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February 2020 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Why more people say …

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2020

Report determines fate of MVHS campuses


fficials from the Mohawk Valley Health System and The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties released a consultant’s findings and recommended potential reuse options for the three main MVHS campuses: St. Luke’s, St. Elizabeth and Faxton. In February 2019, MVHS announced its decision to work with CHA Consulting, Inc., an international engineering consulting firm to perform a comprehensive evaluation of the potential repurposing of current MVHS facilities. CHA’s scope of services for the study included five broad components for the three MVHS campuses: market research and analysis, zoning analysis, hazardous material assessment, preliminary conditions assessment and redevelopment scenario analysis. Incorporating these components into the repurposing project will help MVHS develop a plan for the facilities that fits in with the longterm development goals of the surrounding municipalities and ensures that the three locations continue to contribute to the area economy. MVHS, The Community Foundation and CHA Consulting, Inc., engaged with neighboring businesses, residents, young professionals, community organizations and elected officials to solicit feedback on the best potential uses for the facilities. CHA prepared facility assessments for the St. Luke’s, St. Elizabeth

and Faxton campuses, summarizing each location’s zoning regulations, environmental assessments and the general condition of the facilities’ electrical, plumbing and fire suppression systems. CHA’s study determined that: — The St. Luke’s Campus, located at 1656 Champlin Ave., New Hartford, offers a variety of redevelopment options, such as housing for educational institutions or related mixed-use development of retail or restaurant space. — Best potential redevelopment uses for the St. Elizabeth Campus, 2209 Genesee St., Utica, include small retail-office space and housing. The road frontage along Genesee Street makes the campus attractive for housing and mixed-use options. — Given split zoning and size of existing parcels, together with the use of the facility as currently operated by MVHS, Faxton Campus redevelopment options would be limited for any future owner. Therefore, CHA recommended that Faxton remain owned and operated by MVHS. “The findings in this report are an important step in ensuring that the existing MVHS campuses continue to enhance their neighborhoods, either through appropriate redevelopment or, in the case of Faxton, as a part of MVHS’s regional commitment to health care,” said Bob Scholefield, executive vice president of facilities and real estate.

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Hibernation time for many Americans


ike the mighty grizzly bear that hibernates in winter, many people spend more time sleeping during this cold, dark season, a new survey reveals. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), 34% of Americans say they sleep more in winter, compared with 10% who claim they sleep less during this time of year. In summer, these numbers are turned around, with 36% saying they sleep less and 9% saying they sleep more than usual. “The shorter days during the winter create a great, natural opportunity to spend more time sleeping,” physician Kelly Carden, president of

February 2020 •

the AASM, said in an academy news release. Here are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep regardless of the season: • Set a bedtime that allows you to get enough sleep. • Avoid screens and electronics before bed. Exposure to light at night can disrupt the sleep cycle. • Avoid caffeine after lunch and alcohol near bedtime — both can disrupt sleep. • Relax before bed, by taking a warm bath, drinking tea, journaling or meditating. • Make your bedroom comfortable. It should be cave-like — quiet, dark and a little cool.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Your Doctor

By Barbara Pierce

Dr. Heidi S. Puc Dr. Heidi S. Puc is founder and physician owner of Integrative Medicine of Central New York (IM of CNY) in Chittenango. IM of CNY specializes in integrative adult and healing-oriented medicine. Q.: What exactly is integrative medicine? A.: Integrative medicine describes an approach to patient care in which the practitioner and patient are in a partnership to promote healing in the patient. It is care of the person as a whole; we look at the whole person and evaluate all the factors in his or her life that affect health and well-being, such as stressors at home and at work, diet, lifestyle, level of physical activity, sleep, and social and community connections. We try to find the root cause of disease and the obstacles to healing. When a patient comes to us, we listen to their story, review prior records, examine the patient, and order appropriate testing. Then we formulate a treatment plan in the context of that person’s life. Treatment may include many different modalities, both from conventional medicine and natural interventions. We bridge the natural and conventional. Treatment may or may not include medication, and it could include dietary changes, physical activity, herbal supplements, mind-body or energy therapies, and others. Q.: When you founded IM of CNY in August of 2018, what was your vision? A.: My vision was to create a safe, comfortable environment for patients, where their story is heard in a non-rushed fashion and where they are a offered a holistic approach to care. We offer a setting for people to be active participants in their care that empowers them to tap into their own inner healing. We place a high priority on giving each individual our undivided attention during his or her visit, and the office environment has been carefully crafted to be a place of nurturing for patients. At IM of CNY, we shift away from focusing on the disease to focusing on the person as a whole, as all aspects of mind, body, spirit and community affect our state of health. Q.: What are the main things you would like the community to know about IM of CNY? A.: IM of CNY specializes in integrative adult medicine consultations.

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about, which is integrative medicine. So, I guess I am passionate about living my passion! Q.: Is there anything else that you would like people to know about you or IM of CNY? A.: We at IM of CNY are here to serve the Central New York community in a very unique way: to always listen to the patient’s story, offer therapies beyond just the conventional, and to be the catalysts for the patient’s healing. I have so much to be grateful for at IM of CNY, with a team of amazing people who all have a passion for serving our patients in the practice of integrative medicine. I see patients in consultation, and am excited that two physician assistants are now The team at Integrative Medicine of Central New York (IM of CNY) in Chittenango includes, from working with me, Anleft, Heidi Baldwin, health coach; Dr. Heidi Puc, founder of IM of CNY; and physician assistants gelica Martin and Dina Angelica Martin and Dina Schnellinger. Schnellinger, who I have personally trained. We focus on Lyme disease treatment, conventional medicine to practice inI am also excited to announce integrative oncology, integrative pretegrative medicine in Albany, where that we soon will be starting to offer vention and wellness visits, medical I became trained in the management Clear Mind Center Neurofeedback marijuana consultations for New of Lyme disease. treatment for a variety of cognitive York state qualifying conditions, as I then decided to bring my and brain disorders. well as integrative nutrition holistic knowledge and experience back to Editor’s note: Puc and her staff health coaching. my community by opening up my at Integrative Medicine of Central We offer oral herbal supplements own integrative medicine practice in New York are accepting new pain our office and nutraceutical and Chittenango. tients. They are located at 1386 state antibiotic infusions in our infusion Q.: What are you most passionRoute 5 West, Suite 203, Chittenango, room, based on recommendations ate about? New York and can be reached at 315made during consultations. We A.: Living my truth in all ways, 741-5774. See https://www.imofcny. also offer complementary therapies and doing what I am passionate com for more information. including reiki, pranic healing, CBD oil, essential oils, and meditation.

Q.: How did you become involved with integrative medicine? A.: I practiced conventional medicine after I completed my fellowship in adult oncology and hematology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, specializing in cancer and blood disorders. After I had a personal experience with reiki and meditation, I became interested in integrative medicine. I trained through the Scripps Clinic in California, followed by a two-year integrative medicine fellowship with Dr. Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona. Weil is considered a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine. For a while, I combined integrative medicine with my oncology practice. Taking a leap of faith, I left

Lifelines Birth year: 1964 Birthplace: Brooklyn Current residence: Manlius Education: Bachelor of Science degree, The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at the City College of New York (a combined college and medical school training program affiliated with Mount Sinai School of Medicine); medical degree, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York; fellow in medical oncology-hematology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York; medical internship/residence in internal medicine, Cornell University Medical College Affiliated Hospitals of the New York Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York Personal: Engaged, three children Hobbies: Meditation or anything spiritual, hiking outdoors especially in the Adirondacks, camping, and enjoying my family and pets (two dogs and four cats)

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2020

Golden Years The Balanced Body

By Deb Dittner

Secrets of Centenarians Here are the answers to living a long, prosperous life


any continue to look for the “fountain of youth” or ways to extend the “golden

years.” Being able to maintain youthfulness and vitality and lead a prosperous life have been in search engines for many. And then there are the centenarians who live long lives full of joy, optimism and good health throughout the aging process. Centenarians have lower rates of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, fewer rates of depression and Dittner a life span full of positive interventions. Through surveys and interviews, research of centenarians has led to specific aspects of their lives that tend to come up over and over again. Let’s dive into a few of these explanations. — Sound sleep: Even as you age, appropriate amounts of sound sleep are necessary for mind and body. Consider 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly to maintain good physical and mental health. Your circadian rhythm affects the sleep-wake cycle, controls hormones and body temperature, and affects cell regeneration. To improve sleep, consider darkening shades, a cool temperature and no electronics. — Refuel the body: Eat whole nutrient-dense food and mostly a plant-based diet. Foods to consider incorporating are vegetables (4 to 6 servings daily), fruits (1 to 3 servings daily), nuts and seeds, herbs, beans and legumes, high-quality fats such as olive oil and avocado, fermented foods (yogurt, sauerkraut, miso) and organic whole grains. Anti-inflammatory foods high in anti-oxidants

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fight disease and naturally control hunger. Consider at least half of your plate to consist of plant-based sources providing lots of fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. As you age, there is a loss of muscle mass requiring the need for increased protein in your diet. You may want to consider a fasting protocol (please consult your primary provider before undertaking this step) and avoid eating 2 to 3 hours before bed as late-night eating can add excess and unwanted pounds being stored as fat. Avoid processed and packaged foods. Filling your cupboards and refrigerator with healthy foods sets you up for positive outcomes. — Nutrients and supplementation: Specific nutrients are necessary to maintain cognitive health in the prevention of dementia. Nutrients such as Vitamin D, magnesium, folate, astaxanthin, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, zinc and selenium can be acquired through whole nutrient-dense foods and also supplementation. Your health care provider can test for



A monthly newspaper published by Local News, Inc. 20,000 copies distributed. To request home delivery ($21 per year), call 315-749-7070.

In Good Health is published 12 times a year by Local News, Inc. © 2020 by Local News, Inc. All rights reserved. Mailing Address: 4 Riverside Drive, Suite 251, Utica, NY 13502 • Phone: 315-749-7070 Email: lou@cnymail.com

Editor & Publisher: Wagner Dotto Associate Editor: Lou Sorendo Contributing Writers: Barbara Pierce, David Podos, Deb Dittner, Jessica Arsenault Rivenburg, Brooke Stacia Demott, Daniel Baldwin, Traci DeLore Advertising: Amy Gagliano Layout & Design: Dylon Clew-Thomas Office Assistant: 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.


Environmental threats

— Remove toxins: Toxins come in many forms, from the air you breathe, the water you drink, the foods (or food-like products) you ingest, and also from the synthetic products you use in your homes and on your body. Of course, you don’t have control over all of this but you do have control over a good portion that needs to be addressed. Some toxins to be aware of are butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, fragrance, color dyes, poly-

ethylene glycol, triclosan, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, and toluene, just to name a few. — Exercise daily and maintain a healthy weight: Enjoy what you do for physical movement. Walking is one of the simplest forms of exercise. If you live in a city or near the center of a town, walk to do errands. Consider yoga, tai chi, or other sports with family and friends. Plant a garden as this will not only provide exercise, but will also provide whole foods and stress reduction. By consistently being active, you will reduce inflammation, decrease stress, and improve bone, heart and muscular health. — Social support from family and friends: Surround yourself with people who share your ideals — your peeps. Being connected to community decreases stress as the support of others improving the quality of life. Chronic stress is one of the biggest contributors to inflammation and chronic disease. Talking, cooking, sharing ideas, and community involvement provides support and reduces anxiety. Family and the love of parents and grandparents provide purpose and interaction in your life and needs to be cherished. • Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes. For more information, check out her website at www.debdittner. com or contact her at 518-596-8565.

