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CNYHEALTH.COM

APRIL 2020 • ISSUE 244

CORONAVIRUS Getting on with our lives in this new age Special Issue

Beware of Coronavirus Scams P. 17

Autismn: Why Are Incidence Rates So High? RECORD NUMBER OF PEDESTRIAN DEATHS IN U.S.

Local experts discuss the dramatic increase in cases of autism in the U.S.

Study estimates 6,590 pedestrian deaths in 2019, an increase of 5% over previous years

The Amazing Benefits of Olive Oil

P. 12

Summer Camp What type of camp should you choose if your child has allergies or asthma?

P. 7


EMERGENCY SERVICES

Why more people say …

#TakeMeToCrouse One Team. Second to None. More than 150 experienced, passionate emergency medicine physicians, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, social workers, care managers and support staff.

Cardiac Emergencies. We Put Our Heart into Saving Yours. •

Door-to-cardiac treatment times among the lowest in the region

Only area hospital designated by American Heart Association (AHA) as a Mission: Lifeline Gold provider

Strong teamwork with our local and regional EMS partners

Joseph Battaglia, MD Chief of Cardiology Miron Cardiac Care Center

Comprehensive Stroke Center “Crouse is the place you go when you have a stroke.

It’s that simple.”

One of just 15 in New York State

Aggressive door-to-treatment times exceed national average

Earned Gold Plus–Elite Honor Roll status from AHA

— CNY musician Todd Hobin

Proud to be the official healthcare provider of Syracuse Athletics. Best of luck this season to Coach Boeheim and the Orange! #CrouseForTheCuse ®

crouse.org Page 2

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • April 2020


Record Number of Pedestrian Deaths Seen in U.S.

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alking on America’s streets is getting ever more dangerous, a new report shows. Based on data from the first six months of 2019, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) predicts there were 6,590 pedestrian deaths that year, which would be a 5% increase over the 6,227 pedestrian deaths in 2018. The 2019 figure is the highest number of such deaths in more than 30 years, according to the association. “In the past 10 years, the number of pedestrian fatalities on our nation’s roadways has increased by more than 50%,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “This alarming trend signifies that we need to consider all the factors involved in this rise, identify the high-risk areas, allocate resources where they’re needed most, and continue to work with local law enforcement partners to address the chronic driver violations that contribute to pedestrian crashes,” Adkins said in an association news release. Pedestrians are projected to account for 17% of all traffic deaths in 2019, compared to 12% in 2009, according to the GHSA’s annual Spotlight on Highway Safety report, released in February. While there’s been a significant increase in pedestrian deaths over

the past decade, the number of all other traffic deaths increased by only 2%. Overall, traffic deaths in the first half of 2019 are projected to be 3.4% lower than in the first half of 2018, according to the report. A number of factors are contributing to the rise in pedestrian deaths. Most pedestrian deaths occur on local roads, at night and away from intersections, suggesting the need for safer road crossings and making pedestrians and vehicles more visible, the GHSA said. Over the past 10 years, the number of nighttime pedestrian deaths increased by 67%, compared to a 16% increase in daytime pedestrian deaths. Dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding, and distracted and drowsy driving threaten pedestrians, and alcohol impairment by the driver or pedestrian was reported in nearly half of pedestrian fatalities in 2018. Pedestrians struck by a large SUV are twice as likely to die as those struck by a car. Passenger cars are the largest category of vehicles involved in pedestrian deaths, but pedestrian deaths over the past decade involving SUVs increased at a faster rate (81%) than those involving passenger cars (53%).

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Onondaga, Oswego, Cayuga and Madison Counties

CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

A monthly newspaper published by Local News, Inc. 35,000 copies distributed throughout more than 1,000 high traffic locations, including all Wegmans stores.

Discover the Secret... Teacher Loses 33 pounds, Learns to Love Retirement I’m Peg Markham, and I’m retired from the Baldwinsville Schools. I WORE A SACK For my retirement party, I had to wear a sack. I had thought I looked better than I did in the pictures of the event. I was never able to wear the bathing suit I wanted, never the dress I wanted. NAGGING PROBLEM I always thought, “My life is perfect, but I’d like to lose 35 pounds.” I exercised daily, but couldn’t control my eating. PAIN I started getting problems. I had knee and heel problems. High cholesterol. I felt less pretty, less sexy. I TRIED MANY TIMES I wondered, “What’s wrong with me? I’d give anything to lose weight!” I tried commercial programs and counting calories. I often lost weight, but it always came back. DOCTOR-APPROVED I asked my physician. He said he had many patients who had success with Alternative Hypnosis. I WAS SKEPTICAL I thought I couldn’t be hypno-

tized. I thought people would control me. It’s not like that at all. FREE NO-PRESSURE SCREENING I got in right away for my free screening. I was impressed at how thorough and no-pressure it was. I decided that very day that Alternative Hypnosis was right for me. There was no pressure and everything was explained. I’VE KEPT 33 POUNDS OFF My heel and knee problems went away. I can bend over again. It’s much easier to do things: housework, walking, shoveling. My cholesterol came down. This time, I’ve stayed at my goal weight. After Alternative Hypnosis, I know I’ll never have a weight problem again, guaranteed. HYPNOSIS HELPED ME DO WHAT I KNEW I NEEDED TO DO Hypnosis helped me to get control of food and increase my exercise. When I need to eat, it’s usually healthy. REASONABLE FEES To be healthy and the size you want to be the rest of your life is almost priceless. CALL THEM NOW! I give Alternative Hypnosis all the credit and recommend them all the time. It’s like I’m on a soap box. I never lost weight for good until I went there!

MORE RESULTS…. “So far, I have lost 77 pounds. I recommend this program very highly.” Ella Mae – Machine Operator “I have lost over 90 pounds and changed my life.” Michael Poirier – Customer Service, Clay “After three weeks, I lost 12 pounds and blew my physician away with my lowered blood pressure.” Don McMaster – IT Manager “This time I know I can maintain the weight loss permanently” Melody Mariani – Educator, Syracuse

“Now I’m eating apples again.” Kathleen Veri - Retired LPNPhlebotomist, Syracuse “I had gastric bypass, and I was sabotaging the surgery. Hypnosis helped achieve the things I wanted with my weight.” Jean Ferguson Retired, Auburn

QUIT NICOTINE, TOO! “I don’t crave cigarettes. Quitting has been so easy, I don’t need their free rehypnosis.” Alexandra – Fitness Provider, Syracuse

In Good Health is published 12 times a year by Local News, Inc. © 2019 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: Deborah Sergeant, Jim Miller, Gwenn Voelckers, Deborah Banikowski, George W. Chapman, Anne Palumbo, Melissa Stefanec, Chris Motola, Eva Briggs (M.D.), Ernst Lamothe Jr., Payne Horning, Brooke Stacia DeMott, John Addyman, Norb Rug • Advertising: Amy Gagliano, Cassandra Lawson Layout & Design: Dylon Clew-Thomas • Office Manager: Nancy Nitz 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.

Stress • Smoking • Pain • Health FREE NO RISK SCREENING

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Meet

Your Doctor

By Chris Motola

Angelo DeRosalia, M.D. Urologist and new chairman of Associated Medical Professionals (A.M.P.) wants to expand urologic services beyond CNY region

Doctors’ Ratings Tank When Patients Are Kept Waiting: Study

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ick-tock: A long delay in the waiting room annoys some patients so much that they give their doctors lower ratings, a new study finds. “Waiting to see the doctor is not like waiting in line for a fun ride at Disney World,” said senior author, physician Oren Gottfried, a professor of neurosurgery at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. He and his colleagues analyzed 15 months of patient ratings after more than 27,000 visits to 22 spine surgeons at Duke University practices. The average clinic visit lasted about 85 minutes, the study found. Every 10-minute increase in waiting time reduced patient scores for overall visit experience and the doctor’s communication by 3%. “While a medical visit is important, it does not have the positive feedback of an amusement park ride where a two-hour wait seems worth it for even a short ride,” Gottfried said in a university news release. “This isn’t entirely surprising, but our data shows it’s something doctors need to be aware of and should manage.” The researchers took waiting room times, in-room times, electronic health record responses and patient demographics into consideration for the study. “Anytime you can improve scores by 3%, that’s big,” Gottfried said. “So if 10 minutes in the waiting room means a drop of 3%, that something that should be addressed, because it’s hard to make up for that in the actual doctor-patient visit.” The study was published online Feb. 21 in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.

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Q: You’re the new chairman and CEO of Associated Medical Professionals (A.M.P.). Can you describe the organization? A: A.M.P. is a group of physicians that provides urologic care, radiation oncology care, pathology and other health services to Central New York. We have been in existence for over 10 years, continually growing, continuing to meet the demands of the community. We provide the most up-to-date, cutting edge, minimally invasive treatment options for patients with urologic and oncologic conditions. Q: You’re also chief of urology services at St. Joe’s. Does your group mainly work with them? A: We’re affiliated with a number of hospital systems in and around Syracuse, from Auburn in the west, to New Hartford in the east, and Oswego in the north. Q: What kinds of services do you offer? A: We’re proud to be the premier robotic urology group in Central New York. We have minimally invasive radiotherapy techniques for treatments of prostate cancer. We have physicians who are considered clinicians of excellence when it comes to treatment of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) with minimally invasive techniques. We perform minimally invasive surgeries for female urinary incontinence and female urologic conditions. We also have particular expertise in management of kidney stones and bladder cancer. We are also proud of our up-to-date research department, which ensures patients receive

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • April 2020

the most up-to-date care. Q: In your own practice, what kinds of conditions do you end up treating? A: I deal with minimally invasive techniques for treatment of prostate cancer, bladder cancer, prostatic enlargement and kidney stones. Q: When you’re talking about minimally invasive techniques for those types of issues, what kinds of approaches are we talking about? A: We use the daVinci robot; we perform minimally invasive procedures for enlarged prostate with procedures such as UroLift. For kidney stones, we’re able to use ultrasonic methods to break up stones. We have the most up-to-date holmium laser here in Syracuse, which is also used to break up kidney stones. Q: As far urology in Central New York goes, I know for a long time it was a scarce specialty. To what degree has that been addressed, and what role has A.M.P. played in doing so? A: We’ve grown the company from five or six providers up to 45 providers with more than 300 employees. We see 130,000 patient-visits annually. We performed 5,900 surgical procedures last year, with over 450 of them being robotic procedures using the daVinci system. We’ve treated 560 oncology patients annually with advanced radiotherapy techniques. A couple more numbers: we perform 2,000 prostate biopsies annually. We perform 1,900 kidney stones procedures annually. We have over 60 ongoing clinical trials. We were

able to do that through 10 locations throughout the area. Q: How do you divide your time between administration and clinical work? A: When I became a physician I went into it with the love of caring for patients and that is something I’ll continue to do. My true love is taking care of patients. I will continue seeing patients in my office and I will be spending a portion of my time doing administrative work to help my team move forward in the future; so a couple days a week I’ll be doing that. Q: What plans do you have to grow or shape A.M.P.? A: I want to continue what we’ve accomplished as the premier provider of clinical services for the disease conditions that we treat in the region. We hope to be able to provide our high standard of care to other regions as we go forward, because there’s such a need for our services in the outlying areas. We want to facilitate patients having an excellent clinical experience from the time they call for an appointment until their conditions are treated and their needs are met. Q: As far as extending your services into outlying areas, how do you prepare your infrastructure for that? A: We have a great team, from the physicians to the advanced practice providers, administrative and clerical teams. We’re all highly specialized and capable of helping some of the surrounding regions. We continue to have new talent join our practice, and we’re excited to bring some of the care we provide to local patients to patients in the outlying areas.

