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in good LORETTO’S NEW LEADER Kimberly Townsend has recently become the CEO of Loretto, a nonprofit with more than 2,000 employees

February 2014 • Issue 170

free FREE

CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

MARIJUANA New York state about to allow use of marijuana for medical purposes. Find out how perceptions about the drug have gradually changed and the impact of having it Page 9 available to patients

A Farm With a Purpose in Baldwinsville Purpose Farm is the labor of love of a family who wanted to offer respite to neglected and abused children.

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Experts Discuss Key Things You Need to Do to Live Longer Why you should eat more peppers. See ‘Smart Bites’ inside (Hint: they are highly aphrodisiac)

Upstate’s Star Medical Student

Upstate Medical University medical and doctoral student Sam Mackenzie has been elected to the American Medical Association board of trustees, a first for Upstate in the 30 years students have held an AMA trustee seat.

Meet Your Doctor Oneida

Healthcare doctor on how the da Vinci system aids in gall bladder and other surgeries

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Marvin Druger is professor emeritus of biology and science education, retiring after fortyseven years at Syracuse University. He has taught science to more than 40,000 students during the course of his career. He served as president of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and of the Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE), and twice served as president for the Society for College Science Teachers (SCST). He has received many awards in science education, including the Robert H. Carleton Award for National Leadership in Science Education from NSTA, and the Honorary Emeritus Member Award from ASTE. These are the highest awards bestowed by these international science education organizations.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2014

Assaults at Schools Send 90,000 Kids to ER Each Year Number of intentional injuries is ‘concerningly high,’ researcher says


hildren and teenagers who are assaulted at school account for nearly 90,000 emergency-room visits in the United States each year, new research finds. Although school shootings garner much attention, it was rare for kids aged 5 to 19 to be injured by guns on campus, according to the study. Forty percent of injuries were bruises and scratches, and few injuries overall required hospitalization after a trip to the ER. “[The number of injuries] appears to be concerningly high, especially when you realize that such a substantial number of injuries are occurring in the school setting, where safety measures are already in place,” said study lead author Siraj Amanullah, an assistant professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School. “There is a need to continue addressing this issue at various levels — at home, at school and in the medical care setting — and there is a need to ramp up our existing prevention and safety strategies,” Amanullah said.

For the report, which was published online Jan. 13 in the journal Pediatrics, the researchers looked at statistics regarding emergency-room visits by young people in 66 U.S. hospitals from 2001 to 2008. They then estimated the number of injuries nationwide during that time based on those limited statistics. Overall, more than 7 million ER visits were made because of injuries at school during the eight-year study period. More than 700,000 of those injuries were considered deliberate, the researchers said, accounting for about 92,000 ER visits a year on average. And nearly all — 96 percent — of the injuries were from assaults, rather than self-harm or harm from someone like a police officer, the researchers said. This led to the conclusion that school assaults were behind an average of 88,000 ER visits a year. The researchers found that kids aged 10 to 14, non-whites and boys had higher risks of being injured intentionally at school compared to kids of other age groups, whites and girls, respectively.

U.S. Smoking Rates Drop to Historic Lows: CDC


ess than 20 percent of Americans still smoke cigarettes — a breakthrough called a “milestone” by federal health officials. Following years of smoking rates that had hovered around 20 percent, that number finally dropped to 18.1 percent in 2012, statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show. “This is a milestone. We have seen a steady decline in recent years, and so the stall is no longer occurring,” said report co-author Brian King, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “But the progress is still not as strong as we would hope.” King said several developments on the “national level helped to galvanize tobacco efforts, and help reduce smoking rates.” “In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was implemented, which gave the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration]

the authority to regulate tobacco,” he said. “Also, in 2009 the federal tax rate for cigarettes increased from 39 cents a pack to $1.01 a pack. We know that increasing tobacco prices is the single most effective way to reduce smoking.” Another factor might have been the “Tips from Former Smokers” advertising campaign, which the CDC launched in 2012, King said. In the ads, a dozen or so ex-smokers offered harrowing personal tales on the devastating health consequences that can come from years of tobacco use. “Among people who smoke the most, those who smoke 30 or more cigarettes a day, there was a decline from 12.6 percent to 7 percent,” he said. And among people who smoke every day, the average number of cigarettes they smoked dropped from 16.7 in 2005 to 14.6 in 2012. The findings were published in the Jan. 17 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Onondaga, Oswego, Cayuga and Madison Counties in good A monthly newspaper published by

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Local News, Inc. Distribution: 35,000 copies. To request home delivery ($15 per year), call 342-1182.

In Good Health is published 12 times a year by Local News, Inc. © 2014 by Local News, Inc. All rights reserved. Mailing Address: P.O. Box 276, Oswego, NY 13126. • Phone: 315-342-1182 • Fax: 315-342-7776. Editor & Publisher: Wagner Dotto • Associate Editor: Lou Sorendo Contributing Writers: Jim Miller, Eva Briggs, M.D., Gwenn Voelckers, Deborah Banikowski, Deborah Sergeant, Anne Palumbo, Melissa Stefanec, Matthew Liptak, Ernst Lamothe Jr. Advertising: Jasmine Maldonado, Marsha K. Preston, Jim Maxwell • Design: Chris Crocker • Office Manager: Laura J. Beckwith No material may be reproduced in whole or in part from this publication without the express written permission of the publisher. The information in this publication is intended to complement—not to take the place of—the recommendations of your health provider. Consult your physician before making major changes in your lifestyle or health care regimen.




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“A Taste of Chocolate” will be held from 1 – 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Columbian Presbyterian Church, corner of routes 11 and 20 in LaFayette. There will be dozens of sample-sized treats to taste. Tempt your taste buds with savory and sweet treats, made with all types of chocolate. The event will also have a dessert table with fullsized goodies for sale. Attendants are encouraged to fill a box with sweets to take home. Proceeds will benefit LaFayette Outreach and the church. For more information, call 677-3293, or send an email to cpresbyt.twcny.

The tubing party following the competition is $10 per person. The fee to attend the hot chocolate, food, beer and wine sampling event is also $10 per person. All money raised will support ACR Health’s youth prevention programs and emergency client needs. For more information or to register, call 800-4752430 or go to ACR Health is a nonprofit, community-based organization providing prevention, education, and support services to individuals with chronic diseases including HIV/AIDS, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, asthma, substance use disorders, and serious mental illnesses. ACR Health, a legacy of AIDS Community Resources, serves the counties of Cayuga, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, and St. Lawrence in New York state.

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‘Taste of Chocolate’ to benefit LaFayette church

ACR Health holds ‘Sled for RED’

ACR Health will hold its Fourth Annual Sled for RED Cardboard Sledding Derby at Four Seasons Golf & Ski Center in Fayetteville Feb. 8. Registration begins at 4 p.m. and the event kicks off at 5 p.m., followed by a tubing party and a hot chocolate, food and drink sampling party.  The Sled for RED Derby begins promptly at 5:15 p.m. 
Each team (up to five members) may use only regular cardboard, tape, and paint to construct the cardboard sleds. Each sled team needs to fundraise a minimum $250 to enter the derby. Raise more and earn more incentives.

Diabetes support group to meet in Auburn Cayuga Community Health Network is organizing a diabetes support group for individuals with diabetes, those who are at risk for diabetes as well as family members and caregivers. It will take place from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17 in the third floor medical conference center at Auburn Community Hospital. No registration necessary. For more information, call Amy Dickman at 252-4212 or send an email to The support group will continue holding meetings on the third Monday of every month.

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Upstate Recruiting Participants for Dengue Vaccine Trial


ndividuals who are between the ages of 18 and 45 and in good health are needed to participate in an Upstate Medical University clinical trial to test the effectiveness of an investigational vaccine against the four types of dengue virus. The trial is conducted through Upstate’s Center for Global Health & Translational Science and led by Upstate researcher and infectious disease specialist , physician Mark E. Polhemus. It is funded through the U.S. Department of Defense. While it is still an investigational vaccine, it has already been evaluated in a number of other trials around the world, and the results from these trials indicate no safety issues regarding use of the vaccine. According to Polhemus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of this investigational vaccine in this trial. “Upstate’s trial is designed to further evaluate the immune response to this investigational vaccine,” said Polhemus. “It is our hope that through this trial we can get a better understanding of how the vaccine can lead to protec-

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2014

tion against dengue,” he said. Dengue fever is a debilitating disease that is a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics and is now emerging as a public health threat in the United States, with cases in Florida, the Texas border and recently on Long Island. It is caused by one of four related viruses transmitted

March 15

‘Run For Dennis’ takes place in Oswego The third annual Run For Dennis 5k Run/Walk is scheduled for 10 a.m., March 15 to honor the memory of Oswego resident Dennis Pacheco, a victim of bladder cancer. The first two years of the race raised more than $26,000 for bladder cancer advocacy and research. There were 72,000 new cases of bladder cancer diagnosed in 2013. Bladder cancer is the most expensive cancer to treat on a per patient basis, and no new treatments have been developed in the last 20 years due to lack of funding for research. This run/walk will be chip timed and USA Track & Field (USATF) certified. Proceeds from the race will benefit The Charles and Mary Haney Fund at Oswego Hospital (which assists cancer patients with medical expenses), Strong Memorial Hospital urologic oncology, Rochester, and the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN). Prizes will be awarded to winners in all age groups—including last place! “Throughout his three-year fight, Dennis was very proactive in researching bladder cancer trials and treatment,” said Jessica Newson, race director and Pacheco’s daughter. “He was adamant that more could be done to help eradicate this disease. We’re continuing his fight. On behalf of Dennis and my family, we’re asking folks to support this race to ensure that a cure can be found for bladder cancer, so that other families get to enjoy their loved ones for years to come.” Registration for the race, which begins and ends at Gibby’s Pub on Lake Street, is $20 per person by Feb. 21, $25 after that date, and $30 on race day. Registration is open at The website for the race is and the event is also on Facebook at www.facebook. com/runfordennis.

primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a mosquito that lays its eggs in containers with standing water commonly found around people’s homes. The virus cannot be spread directly from person-to-person. There is no vaccine or drug currently available to prevent the disease. Upstate’s Center for Global Health & Translational Science is among research institutions worldwide conducting dengue vaccine trials. To learn more about the trial or to participate, call 315-459-3031 or email,

A Pill “Melts Away” Common Form of Leukemia

 Use of a twice-daily pill could turn a deadly blood cancer into a highly treatable disease, according to scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College who led a multinational research team. Their findings on the therapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), reported in the Jan. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, suggest that patients may be able to avoid having to take debilitating chemotherapy. CLL is the most common form of leukemia, a cancer of the white blood

cells. Some 16,000 Americans are diagnosed with CLL annually, and about 5,000 die of it each year.

