IGH - CNY #257, MAY 2021

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CNYHEALTH.COM

MAY 2021 • ISSUE 257

Saying Thank You to Nurses Celebrate National Nurses Week With In Good Health!

About 40,000 U.S. Children Have Lost a Parent to COVID-19

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AARON J. BIANCO, M.D. SOS orthopedic surgeon specializes in spine surgeries. He recently completed his 200th sacroiliac joint fusion surgery

I’VE GOTTEN MY COVID-19 VACCINE, NOW WHAT? A Q&A with physician Lorna Fitzpatrick, of Excellus BCBS.


The Future of Cancer in America Breast cancers are projected to be the most common, with lung cancer third and colon cancer fourth, says study

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t first glance, it appears that little will change between now and 2040 when it comes to the types of cancers that people develop and that kill them, a new forecast shows. Breast, melanoma, lung and colon cancers are expected to be the most common types of cancers in the United States, and patients die most often from lung, pancreatic, liver and colorectal cancers, according to the latest projections. But beneath the surface, changes are occurring due to a shift in the nation’s top causes of cancer, and those trends are likely to affect treatment and research for decades, experts say. Lung cancer cases and deaths are expected to continue to decline, like-

ly due to the success of anti-smoking campaigns. However, deaths from obesity-related cancers — pancreas, liver, colon — are projected to hold steady or increase, the researchers said. “We’ve already seen a little bit of a shift from smoking-related cancers to an increase in the proportion of cancer cases and deaths that are related to obesity,” noted Kim Miller, a scientist with the American Cancer Society’s surveillance and health equity team, who reviewed the new study. In general, researchers expect that cancer cases will continue to increase overall in the United States as the population becomes larger and grayer, said senior research-

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er, physician Kevin Nead. He’s an assistant professor of epidemiology with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s division of cancer prevention and population sciences. “Our population is going to get bigger, and we’re going to see more and more cancers. I think no matter what happens in the future, we’re going to see more cancers,” Nead said. However, Miller said, cancer deaths have been declining since 1991 and are expected to continue to fall in the future. “A large proportion of that drop is due to lung cancer death rates very, very rapidly declining, but we’re seeing progress for a lot of cancers and I think that’s important to keep

in mind,” Miller said. For this study, Nead and his team combined cancer incidence and death rates with updated demographic data from 2016 to project cancer cases and deaths out to 2040. They published their findings online April 7 in JAMA Network Open. Overall, the most frequent cancer types are expected to change slightly due to an increase in melanoma cases, making it the second most common cancer by 2040. Breast cancers are projected to be the most common, with lung cancer third and colon cancer fourth. “Melanoma has moved up, and we don’t necessarily know exactly why that is,” Nead said. More people might be exposing themselves to the sun’s UV rays, or there might be improved detection of the early stages of melanoma skin cancer. Prostate cancer is expected to drop to the 14th most common cancer by 2040, possibly due to changes in screening guidelines, the researchers said. As far as cancer deaths, lung cancer is expected to continue to be the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in 2040, but with an overall declining number of deaths, the report said. At the same time, pancreatic and liver cancers are expected to surpass colon cancer to become the second and third most common causes of cancer-related death. “The steady increase in gastrointestinal cancers is troubling,” Nead said. “Seeing cancers creeping up where I think we still have some work to do in prevention, I think that’s a little more scary than situations where we have good prevention and surveillance, we just need to use it better.”


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May 2021 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • Page 3


Meet

Your Doctor

By Chris Motola

Aaron J. Bianco, M.D. Decrease Seen in U.S. Suicide Rate Telehealth services among factors for the decline

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here was a nearly 6% drop in suicides in the United States last year, the largest annual decline in close to four decades, preliminary government data show. While the extent of that decline could be smaller when final figures are available, officials expect there will still be a significant decrease, despite concerns there would be more suicides due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Associated Press reported. There was a steady rise in suicides from the early 2000s until 2018, when the U.S. suicide rate reached it highest since 1941, before falling slightly in 2019 due to what experts said was increased mental health screenings and other suicide prevention measures. In 2020, there were fewer than 45,000 suicides, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That was the lowest number since 2015, the AP reported. Along with increased availability of telehealth services and other efforts to reduce suicides, another factor may help explain last year’s large drop in the suicide rate, according to Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “There’s a heroism phase in every disaster period, where we’re banding together and expressing lots of messages of support that we’re in this together,” Moutier told the AP. “You saw that, at least in the early months of the pandemic.” But while suicides overall decreased last year, it’s possible that suicides by youths and young adults did not, Moutier added. She noted there may be a delayed effect on the mental health of many people, as they get past the pandemic’s initial threats but sink into grieving the people and things they have lost. “There’s sort of an evolution of mental health distress,” she told the AP. “It’s possible we will see the whole mental health ramifications of this pandemic” later.

SOS orthopedic surgeon specializes in spine surgeries, recently completed 200th sacroiliac joint fusion surgery

Q: What kinds of conditions do you treat? A: I am a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon. I’ve been in practice for about nine years now and I essentially do all types of spinal surgery, from the base of the skull down to the pelvis. Most of things that I do are adult degenerative types of spinal conditions like arthritic conditions, spinal stenosis, pinched nerves, herniated discs, etc. But I also will treat things like infections, trauma to the spine, tumors, deformities, surgery, etc. Q: Tell us about the joint fusion procedure using a new iFuse Implant System that you’re doing. I understand you’re one of only a few who are doing it. A: SI [sacroiliac] joint fusions are something I’ve been quite familiar with but have been doing more of in the past few years. The SI joint is where the spine and the pelvis meet up. It becomes arthritic or inflamed for a number of different reasons. Essentially, if somebody is a surgical candidate, what I’ll do for them is a minimally invasive fusion of the SI joint basically using three metal bars or pegs that go across the joint and stabilize it, which hopefully eliminates motion and whatever kind of inflammatory reaction that’s causing and hopefully reducing their pain. Q: Is this procedure usually done for older or younger patients? A: It’s interesting, there’s a wide variety in demographics for people who have the condition. In general, what I would say it’s a younger person’s problem. I see a lot of people in their 20s, 30s and 40s with this condition. I’d say that’s the most common. Women get it more often than men, about four to one. There are a couple reasons for that. There

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are hormonal differences between the two genders, where women have a hormone called relaxin that makes some of the ligaments of the SI joint become a little less stable. Pregnancy can also contribute to pelvic dysfunction. I also see it in older people, people who have had spinal fusions. Some people can just develop dysfunction with the joint for really no significantly obvious reason. Q: What is quality of life like for patients who undergo SI fusion, especially considering that many of them tend to be younger? A: Younger and older, you can make a positive impact on their quality of life so long as they’re good candidates. A lot of patients previous to surgery had a hard time doing basic things, who couldn’t hike or walk or exercise but were otherwise healthy. I have a high number of patients who have done very well and gotten back to full activities with minimal or no pain. So you can make an enormous impact. The most important question really is whether we’re selecting the appropriate patients for this procedure. Q: What tend to be the major causes of injury for the area? A: For this problem, it’s the gender issues I mentioned above, people with previous fusions and a lot of the times its traumas to the area. A lot of people fall on black ice right on their tailbone. I think they can disrupt the SI joint. That’s in addition to people just developing chronic, regular lower back complaints that aren’t related to the SI joint. I think our job as providers is to pinpoint what their problem is by listening to them, examining them, doing diagnostics. My

goal, for most people, is to get them by without surgery if I can. But a lot the time nonsurgical inventions may not work or only work temporarily. Q: What makes this condition hard to diagnose? A: It’s interesting. When we evaluate people, we obviously order imaging studies like MRIs and X-rays. Truthfully, almost every other orthopedic condition you’ll have some kind of abnormality show up, but this one doesn’t always show up. It can look normal in pictures. I think that makes it get missed a lot. Also, physical examination maneuvers are not very sensitive. So sometimes they’re positive and sometimes they’re not. You really have to put the whole picture together. Diagnostic injections are very useful here. Q: What’s the recovery time usually? Is it an outpatient procedure? A: It’s an outpatient procedure. It takes about 45 minutes to do each side surgically. If I can, I like to do this at our surgery center if the insurance companies will allow it. People can usually go home within three or four hours of surgery. Usually get out of bed, do some therapy, make sure their pain is controlled. If everything looks good, we let them go home. It’s not uncommon for me now to do fusions on both sides. Even those patients I usually let go home the same day even though the procedure takes a little bit longer. Overall it’s a safe, quick, efficient procedure. The recovery process can be a little bit slow though. It can take up to a year or two to completely recover from. To feel better than you did prior to the surgery might take two to six months. Some people recover faster than others. It just takes time. As the joint fuses, their pain reduces. Q: What kinds of physical therapy do they have to do? A: I really don’t mandate physical therapy for this. I give people exercises to do after surgery; some basic hip and hamstring exercises. I encourage people to walk around the same day as surgery. Some people need a walker, which they can transition away from in a week or two. Typically running is one of the last activities people can get back to. Low impact exercise is usually fine within 10 to 14 days. ity?

Q: Does the fusion affect flexibil-

A: You really don’t lose any motion with this because the SI joint has a very limited range of motion to begin with that doesn’t really provide any functional motion with regard to bending or twisting. If it fuses appropriately, they really shouldn’t lose any motion at all.

Lifelines Name: Aaron J. Bianco, M.D. Position: Spinal surgeon at Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists Hometown: Coon Rapids, Minnesota Education: Chicago Medical School Affiliations: St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center; Crouse Hospital Organizations: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons; North American Spine Society Family: Married, two boys Hobbies: Fishing, hunting, outdoor activities


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I’ve Gotten My COVID-19 Vaccine, Now What? A Q&A with physician Lorna Fitzpatrick, VP of medical affairs at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Q. Once a person is fully vaccinated, can they stop wearing their mask? A. Not yet. The vaccines are highly effective, but we’re still learning how long they can protect people. So, until we know more, the recommendations for fully vaccinated people remain clear: continue to wear masks in public, and while visiting with unvaccinated people from different households and those with a high risk of severe COVID-19. When in doubt, wear your mask. Q. What is the recommendation on gatherings? A. When you’re fully vaccinat-

ed, you can visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at a low risk of severe COVID-19. Small groups of fully vaccinated people can be together without wearing a mask and without social distancing. When you’re visiting with people and you are unsure of their vaccine status, you’ll want to wear your mask and practice social distancing. An outdoor visit is best, as it allows for better air flow. Q. When can family members enter nursing homes to visit their loved ones? A. In New York state, many restrictions on visits to loved one in

nursing homes have recently been lifted. Communication is always key, so touch base with the nursing home first and check local restrictions. Q. Is there an update on when kids can get vaccinated? Does this affect them returning to school? A. All residents of New York ages 16 and older are eligible for a vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for ages 16-plus and the other vaccines are currently being tested to make sure they are safe and effective. As a pediatrician and mother, I know how important it is for children to return to school for both their social and educational development. Once approved, these vaccines will be one more tool to keep our children and teachers safe in the classroom. Q. Many larger events have been postponed — weddings, graduation parties, and concerts to name a few. What is the advice for these situations? A. Guidance varies by state, so be sure to check local rules. Although progress is being made in the fight against COVID-19, personally I feel it is not yet the time to participate in large gatherings. We have seen larger

gatherings that have led to outbreaks of the virus, and we still must be careful to prevent spread, especially to vulnerable loved ones. Keeping gatherings small and following the guidelines will help us to stay safe. Q. If I’m fully vaccinated, can I travel? A. Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19, so people who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States. Negative tests are not needed unless the destination requires it, nor is self-quarantining. However, still follow the recommendations of wearing a mask, washing your hands often, and social distancing.

Physician Lorna Fitzpatrick is the vice president of medical affairs at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Healthcare in a Minute

By George W. Chapman

Shortage of Mental Health Professionals to Worsen

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he pandemic has served to highlight and exacerbate the ongoing crisis in mental access and delivery in the US. Historically, mental health has been the underappreciated and underfunded stepchild of both government and private insurers. To make matters worse, people are often uncomfortable talking about mental health issues with their families, let alone providers. There has always been a stigma attached to mental health. Consequently, many mental health professionals have either left the field altogether or dropped out of participating in insurance plans, causing patients to foot 100% of the bill. It is projected that in just four years, 2025, there will be a nationwide shortage of 15,000 psychiatrists and 27,000 other providers like psychologists, counselors, therapists and nurses. Anyone who has recently

tried to find a mental health provider for themselves or a family member, knows firsthand how frustrating and bad it is. Experts in the field believe access can be improved with increased funding of mental health, (it has improved lately due to the scarcity of providers versus an epiphany) and the effective integration of digital apps into clinical practice. Personalized digital programs complement easier access to and support from “telecounseling.” Care can be accessed when needed versus a prearranged appointment. (Most patients do not see their provider in person.) Behavioral issues such as anxiety, stress, PTSD, depression, panic disorders, family marriage, grief, eating disorders, substance abuse and ADHD can effectively be treated with the digital telecounseling model.

Employers Taking Charge

is assigned to a care team consisting of in-person and virtual providers, urgent care, home care and specialty clinics. So far, the employer-sponsored Firefly digital networks have reduced expensive and unnecessary ER visits by an average of 52% and lowered overall costs by 30%. Four-year-old Firefly intends to expand outside current markets in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maine.