Lifelines

Name: Angelo DeRosalia, M.D. Position: Chief of urology Services at St. Joseph’s Hospital and chairman and CEO of Associated Medical Professionals Hometown: Port Jefferson, New York Education: a Bachelor of Sciences degree from Cornell University followed by his medical degree from the SUNY Stony Brook. He then completed his surgical and urological training at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, affiliated with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Affiliations: St. Joseph’s Hospital; Crouse Hospital; University Hospital Organizations: American Board of Urology; American Urological Association Family: Three children Hobbies: Fishing, hiking

Urologist Angelo DeRosalia on March 1 became the new chairman and CEO of Associated Medical Professionals (A.M.P.), a multispecialty medical practice with more than 50 providers, 325 support staff and 10 offices. A.M.P. provides service to nine hospital systems across five counties in Central New York. DeRosalia, who also serves as chief of the urology service at St. Joseph’s Hospital, has been with the practice since it was formed in 2008. In the last 10 years, he has contributed to pioneering minimally invasive treatments that have placed A.M.P. at the forefront of innovation, according to a news release. He is a recipient of numerous awards and the author of several publications. DeRosalia has made presentations at multiple national annual American Urological Association meetings as well as the New York Academy of Medicine.


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Healthcare in a Minute By George W. Chapman

COVID-19: NYS Approves $40 Million Emergency Response Package

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ew York state has issued a directive prohibiting any insurer, including Medicaid, from charging a member for any out-of-pocket costs related to testing for the virus or any related visits to a physician’s office or emergency department. Gov. Cuomo has also approved a $40 million emergency response package. Self-insured plans are not regulated by NYS, but they would be wise to follow suit. Most commercial carriers have indicated they will follow suit and not charge

their members. The federal government has budgeted $8.3 billion to combat the virus. (As of this writing in mid-March there is a huge shortage of testing kits.) Federal spending goes toward: removing restrictions for treatment via telemedicine; reimbursing states for the virus response and preparedness; buying drugs, masks and personal protection for healthcare workers; and funds for caregivers and communities facing the brunt of the virus.

Amazon’s Huge Influence

intelligence and IT expertise to alter the entire healthcare delivery system. Industry observers believe Amazon will have the same impact on brickand-mortar providers as it did on stores. In lieu of the dire predictions of a physician shortage, Amazon could considerably reduce the deficit with increased automation and artificial intelligence.

Just as Amazon changed the way we shop, resulting in the closure of 9,000 brick-and-mortar stores last year alone, so it is changing the way we receive medical care. It is opening primary care clinics, virtual medical services and an online pharmacy called PillPack. Amazon is working on an Alexa-based program whereby consumers can query drug interactions and side effects as well as manage their meds. Information will be updated regularly. The company is also working on clinical speech recognition whereby provider-patient conversations will automatically be documented in the medical record. This will have a significant impact on “he said, she said” conversations. Amazon has the wherewithal, size, money, supply chain, artificial

ACA in Limbo

The fate of the Affordable Care Act remains up in the air. It won’t be determined by the Supreme Court until mid-2021 or later. Consequently, the delay exacerbates and prolongs the uncertainty and anxiety for insurers, providers and enrolled consumers. The makeup of the Supreme Court has shifted since it

last upheld the ACA over a challenge regarding premium subsidies for the indigent five years ago. Last year, a court of appeals ruled the individual mandate was unconstitutional, but did not conclude the entire law was unconstitutional. Mostly “blue” states are challenging the entire law and therefore sending the issue to the Supreme Court. Politics pervades all decision-making in Washington.  

Experience Counts

Hospitals establish minimum volume standards (experience) for every procedure performed before granting a surgeon specific operating privileges. The bigger the hospital and medical staff, the more likely higher volume standards will be required. According to the independent hospital safety watch group “Leapfrog,” the majority of 2,100 hospitals surveyed are performing high-risk procedures with inadequate volume standards. The AHA and CMS are looking into this. In the meantime, it is perfectly acceptable for a patient to ask a physician for her or his experience with a particular procedure.    

Non-college-Educated Worker “Deaths of Despair” Up

A study conducted by Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton found that “deaths of despair” — caused by alcoholism, drug abuse, suicides, depression, obesity — are soaring among America’s non-college educated workers. Similar deaths among the college-educated workers have remained stable. The escalating death rate has occurred primarily over the past three decades. This phenomena is April 2020 •

explained in their new book titled, “Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism.” Similarly, advanced countries in Europe are not experiencing this awful trend. Authors Case and Deaton point out that middle-class incomes have stagnated more in the US than other industrialized countries. Exacerbating the problem is our expensive healthcare system which impacts lower paid workers more by draining resources that could be spent on other things which would improve their lives. The “deaths of despair” among the non-college educated workers are up across all ages and races. The study found a growing number of these workers are finding it increasingly difficult to socialize or exercise because of chronic physical or mental conditions. The study found that most non-college educated Americans have decreased feelings of identity or pride with their employer. The authors believe the solutions are obvious, but will be difficult. Our medical system needs to put a higher priority on the health versus wealth of our citizens. Students who graduate from college, including technical schools, make more money and do better in life overall.  

George W. Chapman is a healthcare business consultant who works exclusively with physicians, hospitals and healthcare organizations. He operates GW Chapman Consulting based in Syracuse. Email him at gwc@gwchapmanconsulting.com.

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Live Alone & Thrive

By Gwenn Voelckers

Practical tips, advice and hope for those who live alone

Alone and Content: Finding Your ‘True North’

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’ve discovered that a key to living alone successfully is to determine who you really are and what you want from life. My own path to contentment took some time, some growing pains — setbacks as well as successes — and some aching losses before I found my “true north.” It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been well worth the journey. The reward has been a life on my own filled with more peace, freedom and joy than I could have imagined. The journey began with a set of soul-searching questions to identify and clarify my beliefs, values, likes and dislikes. I was careful to focus on what matters to me and to steer clear of “shoulds” and other people’s agendas. The result? I created a list of personal principles and preferences that illuminated the way forward and shaped my future as a self-sufficient, independent women. Now, in the happy third chapter of my life, I am comfortable being me and expressing my true self. In no particular order, below are just a few examples of my insights (some profound, others practical and a few whimsical) that have inspired and guided me: • Gratitude, forgiveness, and loving kindness are life staples to embrace, practice and model on a daily basis. • Gathering with friends and family around a fire, indoors or out, enhances life. It’s warm, relaxing and hypnotic — a life essential in my book. • If I am unhappy with an aspect

of my life and choose to stick with the status quo, nothing will get better. • A stick shift is, hands-down, superior to an automatic transmission. Driving is so much more fun. It’s all I’ve ever owned. • Hardship, failure and loss can build strength and self-awareness. Taking time and turning inward can create space for reflection and renewal of the spirit. Remember: after rain there are rainbows. • An honest-to-goodness listener (not a pretend listener) melts my heart. • Music makes life better. I enjoy playing and listening to all genres of music, but I always return to the Great American Songbook. • As an introvert, solitude, nature and meditation recharge my batteries. • Letting go of old ways of thinking, of a poor self-image, or of destructive thoughts or behaviors can free us up to embrace life’s blessings. • Gardening is a great teacher. Fertile ground exists in each of us, and a little planning, caretaking and patience can produce beautiful results. • Solo travel is an adventure not to be missed. It’s good for the mind, deepens the soul and fosters confidence. • Living alone doesn’t mean being alone. We are social beings. We need each other. Relationships are the glue. Compiling my full list of insights took time and thought. For those coming out of a long relationship, de-

s d i K Corner

1 in 4 Gets Unneeded Antibiotics at Children’s Hospitals

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ne-quarter of kids who receive antibiotics in U.S. children’s hospitals are given the drugs inappropriately, which increases the risk of antibiotic resistance, researchers say. “Antibiotic resistance is a growing danger to everyone; however,

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there is limited data on children,” said study co-author, physician Jason Newland, a professor of pediatrics at Washington University in St. Louis. “Data on adults have suggested that 30%-50% of antibiotics used in hospitalized adults is inappropriate,” Newland noted in a university news

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • April 2020

termining or rediscovering “who you really are” can be a daunting process. After years of focusing on the needs and desires of a spouse and family, many discover that, somewhere along the way, they have disappeared around the edges and lost their own sense of self. Rediscovering yourself and identifying those things that bring joy and meaning into your life can turn living alone into an adventure of the spirit. Once you establish your individual interests and means of self-expression, you may find that time alone and the silent moments between events no longer feels empty. Below is an exercise to help you get back in touch with your true self. These are but a few of the questions to contemplate on your road to self-discovery. Spend some time answering these 10 questions 1. Search back. What hobbies did you pursue as a child that gave you joy? What did you do particularly well or (perhaps secretly) take pride in? 2. More recently, when do you completely lose yourself in something? What activities make you feel alive and complete, as though nothing is missing? 3. What do you hold most dear? 4. How do you want to be remembered? 5. What is your biggest regret? If you could have a “do-over,” what would you do differently? 6. How would your life change (or get better) if you were a more curious person? 7. What brings tears to your eyes? 8. If you were to dedicate your life and resources to a particular release. He said the goal of the study was to determine if antibiotics used to treat hospitalized children were “suboptimal.” That means doctors shouldn’t have prescribed any antibiotics; they could have used a more effective antibiotic; or they could have prescribed a different dose or for a shorter duration. “Health care workers must be vigilant since the inappropriate use of antibiotics is fueling dangerous drug resistance in children,» said Newland, who directs the antimicrobial stewardship program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. About one in three patients in U.S. children’s hospitals receives one or more antibiotics, the researchers said in background notes. They analyzed data from nearly 12,000 patients at 32 U.S. children’s hospitals. The kids were prescribed one or more antibiotics to treat or prevent infections. Of those patients, 25% — or nearly 3,600 — received at least one antibiotic considered inappropriate, according to the study. The most common cases of inappropriate antibiotic use were: giving the wrong antibiotic for a particular infection (27%); prolonged antibiotic

cause or charity, what would it be? 9. What does your perfect day look like? 10. How do you want to describe yourself and your life a year from now? Then, take action After answering these questions, ask yourself how you can use these insights to influence the direction of your life. What can you do today to reconnect with a past love or pursuit, to delve more deeply into an existing interest, or to fulfill a new passion or purpose? When you identify your values and the things you love to do, and pursue them, you will feel more integrated and in touch with your true self. You’ll be spending your time immersed in pursuits that bring you personal satisfaction — pursuits that reinforce who you are and who you want to become. Those of us who live alone have the gift of abundant time to ourselves. Use it wisely. Use the time to get to know yourself all over again. With each passing day, I am confident you’ll find your internal compass, unique to you, pointing north – your true north.

Gwenn Voelckers leads Alone and Content empowerment workshops for women held in Mendon and is the author of “Alone and Content: Inspiring, empowering essays to help divorced and widowed women feel whole and complete on their own.” For information about workshops, to purchase her book, or invite her to speak, call 585-624-7887, email gvoelckers@rochester.rr.com, or visit www.aloneandcontent.com. use after surgery to prevent surgical-site infections (17%); unnecessary use of antibiotics (11%); and use of broad-spectrum antibiotics when a drug that targets a specific type of bacteria could have been used (11%). Pneumonia, or lower respiratory infections, accounted for the greatest percentage of suboptimal prescriptions — 18%. The researchers also found that about half of inappropriate antibiotic use would not have been detected by current antibiotic stewardship programs designed to prevent antibiotic resistance. “Arguably, this is one of the most important findings because it helps us to identify blind spots in antimicrobial stewardship programs,” Newland said. “Antibiotics currently not targeted for review still have a significant need for oversight. The obvious solution is to expand routine reviews to include all antibiotics. Unfortunately, this is resource-intensive and may not be feasible at some hospitals,” he pointed out. The study was recently published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.


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Which Type of Summer Camp Should You Choose for Your Child with Allergies or Asthma?