 “Even if this cancer remains incurable, it now can be treated as if it was a chronic disease with a pill, in the same way that high blood pressure is treated, says the lead investigator, physician Richard R. Furman at Weill Cornell Medical College and a hematologist/ oncologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/ Weill Cornell Medical Center.”

SUNY Upstate Star Student

History-making election for Upstate student Sam Mackenzie


pstate Medical University medical and doctoral student Sam Mackenzie has been elected to the American Medical Association board of trustees, a first for Upstate in the 30 years students have held an AMA trustee seat. With representatives from the nation’s medical schools voting, Mackenzie outpolled two other students in a Nov. 16, ballot for the only student section position on the 21-member AMA board. Mackenzie is a thirdyear medical student who earned his PhD in neuroscience at Upstate last year; he will begin his one-year AMA term in June. The AMA trustees include physicians, one student representative and one member of the public. Their mission is to guide the AMA in setting standards and policy for the medical profession. Mackenzie, from Groton, near Ithaca, will replace current student representative Ryan Ribeira, a fourth-year medical student at UC Davis School of Medicine and an MPH student at the Harvard School of Public Health. Upstate Medical University M.D./Ph.D. student Sam A focus of MackMackenzie has been elected to the American Medical enzie’s campaign was Association Board of Trustees. ensuring the stability of funding for graduate medical education. “In the last seven years, making and in the future—including loan sure there are enough residency spots debt and graduate medical education is an issue that’s really taken off,” he funding. said. “I’d like to see the AMA develop “Both are closely tied to ensuring model legislation that will provide that we have enough doctors 10, 20, 30 smarter funding of residency posiyears down the road,” he said. “It gets tions.” back to patient access.” Mackenzie also hopes to be acParticipation in policy discussions tive in the AMA’s efforts to improve is nothing new to Mackenzie. He has undergraduate medical education, physician satisfaction and public health been involved with the AMA and the Medical Society of the State of New outcomes, and would like to increase York (MSSNY) since his first year at physician membership in the AMA. Upstate. Last year he served on the As America’s health care system AMA’s Council on Medical Service continues to evolve, Mackenzie said, and authored an MSSNY resolution it’s up to physicians and medical strengthening its position supporting students to establish a comprehensive a moratorium on high-volume hydrofand cost-effective system of delivering racturing. care. “That’s a tough task, but I think “MSSNY has been incredibly the AMA is in a good position to help supportive of me,” he said. “I feel very make that goal a reality,” he said. fortunate to be able to say that I trained Mackenzie is in the midst of his in New York State.” third-year clerkships at Upstate, with Mackenzie graduated in 2005 from surgery, pediatrics and psychiatry Cornell University, where he also ran remaining. After he assumes his AMA track and cross-country; in 2007 he board duties at the annual meeting in earned a master’s degree in exercise Chicago, he will attend meetings with legislative officials on health policy and science from the University of Delaware. He earned his PhD at Upstate medical education issues. last May, is on track to get his mediMackenzie will share medical stucal degree in 2015 and would like to dents’ viewpoints and concerns with specialize in neurology or pediatric lawmakers, and try to keep students neurology. engaged in issues affecting them now

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Your Doctor

By Mike Costanza

Dr. Peter Del Pino Oneida Healthcare doctor on how the da Vinci robot helps him perform gall bladder surgeries and other surgical procedures Q. Your father introduced you to surgery whey you were fairly young. Could you tell us about that? A. My late father was a general surgeon. I would help with patients, mostly in the office, assisting him with office procedures. He’d [also] take us to the operating room—there weren’t as many regulations back then. It was in the day when general surgeons pretty much did everything, a wide variety of things you did from gynecology to urology to general surgery, and the gall bladders and hernias and lungs. I found that pretty fascinating. My brother, who is actually my partner now, who’s a colorectal and general surgeon, was in the office as well. It was really a family affair. Q. What was the first surgical procedure in which you assisted your father? A. It was an excision of a tumor, a lipoma, from a thigh—a soft tissue tumor. They’re kind of benign. I mostly retracted it for him, and watched him dissect the tissue. It was my freshman year in high school, in Yonkers.

good lung surgeons. I did a lung fellowship. Q. You now specialize in gall bladder, lung and ventral surgery using the da Vinci Si Surgical System, a state-of the art robotic system found at the Oneida Healthcare Center, the hospital next door to your practice. Would you tell us about that? A. I’m the only one in Central New York to do the da Vinci single-port gall bladder removals, and I’ve done the most in Central New York, as well. I’m also a proctor [trainer] for other surgeons. Q. Can you tell us about the gall bladder, and why you might need to remove it? A. The gall bladder is essentially a storage bag that’s under the liver (which contains bile). The bile can turn into stones. They can

Q. Did that help you decide to become a surgeon? A. There’s no doubt I wanted to do surgery. The use of your hands and seeing the results is very satisfying. It was hard to decide which specialty. Knowing my brother was doing the colon and rectal, [surgery] I started to think about lung surgery, and I had some very good mentors out in Albany, that were very

lodge in the gall bladder, and cause a malfunction of the gall bladder—cause it to be inflamed. That’s the main reason we take gall bladders out. Gallstones can require emergency surgery. The second reason is that you can have a dysfunctional gall bladder—it can also give you pain. Q. How do you use the da Vinci to remove the gall bladder? A. With the da Vinci robot, you can essentially get some of these bigger gall bladders out. We go in through one small hole—it’s called a “single-port.” It’s an actual soft port, so you can squeeze in through a small, one-centimeter incision, right through the side or the middle of the navel. That [port] will feed three separate instruments through. Q. Could you tell us about the machine itself? A. There’s two parts to the da Vinci machine: the actual robot itself, and something called the “console.” The console is the machine where the surgeon is working. It’s actually in a corner of the room, about probably five feet away from the patient. That’s where the robot is positioned, with its arms over the patient. You have an assistant at the bedside. Q. How do you control the robot’s camera, arms, and instruments? A. Your fingers are [gripping] joy sticks—you put your middle finger and your thumb through these two holes that control the instruments. You usually have an electrocautery device that will cut the tissue in your right hand, your dominant hand, and you have a device that retracts or exposes where you want to cut in your left hand. They articulate, basically, 360 degrees. You can get around corners, you can get at organs and vessels and structures easier, with better control. You can get different angles at structures, and all different anatomical structures. You have control of the camera completely. Q. What type of camera does the system use? A. It’s 3-D—the 3-D (three-dimensional) view, as we all see in life. It’s also more magnified than regular laparoscopic [surgical] procedures. Q. What are some of the differences between surgery that is performed using the da Vinci and standard laparoscopic surgery? A. Laparoscopic instruments are longer, they’re stiffer, and they cannot articulate to certain angles that the da Vinci instruments can. The camera is a two-dimensional view camera. Q. What are the main advantages of using the da Vinci, for the surgeon? A. You can see better, and the instruments

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2014

are better. You’re also sitting down at a console. You’re not going to have as many back troubles as people who are standing in awkward positions. It makes you more comfortable, and more confident. Q. How can gall bladder surgery via the da Vinci benefit the patient? A. It’s safer. You can get away with taking these [gall bladders] out through small incisions. Smaller incisions mean less pain, better recovery, less risk of infection, less risk of hernias. Cosmetically, it’s also much better. It’ll look like you don’t have any scar over time. It’s also less painful. The advantage, as well, is you want your surgeon to be the best, and he can be best with this machine. Q. Do you intend to expand the range of surgeries you would perform with the da Vinci? A. I’m hoping to, in the future, do esophagectomies for esophageal cancer—cancer of the esophagus. It’s the actual removal of the whole esophagus, from the top of your chest all the way to the first portion of your abdomen. You can also use it for surgery for reflux disease. Reflux disease is when people have a heartburn that is not responsive to medicines. Q. What keeps you coming back to the office every day? A. It’s fascinating…just to see the patients recover. You see somebody that’s in pain, you take the gall bladder out, and they feel a lot better. Take somebody’s lung cancer out, and you tell them they have a cure. It’s not always the case. Fortunately, there’s more good news.

Lifelines: Current Positions: Cardiothoracic surgeon, general surgeon, Oneida Surgical Group. Education: Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse; MD, SUNY Syracuse College of Medicine; Pre-medical postbaccalaureate degree, Columbia University, New York City; BS, biology, Fordham University, Bronx. Residencies/Internships: Residency, Albany Medical Center general surgery Residency. Personal: Born in Yonkers. Married, three children. Enjoys jogging, hiking, basketball, tennis, bicycling.

CNY: Use of Complementary Medicine Grows An increasing number of people seeking services such as reiki, massage therapy, acupuncture, herbal therapy to complement care they get from medical doctors By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


omplementary medicine-related businesses have been growing substantially in Central New York in recent years. Local practitioners weight in on why complementary medicine is on the uptick. Eleven years ago, Hematology-Oncology Associates of CNY developed a complementary therapy program for its cancer patients, just as larger cancer centers nationwide were developing similar programs. “There was a moderate understanding and desire for modalities such as therapeutic massage but energy modalities such as reiki were not as popular or understood,” recalled Maryann Roefaro, CEO of Hematology-Oncology Associates of CNY. “A few years ago the pendulum changed directions and the desire of cancer patients to obtain energy treatments started to surpass their desire for massage therapy.” Their requests for energy modalities such as reiki, healing touch and vibrational healing have also increased. Another example is CancerConnects, an organization that facilitates cancer treatment. Roefaro has been its president since its founding. One of its programs offers vouchers for four free reiki sessions. In 2009, the program issued 79 vouchers. In 2013, that number jumped to 382 vouchers, a nearly 400 percent increase. “Today, I think an organization that doesn’t accept the value of integrative medicine may be at a disadvantage because the desire for services has grown significantly and continues to grow,” Roefaro said. Better public understanding of complementary medicine has greatly influenced its growth, as has a greater desire to proactively seek improved health. More Western medical personnel have embraced complementary medicine. Joyce Appel, a registered nurse, has practiced reiki in Bridgeport for more than a decade and heads a reiki program at Crouse Hospital. “Now we have patients coming in for it and doctors and staff recommending it,” Appel said. “People are searching for more than just strictly medical therapies. They want to see if they can enhance their overall mind/body/ spirit health. I’m not anti-medical but if you can use everything altogether and have better results why not go for it?” The holistic approach appeals to many people since they like the health model that addresses all parts of a person. Martha Conan heads Holistic Counseling for the Mind, Body and

