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Press Release

ProfNet Experts Available on Zika Issues, Genetic Screening, Employee Wellness, More

Posted on: 19 Aug 16

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Aug. 19, 2016

NEW YORK, Aug. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Below are experts from the ProfNet network who are available to discuss timely issues in your coverage area.

You can also submit a query to the hundreds of thousands of experts in our network – it's easy and free! Just fill out the query form to get started:


  • Zika Spread Magnifies Questions of Employer Liability
  • Zika Exposes IT Gaps
  • Anyone Planning on Having Children Should Consider Genetic Screening
  • How CFOs Can Stop Worrying and Love Their Company's Wellness/EAP
  • Flood Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life


  • Sports Reporter – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AK)
  • Breaking News/Crime Reporter – Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
  • Energy Reporter – Houston Business Journal (TX)


  • 6 Simple Tools for Creating GIFs to Enhance Your Storytelling
  • Facebook Live: A Game Changer
  • Know Before You Go: 4 Tips for Journalists Covering a Major Event



Zika Spread Magnifies Questions of Employer Liability
Justin Markel
Roberts Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey PC in Houston
Health officials have reported the first spread of the Zika virus from state to state when a Texas man got the disease after visiting a section of Miami where mosquitoes have been spreading Zika. The virus can cause brain damage and other birth defects in infants if the mother is infected during pregnancy. While its dangers first appeared in Brazil, its spread to the U.S. has magnified questions about risk, including to workers whose employers want them to travel. Says Markel: "Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employees may refuse to work in certain circumstances when working conditions are dangerous. Among other things, the employee must genuinely believe that an imminent danger exists, and there must be a real danger of death or serious injury. Because of the way Zika is transmitted and the availability of preventive measures, it is unlikely that an employee could refuse to travel on this ground – unless the employee is pregnant. However, employers should be cautious when an employee refuses such a work assignment. An employee could argue that she is protected by OSHA and is shielded from adverse employment actions."
News Contact: Kit Frieden,

Zika Exposes IT Gaps
Ritu Agarwal
Information Systems Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Research
University of Maryland'sRobert H. Smith School of Business
"Health departments have lacked guidance to effectively strategize about appropriate IT investments, and incidents like the current Zika crisis bring the issue to the forefront. From intensive analysis of the rollout of an electronic health records system [in a nearby county], we uncovered a host of barriers and obstacles to effective use of information, including the complexity and usability of the software, the inability of the software to support certain unique public health reporting needs, the learning curve for public health workers, and the lack of standards for effective data exchange. All of this does not bode well, either for crisis response or for proactive crisis anticipation."
Agarwal is founder and Director of the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems at the Smith School and Editor-in-Chief of Information Systems Research.
Contact: Greg Muraski,

Anyone Planning on Having Children Should Consider Genetic Screening
Karen Grinzaid
Genetic Counselor
Emory University's JScreen Program
Eighty percent of babies with genetic diseases are born to parents with no known family history of the disease, so the only way to know if you are a carrier with the potential to pass it on to your future child is to get screened. Says Grinzaid: "One in four people are a carrier for a genetic disease. Being a carrier doesn't mean you aren't healthy, but two carriers for the same hereditary disease could unknowingly pass on a devastating disease. Anyone over 18 and planning to have children in the future should consider screening to help keep their future families healthy."
With many genetic disease awareness months approaching (August: Spinal Muscular Atrophy; September: Tay-Sachs: October: Gaucher Disease and Niemann Pick Disease), Grinzaid is available to discuss screening programs. A national public health initiative out of Emory University called JScreen has transformed the way people can get screened, with 24/7 access to their at-home, highly subsidized, saliva test. Once the results are ready, a genetic counseling session by video teleconference will be scheduled.
Contact: Hillary Kener,