Vegan and Gluten Free Menu Traditional Brazilian Menu Italian and American Menu

Ensure a successful summer by choosing a camp that’s a good fit for your child’s symptoms

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hen choosing the right summer camp for your child with allergies or asthma, it’s not just about whether they prefer horseback riding to sailing. It’s more about figuring out what kind of program best fits your child’s medical needs related to allergy and asthma symptoms. “Parents and kids alike who are dealing with asthma or severe allergies need to know there’s a good fit and that the child’s medical needs are being met,” says allergist J. Allen Meadows, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Take the time to research camps you think your child will enjoy and ask the hard questions to make sure your child will be well cared for.” Below are suggestions from ACAAI on how to narrow down your camp selection while keeping your child’s allergies and asthma in mind. 1. Consider a specialty camp — If you’re worried that a regular sleepaway or day camp might not be fully prepared to handle your child’s allergies and asthma, consider a specialty camp. Increasingly, there are camps focused solely on kids with asthma, and camps that deal specifically with food allergies. These camps provide specialized medical and non-medical staff who understand how to treat allergic diseases. An internet search should turn up a camp in your area that can provide the special focus your camper might need. 2. Maybe day camp is a better option — If you and your camper are both concerned about the possibility of a severe allergic reaction or asthma flare, a day camp may be a better option — particularly for a younger child. Most day camps have provisions in place to keep kids with allergies and asthma safe. They welcome discussions about what your child can and cannot eat, and what they need to have on hand in case of a severe allergic reaction, or an asthma attack. Make sure the camp you choose has dealt with allergies and asthma before, knows where the

nearest hospital is and how to get there, and is aware of the specific needs of your child. 3. Wherever they go, they’ll need to eat — Food is a big part of any camp experience, particularly sleepaway camp. If your child has a food allergy, talk with the kitchen staff to make sure no areas exist where cross contamination can occur. Find out how the camp monitors and communicates food allergy information and determine whether that works for you and your child. If your child will be attending day camp, send a bag lunch to guarantee they will be eating safe foods. Remind them that eating other kids’ food is never okay. 4. Talk with your allergist before deciding — Your allergist may have insights into which type of program will best suit your child. They can also offer tips on communicating with camp personnel about your child’s medications and specific allergy or asthma treatments. Your allergist should confirm prescriptions are up to date, symptoms are under control and dosing hasn’t changed over the school year. They can also provide a personalized plan for you to share with the camp to help your child have the great experience they deserve. 5. Everybody ready? — You can help the camp staff and administration be prepared by communicating your child’s health needs well in advance. If asthma makes some activities difficult for your child, let their counselor know. Ask the camp what level of physical activities will be involved, what the focus of each day will be and how meals are handled. And convey your expectations to the camp. Tell the staff how you want your child’s medical routine handled and discuss what your child needs in order to fully participate in all activities. To ensure your child has a great summer, do some advance preparation to make sure the camp you select can meet medical needs while allowing for a great camping experience.

3866 State Route 13, Pulaski

315.935.0232

casabrazilrestaurant@gmail.com

Recognizing the important work of our laboratory professionals Medical Laboratory Professionals Week April 19 to 25 celebrates medical laboratory professionals and pathologists who play a vital role in health care and patient advocacy. The laboratory report and the people behind the report are critical players in the diagnostic process. While most patients do not have contact with the laboratory professionals, they play key roles in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease. Join us in recognizing our laboratory professionals. They possess a wealth of knowledge and are invaluable part of the pathology and laboratory medicine healthcare team. Rarely seen by patients, they have enormous impact on the delivery of quality patient care.

April 2020 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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My Turn

By Eva Briggs

Welcome to Spring, the Start of the Allergy Season These are five things you need to know about it

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elcome to spring, which means that first tree pollen and then grass pollen seasons are ramping up. So, it’s a good time to answer a few questions about allergies. Is it true that if you take an antihistamine for a long time to treat nasal allergies (allergic rhinitis), it will stop working and you will need to switch to a different one? The answer is no. If an antihistamine seems to lose its potency as the season progresses, it could be the pollen count has increased. You may need a stronger antihistamine. Available antihistamines, from most to least potent, are diphenhydramine (Benadryl), cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), desloratadine (Clarinex), and least potent is loratadine (Claritin). While diphenhydramine has the strongest effect, it causes the most drowsiness and wears off the fastest.

1.

Or you may need additional medicines. Nasal steroid sprays are the most effective treatment. Are some breeds of dog really hypoallergenic? No, because it’s not the fur (or hair, more on that later) that triggers allergies. Proteins found in saliva, flakes of skin (dander) and urine trigger allergies. Some people insist that their dogs have hair not fur, but they’re made of the same protein, keratin. Hair is simply a form of fur that spends a longer time in the growth phase producing a longer growth cycle and lower shedding. A 2012 study compared the level of Can-1 protein, a major dog allergen, between six hypoallergenic dog breeds and 47 non-hypoallergenic dog breeds. The levels of allergens on the floor and in the air were no different. Non-shedding breeds have their pluses, but they still emit just as many allergens.

2.

Careers in Healthcare

3.

Should highly allergenic foods, such as peanuts, be avoided in children before age 12 months? That’s not necessary in most cases. The best practice is breast milk or formula for children 4 to 6 months. Then introduce food that are not highly allergenic. And when those are tolerated, it’s OK to try allergenic foods such as peanut. Within reason, of course, such as a bit of peanut butter or peanut flour mixed with banana. Not whole peanuts, which are a choking hazard or straight peanut butter. High risk infants — those with severe eczema or egg allergy — should be tested first for peanut allergy. It turns out that children introduced to peanuts early were less likely to develop peanut allergies. Can children younger than 2 be tested for allergies? Yes. An allergist can administer a skin prick test to a child of any age. But to

4.

develop an allergy requires previous exposure. If I am allergic to pollen must I avoid all flowers? No, because not all flowers produce high airborne pollen counts. If fact, here are some flowers that spring pollen allergy sufferers can stop and smell: hydrangea, roses, tulips, carnations, daffodils, hyacinth, peonies, snapdragons, and irises.

5.

Eva Briggs is a medical doctor who works at two urgent care centers in the Syracuse region.

Home Health Aide:

A Career of Compassion Career is in high demand — need for HHA should continue for many years By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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he Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the job title of home health aide (HHA) should increase by 36%, “much faster than average” compared with other employment between 2018 and 2028. The BLS described the job duties of a home health aide as, “Provide routine individualized healthcare such as changing bandages and dressing wounds, and applying topical medications to the elderly, convalescents, or persons with disabilities at the patient’s home or in a care facility. Monitor or report changes in health status. May also provide personal care such as bathing, dressing, and grooming of patient.” Beyond the ability to help with clients’ activities of daily living, Andrea Lazarek-LaQuay, chief clinical officer at Nascentia Health based in Syracuse, looks for in applicants “the ‘caring gene,’” she said. “That has a lot to do with it.” She has worked as a nurse manager and recently had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with some Nascentia patients. “It reminded me once again why we do what we do,” Lazarek-LaQuay said. “Providing care to someone who needs help to get through their

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day is so personally rewarding in and of itself. These HHAs are standing in the gap for so many of these patients.” She said that many times, the patient care involves dressing and bathing, but not as much about taking medication. However, HHAs work to make sure both happen. “I wish people realized their role,” Lazarek-LaQuay said. “There’s so much satisfaction. The skill set these aides have is greatly appreciated. It’s so rewarding to help individuals maintain their independence and dignity at home. It’s a wonderful thing to contribute to that. People who haven’t thought about being a home care provider, this is a great opportunity to be part of something that will become a mainstay, much larger than it used to be.” A starting salary of $31,870 is the average for HHAs in the Syracuse area — quite a bit above minimum wage for a job that requires only inhouse, paid classes for training for a few weeks. “It is a wonderful entry point to see if someone likes health care,” said Karen Anthony, director of clinical operations and administrator of Loretto’s home health agency who

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • April 2020

oversees the HHA training program. “They would learn a lot of practical information they can apply to their own lives, like bed making, infection control, communication and how to take care of someone. It gives you the opportunity to observe other people in healthcare roles like LPNs and RNs.” Nearly all of Loretto’s HHA class members pass the organization’s three-week HHA class. Following completion of the class, new employees complete orientation on the job and are assigned a peer mentor. Loretto offers free classes such as the pre-LPN assistant course. Lo-

retto also offers reimbursement for locally-offered classes to become a medical assistant, physical therapy aid, LPN or RN. While the HHA classes teach skills is essential for the job, Anthony said that the having the “soft skills” of communication, compassion and good attitude “is very important.” She said that she has asked many aides over the years why the work is so fulfilling. “Their answer is pretty much the same: they get to help people who might otherwise be lonely,” Anthony said. “They can make a difference.”


Say hello to healthy.

66 dedicated physicians and healthcare providers. Say hello to a more convenient way to stay healthy in Oswego County. ConnextCare offers a comprehensive set of services family and internal medicine, pediatrics, dentistry, psychiatry, social work under one medical group. Patients within our network can now visit any of the six locations at any time. And because we’re seamlessly connected, our staff can access your medical records at the touch of a button. It’s a faster, more convenient and easier way to keep yourself and your family healthy.

Learn more at connextcare.org — or better yet, stop in to one of our six sites Located in Fulton, Mexico, Oswego, Parish, Phoenix, Pulaski and say hello.

April 2020 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Parenting By Melissa Stefanec

MelissaStefanec@yahoo.com

Sticks and Stones Can Break a Screen

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s screens demand more and more of our attention, many people are looking for ways to spend less time basking in blue light. Whether you’re a critic or supporter of the ever-expanding kingdom of technology, one thing in certain: technology is inescapable. We have to live with it. However, technology needs to be moderated. As parents, we need to recognize and monitor how our families use and consume it. For the sake of our children, we have to regulate it like the drug it is — helpful in small doses and destructive in large quantities. The case for moderation In my day job, I work for a technology company. I spend all day thinking about Google. Technology is my livelihood. However, I recognize that good things, when left unchecked, quickly distract and eventually destruct. This is especially true for young people who lack the brainpower to self-regulate. However, we can’t fool ourselves into thinking our children can ignore technology. From their education, to

their careers, they will use technology in ways we never dreamed of. They will develop it, employ it and push its abilities to new limits. Our children have to be technology savvy; their success and futures will depend on it. So, we have to teach them how to use it and control their use of it. If we don’t teach them to use technology in moderation, they will likely overuse it throughout their lives.

Tenants of healthy technology use How we let our children engage with technology is an extremely complex topic. There are so many resources out there for parents. If you search terms like “safe technology for kids,” you get a lot of helpful information. However, in my opinion, there are some overarching tenets for parents when it comes to younger kids and tech. (I’ll write the “teens and tech” column when I get closer to that point in my life.) We need to recognize technology inequality Not all technology is created

equal. We all know what low-brow media consumption looks like. We can’t equate an hour of a nonsensical cartoon with an hour of a nature show. We can’t equate an app that lets our kids smash walls with one that teaches them problem-solving skills. When our kids want to engage with technology, we should provide them with high-quality media. We need to set healthy time limits The road to technology escapism is paved with good intentions. No one plans to let their child play on a tablet for two hours. No one means to let their kid stream eight shows in a row, but technology is a great babysitter. However, as with any other babysitter, having one every night of the week isn’t necessary or healthy. When you set limits for them, let them know what those limits are. Then, they know what to expect. We need to teach them how people abuse technology Depending on the age of your kids, this one is tough. However, we need to teach our children to be “virtually” street smart from an early age. There are bad people in the world who want to do bad things to our children. It’s far more prevalent than anyone wants to think. Whether it’s a sex trafficker, pedophile or class bully, we need to protect them. However, we can’t be online with them forever. We need to educate them on the dangers of technology before it’s too late. The predators start grossly young. We need to monitor our own usage Children do what they see and repeat what they hear. If we mod-

el unhealthy technology use, our children will mirror it. Set up rules for your own technology use (one of ours is no phones at the dinner table) and follow those rules. Then, when it comes time for our kids to be independent users of technology, they will at least understand the expectations, even if they don’t want to follow them. Children quickly recognize hypocrisy. We need to be informed. If you are giving your child a new piece of technology, do your homework. Find out what ways people exploit that technology. Whether it’s video games, a watch, a phone or a tablet, get to know that device’s or app’s darkest secrets. We need to offer them alternatives It’s time to get back to the title of this article. Kids love doing things. We have to be willing to offer fun alternatives to technology. Last weekend, after a few long bouts of illness, I made my family get out for a winter walk. We want to visit the Erie Canal. It was cold, and the canal was partially iced over. My husband decided to start throwing sticks, stones and logs in the canal to crack the ice. My children loved it. I couldn’t get them to stop. We practically had to drag them back to the car. This is the sort of thing lasting memories are made of. When we ask our children to engage with the real world, we need to give them spaces and means to invent, imagine and create. This is what will wire their brains to employ technology. None of us want to raise servants.