Soul in Camillus. She said many people also like complementary medicine because it hearkens back to earlier times. “Old things that were tossed by the wayside still work,” she said. “Aspirin used to be extracted from a tree. When I was taking anatomy class, if people pinch a finger or get a paper cut, they put it in their mouths.” Budgets also come into play. Although alternative medicine is usually not covered by insurance, it many times costs less than Western medical care. Bridget McCabe, a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist with Central Sun Healing, has observed growth in acupuncture. “It is becoming more widely accepted by doctors, insurers and of course patients,” she said. “I think part of this is due to people’s growing mistrust of pharmaceutical companies and the government but also because acupuncture treats many conditions that Western medicine isn’t always effective at curing.” Acupuncturist Rui Wang of Acu-care Acupuncture in Fayetteville agrees. “Specifically, acupuncture therapy has remarkable clinical outcome in treatment of chronic pain, neuropathy, obesity, menopause syndrome, anxiety, depression, insomnia, chemo-therapy induced nausea, vomiting and fatigue syndrome, ADHD, autism, mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, et cetera,” she said. “We have successfully helped those patients.” Margo Burgmeier, licensed massage therapist at Essential Balance Massage Therapy in East Syracuse, has observed growth in complementary medicine among baby boomers who grew up in the ‘60s and have retained open-mindedness about natural health and among younger people who use the Internet to gain more knowledge about complementary medicine. “Massage therapy is projected to grow 20 percent over the next 10 to 15 years,” she said. “It is gaining greater acceptance as an important modality for improving and maintaining health and wellbeing as well as recovering from musculoskeletal injuries, moving away from its widely held image as a solely pampering treatment or luxury. “Complementary healthcare practitioners are often able to take more time with each of their clients/patients to design and implement an individualized treatment plan that effectively addresses their concerns.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics

states that the growth outlook for massage therapy as an occupation will be 23 percent for the period of 2012 to 2022, “much faster than the overall average of 8 percent for all occupations,” Burgmeier said. Among all the complementary medicine disciplines exists a camaraderie and sense of community, according to Kari Gardner, licensed acupuncturist with CNY Community Acupuncture at the Synergy Center in Manlius. “I believe [consumers] are frustrated with the compartmentalization of medical care, having to see so many different specialists for different

ailments,” she said “We like having therapies that view us and treat us as a whole person, where each symptom is a sign that points to the underlying imbalance of the whole person, and treatment plans are created to address that underlying imbalance such that the whole person becomes well.” Lori Anderson, a family practice physician, opened the Synergy Center last year. She frequently referred patients for complementary care and wanted to refer them in-house. “Not one thing works for every person,” Anderson said.

Registered nurse Joyce Appel has practiced reiki in Bridgeport for more than a decade and heads a reiki program at Crouse Hospital. “People are searching for more than just strictly medical therapies. They want to see if they can enhance their overall mind/body/ spirit health,” she says. February 2014 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 7

My Turn

By Eva Briggs

Direct-to-Consumer Medical Genetic Tests. Are They Accurate? Same sample sent to three different companies for analysis shows different interpretations


ast year I met with another dog owner at the park. I asked her what type of dog she had. “I sent off her saliva sample for genetic testing,” she told me, “and my dog is a cocker spaniel — beagle mix.” I was a bit skeptical because the dog looks very similar to a petite German shepherd and nothing like the two alleged parent breeds. That made me ponder about how accurate direct-to-consumer genetic testing could be? Perhaps it’s not the accuracy so much as the interpretation. In November 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered the company 23andMe to stop sales of its $99 home DNA testing kits. The issue was that

there was no independent validation of the results and their interpretation. The FDA worries that people will use the tests to make health care decisions that are not warranted. A Jan. 1 article by New York Times reporter Kira Peikoff described her experience with sending three samples to three different companies for analysis, and receiving differing interpretations. Part of the problem is that it would cost about $3,000 for any company to analyze an individual’s three billion bits (called SNP’s for single nucleotide polymorphisms) of genetic material. So commercial companies analyze only a fraction of these SNPs. That’s been compared to trying to read a book by looking at just one letter from each

page. Different companies evaluate different SNPs. Although relatively inexpensive commercial genetic analysis hasn’t been perfected, there are still valid medical genetic tests. These fall into six broad categories as follows. • Newborn screening. A drop of an infant’s blood, collected on filter paper, is tested for genetic disorders that can be treated early in life. All states currently test for congenital hypothyroidism (treated by oral thyroid hormone) and phenylketonuria (PKU, treated with a special diet.). New York state tests for 40 conditions as well as for HIV infection. • Diagnostic testing. Diagnostic testing can identify or rule out specific genetic or chromosomal conditions. It’s done when physical signs or symptoms suggest a particular disease. • Carrier testing. This type of testing identifies individuals who carry genetic disorders that can be passed on to their offspring. It’s offered to people with a family history of a genetic disorder or who belong to an ethnic group at increased risk of specific genetic conditions. If both parents are tested, the couple can be counseled about the risk of having an affected child. • Prenatal testing. Prenatal testing identifies abnormal genes or chromosomes in the unborn fetus. It’s performed when the fetus is at increased risk of a genetic disorder. It’s not possible to identify every birth defect or inherited disorder. Material for these

tests can be obtained by amniocentesis (sampling the fluid surrounding the fetus) or chorionic villus sampling (taking a sample from specific placental tissue.) New tests under development can even detect some chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, from a pregnant woman’s blood sample. • Pre-implantation testing. This is the testing for genetic abnormalities in embryos created by in vitro techniques; embryos found to be abnormal are not implanted into the uterus. • Predictive and presymptomatic testing. These tests look for diseases that become symptomatic later in life. For example, predictive testing can estimate a person’s risk of certain cancers. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer, leading some women (notably Angela Jolie) to choose prophylactic mastectomies. Presymptomatic testing can also be used to determine whether a patient has certain diseases before the symptoms appear: such as hemochromatosis or Huntington’s disease.

Eva Briggs is a medical doctor who works at two urgent care centers (Central Square and Fulton) operated by Oswego Health.

Upstate’s Low Uninsured Rate Already Exceeds National Health Care Reform Goal for 2023 Excellus study shows region in great shape when it comes to number of people insured


pstate New York has a lower uninsured rate than all but three states in the nation and already exceeds the goal of what federal health care reform seeks to accomplish by the year 2023, according to a new report issued in January by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “The Facts about Health Insurance Coverage in Upstate New York” analyzed the most recent data available (2010-2012) for residents of all ages, and 2012 data for residents through age 64. (At age 65, all U.S. citizens automatically become eligible for Medicare.)

All ages coverage (2010-2012)

Upstate New York’s uninsured rate of 8.4 percent was significantly below the state’s uninsured rate (11.4 percent) and the national rate (15.1 percent). “What that means,” said physician Arthur Vercillo, regional president, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, “is that 324,000 more Upstate New Yorkers have health insurance than would have coverage if we were at the national rate.” The report points out that the Upstate New York region studied has a population larger than 28 other states, but its uninsured rate is lower than all states in the nation, excluding Massachusetts and the less populous states of Vermont and Hawaii.

of 62.5 percent also compared favorably to the state rate of 57.4 percent and national rate of 54.8 percent, according to the Excellus BlueCross BlueShield analysis. “From a taxpayer’s perspective, job-based health insurance is preferable to government-based coverage, because it costs taxpayers less,” Vercillo observed. “We have 371,000 more Upstate New Yorkers covered due to job-based benefits than we’d have if we were at the national rate for employer-based coverage.”

Upstate New York’s employer-based health insurance coverage rate •

Looking at 2012 survey data pertaining to residents younger than age 65, the Excellus BlueCross BlueShield analysis shows that 91.3 percent of Upstate New Yorkers had health insurance coverage, well above the national rate of 83.1 percent. A May 2013 Congressional Budget Office report forecasted that the health insurance coverage rate for the U.S. population younger than age 65 would reach 89 percent by the year 2023. “Be-

Ranking Upstate New York among U.S. states

Employer-based coverage (2010-2012)

Page 8

Upstate New York vs. national goals for coverage (2012)

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2014

fore federal health care reform could even have an impact, our region started where the nation as a whole hopes to be nine years from now,” Vercillo said. “Our region is in much better shape than most of the country,” Vercillo continued. “I believe that Upstate New York promotes a climate for wiser health care spending fostered by strong local collaborations among those who provide care and the employers and insurers who finance it. Upstate New York is also in a predominately local, nonprofit health plan marketplace characterized by low operating margins among most competing insurers.”

Detailed Upstate New York regional uninsured figures available

The analysis also provides detailed uninsured figures for 2010-2012, based on clusters of Upstate New York counties (and individual counties) with populations greater than 20,000. Upstate New York, for purposes of the analysis, was defined as an area bounded by Buffalo to the west, Utica to the east, Binghamton to the south and the Adirondacks to the north. The Excellus BlueCross BlueShield report is based on data collected from 2010 to 2012 by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the largest and most current national data source available. To view the report, The Facts About Health Insurance Coverage in Upstate New York, go to factsheets.

Marijuana State about to approve its use for medical purposes. Find out how perceptions about the drug have changed


By Ernst Lamothe Jr.

veryone has an opinion on medical marijuana or marijuana in general. In the early days, few in society or the medical community voiced support about the new treatment. It was still seen as a stoner’s method to forgetting problems more than a pain-reducing remedy.