As minimum wage rises, suicide rates take plunge


inimum wage laws can be a literal lifesaver for people who are struggling to get by, a new study suggests. The suicide rate declines among less-educated folks when the minimum wage is increased, researchers discovered. States experience as much as a 6% decrease in their suicide rates for every $1 increase in the minimum wage, said lead researcher John Kaufman, a doctoral student of epidemiology at Emory University, in Atlanta. A $1 increase in the federal minimum wage could have prevented 13,800 suicides among less-educated adults aged 18 to 64 during the peak in unemployment following the 2009 financial crash, researchers estimated. A $2 increase would have prevented 25,900 suicides between 2009 and 2015.

February 2020 •

This effect is solely among people with a high school education or less, Kaufman said, and it grows stronger when the unemployment rate is higher. “During periods of high unemployment, people are more willing to work at lower-wage jobs, and those lower-wage jobs are going to be the ones that have increased pay if there’s an increase in minimum wage,” Kaufman said. “Those jobs become more valuable both to the people working and to their dependents and their families, compared to times when the economy is doing well.” For this study, researchers analyzed changes in minimum wage laws and unemployment rates for all 50 states, and compared that economic data against each state’s suicide rate. They tracked this data between 1990 and 2015.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Golden Years Now hear this! Hearing loss common problem for older adults By Barbara Pierce


earing may be the most underappreciated of the five senses. If you can’t see well, of course you go ahead and get glasses. If you can’t hear well, even in this day and age, people are still reluctant to admit they need to see a hearing specialist. Do you have trouble understanding conversations in noisy places? Do you often have to ask others to repeat themselves because you feel like they’re mumbling or talking too softly? Is it especially hard to hear what your young grandchildren are saying?

Does your family complain that you have the TV too loud? Do you have occasional or constant ringing in your ears? If you have any of these signs, you may be one of three persons over age 60 that has some hearing loss. Of persons over the age of 75, nearly half have hearing loss. Many factors contribute to hearing loss as you age. Age-related hearing loss is the most common cause, stemming from changes in the hearing system. Also, medical conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can contribute to hearing loss. Some medications, such as chemotherapy, can be toxic to the

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sensory cells in ears. If your hearing is impaired, your brain has to work harder to make out the words and sounds. Persons with hearing loss experience a 40% faster decline in cognitive ability. The hearing center of the brain shrinks when you have age-related hearing loss. Other areas of the brain must take over to help compensate. It’s a risk factor for dementia. And it’s hard on relationships — it affects your relationships with family and friends. It may cause others to resent you. It gives rise to loneliness as you may withdraw from others. “Most people who have hearing loss don’t realize it,” said Clayton Andrews, board-certified hearing instrument specialist at Upstate Hearing, Inc., Oswego. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years; I’ve found people may have severe hearing loss and they don’t realize it. They’re shocked to hear that they do. Their loved ones have noticed,” he said. “Hearing loss is sneaky. Like a cancer, it sneaks up on you,” he explained. The loss usually occurs gradually. “It takes most people seven to 10 years to come to an acceptance that they have hearing loss,” he added.

In state of denial

Even when we become aware that we have hearing loss, many of us still don’t want to deal with it. The reasons are endless. We worry how hearing aids will look; we don’t want to admit we’re older, and we are

concerned about the cost. Hearing aids have come a long way, especially in the last five to 10 years. Technology has advanced a great deal, making them much easier to wear. “Hearing aids are all but invisible now,” said Andrews. “In the past, they were big, ugly, and very apparent. Now, most are invisible. In fact, with Bluetooth technology, hearing aids are fashionable.” “Yes, hearing aids are overpriced,” he agreed. “But this is changing quickly. Prices have gone down significantly. And more and more insurances are giving hearing aids as a benefit.” However, Medicare still does not cover hearing aids. Shop around, he advised. Get a second, even a third, opinion. Stick to a professional. Costco is the top retailer for hearing aids, Andrews suggested. At Costco, a pair of hearing aids fitted by a licensed professional costs about $1,500 for members. “At Upstate Hearing, our most reasonable price is $2,000 a pair, professionally fit, with a three-year warranty — this is very affordable for good hearing aids. If the price is over $4,000, definitely you should shop around and get another opinion. We’re opposed to overpricing at Upstate.” Upstate encourages you to test the hearing aids they recommend, and wear them for free for a week or two to see how they work for you. Under New York state law that applies to all sales of hearing aids, if you return the hearing aid within 45 days of purchase, you are entitled to a full refund of the total purchase price, less 10%. “If you don’t like the way it works, you get your money back,” said Andrews. Also, Andrews recommends the use of a third party referral system, like Truhearing.com or Hearing.com. “They will refer you to a professional and you’ll get the best price. If you go through a third party, the cost will be significantly less than if you walked into a retail store,” he said. Don’t ignore your loss of hearing. Taking care of it will change your life and change your relationships with the people you love, Andrews added. For more information on Upstate Hearing, Inc. see its website at https://upstatehearinginc.com/ or call 315-312-0097.

Applications open for community impact grants


he American Heart Association wants to help local organizations create a healthier Mohawk Valley. Applications are opening for the AHA’s Community Impact Grants. The grants help local groups start or continue projects aimed at improving the health of the community. The AHA is looking for innovative programs that address social determinants of health and work to increase the consumption of healthy foods, increase the number of individuals who meet the recommended amount of physical activity, reduce

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2020

tobacco use and increase access to blood pressure screenings and education that can be tied to health outcomes in the underserved populations. Grant funding is available for up to $10,000 per project, with a total of $40,000 available. The term of the proposed project is 12 months from June 1 to May 31, 2021. Grant applications can be submitted online at https://heartofuticagrants.heart.org. For more information, email heartofutica@heart.org or call 315580-3963.

Golden Years Hang on to those memories Memory hacks to help you remember things By Barbara Pierce


he average person squanders 40 days a year trying to remember things he or she has forgotten. That’s 40 days a year lost, running around looking for keys or eyeglasses, running through our mind trying to remember this or that. Most of us occasionally forget things — we forget names, we can’t find our car keys, or we forget something we needed from the store. Most of the time we forget because we’re really not paying attention. We’re distracted — thinking about all the things we have to do when we walk through the door of our house, so we don’t pay attention to where we put our keys. When we meet someone new, we’re thinking about what we want to say next, or his or her weird hair or whatever, so we don’t really listen to names. Think back to our ancestors many, many years ago. They needed to remember where to find food, where the non-poisonous berries are, how to bring down a deer, how to catch a fish, and how to get home from the lake. They didn’t need to remember phone numbers, hundreds of passwords, or where they left their car at the mega mall. Our brains were shaped by the kind of remembering our ancestors did. Our brains don’t remember all types of information equally as well. But we can train them to do better. The point of memory techniques is to take the kind of memories our brains aren’t good at holding onto and transforming them into the kind of memories our brains are built for. Things that grab our attention are more memorable — perverse, different, nasty, disgusting things. • Finding stuff, like your keys or eyeglasses: Sometimes a good memory has more to do with organization than brainpower. If you regularly find yourself searching for your keys, put a basket or hook by the door. Put your keys in the same place as soon as you get home, every time. Routine is a friend to memory — every time you get the keys from their place, you reinforce the critical neural connections in your brain. • Remembering names: The main reason we don’t remember people’s names is that we’re not really paying attention. When we aren’t paying attention, the memories we create are weak.

When you forget someone’s name two seconds after you’ve heard it, it’s not a problem with your memory, suggests Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center. It’s a problem with your focus. “Look, snap and connect” is the technique Small recommends. When you meet someone, really “look” at her and listen to her name.

Make connection

Make a mental picture (“snap”) of her name and face, and mentally “connect” them: That’s Sandy, lying on a sandy beach. Our brains are hardwired to remember visual images; we remember pictures easier than words. Just met a Mr. Siegel? Picture his face on a seagull. If he’s Steve, picture him on a stove; Liz, a lizard gliding on her face. Ask them to repeat their name if you didn’t hear it right. Even ask how to spell it, as that will really help you visualize the name with the face. People don’t mind being asked; actually, they like it. Another tip: Use their name in a sentence and again when you’re ending the conversation. “So nice to meet you, Debi.” Keep the name running through your head as you talk to them. Then think: “Debi has pretty white teeth; Debi has an interesting job I’d like to ask her about,” etc. Then make note of it. Use your smart phone. “Write down things you want to remember,” suggests Fred Deck, administrator, The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing, Ilion. “Use your calendar or your phone, even for simple things.” • Remembering where you parked: Use the “look, snap, connect” technique to easily find your car in the parking lot. As soon as you park, “look” to see what section you’re in. Then, “snap”— create a mental snapshot. If you’re in section 3D, imagine three dogs laughing at you. If the sections aren’t numbered, notice what store you are in front of and where you are in relationship to that store, and make that your memory. Connect by speaking it aloud a few times to help cement the memory. • Remembering passwords: Create a base password, something that you can easily remember. For example, mine is something like Daisy12 — the name of my dog and the year of her birth. Then I use that

‘Write down things you want to remember. Use your calendar or your phone, even for simple things.’

base password with the addition of something from the website: UB for Bank of Utica. My password for UB: Daisy12UB. My password for Amazon.com: Daisy12amazon. “Drink in moderation — too many drinks can affect your memory,” Deck reminds us. Also, some medications can do destructive things to your brain cells.

If your memory is getting worse, look into your medication for a culprit. Stretch your brain to keep your mind sharp, advises Deck. People who are more active in mentally challenging activities are more likely to stay sharp. The adage, “Use it or lose it,” holds true as we age.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 7

Golden Years

Winter mood lifters Got cabin fever and a bit of the blues? Get up and move! By Barbara Pierce


t’s February. It’s the month to hunker down and weather the storms as well as snow, snow and more snow. These chilly temperatures and dark dreary days make you want to huddle under a cozy blanket. Yes, the weather is colder and the days are shorter, causing many of us to feel drowsy, down, and low in energy. Less sun affects our internal body clock, which can cause a drop in serotonin levels. Serotonin regulates our mood and can cause us to have those dragged down feelings some call the “blues,” or seasonal affective disorder. In addition to feeling down and fatigued with low motivation, some even have difficulty concentrating. The good news is there are ways you can brighten up your days to battle the winter blues and put a spring back into your step. • Spend time by a fire: Sitting by a fire eases blood pressure and helps you relax. The warmth, the crackling sounds, the smoky smell and light of a fire helps soothe and comfort, especially when it’s cold. • Consider candles: There’s just something about being near the light of fuzzy, flickering candles that makes you feel cozy. • Employ flower power: “Chase away the winter blues with flowers,” suggests Margaret DeCarr, co-owner, Massaro & Son Florist in Herkimer. “During the winter, many people come in to pick up a few flowers to add color to our gray days.” People who wake up to flowers reported they were in a better

mood, found a recent study. Science has proven that flowers and plants naturally have a positive impact on our well-being. So, place a vase of tulips or daisies on your bedside table. When in doubt, opt for blooms that are yellow, a hue that’s often associated with sunshine, energy and happiness. • Get out of the house: Don’t socially isolate yourself. Break out of your routine and seek warmth and companionship for cheap, good fun. Go for a walk, go for a latte, or sing at your place of worship. Even if you want to stay inside and snuggle up on your couch, only do it sparingly. Getting out and mingling with people will lift your mood. Catching up with friends over breakfast or coffee can be a great pick-me-up. Find a group or committee for a hobby or cause you are

interested in.