TENS Offers Alternative to Pain Medication By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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f you suffer acute or chronic pain, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may provide an option for pain relief beyond prescriptions, according to local experts. TENS works by introducing a low dose of electricity to stimulate the tissues in the body. Essentially, that interrupts the body’s pain signal to the brain. The device attaches to the body through adhesive patches that connect with wires. “There’s clear evidence it can relieve pain and this has been used for many years,” said physician Az Tahir, who practices holistic medicine in Rochester. “It’s covered by many insurance companies because it works.” Tahir said that TENS has no side effects, except for allergy to the adhesive used in the pads, and few contraindications. People who are pregnant, have cancer, epilepsy or heart arrhythmia should ask their healthcare providers before using TENS. The devices are available over the counter and are used in provider’s offices.

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Those offering more diverse modalities for pain treatment often include TENS in among their methods. The main difference between clinical TENS units and home units are that health care providers use heavier duty models. Rachel Macri, doctor of physical therapy with Crouse Hospital Out-patient Physical Therapy, said that the basic physiology of TENS goes back to the Gate Theory of pain that asserts blocking the fast-acting nerve fibers from sending their message of pain can stop the progression of pain signals through the spinal cord. The pain relief from TENS tends to be short-term, which can help take the edge off a painful injury or condition; however,Macri said, “it’s a Band-Aid; it doesn’t address the mechanical issue. For temporary pain relief, it can help, but if it’s a chronic, ongoing issue, no research suggests TENS is good to address that pain.” Many people immediately rub a banged elbow. The rubbing lessens the feeling of pain by distracting the brain with a different sensation.

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • April 2020

That’s similar to how TENS works. Macri said that typically, her office doesn’t use TENS often as it can take as long as 10 minutes to set up and five minutes to take down, which isn’t as practical as other modalities. The use of TENS by a professional in a setting like her office isn’t typically covered by insurance. Since the units are small and lightweight, people can use them while undergoing physical activities if they wish, as long as the leads

can stay out of the way. As portable, non-medication pain relief, TENS can help them get through the day or make it through their physical therapy exercises. But users should not view TENS as a long-term solution to pain problems. “It is hard to assess your own body mechanics and limitations so it’s important to get screened if you have a continuation of the pain issue to address the root cause,” Macri said.


WE’VE DOUBLED OUR HEART TEAM Upstate is pleased to announce the addition of new physicians and office locations. Our united expertise brings you advanced technology and streamlined care.

THE CARDIOVASCULAR GROUP OF SYRACUSE HAS JOINED UPSTATE CARDIOLOGY FACULTY.

NEW PHYSICIANS FROM TOP LEFT:

Dana C. Aiello, MD Larry S. Charlamb, MD Mark J. Charlamb, MD Christopher A. Nardone, MD Matthew S. O’Hern, MD Charles Perla, MD Theresa Waters, DO Andrew M. Weinberg, DO

OUR TWO NEWEST OFFICE LOCATIONS 5112 WEST TAFT ROAD Suite J Liverpool • 315-701-2170 510 TOWNE DRIVE Fayetteville • 315-663-0500 90 PRESIDENTIAL PLAZA Syracuse • 315-464-9335 208 TOWNSHIP BLVD Camillus • 315-488-2372 102 WEST SENECA STREET Manlius • 315-464-9335 138 EAST GENESEE STREET Baldwinsville • 315-720-1305

As part of the Upstate Heart Institute, we

UPSTATE PHYSICIANS FROM LEFT:

provide connections to research and surgical care.

Timothy D. Ford, MD Luna Bhatta, MD Robert L. Carhart, Jr., MD Debanik Chaudhuri, MD Hani Kozman, MD Sakti Pada Mookherjee, MD Avneet Singh, MD Tama Szombathy, MD Amy Tucker, MD Daniel Villarreal, MD

3.5% UNINSURED RATE 35% LOWER

THAN THE NEW YORK STATE AVERAGE

61% LOWER

THAN THE NATIONAL AVERAGE

Upstate New York’s 2018 uninsured rate is among the lowest ever recorded. According to recently released numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, the uninsured rate in upstate New York was just 3.5 percent in 2018, compared with a New York state uninsured rate of 5.4 percent and a national rate of 8.9 percent. Low health-care costs are a key factor in upstate New York’s low uninsured rate.

For private insurance, Rochester and Syracuse are ranked as having among the lowest health care spending rates among 306 hospital referral regions across the country.* Upstate New York has a proud history of affordable, high-quality health care. It’s the result of regional partnerships and a commitment to nonprofit health care. It helps make our community a great place to live and work.

*Source: “The Experts Were Wrong About the Best Places for Better and Cheaper Health Care.” The New York Times, December 15, 2015 A nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

April 2020 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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SmartBites

By Anne Palumbo

The skinny on healthy eating

The Amazing Benefits of Olive Oil I don’t know about you, but I was raised on vegetable oil. Pale in color and neutral in flavor, it found its way into every dish or baked good that needed oil. Once out of the nest, it’s the oil I habitually reached for when I started cooking. But then, for nutritional reasons, I switched over to canola oil. Although canola oil and vegetable oil are both plant-based oils, they differ in their fat composition: canola oil is lower in saturated fat and richer in healthy fats. These days, however, my heart and hearth belong to olive oil — primarily the extra-virgin type referred to as EVOO. Ever since I read that people tend to live longer and healthier lives in regions where olive oil is a staple part of the diet, I decided to embrace one of the world’s healthiest oils. What makes olive oil so good for you? It’s rich in two important nutrients: heart-healthy unsaturated fats and disease-thwarting antioxidants. What makes EVOO particularly good? Because it’s less refined than regular olive oil, it’s notably higher in both. According to the American Heart Association, unsaturated fats — which include monounsaturat-

ed and polyunsaturated fats — can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by helping to lower bad cholesterol levels in your blood. When you choose to eat healthy fats over unhealthy fats (i.e., saturated and trans fats), you are doing your body good! Olive oil is especially high in monounsaturated fats, quite low in saturated fat, and has no trans fats. Olive oil stands apart from most oils because it boasts a unique and abundant combination of beneficial antioxidants. Antioxidants protect

Helpful tips Opt for EVOO whenever possible: it has fewer chemicals, more nutrition and a lot more flavor. Scour the label for the words “extra virgin” and “cold pressed” to get an assurance of quality. The bottle or container itself should be opaque, made of either dark glass or metal. When cooking, use EVOO, which has a low smoke point (the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke), for cold dishes, salad dressings, drizzling, and light sautéing. Use regular olive oil, which has a higher smoke point, for searing and frying. Store olive oil in a cool, dark place; best used within six months.

our body from disease and accelerated aging by gobbling up harmful free radicals — byproducts of the oxidation process that can turn good cells bad. Worried about chronic inflammation? Olive oil may be your ticket to quieting the painful and often destructive fire within. Research has shown that olive oil contains two (or 2 cloves garlic, minced) nutrients that can fight inflammation: 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard oleocanthal (an antioxidant) and 1/2 teaspoon sugar oleic acid (an unsaturated fatty acid). 1/3 cup olive oil Chronic inflammation is believed Salad greens of choice to be among the leading drivers of many diseases, including cancer, In a small bowl, whisk everyheart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes thing together but the olive oil. Slowand arthritis. ly whisk in the olive oil until well Like most oils, olive oil contains blended. Use immediately or store in about 120 calories per tablespoon. the refrigerator for up to two weeks. While it’s one of the healthier oil Place the greens in a large bowl choices, it’s still high in calories comand toss with enough dressing to pared to actual vegetables. Experts coat the leaves. recommend that we use olive oil in moderation and in place of overly Anne Palumbo is a lifestyle columprocessed oils and butter, not with nist, food guru, and them. seasoned cook, who has perfected the art of preparing nutritious, Mixed Greens with Favorite calorie-conscious Vinaigrette dishes. She is hungry for your questions 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and comments about 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice SmartBites, so be in 1/2 teaspoon salt touch with Anne at 1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper avpalumbo@aol.com. 1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots

BRINGING HEARTS AND

MINDS TOGETHER FOR OUR COMMUNITY As the region’s medical university, we unite our hearts and minds to improve and protect the health of our community. We are here to help in the most challenging times, with forward-thinking actions and a caring and dedicated workforce.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • April 2020

WWW.UPSTATE.EDU


Best Ways to Kill Coronavirus In Your Home Y our kitchen cabinet may already be stocked with cleaning agents that can kill coronavirus. But not all chemicals will work, and none are as gentle on your skin as commercial hand sanitizers, according to Rutgers University experts. Siobain Duffy, an associate professor of ecology with expertise in emerging viruses and microbial evolution, and Donald Schaffner, a distinguished professor and extension specialist in food science with expertise in microbial risk assessment and handwashing, offer the following tips for cleaning to kill the pathogens that cause COVID-19 and other deadly diseases. “Each disinfecting chemical has its own specific instructions, but an important general rule is that you shouldn’t immediately wipe a cleaning solution off as soon as you’ve applied it to a surface. Let it sit there long enough to kill viruses first.” General Disinfecting Guidelines • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends daily disinfection for frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks. • The CDC also recommends the use of detergent or soap and water on dirty surfaces prior to disinfection. • If someone in your home is sick with flu-like symptoms, consider regularly disinfecting objects in your home since SARSCoV-2 has been shown to

survive for 16 hours on plastics. • Whatever cleaning solution you use, let it remain in contact with the surface long enough to kill viruses and other pathogens. The time needed will depend on the chemical. • Don’t use different cleaning agents at the same time. Some household chemicals, if mixed, can create dangerous and poisonous gases. Bleach • Bleach can be diluted with cold water to make an effective disinfectant against bacteria, fungi and many viruses including coronaviruses. You can typically use 1/4 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of cold water — but be sure to follow the directions on the label of your bleach. • Make dilute bleach solution as needed and use it within 24 hours, as its disinfecting ability fades with time. • Non-porous items like plastic toys can be immersed in bleach for 30 seconds. Household surfaces that won’t be damaged by bleach should get 10 or more minutes of exposure. • Bleach solutions are very hard on the skin, and should not be used as a substitute for handwashing or hand sanitizer.

tizers have a concentration of about 60% alcohol, and Lysol contains about 80%; these are all effective against coronaviruses. • Solutions of 70% alcohol should be left on surfaces for 30 seconds (including cellphones — but check the advice of the phone manufacturer to make sure you don’t void the warranty) to ensure they will kill viruses. Pure (100%) alcohol evaporates too quickly for this purpose. • Containers of 70% alcohol should be sealed to prevent evaporation. But unlike bleach solutions, they will remain potent as long as they are sealed between uses. • A 70% alcohol solution with water will be very harsh on your hands and should not be used as a substitute for handwashing and/or hand sanitizer.

Hydrogen Peroxide • Hydrogen peroxide is typically sold in concentrations of about 3%. It can be used as is, or diluted to 0.5% concentration for effective use against coronaviruses on surfaces. It should be left on surfaces for one minute before wiping.

Natural Chemicals (Vinegar or Tea Tree Oil) • Vinegar, tea tree oil and other natural products are not recommended for fighting coronaviruses. A study on influenza virus found that cleaning with a 10% solution of malt vinegar was effective, but few other studies have found vinegar to be able to kill a significant fraction of viruses or other microbes. While tea tree oil may help control the virus that causes cold sores, there is no evidence that it can kill coronaviruses.

Alcohol • Alcohol in many forms, including rubbing alcohol, can be effective for killing many pathogens. You can dilute alcohol with water (or aloe vera to make hand sanitizer) but be sure to keep an alcohol concentration of around 70% to kill coronaviruses. Many hand saniApril 2020 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Large Nursing Homes in Upstate Remain on High Alert From Loretto to St. Ann’s in Rochester, large nursing homes in Upstate New York impose restrictions as a way to contain the spread of COVID-19 By Ernst Lamothe Jr.

