As Louisianans count down to the Jan. 1 enactment of the Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act, many area restaurants are already protecting their patrons and employees from health effects of secondhand smoke exposure with voluntary 100 percent smoke-free policies. The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living is encouraging others to act early and go smoke-free before the New Year. "Our customers tell us they prefer a smoke-free environment," says Johan J. Adendorff, owner of American Meat Pie in Lafayette. "They thank us all the time and tell their friends that we're smoke-free. The fear of losing business is a myth. Seventy-five percent of people in Louisiana don't smoke. It's good business to cater to the majority of the population." The Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act, also known as Act 815, will eliminate smoking in most public places and workplaces including restaurants containing bars beginning Jan. 1. American Meat Pie, Catahoula's Restaurant, McAllister's Deli, Vermilionville's La Cuisine de Maman, and Casa Olé are just a few of the many area restaurants that are already smoke-free. In Louisiana, an estimated 650-1,150 people die each year from the effects of exposure to secondhand smoke. For more info., visit www.tobaccofreeliving.org.

Miles Perret Cancer Services Executive Director Laura Slavich was invited to represent the local organization at The Lance Armstrong Foundation's Inaugural LIVESTRONG Summit in Austin, Texas, Oct. 27-29. The event was conceived to organize, inspire and direct the efforts of cancer survivors from across the country. Slavich was one of only eight representatives from the state of Louisiana. Through the LIVESTRONG Summit, attendees will lead a movement to broaden awareness and positively impact the physical, emotional and practical needs of people living with cancer. Inspired by speakers and motivated through roundtable discussions, 800 selected summit delegates identified needs, set goals and developed action plans to change the face of cancer survivorship in their own communities and nationwide.

Thomas H. Falgout has been hired by the Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic as director of volunteer services. Falgout will oversee the efforts of recruitment, recognition and training of volunteers. He is a 1992 graduate of UL Lafayette with a B.S. in Business Administration with a major in Management and has more than 13 years of non-profit experience in Acadiana, previously with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Acadiana and the United Way of Iberia.

Three other Clinic staff members transitioned to new positions: Judith Derise Perez, RN to director of clinical services, Laurie P. Richard to director of finance and Elizabeth Little, RN to patient care coordinator.

The Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic is a nonprofit organization that provides quality outpatient health care for the eligible working uninsured and develops and provides programs to address community health care through collaborative partnerships. The Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic is a partner program of the United Way of Acadiana.

Dr. Larry Hollier, Chancellor of LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, has appointed Ville Platte native Christopher T. Vidrine as director of external affairs. Vidrine received his MBA from UL Lafayette, worked at the Acadian Healthcare Alliance for three years and was a member of the chamber. He has family in Lafayette.

Before joining LSUHSC, Vidrine worked at the Louisiana Hospital Association (LHA) for the past three years assisting in the policy, research and advocacy functions of the Association. He developed white papers and policy statements for the Legislative, Regulatory and Policy Council, oversaw research projects and provided support for advocacy and regulatory initiatives at the state and federal level. Some of the specific issues he has advocated on behalf of hospitals include managed care, hospital pricing and quality transparency, and various issues around rural health.

Prior to working at LHA, Vidrine led the managed care negotiations as the PHO administrator at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Before the PHO Administrator position, he was employed at Acadian Health Care Alliance as the operations manager and at Ville Platte Medical Center as the PHO Administrator.

He is certified in Managed Care by the National Professional Education Institute, Inc., serves on the State Regents Advisory Council of the American College of Healthcare Executives and is a board member of the Louisiana Rural Health Association.

Attorney General Charles C. Foti, Jr. announced that The Weinstein Company is the first motion picture company to insert anti-smoking public service announcements in DVDs in which smoking is depicted. The Weinstein Company was responding to a September 2006 letter to Hollywood's 13 major motion picture companies, which was signed by the attorneys general from 41 states. Beginning with the December release of Clerks II, the Weinstein Company's upcoming DVDs, which are distributed by TWC's exclusive home entertainment distributor, Genius Products, will include an anti-smoking ad created by the American Legacy Foundation.

"I cannot thank Bob and Harvey Weinstein enough," said Foti. "We have been trying for years to get Hollywood studios to work with us on what we believe is an important and meaningful protection for our children, and the Weinsteins have taken that all-important first step."

Attorney General Foti's September request offered free and unlimited use of teen-targeted anti-smoking ads developed for the truth® campaign of the American Legacy Foundation, created pursuant to the 1998 settlement of the states' tobacco litigation against the major tobacco companies.

Lafayette General Medical Center will expand its women's services through an extensive $19 million renovation project that breaks ground Saturday, Nov. 18.

A new, separate facility, called The Pavilion for women and children, will be created by complete reconstruction of the second floor of the hospital, and will include its own lobby and entrance. The front main hospital entrance will also have a new, more modern facade and main lobby.

"This project is scheduled to be complete by spring, 2008," says Donna Landry, chief operating officer of LGMC. "Phase one will add the two new entrances and lobby areas, renovate and expand our postpartum rooms and the nursery, and add four additional postpartum rooms. Phase two will further develop our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) capabilities and give a complete face-lift to our labor and delivery rooms."

The renovation will create a family-centered environment, delivering a more progressive and personalized model of care, according to Carrie Templeton, administrator of women's and children's services. "Every facet of design will promote family involvement and bonding with baby," says Templeton. "The postpartum rooms will be larger and more residential, and conveniences like a mini-fridge will make families feel at home. ... For our expanded NICU, an innovative pinwheel design provides improved privacy for visiting parents as well as everything needed for nursing care at the bedside," adds Templeton.

Dr. Caroline R. Norman, M.D. was appointed president-elect to the board of directors for the American Heart Association's new greater Southeast affiliate. She is slated to serve on the board through June 2008.

The affiliate serves more than 49 million people across Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Puerto Rico. The consolidation will ensure the best and most efficient management structure in order to streamline services and further impact heart disease and stroke in the community.

Norman is the CEO and Medical Director for Making a Difference: Heart-to-Heart, a private consulting group specializing in the development and implementation of women's cardiovascular programs and gender specific cardiovascular service lines. Norman has been affiliated with the organization since 1999 and has served on the Take Wellness To Heart and Disease Management committees.

During the next year and a half, Norman's leadership will help the organization impact heart disease and stroke in the affiliate. The Greater Southeast Affiliate will focus on several key priorities including: educating women that heart disease is their No. 1 killer; preventing and combating childhood obesity; promoting physical activity, empowering African-Americans to reduce their increased incidence of stroke and risk and reaching out to Hispanics with heart- and stroke-related health information and programs.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana announced its 2006 Angel Award Winners, honoring eight men and women for their volunteer work on behalf of Louisiana's children. This year's honorees include Kay Marcel of New Iberia, an advocate for disabled children; Karen Duhon, a Lake Charles resident and Autism Society volunteer; Ruston resident Rick Emerson, who does social work in Lincoln and Union Parishes; Dr. Karen Gordon, a Shreveport veterinarian who is overseeing development and construction of a playground for disabled children; Cory Howat, director of the New Orleans chapter of Boys Hope Girls Hope; Roy Martinez, who operates the Hope Youth Ranch in Minden; Mack McCarter, founder of Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal; and J.L. NeSmith, a Dreams Come True Volunteer and founder of a battered women's shelter also serving children in Denham Springs.

Each winner received $20,000 to be donated to the charity of his or her choice. For more info on the Angel Awards, visit www.bcbsla.com.