Slowly opinions began to thaw. Physician Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, recently changed his mind on the drug, citing its beneficial uses in medical cases. He is even working on a new documentary called “Weed.” But not everyone’s on board. Just this summer, outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is considered very liberal on social issues, called medical marijuana “one of the great hoaxes of all time.” Just recently Gov. Andrew Cuomo did an about face and announced an executive action that would allow medical marijuana in limited form for those with serious illnesses that meet standards set by the state Department of Health. Annette Simiele, associate director of the Multiple Sclerosis Resources of Central New York Inc. in East Syracuse, supports legislation for medical marijuana. Founded in 1998, her organization helps more than 1,500 people in several Central New York counties who are afflicted with the chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. The majority of the organization’s clients are from Onondaga County, and the use of marijuana would help relieve the pain from some of their symptoms, Simiele said. “They tell us that it gives them a clearer head to focus and eases some of the neurological pain just so they can live the rest of their lives in some comfort,” said Simiele. “These are people who now have to take a large amount of pills a day just to eat and function, which does have side effects, who would greatly benefit from medicinal marijuana. They now have to

worry about the risk of getting arrested for something that makes their lives manageable that is grown naturally outside.” Marijuana is such a hot topic that several doctors in the region didn’t want to go on record discussing the issue for In Good Health newspaper. “I’m not surprised because historically some doctors have perceived they will be labeled as “pro-pot” even when simply discussing any potential benefits of medical marijuana,” said physician Timothy Wiegand, the University of Rochester Medical Center’s toxicology director. “There has been a lot of media and press attention regarding marijuana in general and medical marijuana in particular. For example, when Dr. Sanjay Gupta changed his viewpoint on national television it put an even stronger focus on the issue.” Either way, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have all legalized some form of medical marijuana. Illinois was the last state on the list to enact the law, which went into effect in January. While Illinois permits individuals with serious diseases, including HIV and multiple sclerosis, to buy the drug in limited quantities, it has one of the strictest measures around. After being issued a state identification card, patients every two weeks can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. The drug will be grown in 22 cultivation centers throughout the state, and Illinois patients will not be allowed to grow their own marijuana, which is allowed in other states. In addition, medical marijuana users from other states will not be allowed to use their ID to buy in Illinois. Meanwhile, New York had remained on the outside. While the state Assembly has passed a medical marijuana law four times, the state Senate

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and Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent most of last year staying away from the issue. That was until Cuomo made a sudden shift and announced his executive order during his State of the State address. Twenty hospitals, which haVE not yet been named, would be able to administer medical marijuana. “Marijuana is not a panacea. I work with people who struggle with their use of marijuana. Some people find that they have difficulty stopping or decreasing their use, or that it’s affecting their lives in ways that are not healthy,” said Wiegand “I’ve worked with individuals that had been involved in car or other accidents after their use. Marijuana, like many other psychotropic drugs, can impair reaction time and concentration. Despite this, and from a variety of reasons, Americans are slowly changing their viewpoint overall about marijuana and especially about medical marijuana.” It is still yet to be determined if Cuomo’s action will be the first step to legalizing marijuana. New York has had an issue resulting in 450,000 misdemeanor charges in connection with marijuana, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. The tides though are changing on marijuana as a whole. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized the recreational use of cannabis for anyone following the approval of state referenda in the 2012 elections. A similar ballot measure failed in Oregon. “People have seen that it hasn’t been the end of civilization when medical marijuana was enacted in now over 20 states and there are good arguments for overall legalization like in Colorado and Washington. These states are going to get tens of millions of dollars from the tax they put on marijuana, which is also going to fund schools and other public infrastructure,” said Wiegand, who is also the past director of the Finger Lakes Poison Control and Drug Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “The current system regulating marijuana doesn’t seem

to work too well or keep people who want to use it from getting it.” Weigand understands that talking about marijuana as a whole can be problematic because many people have already decided which side they are on. And during discussions, neither corner is in a rush to budge to the happy medium of the issue or acknowledge that the other side has solid, relevant points. He said there are legitimate concerns about marijuana. Weigand believes that more medical studies are needed to examine marijuana’s effect for specific diseases instead of simply anecdotal stories. He also knows stories from his patients at the center who combined alcohol and marijuana and used both in destructive ways where those two inhibitions will always carry a stigma. Legalization could also cause a burden to the society and the health care system. But there are also legitimate medical conditions that have been helped with its use. “Like any medication there can be side effects from marijuana use and medicalization can be difficult to regulate. There will be people who claim to need marijuana for their pain or other symptoms when they really only want to use it as an intoxicant,” said Wiegand. In any event, at some point, people are going to have to be honest and ready to have a conversation about decriminalization or legalization of marijuana.” Simiele said she was encouraged to see Gov. Cuomo take a step forward on this issue; however, the executive order is too limited. “We have a bill in the state legislature that is comprehensive and has all the safety controls that are needed that we hope the governor eventually decides to push,” she said. “I don’t know why New York is lagging behind other states. We want to be leaders.”

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Live Alone & Thrive

By Gwenn Voelckers

Practical tips, advice and hope for those who live alone

Alone and Content: To Be or Not to Be?

Living alone can be a wonderful, meaningful, and — dare I say it? — desirable option to marriage for some people. Accept and explore your singlehood. Living alone might surprise you and become your preferred new normal. Embrace it! “Reinvention can be a matter of being reintroduced to yourself in a new light.” Jane Pauley, author of “Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life”


uring the month of February, which glorifies “couplehood,” I am always reminded of those heart-wrenching days and months after my divorce. At the time, I found it hard to imagine a life of contentment on my own. I clung to an old tape: that I could only be content if I were married or had a significant other on my arm. Is that same tape playing in your head? If so, you’re not alone. It takes discipline and determination to rid ourselves of preconceived notions about what contributes to contentment. These days, I’ve thrown away negative, outdated beliefs about being single, and have instead adopted a philosophy of living that enhances my well-being. I choose to be content. You can, too. Here’s how: Take stock. Be on the lookout for negativity. When you start spiraling down about living alone, don’t go there. Stop the old tape and replace it with something more positive and

reinforcing. Try this: “I can make this work. I am reimaging my life and I can envision a promising, new future. I am becoming more independent and resourceful and — at the end of the day — I am a survivor and proud of myself.” Don’t fake it. If you’re having a tough day, admit it. Share it. We’re all human. Sharing your challenges with close friends and family will only bring you closer together. Feeling connected and loved . . . isn’t that what makes our lives and relationships worthwhile? And real? It happens best with honest communication and mature, mutual sharing. Give yourself a break. Getting good at and ultimately enjoying life on my own didn’t happen overnight. It took practice. Years of practice. Give yourself time to adjust to the single life. After all, this is foreign territory if you’re coming out of a long marriage. Celebrate your newfound independence. This can be a time of self-discovery, no matter what your age. Striking out on your own will expand your horizons and build

Concepts in Hair




self-confidence, whether you’re 44 or 84. Don’t be afraid to travel, relocate or try something new. Identifying those things that bring meaning and joy to your life can turn living alone into an adventure of the spirit. Find (or deliver) something joyful every day. Be purposeful about this. Bright spots are everywhere and can be found every day. Notice and appreciate them. Share them. Be the one who creates a joyful moment for others. Don’t wait for happiness to find you. I’ve made this mistake. It’s a big one: waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for the invitation, waiting for some wonderful thing to happen to lift me out of my doldrums. Instead, make your own happiness. And make someone else happy along the way. When’s the last time you reached out and added a little happiness to someone’s day? Stay current. No excuses, now. We live in a technologically sophisticated world. Computers are how many of us communicate these days. It’s how we stay in touch. And when you live

alone, it can be a godsend. If you’re technologically challenged, know this: It’s not that hard to come up to speed. Resolve to be an open-minded student, and invite a friend or family member to show you the basics: texting, email, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram. Stay connected; it’s a key to contentment. Give it up. The stereotyped image of single men and women as desperate and miserable is exaggerated and just plain untrue. Recent studies on the subject bear this out. Loneliness is not a “state of being” reserved for people who live alone. Were you ever lonely while you were married? Choose to treat yourself well. It builds esteem. Prepare and eat decent meals at home. Get enough sleep. Exercise. Indulge in guilty pleasures: a nap, a piece of chocolate, a good book, a day trip. You deserve it. Avoid isolation. Isolating on holidays (including Valentine’s Day), birthdays, Sundays, etc. is for the birds. Solitary confinement is punishment for criminals, not for people who live alone. Make plans. Pick up the phone! Expand your definition of love beyond romantic love. This will stand you in good stead, especially if you are not ready to find another mate. Embrace “passionate friendships” — those relationships in which you can be yourself and feel completely comfortable. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: living along doesn’t mean being alone. Embrace your “new normal.” Living alone can be a wonderful, meaningful, and — dare I say it? — desirable option to marriage for some people. Accept and explore your singlehood. Living alone might surprise you and become your preferred new normal. Embrace it! Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Live Alone and Thrive, empowerment workshops for women held throughout the year in Mendon, New York. For information about her upcoming workshops or to invite Gwenn to speak, call (585) 624-7887 or e-mail: gvoelckers@rochester.


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Helpful tips By Anne Palumbo

The skinny on healthy eating

Turn Up the Heat with Hot Peppers


t’s February, and you know what that means: Valentine’s Day, romance, dinner for two by a crackling fire. On that steamy note, I thought I’d feature a lesser-known aphrodisiac that Cupid might serve if he were out of his magical arrows: chile peppers. Though perhaps not as sexy as oysters or figs, chile peppers hover near the top of love’s leader board thanks to the chemical responsible for their heat: capsaicin. Yes, the same chemical used in hot-pepper spray. So, what exactly does capsaicin do to put us in the mood? One, it causes us to release endorphins, the pleasure hormone. Two, it quickens the pulse and induces sweating, which mimic how we feel when aroused. And three, it can increase nerve sensitivity. In addition to lighting love’s fires, capsaicin holds other potential health benefits, as well. According to the latest research at UCLA, this sizzling ingredient may aid weight loss efforts in two ways: by slightly curbing appetite and by boosting metabolism. What’s more, capsaicin may fire a lethal blow at cancer cells, according to physician H. Phillip Koeffler, director

The amount of capsaicin varies with pepper type, with fiery habaneros containing a lot; hot jalapenos, a good amount; and mild poblanos, just a little. So, choose wisely. Since the white veins inside a pepper contain the most capsaicin, you can always remove those to reduce the heat. Be sure to wash your hands carefully after cutting hot peppers. Mouth on fire? Reach for bread, milk or a spoonful of sugar; water is the least effective remedy.

Spiced Chicken Breasts with Sauteed Pepper Medley

Adapted from Bon Appetit; serves 4 of hematology and oncology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and professor of medicine at UCLA. In a recent prostate study, capsaicin caused the death of about 80 percent of prostate cancer cells in mice. Another surprising feature of these hot little gems? Most are super high in vitamin C. While the amount varies with each pepper, a good number meet our daily needs for this important vitamin. Some varieties also provide respectable amounts of vitamin A, a powerhouse nutrient that’s essential for all-around good health. What’s not surprising is that, like most vegetables, chile peppers are low in fat, cholesterol, sodium and calories. Put it all together and what have we got? One heart-thumping-waist-trimming-immune-boosting-mood-inducing bite of pure pepper heaven. Arriba!