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any nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Upstate New York have been on the forefront of battling the coronavirus and making sure their residents stay safe while also making sure the lines of communications remain strong with their loved ones. Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions such as heart or lung disease or diabetes are at a higher risk for developing serious complications from COVID-19. “We have issued a temporary visitor restriction to all our senior care communities,” said Julie Sheedy, chief marketing and engagement officer for Loretto in Syracuse, a comprehensive continuing healthcare organization that provides a variety of services for older adults. “For us being a nursing home facility, we have always focused on taking the most precautions in any situation. We

are always on high alert especially in this time because it is flu season and we had strict protocols in place even before the coronavirus.” Loretto is the ninth largest employer in Onondaga County and employs about 2,500 people. It serves nearly 10,000 individual annually. “The only exception we’re making when it comes to visitors is for residents who are at the end of life where we are making special arrangements,” said Sheedy. “We have stopped any community outings as well as entertainers or events coming into our facilities. We know that we care for one of the most vulnerable populations and we’re meeting daily to assess and reassess any of our protocols.” St. Ann’s Community, which is the largest senior facility provider in the Rochester area — and the seventh largest nonprofit senior living provider in New York state — has

assembled a core team of physicians, nurses and care providers to monitor the virus’ spread and obtain updated guidance from the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The medical team has limited all visitation that are not medical related. Jennifer Aiezza, marketing manager for St. Ann, said the organization releases regular videos, which cover a wide range of topics from visitation restriction, preparedness, resident activities and programs. In addition, it has set up an email address — covidquestions@mystanns. com — for families to also send questions. “Although large-scale events have been suspended, our staff are providing programs for small groups fewer than five residents and individuals to meet their interests and needs,” said Aiezza. “This allows residents to stay on their floors and

in their households, socializing with those they ordinarily interact with. Innovation and spontaneity has already taken place; from impromptu birthday celebrations to dance parties in the dining room, we are working together to continue normalcy for our residents,” said Aiezza. St. Ann’s has also implemented a buddy program, which pairs staff with residents for daily visits. During these visits, team members will check-in on residents to talk, listen, and help connect them with their families via video-chat or another way as determined by family preferences. The team members are volunteers from across multiple functions of St. Ann’s. “With visitation being so limited, we have created opportunities for social interaction and engagement,” said Triciajean Jones, St. Ann’s director of life enrichment. “Every resident has been paired with a staff member who will visit daily and help keep in touch with family through video chat or a simple phone call. It’s a friendly visit for both residents and staff.” “So many of our residents enjoy weekly and daily visits from their loved ones, and now, due to restricted visitation, we will do everything we can to keep families connected,” added Aiezza. Based on guidance from the CDC and other health agencies regarding COVID-19, and an abundance of caution, Buffalo-based Elderwood, which operates several senior facilities throughout New York state, has issued temporary visitor restrictions at all of its senior care communities. No unnecessary visitors will be allowed into these facilities. Those individuals that must enter, including Elderwood staff, must complete a health screening prior to moving throughout the facility. Trying times Physician David Gifford, chief medical officer for the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, understands families panicking because they are not able to visit but he believes these are trying times. “This virus is acting differently in the elderly population, those who are 80 years old and older, especially those who are living in nursing homes and assisted living. The disease for them is very dire,” said Gifford. “We are making recommendations, governors nationwide are making recommendations and the CDC is making recommendations to limit individuals coming into buildings. We know this is a difficult thing to ask but the risk of this virus being spread is very serious.”

Upstate University Opens CNY Regional Triage Line for COVID-19 The number to call for coronavirus questions: 315-464-3979.

U

pstate University Hospital has opened a regional triage line dedicated to public questions about COVID-19. The line is open 24 hours. The line will be staffed with volunteers from across the Upstate campuses, and a health care provider will be available at all times to assist with triaging calls. 

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If a member of the public has coronavirus-related questions, is showing possible symptoms, or may have had an exposure to someone diagnosed with a positive case of COVID-19, they would call this line to be guided on next steps. This line is for non-911 calls. Calls will be triaged using algorithms developed by clinical

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • April 2020

staff at Upstate University Hospital. Upstate’s COVID-19 triage line is part of an ongoing effort to provide information to the public, while ensuring emergency departments and community physicians are not overwhelmed with non-emergency visits during this pandemic. 

Upstate’s COVID-19 triage number is 315-464-3979. The triage line will serve the following counties: Onondaga, Cayuga, Oswego, Madison, Cortland, Chenango, Tompkins, Tioga, Broome, Oneida, Herkimer, Lewis, Jefferson, St. Lawrence. 


Norb’s Take

Norb Rug is a writer from Lockport. He blogs at WhyWNY. home.blog.

By Norb Rug

Coronavirus: The Sky Is Falling…

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o now we have a coronavirus pandemic. My wife Donna and I went shopping this morning to pick up a few supplies. We first went for some Tylenol. There was a big vacant space where this used to be. So we went for some lemonade mix. Looks like we weren’t going to get any of this either. Then we proceeded to the pasta aisle. This was so empty that we heard an echo from the squeaky cart wheels. So we decided to pick up some canned sauce and tomatoes to make some sauce for pasta we had at home. No luck there either. This was getting ridiculous. At least we could pick up some dried split peas and beans to make some soup. It turns out the soup was going to be very thin and bland

because it would only contain water — there were no beans in the grocery store. At that point it got fascinating to walk up and down the aisles to see what they did have. There were three jars of peanut butter and four jars of jelly on the shelves. Canned soup was MIA unless you were looking for cream of mushroom. We managed to get some mac and cheese. However, it had unicorn shaped pasta. In the canned meats aisle, there was no canned chili, corned beef hash or Spam. We did manage to throw some roast beef hash into our cart. We also picked up a can of Walmart brand spam and some canned chicken. I’d never had any of this before but at this point I thought it was food we could eat if we had to. I don’t know what we would mix with the

A lone shopper gazes down an aisle of mostly empty shelves at a local Wegmans.

chicken because the canned vegetable aisle had as much food in it as a tire store. If you like frozen Brussels sprouts, you were in luck. It seems that even during a pandemic, nobody eats Brussel sprouts. The bottled water aisle was as dry as a desert. However there was plenty of beer. Really? If my kids were going to be home, locked inside my house for a few weeks, I would stock up on beer. Finally we went to the paper aisle to pick up some toilet paper, paper towels and tissues. All the shelves there were as bare as lady Godiva. I don’t know why there is a toilet paper shortage when we don’t have any food to eat. This wouldn’t be our first panic over toilet paper. In 1973, consumers emptied store shelves for a month due to rumors, fears and a joke. At that time, Americans were concerned about decreasing supplies of gasoline, electricity and onions. A government press release that warned about a possible scarcity of toilet paper created a lot of press coverage but no panic buying until Johnny Carson, the famous late night television host, joked about it in his monolog. In the 2009 the swine flu pandemic lasted from early 2009 to late 2010. Globally, an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people died from swine flu in the first year of the pandemic. As soon as the outbreak was announced, Mexico notified the U.S. and World Health Organization. Within a few days of the outbreak Mexico City was “effectively shut down.” The HIV/AIDS pandemic (20052012) was first found in the Congo in 1976. HIV/AIDS has proven itself to be a global pandemic that killed more than 36 million people since 1981. Right now, there are around 31 to 35 million people that are living with HIV. We had what was referred to as the Hong Kong flu pandemic in1968. The first case was reported on July 13, 1968. It took just 17 days until outbreaks of the virus showed up in Singapore and Vietnam. Within three

months it had spread to The Philippines, India, Australia, Europe, and the United States. While this pandemic had a relatively low mortality rate (.5%) it nevertheless resulted in the deaths of over a million people. Then there was the Asian flu pandemic from 1956-1958.The Asian flu was a pandemic outbreak that originated in China in 1956 and lasted until 1958. In its two-year spree, The Asian flu traveled from the Chinese province of Guizhou to Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United States. The World Health Organization places the final death toll at approximately 2 million deaths, 69,800 of those in the US alone. As of mid March, at least 4,226 people in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have tested positive for coronavirus in the United States; at least 75 patients with the virus have died. Unless you have been in a coma recently I think you have heard all the things you should be doing to protect yourself like frequent hand washing and avoiding crowds, so I am not going to rehash them here. Use common sense and stay away from sick people. I have always said that the Russians, Koreans or even aliens won’t kill us off. It will be a tiny, little, unseen bug that will get us all. — Norb Rug is a writer and blogger from Lockport. You can follow his blog at WhyWNY.home.blog.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Getting on With Your Life in the Age of Coronavirus

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s coronavirus continues to spread across America, people in some areas are quarantined. Conferences, sporting events and travel plans are being called off, while hand sanitizer and toilet paper are flying off the shelves. Short of finding a well-stocked bunker, how can you learn to live with this new normal? An important key to living with the looming threat of this virus is flexibility, experts say. “You have to be willing to change as the situation changes, and it’s likely to keep changing for a while,” said Robin Gurwitch, a psychologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. Living with uncertainty Gurwitch said uncertainty leads to high anxiety and panic. She said that’s likely one of the reasons why people have been stockpiling things like hand sanitizer and toilet paper. During any viral outbreak, “one of the things that helps to reduce anxiety and worry is when we have a very clear and unified messaging from respected officials. Viruses aaren’t political, they’re a public health issue,” Gurwitch explained. “What is creating more distress now is that there are really different messages out there. When that

happens, people start filling in the gaps in the messaging themselves, and they may think they’re not being told everything. That’s when you get panic buying,” she said. “Coronavirus has taken quite a bit of our sense of control. But buying supplies is something I can control. I can know that I have enough supplies. And it makes me feel like, ‘I’ve got this,’” Gurwitch said. Here are some additional steps you can take to bring back a little bit of normalcy to your life. At home Plenty of folks were caught short and don’t have a supply of hand sanitizer, but soap and water are fine. “At home, you don’t need alcohol-based sanitizer. Soap and water are also very effective,” said Chunhuei Chi, director of the Center for Global Health at Oregon State University. Chi said when you get home, wash your hands well, and clean your cellphone with alcohol, or put soap and a little water on a paper towel, clean your phone and immediately dry it. Don’t forget to clean surfaces that everyone touches often — doorknobs, toilet handles, faucets and remote controls.

Out and about Life does go on, and you’ll need to go to work, school and shopping. When you leave your home, Chi suggested carrying tissues with you. Whenever you need to open a door, grab a shopping cart or even push an elevator button, use a tissue to create a barrier between you and the object. If you have hand sanitizer — containing at least 60% alcohol — he said you can use it to disinfect your hands. “This virus is very sensitive to alcohol,” Chi said. Many stores also keep sanitizing wipes by their carts for you to clean the handle before you shop. Physician Debra Spicehandler, co-chief of infectious diseases at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, said it’s important to pay attention to potentially common sources of infection. “After touching pens, money, credit cards or even salt and pepper shakers, try to use hand sanitizer right away. If you can’t, don’t touch your hands to your face,” she said. And, Spicehandler said, skip handshakes altogether. Travel Travel is becoming more of a challenge. The U.S. Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention is advising people not to fly unless it’s absolutely necessary. Check the CDC website before traveling internationally. The CDC said air travel itself isn’t likely to be a problem. Physician Krystina Woods, director of infection prevention at Mount Sinai West in New York City, explained, “Planes do have filtered air. Proximity [to someone who is ill] is the thing that might be concerning, and you don’t have much control over who is sitting beside you on a plane. But you do have control over whether you wash your hands or touch your face.” If you decide to cancel a flight, policies on whether or not you can get a credit or refund vary, so check with your airline. Large events At least for the foreseeable future, it’s going to be important to check whether or not an event is still taking place. A number of large conferences and events have been delayed or canceled out of an abundance of caution. The big California music festival Coachella has been rescheduled to the fall. New York stalled its big auto show until August, and the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, was canceled. “Indoor gatherings, especially any with 1,000 or more people, should be avoided,” Chi said. Learning to live with the risk “There’s been a lot of concern, bordering on panic recently. But most people who get the virus have relatively minor illness and the majority are getting better,” Woods said. Gurwitch advised staying upto-date on the situation by checking reliable sources of information, such as the CDC. And take the steps you can to control your personal and family situation. If you do get symptoms — fever, cough, difficulty breathing — call your doctor or local emergency room to find out what to do, Spicehandler advised. The CDC also recommends calling your doctor if you find out you’ve been exposed to someone who develops COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus. This article was distributed by HealthDay News.