Survey: Eye health education vision for the future


survey conducted by The Harris Poll has uncovered key gaps in American’s knowledge of eye health, and what they don’t know is putting them at risk of vision loss. With the number of people affected by potentially blinding eye diseases expected to double in the years ahead, it’s critical that people better understand eye health. The American Academy of Ophthalmology is urging Americans to get smart about eye health in 2020. This survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in August 2019 among more than 3,500 U.S. adults age 18 and older. Here are some of the key findings: • While 81% of adults say they are knowledgeable about eye/vision health, less than one in five (19%) were able to correctly identify the three main causes of blindness in the U.S., which are glaucoma, age-related Page 8

Just breathe

• Even though it’s cold outside, bundle up and make it a point to get some fresh air every day. Getting fresh air increases your energy, reduces stress and depression, clears your head, and improves your sleep. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins, which trigger positive feelings. Try going outside for five minutes; you may realize how beautiful it is and stay longer. Or, play your favorite music loudly and dance. Walk your dog instead of letting it go in the back yard. Go to the local museum and walk around all the exhibits. Every bit of exercise makes you happier and healthier. • Walk the happy walk: Happy people walk with an upright, steady

macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic eye disease. • Less than half (47%) are aware that vision loss and blindness does not affect all people equally. • Only around one-third of adults (37%) know you do not always experience symptoms before you lose vision to eye diseases. • Less than half (47%) are aware your brain can make it difficult to know if you are losing your vision by adapting to vision loss. “Far too often, we witness the consequences of patients entering the ophthalmologist’s office too late to avoid severe vision loss,” said physician Anne L. Coleman, Ph.D., president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “In 2020, we want all Americans to have clear vision when it comes to eye health. That starts with educating yourself about eye diseases and visiting an ophthalmologist.”

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2020

torso and swinging arms. People in one study who walked as if they were sad (slowly, without a lot of energy or body movement) ended up feeling sadder. • Pull out a good book: One good thing about being cooped up in the cold all winter is it means lots of time for reading. Fuzzy socks, a roaring fire, and a cup of something warm and tasty puts us in the mood for an absorbing read. “I love cozying up with a good book,” said Christine Fleischer, director, Frank J. Basloe Library, Herkimer. Some of her recommendations: — Fiction: “Where the Crawdads Sing,” Delia Owens; “Turning Point,” Danielle Steel; “The Silent Patient,” Alex Michaelides; “Every Breath,” Nicholas Sparks; “The Reckoning,” John Grisham — Memoirs: “Becoming,” Michelle Obama; “Educated,” Tara Westover — Of local interest: “Murder and Mayhem in Herkimer County,” Caryl Hopson and Susan Perkins; “A Woman Condemned,” James Greiner “And of course, you can get physical books, e-books, audiobooks, DVDs and more, all for free at your local library,” Fleischer added. • Eat well: Over the past couple of years, studies have shown a strong relationship between diet and mental health — a healthy diet can help prevent and treat depression. So, if your mood is low, consider what you’re eating. During the winter, it’s tempting to eat heavy comfort food, but it is important to consume mostly vegetables, fruit and lean proteins, especially if you’re prone to depression. • Enjoy the sunshine: Getting enough sunshine is a simple and natural way to boost your mood. During the day, leave your curtains and blinds open as long as possible. If you can, take a walk while it’s still bright out, preferably in the morning. According to researchers, sunshine may increase levels of serotonin in the brain.

Golden Years Rekindle that spark As you age, don’t settle for declining energy

produce Vitamin D.” Another important cause of loss ust because you’re getting older of energy is inactivity. “When we’re doesn’t mean you need to feel inactive, our aging muscles get weak, older. Far too many older folks which causes further loss,” said Puc. simply accept loss of energy as part You’ve seen the TV commercial of the aging process. that says: “A body at rest will remain Loss of energy, feeling weary at rest; a body in motion will remain and experiencing that tiredness that in motion.” A wise and true statedoesn’t go away ment made by physicist Isaac Neweven when you ton many years ago. rest — you don’t In other words, if you spend have to resign most of your days sitting around doyourself to this ing little physical activity, your body as part of normal will adapt to that sedentary lifestyle. older you are, the more quickly your ing socially isolated. They feel like aging. Your energy level will deteriorate. new-found vigor will atrophy if not they just don’t have enough energy Fatigue and Probably the most important constantly reinforced, and the slower to shower, get dressed and drive weakness are not thing we can do to prevent declining it will return once you begin to be to their friends, their club, church, to-be-expected energy is ensuring that we remain active once more. senior center or wherever. They gradconsequences of physically active and don’t become There are many overlooked and ually get out of the house less and growing older. sedentary. lesser-known causes of loss of energy. less frequently. Social isolation leads Many people “To avoid the cycle of decline, it to many related health problems, like Some health issues, like anemia, Puc have the percepis important to continue to be physidehydration, hypercalcemia, and depression, cognitive decline, and tion that aging cally active,” recommended Puc. “Do heart disease. thyroid disorder might be playing a equals decline. That’s just wrong, say any enjoyable activity, like gardening role in your fatigue. Declining energy impacts the the experts. Of course, peoples’ bodor walking, so that it becomes a regu- likelihood of continuing to live Some medications and some ies do change as they get on in years. lar part of your life.” medical treatments can drain energy. independently. If one’s mental and But it is a gradual process. Choose activities you find Emotional issues that one may not physical abilities decline enough, One common thing that causes interesting. You are more likely to even be aware of, like depression, excontinuing to live independently lack of energy is a declining level of keep up with an activity routine if cessive worrying, orMP grief,Order can cause Propo may be impossible. Vitamin D in our blood as we age, This it’s fun a chore.at Consider adrather will than appear the classification of:when one fatigue. Also, sleep challenges and And, of course, said Heidi S. Puc, founder and phywalking in the morning sunlight and some foods, especially fried foods or becomes inactive, muscles become sician owner of Integrative Medicine getting Romea dose NY of Vitamin D. sweets, can cause loss of energy. weaker and weaker. Falls are the of Central New York (IM of CNY), “It takes energy to make enerA sudden change in your level leading cause of both fatal and Chittenango. IM of CNY specializes with gy,”in is another wise saying.05/2014 If you Home Date of energy could be significant and a nonfatal injuries among older adults, in integrative adult medicine, healuse energy being active, your body sign of a stroke. as well as the leading reason for ing-oriented medicine that bridges Date: 17,the 2014 Sales Rep: GRIMALDI, JENNIFER L Size:about HCN6 will adaptMarch by making energyAcct# you A1ZGFE If you are concerned yourAd Id: AM a move to assisted living. Having conventional and natural medicine. need for your activities. You’ll have declining energy, discuss this with good balance can help prevent falls; Vitamin D is vital to boosting our more energy — just like you did your health care provider. The earlier balance depends on strength in one’s energy. When your skin is exposed to when you were younger. you identify and deal with these muscles. sunlight, it makes vitamin D. problems, the better. Restoring strength and energy “In this area, we’re further away For more information on Puc Slipping into isolation cannot be done on an on and off from the equator, so we have lower and IM of CNY, visit https://www. basis. You have to be active every Don’t underestimate the impact levels of intense sunlight,” explained imofcny.com or call 315-741-5774. day if you are over 50, because the of declining energy; chronically weaPuc. “And, as we age, our skin ry older adults are at risk of becomdoesn’t as effectively use sunlight to By Barbara Pierce


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he Utica Municipal Housing Authority recently began the second year of its homeless street outreach program to serve the city of Utica. Funded by the City of Utica Emergency Solutions HUD grant in the amount of $21,249, the program is the area’s first homeless street outreach service. In 2019, the program served about 50 homeless persons. Through the AmeriCorps Housing Opportunity Center, the UMHA conducts street outreach targeted to areas known to have high numbers of homeless persons. Outreach teams travel to areas where people in need reside or congregate, such as encampments, under bridges, abandoned buildings, and will provide on-site services. Three AmeriCorps members will be assigned to the program. The program helps street home-

less persons to find emergency, transitional, and permanent housing, and apply for public housing and Section 8, obtain necessary benefit programs and services, and begin the path to self-sufficiency. As part of the intake process, the program assesses the client needs and develops a housing action plan. The program provides training in how to rent an apartment and maintain a harmonious and professional relationship with a landlord. If you or someone you know is in need, the Utica Housing Authority can be contacted at 315735-5246/315.735-3366, ext. 25 or cnyhirc@gmail.com. Staff can be reached 24 hours, seven days a week at 315-982-3731. Offices are located at Perretta Twin Towers, 509 Second St., Utica. All services are free and confidential.

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Page 9

Golden Years

Back in the Race Heart attack survivor recounts long trail to recovery By David L. Podos


ecovering from any major illness can be a gargantuan battle, and one Central New York woman has had her share — not just one major battle, but a series of dire health conditions that nearly ended her life. Anne Proppe of Baldwinsville is an active and civic-minded person who is involved in a number of volunteer opportunities. She is an avid runner who has competed in numerous marathons and holds a third-degree black belt in martial arts. She is also a passionate animal lover and shares her life with her two dogs, Tobie and Riley. Both dogs have had and still continue to have a significant impact on Proppe’s life. Proppe was training for her black belt in 2005 and noticed she was having some difficulties breathing properly and instead of getting stronger through her training, she found herself getting weaker. Concerned, she went to see her doctor who did an echocardiogram, a test using ultrasound waves that shows the heart’s valves and chambers. The test found her aortic valve was 98 percent blocked. “People with this kind of problem often just drop dead,” explains Proppe. “But I was lucky.” She had surgery to replace her faulty heart valve and the surgery was successful. “After the surgery, I was determined to get back out and someday continue my running, and so I did, but very slowly,” she said. “First, it was a walk outside just to the mailbox. Then I set my sights on walking to the telephone pole, and gradually I increased the length of my walking and by the end of the first month after my operation, I was back out jogging three miles,” Proppe said. Even though Proppe’s operation was successful, in 2014 while in her

early 60s, she started to lose weight quite rapidly. After going to a number of doctors to determine what was causing her weight loss, she finally ended up going to Boston, Massachusetts where doctors determined she had a pancreatic tumor.

