, you can provide the Cougar Health Services letter on excused student absences.

Get medical care

You can make an appointment at our medical clinic online or over the phone. Keep in mind that our same-day appointments are limited due to short-staffing. If you need or want to seek care from a community provider, we can help you with referrals and questions.

You can also call our main line at 509-335-3575 for 24/7 advice from nursing staff. When the clinic is closed, your call will be directed to a nurse at Harborview Medical Center.

If you have mild cold or flu symptoms, check out our guide on managing symptoms at home.

Protect yourself from flu

Try to avoid spreading germs and practice healthy habits for preventing flu. If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, there’s still time! The peak of flu season can run through March, and flu activity can continue until May.

Flu shots are covered in full by most insurances. Check with your insurance provider for details on your coverage and where to go. You can check with our clinic on our flu shot supplies and make an appointment by calling 509-335-3575.

WSU Monitoring 2019 Novel Coronavirus

The health of the Cougar community is our priority. We want to provide accurate resources for current information and preventative tips to help minimize the spread of illness. Updates that are specific to the WSU community will be provided on the Cougar Health Services website.

We are working with Whitman County Public Health and other University leadership to monitor an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed the first cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the U.S. Current information about the coronavirus is provided by the CDC

What is this novel coronavirus (2019‑nCoV)?

2019‑nCoV is a newly identified coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness. It was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Since then, the virus has been identified in multiple other countries, including cases in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people. This new virus is a public health concern because:

  • It is newly identified, so much is still unknown about it.
  • Two other human coronaviruses, MERS‑CoV and SARS‑CoV, have caused severe illness.

What is the risk?

The CDC considers this new virus a serious public health threat. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak an international public health emergency.

That said, the CDC considers the immediate health risk from 2019‑nCoV to the general American public to be low at this time. There are no confirmed cases among WSU community members.

As of January 31, 2020, there are only six confirmed cases in the United States, one of which is in Snohomish County and is unrelated to WSU.

Information about the symptoms, transmission and treatment for 2019‑nCoV is available on the CDC webpage.

Can you travel to or from China?

The CDC has issued a level 3 warning for travel to China and recommends avoiding all non‑essential travel to China. The U.S. Department of State updated its China Travel Advisory on January 30, 2020, to “Do Not Travel” to China.

Accordingly, we ask that members of the WSU community not travel to China, until such time as the CDC and Department of State downgrade their travel advisories.

If you must travel to China:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan with their health care provider.

In addition, if you must travel to China, register your travel through WSU’s international travel insurance. By registering your travel, emergency assistance is more readily available and you will have access to specific risk information about your destination(s).

What are the best prevention measures?

There is no vaccine to prevent this virus. The CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Where is WSU posting information about the 2019‑nCoV outbreak?

Updates and additional information are available on the Cougar Health Services website.

If you have questions about travel to or from China, please contact Global Services in International Programs: ip.globalservices@wsu.edu; 509‑335‑4508.

If you have personal medical questions, please contact your medical provider.

 

AS A REMINDER, WE ARE STILL IN AN ACTIVE FLU SEASON:

The flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from getting the flu. For students, Cougar Health Services still has flu vaccines available. Schedule an appointment for a flu shot by calling 509-335-3575.

For more information about the Coronavirus, international travel safety, the seasonal flu, and ways to stay healthy, please visit the following links:

 

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.

Consent and sex: What you need to know

Close up to two peoples' shoes

College students around the country have lots of questions about consent and sex. So let’s talk about it. WSU has a specific definition of consent when it comes to sexual activity: it must be clear, knowing, and voluntary. Consent is important because it involves giving and getting permission. This ensures both people feel comfortable and makes the experience that much better.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to have an awkward conversation that completely ruins the moment or sign a contract to get consent. Getting clear, knowing, voluntary consent is easy. Getting and giving consent is ongoing and involves checking in with your partner both verbally and non-verbally. For example, ask yourself:

  • Do they look happy to be there?
  • Do they say “yes” when you ask if they like what is happening?
  • Do they know what they are consenting to?

Alcohol or drug use can impact the ability to give consent.  When someone is incapacitated by alcohol or drugs, they lose the ability to be fully aware of what’s going on around them. If someone doesn’t know what’s going on, then they’re unable to give consent. Ask yourself, “Do I feel comfortable letting this person drive right now?”  If your answer is not a definitive and instant ”yes”, then it’s a good time to step back and assess whether or not that person is able to give consent.

In a nutshell, consent means giving and getting permission to engage in sexual activity.  It means you and your partner both really want to be doing what you’re doing, and you’re both excited about it and enjoy it. Getting and giving consent is about being a good partner and making sure everyone is in agreement.

Want to learn more? Check out this video by sex educator Laci Green entitled, Wanna Have Sex? (Consent 101). (Please note this video includes strong language and sexual content.)

 

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.

 

Vision Clinic Frame Show

three students wearing glasses
Three students wearing Vision Clinic sunglasses

 

Stop by the vision clinic for a special sale event for WSU students! Over 200 styles of frames and sunglasses will be available to try on and purchase. Students will receive a 25% discount on frames and sunglasses in stock.

Vision Clinic Frame Show
October 23, 2019 10 AM – 3 PM
Washington Building.

Drop by for giveaways and enter to win a free frame or sunglasses!  

For questions about the sale or our vision care services, contact our vision clinic.