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  2004 Jan 12 Release.
  For Immediate Release.
  Contact: Rich Belanger or
  Bonnie Arkus 609-771-9600

WOMEN'S HEART FOUNDATION SPONSORING FIRST IN A SERIES OF GENDER CARE CONFERENCES BEGINNING FEBRUARY 7. COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH LACY TO BE OPENING PRESENTER.
New accredited initiative will focus on what women need and special care models for them

New Brunswick, New Jersey, January 12, 2004 - The Women's Heart Foundation, as part of Women's Heart Week, February 1-7, announced today its plans for a series of gender care conferences for nurses that will present cardiac care models that better fit the special needs of women, according to Bonnie Arkus, Executive Director. The Woman and Heart Disease Gender Care Conference, the first of six that are being hosted by Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, will be open to all nurses, and is part of the Foundation's statewide education program to change the way women think about heart disease.

"Our state nurses are caring for women with heart attack symptoms every day," says Arkus. "They need to know about care models that are the most effective, and if nurses recognize these symptoms earlier, then the chances of a late diagnosis and inappropriate care are reduced dramatically."

According to Marianne T. Balay, MS, RN, Assistant Vice President of Women's Health at RWJUH and Vice Chair of the conference, heart disease is unfortunately still considered a predominately men's health problem, despite the fact that it is by far the leading cause of premature death in women.

"Heart disease and stroke are a greater risk to women than all cancers combined, " says Balay. "Despite this, many women still face a misdiagnosis and therefore, it will take a team effort to raise awareness. That is why RWJUH is joining with the Women's Heart Foundation to launch this series. It is our intent to lead an effort that will help change the way healthcare is delivered to women everywhere", she said. Commissioner of Health Clifton P. Lacy, MD, opened the conference with compelling statistics. Dr. Lacy is also a cardiologist and maintains at active practice at the hospital.

The conference has three major focal points: to understand factors that affect quality of health care and services to women with heart disease, to target characteristics of models that work better in women than men, and to introduce models that better answer the needs of women. Presenting these points of focus will be Dr. Barbara Riegel, DNSc, RN, CS, FAAN, Associate Professor of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, who has examined how gender-specific characteristics impact women with heart disease. She is an expert in the field of cardiovascular nursing, having conducted numerous research investigations and published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, numerous book chapters and three books. Dr. Riegel also serves as editor of the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing. She says that gender care addresses not only the biophysical differences but also the socio-cultural norms and experiences, values, psychosocial characteristics, behaviors and social roles - all of which impact a woman's care.

Upon completion of the series, participants will be awarded a WHF Gender Care certificate and a gold-plated pin that replicates the Foundation's woman-in-heart symbol. The conference is approved for 1.5 contact hours for nursing continuing education. It is scheduled for Saturday, February 7, 2004 from 11:00 A.M. until 2:00 P.M. at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital auditorium.

First Lady of New Jersey, Dina Matos McGreevey, plans to attend to help launch the new initiative. Mrs. McGreevey is Honorary Chairwoman of WHF's campaign "Take New Jersey Women to Heart".

The Women's Heart Foundation is a public-supported charity dedicated to improving survival and quality of life for women with heart disease. For more information or to download a registration form, go to www.womensheart.org.


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