Stay Sensibly Cautious Amid COVID-19 Crisis By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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very month, I interview a few dozen health professionals for articles printed in three editions of In Good Health — Buffalo/Western New York, Rochester and Syracuse/Central New York. That has been a routine for the last several years. As the COVID-19 outbreak spread, fewer public relations professionals were available to schedule care providers for me to interview. Many of those not engaged in patient care were working from home and could not take time for interviews. By early March, it became obvious they were swamped with work, including screening patients for possible COVID-19, developing internal policies regarding the outbreak and forming public statements and

Page 16

advisories. That’s a lot to add to their usual patient load. I can see why an interview wasn’t possible. A little more prudence from the public can help them use their time better so they can treat the patients who really need care. Only people exhibiting symptoms identified with COVID-19 should contact a care provider over the phone about their coronavirus concerns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated on its website that these symptoms manifest between two and 14 days following exposure: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Severe signs that may require emergency treatment include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion or inability to arouse; and bluish lips or face. Keep in mind that amid the outbreak, people still have colds, flu,

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • April 2020

allergies and breathing issues not related to COVID-19. It wastes resources and needlessly exposes people to germs to rush to the doctor over non-COVID-19 illnesses that could be safely treated at home. People with pre-existing conditions such as a lung disease or illness or lowered immune response and older adults should remain vigilant about their health, call their provider over concerns and remain more reluctant to go out. The outbreak also reminded me about how few people seem to have more than a few days’ food and supplies at home. Since we live in an area that has had the occasional blizzard, we should know better than to let things dwindle to the point where we need to rush to the store to clear out the shelves. My grandparents lived through the Depression and rationing during

wartime. They always advised to keep extra groceries on hand just in case. Perhaps tight budgets, megastore convenience and busy schedules all add up to the wave of panic buying recently observed while trying to do some routine shopping. I’ve never seen entire aisles completely bare in my life. The septuagenarian checker who helped me said that she had never seen such a spectacle, either. Use common sense and follow the guidelines of the CDC and local recommendations for hygiene. Get enough rest and try to exercise and eat right. Stay home if you can. Try to think of it as extra time to nurture your family and yourself. Above all, don’t stress. That lowers your immune system’s response and doesn’t help one bit.


Coping with Coronavirus By John Addyman

I

figured, I’ve got this coronavirus thing handled — no problem. Tell me I’ve got to spend some weeks at home and I’ll enjoy myself. First, my wife and I will have time to enjoy a nice late dinner out, something we don’t do nearly often enough. It’ll be like a date night for us. But wait, they closed the restaurants and taverns. OK, I thought to myself. This is the perfect opportunity to go deep on some books in the library, put a binge readfest together for myself. Then they closed the library. OK, I thought to myself. Instead of improving my mind, I’ll improve my body and set up a daily schedule at our local gym. I’ll be buff as a Greek god by summer. So they closed the gym — while we were there for its last hour of operation. I’ve closed some bars in my flaming youth, but I’ve never closed a gym. “How about a movie?” my wife suggested. Of course the movie theaters were closed. “Wait a minute,” she said, “Hello, Dolly!” is coming up soon. We have tickets!” That sounded great…but within hours, the theater canceled the production. Goodbye, Dolly. “I have a great idea,” I told my

‘In so many ways, the shape of this worldwide coronavirus tragedy gives some of us a chance we’ve never had to slow down and take on things that we left on the sidelines long ago.’ wife. “Let’s go to a school board meeting! We can show our civic pride! We can see what’s going on in our grandchildren’s schools in two school districts! We’ll social-distance ourselves from all the other two or three parents who will be there!” Then the school boards decided to have their meetings by live stream, with no members of the public allowed. We coped, but watching a school board meeting on a computer with a beer and some popcorn is really a weird experience. “What can we do to pass the time?” my wife asked. I looked at her in that old certain way and my eyebrows danced an encouraging and flirty dance on my face.

“You can forget that,” she said. “I’ll make you a to-do list…a long to-do list.” So much for dreams of conjugal bliss. “Maybe we can snoop around and find out where the black market for toilet paper is,” I suggested. My wife just looked at me. “We could rake up all the rest of the leaves in the yard and put them in big bags and sell them, just in case toilet paper disappears completely,” I suggested. My wife went back to reading her book. I decided to watch some movies and because it’s Lent, I decided “The Ten Commandments” would be a good choice…and it was until I got to the part where the Destroyer comes like a green fog in the night for the first-born of Egypt. That’s when it hit me — that’s what this coronavirus is: a secret, scary, silent, sinister and slithery thing that is lurking in the dark to capture us. Some won’t know they’ve acquired it. Some won’t survive acquiring it. And lamb’s blood on our doors won’t do much good this time around. So after some thought, my wife and I have settled on some things about these days of our lives. • First, we’re going to take walks and enjoy our village and perhaps a stray neighbor or two

we meet on the way. We’re going to watch spring bloom. For once in my life, I’m enthusiastic about cutting the grass and spending some time in the garden (doing what, I have no idea). • Second, and we talked about this when we took a ride in the car today — we’re going to enjoy studying and learning again. I’m a retired nurse, but I’m going to take a refresher course on infection control. I’m a retired biology teacher, and I want to get ahead of where my grandkids will be in the fall when they take their living environment course. I have a binocular microscope, and I’m going to study some flora and fauna. I’m going to spend some afternoons with a libretto in my hand listening to opera. • Third, we’re going to reconnect with friends on Facebook and through emails and letters. We know the time we spend putting those notes together will be appreciated and returned. • Fourth, we’re going to move ahead. We’ll fill out the census form and check our voter registration. I’ll throw out old white T-shirts and worn out but oh-so-comfortable sweatshirts and sandals. I will actually read the owner’s manual for my car. In so many ways, the shape of this worldwide coronavirus tragedy gives some of us a chance we’ve never had to slow down and take on things that we left on the sidelines long ago. In the midst of their terror, the Italians found passionate music to express their spirit. As Upstate New Yorkers, we will do no less.

Beware of Coronavirus Scams By Jim Miller

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nfortunately, coronavirus scams are spreading nearly as fast as the virus itself, and seniors are often the most vulnerable. These con artists are setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using spoofed phone calls, emails, texts and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information. The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your community. They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments. Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers at bay. • Click carefully: Don’t click on coronavirus-related links from sources you don’t know in an email or text message. The same goes for unfamiliar websites. When you click on an email or download a file, you could get a program on your computer that could either use your computer’s internet connection to spread malware or dig into your personal files looking for passwords and other information. • Ignore bogus product offers: Ignore online offers for coronavirus vaccinations or miracle cures. There are currently no vaccines, pills, po-

tions, lotions, lozenges, or over-thecounter products available to treat or cure coronavirus online or in stores. If you see or receive ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the coronavirus, ignore them because they’re not legitimate. • Beware of CDC spoofing: Be wary of emails, text messages or phone calls claiming to come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and/or the World Health Organization (WHO). These scams could take several forms – such as fake health agency warnings about infections in your local area, vaccine and treatment offers, medical test results, health insurance cancellation, alerts about critical supply shortages, and more. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit CDC.gov/coronavirus. • Beware of fundraising scams: Be wary of emails or phone calls asking you to donate to a charity or crowdfunding campaign for coronavirus victims or for disease research. To verify a charity’s legitimacy use CharityNavigator.org. But, if you’re asked for donations in cash, by prepaid credit card or gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it because it’s probably a scam. • Beware of stock scams: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Com-

mission (SEC) is warning people about phone calls and online promotions, including on social media, touting stocks of companies with products that supposedly can prevent, detect or cure coronavirus. Buy those stocks now, they say, and they will soar in price. But the con artists have already bought the stocks, which typically sell for a dollar or less. As the hype grows and the stock price increases, the con men dump the stock, saddling other investors with big losses. It’s a classic penny-stock fraud called “pump and dump.” Making matters worse: you may not be able to sell your shares if trading is suspended. When investing in any company, including companies that claim to focus on coronavirus-related products and services, carefully research the investment and keep in mind that investment scam artists April 2020 •

often exploit the latest crisis to line their own pockets. For more tips on how to avoid getting swindled, see the Federal Communications Commission COVID-19 consumer warning and safety tips at FCC.gov/covid-scams. Jim Miller is the author of Savvy Senior column, published every issue in In Good Health.

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 17


Conquering Quarantine

Brian and Brooke DeMott home school their children, which makes for a smooth transition to quarantine in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the right, the children partake in a “Life Skills” class, making pizza from scratch. They are, from left, Judah, 10; Miriam, 3; Selah, 5; Malachi, 7; Stacia, 15; Enoch, 1; and Aliana, 11. Above is Brain with two of his children enjoying the outdooors.

Develop ways to continually educate, challenge your children during these trying times By Brooke Stacia DeMott

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o, in a pretty interesting turn of events, it appears that my lifestyle choice has become most other people’s mandated reality. I’m a homeschooling mother of seven kids, aged 1 to 16. For the last 12 years, we’ve inadvertently mastered the art of the quarantine. Sure, we’ve got sports clubs, co-ops, and piano classes, but when January hits, we basically stay home until the end of March. It’s cold, people are sick, and I usually have a newborn anyway, so who wants to go anywhere? We’ve adapted to this unconventional way of life over time with a few patterns of normalcy, a little creativity, and a whole lot of grace for one another. I’d like to invite you into our normal lives a bit, in hopes that what we’re doing can be helpful to your family during these unusual times as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic and home quarantines. There’s more to homeschooling than just “doing school at home.” You’ll find that the workload is pretty manageable, but there’s a lot of time during the day that demands to be filled. Ordinarily, in the pretty summer months, we can hit up parks and museums, summer camps, and art classes. But for the majority of the year when the weather isn’t optimal — or say, we’re in a global health crisis — your home has to become every place in the world to you. Add to that the stress of income loss, and we’re looking at family time, on a budget, in your home, indefinitely. Welcome to the club; it’s nice to have some new members! It can be daunting to think of “what to do” with the kids 24/7, but

Page 18

there’s no need to constantly keep them occupied. Boredom is a gift. It’s the soil where imagination is planted and memories grow. Do you remember when you were a kid, and the power went out? I’ll bet you smiled just now. There’s something about the loss of constant entertainment that sets us free. Which brings me to my next point — don’t just throw them in front of a screen. It’s tempting, but it’s detrimental to their development and your time together. Instead, help them think differently about how to use their newfound excess time. Most importantly, keep it simple. You don’t have to have a Pinterest-level craft prepared, or follow a souped-up schedule. Even though times have changed, kids really haven’t. Having a coloring contest, building a Lego city, and baking chocolate chip cookies are all still high-ranking family activities that everyone enjoys. It’s taken us several years to find our stride, but I’d like to give you a few tips to help you find yours so that you can maximize this precious time with your family. — Consider a unit study: This can be a great deal of fun. Think about specific areas of interest for your kids, and make it a family endeavor to learn about it together. Do you have a son who loves owls? Read up on owls in our area; find a conservation group that will send you pellets to dissect for science; take a nature walk to try and scout some out (if possible); use owl spelling words for English and vocabulary, draw pictures of them for art, etc. You can make school really interest-

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • April 2020

ing this way and learn a lot about your children’s areas of interest. Develop family activities — Develop a family hobby: Everyone likes to learn new things. We all have a little more time on our hands and a little less cash, so why not try to learn to bake bread together? Maybe let YouTube spark an interest in karaoke (we have done this a handful of times and it’s a riot). Use scrap wood to build a puppet theater (or just some cardboard boxes) and practice a show. Start a family calisthenics routine to stay in shape together. There’s no limit to what you can learn. — Life skills’ class: Sometimes we forget to include our kids in the day-to-day workings of being an adult, but these are critical skills for them to begin to learn at even very young ages. Everyone can do some kind of chore; even the 3-year-old can empty the bathroom garbage can, and he or she should. Assign some chores and teach them thoroughly how to do them well. If you have an investment portfolio, show your teenager what it looks like to buy stocks or mutual funds and what happens when the stock market crashes. Balance a checkbook together; let the kids help you fix the leaky faucet or switch out the laundry. It’s all a part of life. When it’s tempting to get them “out of the way,” remember that those are usually good times to breath in some courage and some patience, and ask them to participate with you. — Help others: It’s a hard time

for a lot of people. Maybe you’ve recently been laid off because of food service closures. First, I’m so, so sorry. I understand; my husband is losing work, too. It’s scary and stressful when we don’t know how long we might be in the hole. But the best way to demonstrate to our kids what community ought to be is to do whatever we can to help. We may not have money, but maybe we can send cards to local nursing home shut-ins or small business owners to encourage them. Perhaps we can make food to bring to a family that we know is struggling financially. And we can always pray; it’s a good opportunity to teach your kids more about God’s role in our lives. — Do your best to really be present: Even after all these years of homeschooling, this is an area I continually struggle with. I have to set up strong boundaries around myself to avoid my desire to be distracted away from my kids. I often send my laptop to work with my husband so that I won’t waste time online; I don’t even own a smart phone. Do whatever you have to do to be fully present with your kids. Sometimes when I look my children in the eye and really hear their heart, I am so driven to know them more. Right now, we have been gifted as a nation, at a critical point in history, the very powerful gift of time — time to strengthen our families at a time when family has become a secondary cultural priority. But now we can reclaim the primacy of the family bond, and I pray that we emerge from this time with a whole new appreciation for one another.