2 ½ teaspoons ground coriander 2 ½ teaspoons ground cumin salt and pepper 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 medium red onion, halved, sliced ¼-inch thick 2 large fresh poblano chiles, cut into 1 ½ x ¼-inch strips 2 large fresh Anaheim chiles, cut into 1 ½ x ¼-inch strips 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 ½ x ¼-inch strips 2 cherry chile peppers, diced (optional) 1 jalapeno, diced (optional) 2 cloves garlic, minced 2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or 1 tablespoon dried

chicken with salt, pepper, and half of spice mixture. If breasts are particularly thick, either pound to flatten or slice in half horizontally. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, cover, and cook until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer to plate; cover with foil. To same skillet, heat another tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for about 4 minutes, until soft. Next, add all the peppers and garlic and sauté for about 8 minutes, adding some water if the mixture starts to stick to pan. Stir in remaining coriander mixture, lime juice and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return chicken to sautéed-pepper mixture, cover and heat up for about 2 minutes. Good served with brown rice.

Mix coriander and cumin. Sprinkle

Anne Palumbo is a lifestyle columnist, 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 Anne at


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Page 11

A Farm with a Purpose Family overcomes obstacles to set up a farm to help neglected and abused children By Matthew Liptak


verybody fits in somewhere.” Sandra Seabrook spoke about one of her horses as she walked across a muddy paddock, but she could have been talking about the children she seeks to serve in Central New York. Purpose Farm is the labor of love she and her family created to offer respite to neglected and abused children. The Baldwinsville farm is technically not even a nonprofit yet—they’re waiting on the paperwork from Albany—but it is already offering 90-minute sessions for children to come out and ride for free or interact with the animals. It has had less than a handful of kids come so far, but reviews have been positive. The first child to go there to work with the horses was a 15-years-old. “He really, really loved it and it was freezing that day,” Seabrook said. “It was the first snow that we had. He was so excited. Even just walking up to the horses he opened up and he started talking. He’s in a group home so he’s having a real hard time adjusting with that. Just coming here is his release and his outlet. He was like ‘When can I come back?’ So he’s on a weekly basis now.” The genesis of the farm is rooted

Sandra Seabrook, cofounder of Purpose Farm in Baldwinsville, takes a moment to visit with Duke, a big Belgian horse who can be found on the farm. in a local tragedy as well as inspiration from God, Seabrook said. The bornagain Christian family had taken a trip to orphanages in Romania in 2008 to help take care of the children there. On the way they passed a horse farm. San-

dra mused that it would be nice if the kids from the orphanages could go to the farm since they didn’t have much outside interaction. Such ideas were frowned upon in Romania though. The children were stuck in remote rural

No long-term contract No hidden costs No equipment to buy

Page 12

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2014

areas to keep them out of the way. Back in Palermo in Oswego County in 2008, neglected 11-year-old girl Erin Maxwell was murdered by her step brother Allan Jones. Seabrook heard the news over the radio and, like much of the rest of the Central New York community, was shocked by it. “I heard it on the radio and I just started crying,” she said. “I cried out to God. I said ‘You know what can I do?’ He said ‘You can do your horse farm idea here.’ That’s how it happened.” Easier said than done. The Seabrooks sacrificed for the act of faith. And they were tested, Seabrook said. Sandra and her husband Howard managed to find the property that would become Purpose Farm without much help. There wasn’t even a for sale sign out in front of the place at 1454 W. Genesee Road. The real estate agent told them that the house that came with the property was just 800 square feet but it was actually a five-bedroom home — enough for their four kids who live with them. But neither the house nor the barn were in usable condition. They worked for a year renovating the home and the barn. Howard Seabrook, who owns Mohawk Plumbing in E. Syracuse, did the lion’s share of the work with the


help of a close friend, Billy Longden. “My husband, his best friend—he helped us renovate everything,” Sandra Seabrook said. “He did this floor in here with my husband. He and my husband for the first year walked side by side. They would go to work during the day and then they would arrive here about 10 o’clock at night and then they’d work to about 2 or 3 in the morning and then they’d get an hour or two of sleep and they’d get up and go to work on their day jobs.” Sandra said the project was nearly finished when her husband’s friend, who was instrumental in renovating the farm, committed suicide. It took the family entirely by surprise and was hard on everyone. Sandra said. Howard Seabrook particularly took it hard. The family stepped up though and the Seabrooks managed to keep the project going. Purpose Farm continued to be tested financially, too. “We’ve gone to where I have to put stuff back in the grocery line and we got to count stuff out. There is no budget because what happens, we have no money in the bank. What we make is what we have. We live day to day. If a bill gets paid it gets paid if it doesn’t then you just roll it into the next one.” The challenges and tragedies haven’t prevented Purpose Farm from bearing fruit. Kids are coming in and the Seabrooks hope many will be helped by their mission. Sandra dreams that some day thousands might have been offered a haven on the farm, if only for a little while. The plan is for mentor-volunteers to work with children one-on-one. There are 22 volunteers who have signed on to help, but most of them can only do Saturdays. All volunteers who work with children have background

checks done. The farm is in particular need of volunteers who can work weekdays with the children since the agencies that help them can often only bring the kids out during the week. The kids come out and pick what animal they want to work with. There are horses, both riding and miniature— mostly rescues. There are also turkeys, chickens, peacocks, alpacas, a dog, and a pig who does tricks. “Basically they’re going to learn the basic care of animals depending on which one they’re picking,” she said. “That’s what it is. It’s not so much that they’re coming and they’re going to come out of here being a hunter-jumper or they’re going to know every part of the body. The horses are a bridge to get them to open up and talk. Even just going up and having a horse come up behind you. They lean their head on you. These kids are coming from really neglected families or they’re in a group home right now and to have an animal come up and put their head over your shoulder, it’s like ‘Wow, this animal likes me.’ It’s a bridge. These animals are a bridge to them.’” The Seabrooks are not the only ones who see good in the purpose of Purpose Farm. The volunteers do toO. “Sandra’s idea to reach out to hurting children is a wonderful idea,” said volunteer Cindy Burghardt. “It is obvious that she and her family have worked very hard to provide a safe place for the children to be away from the stresses of their daily lives for a few hours. The beauty of the farm and the quiet there, along with interacting with the sweet animals is all very soothing. It will be beneficial to children who are able to participate in the program and, hopefully, life changing.” For more information on Purpose Farm go to

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VA CLINIC-We are proud to continue our service to local veterans through our contract renewal with the Veterans Administration to maintain a primary care clinic. Our VA clinic now offers telemedicine for a broad array of specialty services for our veterans. Their care is now kept close to home. LABORATORY- Joint Commission has re-accredited the laboratory. This accreditation assures you that we meet high quality standards. NEW PHYSICIANS-We welcomed 48 new active and courtesy practitioners to the medical staff in 2013. Our dedication to bringing you a highly qualified medical staff is a continual process. PRIVATE PATIENT ROOMS-We have converted many of our patient rooms into private rooms to enhance your comfort and care while you are with us.

CPOE, COMPUTERIZED PHYSICIAN ORDER ENTRY- A state-of-the-art CPOE information technology system has been implemented in order to ensure patient safety. Physician orders are now placed electronically. NEW EMERGENT AND URGENT CARE PROVIDERS-Eastern Fingerlakes Medical Care has assumed the medical leadership of our Emergency Room and our two Urgent care centers. This group of ER physicians and assistants is comprised of experienced and dedicated providers who live and practice in our community. URGENT CARE HOURS-You asked for longer hours and we listened. Both Auburn and Skaneateles urgent care facilities new hours are Monday thru Friday 8:00am-8:00pm and weekends 8:00am-6:00pm.

THE PATIENT EXPERIENCE INITIATIVE Quality Assurance has begun a new initiative to continually improve the quality of your stay.

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STATE-OF-THE-ART CT SCANNER-The newest technology is now available to you at Auburn Community Hospital now giving the highest quality images available to aid in diagnosis and treatment of illness. Due to the community’s need, Saturday hours have been added for CT and MRI scans along with general Radiology exams.

ONGOING COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROGRAMS-We continue to educate our community through programs such as, Medically Speaking, Women’s Health Institute, Heart Expo and the patient education module on our website,

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2014

By Melissa Stefanec

Raising a Kind Kid


urt Vonnegut said it best when issuing advice to the little ones of this world. I cleaned up the following quote, but you will get the idea. “There’s only one rule that I know of babies—gosh darnit, you’ve got to be kind.” If you think about it, following this one rule would make the world and all of our lives better. It’s an extremely hard rule to live by, but it makes perfect sense. Raising a kind kid is my goal. If my daughter Stella grows into a kind person, she will be happy, those around her will be happy and she will truly make the world a better place. What more could a parent ask for? Setting the objective to raise a kind child is the easy part. Implementing that goal is a whole other fruit-snackloving beast. How do I teach my child to be kind? How, in a world of so much pain and anger, can I convince my daughter that being kind is worth it in the long run? Well, my dear readers, I’m not quite sure. I’ll start with the dictionary definitions for the adjective kind: 1) affectionate, loving; 2) of a sympathetic or helpful nature; 3) of a forbearing nature, gentle; and 4) arising from or characterized by sympathy or forbearance. I’m barely out of the gates, and already I have some major problems. What 2 ½-year-old is gentle? Toddler sympathy mostly comes in the way of forced apologies. How do you teach a toddler to forbear and go without? For instance, take this recent scenario. Last weekend Stella was brushing my husband’s hair. She replaced one of her brush strokes with a whap straight to his face. He started yelping and his nose started swelling. What did my daughter do? She laughed, and laughed, and laughed some more. She was sent to her room and coaxed into issuing an apology, but you get the idea. Kids are balls of energy. If left to their own devices, toddlers are almost anything but kind. They are animalistic, in joy and in sorrow. So how can I teach a toddler to be kind? Here are my ideas. • Be the kindness you want to see — Cliché? Yes, but it’s an unavoidable truth. If I want to raise a kind kid, I have to set an example. This means setting a good example after a long day at work. This means keeping snarky comments about strangers to myself. This means curbing my road rage. This means volunteering more and getting my daughter out there with me. The old “do what I say and not as I do” isn’t going to teach her anything. I need to live a life of kindness if Stella is to have a fighting chance. • Pretend play with a whole lot of kind — We should probably all take more time to really play with our kids. We need to engage them and they need to engage us. When I play with her, I need to incorporate kindness into our play. Maybe purple kitty can mow blue

