Hourly News Update
By Maleeha Babar on October 16th, 2014 | Last updated: October 20, 2014 at 9:18 am
The Gainesville Parks Recreation and Cultural Affairs will work with the Rotary Clubs of Gainesville Foundation to reignite a history of park development.
The groups plan to restore a rotary wheel located in Smokey Bear Park, which, nearly 50 years ago, both organizations helped create at 2500 NE 15th St. near the University of Florida’s eastside campus.
Linda Demetropoulos, nature and cultural manager for GPRCA, said the project is part of an ongoing renovation at the park, which started in the summer.
A project coordinator from GPRCA approached Susan Spain, president of RCGF, after discovering the club participated in the original development of the park in 1963.
Spain said RCGF is the oldest club in Florida and is excited to be a part of the latest renovation that will help mark its history of involvement in Gainesville.
“When you look at it and start analyzing, it really tells you about the history of Gainesville,” she said.
John Weber, operations supervisor with GPRCA, said an artist specialized in tile work will design the wheel with mosaic tile painted in the rotary colors: blue and gold.
The colors have to be specific to the rotary shades because the organization is strict about representing their logo, Spain said.
“They don’t want you to change it in any way,” she said.
Weber helps oversee the current renovation of Smokey Bear Park, originally a 4.5 acre piece of land given to the county by the Florida Forest Service. After the FFS asked the county 50 years ago if they wanted to use the land, the city and rotary got together to start building the park.
The club dedicated $3,000, and the city helped design the park, Demetropoulos said. Over the course of two years, both departments went back and forth in the process of development, leaving behind a small swing set, some trees, and the rotary wheel.
The RCGF will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in six years by trying to put its history together, and Spain said the information about its involvement with the park came at the right time.
As part of the renovation over the summer, the city purchased the land from FFS in July, expanding the facility to include a dog park, Weber said. It also cut down some trees to open space for a parking lot.
The renovation of the park, Weber said, will be completed by November. It will include a new pavilion, playground and swing sets, as well as the new wheel located at the entrance with newly planted shrubbery.
The wheel remains the only amenity from the original 1963 design.
“This is a very hidden gem,” Weber said.
By Cassidy Whitson on October 16th, 2014 | Last updated: October 16, 2014 at 10:09 am
A man diagnosed with scabies and living in a tent on the campus of Grace Marketplace is causing concern.
Residents are worried about transmission, and administrators are wondering about the facility’s preparedness for disease control.
Grace Marketplace, an emergency homeless shelter off Waldo Road near the Gainesville airport, officially opened its dorms on Oct. 1. There is no medical clinic on the campus. To receive a diagnosis and medical care, residents must visit one of Gainesville’s clinics or the Alachua County Health Department.
The man infected with the highly contagious skin disease came to the site already infected, said Theresa Lowe, executive director for the North Florida Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry.
Lowe said many of the people who use the services provided by Grace Marketplace do not qualify for Medicaid, have no private insurance or are not old enough for Medicare.
The shelter plans on converting an old building into a health care center, but costly repairs to bring it up to code for a medical facility could take up to one year.
With winter approaching, the possibility of an airborne disease outbreak, such as the flu, is a concern for staff at the facility.
Scabies is only spread through skin-to-skin contact, making containment of the disease fairly simple.
“It’s not some deadly, highly-contagious disease,” Lowe said.
The flu virus, however, can spread rapidly through close quarters, such as meals and communal living in the shelter.
“That would be a lot more devastating,” Lowe said.
She beleives if five people contracted the flu in one week, it could progress to over 50 by the next.
Grace Marketplace is looking to provide FluMist as part of its homeless services. Lowe stressed the shelter is not a medical facility and is met with the challenges of convincing people to get vaccinated.
Brandi West, a client advocate at the shelter, said misinformation and rumors cause anxiety among residents. She personally brought in information about scabies, common colds and the flu to educate those who had doubts about transmission and treatment of the diseases.
“We disinfect anything and everything,” she said.
West said the shelter is trying to build up more advanced infrastructure to handle the potential of more disease outbreaks. They are trying to get medical gloves and masks, among other necessities. However, she said they are trying to meet the imperative needs of clothing and personal hygiene products first.
Brice Kinney, 48, stays in a tent in Dignity Village. He said he is concerned for his health in the shelter.
“Any medical help I can get, I will take,” he said.
By Michaela Bisienere on October 16th, 2014 | Last updated: October 16, 2014 at 12:49 pm
Eastside High School freshman Amir Helmy was just looking for a 7th grade science fair project idea in the fall of 2012.
A family friend and neurologist was talking about the expensive and complicated equipment epilepsy patients had to rely on to monitor their seizures when Helmy came up with the idea for his first award-winning smartphone app.
