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Report to Readers

Report to Readers: Starting today, a new focus on health care

If you read the Sunday Monitor in order, from front to back, chances are you’ve not yet come across Sarah Palermo’s new column on the Your Life page – and I want to make sure you don’t miss it.

Palermo has a hybrid reporting mission in the Monitor newsroom: She writes about Pembroke, and she writes about health care. Her new Sunday column is about health – as she describes it, she’d like it to be a place for an informal conversation on nutrition, exercise, research and organizations that are getting grants to do interesting work.

First up this week: news about a nutrition-minded kitchen manager at Pembroke Academy, improved snacks in the Bow School District and a provocative speaker coming to town to discuss childhood obesity.

We’ve wanted to add a health column to the Sunday paper for a while but waited until Palermo returned from a recent week-long health-care reporting workshop in Massachusetts. As I hoped, she returned full of ideas, inspiration and, as it turns out, interesting facts and figures:

“One of the most interesting facts I learned came right away in the first session, with Reisa Sperling, director of the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a neurology professor at Harvard Medical School,” Palermo says. “She told us the latest research reveals that social engagement and physical exercise – think, a bowling league – have a more pronounced protective effect against dementia than brain teasers. Sorry, KenKen.”

A Massachusetts epidemiologist taught Palermo and her colleagues about a disease called chikungunya, spread by the Asian tiger mosquito, which is likely to spread outside of Asia sooner or later. And Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report and National Journal spoke to the group about the politics and rhetoric around implementation of the Affordable Care Act. As for the 2014, election, Cook had this sage observation: “Nowhere is as politically volatile as New Hampshire.”

Palermo, a graduate of Vassar College, has worked at the Monitor for more than two years, including a stint as our education reporter. Before that she worked for the Keene Sentinel for about four years, mostly writing about education.

If you have ideas for Palermo’s new column or feedback on her first, give her a shout. You’ll find her at spalermo@cmonitor.com or 369-3322.

(Felice Belman can be reached at fbelman@cmonitor.com or 369-3370.)

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