Impacting patient care, education, research, and community health and well-being through charitable giving.

That is why Dr. Frederick “Fritz” Parker and his wife Ginny have included the Upstate Foundation in their estate plans. Fritz retired from Upstate Medical University in 2001 as chair of the Department of Surgery. In his 30-year career, Fritz pioneered the cardiac surgery department, earning a reputation as the region’s preeminent cardiac surgeon.

“ We’ve been blessed. There’s no question.”

Ginny impacted the lives of countless young people through a long career in education, as co-founder and former co-director of the Kynda Montessori School.

“We want to leave a legacy that reflects our love for our community,” Ginny explained. “Our hope is that our gift will continue to strengthen Upstate and serve as an inspiration to others who are considering their own legacies.” Creating a legacy is easier than you think! Contact our planned giving professionals at 315-464-6490 or Hamiltol@upstate.edu. To learn more about the Parkers, visit www.UpstateFoundation.org/legacy.

April 2020 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Public Health Director: ‘This is Unprecedented’ By Payne Horning

O

swego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang is helping lead the effort to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, in Oswego County and beyond. He offered some perspective on what is happening on the front lines of this unprecedented health crisis. Can you compare what’s happening in this pandemic to anything else you’ve experienced during your career or is this truly unprecedented in every way? This is unprecedented. Working in public health, I deal with many outbreaks, but if you think about it there has never been anything on a scale like this. If you compare this virus with SARS (severe acute respiratory system), they are in the same family and are named very similar, but [COVID-19] is so much more infectious. And if you compare it to the H1N1 pandemic, we had a vaccine. With this, we don’t have a vaccine and we don’t have medicine [to treat it], so this is a big, big difference. An additional challenge your office is wrestling with is the investigation aspect. You have to track down the contacts each person who tests positive has had with others in the community. Before it came to our county, we were following state health guidelines — the first phase was case tracking and case isolation and the second phase was mitigation. Now what we are doing is combining the first and second phases. We are track-

ing cases and finding close contacts and isolating them. Are you seeing a lot of collaboration between different entities in the medical community in Central New York? The public health departments have been working together with our healthcare providers. It’s a valuable advantage to work together and important. When I look at how to protect our community, the key is really how to protect our healthcare providers. If they collapse, our community collapses. If they are strong, our community will be well protected. What can the public do to help stem the tide? We need to protect ourselves through personal hygiene — washing your hands with lukewarm water and soap for 20 seconds; if soap and water is not available, using hand sanitizer – and also practicing social distancing. When – not if – we make it through this crisis, what do you think will have made that recovery possible? Working together is the key. My whole department and everyone in this building is working very hard and around the clock. The last email I received from someone came at 10 p.m. and the first email [the next day] came at 4 a.m. This is a close community and different agencies, healthcare providers, law enforcement, EMS, public health, social services work —we work together well. That is our hope.

Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang

Things to Do The Oswego County Health Department encourages people to: • Stay home as much as possible. • Avoid non-essential gatherings of all types. • Keep six feet from other people in public spaces. • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating. • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

• Get a flu shot. • Stay home if you are sick. • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash. • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. • Call your healthcare provider from home if you are experiencing symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath. • Do not go to urgent care or an emergency department unless you are experiencing life-threatening conditions.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 21


Autism Rates Way Up — Why? By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

T

he prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was about one in every 150 children in 2000. Currently, it’s about one in 59, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So why do so many more children have a diagnosis of ASD? While some people might look at the issue and think that some outside factor is causing more children to have ASD, experts look to other reasons for the increased rate. “A combination of factors may be responsible for the rise in prevalence of autism,” said Leah Phaneuf, Ph.D., chief clinical officer at The Kelberman Center in Utica and Syracuse. “Awareness, better efforts in diagnosis and changing criteria likely account for the bulk of the increase, but a true increase in the number of people with autism cannot be ruled out.” Published by the American

Psychiatric Association, “DSM” — or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — represents mental health professionals’ book of officially recognized psychiatric disorders. “They removed some subcategories,” said Tracy A. Panzarella, licensed speech-language pathologist and director of clinical services with Autism Services, Inc. in Amherst, near Buffalo. “Now it’s ‘autism’ and varying levels under that. Many years ago, there were different labels. There was a continuum and terms like ‘high functioning’ or ‘childhood disintegrative disorders.’” Though she doesn’t know why the terms were removed, she sees some merit in making the changes, since even under the former labels, it was all still ASD. Using “ASD” as an umbrella term is simpler, especially for children with multiple, overlapping and numerous traits difficult to

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • April 2020

label. “Over the years, the statistics have definitely changed considerably,” Panzarella said. “We’re not sure if more doctors are on the lookout for more early warning signs.” Insurance companies also play a role. They are covering more early intervention services because research indicates that “the more services they can get early on, the greater strides you’ll see the child make and more independence the child will have on down the road,” Panzarella added. Phaneuf at The Kelberman Center also wants children evaluated earlier. “Despite the increase in the autism diagnosis, we do know that evaluations continue to occur too late,” she said. “Although pediatricians are recommended to conduct consistent autism screenings, there continues to be a lag between initial parent and/or teacher concerns and the actual age at evaluation, delaying intervention. The sooner intervention occurs, the better the prognosis, so early detection is key.” No definitive, objective test exists

A

to indicate whether or not a child has autism. Instead, providers consider a child’s developmental milestones, such as fine and gross motor skills, any sensory disorders, and things parents have noticed that are different about their child compared with neuro-typical children. Panzarella said that some adults on the spectrum who were previously diagnosed as having Asperger’s still prefer the term as they view it as a cultural, social distinction that better defines their experience. Thanks to greater awareness and acceptance of autism, more community agencies and resources have been made available to help parents of children with autism spectrum disorder and the community in general better understand autism. “Even 30 to 40 years ago, there wasn’t as much information as readily available,” Panzarella said. “There’s so much more information out there and it’s accessible to people so they can educate themselves.”

What is Autism?

utism is a neurologically-based developmental disability that lasts throughout a person’s lifetime. It is a spectrum disorder that is characterized by social and communication challenges, sensory impairments, restricted behaviors and Interests, and associated medical issues. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) varies widely in severity and symptoms and may go unrecognized, especially in mildly affected children or when it is masked by other more prominent disabilities. Autism is not a mental illness, bad behavior, caused by vaccines, or always associated with cognitive impairment. If you see any of these signs in your child, be sure to inform your child’s pediatrician: • no babbling or pointing by age 1 • no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2 • no response to name • loss of language or social skills • poor eye contact • excessive lining up of toys or objects • different social responsive-

ness than other children These behaviors have been observed in older children: • impaired ability to make friends with peers in expected ways • impaired ability to initiate or sustain conversation with others • stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language • restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus • inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals • Lack of fear or danger awareness • Sudden (to you) changes in mood or demeanor • Dislike of being touched/ touching too much • Not responsive to verbal and nonverbal cues • Difficulty expressing needs or responding to questions A developmental evaluation is required to diagnose a child with ASD.” From the website of AutismUp (www.autismup.org).


Treating the Whole Person: Body, Mind and Spirit By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

I

t may seem like modern physical and mental healthcare can prevent and treat disease, illness and injury with miraculous results. But one facet of a human’s makeup responds to no objective test or science-bound protocol: the spirit. “Healing is not just a physical process,” said the Rev. Robert Hyde, pastor at St. Margaret’s Church in Mattydale. He also serves as a substitute, on-call chaplain at hospitals in Onondaga County and provides care to Syracuse VA Hospital patients on Mondays. He calls healing a mental and spiritual process as well. “Anything they can do to be spiritually strong is important as well. God wants to support us through anything.” He views taking the sacraments as nourishing to the spirit and giving the person strength to heal. “It’s also about connection,” Hyde said. “If they’re connected to a church, their pastor or other people can come visit them. It’s important to be connected.” He related that many aspects of going to the hospital disrupt people, but feeling spiritually connected gives people strength, comfort and peace. Not every person he visits professes faith; however, Hyde said that he and his fellow chaplains “are here for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t been to church for years or what faith you are. We try to get the chaplain of the person’s faith.

Regardless, we help each other out.” This intangible part of people makes them tap into resources of resilience they may not have previously realized they could access. Douglas Goldschmidt, Ph.D., provides therapy at Integral Psychotherapy in Fayetteville. He believes that spirituality matters for mental health. “The spiritual aspect fills us a part of a person’s life that psychotherapy cannot,” Goldschmidt said. He thinks it gives life meaning and explains why life is. Goldschmidt said he became intrigued by social work through his interest in Buddhism, which he said is spiritual without being deistic. He also appreciates the movement of integrating Christian values into therapy, though he’s not a Christian, and said that this is effective for those who use it. “Therapy can be negative, ‘I don’t want to be depressed,’” Goldschmidt said. “Christian therapy gives you something positive as a part of a greater whole that creates meaning and creates meaning in life.” He believes that cognitive behavior therapy represents an important breakthrough in psychotherapy, “but it left out a lot about human connection. Evidence-based therapy began to make therapy a lot less holistic” unlike therapy that looks at a patient in context and helps him “build toward a better sense of self and recovery, not just doing something

from a negative standpoint.” Goldschmidt said mindfulness borrows from the first step of Buddhism and can help with pain control, but doesn’t go on to the next step. “If you can get someone to practice mindfulness and compassion, you can help someone heal,” he said. The next step after compassion is more sophisticated kindness towards others. Goldschmidt sees that elevated sense of compassion as a means of freeing one’s self to feel empathy

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 23


Dentists Among Top Prescribers of Opioids

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merican dentists often prescribe more than the recommended supply of opioid painkillers to patients, a new study finds. Not only that, they are more likely to prescribe more powerful opioids, the researchers found. In this study, the researchers analyzed data on nearly 550,000 dental visits by adult patients between 2011 and 2015, before U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for pain management were issued in 2016. More than half of the opioid prescriptions issued by dentists were for longer than the threeday supply recommended by the CDC for acute dental pain management. And 29% of dental patients received more powerful opioids than needed for expected pain after their dental procedures, the findings showed. The study was published online Feb. 4 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. “Unlike national trends, opioid overprescribing by dentists is increasing. Our results should initiate a call to action to professional organizations and public health and advocacy groups to improve the guidelines for prescribing opioids for oral pain,” said lead investigator Katie Suda, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine. “As high prescribers of opioids writing prescriptions for a tenth of the opioids dispensed in the U.S., dentists should be included as part of the multifaceted solution needed for the opioid epidemic,” Suda said in a journal news release. More study is needed to see if opioid prescribing patterns among dentists changed after the CDC tightened prescribing guidelines in 2016, the study authors said. Dental patients most likely to be overprescribed opioids — those aged 18 to 34, men, those in the South, and those receiving oxycodone — are the same groups at high risk of opioid addiction and overdose, the researchers pointed out. According to study coauthor Gregory Calip, from the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy, “Future studies and targeted efforts to reduce overprescribing would also be well motivated among older patients and others taking multiple other high-risk medications, such as benzodiazepines.”