These are my fledgling attempts at starting my daughter down a path of kindness. There will be lots of failures along the way, but I’m willing to work through them

doggy’s yard one day. Maybe orange hamster is a stranger, but also a friend teddy hasn’t met. I need to incorporate some Mr. Roger’s mentality into playtime. • Reiterate, reiterate, reiterate — Experts say you may have to repeat things hundreds of times before toddlers commit them to memory. Messages of kindness are no exception, especially since selfishness was once a very important survival skill. You have to nurture the kindness, while guiding the nature. (This one sounds like more than I can commit to before some more caffeine, but I put it on the list anyway.) • Be forgiving — Nobody is kind all of the time. Sometimes, we can all be real jerks. I have to teach my daughter that we all have moments of rashness and weakness. That’s all right, because a person isn’t defined by a single deed. • Praise, praise, praise — When I see my daughter do something kind, I have to act like she filled her diapers with valuable, vintage coins and slept in until 7:30 the next day. I need to give her acts of kindness the recognition they deserve. • Give her control of her own kindness — What do toddlers want more than anything else? Control. They want to call the shots. I need to let my daughter call the kind shots. I need to give her kind options. For example, should we help daddy vacuum or sweep? Should we get a pink or purple jacket for the donation? Should you paint or color a picture for grandpa? So there you have it. My fledgling attempts at starting my daughter down a path of kindness. There will be lots of failures along the way, but I’m willing to work through them if it means putting a little more kindness in this world.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Meet Loretto’s New Leaders New leaders in charge of organization that has grown to employ 2,000 people in the Syracuse metropolitan area, serving 6,000 elders and their families By Aaron Gifford


hen it comes to elder care, Kimberly Townsend and Steve Volza have come full circle. In her native Nashua, N.H., Townsend spent much of her childhood at a senior boarding house run by her babysitter. Before and after school, and during school vacations, she would listen to the tenants’ stories and join them for board games. This experience inspired her desire to become a lifelong learner. “They always had time for me. They loved to help me with homework,” Townsend recalled. “There was

CEO. Michael Sullivan was the president prior to HMP coming on board. He resigned from Loretto in July 2011 after 16 years with the organization and had also served as the organization’s CEO. Buchanan said Loretto has a great future under the direction of Volza and Townsend, whom he called “visionary” leaders. They are assuming control of an organization that dates back to 1911. In the past century it has grown to 19 programs at 18 sites in the Syracuse metropolitan area, operating on an approximate $115 million budget and employing nearly 2,000 full- and parttime workers. On average, Loretto serves about 6,000 elders and their families annually. The organization is on track to complete $90 million worth of capital projects in the next 18 months, including the PACE MacAuliffe Health Center in East Syracuse, a second U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-funded apartment building in Baldwinsville, the merger of Mercy Health and Rehabilitation Center and the Cayuga County Nursing home in Auburn, and the completion of the Cottages at Garden Grove, a complex of small homes in Cicero for skilled nursing-eligible residents.

SteveVolza is Loretto’s new COO. so much wisdom there.” Volza was born in Italy and moved to Syracuse with his family at age 2. In the old country, he said, it was common for aging parents to move back in with their families when they needed more care, and to remain there to their dying day. His family embraced those values as new residents of the United States even though the elder care model at that time was much different. Both recall the long era of institutional-based elder care. And both were part of the team that transformed Loretto’s model of care to home-like settings for an increasing number of seniors. They were recently promoted to senior management positions — Townsend to president and chief executive officer, and Volza to chief operating officer. In addition, Ellen O’Connor was named president of Loretto’s board of trustees. The appointments took effect Jan. 1. Prior to those appointments, Loretto had been managed by a consulting firm, Health Management Partners (HMP), which helped the organization streamline operations and establish a firm financial base. During that time Bruce Buchanan of HMP served as the Page 16

New CEO holds four degrees from SU

Prior to her recent appointment, Townsend was chairwoman of Loretto’s board of trustees while working a full-time job as associate general counsel and senior director of government affairs at Welch Allyn Inc., a medical technology company based in Skaneateles. There, she was responsible for brokering partnerships, handling legal, financial and strategic matters, managing the company government relations and advising on compliance and human resources initiatives. Prior to Welch Allyn, Townsend worked as a tax consultant with Ernst & Young LLP, and also served as an adjunct professor at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management and at its College of Law. She came to Central New York to attend college, and it was that passion for life-long learning that drove her to earn four degrees from SU — a BS, MBA, JD and MPA. Her childhood aspiration was to become an attorney, but Townsend said she’s glad she found a career where she could combine law with business management and policy administration. “It’s a unique combination of skills,” said the grandmother-to-be. “I always wanted to understand how things work. I’ve always been a prob-

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2014

lem-solver. I think this is a good fit.” She said one of the greatest challenges ahead will be to change the way seniors and their children look at elder care. In the past, people limited to their choices to nursing homes. But now, they should include assisted living facilities into the mix, along with supplemental services where seniors can get varying amounts of care in their own homes. “It’s the industry’s task to people regarding the wide spectrum of what services are available,” Townsend said. “The perception on aging also needs to be changed. We need to better support caregivers in families — those who have kids in the house and care for their own parents as well. It’s the sandwich generation.” Townsend loves the idea of enriching seniors’ lives with technology, whether it’s tablet computers, Skype software where clients can see loved ones on a computer screen while they chat live, or interactive video games like Wii bowling.

COO: Hands-on and wants to see the job done

Volza has worked at Loretto since 1975. The son of Italian immigrants who settled in Syracuse, Volza attended Northwestern Oklahoma State University on a football scholarship and returned home to look for work as a physical education teacher. Loretto offered him a recreational therapist position, and he never looked back.

New CEO Kimberly Townsend.

“I found that I preferred working with elders,” Volza said. “As a teacher, you have to discipline kids. But the elders appreciate what you’re doing for them.” Volza became engrossed in his work, and even had an exercise show on WCNY television for a while as he worked his way up Loretto’s ladder and assumed greater responsibilities for overseeing existing programs and creating new ones. “My goal was not to keep people sitting in rocking chairs,” he said. “They [elders] don’t have that perception — we have that perception.” As a carpentry and gardening enthusiast, Volza has always enjoyed the opportunity to improve the facilities at Loretto. He considers himself a handson guy who just wants to see results at the end of the day. “That’s why I enjoy operations.” In his new role, Volza wants to prioritize expanding Loretto’s services to neighboring counties. He also wants to see relief from some state and federal regulations that govern human service organizations. “Care should be more individual-based. For example, if someone doesn’t want to attend breakfast, why should they have to? Maybe they aren’t a morning person. Maybe they just want lunch. We don’t want mass-produced long-term care. It’s more efficient and may be more profitable, but it’s not what’s right.”

Golden Years Tips and Tools to Help Seniors Regain their Flexibility By Jim Miller


f all possible exercises, stretching tends to be the most overlooked and neglected among seniors, yet nothing is more vital to keeping an aging body limber and injury free. Here’s what you should know along with some tip and resources to help you regain some flexibility. As we age, our muscles naturally lose their elasticity if they are not active, which can make common dayto-day activities, like reaching down to tie your shoes or looking over your shoulder to back your car out of the driveway difficult. But the good news is, by incorporating some simple stretching exercises into your routine (at least three times a week) you can greatly improve your

flexibility, as well as enhance your balance, posture and circulation, relieve pain and stress, and prevent injuries. In addition, stretching is also important as a warm-up and cool-down for more vigorous activities, and leg stretching is an excellent way to prevent nighttime leg cramps too.

Stretching Basics

Stretching exercises should focus on the muscles in your calves, front and back thighs, hips, lower and upper back, chest, shoulders and neck. If you’ve had hip or back surgery, you should talk to your doctor before doing lower-back flexibility exercises. If you don’t have any experience with stretching, there are books like “Stretching for Dummies” and “Stretching for 50+” that you can purchase at your local bookstore or that provides instructions and illustrations of proper techniques.

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There are also a number of DVDs and videos you can buy to guide you through a series of stretching exercises you can do at home. Collage Video (, 800-819-7111) sells several at prices ranging between $10 and $20, as does and amazon. com. Also see, a resource created by the National Institute on Aging that offers a free exercise DVD and booklet that provide illustrated examples of stretching exercises. You can order your free copies online or by calling 800-222-2225. While stretching, it’s very important to listen to your body. You want to stretch each muscle group to the point where the muscle feels tight. If it hurts, you’ve gone too far. Back off to the point where you don’t feel any pain, then hold the stretch for 10 to 20 seconds. Relax, then repeat it three to five

times, trying to stretch a little farther, but don’t bounce. Bouncing greatly increases your chance of injury. It’s also a good idea to warm up a little before you start stretching by walking in place and pumping your arms. And remember to breathe when you stretch. Also keep in mind that muscles that have not been stretched in a while take time to regain their flexibility. So be patient and go slow.

Eastern Options

Another popular way to improve your flexibility is through gentle yoga or chair yoga. In chair yoga you replace the yoga mat with a chair where most poses can be duplicated. This is much easier on tight, inflexible muscles. To get started, there are DVDs and videos that offer yoga instructions and routines for seniors that you can do at home. Some good resources for finding them are and, or check with your local public library. Tai chi is another good exercise option for improving flexibility and balance. To learn it, it’s best to work with an instructor who can teach you the correct movements and breathing techniques. To locate a class in your area, call your local senior center, health club or wellness center or check your yellow pages. If nothing’s available, tai chi DVDs for seniors (see, and is a good alternative. Jim Miller is the author of “Savvy Senior” column, which appears monthly in In Good Health.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 17

Golden Years

Experts Discuss Keys to Healthy Aging By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


e all know there’s no fountain of youth; however, it seems like there is the way some seniors age. They’re full of vitality even into their 90s. According to local experts, anyone elderly can maximize his health by taking a few steps in mid-life or anytime. “Aging is a natural process that we cannot stop from happening unfortunately, but we can slow it down by selecting proper foods and living a having a healthier lifestyle,” said Laurel Sterling, integrative dietitian and wellness educator for Natur-Tyme in East Syracuse. “Without [healthful foods] as part of your foundation, no amount of quick-fixes will maintain your skin’s youthful appearance, overall health, or longevity. Physical — wrinkles, aches, pains, joint deterioration — and mental changes naturally occur with aging; however, with the support of anti-ag-

ing foods we can work to keep these aging ailments at bay,” Sterling added. She believes that the top changes anyone should make to age more healthfully and lower medical risk factors are to “juice” (drink juice extracted from fresh produce), exercise, meditate, eat a balanced diet and control stress. But they should avoid smoking and eating sugars and trans-fats. What may seem like the ordinary changes that occur with aging could be the sign of a more serious problem, such as forgetfulness may be the sign of early dementia or unexplained weight loss could signal cancer. Keep regular appointments with a primary care physicians to discuss any concerns you have such as traits you have not noticed before or sudden changes in your body. It’s easy to give up and say that your genetics “doom” you to whatever health fate has in store; however, you have more control over how you age

