‘Focus on Health’ marks 300 episodes on PAC 14

Dr. Mary DiBartolo, longtime host of PAC 14’s “Focus on Health” series, produced by Salisbury University’s School of Nursing, recently reached a 300th episode milestone.

Some celebrate their big 3-0, but not many get to celebrate their big 3-0-0.

Recently, PAC 14’s “Focus on Health” series, produced by Salisbury University’s School of Nursing, reached a special milestone with its 300th episode.

Since it first aired in 2002, “Focus on Health” has opened dialogue about medical conditions and prevalent health care issues in Wicomico County and beyond.

The program started with Dr. Lisa Seldomridge, now director of SU’s Richard A. Henson Medical Simulation Center, who handed over hosting duties to fellow faculty member Dr. Mary DiBartolo in 2003.

DiBartolo continues to work as the series host and producer, and also celebrated the 200-episode milestone in 2013.

“Seventeen years is a long time. It really speaks to the commitment of SU to provide relevant health care information to our community,” DiBartolo said. “We’re very proud of what we have accomplished and hope to continue to be an educational resource for the community.”

The 300th episode, which aired in December, featured a local dietitian as a guest to discuss probiotics. While many episodes are interview segments with health care professionals, the format has expanded over the years to include more innovative approaches.

Other programs were filmed at area supermarkets, where DiBartolo and a dietitian roamed the aisles to discuss how to read nutrition labels to make healthier choices. They also film three cooking shows every quarter, showing how to eat healthy on a budget or for cancer prevention.

Some of the program’s most popular episodes have taken viewers inside Peninsula Regional Medical Center’s operating room, where live surgeries such as total hip replacement, open-heart bypass and brain aneurysm clipping were taped.

Some of those episodes, which are posted on YouTube and PAC 14’s Video on Demand channel, have received more than 750,000 views.

Many episodes also have addressed health care issues as they arise in the media, including the importance of vaccinations and organ donation, updates on MRSA outbreaks and suicide awareness.

Looking forward, DiBartolo plans a segment addressing vaping as the practice becomes more common with the younger generation.

PAC 14 Assistant Director Creig Twilley, who works with DiBartolo as the series director and editor, agrees that 300 episodes is an achievement to be celebrated.

“Health is one of our most valuable assets,” Twilley said. “I firmly believe this program strengthens our local community by providing up-to-date, professional health care information that can enhance the quality of life for any citizen who joins the conversation.”

“Creig and I always say if one person makes a positive health change as a result of watching the program, then we feel like we’ve achieved something,” DiBartolo said. “Reaching this milestone is the product of a wonderful collaboration of SU’s School of Nursing, PAC 14, Peninsula Regional Medical Center, the local health department and community nonprofits, which all contribute to the success of this program. It really shows the connection of our community.”

PAC 14 is Wicomico County’s public access television station, airing on Comcast channel 14. Shows also are streamed online at www.pac14.org and are available on the station’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/ThePAC14.

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