Beating the odds

Lucky for Proppe, it was benign but still a serious condition. The doctors told her at the time they were aware of only three people in the world who had a pancreatic tumor that was not cancerous, and she was one of the three. Proppe eventually fought her way back to health and went on to train for another marathon. However, she went to her cardiologist prior to the race for a checkup, and was told she would not be running in She was told the artificial heart valve that was put in back in 2005 was beginning to wear out and she would need a new one. That surgery was also successful and today, Proppe is a healthy senior and still very much in competition as a runner. While Proppe is quick to say that her fighting spirit and faith kept her going, it was Tobie — her Maltese — that had a significant impact on her recoveries. “When I got back from the hospital Tobie was so happy to see me. He never left my side, slept next to me and when I had to get up, he was right there following me everywhere I went throughout the house,” she said. “He just inspired me to keep going. His love for me was so innocent, unconditional and real.” Riley, her golden retriever, also was a big help and is Proppe’s No. 1 running buddy. “No matter what the weather, he just doesn’t care; he wants to go out and run alongside of me. He has been a great motivator,” she noted. For anyone who has suffered a

Anne Proppe of Baldwinsville walks or runs every day with her dog Riley. “I always feel better when I come back, and so does she,” she says. heart attack, Proppe highly recommends getting a dog companion if you don’t already have one and a rescue dog if possible. Here are some sobering statistics from the Centers for Disease Control: — Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2020


Health News in Brief SDMG selects employee of year Meghan Misiaszek has been named employee of the year for 2019 at Slocum-Dickson Medical Group, New Hartford. Misiaszek is a graduate of Mohawk Valley Community College. She began her career with Slocum-Dickson in September of 2016 as a patient service representative. In 2018, she made the transiMisiaszek tion to payment poster in the business office, where her outstanding work ethic and attention to detail led her to her current role as payment posting team lead. “Meghan’s energetic and positive attitude coupled with her willingness to help out whenever and where ever she is needed has earned her the title of employee of the year,” an SDMG spokesperson said. “Meghan can be counted on to take on additional tasks whenever necessary, always putting forth maximum effort to ensure success.”

Home and Garden Expo on agenda The Home Builders & Remodelers Association of the Mohawk Valley have open registration for businesses that want to get in front of thousands who attend the Home & Garden Expo in March 2020. The expo is dedicated to the home building and remodeling industry and has been expanded, offering more for families and information for gardening enthusiasts. There will be kid-friendly, handson crafts and projects for families. The expo is March 7-8 in the Jorgensen Athletic Center at Mohawk Valley Community College and allows consumers the chance to get information from qualified, professional contractors and gardening experts. For more information, visit https://www.mvhomegardenexpo. com/.

Country music event to benefit The Arc The Friends of The Arc Foundation is bringing multi-platinum MCA Nashville recording artist Josh Turner to Central New York for a concert on April 3 at the Stanley Theatre, Utica. Tickets are available for purchase at ticketmaster.com, the Stanley Theatre box office, or by calling 315-7244000. All proceeds from the show will benefit The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter. “Not only will fans be treated to a fantastic show at a historic venue, but they’re also helping support a deep-rooted organization that changes lives,” said Adrienne Carbone, Friends of The Arc Foundation board president. With a rich, deep voice and distinctive style, Turner has sold more than 12.5 million units, is a disciple of traditional country music, and one of the youngest members of the esteemed Grand Ole Opry.

By Daniel Baldwin

Your Administrator

Darlene Stromstad

Mohawk Valley Health System president-CEO leads organization into new era of growth, prosperity


ohawk Valley Health System President-CEO Darlene Stromstad began working as a newspaper reporter in North Dakota in her mid-20s. She never considered working in a health care system or hospital until she saw what it was like working in a medical environment. Stromstad’s interest working at hospitals grew after what she experienced, and she later put aside her reporting to pursue a career in the medical field. She first did transformational health care-related work, but she slowly worked her way up the medical ladder, becoming the CEO for the Waterbury Health Network in Waterbury, Connecticut and interim CEO of Fenway Health in Boston, Massachusetts. Stromstad finally reached the top of the ladder one year ago when she became the president-CEO of MVHS. She has already had a successful one-year stint, providing more job opportunities to recent medical graduates and making the company’s vision of opening a new medical center in downtown Utica a reality. Q.: At what point in life did you decide to pursue a career in the medical field? A.: At my first job, I was exposed to transformational health care and was part of an organization that was building a new medical center. I knew then this was where I was going to spend my career. I get to work with people who are really smart but also really caring, you get connected to patients and their families, and your work is very meaningful. Q.: Out of all the medical facilities throughout the U.S., why have you decided to move to the Mohawk Valley and accept the role as MVHS president-CEO? A.: The Mohawk Valley Health System is the right place for me. It’s big enough to be interesting, but small enough where you can come and make a difference. I love community-based health care and that’s what this is. I have the opportunity now to be part of rebuilding health care with the building of a new regional medical center. This is a great opportunity that doesn’t come along in a lot of people’s careers, so I’m very honored to be here. Q.: What are your main responsibilities as MVHS president-CEO? A.: I need to do whatever it takes to ensure that we are providing high-quality, safe and effective health care for this community. I motivate and lead a team of professionals who will partner in managing a very complicated industry.

medical center will mean to our health care environment is really a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity. It will allow us to attract new physicians and other health care professionals into the community. Having a new facility with stateof-the-art equipment is very attractive to young professionals who are looking for good jobs in health care. All of that comes together here. We are very excited about our growth and potential, and we’re already seeing physicians who are interested in coming to this community.

We are connecting with patients and their families when they’re at their most vulnerable. I can go from focusing on the tiniest details to making multi-million dollar decisions in a course of a day. Q.: What are your thoughts about the current state MVHS is in right now, with construction of a new hospital in the downtown area and the increase in job opportunities? A.: In the Mohawk Valley, we’re seeing growth and a lot of interest from businesses. The community is feeling very positive about its future, and we are here to add onto the Mohawk Valley. What this new regional

Q.: What is the one thing you love about this job? A.: I love how every day you can go home knowing you’ve made a difference. There’s no end to the opportunities to have a positive impact on your community, employees and patients. Q.: What words of encouragement would you like to offer to recent medical graduates who are looking to become a physician and possibly work at MVHS? A.: It’s really important to find a place where you will fit. If you are someone who really likes interaction with patients and want to build a long-term relationship with them, then this is the place for you. If you want to be able to see the benefits of your career over years, then you can do that in a community like this. If you want to hide in the woodwork and not have interactions with people, don’t come to MVHS.

Lifelines Birthplace: Crosby, North Dakota Current residence: Clinton Education: Bachelor’s degree, journalism, University of North Dakota; Master of Business Administration, Riverside College, Nashua, New Hampshire Hobbies: “I don’t have a lot of extra time, so I purposely build in activities that would contribute to my health. So I try to exercise regularly, and I also schedule time to see my friends. My partner Ken and I are both avid readers and we like movies.”

February 2020 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 11

Dental Health Smile with Dr. Suy

By Dr. Salina Suy

Dental, overall health intrinsically linked


ost of us would think that the mouth and the heart, brain and lungs have nothing to do with one another, but increasing evidence has continued to link oral health with overall health. A groundbreaking study completed by the Centers for Disease Control found that almost 50% of the U.S. population aged 30 years and older Suy have periodontal disease. For those aged 65 and older, it was 70%. Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory oral disease that can occur due to poor oral hygiene and the accumulation of bacteria, plaque and tartar in the mouth. When periodontitis is left untreated, it can lead to chronic bacterial inflammation, infection and bone loss. Periodontal disease is more common in men, smokers and increases

with age. As we continue to live longer, maintaining good oral health to retain the teeth we have means more now than ever. Periodontal disease is now linked to other diseases and conditions such as diabetes, lower birth weight babies, rheumatoid arthritis, an increase risk of pancreatic cancer and heart, lung and brain diseases.

Oral, heart health link

Research points to link gum disease with a higher chance of heart disease, stroke and sudden vascular events. Research suspects the bacteria present in gum disease can travel throughout the body through everyday activities such as eating and drinking. Think about it — every time you swallow, you swallow the oral bacteria present! This bacterium then enters your bloodstream, accumulating and triggering inflammation and infection. Inflammation sets off a cascade of vascular damage throughout the body, including the heart and brain, while the heart vessels become at risk of infection.

Oral bacteria have been uncovered in the fatty deposits of people with atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries. If those plaques remain untreated, they can lead to narrow or broken arteries. Patients with certain existing heart conditions require antibiotics before dental procedures to protect the heart. These conditions include artificial heart valve, history of infective endocarditis, congenital heart disease, transplant, heart valves scarred by conditions such as rheumatic fever, mitral valve prolapse with murmur, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Oral, pulmonary health

Research shows oral bacteria into lungs can cause infection and that periodontal disease-associated enzymes can change the mucosal linings throughout the pulmonary tract, making it more difficult for respiratory pathogens to be eliminated and increasing likelihood of infection. Oral bacteria can make pre-existing pulmonary conditions worse due to associated inflammation.

Oral, brain health

Can brushing daily give you better brain health? Research shows that oral bacteria entering through the bloodstream secrete toxic protein that destroys brain neurons and boosts components of brain plaques. Gum disease has been linked to Alzhei-





mer’s disease and increases chances of early onset dementia.

Do I have periodontal disease?

If you haven’t seen us in a while, do a self-exam and check yourself out in a bathroom mirror. Although it may not necessarily mean you have gum disease, here are some warning signs you may have gum disease: • Red, swollen, or tender gums • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food • Receding gums • Loose or separating teeth • Persistent bad breath With regular care, periodontal disease can be managed and your risk with the associated diseases can go back to normal. Remember this: If you have periodontal disease, you may need to see your dentist more often then twice a year. Your health is your wealth. Remember to brush, floss, brush your tongue and cleanse your mouth daily. — Dr. Salina Suy is an advocate for dentistry, health & beauty. She practices at Zalatan Dental Modern Dentist in Utica, NY. Suy serves as the 5th district ethics chairwoman for the New York State Dental Association, as treasurer for the Oneida Herkimer County Dental Society and as a hospital attending at MVHS. For more information, call 315-7243197 or visit www.modern.dentist.

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

Page 12

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2020

Mental Health Between You & Me

By Barbara Pierce

It matters to be liked

‘Likeability’ opens many doors both personally, professionally


eing likeable matters. It’s a big factor for success at work, getting hired for that job you want, and making and keeping friends. In fact, it might even save your life; patients get better treatment if a doctor likes you; you will be urged to stay in touch and return for more frequent checkups. The doctor will take your pain more seriously than those of patients he or she doesn’t like. It pays to be liked by the people around you. Research on why interviewers choose candidates Pierce for a job discovered a surprising reality. Did being chosen depend on qualifications? Or work experience? In fact, it was neither. It was just one important factor: Did the candidate appear to be a pleasant person? Those who had managed to ingratiate themselves were very likely to be chosen. This proves that, in order to get your dream job, going out of your way to be pleasant is more important than your qualifications or past work experience. The ability to come across as likable shapes how people size you up and treat you. It may seem that likeable people are born that way, but the truth is that likability can be learned, just like any other skill. You know that, to be likeable, you need to smile and have a friendly, open demeanor, but here are a few things you may not know: — The best way to ensure you are likeable is to express a genuine interest in others — an interest both in the person and in the things that are important to that person.

By showing you are interested in the qualities, background, stories, hobbies, career, family, or anything else closely connected to that person, you will give them a gift — a sense of importance, well-being and value. I like what Dale Carnegie said in his book, “How to win Friends and Influence People:” “Why not study the technique of the greatest winner of friends the world has ever known? Who is he? You may meet him tomorrow. When you get within 10 feet of him, he will begin to wag his tail. If you stop and pat him, he will almost jump out of his skin to show you how much he likes you. And you know that, behind this show of affection on his part, there are no ulterior motives.” I learned a few pointers about how to be likeable from Richard Wiseman’s book, “59 Seconds: Change Your Life in under a Minute.”