Recognizing and understanding employers' frustration with rising premiums and employee indifference to healthy lifestyles and habits, companies are rushing in to provide solutions. Upstart company Firefly Health recently raised $40 million from investors to start a new model health plan for employers looking to lower costs and improve employee attitudes towards their health. The plan rewards employees for smart lifestyle and provider choices, which in turn saves money for everyone involved in the new digital network. Firefly is betting most employees are not necessarily loyal to their current providers and will be willing to enroll in a plan that improves their health while delivering significant out-of-pocket savings. Each member

Outpatient Surgery Growing

In 2020, hospitals were forced to postpone elective surgery due to the pandemic. While most hospitals suffered significant losses last year, conversely, most insurance companies had very profitable years due to the decline in claims. The pandemic has

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directly contributed to an outburst in the construction and development of ambulatory surgery centers by hospitals, insurers and private investors. The fear of getting COVID-19 in an inpatient center coupled with the fact that outpatient procedures cost far less than inpatient procedures are driving the surge in ASCs. Experts predict ASCs will grow by 8% a year for the foreseeable future. Each year, thanks to technological advances, Medicare adds to the list of procedures that can be performed safely and efficiently as ASCs.

Cyberattacks Up

Healthcare providers can’t catch a break. As if COVID-19 wasn’t bad enough, ransomware attacks are up 45% from last year. Despite investing heavily in cyber security, hospitals and medical practices are preferred targets of criminals because the data they can steal is invaluable. The average attack costs about $8 million after figuring disruption to operations and paying the ransom. It takes about 10-12 months to recover and return to normal operations. The larger the healthcare provider-target, the larger the cost. The University of Vermont Medical Center was attacked last fall. It was costing $1.5 million a day. UVM predicts an eventual loss of around $64 million when all is said and done. Hackers infected 5,000 interconnected computers and 300 employees were furloughed because of the breach. While there is breach insurance, there are also limits to the liability insurers will pay. The extortionists threaten to completely destroy all files unless the ransom is paid; so, paying the ransom is the lesser of two evils. As more and more attacks occur, breach insurance premiums are understandably surging. Criminals demand to be paid via cryptocurrency, like bit coin, so the ransom is not traceable. Thirty-two bills have been introduced in Congress to monitor and prevent illegal payments via cryptocurrency and block chain.

Telehealth Satisfaction

A recent survey of 2,000 consumers by a health marketing company revealed a high satisfaction with care received virtually via telehealth. 60% of us have had at least one telehealth encounter this past year versus just 19% of us in March 2020. 66% of the survey respondents said they had doubts about telehealth before the pandemic. But since the pandemic, 88% are very satisfied and prefer telehealth for non-urgent care. The top advantages of telehealth expressed by the respondents were: no commute or parking hassles 41%; increased access and communication 85%; and lower cost 31%. 74% believe telehealth is the new norm for non-urgent care and a surprising 64% are OK with parts of a physical being done virtually. Experts predict telehealth will continue to grow 21% annually.

NY Excelsior Passport

New York is the first state to develop a digital vaccine passport. It can be used for entry into major sporting events or privately owned venues and businesses looking to be 100% open while protecting both staff and patrons. Madison Square Garden will require the passport. It is based on IBM’s digital health pass platform. It does not contain any underlying medical or personal information. It is a smart phone wallet app with a QR code similar to an airplane boarding pass. It can also be printed out. George W. Chapman is a healthcare business consultant who works exclusively with physicians, hospitals and healthcare organizations. He operates GW Chapman Consulting based in Syracuse. Email him at gwc@gwchapmanconsulting.com.


THANK YOU

TO OUR HEROES To our brave, talented, and selfless women and men who have served on the front lines of the pandemic, we give our unending gratitude. In the face of all of the chaos and fear of the past year, you have stood tall, worked hard, and carried on for the common good of those around you. Your caring hands have not shaken. Your passionate hearts have not wavered. Your committed and brilliant minds have not rested. To say we are proud of the work that you have done and will do would be true, but it would not be enough. You make us proud, yes. But you also make us better, safer, tougher, and stronger. Thank you for your care, your time, your sacrifice, yourselves. You are more than our heroes. You are our hope.

A HIGHER LEVEL OF CARE

| higherlevelofcare.org

© 2021 St. Joseph’s Health. © 2021 Trinity Health. All rights reserved.

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Live Alone & Thrive

By Gwenn Voelckers

Practical tips, advice and hope for those who live alone

Spring Cleaning: Make the Most of ‘Letting Go’

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re you convinced you’ll never find love again? Or, do you regret the way you behaved in your marriage? Still angry at your ex? Or yourself? Holding on to past hurts, slights, negative thinking or lost opportunities can compromise your sense of well-being and ability to be alone and content. Whether it’s emotional baggage or tangible reminders that keep you from moving forward, I encourage you to do some “spring cleaning” in favor of a fresh start. Letting go is a beautiful thing. And not just for those who live alone. Letting go of old ways of thinking, of a poor self-image, or of destructive thoughts or behaviors can free you up to embrace life’s blessings and the possibility of feeling whole and complete on your own. I discovered the power of letting go quite by accident. It was after I purchased my country cottage, which sits on a bucolic piece of rural land. One of my first home-improvement projects was to carve out a fire pit in my backyard. I’ve always loved a bonfire: the warm glow it casts on the faces of those gathered around it, the earthy scent of burning logs, the flames that invite inspection . . . and,

importantly, introspection. Little did I know that when I built my fire pit that it would also become the ceremonial dumping ground for my “old baggage,” those painful ruminations, beliefs and feelings that were holding me back and keeping my life small. I remember one evening in particular. I’d been holding on to my old Day-Timers, those large, leather-bound calendar/ planners that were popular before everything went digital. In my Day-Timers, I made calendar entries that captured the good, the bad, and the ugly over the course of what turned out to be a dismal and highly disappointing decade. Why I hung onto these Day-Timers I’ll never know. Maybe out of misplaced sentimentality. But this I do know: Whenever I looked at that stack of 12 volumes stashed away in my closet, I would wince inside. But then I decided, no more. Years ago, on an early spring evening, I held my very first letting-go ceremony. I grabbed my Day-Timers, made my way to the fire pit and built a bonfire. There I sat with my memories (and glass of wine) while I slowly, deliberately leafed through each leather-bound year of my life,

“Whether it’s emotional baggage or tangible reminders that keep you from moving forward, I encourage you to do some 'spring cleaning' in favor of a fresh start.” before tossing it on the hot embers. It was a moving experience. Sad at times. But mostly, I began to feel lighter, freer. And I felt something I didn’t expect: a sense of peace and self-satisfaction for having taken control and done something good for myself. That evening set the stage for many letting-go ceremonies to come. I look forward to them and the release of the pent-up, negative energy they promise. Might you consider holding a letting-go ceremony of your own? Here are some tips: • First: Identity what is holding you back or keeping you stuck. Be honest. Ask yourself what negative beliefs or thoughts are getting in the way of your ability to feel hopeful and enthusiastic about yourself and your future. What do you need to release to move forward? Resentment toward something or someone? Regret over a past mistake? Guilt? A negative self-image? An addiction or bad habit? Or a deep sadness? • Second: Identify something tangible (as I did with my Day-Timers) that conjures up painful or disappointing memories. This

negative “something” a photograph, gift, letter or other reminder can be powerful. Even if it’s out of sight, you know it’s there and just having it in your possession may keep you tethered to a painful past. If nothing tangible comes to mind, try describing your negative belief or thought in a “Letter to Self.” Put it down on paper and get it out of your system. • Third: Hold your own letting-go ceremony, in whatever style or fashion that suits you. I like the bonfire option, but you may prefer another method. Tying your Letter to Self to a stone and throwing it into a lake may be more fitting and cathartic. Or perhaps you’ll prefer to bury your anger in your backyard. You decide. On your own or in the company of friends or family, symbolically let go of what’s holding you back and keeping you stuck. Doing so may help liberate the hope, passion and power residing deep inside you. It can be a meaningful step toward peace and independence. Needless to say, letting-go ceremonies aren’t a cure-all. Believe me; my long-held feelings about my difficult decade didn’t magically dissipate with the burning of my Day-Timers. But I did feel better and more empowered afterwards. I could go on and on, but you’ll need to excuse me. It’s a beautiful spring evening. I have a bonfire to build and some baggage to burn.

Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Alone and Content, empowerment workshops for women and author of “Alone and Content,” a collection of inspiring essays for those who live alone. For information about her workshops, to purchase her book, or invite Voelckers to speak, visit www.aloneandcontent.com

FDA Approves First New Children’s ADHD Drug in 10 Years

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he first new drug developed in over a decade for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Qelbree, also known as viloxazine, comes in a capsule that is taken daily, and is not a stimulant. This makes it harder to abuse than older ADHD drugs, nearly all of which contain the stimulants amphetamine or methylphenidate. Experts say the drug may appeal to parents who don’t want to give their child stimulants. It also could be an option for kids who already have substance abuse problems, dislike the side effects of stimulants or need additional therapy, physician David Goodman told the Associated Press. He’s an

assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. Goodman said most ADHD patients are prescribed long-acting stimulants, which are harder to abuse to get a high than the original, fast-acting versions of these drugs. Developed by Supernus Pharmaceuticals of Rockville, Maryland, Qelbree carries a warning about the potential for suicidal thoughts and behavior, which occurred in fewer than 1% of volunteers in studies of the drug, the AP said. Supernus wouldn’t disclose the drug’s list price, but it’s sure to be higher than the many cheap generic ADHD pills on the market today, the AP said. ADHD affects about 6 million American children and adolescents,

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according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For many, problems include trouble paying attention and completing tasks, fidgeting and impulsiveness. In a late-stage study funded by Supernus, 477 children aged 6 to 11 took the drug for six weeks. Inattention and hyperactivity symptoms were reduced by about 50% compared to the placebo group, the AP reported. Qelbree helped reduce symptoms in some study volunteers within a week. Common side effects included sleepiness, lethar-

gy, decreased appetite and headache. Supernus is in late-stage testing of Qelbree for adults with ADHD, the AP said. It’s in a much smaller group than children, but that market is growing because few adults currently take ADHD medicines. Viloxazine was sold as an antidepressant in Europe for several decades, but was never approved by the FDA, the AP reported. The maker ended sales for business reasons nearly two decades ago, as popular pills such as Zoloft and Prozac came to dominate the market.


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About 40,000 U.S. Children Have Lost a Parent to COVID-19

M

ore than 40,000 U.S. kids have lost a parent to COVID-19 and the longterm impacts could be severe, experts warn. Americans under age 65 account for about one in five COVID-19 deaths. Of those, as many as 15% involve someone in their 40s and 3% someone in their 40s. “In these younger age groups, substantial numbers of people have children, for whom the loss of a parent is a potentially devastating challenge,” said Ashton Verdery, an associate professor of sociology, demography and social data analytics at Penn State University. Using a statistical model to estimate how many kids have lost a parent to COVID-19 since February of last year, researchers say three-quarters are in their teens and the rest are elementary school-aged youngsters. This reality is more dire for Black families, who have been especially hard hit by the pandemic, researchers said. Of those who lost a parent, an estimated 20% are Black children, even though only 14% of the nation’s kids are Black. The study estimates that deaths due to COVID-19 will boost the nation’s total cases of parental bereavement by 18% to 20% over a more typical year — straining a system that already fails to connect all kids who are eligible to needed resources. In comparison, the number of kids who lost a parent to COVID-19 is about 13 times the estimated 3,000 kids who lost a parent in the World Trade Center attacks. Verdery said kids who have lost parents in the pandemic are at higher risk for traumatic pro-

longed grief and depression, lower educational attainment, economic insecurity and accidental death or suicide. And the COVID-19 losses come at a time when kids may be facing other pandemic challenges, including social isolation and economic struggles. This may strain their access to support services at a time when they also are less connected to other family and community supports. “Teachers are such a vital resource in terms of identifying and helping at-risk children,” Verdery said in a university news release, noting that this is one reason it is important for schools to resume in-person instruction as soon as it is safe to do so and provide support for overburdened educators. Research suggests proven interventions delivered widely could help head off severe psychological problems in bereaved kids, although some may need longer-term support, the authors said. “I think the first thing we need to do is to proactively connect all children to the available supports they are entitled to, like Social Security child survivor benefits—research shows only about half of eligible children are connected to these programs in normal circumstances, but that those who do fare much better,” Verdery said. “We should also consider expanding eligibility to these resources. Second, a national effort to identify and provide counseling and related resources to all children who lose a parent is vital.” The findings appear in the April 5 issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

ONONDAGA, OSWEGO, CAYUGA & MADISON COUNTUIES A monthly newspaper published by Local News, Inc. 33,500 copies distributed throughout more than 1,000 high-traffic locations, including all Wegmans stores.