What They Want You to Know:

Nutrition Counselors By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


any more people are paying closer attention to what they eat these days. Nutrition counselors and nutritionists can provide very helpful information. Whether working as independent consultants, for a health foods store or fitness center or selling supplements, many nutrition counselors are very well-read and experienced in natural health. They’re not credentialed like registered dietitians or certified diabetes educators. New York does not require or offer licensure for a person to offer nutrition advice, as long as he does not diagnose or treat disease or use titles such as “certified dietitian,” “certified nutritionist” or “certified dietitian-nutritionist.” • “Working at a health foods store like ours is like being in a family. We are a bunch of people who are on the same wavelength as far as the truth

Page 18

about the customers’ health. A lot of the customers are on the same page, too. They want to learn more about how to keep themselves healthy. • “There’s a lot of deceit out there and it’s nice to help customers. We see a lot of good results from customers who do use natural products, improve diet and use vitamins and minerals. • “You can’t come into a vitamin or health foods store and buy a supplement just because you watch a program on TV. Take what you see on Dr. Oz with a grain of salt. He’s not your personal physician but is addressing the public. What’s right for someone else may not be right for you. By taking a supplement but not changing your diet and exercise regimen, it won’t help you be healthier. It’s a process, not one thing here and there. You have to change everything. • “A lot of people who come in here have heard the latest in the media

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2014

than you think. Of the factors that determine how you will age, Sterling estimates that 25 percent is due to genes and 75 percent is due to environment. “There are lots of things we can certainly do and avoid,” she added. Sharon Brangman, geriatrician with Upstate University Hospital, agrees that many steps you take can influence your health in later life. She recommends that a daily exercise regimen could consist of a 30-minute walk and, a few times a week, lifting light weights (providing a doctor has cleared the person for regular exercise). “It’s not about running a marathon or bench pressing 500 pounds,” she said. Regular exercise maintains heart health, blood pressure down, lowers “bad” cholesterol, and controls blood sugar. “Keeping exercise as part of the routine as much as brushing your

teeth,” Brangman said. “You can keep it social with friends. That’s another good tip for healthy aging. Many people as they grow older can become isolated. Those who connect with others do better mentally and physically.” She said that completing puzzles work one part of the brain; however, creative activities such as woodworking and needlepoint can work other parts of the brain. “Find something you enjoy doing because the science doesn’t show it prevents dementia, but it is good to keep you stimulated,” she said. Though many seniors down vitamin supplements, Brangman advises caution and to stick with only those supplements recommended by a doctor and to follow package directions. “Taking big doses of vitamins and memory boosters may not have a significant benefit for your health and can be very expensive,” she said.

that a certain vitamin isn’t good for you. But all vitamins are necessary for health and they should be found in the diet, ideally. • “People shouldn’t listen to all pharmaceutical research and TV. People need to talk with a professional like someone in integrative medicine or a naturopath.”

still eat meat and grains, but you’ll balance everything out if you eat more of the foods that have bright colors. • “People should eat less of anything that isn’t organic and free range. Eat less out of a package or box. • “I see a lot of people who are gluten intolerant or have a degree of sensitivity. The strongest food intolerances are gluten, followed by dairy and then corn. • “Chronic disease doesn’t come as a result of a deficiency in medication. I’m an advocate for when in doubt, start with the nutrition and lifestyle first. If you have a diagnosis and have been told to be on XYZ medication and it doesn’t seem right, you need to consult someone on how to modify your lifestyle and diet to help your body heal. • “Some people mistake me for a registered dietitian which is a different, institutional branch of education where people work in a hospital or school. “People often think I’ll make them count calories, but I make them go with portions and eyeballing the amount.”

Andrew Creeley, supplement and nutrition educator with Natur-Tyme • “I really like working in a partnership with my clients and I love seeing them transform their health and seeing the changes in their energy level, skin and quality of life. • “People commonly think calories are created equal. They think supplements from retail or big box stores are just as good. They don’t take enough. They don’t realize how much to take. Some are afraid of eating fat. They’re ‘fat phobic.’ Or they don’t eat enough protein. Many don’t know what to believe as far as how they should eat. • “The most expensive supplement is the one that doesn’t work. Trying the cheapest supplement isn’t necessarily going to get you the results you’re looking for. Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet. • “Medical doctors aren’t trained in how to use nutrition therapeutically. It’s not their fault. It’s just not a part of their training. The biggest comment I get is, ‘Well, my doctor didn’t tell me about this.’ But he probably didn’t know about it. • “People should eat more fruits and vegetables with bright colors: greens, reds, blue-purple and yellow-orange. People need to increase their vegetable intake to seven to nine servings. That would overtake most health problems people have. You can

Georgia Austin, certified clinical nutritionist and certified nutrition specialist with New Leaf Functional Nutrition, Manlius Deborah Jeanne Sergeant is a writer with In Good Health. “What Your Doctor Wants You to Know” is an ongoing column that appears monthly to give our area’s healthcare professionals an opportunity to share how patients can improve their care by helping their providers and by helping themselves.

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How to Choose a Continuing-Care Retirement Community Dear Savvy Senior, Can you give me some tips on picking a good full-service retirement community that offers all levels of housing, from independent apartment-style to nursing home care? My wife and I are both approaching 80 and are looking to downsize from our current home, but we want our next move to be our last. One More Move Dear One, If you want your next move to be your final one, a full-service retirement community — better known as a continuing-care retirement community (or CCRC) — is a good option to consider, but they aren’t cheap, so you need to be prudent when choosing.

CCRCs are different from other types of senior housing because they provide all levels of housing, services and care in one convenient location. While they vary greatly in appearance and services, most CCRCs offer apartments or sometimes single family homes for active seniors who need little if any help with their daily needs. In addition, they also offer on-site assisted living for people who require aid to bathe, dress or perform other basic tasks, and nursing home care for residents who need full-time skilled nursing care. CCRCs also provide a bevy of resort-style amenities and services that include community dining halls, exercise facilities, housekeeping and transportation as well as many social and recreational activities. But be aware that all these services come at a hefty price. Most communities have entry fees that range from $20,000 to $500,000 or more, plus ongoing monthly service fees that can vary from around $1,000 to over $5,000 depending on the facility, services and the long-term care contract option you choose.

With nearly 1,900 CCRCs in operation throughout the U.S, finding a facility that fits your lifestyle, needs and budget can take some legwork. Here are some steps you can take to help you proceed. • Make a list: Start by calling the county’s office for the aging (call 800-677-1116 for contact information) in the area you want to live for a list of CCRCs. You can also search online at or that has a national listing of accredited CCRCs. • Call the facilities: Once you’ve located a few, call them to find out if they have any vacancies, what they charge and if they provide the types of services you want or need. • Take a tour: Many CCRCs encourage potential residents to stay overnight and have a few meals in their dining hall. During your tour, notice the upkeep and cleanness of the facility, and talk to the current residents to see how they like living there. Also, check out the assisted living and nursing facilities and find out how decisions are made to move residents from one level of care to another. To check up on a facility, call the state long-term care ombudsman (see who can tell you if the assisted living and nursing facilities within the CCRC have had any complaints or other problems. Also, use the Medicare nursing home compare tool (, which provides a ranking system. • Investigate fees: During your visit, get a rundown on the different kinds of contracts that are available and their costs. Also, find out what types of services are included and what costs extra. What yearly price increases can you expect? How much of your entry fee is refundable to you if you move or die? And what happens if you outlive your financial resources? • Research the community’s financial health: Find out who owns or sponsors the facility and get a copy of their most recently audited financial statement and review it, along with the copy of the contract with your lawyer or financial advisor. Also get their occupancy rate. Unless it’s a newer community filling up, occupancy below 85 percent can be a red flag that the facility is having financial or management problems.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 19

The Social Ask Security Office Provided Deborah Banikowski, Social Security OfficeSocial Security Office


Your Spouse May Be Covered By Social Security

the benefit may be as little as a third f you have a spouse who does not of your full benefit amount. Note that earn an income or who earns less than you do, your spouse (including benefits paid to your spouse do not decrease your benefit amount. a same-sex spouse) may be entitled to If you have already reached full reSocial Security spouses’ benefits based tirement age but continue to work, you on your record. can apply for retirement benefits and Social Security can be an importrequest to have the payments suspendant financial asset for married couples when the time comes to apply for retire- ed until as late as age 70. This would let you earn delayed retirement ment benefits. In many cases, credits that will mean higher one spouse may have earned payments later, but still would significantly more than the other allow your spouse to receive a or may have worked longer. spouse’s benefit. Or it could be that one spouse People can also apply for stayed home to do the work of spouse benefits based on the raising the children, caring for earnings record of an ex-spouse elderly family members or manor deceased spouse if married aging the household while the for at least 10 years. Spouses other focused on a career. can consider a number of opWhatever your situation, tions and variables. We make it Social Security will look at all easier to navigate them. A good possibilities to make sure both Banikowski place to start is by visiting our spouses receive the maximum Social Security benefits possible, wheth- benefits planner at www.socialsecurity. gov/planners. Take note of the “Beneer based on each spouse’s earnings fits As A Spouse” section. record or the higher wage-earner’s If you are ready to apply for record. benefits, the fastest, easiest, and most Your spouse can apply for benefits convenient way is to apply online! You the same way that you apply for benecan do so at fits on your own record. He or she can applyonline and complete your appliapply for reduced benefits as early as cation in as little as 15 minutes. age 62 or for 100 percent of the full reDue to a Supreme Court decision, tirement benefits at full retirement age. we now are able to pay benefits to Not sure what the full retirement ages some same-sex couples. We encourage are? To learn your and your spouse’s people who think they may be eligible full retirement ages, based on birth to apply now. Learn more at www. year, visit pubs/ageincrease.htm. Whether you receive benefits on The benefit amount your spouse can receive at full retirement age can be a spouse’s record or your own, rest as much as one half of your full benefit. assured we will make sure you get the If your spouse opts for early retirement, highest benefit for which you qualify. Learn more at