Power of favors

“To increase the likelihood that someone will like you, get that

person to do you a favor,” says Wiseman. “We do not love people so much for the good they have done us, as for the good we do them,” said writer Leo Tolstoy. Called the Benjamin Franklin Effect, you build rapport by asking for favors. It’s a bias that causes people to like you more after they’ve done you a small favor, such as loaning you a book or helping you with an assignment. — Another surprising way to increase your likeability, says Wiseman, is called “The Pratfall Effect.” People will like you more after you make a mistake, but only if they believe you are competent. Revealing that you aren’t perfect makes people like you. In one famous study, participants listened to recordings of students interviewing for a Quiz Bowl team. One candidate who did well on the quiz is heard saying “Oh, my goodness, I’ve spilled coffee all over myself!” That student was rated higher

on likability than those who didn’t spill coffee. The clumsy candidate who showed his human side appeared easier to empathize with. A superior person may be viewed as superhuman and, therefore, distant; a blunder tends to humanize him and increases his attractiveness. — Also, it’s important to convey positive body language. Your body language conveys more about you than the words you say. To show that you are fully engaged in the conversation, keep an open body posture. Avoid crossing your arms or covering the front of your body, since this sends signals that you don’t really want to be there. Nod to show you are listening. Lean in when someone is speaking to you. People are naturally drawn to others who are genuine and who are comfortable in their own skins. So be authentically you. — You’ve heard about the importance of maintaining eye contact. The problem is how do you look at a person without staring? Try this: Instead of looking directly at a person’s eyes, periodically focus on one eye, then the person’s nose, and at the center of the face as a whole. Shifting focus helps you keep eye contact without making you or the other person feel uncomfortable. Casually touching the person is another way to make that person feel positive about you, subtly, so that they barely notice — a touch on the arm or back. • Barbara Pierce is a retired licensed clinical social worker with many years of experience helping people. If you would like to purchase a copy of her book, “When You Come to the Edge: Aging” or if you have questions for her, contact her at barbarapierce06@yahoo.com.

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Page 13

Spiritual Health Milk & Honey

By Brooke Stacia Demott

The Unseen Realm: Part 3 (Editor’s note: This is a threepart series exploring the existence of the spiritual realm. This month’s final segment features our unseen allies.)

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is to master you, but you must rule over it.” — Genesis 4:7 Every day, I choose to fight. I don’t mean for political freedom or professional advancement. Rather, I fight to guard my heart from discontent, Demott apathy and greed. I don’t want to be mastered by my impulses; I want to be free, driven by neither desire nor compulsion. I want my motivation for action to be love. And yet, I find that over and over again, I fail.

While we might earnestly desire to walk that narrow road which leads to a life of peace, our restless hearts often succumb to the veiled stranger who beckons us toward the wide path of destruction. Our natures are bent toward the negative; we are quick to lay blame, criticize, complain, and play the victim because sin has snaked through every arena of this once-perfect world, coiling around our very hearts and strangling the life out of them. It is powerful and pervasive. It is cunning and relentless. Sin will silence us with fear, doubt, or despair; it will bury us in suffocating riches; it will persuade us to forgo virtue in search of pleasure; it will promise to satisfy every longing, bandage every wound, and wipe away every tear, while quietly bleeding our souls dry. Worst of all, sin has the upper hand on us. We are born into it, we are captivated by it, and we are on the wrong side of a deep chasm separating us eternally from God because of it.

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In Good Health

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We cannot win this battle alone. What power on earth could possibly intercept sin’s inevitable victory? Even the apostle Paul cried out in desperation, “Oh wretched man that I am! Who can save me from this body which is subject to death?” “This is what the Lord says to you: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” — 2 Chronicles 20:15b Though our invisible enemies levy crushing blows that we cannot withstand in our own strength, this battle belongs to the Lord. Our creator and provider, our refuge and strength, our friend and our King is also the commander of heaven’s armies and fights on our behalf. If we live in outward rebellion to such a God, we truly are lost. But if we bow the knee to this benevolent king, who loves us with such abandon that he died for us to bring us victory over death itself. We need never be afraid that we will be overcome. “For if our God is for us, then who can (succeed) against us?” (Romans 8:21) The answer is, no one. Living a life that is pleasing to God is the surest way to remain strong and unencumbered, but when we fail, his vast love has made provision even for this. “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice, the payment for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1b-2)

Jesus as savior

We have an advocate — an ally — in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It isn’t our righteousness that God weighs against his own when Jesus comes to our defense; it is the righteousness of Jesus himself. When we confess our sin, he covers us in his own perfect righteousness, and walks us back into loving relationship with his father, who receives us as his very own children, for Jesus’ sake. How can one man die for the sins of the whole world? Jesus is no ordinary man — he is God made manifest. Jesus clothed his divinity in human flesh and lived a perfect life in our place, since we aren’t capable of it. His spirit is eternal; as such, his spotless record could be applied to

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2020

an unlimited amount of people. By his death, he paid the penalty for an infinite number of sinners and when he was raised from death, he demonstrated that this same God can raise from death an infinite number of believers. Any damage done by wicked forces prowling the earth — or the recesses of our own hearts — pales in comparison to the camaraderie of Christ. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are nothing compared with the glory that is to come.” (Romans 8:18) Not only does the Lord stand with us in battle, he even furnishes us with armor: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground. Stand firm, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness, sure-footed with shoes fashioned by the gospel of peace. Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:13-16) There are hundreds of promises that the Lord makes to those who fight alongside him. He comforts the afflicted and strengthens the weak; he supplies our needs and gives us power to walk in righteousness; he provides a way out of temptation and offers us joy in our trials; he gives us wisdom for living and boldness to live with purpose; he directs our steps and makes a way for his will to be done in our lives. Finally, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to abide in the heart of every believer; to guide us in the truth, to remind us of all that Christ has done on our behalf, and to comfort us when we become weary or discouraged. We are the recipients of a very curious offer. The most powerful king in the universe comes to the weak, vulnerable nation of man, and petitions for an alliance. He has nothing to gain; we can offer nothing in return but our loyalty. He will win this battle regardless of our participation, but he desires to share his victory with us. He is a king by title, and a savior by nature. How fortunate are we to be the object of his great affection! • Brooke Stacia Demott is a columnist with In Good Health newspaper. Got a question for Demott? Feel free to email her at brooketo@aol.com.


By Anne Palumbo

The skinny on healthy eating

Is tofu for you?


h, tofu. Poor, misunderstood tofu. It gets such a bad rap. Too mushy, too bland, too unknown. I used to be in that “not-forme” camp, but all that ended when three important things happened: I cut down on my meat consumption; I discovered how to cook with tofu; and I realized how nutritious it was. What exactly is tofu? Tofu is condensed soymilk that has been curdled and pressed into blocks (much like cheese). And why should we be eating it? Environmental reasons notwithstanding — it only takes about 200 gallons of water to produce one gallon of soymilk versus the 1800 gallons it takes to produce one pound of beef — tofu is a nutritional powerhouse. Tofu is an excellent “complete” plant protein source, with an average serving of firm tofu providing about 10 grams. While most Americans get plenty of protein, certain groups — such as dieters restricting calories, the elderly and people with cancer — may have trouble eating as much of this vital nutrient as they need. Over time, a lack of protein can cause swelling, fatigue, a loss of muscle mass, dry skin and hair and mood changes.

This versatile food also packs a solid amount of calcium, an essential mineral that contributes to healthy bones. Although the amount of calcium varies between tofu types and brands, an average serving can deliver between 10-20% of our daily needs. Unlike protein, most Americans don’t get enough calcium in their diets. When this happens, children may not reach their full height potential and adults may have low bone mass, which is a risk factor for osteoporosis. Tofu is remarkably high in manganese, a vital mineral that plays an important role in many bodily functions, including the metabolism of glucose, carbohydrates and cholesterol, the formation of bones, the clotting of blood and the reduction of inflammation. Some research suggests that manganese, when combined with calcium, may act as a natural remedy for easing PMS symptoms. And for people with diabetes, manganese may help lower blood sugar levels. Isoflavones — a type of plant estrogen that is similar in function to human estrogen but with much weaker effects — are abundant in tofu. At one point, isoflavones were thought to increase the risk of breast

cancer, but recent studies have suggested the opposite. In fact, the Shanghai Women’s Health Study revealed that Asian women who ate the most soy had a 59% lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer compared with those who ate the least amount. But that’s but one study; more research is needed. A few more reasons to give tofu a chance? It’s super low in fat, sodium and cholesterol, and fairly low in calories: only 90 per half cup!

Turkish-Spiced Baked Tofu 1 block extra-firm tofu, pressed and drained 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon each: coriander, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, dried thyme ½ teaspoon each: turmeric, Kosher salt ¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon Garnishes: pickled onions, shredded carrots, cilantro Preheat oven to 400 degrees. To press and drain tofu: slice block into four horizontal slabs, lay some paper towels on a baking sheet, place the slabs side by side on top of the paper towels, cover with another layer of paper towels, place a cutting board on top, and stack something heavy on the cutting board. Let tofu drain for at least 20-30 minutes. Cut tofu slabs into cubes about 3/4-inch thick. Add cubes to large mixing bowl, drizzle with olive oil,

and toss gently to coat. Combine all seasonings in a small bowl, sprinkle over cubes, and toss gently again until the tofu is evenly coated. Turn seasoned tofu out onto a parchment-covered baking sheet, and arrange tofu in an even layer (not overlapping). Bake for 15 minutes. Then remove from oven, and flip the cubes for even cooking. Return to oven for 15 more minutes, or until the tofu reaches your desired level of crispiness. Garnish with topping of choice.

Anne Palumbo is a lifestyle colum-

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

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 15

Dodge the Draft

By Jim Miller

How to choose the right hospital It’s time to do a little shopping

Keep your home healthy, toasty warm this winter By Traci DeLore


ith a few simple steps, you can keep your home — and yourself — healthy through the worst of winter weather. Our homes can lose as much as 25-to-30 percent of heat to drafty doors and windows, said Scot Hayes, owner of New York Sash in Whitesboro. Often, people hang up heavy drapes or put a draft blocker along the door to keep the winter chill out, he said, but there are other ways to dodge the draft. Preparation for winter Hayes should begin before winter even starts, Hayes said, with a thorough inspection of your home’s windows and doors. “Always make sure that you’ve checked your storm windows,” he said of older windows. “Make sure you switch out the screens for the storm windows before winter hits.” Next, check around the window for any gaps, Hayes said. Fill them in with caulk. The goal is to eliminate any air leaks that will let the hot air out and the cold air in, he said. Cold drafts around windows will cause condensation, which can lead to mold. A wellsealed window will prevent this. While drafts should be blocked, airflow inside the home is very important in winter and harder to achieve than in the summer when we can throw open a window. Simply keeping the drapes open can help the air flow through the house, he said. Dehumidifiers and ceiling fans are other great options to keep air flowing all winter long. If it still feels chilly around the

windows, Hayes advises against heavy winter drapes to block the cold air because it also blocks the sunlight. He recommends a do-ityourself shrinkable window plastic kit to provide a draft barrier that still allows you to enjoy the sunlight. “It does help your mood and it fights depression,” he said. Keep the blinds open to soak up all the benefits of the winter sun.