Page 24

Meeting Demand for Mental Health Services in Oswego By Lou Sorendo

C

hristopher Battles is embarking on a professional counseling career while striving to build awareness regarding Oswego County’s troubling behavioral and mental health problems. That is the mission of the Oswego native who is the owner of Equanimity Counseling, a private practice located at the Business Expansion Center, 185 E. Seneca St., Oswego. He works with adults and teenagers who are battling through issues such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. According to a recent community health needs assessment, the county is ranked 60th out of the 62 counties in New York state for health behaviors. For example, the county’s suicide rate is about 15.6 per 100,000, compared to 8.0 statewide. Compounding the situation is rampant opioid abuse. While the greatest health care need in the Oswego community has been identified as mental health, the most significant health issue facing the community is a lack of doctors and specialists. In addition, health care services are not readily available for mental and behavioral health, according to data from HealtheConnections. The word equanimity means sustaining the calmest mind state through the toughest of times, and Battles wants to spread some of this mindfulness to those in need in Oswego County. Battles said licensed mental health counselors like himself fill the divide between intensive inpatient care, which in Oswego County typically comes in the form of inpatient drug rehabilitation programs and halfway houses or adult respites, and treating people so they can be contributing members of society. Speaking to Oswego County’s needs, Battles said, “Our local mental health and social needs outweigh the resources available. Specifically, if the goal is a stable home and work life for Oswego County residents, then there is a critical lack of transitional care between inpatient services and establishing healthy daily living.” He cites basic legislation could immediately recruit LMHCs who are ready to fill the service void. Although LMHCs actually receive more clinical training hours than those holding other licenses, New York state law does not require Medicaid-Medicare to reimburse LMHCs for mental health services. “This is a senseless barrier in service provisions for folks,” he said. He describes the paradox: “Folks are on Medicaid-Medicare programs for help with their needs, but the programs won’t reimburse LMHCs. “Further, the obstacle is a scopeof-practice definition that prevents counselors from serving large parts of the population.” Battles said resolving this legislative issue in New York will incentiv-

IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • April 2020

ize and recruit more LMHCs to help address Oswego County’s needs. Tough row to hoe Battles said the economic hardship of becoming an LMHC further exacerbates the shortfall in services the area sees. “Every counselor has a story about how they made it through their unpaid internship and low-pay permit years before getting licensed. It’s four to five years from the start of grad school to an LMHC, the majority of this time without pay,” he said. The road toward becoming an LMHC was not without its obstacles for Battles. “I substitute taught and lived off the generosity of others. And about three years into it, I saw tens of thousands of dollars in loan forgiveness dissolve before my eyes when the program parameters changed, leaving me with massive student loan debt,” he said. “Every LMHC has his or her own story, whether it involves being a dependent or just getting any job anywhere doing anything, because

the path is really difficult,” he said. Lastly, Battles shares that newly graduated LMHC candidates wait months for licensing paperwork and cannot practice. “Legislation, licensing, and loans add up to fewer helping professionals and six-month-long waiting lists for counseling services,” he said. Battles said new legislation concerning LMHCs would address the deficit of outpatient services by attracting counselors and making it easier for practices like his to sponsor interns and permit holders through to their licensure. “There is a gap in the path to whole psychological and social wellness, period. For those making the leap from inpatient care to returning to school or the workforce, there are specific barriers that integrated care that involves LMHCs can help,” he noted. “Service falls short for our fellow Oswego County residents who cannot return to work. There are cold nights in their homes right now because of inadequate integrated care and case management, and professionals available to provide quality services,” he said. Battles said society needs to continue addressing the “not in my back yard” stigma about mental health care, which drives it further from helping out those in need. His mission statement revolves around the idea of demystifying counseling and empowering folks to find their inner compass, such as their values and virtues. For more information, call 315500-7255, email chris@EquanimityCounselingCNY.com or visit EquanimityCounselingCNY.com.

Christopher Battles is the owner of Equanimity Counseling, a private practice in Oswego. He works with adults and teenagers who are battling through issues such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.


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Is Medicare covering testing for the coronavirus? My husband and I are very nervous about this virus and would like to find out if or when we should get tested, and how Medicare manages it. Nervous Nelly

Dear Nelly, Yes! Medicare is indeed covering the cost of testing for the coronavirus, or COVID-19. But be aware that getting a test isn’t as simple as going to your local pharmacy or doctor’s office and asking for one. Here’s a breakdown of what Medicare is covering, along with how to get tested if you think you may have symptoms.

Medicare Coverage Medicare (Part B) will cover the lab test to see if you have coronavirus, but only when your doctor or other health care provider orders it. You will pay no out-of-pocket costs for these tests. In addition, Medicare also covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine. And while there’s currently no vaccine yet to protect against COVID-19, when one becomes available next year, it too will be covered by all Medicare prescription drug plans (Part D). If you happen to get your Medicare benefits through a private Medicare Advantage plan, you will have access to these same benefits. In addition, many Advantage plans are also expanding coverage of telemedicine, which allows beneficiaries to consult with medical professionals without having to go to a doctor’s office. Check with your plan for coverage details.

When to Call Your Doctor Older adults, aged 60 and older (especially those in their 70s and 80s), and people with chronic medical conditions like diabetes, heart, lung or kidney disease are at a higher risk of serious illness if they contract the

coronavirus. So, everyone in these categories need to be vigilant. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Severe cases can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death. If you develop any symptoms that are concerning, you should contact your primary-care provider by phone for guidance. If your doctor believes you need testing, he or she will instruct you on what to do. Unfortunately, there have been reports of test shortages across the country, so depending on where you live you may have to wait a few days.

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Prevention Tips To help you steer clear of COVID-19 the CDC recommends that you avoid close contact with anyone who is sick. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being out in public, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water isn’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. To the extent possible, try to avoid touching your face, nose and eyes. And avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places, like elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, and handshaking with people. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something. Also, clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces — tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and cell phones. You should also avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick. The CDC also recommends that seniors and high-risk individuals stock up on supplies, such as extra medications and groceries. And, if there is an outbreak in your community, remain at home as much as possible. They also discourage non-essential travel. For more information on the COVID-19, visit Coronavirus.gov.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior. org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • April 2020

Social Security Number for Children

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etting your newborn a Social Security number is important. If your child is born in a hospital, the easiest way to secure a Social Security number is when you give information for your child’s birth certificate. If you wait to apply for a number at a Social Security office, you may encounter delays while we verify your child’s birth certificate. When you give information for your child’s birth certificate at the hospital, you’ll be asked whether you want to apply for a Social Security number for your child. If you say “yes,” you need to provide both parents’ Social Security numbers, if you can. Even if you don’t know both parents’ Social Security numbers, you can still apply for a number for your child. There are many reasons why

Q&A Q: When a person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, are benefits payable on that person’s record? A: Social Security survivors benefits can be paid to: • A widow or widower — unreduced benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60; • A disabled widow or widower — as early as age 50; • A widow or widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits; • Unmarried children under 18 or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children; • Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled; and • Dependent parents age 62 or older. Even if you are divorced, you still may qualify for survivors benefits. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov. Q: I receive retirement benefits, but I also still work. How much can I earn and still collect full Social Security retirement benefits? A: Social Security uses the formulas below, depending on your age, to determine how much you can earn before we must reduce your benefit: • If you are younger than full retirement age: $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $2 you earn above the annual limit.

your child should have a Social Security number. You need a Social Security number to claim your child as a dependent on your income tax return. Your child may also need a number if you plan to: • Open a bank account for your child. • Buy savings bonds for your child. • Get medical coverage for your child. • Apply for government services for your child. You can read more about Social Security numbers for children at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10023. pdf. Share this information with people who are expecting a child. Applying for a Social Security card at the hospital will save them time and let focus on the new member of their family.

• In the year you reach your full retirement age: $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $3 you earn above a different limit, but we count only earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. • Starting with the month you reach full retirement age: You will get your benefits with no limit on your earnings. Find out your full retirement age at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/ ageincrease.htm. Q: Why should I sign up for a My Social Security online account? A: My Social Security gives you a personal online account you can securely use to check your Social Security information and do business with us. With a My Social Security account you can: • Keep track of your earnings and verify them every year; • Get an estimate of your future benefits if you are still working; • Get a replacement Social Security card if you meet certain criteria; • Get a letter with proof of your benefits if you currently receive them; and • Manage your benefits: – Change your address or telephone number; – Start or change your direct deposit; – Get a replacement Medicare card; and – Get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax season. To find all of the services available and set up an account, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.


5

Things You Need to Know About Hearing Loss By Ernst Lamothe Jr.

H

earing is one of the five senses. It is a complex process of picking up sounds, processing it and attaching it to meaning. The ability to hear is critical to understanding the world around us and connecting us to loved ones and colleagues. Approximately 20% of Americans — around 48 million Americans of all ages — have some degree of hearing loss, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, hearing loss occurs in five out of every 1,000 newborns each year in the United States. “Hearing is one of two senses that keeps us in contact with our environment. The other is vision,” said audiologist Doug Brown, who practices at dB Audiology Associates P.C. in Syracuse. Just because you’re born with good hearing does not mean you won’t eventually develop hearing issues. Brown offers five important facts to educate and help people conserve their hearing.    Hearing can be damaged by multiple daily activities  Hearing can be damaged by loud noises. Our day-to-day activities could accelerate our hearing issues. Many people turn their headphones to maximum volume so they won’t hear any outside noise. Volume level and length of listening are the two things that need to be balanced to prevent noise-induced hearing damage from headphones or earbuds.   “Hearing can be damaged by many recreational activities. Snowmobiles, race cars, motorcycles, music, power boats and firearms all contribute to permanent hearing

1.

changes if precautions are not taken to protect it,” said Brown. People can listen to 85 decibels of music for six hours without damage to their hearing. Despite 85 decibels being high enough, many young people reach higher than that. Anything higher than 85 decibels is immensely damaging. Normal conversation is about 60 decibels while a noise from lawn mower is about 90 decibles. Brown suggests a few precautions, including wearing earplugs when exposed to loud noises, getting yearly hearing exams, avoiding loud noises and avoiding listening to headphones louder than 60% volume.    Most hearing loss happens over time    Hearing loss damage occurs overtime because people don’t take proper precautions and avoid scheduling annual hearing exams. Hearing screening is a test to tell if people might have hearing loss. The tests are both easy and painless. Audiologists suggest that people receive regular screenings to check if their hearing is normal or near normal. “Hearing changes are gradual generally and may not be noticed for years until discerning words becomes prominent,” said Brown.   Keep a close eye on your hearing 

2.

ing consonants, frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly, and needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio. “If you experience a sudden change of hearing, it should be evaluated immediately. It is considered an emergency situation,” said Brown. Hearing loss is not reversible

4. Hearing loss is a decrease in the

ability to perceive sounds. It can be partial or total, sudden or gradual, temporary or permanent. It can affect one ear or both. In general, the risk of hearing loss increases with age. Some people experience more severe loss than others, and traditional treatment involves devices such as hearing aids. The effectiveness of these depends on the individual. “Hearing cannot be turned off. You can close your eyes to not see, but there is no body part that creates an ‘ear lid’.”

Hearing aids have evolved 5. In the 21st century, there have

been significant advances in hearing aid manufacturers. They have made improvements by developing hearing aids that are more effective for various types of hearing loss. That

Audiologist Doug Brown, who practices at dB Audiology Associates P.C. in Syracuse. includes those specifically made for high frequency hearing loss, along with better feedback management, noise reduction, rechargeable batteries and connectivity to Bluetooth technology. Digital hearing aids can help convert incoming sounds so that it can be amplified to an individual’s specific needs. They also analyze the listening environment every couple of milliseconds to determine if noise reduction assistance is needed. “There are many options available to both enhance and conserve hearing for most activities. They provide assistance to those who are experiencing hearing problems,” he added.

3. Hearing can change in a matter

of seconds. Some may not notice until it’s too late. Some of the signs and symptoms of hearing loss include muffling of speech and other sounds, difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd. In addition, trouble hear-

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