In Good Health is published 12 times a year by Local News, Inc. © 2021 by Local News, Inc. All rights reserved. P.O. Box 276, Oswego, NY 13126 Phone: 315-342-1182 • Fax: 315-342-7776 • Email: editor@cnyhealth.com Editor & Publisher: Wagner Dotto • Writers: Deborah J. Sergeant, Jim Miller, Gwenn Voelckers, Deborah Banikowski, Anne Palumbo, Chris Motola, George W. Chapman, Melissa Stefanec, Chris Motola, Eva briggs (MD), Mary Beth Roach, Steve Yablonski, Adebowale Oguntola (MD), Margaret McCormick, Ernst Lamothe, Barbara Pierce Advertising: Cassandra Lawson, Amy Gagliano Layout & Design: Joey Sweener • Office Manager: Nancy Nietz

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My Turn

By Eva Briggs, MD

Not All Viruses Are Bad Some are beneficial for humans and other cellular organisms

W

hat comes to mind when you hear the word virus? Do you think of the words bad, disease, dangerous? That’s only natural given the current pandemic. But most viruses don’t cause disease. Some help other organisms adapt and thrive. Life probably couldn’t have arisen without viruses. Mammals carry at least 320,000 different species of viruses. Add to that viruses that affect other animals, plants and bacteria and the total number of virus species is, who knows? Millions, probably. What is a virus? They are composed of strands of DNA or RNA that provide genetic instructions. This genetic material is wrapped in a protein capsid. Viruses lack the complex machinery of living cells and are

unable to reproduce unless they enter living cells. So, are they alive? Some say yes and some say no. There’s a third point of view that viruses are alive when inside a cell and not living when they are outside of a cell. Where did viruses come from? Scientists have three theories: virus first, escape and reduction. The virus first hypothesis proposes that viruses appeared before cellular organisms, arising from the primordial soup (mix of chemicals on earth prior to the beginning of life). The escape hypothesis suggests that segments of DNA or RNA escaped from living cells, enclosed themselves in proteins and became viruses. The reduction hypothesis theorizes that some cells downsized and became smaller until

there was nothing remaining but nuclear material and a protein shell. This gave them a competitive advantage because smaller organisms require fewer resources to live and reproduce. But it necessitates the invasion of other cells to survive. Most viruses are tiny. For example, 55 million Zika viruses could fit on the period at the end of this sentence. Typical viruses are only visible with electron microscopes. But, in 2003 scientists discovered giant viruses that could be seen with a light microscope. These giant viruses contained genes for enzymes previously found only in cells. This supports the reduction theory of virus origins, that viruses evolved from cells that downsized. Most viruses use DNA to direct cells to manufacture RNA. RNA is the cellular messenger which provides instructions for protein manufacture. Other viruses, called retro viruses, act in reverse. Retroviruses use their RNA to make DNA. The DNA inserts itself into the host cell’s nucleus. HIV is an example of a retrovirus. It invades human immune cells, causing them to make more HIV viral particles which destroy the cell as they burst out. Some retroviruses infect reproductive cells that produce eggs and sperm. The DNA that these viruses insert into the host’s genetic code become heritable, able to be passed down from generation to generation. The inserted stretches are then called endogenous. If this occurs in a human, they are called human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs). About 8% of our genetic material derives from HERVs. That provides an example of a beneficial virus. The genes that code for several proteins essential to the production of the placenta are HERVs. Without these genes internal pregnancy would be impossible. We’d have to lay eggs

and incubate them on a nest. Most disease-producing human viruses arise when a virus from another animal species spills over into humans. The virus may have coexisted in peaceful equilibrium for thousands of years in a reservoir host. But once it enters new host, the virus reproduces unchecked, causing illness, discomfort, misery or even death. If the human transmits it to a few other people, that’s an outbreak. If the disease spreads through a community, it’s an epidemic. And if it spreads world-wide, it’s a pandemic. Coronaviruses, the group to which SARS-CoV-2 belongs, are single-stranded RNA viruses. This group of viruses is notorious for frequent mutations as the virus replicates. Single-stranded RNA viruses include influenza, Ebola, measles, rabies, hantavirus and retroviruses. If the SARS-CoV-2 virus jumped from an animal to humans, which species was the reservoir host? As I write this article, we don’t yet know. The prime suspect is a horseshoe bat. Another candidate species is the pangolin, sometimes called the scaly anteater. While some viruses cause dangerous and deadly illnesses, others are beneficial for humans and other cellular organisms. Virologists still have much to learn about this fascinating life form.

Eva Briggs is a retired medical doctor who practiced in Central New York for several decades. She lives in Marcellus.

Controlling High Blood Pressure to Support Healthy Kidneys By Adebowale Oguntola, M.D

M

ay is National Blood Pressure Month and it is a great time to remind people in Central New York of the importance of maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure. In our community, people with high blood pressure and kidney disease often don’t notice any symptoms. Common symptoms to watch for include headache, unexplained bloody nose, and swollen ankles. It is important to be aware of these symptoms, as high blood pressure has an immediate negative affect on the kidneys. If the condition is not treated, kidney functioning will be decreased. Kidney disease is a progressive disease, meaning that it usually does not go away, unless the patient has a kidney transplant or has experienced an acute kidney injury. Kidney doctors like myself provide specialized care and expert medical knowledge to best control blood pressure and to preserve healthy kidney functioning for as long as possible. A care plan is developed, based on the patient’s

current lab results and kidney functioning. The individualized plan for each patient includes recommended diet, hydration, medication, body weight, daily activity level and lifestyle will be developed. Other factors such as iron levels, vitamin D, anemia and bone disease must also be carefully monitored. Over the past year during the COVID-19 global pandemic, health care providers and staff at Nephrology Associates of Syracuse have been working very hard to ensure that kidney care is accessible and available. The practice recently completed an

Page 12 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2021

extensive office renovation project to enhance the patient experience and staff work flows. Telemedicine visits are available, as well as individualized patient education sessions in person and via telemedicine. It is crucial for patients with kidney disease to have access to regular and ongoing care. If care is not regularly maintained, a patient’s kidney function may be negatively affected. The patient may not even be aware until a health crisis arises. The goal of kidney care is to help patients manage their disease so that they can prevent trips to the emergency room

and or the hospital. Because high blood pressure and diabetes are the two main causes of kidney disease, the importance of careful monitoring and management is vital. The practice offers blood pressure checks, kidney disease education, medical nutrition therapy, care after a hospitalization, and chronic care management to help patients maintain health. All community members are encouraged to take good care of their health and maintain a healthy blood pressure. For more information, call 315-478-3311 or visit www.nephrologysyracuse.com. Physician Adebowale Oguntola is a board-certified kidney specialist and is affiliated with Nephrology Associates of Syracuse PC.


New Yoga Studio Opens in Liverpool

Samadhi Yoga creates a space of community and connection By Steve Yablonski

Y

oga is an old discipline from India that uses breathing techniques, exercise and meditation. The fundamental purpose of yoga is to foster harmony in the body, mind and environment. It is both spiritual and physical. And, it is now offered in Liverpool. Samadhi Yoga Syracuse is located at 101 First St., right above Halo Tattoo and across the street from Heid’s. It opened in March. “We are a boutique yoga studio located in the heart of the village of Liverpool,” said owner Bridgette Maney. “We have classes every day but Tuesdays.” The studio offers beginner yoga, level 2/3 vinyasa, restorative yoga and meditation. So, there is definitely something for everyone, Maney said. Classes are at 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays with a noon class also on Sundays. “We also offer livestreams via zoom,” Maney added. They follow all COVID-19 state and county safety protocols; temperature checks when you arrive and “masks are a must,” she said.

Bridgette Maney is the owner of the new Samadhi Yoga in Liverpool.

Maney is originally from the Binghamton area. “I moved to New York City in 1999 after graduating from Mansfield

University in Mansfield, Pennsylvania. I spent the last 20 years working in the entertainment/television industry as a publicist. Most recently, I worked [for the last 10 years] as a publicity director at ABC Television, overseeing a number of primetime shows and network specials,” she said. She moved back to Upstate New York last year during the pandemic to be closer to family. “My sister, brother-in-law and 5-year-old nephew are here,” she said. “They’ve lived in CNY for about as long as I was in NYC.” Maney said she has always had a passion for health and wellness. She is currently working on her NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certification. “I started doing yoga 20 years ago and fell in love with it,” she said. “I’ve had the opportunity to study under some amazing teachers in New York City over the years and have taken workshops on sound healing, Reiki, etc.” She is a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance (RYT-200 HR). “My vision in opening Samadhi was to create a space of community and connection. Everyone is welcome at Samadhi. Doesn’t matter your fitness level, your yoga knowledge, there is a class for you here.” “Oh, I’m asked a lot about the name of my studio — Samadhi? In ancient yoga philosophy, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali describe the eight limbs of yoga, with the eighth and final limb being Samadhi. It’s a state where individual and universal consciousness aligns; so there is a deep meaning behind it.”

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May 2021 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • Page 13


Grant Trout, 3, with his father, Jon, and his mother, Christina, enjoying his redesigned Fisher-Price “Wild Thing” toy.

ARISE Opens a World of Possibilities for Those with Disabilities The organization provides opportunities so that people with disabilities can live freely and independently in the community By Steve Yablonski

A

RISE is a nonprofit, community-based organization that works to ensure that everyone, regardless of disability, has the power to make life choices and achieve their dreams. Navigating the world of disability services can often be confusing and overwhelming for many families. Since 1979, ARISE has provided opportunities so that people with disabilities can live freely and independently in the community. It all started in Onondaga County. That’s where the main office is located.

“As a designated non-residential independent living center, we are organized and directed by people with disabilities,” said Tania S. Anderson, chief executive officer. “If you have just a simple question or don’t know where else to start, ARISE can help.” “A number of our staff does have some kind of disability. Our board chairman has a disability,” added Bill Pfohl, community engagement coordinator. “Who better understands the needs of a disabled person than a disabled person?” Everything ARISE does is based on the independent living philosophy, the belief that people with dis-

abilities have a right to self-determination, the freedom to make choices and work toward achieving personal goals and systems change, Anderson explained. Each year, ARISE serves more than 7,000 people from its offices serving five Central New York counties: Onondaga, Oswego, Madison, Cayuga and Seneca. The Cayuga County satellite office also covers Seneca County. Many of the services ARISE offers are available to people of all ages who have all types of disabilities. Those services include things like ramp construction, ADA accessibility assessments in homes and buildings, help finding housing for people with disabilities, and an adaptive design service that creates specialty products that serve people with disabilities. A disability can mean something such as using a wheelchair or cane or other aid, according to Pfohl. “When people think of ‘disabled,’ they think of things like blindness or being confined to a wheelchair,” he said. “But it’s so much more than that. It’s a whole spectrum. If someone is hurt in an accident and they need rehab for six months, we can help. They need assistance for that time with things like getting in and out of bed or taking a bath. The ‘disability’ probably won’t last longer than six months, but we can help during that time.” “We also have many services for senior citizens and people with disabilities to ensure that they can live safely in their homes in the community. ARISE offers respite for families and programs for people with traumatic brain injuries,” Anderson said. “Our services include education advocacy, employment programs, independent living skills training and habilitation programs.” “Our mental health services have been in high demand during the pandemic,” she added. “Our education advocacy services also have been in high demand during this period of remote learning.” During the pandemic, they have provided mental health services online for people unable to have a face to face meeting. “It’s been a big help,” Pfohl said. “Many people benefit from our outpatient mental health services and school-based mental health programs. Being an independent living center, it is important we emphasize services and programs that help people grow socially and emotionally,” Anderson agreed. ARISE offers recreation and arts programs like ARISE and Ski, ARISE at the Farm and social and support

groups. It also encourages artistic expression through its arts and literary magazine, UNIQUE, which is published annually. Last year, it was able to offer a summer camp experience. “We had to wait for a thumbs up from the state; there were procedures to follow. It was outside and we were able to do it safely,” Pfohl said. “ARISE and Ski was canceled last year due to the pandemic. We wanted to ensure everyone was safe. You have to be a lot closer than six feet when you’re helping someone ski. It was a great program. There were a lot of smiles.” ARISE at the Farm is an accessible, inclusive recreation center located on a 77-acre working horse farm in Chittenango. Focused on the needs and interests of individuals with disabilities in the Central New York region, ARISE at the Farm is open throughout the year and offers a variety of recreational activities. From therapeutic horseback riding to summer camps, an accessible fishing pond and a high ropes course, all ARISE at the Farm programs are inclusive and welcome people of all abilities. They are wrapping up a first step in a large capital improvement project at ARISE at the Farm in Madison County. “We are starting a project to expand our very successful ramp program in Oswego County into Madison and Cayuga counties,” Anderson said. “Our funding sources are a diverse mix of grants, donations and fee-for-service payments from federal, state and local sources,” Anderson explained. “All our programs are consumer-directed, maximizing choice and opportunities for the people we serve.” “We help people live independently. We help with employment—writing resumes, assist with schools and a lot of different areas,” Pfohl said. “The adaptive design program helps people who have trouble with things like writing, to be able to hold a pen, for example.” Recently, the program created a “wheelchair” for a very young child. “The design team created something to allow Grant, a Central New York toddler, to become more independent. He was too small for a conventional wheelchair. So, they adapted and software enhanced a Wild Thing (child’s toy from Fisher-Price).” For more information on ARISE, call 315-472-3171 or visit www.ariseinc.org.

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Things You Need to Know About Diseases that Affect Women By Ernst Lamothe Jr.

ust like every person has a variety of circumstances that affect their health from family history to environment, both men and women have various health ailments that can affect them in different ways. “There are certain cancers and routine screenings that women should make sure they schedule because, while it is cliched, the truth is early detection does save lives,” said Vandana Patil, a board-certified family medicine physician for Oswego Health. Patil lists five health ailments that women should pay attention to in their lives.

1.Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease encompasses heart conditions that include diseased vessels, structural problems and blood clots. Some examples are coronary heart disease, which damages the heart’s major blood vessel or high blood pressure, which refers to the pressure of blood against your artery walls. Cardiovascular disease continues to be the leading cause of death for women amounting to one in five deaths. Another factor is that women experience contrasting symptoms to ailments such as heart attacks. Men often describe their chest pain during a heart attack as a crushing weight on the chest. Some women also experience chest pain, but they are more likely to have different, subtler symptoms for three or four weeks before a heart attack. “Because women don’t always have a searing pain in the chest, they often ignore early symptoms,” said Patil. “There are underlying heart disease signs that are not typical and if they don’t get a diagnosis early,

then it can be dire by the time it is discovered.”