How CFOs Can Stop Worrying and Love Their Company's Wellness/EAP
Dr. Dave Sharar
Research Scientist, Commercial Science Division
Chestnut Global Partners
A recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (see link below) reports that some employers are cutting back on wellness programs and related services, as management has remained skeptical as to their value in making their company healthier and productive, while reducing the cost of doing so. However, Sharar says companies are not measuring these programs properly: "Companies, government agencies, and other organizations in today's world need objective data to validate and justify all expenditures. Measuring the success of employee assistance in particular has historically focused on utilization rates, client satisfaction, and occasional surveys of symptom reduction or problem resolution. The most reliable measure, however, is how employee assistance programs (EAPs) affect specific workplace outcomes."
Chestnut Global Partners and the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) recently did a "before and after" assessment of 13,400 users of employee assistance services, based on their correlation to absenteeism, productivity, and other key workplace outcomes measures. Sharar is available to discuss their findings and how applying outcomes-based measures -- and analytics -- to wellness and employee assistance programs gives CFOs and senior management a systematic and objective way of determining their value to the organization.
Contact: Charles Epstein,

Flood Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life
Joe Alton, M.D.
Disaster Preparedness Expert
"Floods are just one of the many natural disasters that can endanger your family and turn your home into a ruin. With planning and some supplies, however, you'll be able to keep your loved ones safe and healthy." Alton is available to provide flood safety tips, including: "1) Hit the road early: Make the decision to leave for higher ground before flooding occurs and roads are blocked. Having a NOAA weather radio will keep you up to date on the latest advisories. When the authorities tell you to evacuate, don't hesitate to get out of Dodge. 2) Be careful walking through flowing water: Drowning is the most common cause of death during a flood, especially a flash flood. Rapidly moving water can knock you off your feet even if less than a foot deep. Most vehicles can be carried away by water just two foot deep. 3) Don't drive through a flooded area: In a flood, many people drown in their cars as they stall out in moving water. Road and bridges could easily be washed out if you waited too long to leave the area. The U.S. Weather Service says: 'Turn around, don't drown!' Plan before a flood occurs to see if there is a 'high road' to safety. 4) Beware of downed power lines: Electrical current is easily conducted through water. You don't have to touch the downed line to be electrocuted, only step in the water nearby. There are numerous instances of electrocutions occurring as a result of rescuers jumping into the water to try to save victims of a shock. 5) Turn off the power: If you have reason to believe that water will get into your home, turn off the electricity. If you don't and the water reaches the level of the electric outlets, you could easily get electrocuted. Some warning signs might be sparks or strange sounds like crackling, popping, or buzzing."
Alton is a disaster preparedness expert, member of the Wilderness Medical Society, and New York Times/Amazon bestselling author of "The Survival Medicine Handbook" and other books. He has also written the just-released and timely "The Zika Virus Handbook." He is a well-known speaker and host of "The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Hour" syndicated podcast.
Contact: Ryan McCormick,



Following are links to job listings for staff and freelance writers, editors and producers. You can view these and more job listings on our Job Board:

  • Sports Reporter – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AK)
  • Breaking News/Crime Reporter – Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
  • Energy Reporter – Houston Business Journal (TX)



Following are links to other news and resources we think you might find useful. If you have an item you think other reporters would be interested in and would like us to include in a future alert, please drop us a line.

  • 6 SIMPLE TOOLS FOR CREATING GIFs TO ENHANCE YOUR STORYTELLING. GIFs never seem to get old or go out of style. These animated silent loops have dominated the world of online memes for some time now, going viral on blogs and social media more times than we can count. Here are six simple tools you can use to create GIFs to enhance your articles:
  • FACEBOOK LIVE: A GAME CHANGER IN 2016 SUMMER OLYMPICS IN RIO. As athletes continue to compete against each other for medals, social media platforms are also still vying for a spot on the podium. With its live-streaming features and Instagram, Facebook seems poised to take home gold against the likes of Twitter and Snapchat -- hardly even a qualifier four-years ago during the last summer games. Read more:
  • KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: 4 TIPS FOR JOURNALISTS COVERING A MAJOR EVENT. If you're covering a major event like the Olympics, here are some pointers to keep in mind:


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Last updated on: 19/08/2016

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