Consider replacements

If your windows are in really bad shape, and your budget allows, Hayes said it’s even possible to have your old windows replaced in winter. This is worth considering if your windows are very old, he said, because newer window technology will provide an immediate benefit. As for doors, they also need a good inspection before cold weather hits, Hayes said. “The door could be a place where you get drafts,” he said. Close the door and inspect all the edges for signs of daylight. If any daylight shows through, look into replacing the weather stripping around the door — another do-ityourself project, Hayes said. The rubber sweep on the bottom of the door might also need replacing, he added. For those who are a handy, they may want to remove the trim around the door and inspect the insulation in the walls surrounding the door. Over time, that insulation can deteriorate and need replacing. Just like windows, doors can also be replaced in winter, he noted. The need for replacing might depend on the age of your home. Old wooden doors and windows are great technology when introduced, but are now outdated and pale in comparison to their modern counterparts, Hayes said. A new double-paned window with an insulated frame and insulated glass will keep your energy dollars inside the house year round.

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Dear Savvy Senior, I need to get a hip replacement, and want to find a good, safe hospital to have it done in. What resources can you recommend for evaluating hospitals? I don’t currently have a doctor.

Shopping Around

Dear Shopping, Most people spend more time shopping for a kitchen appliance or flat-screen TV than choosing a hospital. But selecting the right one can be as important as the doctor you choose. Here are some tips and resources to help you research the hospitals in your area.

Hospital shopping

While you may not always have the opportunity to choose your hospital, especially in the case of an emergency, having a planned procedure can offer you a variety of choices. When shopping for a hospital, the most important criteria is to choose one that has a strong department in treating your area of need. A facility that excels in coronary bypass surgery, for example, may not be the best choice for a hip replacement. Research shows that patients tend to have better results when they’re treated in hospitals that have extensive experience with their specific condition. In order to choose a hospital that’s best for you, it is important to discuss your concerns and alternatives with the doctor who is treating you. Some doctors may be affiliated with several hospitals from which you can choose. Or, if you’ve yet to select a doctor, finding a top hospital that has expertise with your condition can help you determine which physician to actually choose. Another important reason to do some research is the all too frequent occurrence of hospital infections, which kill around 75,000 people in the U.S. each year. So, checking your hospital’s infection rates and cleanliness procedures is also a smart move.

Free researching tools

There are a number of free online resources that can help you evaluate

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2020

and compare hospitals in your area, including: • Medicare’s Hospital Compare (Medicare.gov/HospitalCompare): Operated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, this tool has data on more than 4,000 U.S. hospitals. • Why Not The Best (WhyNotTheBest.org): Created by the Commonwealth Fund, this is a private foundation that provides performance data on all U.S. hospitals. • The Leapfrog Group (LeapfrogGroup.org): This national, nonprofit organization grades more than 2,000 U.S. hospitals on quality and safety. These websites use publicly available data to rate hospitals on various measures of performance like death rates from serious conditions such as heart failure and pneumonia, frequency of hospital-acquired infections, patient satisfaction and more. On these websites, you plug in your location to find hospitals in your area. You can then check to see how well or poorly each hospital manages patients in various conditions. Two other good sites that can help you choose a good facility include U.S. News & World Report (USNews.com/best-hospitals) and Healthgrades (Healthgrades.com). U.S News & World Report is an online publication that publishes a hospital ranking in 17 medical specialties like cancer, orthopedics and urology, and rates common procedures and conditions, such as heart bypass surgery, hip and knee replacement and COPD. They also rank hospitals regionally within states and major metro areas. And Healthgrades, which is a private for-profit organization, provides free hospital ratings on patient safety and medical procedures, and scores hospitals using a 5-star scale. They also provide comprehensive information on most U.S. doctors including their education and training, hospital affiliations, board certification, awards and recognitions, professional misconduct, disciplinary action and malpractice records, office locations and insurance plans. 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.

Diet & Exercise Pauline’s Pieces

By Pauline DiGiorgio

Joining a gym? Find the right exercise facility to fit your lifestyle, personality


ew year, new you — am I right? You’ve taken the right step forward with healthy new habits such as less take-out, more activity, less screen time and more green juices! Joining a gym is probably something you’ve already accomplished, but is there a chance you’re at the wrong gym for your lifestyle? DiGiorgio Ever stopped and thought about what your priorities are when choosing a gym or did your mind go straight to the monthly cost, swaying your decision to the less-pricey option? What about the location, the variety of equipment or whether there are classes to keep you motivated? I’ve been exploring and trying gyms in the area for years now. Here are some of my thoughts and suggestions to determine the best option for you to increase your success on your fitness journey. — Best gym for optimal nutrition and personal training: Upstate Empire Fitness, Yorkville The gym started off with a large fan base due to its online training and nutrition services, helping over 2,000 clients locally and abroad. The owners, a husband-wife duo, had so much success training their clients remotely that they decided on opening their own gym in 2018. They have found a way to take

fitness and personal training to the next level offering their services, in person, for maximum results. I vote this gym best for those who truly want to level up with their fitness game. If you’ve been exercising and want to really tune in with customized training programs, this is your place. Upstate Empire’s nutritional consulting and macro customization has created its own arena, being responsible for chiseling some inspiring “before-and-afters.” (Check out its facebook page, UEF gym) — Best gym for families (with kids!): Retro Fitness, Yorkville and Fitness Mill, New York Mills “No sitter, so no workout” is no longer an excuse! Childcare is a common add-on to

gym packages. But these two gyms go above and beyond basic childcare. Retro Fitness is the ultimate all-in-one gym. I’ve seen first-hand how top-notch they are, and noticed parents having a tough time getting the kids to leave due to all the fun they were having. Fitness Mill has an interactive class for kids call “Kids Kamp,” which is a fantastic way to get the children up and moving, not just stuck in front of a screen. — Best gym for the budget-conscious: Planet Fitness, Anywhere USA Planet Fitness has the most attractive monthly payment. But I do think that because of the price, it has gotten a reputation of “you get what you pay for” type feel. Not anymore!

In 2018, Planet Fitness totally rejuvenated all the clubs. Club makeovers included all new machines, new “spa” areas with hydro chairs, new indoor tanning and massage chairs. The interior is all new, clean and exciting. I think one of the most convenient traits of a Planet Fitness membership is being able to use your membership at any Planet Fitness in the U.S. It is also staying very “on trend” with its new “Perkville” promotion. Planet Fitness members will get a discount at companies that include Headspace, Kohl’s and Blue Apron. — Best “gym community”: Prime Gym, Washington Mills This gym was formally called Utica Crossfit. In 2019, by popular demand, it grew out of its Utica location and moved into a larger space to accommodate a growing membership. If you are looking for not only superb trainers and instructors, but fellow members that support, encourage and make you feel empowered, Prime will leave you impressed. It offers a free trial week. I tried it and was blown away. Everyone that goes to Prime is excited, positive and cheering each other on. It’s a family and you can feel the difference. Check out its website — they spotlight a new member every month. Talk about membership appreciation! • Pauline DiGiorgio is a fitness ambassador and Group X instructor at Retro Fitness gyms. Questions? Email her at ptlifts@gmail.com.

Researchers: New drugs getting FDA’s blessing faster Federal government agency’s approval process streamlined, but is it for the better?


ew drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for patients based on less and less solid evidence, thanks to incentive programs that have been created to promote drug development, a new study shows. Researchers report that more than eight out of 10 new drugs in 2018 benefitted from at least one special program that streamlines the approval process. The result is that patients are being prescribed pricey new medications that have not been tested as rigorously, said lead researcher Jonathan Darrow, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “The evidence standards have changed, but it’s not clear that physicians, let alone patients, understand either the basic FDA approval

standard or that requirements have become increasingly flexible over the past 40 years,” Darrow said. The share of new drugs supported by two strong clinical trials, rather than just one, decreased from 81% to 53% between the 1990s and the 2010s, researchers found. The time that the FDA spent reviewing each new drug dropped during the same period, from 2.8 years in the late 1980s to about 7.6 months in 2018, Darrow added. This might be good news if highly effective new drugs were reaching the market quicker, but other research has found that the large majority of newly approved drugs offer modest benefits over existing therapies, he said. “In many cases, you can get almost all of the benefit of the new

drugs by taking older drugs,” such as generics, Darrow said. The programs also haven’t really improved the number of new drugs approved each year, either. “Even with that flexibility, there has been no strong upward trend in the number of drug approvals, which on average has remained about 30 new drugs approved per year since the 1980s,” Darrow said. The average annual number of new drug approvals was 34 from 1990-1999, decreasing to 25 from 2000-2009 and then increasing to 41 from 2010-2018, researchers found. The FDA did not respond to a request for comment, nor did PhRMA, a trade group representing the pharmaceutical industry. Since the 1980s, various pro-

February 2020 •

grams have been enacted by U.S. Congress or developed by the FDA to promote the creation of drugs for rare diseases or accelerate approval of promising medications that could benefit multitudes, researchers said in background notes. “In 2018, more than 80% of new drugs benefitted from at least one special program,” Darrow said. These programs have weakened the review process by requiring the FDA to accept more flexible evidence, he said. For example, evidence of a drug’s effect on cholesterol levels or tumor size can be used to get it approved, rather than evidence that the drug helped people live longer or feel better or avoid emergencies such a heart attacks, Darrow said.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 17

Ask The Social

Security Office

From the Social Security District Office


cammers go to great lengths to trick you out of your personal information. We want to help you protect your information by helping you recognize a Social Security imposter. There’s a widespread telephone scam involving callers claiming they’re from Social Security. The caller ID may even show a government number. These callers may tell you there’s a problem with your Social Security number. They may also threaten to arrest you unless you pay a fine or fee using gift cards, pre-paid debit cards, a wire transfer or cash. That call is not from us. If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from Social Security, please: • Hang up right away. • Never give your personal information, money or retail gift cards. • Report the scam at oig.ssa.gov/ to Social Security’s law enforcement team at the Office of the Inspector General.

Social Security will not:

• Threaten you. • Tell you that your Social Security Number has been suspended. • Call you to demand an immediate payment. • Ask you for credit or debit card


Q: What is the average Social Security retirement payment that a person receives each month?

A: The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker in 2020 is $1,503 (up from $1,479 in 2019). The average monthly Social Security benefit for a disabled worker in 2020 is $1, 258 (up from $1,238 in 2019). As a reminder, eligibility for retirement benefits still requires 40 credits (usually about 10 years of work).

Q: Do Members of Congress have to pay into Social Security?

A: Yes, they do. Members of Congress, the president and vice president, federal judges, and most political appointees, have paid taxes into the Social Security program since January 1984. They pay into the system just like everyone else, no matter how long they have been in office.

Q: Will my son be eligible to receive benefits on his retired father’s record while going to college?