2.Anxiety and Depression

In the past, these issues were ignored by the medical community. But the healthcare field changed its philosophy and started adding questions about anxiety and depression in medical evaluation forms. Experts say a person should not simply suffer in silence. “We recommend people talk with their doctors when they feel anxiety and depression because there are many techniques that are available. It can range from relaxation techniques from taking a walk and doing yoga or even lifestyle changes before you even think about any medication,” said Patil. “We recommend whether or not you are dealing with anxiety and depression that you should take 10 minutes at the beginning of your day if possible to have some reflection and relax your mind at home or even in your office at work.”

3.Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor bumps. For active women common injuries include sprains and strains, muscle cramps and dislocations. More ways to prevent injury include wearing proper protective equipment and using proper technique. In the event of an injury, the healing process will take time. Having patience and following doctors’ orders is important. Rehabilitation and restoring range of motion is the first priority, as resistance, strength and condition-

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ing training will only exacerbate the injury if care is not taken. But bone deterioration is also slowly part of the lives of women for many reasons. “As a woman goes through menopause, the lack of estrogen does affect her bones,” said Patil. “It puts women at risk for problems later in life. We recommend having a simple bone destiny X-ray, which is not painful, as well as having dairy products and calcium and Vitamin D.”

4.Obesity

Your eating habits are essential to your overall health. It’s important for successful aging to eat foods rich in nutrients and avoid the empty calories in candy and sweets. Being overweight or obese increases your chances of dying from hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, dyslipidemia and endometrial, breast, prostate and colon cancers. “We all know the role obesity plays in a person’s life. It has gotten worse during the pandemic when gyms were closed and people were not as active as they should have been,” said Patil. “Obesity can lead to chronic diseases and we need to attack the problem before it becomes chronic.” Whether it is strenuous or easy workouts, activity must be part of your overall life. “This is another reason why we recommend exercising. People often talk about the winter blues since it stays cold and dark in Upstate New York. The good thing about exercising is that it releases endorphins that can make you feel better, let alone improve your health,” added Patil.

Vandana Patil is a board-certified family medicine physician for Oswego Health.

5.Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 14,480 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed and 4,290 women will die from the disease this year. All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in women older than 30. Long-lasting infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another during sex. In addition, breast cancer is still prevalent and should not be ignored even though statistics are going down. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States. Black women and white women get breast cancer at about the same rate, but Black women die from breast cancer at a higher rate than white women. “We can not stress the importance of screening and women scheduling their mammograms and Pap smear appointments,” said Patil.

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Tinnitus Relief Is Possible

There is no known cure, but new technology offers ways to cope with ‘ringing in the ears’ By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

O

n March 21, Kent Taylor, the founder and CEO of the Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain, died from suicide at age 65. In a press release his family sent to the Associated Press, Taylor “took his own life” following “a battle with post-COVID related symptoms, including severe tinnitus.” Tinnitus, also called ringing in the ears, is not a disease but usually a symptom of damage to the auditory system. People with tinnitus hear phantom sounds such as buzzing, humming, clicking, chirping or, rarely, looped, repetitive music. For a small minority, the unwanted sounds become extremely bothersome and interrupt sleep and activities of daily living. Scattered anecdotal reports have linked COVID-19 with tinnitus. Shortly before his death, Taylor, a longtime philanthropist, committed to funding research on tinnitus. COVID-19 has also been linked with depression and anxiety. Left untreated, depression and anxiety raise the risk of suicide. Research printed in a November 2020 issue of Lancet Psychiatry indicates that after reviewing 69.8 million electronic health records, 20% of the 62,000 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 were also diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder such as anxiety, depression or insomnia within three months. Of those, 5.8% were a first-time mental health diagnosis. The study compared people with COVID-19 with patients without the virus during the same period, which means that the illness itself, and not just societal shifts and stress contributed to the increase in mental health diagnoses. “There are three categories of tinnitus sufferers,” said Doug Brown, audiologist and owner dB Audiology Associates, P.C. in Syracuse. “The majority hear it once in a while and can push it in the background. The

Kent Taylor, the founder and CEO of the Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain, died from suicide at age 65. following “a battle with post-COVID related symptoms, including severe tinnitus.”

next is where it’s disruptive and it can alter how they function. The third group, which is smaller, is the group where Kent was. It is totally disruptive and rules their lives. There have been others who have died by suicide because the ringing was so bad.” He thinks that the link between COVID-19 and tinnitus occurs because physical stressors like fevers and fighting infections can aggravate tinnitus. The patient is also not as active while ill, allowing the focus to

Page 16 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2021

shift to the tinnitus. “There are many reasons that tinnitus can fluctuate in its intensity, including stress, fatigue, medical conditions that are not under control, noise and high sodium intake,” Brown said. Among patients with severe tinnitus, he very often sees tinnitus, hearing loss and anxiety, depression and stress concurrent conditions, although other health conditions can cause tinnitus. Since tinnitus is in part of the brain that correlates with hearing loss, those with tinnitus usually have hearing loss. “In fact, the hearing loss may not be evident to you, but it may be present in the higher frequencies—pitches—which are not used for speech communications,” Brown said. Other causes can include excessive earwax, trauma, certain medications, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues, blood flow issues, psychiatric disorders, tumors, vestibular issues such as dizziness or vertigo and autoimmune diseases. Diet, stress, alcohol and caffeine can worse tinnitus. Though it has no cure, interventions can mitigate its effect. Brown said that for most patients with tinnitus, wearing a hearing aid can help reduce the effects of hearing only the unwanted sounds. Audiologists who have a certificate in tinnitus management from the American Board of Audiology specialize in tinnitus. Of the more than 45 million Americans with tinnitus, only 4% say that it significantly interferes with their activities of daily living such as sleep and work. “There are many steps we can try to reduce the tinnitus,” said Nicole Anzalone, audiologist and owner Syracuse Hearing Solutions in Camillus. “There are no cures but ways to manage it. One of the simplest ways

is we’d try tinnitus-masking sound therapy.” Using apps or devices specific for this purpose, patients listen to white noise or other sounds that mask the unwanted sounds. Nicole Arzalone “It is kind of like presenting a noise in your ear to get rid of the sounds that you hear,” Anzalone said. “What you’re doing is keeping your ears and the nerves creating the tinnitus busy.” Retraining therapy is another method that trains the brain to stop paying attention to the tinnitus sound. Much like people who eventually become used to the different sound of a new refrigerator, many people with tinnitus can learn to not pay attention to the phantom sounds. But it is more challenging for hearing than other senses to develop tolerance. Each tinnitus patient is screened for mental health issues so that the office can refer them to a mental healthcare provider. Patients should resist searching the internet for information unless they view the sites of reputable health organizations. They should seek a medical professional specializing in tinnitus for information and treatment. For more information, visit: American Tinnitus Association (www.ata.org), Hearing Loss Association of America (www.hearingloss.org), American Speech and Hearing Association (www.asha. org), American Academy of Audiology (www.audiology.org) and the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (www.nidcd.nih.gov).


SmartBites

The skinny on healthy eating Why You Should Eat More Asparagus

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sparagus is known for making urine smell funny. But that’s not why you should eat more asparagus. You should eat more asparagus because it’s packed with nutrients that support good health and longevity. Asparagus is a vitamin K superstar, providing well over half of our daily needs in one cooked cup. While vitamin K is crucial for coagulation, it’s just as important for bone health because it helps our body absorb calcium. Some studies suggest that vitamin K may even keep osteoporosis at bay. Along with vitamin K, asparagus contains a variety of minerals, in lesser amounts, that also support bone health: iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and magnesium. This slender-but-mighty vegetable is an excellent source of folate, also known as vitamin B-9. An essential nutrient that plays a central role in cell growth and the formation of DNA, folate is especially important at times of rapid growth, such as during gestation, infancy, and adolescence. Getting enough folate from sources like asparagus can protect against neural tube birth defects, including spina bifida. Of course, adults benefit from folate, too, and in more ways than one. Because it helps to lower homocysteine, an amino acid that, when elevated, has been linked to narrowing and hardening of the arteries, it may reduce the risk of heart disease and

stroke. Folate’s impact on homocysteine levels may also lower the risk of depression, since too much of this amino acid may interfere with the production of the feel-good hormones that regulate mood. Another great reason to reach for asparagus? It may help you lose weight and beat bloat. Low in calories (only 20 per half cup), high in water, and rich in fiber, tasty asparagus has many features that make it a weight-loss friendly food. It beats bloat because it’s a natural diuretic and its fiber promotes regularity and healthy digestion.

Sauteed Asparagus and White Bean Salad Serves 4

Salad

3 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1½ lb.) 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 2 teaspoons canola oil 5-6 thinly sliced radishes ½ cup crumbled feta or goat cheese 1 medium shallot, peeled and thinly sliced

Dressing

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt ⅛ teaspoon coarse black pepper In a large sauté pan, heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Add asparagus pieces and sauté for 5-6 minutes, stirring throughout. Remove from heat and transfer to plate for cooling. Combine cooled asparagus, beans, sliced radishes, crumbled cheese, and sliced shallot in a medium bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over asparagus mixture, tossing gently to coat. Adjust seasonings and serve.

dB Audiology Associates, PC 5992 East Molloy Road Syracuse, NY 13211

www.dbaudiologycny.com

Hearing Measurement services and advice provided by a NY State Licensed audiologist who has been providing professional hearing care to Central NY for over 40 years.

Helpful tips Select spears that are firm with compact tips and a rich green color almost the entire length of the stalk. Steer clear of stalks that are limp, wilted, or have a smell. Thinner stalks tend to be tougher than thicker ones. Best used on day purchased, but if you need to store, wrap the stem ends in a damp paper towel, place in a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to four days. Don’t wash the spears until you’re ready to use; and try not to overcook them, as overcooking may diminish some nutrients.

Anne Palumbo is a lifestyle colum-

nist, food guru, and seasoned cook, who has perfected the art of preparing nutritious, calorie-conscious dishes. She is hungry for your questions and comments about SmartBites, so be in touch with Palumbo at avpalumbo@aol.com.

Services / Products Available:

n Baseline and monitoring testing for chemotherapy and other hearing – harmful medications n Hearing measurements for personal (medical, communication) or occupational (OSHA, DOT, law enforcement) purposes. n Hearing protection counseling and devices for loud recreational (music listening, hunting, motor sports, landscaping) and occupational (professional musicians, fire and police personnel) activities. n Hearing aid selection, fittings and repairs n Tinnitus evaluations and treatment. n If you have any questions or concerns regarding your hearing or how to protect it.

Give Doug Brown a Call!

315-410-1295 By Appointment

Reach more than 100,000 health-conscious readers. Advertise in the next issue of In Good Health, CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper Call 315-342-1182 or email editor@cnyhealth.com May 2021 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • Page 17


crouse.org/careers

Nursing Special What Is International Nurses Day? By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

N At Crouse, Every Employee is Essential. Healthcare depends on individuals with diverse backgrounds and skills to care for our patients. If you’re looking to work on a missionfocused team, we invite you to check out the opportunities at Crouse.

Together, we can make a difference. IMMEDIATE OPENINGS Registered Nurses Environmental Services Nursing Assistants

Addiction Treatment Respiratory Therapy

Case Management Nutritional Services Surgical Technologists

urses: they work tirelessly, bringing to the bedside and office comfort, care and knowledge. It is easy to see why they deserve a day of honor to celebrate their sacrifices and dedication. But how did International Nurses Day, held May 12, begin? Florence Nightingale, lauded as the originator of modern nursing was born May 12, 1820. Before her time, nursing was not a career per se. Nurses were not trained professionals. They were usually women drawn from religious orders who were willing to do the menial tasks of personal care for those who were bedridden by illness or injury. Nightingale helped change that. In 1860, she developed a nurse training program. Her efforts helped bring medical care into nursing service. Instead of being little more than a personal care aide, the nurse became part of the medical team with knowledge to help improve the patient’s condition.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nurses comprise 59% of healthcare workers. Nurses’ importance should not be overlooked, as the WHO estimates that patients in intensive care spend 86% to 88% of their time with a nurse. From before birth to death, most people will experience a nurse’s care. Nurses may work in academia, bedside, chairside in schools, and numerous other locations. Their specialties cover every medical niche. The demand on nurses can include variable hours, long shifts, a range of emotions and much physical exertion. Considering the especially onerous conditions that nurses have experienced since the beginning of the pandemic, nurses deserve exceptional praise for their service this year. From Nightingale’s day to present times, nurses have led the medical community in extending comfort, care and compassion to patients. The theme of this year’s International Nurses Day is “Nurses: A Voice to Lead.”

750 EAST

THANK YOU

TO OUR NURSING TEAM

Upstate nurses are extraordinary. Amid the biggest public health crisis of our lifetime, they have answered the call. As they always do. They are resilient, dedicated, compassionate, professional.

Their efforts in our patients’ treatment, care and well-being are both inspired and inspiring. Upstate wouldn’t be Upstate without them. And we couldn’t be prouder of them. Thank you. Happy Nurses Week.

