Wellness series debuts Jan. 27

The Wilton Library and Western Connecticut Health Network have announced a new health literacy series — Get Well, Stay Well — that will bring health professionals to the library to discuss a broad range of health issues.

The series will kick off Wednesday, Jan. 27, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. with Getting to Know You: Raising Your Wellness IQ, presented by Dr. James Samuel, chief of internal medicine at Norwalk Hospital, and Barbara Schmidt, a nutrition lifestyle program specialist at Norwalk Hospital.

Samuel will discuss the importance of embracing healthy lifestyles to prevent and help control common health problems, such as diabetes and hypertension.

Samuel, who is also an internist with the Norwalk Medical Group and assistant clinical professor of medicine at Yale University’s School of Medicine, will also address the two-way communication between doctors and patients and provide information to help people make the most of their doctor visits.

As a registered dietitian with more than 30 years of experience as a nutritionist, Schmidt will provide tips on healthy eating.

“The focus should not be on weight loss, and forget the word ‘diet.’ You should put the focus on eating to be healthy,” said Schmidt, who also works in cardiac rehab and runs the Transformations Weight Loss Program at Norwalk Hospital.

“Instead of dieting, we want to focus on eating to be healthy to prevent disease, such as heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes,” she said. “And if you’re eating to be healthy, the bonus is that you will be thinner.”

Schmidt, a New Canaan resident, said she looks forward to meeting people in the Wilton community and speaking at the library.

“I have done a number of talks in Wilton,” she said, “but I’ve never spoken at the library, so I’m looking forward to speaking there.”

Schmidt said one thing that often surprises her is “how little people do know about nutrition and about how the body works,” which is something she will also talk about during the session.

Wellness initiative

Elaine Tai-Lauria, Wilton Library executive director and host of the wellness series, has been working with a small planning group to select the topics and speakers for the series, which is expected to have “four sessions per year in a roughly quarterly rotation,” she said.

“I’m most looking forward to beginning a sophisticated dialogue between our residents and the terrific network of medical and health professionals in and around Wilton,” said Tai-Lauria, who spent “many years as a research librarian in academic medical libraries.”

That experience, she said, was the impetus for wanting to offer this series.

“By bringing this kind of expertise to the library,” said Tai-Lauria, “I’m really looking forward to Wilton Library being also a hub for health literacy education in our community.”

The series will be moderated by Dr. Saras Nair, Wilton Library trustee and former chairman of Norwalk Hospital’s pathology department, who said she looks forward to the dialogues with the audiences and is “excited about bringing this level of education to our community.”

Tai-Lauria said future topics in the series will include infectious diseases, sports injuries, and issues related to various cancers and allergies.

“We’ll even be venturing into the somewhat controversial subjects of vaccinations and substance abuse,” she said.

With the goal of informing, educating and providing the community with valuable, timely and reliable medical information on a wide range of health and wellness topics, the sessions will include lectures, presentations and panel discussions, covering topics relevant to children, adults, and seniors, men or women.

With access to reliable health information being “one of the highest-rated desires of public library patrons,” Tai-Lauria said, people may attend the wellness sessions to “become educated and highly ‘health-literate’ in the increasingly complex health and medical arena.”

“There’s so much information floating around the Internet, and even traditional media, that it’s become quite difficult to identify the most authoritative and current health information,” she said.

“We hear lots of ‘sound bites’ about health studies, but it is essential that we get some context around those pieces of information.”

There is no charge for the series, but registration is recommended.

For information, registration and directions, visit www.wiltonlibrary.org or call 203-762-3950, ext. 213.