A: No. At one time, Social Security did pay benefits to eligible college students. But the law changed in 1981. We now pay benefits only Page 18

numbers over the phone. • Require a specific means of debt repayment, like a prepaid debit card, a retail gift card, or cash. • Demand that you pay a Social Security debt without the ability to appeal the amount you owe. • Promise a Social Security benefit approval, or increase, in exchange for information or money. • Request personal or financial information through email, text messages, or social media.

Social Security will:

• Sometimes call you to confirm you filed for a claim or to discuss other ongoing business you have with them. • Mail you a letter if there is a problem. • Mail you a letter if you need to submit payments that will have detailed information about options to make payments and the ability to appeal the decision. • Use emails, text messages, and social media to provide general information (not personal or financial information) on its programs and services if you have signed up to receive these messages. Please share this information with your family and friends.

to students taking courses at grade 12 or below. Normally, benefits stop when children reach age 18 unless they are disabled. However, if children are still full-time students at a secondary (or elementary) school at age 18, benefits generally can continue until they graduate or until two months after they reach age 19, whichever is first.

Q: Often, I need assistance with day-to-day tasks. My daughter offered to help me with my Social Security claim and wants to represent me. Is that OK?

A: You can choose to have a representative help you when you do business with Social Security. We’ll work with your representative in the same way we would work with you. Select a qualified person, because this person will act for you in most Social Security matters. First, you will need to fill out the Appoint a Representative form at www.socialsecurity.gov/forms/ssa1696.pdf. Keep in mind that an attorney or other individual who wants to collect a fee for providing services in connection with a claim must generally obtain our prior authorization.

Story idea? Call 315-749-7070!

Pep Fit, owned by Rebecca Pepperine, is located at 40 Oxford Road, Suite 102, New Hartford.

Pep Fit Health & Fitness Coaching

Pep Fit, owned by Rebecca Pepperine, is located at 40 Oxford Road, Suite 102, New Hartford. By David L. Podos Q.: Tell us about your business. What services do you offer and how long have you been doing this? A.: I have had my personal trainer’s certification since 2013 and later on, I added the nutrition and health coaching certifications as well as the weight management specialist designation. I want to offer the most comprehensive health and fitness coaching services to people. Pep Fit has been in business since July of 2019. I am a lifelong Utica resident except for a brief time living in Maryland. Q.: Can you tell us more about your credentials? A.: My certification as a personal trainer, health coach, and in weight management is from the American Council on Exercise. My certification as a certified nutrition coach is from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Q:. Where do you offer your services? A.: The health, nutrition and weight management coaching can take place here at my business, but it is also offered through Skype and Zoom. I also write individual customized fitness-based videos for my clients, so they can view it virtually anywhere. Weather permitting, I can meet small groups in the park and we can go through training there, or with permission from management or the owner, I can meet my clients at their gym and work with them in that environment. On a case-by-case basis, I can meet at their residences. I try and make it as easy and as accessible as possible while offering all my services, taking into consideration a person’s time constraints and lifestyle. Q.: You hold a master’s degree in education and were previously a high school counselor. What made you change your direction away from that profession toward owning your own business and providing these

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2020

Business Spotlight

services? A.: I have been involved in a very passionate way since I was 15 years old in health and fitness. My psychology, educational and helping background dovetails with what I am now doing. I don’t offer personal psychological counseling but understanding human behavior is critical in helping a person stay motivated and enthusiastic. I can use those skill sets to help my clients with lifestyle changes. It was really my desire to just help people become a more healthful and whole person that made me make the change. Q.: What makes your business different from other businesses that offer similar services? A.: Pep Fit offers an authentic, realistic, and sustainable approach to weight loss and improved health. Fad foods, quick fix diets are everywhere; Pep Fit does not adhere to those practices. I provide personal guidance, accountability and support that can make a real difference in preventing a client reverting back to unhealthy habits. I also work with all age groups. Q.: What are some of your own forms of exercising and relaxing? A.: My hobbies include tennis, biking, running, music and snowshoeing. Q.: How can a person contact you and what is your business address? A.: They can call 315-765-0484, visit my website at www.getpepfit. com or email me at contact@getpepfit.com.

Health News OB-GYN practice welcomes new provider Certified family nurse practitioner Alicia Elwood has joined Rome Medical Practice’s obstetrics and gynecology practice, All About Women. She is accepting new patients at the office located in the Beeches Office Complex, 7900 Turin Road, Rome. Elwood joins obstetrician-gynecologist C. Nicole Pineau, who joined Rome Elwood Memorial Hospital’s medical staff last October. “Alicia has been caring for women and their families for 13 years, including three years in a busy obstetrics and gynecology office where she treated a variety of reproductive and obstetric conditions, said Rome Medical Practice Administrator Lisa Taurisano. Elwood graduated from St. Elizabeth College of Nursing in Utica with a registered nursing degree. After eight years of nursing, including experience in pediatrics and home care case management, she earned certification as a family nurse practitioner at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Marcy. A lifelong resident of the Utica-Rome area, Elwood chose Rome Medical Practice Obstetrics and Gynecology because it is close to home. “I want to provide health care to the women in this area so they can stay close to home, too,” she said.

MVHS adds directors of operations to staff The Mohawk Valley Health System recently named Nicole Santiago director of operations for specialty care locations at the MVHS Medical Group. Also, Sergey Germanovich was recently named director of primary care operations for the MVHS Medical Group. Santiago now oversees the daily operations of all of the medical group specialty care Santiago locations and acts as a liaison between MVHS Medical Group offices, departments and hospital support departments. Santiago participates at the leadership level within the hospital and provides direction to the MVHS Medical Group office and department leadership team. Santiago has been an employee of MVHS since 2008, most recently as assistant director of operations for the MVHS Medical Group, Specialty Care. Prior to that, she served as operations manager for the MVHS Medical Group. She has also served as a clinical information specialist in the information technology department at the St. Luke’s Campus. Before joining

MVHS, she was employed at Boston Medical Center HealthNet Plan, a Medicaid-managed care organization in Boston, Massachusetts, as a contracting specialist in the network management department. Santiago earned her Master of Health Care Administration, magna cum laude, from Suffolk University, Sawyer School of Management in Boston, and her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with concentrations in finance and human resources from SUNY Buffalo. She graduated from the Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare Aspiring Leaders class of 2011, is a certified ISO 9001:2015 internal auditor and a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives. In his new position, Germanovich is responsible for the overall operational oversight of the MVHS Medical Group Primary Care offices and the Faxton Urgent Care. Germanovich Germanovich will act as a liaison between MVHS Medical Group offices, departments and hospital support departments. Germanovich participates at the leadership level across the ambulatory setting and provides direction to the MVHS Medical Group office and the leadership team. Germanovich has been an employee of MVHS since 2009, most recently as the assistant director of operations for the MVHS Medical Group Primary Care offices. Prior to that, Germanovich served as MVHS director of language services. He has also served in various positions in the MVHS pharmacy department, as special projects coordinator for the St. Elizabeth Family Medicine residency program and as administrative supervisor at the Sister Rose Vincent Family Medicine Center. Germanovich earned his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from SUNY IT in Marcy. He earned a Master of Business Administration degree in economic crime and fraud management from Utica College and is a third-year law student at Western Michigan University’s Tampa Bay Campus in Tampa, Florida. Germanovich is also a member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association and is a certified health care finance professional.

MVHS medical staffs elect new officers The medical staffs of the Mohawk Valley Health System have announced their 2020 officers. The 2020 Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare medical officers are: — Waleed Albert, president Albert is an infectious disease physician at the St. Luke’s Campus. He received his Doctor of Medicine from the Faculty of Medicine of Damascus University in Damascus,

Continued on Page 20

Stress remedy: Do nothing

Escape pressures of everyday living By Barbara Pierce


e’re all under way too much stress. We keep hearing about all the harm stress does. We get that. We know it’s bad for us, really bad. That stresses us out even more. But, if you’re like me, you may not have heard any reasonable, practical suggestions that work for you as your stress levels climb higher and higher. But now there’s an answer — an easy, enjoyable way to relieve your stress. I guarantee you’re going to love this suggestion of what to do as your stress levels soar. No, it’s not meditation, which I’ve never been able to get the hang of. Doing nothing is increasingly being suggested as a positive, stress-fighting tactic. Yes, you read that right. Doing nothing. It’s a European trend that’s gaining popularity in the United States. The Dutch concept is simple: Do nothing. It’s called “niksen,” which most closely translates as “nothing” in Dutch. It’s a way to reset your mind, a form of mental resting. So, how exactly does doing nothing work? Exactly what it sounds like. You simply do nothing. Deliciously do nothing. You don’t have a purpose. You don’t give yourself deadlines. You don’t do anything useful. You just do nothing. This could be as simple as sitting down and writing your thoughts to see where they take you, or carving out time to watch the clouds. Gloria Koslofsky, 78-year-old retired teacher of Schuyler, has the idea: “When I need to escape the bustle of my life, I simply open my back door, walk onto our deck holding my coffee cup, sit in front of the bird feeders and watch my winged friends flutter around. So does Christopher Peruzzi, online: “I love cutting my lawn. Cutting my lawn is a labor of love. Anyone who uses a lawn mower has found peace in the smell of cut grass, order in the lines of his tire tracks, the sound of the machine, an the rhythmic going back and forth.” Doing nothing is different to everyone; there’s no one size fits all. It is whatever appeals to you and whatever makes you happy. Doing nothing is about making good use of your free time, whether that’s listening to music, going for a walk, knitting, talking to friends, gazing out a window, or just being. For Koslofsky, another stress buster is hiking one of the trails in the area or escaping to a park. “Our historic parks in Utica (Conkling and T.R. and F.T. Proctor

February 2020 •

parks) are an unusually large quality-of-life amenity,” said Philip Bean, executive director, Central New York Conservancy in Utica, recently. The nonprofit conservancy works to preserve and enhance Utica’s historic parkway and parks. “Our parks offer a diversity of opportunities — tennis, swimming, miles of trails for hiking, running, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, beautiful vistas, and large open fields for just contemplating,” he said. “Each park offers slightly different opportunities.” Research is strong when it comes to the benefits of slowing down and doing nothing, from emotional perks — like reducing anxiety — to physical advantages — like curtailing the aging process and strengthening the body’s ability to fight off a common cold. These potential health effects might be enough to encourage even the most hectic and overburdened among us to consider carving out time to practice “niksen.” It’s not laziness. It’s a thorough enjoyment of life’s pauses without guilt. The work ethic is instilled in us, which tells us that we have to be doing something productive all the time. Ignore that inner voice that tries to tell you this. “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time,” said legendary musician John Lennon. There’s something to this, say the experts. Feeling work and family pressure and always being in the “go” mode takes a toll. Giving ourselves time to chill out and cutting back on multitasking makes us more productive and more creative. Brain breaks are good for your brain. If you feel like you’re just too busy to take time to do nothing, recognize that most of us really do have the time to do nothing. Most of us do have actual free time throughout the day; we just don’t always use it wisely. Schedule do-nothing time. Find pockets of time to do nothing and give yourself permission to take it. You might even consider putting it on your calendar, like any other appointment. It is as important. Ditch your devices during your do-nothing time; taking a media break is a powerful way to improve your well-being. As for me, sitting down with my knitting makes a refreshing pause during the busy day, and so does a walk. In the evening, playing video games helps me wind down. Now I don’t have to feel guilty about any of those things. Enjoy discovering what you most enjoy doing during your do-nothing time. Try several different things; some you will enjoy, some you won’t.