JOIN THE UPSTATE TEAM! I WWW.UPSTATE.EDU/NURSING I 750 EAST ADAMS STREET I SYRACUSE

Page 18 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2021


Weight Loss Surgery Weight loss surgery is about more than just weight loss. It’s about reducing your risk for serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes — and regaining the stamina, mobility and confidence to take on every day. Crouse’s bariatric surgery program offers a dedicated team of physicians and providers, as well as psychological and nutritional counseling — all with the expertise to support you every step of the way. What’s more, you can begin the process from the comfort of your own home. View our online informational video — and then consult with members of our bariatric team via telemedicine visits to start your journey. It’s time — and now easier than ever.

Start today at crouse.org/weightloss or call 315-470-8974.

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINES COVID-19 vaccines are a hot topic and on the minds of many. Is a vaccine that was created so quickly actually safe? Can I stop wearing a mask if I receive the vaccine? What will our “new normal” look like? Meet Mona Chitre, PharmD. She’s our Chief Pharmacy Officer and a wealth of knowledge on all things COVID-19 vaccine-related.

Q. MONA, YOU’RE A LOCAL HEALTH EXPERT. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE COVID-19 VACCINE? I am excited and impressed by the worldwide efforts and success to thoroughly research, test and bring to market a highly effective vaccine for the public. The scientific research truly is incredible. The first two vaccines being distributed in the U.S. — Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna — are given in two doses and proven to be 95% effective against COVID-19.

MONA CHITRE, PharmD Chief Pharmacy Officer

Dr. Chitre completed her undergraduate and graduate training at Rutgers University and her post-doctoral primary care residency at the VA Hospital in Buffalo, New York.

Q. HOW DO WE KNOW THAT THESE VACCINES ARE SAFE WHEN THEY ARE SO NEW? Great question. COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same rigorous FDA safety and efficacy standards as all other vaccines — and have been tested thousands of times to ensure safety. The scientific technology used to develop the first COVID-19 vaccines is called mRNA. mRNA has been studied for decades and looks at the genetic makeup of the virus, and then uses that genetic code to teach our cells how to trigger an immune response to combat the virus. The platform that is being used to produce this vaccine has been studied and used for over a decade, and developers had a jump-start on the COVID-19 vaccine because it’s a coronavirus which they’ve studied in the past.

Q. THAT’S REASSURING. SO, ARE YOU SAYING THAT GETTING THE COVID-19 VACCINE CANNOT MAKE A PERSON GET COVID-19?

Read the full Q&A and watch our videos:

ExcellusBCBS.com/COVID19

Exactly. The COVID-19 vaccines that are being distributed in the U.S. do not use any fragment of the live virus and cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

The information in this document is current as of 4/16/2021. For the latest information on COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online at CDC.gov. A nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

May 2021 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • Page 19


Nursing Special In addition, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing has cited a 2018 report that the average age of a registered nurse is 50 years old, which means a significant number of RNs will retire in a few years.

Recruitment and retention

Taking a Look at Today’s Nursing Profession The job may have changed, ‘but the heart of it stays the same’ By Mary Beth Roach

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s the nation starts to come out of the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we prepare to honor nurses during National Nurses Week in May. We talked with the heads of nursing departments at several area hospitals about the profession, the impact of the pandemic, the shortage of nurses nationwide, and the future of nursing. Nancy Page, chief nursing officer with Upstate University Hospital, Melissa Purtell, director of nursing for Oswego Health at Oswego Hospital and Lynne Shopiro, interim chief nursing officer at Crouse Hospital, have a combined sum of at least 100 years of service in the nursing profession. In their current roles, Page oversees a nursing staff of about 3,000 across all levels of nursing. At Crouse, Shopiro’s team numbers about 900 RNs and 150 nursing assistants. Purtell is responsible for 152 RNs between the hospital, emergency department and its two urgent care centers. The three say the profession is gratifying, makes a Lynne Shopiro true difference, and offers the ability for professional growth. “There’s nothing more rewarding than helping your fellow man. You help people every single day. It truly is so rewarding. I don’t think I could do it for 30 years if I didn’t feel that way about it,” Purtell said. Page also sees great flexibility and opportunities for professional growth in the profession. It “molds and reshapes itself. You, as a nurse, can mold and reshape yourself,” she said.

The pandemic’s impact

Turnover in the field

The biggest challenge facing nurses recently has been the pandemic. Page, Purtell and Shopiro agree that some nurses are struggling with post-traumatic stress. Patients couldn’t have family members or friends visit during this time, so a nurse “might be the only person at the bedside when this person dies. You feel their pain. You wanted to have their family in. You knew why they couldn’t be. I think that is causing enormous stress on nurses today,” Page said. “It was a long road. There were some really tough times during this,” Purtell said. “Your adrenaline and your anxiety have been going full force for months.” Now, as some of the surges subside, nursing staffs have to readjust to what their lives were like prior to COVID-19. For nurses, Shopiro rhetorically asked, “What does life look like now?” She suggested that they reach out to friends, return to hobbies they enjoy and “pause and reflect on the Nancy Page lives that you changed; the lives that you saved.” Moreover, the three concur that leadership teams need to continue to make their nurses feel supported and to promote their wellness. They also praised their staffs for their care and dedication. The pandemic could have long-lasting impacts on the nursing profession. While it may cause an increase in the shortage, Page, Purtell and Shopiro are hopeful that people will be inspired by what they saw nurses do over the past 15 months and enter the profession.

According to 2021 NSI National Health Care Retention and RN Staffing Report, hospital turnover currently stands at 19.5%, but Upstate, Crouse and Oswego are seeing rates below that number. At Upstate, the rate is at about 14.8%, according to Page. At Crouse, according to Shopiro, the rate for 2020 was 12.5%, and for the first quarter of this year, it’s 11%. Meanwhile, at Oswego Hospital, the turnover rate in 2019 was 17.93%. Even though Central New York might not be seeing dire shortages, it remains a concern for the profession overall. Page suggested several factors contributing to it. The healthcare needs of the country are changing as baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, age. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the boomers are the second largest generation of living adults, behind millennials. To alleviate the shortage at some medical facilities, travel nurses are often hired Missy Purtell to fill in temporarily. Their contracts usually run 13 weeks and some of the ads on the internet claim these nurses could make $51,000 for that time period. It is difficult for some hospitals to compete with such lucrative salaries, Page noted. A nurse’s work schedule can also be challenging for some. For hospital-based nursing, most of the positions are not the typical 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. These facilities have to be adequately staffed seven days a week, 24 hours a day, weekends and holidays included.

Page 20 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2021

Key to reversing the shortage is in recruiting and retaining nurses. Purtell and Shopiro indicated that a sense of community and the dedication to serve their neighbors play a big role in keeping nurses. In addition, hospitals have to a presence in any markets that nurses are looking at today, they have to be social media savvy and stay current with technology, for example hosting virtual recruitment events during the pandemic as Upstate has done, Page pointed out. “I think another piece of retention is investing in their professional development,” she added. Many hospitals throughout the country will offer tuition assistance programs, and upon completion, the nurses are usually required to work at that healthcare facility for a specific length of time, and Crouse offers new graduates an incentive package that does not have a time commitment. Hospitals, too, are constantly training staff and working with area nursing schools and programs to foster a relationship between the students and their respective healthcare facilities. At Oswego, Purtell has developed several initiatives aimed at providing hands-on experiences. One such program offers graduate nurses a one-year residency, in which they experience nursing in a variety of departments within the Hospital. Upstate is an academic medical center and offers a variety of specialties for nurses to choose. In addition, Page said, its level 1 trauma center covers a large geographic area, with an extensive range of cases, from farming accidents occurring in the area’s rural communities to the gun violence. Upstate’s College of Nursing prepares RNs to get their Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, or BSN.

The future All three are optimistic about the future of the nursing. Page pointed out that the profession has ranked as being the most trusted profession for years; a 2018 Gallup poll placed nursing as the most trusted profession in the U.S. for the 20th year, with 84% of the respondents rating nurses “very high” for honesty and ethical standards. As Purtell said, “There’s always going to be a need for nursing. The degree of change from when I started as a nurse to now is unbelievable. The technology may change, policy might change, techniques might change, procedures might change, the heart of it stays the same. That’s not going to change. I can’t wait to see what it looks like 20 years from now.”


THANK YOU. COVID-19 has challenged Auburn Community Hospital’s medical professionals in ways that we could never have imagined. Our nurses, along with their exceptional physician and hospital colleagues, care for people when they are at their most fragile. There are simply not enough words to thank them for their diligence, sacrifice, and determination during such an unprecedented time. COVID-19 has challenged our team and this community like no other event in our history. We could not be prouder of our nurses, doctors, technologists, Finger Lakes Center for Living team, transporters, housekeepers, dietary, maintenance, urgent care teams, our lab team that has been processing thousands of Covid tests for our community, and all others who have been vital to the care of all of our patients, including those with a COVID-19 diagnosis. Finally, it is important to offer special thanks to the families of all of our employees. Our staff, like healthcare workers everywhere, are put in a very difficult position during this pandemic. Not only are they continuing to do their jobs by caring for the sickest patients, but they are also managing extremely challenging issues at home. Children of all ages are home from school, some need to be home-schooled. Businesses are closed, impacting many spouses and other family members. Each of our team members have their families, who have had to worry day after day about their loved one on the front lines. My message to these friends and relatives is thank you for your continuing support and sacrifices during this challenging time. Please know your partners, mothers, fathers, sister, brother, sons or daughters have played a critical role in saving lives, and we are doing everything we can to keep them safe. On behalf of The Auburn Community Hospital Team, Thank you for all that you do!

Scott A. Berlucchi FACHE, NHA President & CEO

May 2021 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • Page 21


Nursing Special

Fighting Nurse Burnout

Experts offer suggestions for nursing leadership to reduce the stress levels for their staff By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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emanding on the body, mind and emotions, nursing is not an easy career path. As the pandemic has made a tough career even harder, leaders in nursing have been looking at ways to reduce burnout in the nursing field. “For me, it’s just having hobbies and other areas of interest,” said Autumn Mathews-Firnstein, a registered nurse and manager for Loretto at Sedgewick Heights Assisted Living. “My parents have horses. My daughter and mother ride. I go up there and take care of them. Animals take your stress down.” She also tries to exercise a few times a week and eat healthfully to keep up with the job’s physical demands. In general, the pandemic has added to the difficulties of nursing, such as additional shortages, wearing additional personal protective equipment, longer hours and more protocols for patient and worker safety. Nurses also provide more emotional support to patients unable to receive visitors. Mathews-Firnstein has seen nurses use their personal cellphones to connect patients to family members. Currently, limited numbers of visitors are allowed with strict guidelines.

News reports have also proven stressful. “You hear how people are dying,” she said. “You hear half the country thinks it’s a fake virus. That has been frustrating. Only 1% may die from it, but in a congregant setting it spreads like wildfire. I had COVID over the summer caught from an asymptomatic person. Some show no symptoms and then spread it.” Despite the struggles, MathewsFinrstein tries to stay positive. “I knew there would be light at the end of the tunnel and once we got a vaccine, things would get better and it has,” she said. “My husband and I are vaccinated. I’m hoping this will help things. I’m a very positive person. It makes your job so much easier.” Nancy Page chief nursing officer Upstate University Hospital, said that her organization and others are offering access to mental health resources, such as speaking with a therapist or spiritual care professional, and using physical health resources such as clubs and physical training to keep physically healthy. “We want our nurses being comfortable sharing with the team if they had a difficult death or the person was isolated as their family is across

the country,” Page said. She added that the stressors of the pandemic may cause some nurses to decide they want a change in their careers. Page hopes that means a lateral change, not leaving the field. “Take that break from the hospital, but remain in the profession,” she said. “You can practice in so many settings.” With adequate staffing, nurses can take enough time to care for themselves, both with breaks while on the clock, and sufficient days off. The pandemic has exacerbated the existing nursing shortage as nurses exposed to the virus or who have tested positive may not report to work. Deborah Welch, vice president for Mission and Community Health and Well-Being at St. Joseph’s Health, said that preventing burnout starts with the development of “strong interpersonal relationships with their team and their managers,” she said. “Team relationship-based care is our care delivery model at St. Joseph’s

Stressed, Exhausted:

Health.” St. Joseph’s launched a colleague care team toward the beginning of the pandemic to offer in-person and virtual support to stressed colleagues. The team provides real time support from the rounding team comprised of staff from departments including behavioral health, spiritual care and human resources, as well as environmental interventions and support to encourage well-being. “During stressful times, it’s critical to seek ways to improve colleagues’ working environment and daily experience,” Welch said. Successful relationships at home and among friends also help; however, creating boundaries and a balance between work and rest is important for maintaining these relationships. “We encourage our colleagues to focus on self-care: putting their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being first,” Welch said. “One way to accomplish this is to participate in activities that are personally meaningful and bring you joy.”

