Lots o' hospitals

 Having both the Martha Jefferson Hospital (982-7000) and the University of Virginia Medical Center (officially: UVA Health System) (924-0211) in the same tiny town is probably one explanation for Charlottesville's popularity as a retirement venue. Each has a 24-hour emergency room in addition to state-of-the art medical facilities and docs who often rank at the top of national "best of" lists.

The Thomas Jefferson Health District - This is the main health clearinghouse for public health. Serving a five-county area including the City of Charlottesville, it offers everything from STD testing (972-6228) to restaurant inspections (972-6259) to septic tank advice. 1138 Rose Hill Drive. 972-6200

Birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates are available from at the Office of Vital Records in Richmond. Don't get too excited, though. Only immediate family members can get the certificates. 804-662-6200.


The Teen Health Center - Provides pregnancy tests, HIV tests, gynecological exams, and other services for anyone ages 12 to 20. Operated in the Corner Building at 1400 W. Main St. as part of the UVA Health System. 982-0090

Charlottesville Free Clinic - Offers medical care to poor people. Located on Rose Hill Drive. 296-5525




Charlottesville teems with holistic, homeopathic, and other alt medical providers. Some people swear by their chiropractor, some by their holistic healers, and some even swear by their shark cartilage pills, but please don't forget that many charlatans operate under the "alternative" healing banner. The good news is that UVA's Nursing School has set up The Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies to conduct research and disseminate information about alternative medicine. 924-0113




There are more yoga classes around town than you can shake a mat at, plus classes in Pilates, the Alexander Technique, and countless other wellness-related topics, but for the sake of space, here are the health club biggies– those full service spots open to everyone that exist solely to keep you feeling– and looking– your best.


ACAC: It ain't the cheapest show in town, but with three separate facilities, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, basketball arenas, a kid zone, and a new downtown facility opening spring 2006, it's pretty hard to complain. And that doesn't include the brand spanking new kid "arena" over at the Adventure Central location on Four Seasons Drive. 978-3800


Gold's Gym: For straight-up fitness, Gold's is the place. Lots of free weights, machines, classes, and kid care. Like ACAC, Gold's has a new expanded facility opening in late 2005 next to the K-Mart on Hydraulic Road. 973-1307


Boar's Head: Tennis, swimming, golf, and much more convenient for west-of-townies at the Boar's Head Inn on 250 West. 972-2235

New Fitness for Ladies As you may have guessed, this one's just for ladies. Aerobics and yoga classes, free weights and machines, and child care onsite. And no men watching. 975-3030


Calm down! Anger, bitterness bad for health


I just went to a wedding, and the maid-of-honor gave some good advice to the new groom. "Henry," she said, "all of you have to do to remember your anniversary date is forget it once.

"When a man and woman get married," she continued, "he thinks, 'I hope she never changes.' She thinks, 'I can't wait until I change him.'"

Last, she said, "Don't go to bed angry. Stay up all night arguing."

Would you say she's bitter?

There are four main tastes we detect on the tongue: sweet, sour, salt, and bitter. Bitter-sensing taste buds are in the back of the tongue just before you swallow. Funny how things that are hard to swallow often leave us bitter.

I had some teenage know-it-all write to me about a column a few months back, "Doctor, you misspelled this– I think. Don't use words you can't spell." Ironically, she wasn't sure how to spell the word herself. She just wanted to vent her anger. A perfume called "Arrogance" should be created with a bitter scent that creates a slight wave of nausea.

That is the problem with most bitter people: they close their minds to alternatives like terrorists close their minds to peaceful solutions and love. It should be no surprise the world has an Osama Bin Laden. Look at Hitler, KKK members, and Russell Crowe– all angry people.

Angry people are everywhere– at the grocery store, bank, and gas station. I wish I were an orthopedic surgeon, so if someone had a bone to pick with me, I could simply put it in a cast or surgically correct it: "Ma'am, I'm going to take your negativity and replace it with a prosthetic joint. That will be $10,000."

I feel sorry for customer service representatives because they smile when someone is screaming, "You dumb *#@^&%! Give it to me now, or I'm going to call your supervisor!" People who order food point their finger and command, "Bring me that and this" without saying "please," or even making eye contact.

The medical office faces a lot of bitter people. Like Paris Hilton, some patients want it now, and they want it served on Tiffany's. Recently, a patient called, "I'm at the pharmacy, and you haven't signed the fax from this morning." My assistant attempted to explain: "Sir, the doctors review faxes at the end of the–"

Click. Dial tone.

We had a woman screaming four- and five-letter words (six would be pushing it for her) at the entire staff because she forgot to renew her referral number. It was her fault, but the staff tried to help her. However, she stormed out of the office leaving skid marks on the carpet. Thank God she wasn't wearing Prada, because I'm sure her shoes had no soles left.

Studies show angry people die of cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes. The increased blood pressure causes damage on arteries the way an overheated car engine pops a hose. However, it appears that mean people live longer than nice people. Perhaps angry people make everyone else so miserable, an hour seems like a month with them.

Beta blockers can calm an impulsive person down because they don't allow the heart to pound when someone's angry. Antidepressants can help a person not pop her cork, though where is the fun without the bubbly to drink? Benzodiazepines like Valium can turn a nasty Judy Garland into a Carnegie Hall singing diva. New age antipsychotics can really deflate a hot air balloon, but angry people are too busy throwing out punches to take their medicine.

I don't know the solution for angry people. Therapy is out there, but most angry people scoff, "That's for psychos. I'm fine– Hey, you, get away from my car before I punch your lights out!"

Got a medical question? Dr. Hook is a leading Charlottesville internist, who also appears each Friday on NBC29's noon news. Each week in the Hook, he delivers medical advice with a smile (on your face and his).