“I didn’t have a science fair idea yet, and I know that our phones have the same capabilities as the sensors that he was talking about,” said Helmy, 13. “I thought, ‘Why not just use an everyday device to solve a big problem?’”
Helmy was familiar with the basics of programming from building Lego robots growing up and attending NASA camp. With the help of his father, an associate professor in the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Department at UF, Helmy began to create the software Seizario, which uses the accelerometer inside of a smartphone to monitor human movement.
Seizario can differentiate between normal movements and those related to seizures and send alert to emergency contacts or caregivers. Seizario can also detect falls, allowing it to be useful for the elderly or other patients who are prone to falling and injuring themselves.
“He told me that he wanted to do something that no one else has done before,” said Helmy’s father, Ahmed. “We didn’t know if it was going to succeed or not.”
The two began to use the app to look for patterns in everyday movement that could be analyzed. After consulting with neurologists to test the validity of the app and fine-tuning the programming, Seizario became a success. The app took Amir to the regional and state science fair competitions, in which he won first place.
The duo then created a second app, HeartEra, for the 8th grade science fair the following year. HeartEra also used smartphone sensors to monitor the body, this time giving a reading of heartbeat patterns when the user lies down and places the phone over his or her heart.
It was while Helmy was in Turkey with his family for his father’s sabbatical that he made the decision to continue working with the apps beyond the science fair. Father and son found the International Epilepsy Pipeline Conference, to take place in San Francisco in early June 2014. The conference included a “Shark Tank” competition, which would honor innovators in epilepsy product concepts with up to $200,000 in grant money.
“It was a surprise to us just to be chosen as a finalist,” Ahmed said. “They thought the idea was simple enough to understand and simple enough to implement. It was readily available on smartphones, you didn’t need any extra hardware.”
Helmy and his father then presented Seizario in front of a panel of judges, or “sharks”.
Although Helmy remembers the judges “didn’t even mention us when they were giving away their money that they had,” Seizario won the People’s Choice award – one of the largest monetary awards at the competition with a $75,000 prize.
“When my dad and I got the People’s Choice award [from the Epilepsy Foundation], it really showed that people wanted and needed the product we had to offer,” Helmy said. “I guess that was the biggest moment and realization point for me, that I could really take this to the next level and that this is getting serious.”
A couple of months later in September, the duo submitted HeartEra and Seizario to the Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking, known as ACM MobiCom and held in Maui, Hawaii. According to Ahmed, MobiCom is the premier conference in the field of mobile computing.
“I told him the competition is going to be very tough. You’re competing with Ph.D students and renowned professors from MIT and Berkeley, Chicago, all over the world,” Ahmed said. “And he said ‘You know what, let’s try. What do we have to lose?’”
Heartera went on to win first place in the mobile app competition and second place in the start-up pitch conference.
“We went there and people were just excited to see him,” Ahmed said. “I think it’s the first time that a student that was not a college student was participating.”
A few weeks later, and Helmy is back in the daily routine of class and after-school activities typical of a high school freshman. He said he has plans to keep his apps moving forward until they are on the market and available to be used by the public. He and his father plan to launch a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo in the next month to create a community of users for the apps and make improvements.
“I realize after winning all these awards that I still have a lot of work to do in order to make it into a product that will actually help people,” Helmy said.
One of the people who has assisted Helmy in testing his app as a product is Dr. Jean Cibula, neurologist and chief of the Epilepsy Division at the UF Department of Neurology. Helmy approached Cibula for assistance in getting the app tested on a real patient after the app won his school science fair.
Cibula said the app is a significant step in ensuring the safety of epilepsy patients and will help doctors to monitor the health of their patients.
“Currently, one of the biggest issues in treating folks is knowing how often people have seizures,” she said. “People can’t always remember when they’re having a seizure. This will not only log the seizure but send a notice to a family member or designated caregiver.”
Helmy hopes his apps will be available for download within the next six months. He and his father are working with cardiologists and neurologists like Cibula to continue refining the existing apps, and he wants to create new health apps when the time comes.
Biomedical engineer, computer scientist and doctor are all potential future career paths for Helmy. He credits his father for continuing to help him achieve his goal to develop technology that will improve patient’s lives.
“My dad has pretty much taught me everything I know and he helped me throughout the whole journey,” he said.
Cibula said she thinks the academic community in Gainesville encourages innovation among students like Helmy.
“It’s really inspiring,” she said. “I think that’s indicative of what kids are doing all over Gainesville. Kids are smart and creative and have this huge reservoir of resources that can be accessed.”
By Robyn Smith on October 16th, 2014 | Last updated: October 14, 2014 at 8:59 pm
Andres Leiva / WUFT News permalink
Once the wood is on the ground, Jeremy McCullough, 25, uses a crowbar and hammer to pry nails out of the planks. Afterward, the plank is thrown away.