Frontline Workers Faced Big Mental Strain in Pandemic

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octors, nurses and other frontline health workers in U.S. emergency departments have struggled with significant mental health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new poll reveals. “As the nation moves into what many believe is a fourth wave of COVID, this study is important to our understanding of the impact of the pandemic on the mental well-being of frontline medical personnel,” said lead author Robert Rodriguez, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. His team surveyed about 1,600 physicians, nurses, advanced practice providers, social workers and other personnel at 20 U.S. emergency departments between May and July of 2020. Survey respondents reported high stress levels, emotional exhaustion, insomnia and nightmares. The results also revealed that nearly one-fifth were at increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Their greatest concerns included exposing loved ones or others to the

virus, the well-being of co-workers diagnosed with COVID-19, and patients with an unclear diagnosis who might expose others in the community. The study found that regular COVID-19 testing helped reduce stress levels, particularly among those who had previously tested positive for coronavirus antibodies. The survey participants were from emergency department staffs in 16 states, including New York. The findings were published April 9 in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine. “We found that feelings of work-related anxiety, emotional exhaustion and burnout were prevalent across the full spectrum of emergency department staff,” Rodriguez said in a university news release. That’s why recognizing signs of stress, burnout and anxiety early on is critical, he explained. “Emergency department personnel serve as the initial hospital caregivers for the majority of critically ill patients with known or suspected COVID-19 infection,” Rodriguez said. “Protecting and maintaining the health of the emergency department

Page 22 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2021

workforce is imperative in the ongoing battle against COVID-19.” Rodriguez suggested that employers encourage workers to take time off, get adequate rest and use available well-being resources. That’s especially important “considering the relatively high levels of burnout symptoms, and that more than half of participants reported experiencing

at least one symptom of PTSD and as many as 20% were at higher risk,” he noted. In contrast to previous research by the same team, the new study found that personal protective equipment was no longer among the top five concerns for emergency department staff, suggesting that it has become more widely available.


Nursing Special

Nurses Share Their Outdoorsy Hobbies

Beekeeping and other outdoor activities help a pair of nurses beat stress By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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urses provide healthcare, reassurance and health education to patients. Beyond their caring, professional demeanor, they may have hobbies and interests that patients and colleagues would not envision. The patients of two Central New York nurses would likely never guess that their caregivers enjoy such interesting hobbies. Gail Carmichel, RN, keeps busy as a bee as vice president of patient services for Nascentia Health. She also keeps bees, an interest that attracted her eight years ago through her interest in biology and plants. According to USDA, honeybees pollinate 100 commercially grown crops, some of which rely heavily on honeybees over other pollinators. A variety of pests, disease and human interference is causing honeybees to decline. “A lot of information was coming out about the bee population is at risk from environmental factors at play like pesticides and things like that,” Carmichel said. She read about beekeeping and learned from a local mentor. Her husband, Doug, gave her a starter beehive for her birthday and has helped her manage the bees ever since. It is hard to pick up the frames alone. Carmichel keeps between one and three hives, which produce 40 to 88 pounds annually. She filters it three times but leaves it raw as she believes that heating it would destroy healthful benefits of the product. After thinking about it for a year, the couple decided to call the operation Minding Our Own Beeswax. They developed a logo and label and enjoy giving away bottles of honey to fundraisers and to friends and family members at Christmastime. Occasionally when she gives honey as a gift to a colleague, the recipient is surprised to learn that the

sweet present came from Carmichel’s own bees. “The fringe benefit is the honey,” she said. “It feels like a good thing to do. Bees are important for pollinating our foods sources.” To keep her little honey-makers in good health, she keeps them on a property in Cazenovia where they can access plenty of blossoms and help themselves to water from a pond. Bees will forage as far as five miles away. “At some point, I’d like to bring them into my backyard,” she said. Though she grows a good garden at her home in Dewitt, she wants to make sure she can provide enough nectar for them. Caring for bees is a sensory experience, hearing the buzz, watching and feeling their movement, smelling the sweet hive aroma and, finally, tasting honey. About 30,000 to 40,000 bees live in an average-sized hive with only about 500 them male. All the bees seen foraging on flowers are females. The male drones live in the hive and die after mating with the queen. Her only job is laying eggs. “You feel like you’re doing something good for the community environmentally,” she said. Suzanne Chick, RN with St. Joseph’s Health, also loves the outdoors. Chick stays healthy and invigorated through her many outdoor adventures, including motorcycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and scuba diving. She has done a scuba dive in Alexandria Bay which she said, “was an amazing experience.” This summer, she hopes to refresh her scuba certification. Another favorite summer pastime is riding her motorcycle, a 2005 Yamaha Virago she bought 10 years ago.

Nurse Gail Carmichel, is the vice president of patient services for Nascentia Health. On the side, she keeps bees, an interest that attracted her eight years ago.

Nurse Suzanne Chick, who works at St. Joseph’s Health, loves the outdoors: motorcycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, and more! “It’s my therapist on wheels,” Chick said. “I can think things through while riding.” The 47-year-old grew up spending lots of time near the Erie Canal, in the woods, swimming and otherwise connecting with nature. “It heals me, no matter what’s going on,” Chick said. “That’s my happy place. It’s not for everybody, but it works for me. I have to go out even if it’s just to walk the dog a little bit.” Her dog, Henry, who appears to be part Labrador and poodle, accompanies her as much as possible, as he enjoys exploring. Because nursing is such a people-oriented career oriented on crisis, spending time in nature recharges Chick’s batteries. She also appreciates the health benefits she gains by exercising that may help her prevent

some of the negative outcomes she sometimes treats with patients. As a bedside nurse, she can talk with patients and as appropriate, she mentions her outdoorsy recreation. “Sometimes patients have things in common,” she said. “They mention places to check out.” A few of her favorite places are the Erie Canal, Cazenovia Lake and the North Country Trail. She advises anyone interested in outdoor adventures to avoid over-thinking it. While she enjoys kayaking, scuba and other activities requiring equipment and skill development, she also likes a simple hike, requiring just a comfortable pair of walking shoes, water bottle, sunglasses and sunscreen. “Get out and get started and you’ll find what you’ll love,” she said.

Thank you! Thank you to all our current nurses in Cayuga and Tompkins Counties. We couldn’t do it without you!

www.unityhouse.com

NG HIRI n! W O r N Aubu n i N R

May 2021 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • Page 23


Shortage of Health Professionals Was Bad. Then Came the Pandemic Local health providers say finding licensed professionals has been more challenging since the pandemic started By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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taffing healthcare openings has been hard for providers for numerous years. However, the past year of pandemic has created further difficulty in finding people to care for the sick, elderly and injured. The challenge goes across every facet of healthcare. “We’re struggling just like every other healthcare organization is struggling to find enough licensed professionals,” said Donna J. Britton, director of human resources at Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists. She used to receive 30 to 50 resumes in response to an ad for an LPN or RN, offering her plenty of candidates to look through. That was five years ago. “Now we’re lucky to get three,” Britton said. Though she acknowledges the number of people interested in working at SOS can fluctuate, usually the nursing roles have plenty of applicants. That has flip-flopped, and the nonclinical roles are now easier to fill. “These last few years, it’s been a very noticeable decline in the number of licensed professionals applying to open positions,” Britton said. Some of her clinical directors

say that an increase in demand at long-term care facilities has increased demand for these positions. In addition, burned-out nurses leaving the industry since the pandemic started now plays a role in fewer applicants. Competition from larger healthcare organizations have made it tougher for smaller ones to attract nurses. In the past two months, Britton has noticed help wanted ads offering sign-on bonuses of $7,500 to $10,000 — figures with which smaller organizations cannot compete, even those with a robust benefits package as SOS offers. Britton has also noticed that the quality of candidates has also declined, as many have spotty work histories or end up having attendance issues after hire. That makes retention harder. To address these issues, SOS has been advertising in more periodicals to attract a larger pool of candidates and refreshing the HR department’s skills in interviewing and training. Other organizations have felt the struggle. “No doubt there have been challenges,” said Suzanne Talarico, manager of talent acquisition at St. Joseph’s Health. “The pandemic has had significant impacts on everyone,

Page 24 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2021

including members of our St. Joseph’s Health family.” The number of open positions has remained stable throughout the pandemic at St. Joseph’s. Talarico said that the human resources staff collaborates with clinical leaders and educators to think of strategies to help with recruitment and retention, such as flexible staffing — a big draw to many seeking employment in healthcare. Expediting hiring also keeps the process moving along, which can ensure any vacancies are filled quickly. Instead of taking weeks, it can take only days to go from screening to hire. Technology has helped accelerate the entire process, including virtual job fairs and interviews, which the pandemic necessitated. Many people in healthcare want to not only get a job but to enter or continue a career. “We promote career pathing and tuition benefit opportunities for nonlicensed staff who want to join the healthcare field,” Talarico said. “An interested candidate may be undecided perhaps about which specialty profession they wish to pursue and roles such as the patient care technician provide comprehensive experiences that can be flexible to meet the needs of our patients in real time while inspiring internal mobility and professional career path decisions.” For 2021, Talarico hopes the momentum of hiring during the pandemic continues as well as the stronger sense of community and company culture gained during the pandemic. “What we have achieved and experienced collectively throughout this past year and continue to navigate — while it is has not been easy — has strengthened us as an organization,” she said. “Having the privilege of repeating that message many times a day is the best.” Colleen Engler, chief human resource officer at Loretto, acknowledged that her organization has felt its share of hiring difficulties, especially for direct caregivers. “People are fearful of COVID,” she said. “The frontline leaders— caregivers—have a very challenging job. They’re always challenging, and now it’s more challenging.” She thinks that what Loretto does internally helps support and promote external interest in the company and therefore support recruiting. For example, staying flexible in scheduling to accommodate school and childcare needs encourages employees to share with others how much they enjoy their jobs. Loretto also provides

diapers to employees with infants through their diaper bank. Loretto is nationally registered with the Department of Labor to offer an LPN apprenticeship program and offers other on-the-job and online training and certifications to help employees advance their careers. Loretto also employs a career coach who can help find out why an employee may be struggling. For example, if an employee does not want to come in, perhaps a lack of childcare or transportation is the reason. The career coach “can step in and suggest resources and give support,” Engler said. Loretto’s expedited hiring process has helped fill vacancies more quickly. Loretto has also implemented a fast-track CNA program with permission from the New York State Department of Health to train employees in only two days in the classroom, followed by a period of shadowing more experienced employees before working independently. “That has really helped us, along with the benefits package,” Engler said. “We have a good company culture and we want people to be successful.” Just more than 250 are employed among ConnextCare’s 13 locations. Stephanie Earle, director of human resources, said that staffing is going fairly well, except for clinical staff. “There was hesitancy of changing employers at the beginning of the pandemic, but we’re starting to see an uptick,” Earle said. Close relationships with area nursing schools and trades schools have helped keep vacancies filled. Swerving to digital recruitment has been a big change for ConnextCare, such as participating in a virtual career fair with Workforce Development and performing virtual job interviews. “They don’t get to physically see the site and how they interact with the staff organically,” Earle said. “But the candidate is a little more relaxed and isn’t as on the defense. You can have a more genuine conversation.” The pandemic canceled employee get-togethers, which is a blow to employee morale. Earle said that holding theme weeks in each center and sharing photos with other employees has helped, as has hosting some casual Zoom meetings. “We’ve had more support from community members which the staff appreciates,” she added.


Parenting By Melissa Stefanec

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8 Questions to Ask Your Spouse Before You Have Children Getting on the same page now will alleviate a lot of problems down the road

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here are a lot of things couples should discuss before they have kids. hen parents don’t agree on big parenting decisions, it can really damage their relationships (and the children involved). Partners should make sure they are on the same page before they tackle such a grand undertaking. If you are thinking of having kids, there are plenty of resources available on this topic. A simple internet search will return a wealth of articles and parenting books. These resources will likely suggest discussing things like spiritual upbringing, reactions to sexual orientation, physical discipline, cryit-out versus intervention, vaccines, and saving for college. Other articles might suggest discussing how gender roles and responsibilities will affect who does what as a parent. There is a lot of important ground to cover. If you are looking for the best advice on these crucial topics, skip this article. However, if you need a break from all the serious conversations facing would-be parents, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve got some solid, unscripted advice for all of you non-parents who are about to change your lives. 1. It’s 2 a.m. and there’s vomit everywhere. Who sees to the kid and who starts the cleanup? This may sound like an obvious choice, but it’s not that simple. The person who takes on the existing mess knows what they are getting into. The person who takes the kid may be on easy street or may be dealing with poltergeist-style vomiting. No one gets out of this clean. Make sure you and your partner can handle that. 2. Whose responsibility is it to do the grocery shopping? You may be thinking, “who wants to be stuck grocery shopping?” But, after kids, solo grocery shopping is akin to a small vacation. When you are looking for personal time, nothing beats wandering around and looking for grilled artichoke hearts while knowing no one but the general public can bother you. You might as well find out if your partner wants to hog all the shopping getaways upfront. 3. When you break away and get time alone or grown-up time with friends, do you have to respond to non-emergency kid inquiries? Talk to your partner about expectations regarding get-aways. Will you be completely out of contact for everything but emergencies involving blood or bodily harm? Or, do you expect each other to be ready to field inquiries like, “Do we have more ketchup?” or “I can’t find Princess

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Snuggle Kitty.” Talk through expectations, so no one feels abandoned. 4. When your kids don’t clear their plates, who plays cleanup crew and puts on another “parenting 15?” Most non-parents don’t understand how important this is. They don’t want to think about eating three semi-intact stegosaurus chicken nuggets and green beans that have touched barbecue sauce for dinner. Then, reality sets in, and you are faced with throwing away your paycheck or taking one for the team. Which of you will take all that breading weight? 5. When the folder comes home from school with no fewer than 42 pieces of paper, whose job is it to find the paper that needs to be signed and returned immediately? Such work falls into the “unseen work” category and there sure is a lot of it. Talk to your partner about equal division of homework review, app-monitoring and paper-bulletin administration. If you’re not careful, you will miss pajama day and the book fair in the same week and your child will be looking for answers. 6. Who is going to forgo their favorite pizza topping for the next 20 years to make room for plain cheese and pepperoni? I’ve come to close to asking pizza parlors to split pizza toppings three ways on a pizza. Then, I remember “split” doesn’t fit nicely into any of those sections of the food pyramid. So, I almost never have banana peppers on my pizza. My husband doesn’t see many slices with a garlic base. This is parenting life. 7. Should your child be allowed to wear pajamas or costumes to public places? Talk to your partner about whether or not it’s OK to bring a ninja or dragon grocery shopping. Are you going to try to hold onto some shred of dignity in parenthood? It’s better to be on the same page about such things before it’s too late. 8. Who is going to teach the grandparents how to get the new-fangled car seats into their cars? You know when you were a kid and your parents had to wipe your backside and stay up until 2 a.m. assembling He-Man’s fortress for your birthday? Well, it’s payback time. Talk to your partner about who is going to be tablet tech support and car seat installer for Grandma and Grandpa. You or your partner is going to have fill this role and fill it patiently or that free babysitting isn’t going to happen often. So, if you are thinking about having kids, talk to your partner about the items on this list. Life is too short and beautiful to be spiteful about forgoing the delicious tang of a banana pepper on a hot slice of pizza.