Q: I run a bed and breakfast. By this time every year, I am tired of all the paperwork involved with filing taxes. Is there an easier way for small businesses to file W-2s for their employees? A: Absolutely. If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, you should check out Social Security’s Business Services Online (BSO) website. There, you can file your employees’ W-2s and W-2cs electronically and print out the W-2s to provide paper copies to your employees. You also can verify the Social Security numbers of your employees. Our online services are easy to use, fast, and secure. Visit our BSO page at www.socialsecurity. gov/bso. Q: Will my military retirement affect my Social Security benefits? A: No. You can get both Social Security benefits and military retirement. Generally, there is no offset of Social Security benefits because of your military retirement. You will get full benefits based on your earnings. The Page 20


150 E. 1st St. Oswego, NY 13126 315-343-0440


100 Rochester St. Fulton, NY 13069 315-598-4700

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2014

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only way your Social Security benefit may be reduced is if you also receive a government pension based on a job in which you did not pay Social Security taxes. You can find more information in the publication Military Service and Social Security at www.socialsecurity. gov/pubs. Or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Q: My spouse died recently and my neighbor said my children and I might be eligible for survivors benefits. Don’t I have to be retirement age to receive benefits? A: No. As a survivor, you can receive benefits at any age if you are caring for a child who is receiving Social Security benefits and who is under age 16. Your children are eligible for survivors benefits through Social Security up to age 19 if they are unmarried and attending elementary or secondary school full time. If you are not caring for minor children, you would need to wait until age 60 (age 50 if disabled) to collect survivors benefits. For more information about survivors benefits, read our publication Survivors Benefits at

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H ealth News Oneida Healthcare Names New COO Oneida Healthcare President and CEO Gene Morreale announced recently the appointment of Mary Parry to the position of vice president for operations. She replaces Paul Scopac, who retired on Jan. 3. Parry earned her bachelor’s degree in health services management and MBA in technology management from SUNY IT in Marcy. She also holds an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy from Onondaga Community College and has 22 years experience in cardiopulmonary leadership. She served as clinical coordinator of respiratory care at Rome Memorial Hospital before joining Oneida Healthcare in 1998. In addition to her clinical and management responsibilities Parry at Oneida Healthcare, Parry has also been responsible for the development of several new services, including the sleep center, Oneida Health Support (durable medical equipment), advanced pulmonary function, sigital EEG, Fit testing and electronic integration of cardiology studies. In her position on the senior leadership team, Parry has oversight of housekeeping/laundry, imaging services, Joint Commission readiness, laboratory services, plant operations, occupational/speech therapy, physical therapy, plant operations, property leasing, security/parking, cardiopulmonary, respiratory therapy and sleep lab. A resident of the city of Oneida, Parry currently serves as a commissioner on the city’s water board and as a director of the Greater Oneida Chamber of Commerce. She also served as vice chairwoman of the Mohawk Valley Community College advisory committee for respiratory therapy during that program’s reaccreditation process in 2010. She is parish council president and a eucharistic minister at St. Patrick’s Church in Oneida.

Art Vercillo makes presentation in Orlando

Physician Arthur Vercillo, regional president, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, was among the expert speakers featured in the managed care track of the Third Annual Patient Advocate Conference and Workshops held in Orlando, Fla., in December. The event delivered critical intelligence and unique networking opportuVercillo nities to patient advocates from across the country. Vercillo’s presentation, titled “Uncommon Collaborations Fostering Common Good: Extending the Reach of Patient Advocates,” centered on the partnerships that Excellus BlueCross

BlueShield has developed with community-based organizations in Upstate New York to extend the reach of patient advocates in the community. A resident of Fayetteville, Vercillo is a board-certified general surgeon who trained at SUNY Upstate Medical University, the University of Connecticut and Harvard University. He holds academic appointments in the departments of general surgery and otolaryngology at SUNY Upstate Medical University and is a past president of the Onondaga County Medical Society. Vercillo is a member of the American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, Medical Society of the State of New York, Onondaga County Medical Society, American Society of General Surgeons, Society of Laparoscopic Surgery, American Society of Breast Surgeons, American Hernia Society and the American College of Physician Executives. He serves on the boards of Arc of Onondaga, HealtheConnections, Success By 6, the SUNY Oswego MBA in Health Services Administration program and the Syracuse City Ballet.

Certified midwife joins Oswego practice, hospital Certified nurse midwife Theresa Check has joined the staff of Oswego Hospital’s maternity center and the local practice of Oswego County OBGYN. Check recently graduated from the Ohio State University, where she earned a Master of Science in nursing after studying midwifery and women’s health. As part of her final year of midwifery training, she provided care at facilities in both Ohio and Pennsylvania. “I am so happy Check to be here providing care,” Check said. “During my interview process, I really enjoyed talking with the physicians and staff. For me personally, I believe that midwifery was a calling. I am also a strong believer in getting to know my patients and becoming someone they are comfortable talking to about their health concerns.” A native of Cleveland, Ohio, the new midwife said she found Oswego to her liking. “I grew up on a great lake and this area seemed like home; a nice place to live with a small-town atmosphere.” Check has also completed Lamaze childbirth education training and is a DONA International (formerly known as Doulas of North America)-trained birth doula. She is a member of the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

Upstate’s medical ed earns accreditation Upstate Medical University continues to excel at its mission to educate physicians long after graduation day.

Crouse Hospital appoints chief physician integration officer Crouse Hospital has named physician Seth Kronenberg to the newly created position of chief physician integration officer. In this new senior leadership role, Kronenberg has oversight forå physician engagement, recruitment and integration of community-based practicing physicians in their relationships with the Crouse care network. He also serves as president and medical Kronenberg director of Crouse Medical Practice (CMP), overseeing operations and integration activities within the Crouse delivery system. Kronenberg, a board-certified internist and partner with Internist Associates of Central New York (IACNY), will also be the primary Crouse contact for the Crouse-affiliated Health Alliance Physician Organization (PO) and other community-based physicians for alignment and integration activities, including network development and populaThe continuing medical education (CME) program at Upstate provides opportunities for physicians to maintain their expertise as well as incorporate new knowledge to elevate the level of patient care. The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) awarded Upstate Medical University’s CME program accreditation with commendation for six years, through November 2019, as a provider of continuing medical education for physicians. This accreditation seeks to assure the public that Upstate provides physicians with the most relevant, effective, practice-based content that supports health care quality improvement across the United States. “The receipt of Accreditation with Commendation from the ACCME was the culmination of 18 months of effort on the part of our office,” said Paul Grover, Upstate’s associate dean of continuing medical education. “We believe it accurately reflects the quality of our CME programing as well as the dedication and clinical expertise of our faculty.” Activities sponsored by the Upstate CME program conform to the ACCME essential areas and elements, with the intent to enhance physician knowledge and lead to more positive patient outcomes. The CME program analyzes needs assessment data and actively seeks out programming that fills identified practice gaps. This process allows the program to deliver the exact content that physicians need to provide the best, most up-to-date care possible. More than 20 million health care providers participate in ACCME-accredited CME programming annually February 2014 •

tion health management projects. Kronenberg joined IACNY, a 20-member provider group, in 2001, becoming managing partner in 2005. In 2010, IACNY became part of Crouse Medical Practice, PLLC, and Kronenberg was appointed medical director. He is also a board member of the Health Alliance PO. “Physician integration and partnership development has been one of our strategic focus areas over the past year,” says Crouse CEO Kimberly Boynton. “This critically important role within the Crouse care delivery network reflects our continued commitment to building on hospital/physician alignment efforts made to date and further positioning Crouse for the future.” Kronenberg, son of former Crouse CEO Paul Kronenberg, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He attended medical school and did his residency and chief residency in internal medicine at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. Kronenberg resides in Manlius with his wife and four children.

in the United States. The program at Upstate has been accredited since 1978, first by the liaison committee on continuing medical education and then by its successor, the ACCME.

Fitness studio Method 360 reopens in E. Syracuse Studio fitness Method 360 has recently reopened in the former Strength in Motion location off Bridge Street, next to Rico’s restaurant in East Syracuse. Method 360 offers workouts designed to prevent injury and enhance clients’ outside activities, including races & athletics. Owner Trish Gallen believes that people would embrace exercise “if it was treated less like torture and more like a lifestyle,” she said, adding that “knowing what works and what doesn’t is half the battle. I wish someone told me how this stuff actually worked a long time ago. I had it all wrong for 20 years.” Gallen, a certified personal trainer and wellness coach, studied fitness at The American Academy of Personal Training (AAPT) in Boston, the only nationally accredited personal training academy in the Northeast. Gallen graduated at the top of her class there and then moved back to the Syracuse area three years ago with a dream to open her own studio. Her dream has now become a reality. Method 360 will be celebrating its grand opening in April 2014. For more information, visit HYPERLINK “”

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 21

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Health News Merger announced: St. Joseph’s Physicians and St. Joseph’s Imaging St. Joseph’s Physicians, an affiliate of St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, and St. Joseph’s Imaging (SJI) announced they have entered into a joint venture agreement to provide outpatient imaging services to the Central New York community effective Jan. 1. Founded in 1976, SJI is an independent physician-owned company offering comprehensive radiology services throughout Central New York. As an initial result of this collaboration, the imaging offices at North and Northeast Medical Centers will expand their hours to accommodate patients’ needing services in the evening. “We’re thrilled about this partnership because it will increase access to imaging services for our patients,” said Fred Letourneau, senior vice president of St. Joseph’s physician enterprise. “With the addition of SJI’s seven convenient locations, our patients will have easy access to highly skilled radiologists, the latest imaging technology and compassionate care for their imaging needs.” The arrangement calls for SJI to manage St. Joseph’s outpatient medical imaging services, allowing for a more efficient and cost-effective approach to patient care. “This partnership is the result of a

longstanding relationship between SJI and St. Joseph’s,” said Olga Stanton, practice administrator for SJI. “We are pleased to work together with our community’s leading healthcare institution to continue providing the high level of care our imaging patients have grown accustomed to.”

OCO accepted into capacity building initiative Oswego County Opportunities, Inc. (OCO) is one of six Central New York nonprofits selected to participate in the Gifford Foundation’s fourth round of a major capacity building initiative. ADVANS, or Advancing and Developing the Value and Assets of Nonprofits in Syracuse, was started by the foundation in 2007. ADVANS 4 will include more than $500,000 committed to six nonprofits — including OCO — from Onondaga, Oswego and Cayuga counties. Between December 2013 and December 2015 OCO will undertake an intensive assessment and capacity planning process and will receive roughly $70,000 in grants and consulting services. ADVANS follows the organizational capacity model developed by physician Susan Kenny Stevens as outlined in the book “Nonprofit Lifecycles: Stage-based Wisdom for Nonprofit Capacity.”

Springside at Seneca Hill An Affiliate of Oswego Health

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2014

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February 2014 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2014

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