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golden years

Francis House: Helping 3,300 End-of-Life Residents in 30 Years Home on the North Side of Syracuse provides comfort to people with terminal illnesses so they can die with dignity and experience unconditional love By Margaret McCormick

M

ary Anne Hankins is still relatively new to her role as executive director of Francis House, a final home for the terminally ill on the North Side of Syracuse. Like many before her, she says, she felt a sense of comfort and love when she visited for the first time. “Walking in, it just felt like a peace came over me,’’ Hankins recalls. “You just feel the love when you walk in the door. I had heard all about it, but once you’re here you just feel it. It truly is a wonderful place.’’ Francis House is a special place with a special mission: to provide a home and extended family to people with terminal illnesses so they can die with dignity and experience unconditional love. The home is at 108 Michaels Ave., a quiet, one-way street off Court Street, near the former Maria Regina College. It marked its 30th anniversary earlier this year. Francis House is a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. It is a private home, not a licensed hospice or nursing home, and receives no city, state or federal funding. It exists thanks to the generosity of donors and the dedication of a small staff, caregivers and hundreds of trained volunteers, who do everything from clean the bathrooms to cut the grass to visit with residents. Since its humble beginning in 1991, Francis House has served more than 3,300 residents — ranging in age from less than a year to more than 100 years. The faith-based ministry welcomes people of all ages, ethnicities and religions with terminal illnesses and prognoses of six months or less to live. Residents must be enrolled with a home health care agency, such as Hospice of Central New York and Hospice of the Finger

Sister Colette Walter with a resident in the first year of ministry. Image courtesy of Francis House. Lakes. Admission is based solely on need — who at this time most needs the care that Francis House offers? That could mean an 80-year-old man or woman with cancer, no family nearby and no funds to pay for athome care. “Family and home… from the beginning, that’s all we wanted to be,’’ says Francis House founder Sister Kathleen Osbelt. “Those were our parameters. We don’t want to be a replacement for family. We are the extended family. We are like you, but we might also be a nurse on top of being a daughter. We provide a home.’’ Francis House was Osbelt’s vision. In the 1980s, while serving as a chaplain at St. Joseph’s Hospital, she met a young woman with HIV-AIDS. At the time, little was known about the disease, except that there was no cure and there were few places outside of a hospital or nursing home for people with HIV-AIDS to spend their end days. The young woman spent seven months in the hospital before she died. Osbelt knew there were many others in the community who did not

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Page 26 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2021

have the support or resources to die at home. She brought her idea to the Sisters of St. Francis, who in turn donated a two-family, circa 1910 house on Michaels Avenue. Local businesses and members of the community donated resources, labor and time to replace the roof and remodel the house in preparation to welcome residents and more than 50 volunteers signed on to help out. Francis House opened with just two rooms for residents. In 1998, an expansion of the house brought capacity up to eight resident bedrooms, plus kitchen, great room and chapel. Five years later, the house at 114 Michaels Ave. was built. It added eight more rooms and is connected to the original structure. Each room has windows to allow light and the outdoors in. Meals and laundry service are provided. Residents who are able and their families are encouraged to enjoy the gazebo and grounds, meticulously maintained by volunteers. The average length of stay at Francis House is 22 days, according to development director Beth Lynn Hoey, who has worked at Francis House for 24 years. Care of one per-

son costs approximately $7,500 per month. After residents are accepted, Hoey says, staff members have a confidential conversation with family members about the cost of care and make an ask: Can you help? Not everyone can, but no one is turned away because of lack of resources. COVID-19 brought unforeseen challenges to Francis House. Residents were consolidated into one eight-room house for a time and volunteers — the heart of the ministry — had to stay home. Admissions were halted for a time to help stem COVID-19 transmission and only pre-approved visitors were allowed in. Families couldn’t gather in groups around their loved ones. Hardest of all, perhaps, no one could hug. COVID-19 also brought change to Francis House fundraising efforts. The ministry’s annual fundraising gala, “There’s No Place Like Home,’’ moved online in 2020. It’s normally held at the state fairgrounds in Geddes and attended by more than 2,000 guests. The virtual event raised $290,000. All of the ministry’s annual $2.4 million operating budget is raised through donations from the Francis House community, Hoey notes. One constant at Francis House is the presence of Osbelt. She describes her current role as volunteer. She visits with residents and is a spiritual presence every day. In recent years, the Francis House leadership has expanded its mission beyond caring for people and their families to sharing their experience and resources with others looking to provide a comfortable place for people to spend their final days. It helped to establish the Omega Home Network, a network of comfort homes across the country. And its annual symposium, “Living the Final Chapter,’’ designed for healthcare professionals, social workers, grief counselors, therapists and anyone involved in providing end of life care, has helped to educate others. “We want to change how people see death in this country,’’ Osbelt says. Francis House is at 108 Michaels Ave., Syracuse. For more information, including details on volunteer opportunities and ways to donate, call 315-4755422 or visit www.francishouseny.org


golden years

Right to Die in New York

Group pushes for legislators to pass the Medical Aid in Dying Act. By Barbara Pierce “There comes a time when enough is enough!” said Jennifer Milich of Buffalo. Milich suffers from incurable, terminal kidney cancer that has spread to other parts of her body and causes extreme fatigue, nausea, and pain. “I’m dying. I’m in my bed alone; this is how I spend my day. This isn’t surviving! This isn’t even existing! This is suffering!” she said on compassionandchoices.org. “I’m not afraid to be a cancer patient; I’m afraid to be a cancer patient who’s suffering, who’s in horrific pain that can’t be controlled, who possibly ends up in a coma. I want to spend time with my family. But having the option to die peacefully at the end of my life, when I’m suffering, is so important.” Milich does not have the option of dying peacefully without suffering. New Yorkers who are dying from a terminal illness do not have the option of death with dignity. She has been one of the many advocates demanding that legislators pass the Medical Aid in Dying Act. “It’s not just Jennifer [Milich],” said Corinne Carey, New York campaign director for Compassion & Choices. “I can name scores of New Yorkers like Jennifer. Many have been told they have just weeks or months to live, and sadly many are suffering or in pain.” “Medical Aid in Dying Act (MAID) is one option a terminally ill, mentally capable adult, with the ability to self-administer medication — when and if they choose — to bring about a peaceful and humane death, should their end-of-life suffering become too great to bear,” said Gene Hughes of Utica. Hughes is an advocate for the rights of those living with disabilities who believes that personal autonomy should also apply to end-of-life decisions. The MAID Act, which has the overwhelming support of most New Yorkers and doctors, is drafted after the Oregon Death with Dignity. It allows a mentally competent adult who is terminally ill, with six months

Jennifer Milich of Buffalo suffers from incurable, terminal kidney cancer. “This is isn’t even existing! This is suffering!” she says. Milich is part of a group that seeks approval for a legislation that would allow her to end her life. or less to live, request prescription medication from their doctor which they can decide to take if their suffering becomes too great to bear, so they can die peacefully. “It’s a good bill, long overdue,” Hughes added. “It gives people a choice. It’s not forcing anybody to do anything. You don’t want it, don’t ask for it.” The bill includes more than a dozen safeguards. Some of the safeguards include: the patient must be able to take the medication themselves; only people with an incurable and irreversible terminal illness and six-month prognosis, confirmed by two doctors, are eligible for medical aid in dying. A terminally ill person can withdraw their request for medication, not take the medication once they have it, or otherwise change their mind at any point in time. Currently, the bill is under consideration by the Senate and

Assembly Health Committees, David Levine, consultant to End of Life Choices, advised: “We are pleased by the number of sponsors it has, and it’s supported by Gov. Cuomo.” After it’s approved by both committees, it must be approved by another set of committees before it goes to the floor for a vote, he added. “We’re hopeful it will pass this legislative session.” New York voters and doctors overwhelmingly support medical aid in dying. “Lawmakers have the power to stop needless suffering now, in 2021,” Carey added. Now is the time. The evidence is there, we have years of evidence showing that these laws work as intended: few people use them, but countless others gain the peace of mind of knowing that should suffering become too great, there is an option for a peaceful death.” The reasons people want the option of medical aid in dying are as varied as people themselves, but at the core is a desire to avoid suffering and leaving loved ones with the enduring memory of their suffering. How we die, comfortably with

family, or amidst a host of beeping machines, strangers and intense pain, should be our choice. As Barbara Coombs Lee of Compassion & Choices says in Diane Rehm’s book “When My Time Comes:” “The technology that medicine wields is not necessarily in an individual’s best interests. Only individuals can decide what is best for them. It’s as though medicine has gotten ahead of human desire. There are so many ways to keep us alive and the incredibly sophisticated means of keeping people alive don’t always take into account what people themselves want.” “Everyone brings their own beliefs and values into the equation, reaching the end of life in a different way,” said Carey. “For most New Yorkers, medical aid in dying is not a final decision in life that they will face. However, for Jennifer Millich and thousands of others who are living with a terminal diagnosis and pain and suffering, the medical aid in dying may actually light up at the end of the tunnel.” For more information, see https:// www.compassionandchoices.org.

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May 2021 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • Page 27


How to Prevent DementiaRelated Wandering

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ndividuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias are prone to wandering, which often puts them at risk for harm. It is one of the most unsettling behavioral changes common for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease, yet it often surprises family caregivers and can end with tragic results. “More than six in 10 people living with dementia will wander eventually,” said Katrina VanFleet, chief program officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter. “As the weather gets warmer, we’re more apt to open doors for fresh air or be outside, which provides a greater opportunity for someone to wander away from safety.” Wandering can happen in the early, middle or late stages of the disease as people experience losses in judgment and orientation. It can also happen if they are still driving or have access to car keys. They may drive away and not know how to get back. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests these steps to help prevent wandering: • Have a routine for daily activities. • Identify the most likely times of day that wandering may occur. Plan activities at that time. Activities and exercise can reduce anxiety, agitation and restlessness. • Reassure the person if he or she feels lost, abandoned or disoriented. If the person with dementia wants to leave to “go home” or “go to work,” use communication focused on exploration and validation. Refrain from correcting the person. For example, “We are staying here tonight. We are safe and I’ll be with you. We can go home in the morning after a good night’s rest.” • Ensure all basic needs are met. Has the person gone to the bath-

room? Is he or she thirsty or hungry? • Avoid busy places that are confusing and can cause disorientation. • Place locks out of the line of sight. Install them either high or low on exterior doors and consider placing slide bolts at the top or bottom. • Use devices that signal when a door or window is opened. This can be as simple as a bell placed above a door or as sophisticated as an electronic home alarm. • Provide supervision. Do not leave someone living with dementia unsupervised in new or changed surroundings. • If the person is no longer driving, remove access to car keys — a person living with dementia may not just wander by foot. The person may forget that he or she can no longer drive. If the person is still able to drive, consider using a GPS device to help if they get lost. The Central New York Chapter also offers free membership in the MedicAlert Foundation’s response program that includes wandering support for residents in its 14-county region. This nationwide service provides an extra level of support to families and first responders in the event the person living with dementia becomes confused or wanders from safety. Individuals living with dementia and their caregiver living in Central New York are eligible for free enrollment by calling 315-472-4201 and dialing extension 227, or emailing cny-programs@alz.org. The Alzheimer’s Association offers a safety center with tips and tactics to improve home safety and create a more secure environment for individuals living with dementia at alz.org/safety. Submitted by the Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter.

Enter the Syracuse 60 Strong Calendar Contest: Celebrate Life After 60!

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ou, or someone you know, could be featured as a “pin up” in the 2022 Syracuse 60 Strong calendar, an exclusive calendar showcasing inspirational 60-somethings and highlighting Syracuse events and activities. In addition to appearing in the calendar, winners receive celebrity treatment with a professional photo shoot and compensation for their modeling time. Anyone age 18 or older can nominate a friend or family member—60 to 69—who has achieved remarkable levels of fitness, pursued a new hobby or given back to others in some way. Perhaps the candidate is fighting a chronic condition or caring for someone who is. Here’s how it works: Log on to www.Syracuse60strong.com and submit an application form, 200-400 word essay, head shot and full-length photo by Monday, July 26.

Those who nominate winning candidates receive a $50 gift certificate. Syracuse 60 Strong candidates must be between the ages of 60 and 69 on Sept. 1, 2021, and a resident of Onondaga, Cayuga, or Cortland counties. Celebrity judges will select 12 winners who exemplify how life after 60 can be a vibrant and active time. Contestants are judged on their commitment to leading an active lifestyle, community involvement, volunteerism and how they are inspirational to others. Winners must be available Wednesday, August 18, through Saturday, August 21, 2021. Questions? Email us at Syracuse60Strong@ SaltCitySCA.com. All proceeds from the calendar will benefit Alzheimer’s Association Central NY.

Page 28 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2021

Ask The Social

Security Office

From the Social Security District Office

Faster Processing of Disability Claims for People with Alzheimer’s Disease

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oday, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Since the onset of Alzheimer’s can occur in people before they retire, it may strike during an individual’s working years; preventing gainful employment as the disease progresses. As a result, people must come to grips with a devastating diagnosis while losing their salary and benefits. People with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers must figure out how they’ll pay for care. Our benefits and services are vital to people with early-onset Alzheimer’s who are unable to work and have no other source of income. For over a decade, Social Security has included Alzheimer’s disease

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Q: Is it true I can save about $5,000 per year if I qualify for Social Security’s extra help with the Medicare prescription drug program? A: Yes. If your income and resources meet the requirements, you can save nearly $4,900 in prescription costs each year. Resource limits for 2021 are $14,610 (or $29,160 if you are married and living with your spouse). Income limits are $19,140 (or $25,860 if you are married and living with your spouse). If your income or resources are just a bit higher, you might be eligible for some help with prescription drug costs. To learn more, visit www.ssa.gov/prescriptionhelp. Q: Why should I sign up for a My Social Security online account? A: My Social Security gives you a personal online account you can securely use to check your Social

in its Compassionate Allowances program. The Compassionate Allowances program identifies debilitating diseases and medical conditions so severe they obviously meet our disability standards. Compassionate Allowances allow for faster processing of disability claims for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, mixed-dementia, and primary progressive aphasia. You can read more about our Compassionate Allowances program at www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances. To learn more about how Social Security disability insurance works, visit our disability page at www.ssa.gov/disability. Please share these resources with friends and family.

Security information and do business with us. With a My Social Security account you can: • Keep track of your earnings and verify them every year. • Get an estimate of your future benefits if you are still working. • Get a replacement Social Security card. • Get a letter with proof of your benefits if you currently receive them. • Manage your benefits: – Change your address or telephone number. – Start or change your direct deposit. – Get a replacement Medicare card. – Get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax season. To find all of the services available and set up an account, go to www.ssa.gov/myaccount.

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Senior care at home. By Jim Miller

How to Search for Senior Discounts in 2021 Dear Savvy Senior, I just turned 60 and would like to find out the best way to go about locating senior discounts. Looking to Save

Dear Looking, One of the best, yet underutilized perks of growing older in the United States is the many discounts that are available to older adults. There are literally thousands of discounts on a wide variety of products and services including restaurants, grocery stores, travel and lodging, entertainment, retail and apparel, health and beauty, automotive services and much more. These discounts — typically ranging between 5% and 25% off — can add up to save you hundreds of dollars each year. So, if you don’t mind admitting your age, here are some tips and tools to help you find the discounts you may be eligible for.

Ask!

The first thing to know is that most businesses don’t advertise them, but many give senior discounts just for the asking, so don’t be shy. You also need to know that while some discounts are available as soon as you turn 50, most don’t kick in until you turn 55, 60, 62 or 65.

Search Online

Because senior discounts frequently change and can vary depending on where you live and the time of the year, the internet is the easiest way to locate them. A good place to start is at TheSeniorList.com (click on the “Senior Discounts” tab), which provides a large list of discounts in categories, i.e., restaurant dining, grocery stores, retail stores, prescription medications, travel discounts and more. You can also search for discounts by provider. Go to a search engine like Google and Yahoo and type in the business or organization you’re curious about, followed by “senior discount” or “senior discount tickets.” If you use a smartphone, there are also apps you can use like the “Senior Discounts & Coupons” app (available on the App Store and Google Play), which categorizes discounts by age and type.

Join a Club

Another good avenue to senior discounts is through membership organizations like AARP, which offers

its members age 50 and older a wide variety of discounts through affiliate businesses (see AARPdiscounts.com). If, however, you don’t like or agree with AARP, there are other organizations you can join that also provide discounts like the American Seniors Association (AmericanSeniors.org), the American Automobile Association (AAA.com), or for retired federal workers, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE.org).

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Types of Discounts

Here’s an abbreviated rundown of some of the different types of discounts you can expect to find. • Restaurants: Senior discounts are common at restaurants and fastfood establishments — like Applebee’s, Arby’s, Burger King, Chili’s, Denny’s and IHOP — ranging from free or discounted drinks, to discounts off your total order. • Retailers: Many thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army, and certain retailers like TJ Maxx, Banana Republic, Kohl’s, Michaels, Ross and Walgreens stores offer a break to seniors on certain days of the week. • Grocery stores: Many locally owned grocery stores offer senior discount programs, as do some chains like BI-LO, Piggly-Wiggly, Fry’s Food Stores, New Seasons, Fred Meyer, and Hy-Vee, which offer discounts on certain days of the week, but they vary by location. • Travel: American, United and Southwest Airlines provide limited senior fares in the U.S. to passengers 65 and older, while British Airlines offers AARP members discounts of up to $200. Amtrak provides a 15% discount to travelers over 62. Most car rental companies give discounts to 50-plus customers or those who belong to organizations like AARP. Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity and Carnival cruise lines offer discount rates to cruisers 55 and over. And, most hotels offer senior discounts, usually ranging from 10 to 20%. • Entertainment: Most movie theaters, museums, golf courses, ski slopes and other public entertainment venues provide reduced admission to seniors over 60 or 65. And the National Park Service offers a lifetime senior pass for those 62 and older for $80 (see nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm). Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior. org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

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Health News Psychiatrist joins St. Joseph’s Health St. Joseph’s Health welcomes physician Jenna Hiestand to its inpatient psychiatry team. In her new role, Hiestand joins a team of diverse and highly qualified physicians to provide a high quality of psychiatric care to the community. Hiestand is a board-certified psychiatrist with more than 17 years of clinical experience. Prior to joining St. Joseph’s Health, she served as chief medical officer for Alaska Behavioral Health, a certified community behavioral health center with offices in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Hiestand also served as the medical director of behavioral health services at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, Alaska, where she was responsible for inpatient psychiatry, residential substance use treatment, and outpatient services. Prior to that, Hiestand spent seven years in Oregon and held supervising roles at Oregon State Hospital in Salem and Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland. Hiestand earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from Washington

University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1999 and her Bachelor of Science in cell and molecular biology from Tulane University in New Orleans. She completed a psychiatry residency in 2003 at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, a teaching hospital affiliated with the Washington University School of Medicine. Hiestand is board-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) in psychiatry and consult-liaison psychiatry. She holds an additional board certification in addiction medicine. Hiestand is a member of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry and a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

New Physician Joins Oswego County OB-GYN Obstetrician-gynecologist Linda D. Meehan has joined the professional staff at Oswego County OB-GYN, P.C. and the medical staff at Oswego Health. Meehan earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Carolina, a master’s degree in business administration from Long Island University and her

As we celebrate National Nurses Week, HCR Home Care thanks our dedicated nurses for their exceptional patient care!

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Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine She completed her residency in OB-GYN from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1998. Meehan is board-certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Previously, Meehan practiced in Amsterdam and Norwich, New York, and Goshen, Indiana. Meehan will be sharing 24-hour hospital obstetrical coverage at Oswego Hospital with physician Raj Mahajan and midwife Theresa Naro. Oswego County OB-GYN, P.C. has been providing obstetrical and gynecological services to the women of Oswego County for more than 60 years.

Cardiovascular Institute at St. Joe’s welcomes new staff

St. Joseph’s Health welcomes nurse practitioner Morrisa Golden-Sieradski and physician assistant Marisa Hamlin to St. Joseph’s Cardiovascular Institute. In their new roles, Golden-Sieradski and Hamlin join a team of diverse and highly qualified medical professionals to provide the best cardiac care to the community. Golden-Sieradski earned her master’s degree in nursing from Le Moyne College in Syracuse. Since 2015, while still attending graduate school, Golden-Sieradski served as a registered nurse in the cardiovascular units of St. Joseph’s Health Hospital. Golden-Sieradski is a board-certified nurse practitioner by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Hamlin earned her master’s degree in physician assistant studies from SUNY Upstate Medical University. Prior to joining St. Joseph’s Cardiovascular institute, Hamlin worked as a physician assistant at Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Hamlin is board certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

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800-270-4904 | HCRhealth.com | Page 30 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2021

editor@CNYhealth.com

Oswego Health Launches $3.5 Million Campaign

O

swego Health, a community-centered healthcare system with 17 locations, has publicly launched its comprehensive fundraising campaign to invest in and advance its mission of best-in-class healthcare. Patient-centered care is at the core of Oswego Health’s mission. “Caring for Our Community, Right at Home, The Campaign for Oswego Health,” was born out of the healthcare system’s consideration for future priorities, all the while focusing on continued quality care for patients. With a total goal of $3.5 million, Oswego Health’s internal and board leadership set out to secure financial support for the identified strategic priorities — all of which began to take shape before the novel coronavirus pandemic disrupted healthcare globally. Oswego Health has remained committed throughout the pandemic, with devoted and experienced frontline healthcare workers, and a leadership team responsive to evolving circumstances through a challenging time. The community recognized this response, supported Oswego Health’s foundation for immediate needs, and concurrently made investments in the healthcare system’s future. The priorities set by the leadership over this time are focused on a future with best-inclass care, and to date, community members, foundations, and corporations have contributed nearly $3 million towards the overall $3.5 million goal. The campaign is headed by Ed Alberts, who also serves as the Oswego Health Foundation board chairman. Albert and his wife, Emily Alberts, are longstanding supporters of the healthcare system. “It’s an easy decision to ‘give back’ when what is experienced and felt is: genuine concern, kindness, compassion and care at Oswego Health. When people are treated with care, listened to, guided gently and delicately, especially in situations that are fragile and difficult, it’s easy for families to feel nothing but gratitude and appreciation.” The Alberts choose to invest in a system that takes patient-centered care to a new level; with their philanthropic commitment to Oswego Health, with a gift of $250,000 the couple hopes to inspire others to support a system that remains committed to the county’s health, and to ensure that remains a reality. Oswego Health’s current priorities, which are funded in part through the generosity received during this campaign initiative, include Modernizing Inpatient Care, Transforming Mental Health and Wellness and creation of a state-of-the-art, local orthopedic care.


Public invited to attend NARCAN training

Members of the Crouse Medical Imaging team next to new imaging equipment: less radiation, more details.

Crouse Medical Imaging Installs the Latest in Digital Radiography Technology

C

rouse Health’s Medical Imaging team has completed a strategic initiative to update 100% of its diagnostic X-ray equipment to the most advanced technology available, known as digital radiography (DR). The hospital’s diagnostic X-ray department and Crouse Medical Imaging are now comprised of Philips DigitalDiagnost C90 VS equipment. DR allows X-ray images to be captured directly onto a digital image receptor that converts the image to a digital form almost instantaneously. The electronic image is then able

to be viewed, shared and stored in nearly real time. This allows for quicker exam times for patients, faster imaging read times and enhanced diagnoses using innovative imaging tools. The DR technology is also more efficient at capturing X-ray energy, using less radiation to be used previously, while producing images of superior quality. The X-ray room in the hospital was built to accommodate wheelchair and stretcher patients by removing the X-ray table and installing the equipment in an open floor plan design. The X-ray room at the Crouse

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Imaging Center, designed for all general X-ray exams and ambulatory patients, includes an X-ray table and upright wall detector. “The project has been six months in the planning, development and installation stages, and included specialized training for the X-ray technologists,” says Brad Hellwig, administrative director of Crouse Medical Imaging. “With this superior technological advancement, we are able to greatly enhance our mission to provide the best in patient care.”

The VOW Foundation in partnership with Farnham Family Services is conducting NARCAN trainings for everyone in the community. NARCAN (also known as Naloxone) is the lifesaving nasal medication for an opioid overdose. The overdose rate in CNY remains very high, according to Teresa Woolson, president of the VOW Foundation. This medication is a harm reduction tool that has helped save hundreds of lives every year. Learn the proper way to use and carry this medication in the Zoom training. Training is just under an hour long. Trainer is Sarah Banach, senior therapist and case manager at Farnham Family Services. Naloxone trainings are scheduled as follows: May 4 at 6 p.m., May 21 at 2 p.m., June 2 at 2 p.m., June 14 at 10 a.m., June 30 at 2 p.m., July 16 at 10 a.m., July 26 at 2 p.m., Aug. 18 at 10 a.m., Aug. 30at 2 p.m., Sept. 17 at 10 a.m., Sept. 27 at 2 p.m., Oct. 13 at 10 a.m., Nov. 8 at 10 a.m., Nov. 19 at 10 a.m., Dec. 8 at 10 a.m., and Dec. 20 at 2 p.m., To register for one of the trainings, email your name to board@ vow-foundation.org. You will be provided with the Zoom Link and a reminder on the day of the training. The trainings will be posted on the VOW website at www.vow-foundation.org as well as the VOW Facebook Page. For other questions, call or text Teresa Woolson at 315-402-6119.

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May 2021 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • Page 31


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Page 32 • IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2021


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