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Health News Continued on Page 20 Syria. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Trenton Affiliated Hospitals in Trenton, New Jersey, and a fellowship in infectious diseases at Albany Medical College and the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center, both in Albany. Albert is Albert board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in internal medicine and infectious diseases. He is a fellow of the American Association for Physician Leadership and the American College of Healthcare Executives. — Jonathan Block, vice president Block is a urologist with Associated Medical Professionals of NY, PLLC. Block received his Doctor of Medicine from SUNY Stony Brook in Stony Brook and his Master of Business Administration in healthcare administration from Block California Pacific University, Pinole, California. Block completed graduate medical education in general surgery at Albany Medical Center Hospital. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Urology and a partner in Associated Medical Professionals. In addition, Block served in the United States Air Force and was honorably discharged as a major. — Mathew Ulahannan, treasurer-secretary Ulahannan is an internal medicine physician at the St. Luke’s Campus. Ulahannan received his medical degree from Government Medical College in Kottayam, Kerala, India. He completed Ulahannan his residency in internal medicine at Flushing Hospital Medical Center in Flushing. He is board-certified in internal medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine. The 2020 St. Elizabeth Medical Center medical officers are: — Sushma Kaul, president Kaul is a specialist in pulmonary and critical care at MVHS. Kaul also serves as medical director for the intensive care unit and medical director for respiratory therapy. Kaul earned her Doctor of Medicine and a premedical degree in medical sciences from Kashmir University in Srinagar, India. She completed a fellowship in critical care medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in Page 20

the Bronx, a fellowship in pulmonary diseases from St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital at Columbia University in New York, and a residency and internship in internal medicine at Catholic Medical Center, a hospital affiliated with Cornell University in Jamaica, New York. Kaul is Kaul board-certified in pulmonary and critical care medicine as well as a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians. — Jonathan Wigderson, vice president Wigderson is a specialist in orthopedic trauma with the MVHS Orthopedic Group. He received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Athens, Ohio. Wigderson reWigderson ceived his Bachelor of Science degree, cum laude, from SUNY Albany. He completed a residency in orthopedic surgery at Peninsula Hospital Center in Far Rockaway and fellowships in orthopedic trauma at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and in orthopedics at Booth Memorial Medical Center in Flushing. He also completed a rotating internship at Mount Clemens General Hospital in Mount Clemens, Michigan. Wigderson is board-certified in orthopedic surgery by the American Osteopathic Board of Orthopedic Surgery. — Michael Kelberman, treasurer Kelberman is a specialist in general and interventional cardiology and is a senior member of the Central New York Cardiology Group. He has been the director of clinical research for CNY Cardiology Kelberman and is the director of cardiology at the St. Elizabeth Campus of MVHS. He received his bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College in Clinton and his medical degree from the SUNY Health Science Center in Syracuse, where he also completed his internal medicine residency, was selected as chief resident and then went on to complete a fellowship in cardiology. He is board-certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular and interventional cardiology by the American Board of Medical Specialties, and is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology.

HealthNet supports RIDE program of Herkimer County Catholic Charities Herkimer HealthNet Executive Director Elyse Enea, left, presents a $3,700 check to Rae Raffle-Maxson of Herkimer County Catholic Charities in support of its RIDE Program that provides health care transportation in rural communities for residents aged 55 and over. Enea said one of the primary barriers in access to health care in rural communities is transportation. “The RIDE program is a critical service for older individuals who may not have other alternatives for transportation,” said Enea, noting RIDE supports transportation for seniors to their medical appointments. RSVP volunteers serve as dispatchers and drivers to operate the RIDE program. However, the program is in need of volunteer drivers. If anyone is interested, contact Raffle-Maxson at 315-894-9917. Kelberman is also the founder and president of the board of the directors of the Kelberman Center, a comprehensive organization providing autism services across Central New York.

MVHS names HRIS specialist Amber Meza has been named human resource information systems specialist for the Mohawk Valley

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2020

Health System. In this position, Meza will serve as a technical point of contact assisting business process owners with data integrity complications, testing of system changes, report writing and analyzing data flows for process improvement opportunities. Most recently, Meza was an information technology business an-

Continued on Page 21

Health News Continued from Page 20 alyst at PAR Technology Corporation in New Hartford, where she provided change management support for the implementation of a new enterprise resource planning system. Prior to that, Meza worked in human resources at the Rescue Mission of Utica as an HR generalist. Meza She received her bachelor’s degree in business management from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey.

MVHS names senior VPchief operating officer Mansoor Shahid has been named senior vice president-chief operating officer for the Mohawk Valley Health System. In this position, Shahid provides oversight of the health system, ensuring efficient services that are designed to meet the needs of patients, physicians, public and staff. He has system-wide responsiShahid bility for all clinical and support departments in addition to the MVHS cancer program, dialysis and information technology services. Most recently, Shahid was COO at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital in St. Charles, Missouri, where he worked closely with nursing and finance to provide proficiency in operations and build bridges with its medical staff and employees. Prior to that, he served as COO at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Tennessee, providing integral leadership for a $2 billion health care system. Shahid received his master’s degree in health administration from University of Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee, and his Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies from Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana. He is LEAN-certified, a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and a member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association.

MVHS receives cardiac cath lab accreditation The Mohawk Valley Health System is the first in New York state to receive accreditation of its cardiac cathererization by the American College of Cardiology. This accreditation recognizes MVHS’s demonstrated expertise and commitment in treating patients who come to the cardiac cath lab for care. MVHS was awarded the accred-

Check presented to support MVHS Breast Care Center City of Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri, right, recently presented a check for more than $21,000 to the Mohawk Valley Health System Breast Care Center. The money was raised Palmieri’s annual breast cancer awareness luncheon that he hosts with his wife Susan. The guest speaker at this year’s luncheon was Shelley Penge, finance director at Utica Municipal Housing Authority, and a breast cancer survivor. The amount of funds raised this year is the greatest amount the luncheon has raised to date. Joining the mayor to celebrate are, from left, Patti DeCarr, senior administrative aide, urban and economic development, city of Utica; Nancy Butcher, executive director of cancer services at MVHS, and Susan Palmieri. itation based on an onsite evaluation of the staff’s ability to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who come to the cardiac cath lab. Hospitals that have proven exceptional competency in treating patients who require cardiac catheterization have standardized their assessment process for patients before undergoing catheterization to ensure quality and patient safety. They ensure that care in the procedure room for sedation, infection control, radiation safety, universal protocol and time out procedures is fully coordinated. They have mastered the appropriate transfer to a cath recovery unit to better monitor and track complications, enhance physician-to-patient communication, patient family communication, discharge instructions and follow-up information. Hospitals receiving accreditation from the ACC must take part in a multi-faceted clinical process. The ACC offers the United States and international hospitals such as MVHS access to a comprehensive suite of cardiac accreditation services designed to optimize patient outcomes and improve hospital financial performance.

St. Luke’s Campus earns special designation Excellus BlueCross BlueShield recently recognized the Mohawk Valley Health System St. Luke’s Campus as a Blue Distinction® Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. The Blue Distinction Centers designation signifies that the MVHS

knee and hip replacement program met nationally established selection criteria by demonstrating expertise in delivering quality specialty care, safely and effectively. The St. Elizabeth Campus has been a Blue Distinction Center since 2010. Research confirms that Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients, with lower rates of complications and readmissions than their peers. These designated centers are also 20% more cost efficient and provide consumers with tools to help them make better informed health care decisions. Providing patients with the tools and knowledge necessary to achieve successful orthopedic outcomes is a priority for MVHS. Orthopedic patients receive in-person education pre- and post-surgery, as well as educational booklets with information to help patients and their families understand what to expect. Last year, MVHS performed nearly 1,000 knee and hip replacements.

LFH centers receive recognition Little Falls Hospital, part of the Bassett Healthcare Network, recently announced that its Dolgeville and Newport primary care centers have received patient-centered medical home recognition. The PCMH is a care delivery model whereby patient treatment is coordinated through their primary care physician to ensure they receive necessary care when and where they

February 2020 •

need it in a manner they can understand. The objective is to have a centralized setting that facilitates partnerships between individual patients and their personal physicians, and when appropriate, the patient’s family. Registries, information technology, health information exchange and other means facilitate care to assure patients get the care when and where they need it. “This puts our primary care centers among a select few practices nationwide to be recognized for our ongoing commitment to advancing quality and patient-centered health care,” says Heidi Camardello, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer. Dolgeville Primary Care Center is located at 9 Gibson Ave., Dolgeville. Newport Primary Care Center is located at 3085 Bridge St., Newport.

Community Wellness makes staff changes Community Wellness Partners — the affiliation of LutheranCare® and Presbyterian Homes & Services — recently announced the following career placements on both campuses: — Amy Krause has been named to the position of director of nursing on the LutheranCare® campus of Community Wellness Partners. Krause earned her nursing diploma from St. James Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, her bachelor’s degree from Daemen College and her master’s degree in nursing administration from SUNY IT and comes to the organization with more than 25 years of experience in long-term care. She most recently served as director of nursing at Norwich Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. — Cheyenne Hawkins, former ActiveDay Senior Program coordinator, has been promoted to director of lifestyle enrichment at the Lutheran Home of Central New York. Hawkins has worked in various positions at LutheranCare® since she joined the team in 2016, serving as a Helping Hands Home companion, a scheduler for the Your Neighbors, Inc. program and a resident caregiver. Most recently, she was responsible for the programming of activities and the raising of funds for those living with physical challenges and memory loss at the adult home. — Amanda Bartlett has joined the team as the new administrator of the Lutheran Home Cottages — a special needs assisted living residence designed especially to serve those living with various stages of dementia. Bartlett received her associate’s degree from St. Joseph’s College of Nursing followed by a bachelor’s degree from Le Moyne College. She has held several clinical management positions in the area, most recently as a registered nurse manager for the Oneida Healthcare Extended Care Facility.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Healthcare in a Minute By George W. Chapman

Assessing impact of hospital mergers


he New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study concluding hospital mergers-acquisitions have had little positive impact on the quality of care and typically drive up prices in the market. The study compared 246 hospitals that were merged or acquired with 1,986 hospitals that weren’t on patient experience, mortality, readmissions and clinical process. As expected, the insurance industry was quick to pounce and agree with the study while the

hospital industry was quick to rebut. Regardless, many mergers and acquisitions have virtually salvaged financially challenged hospitals that would otherwise be closed. Many rural hospitals would not be open for business if they weren’t affiliated with a larger hospital or hospital system. Mergers make it easier for hospitals to attract, employ and retain scarce nurses and providers while offering a broader, more expansive range of services to the consumers of the smaller, more remote or financially strapped facility.

Bill to cut drug costs stalled

trol-lower drug costs is stifled by the drug lobby.  

The bilateral bill passed by the House, which would empower Medicare to negotiate prices on 250 drugs over the next 10 years, is buried in the pile of 275-plus bills sitting on Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s desk. McConnell has “ruled out” taking up the bill which would lower Medicare spending by $456 billion over 10 years. With only two Republican congressmen voting for the bill, it will assuredly die anyway in the Republican controlled Senate. All the talk by elected officials to con-

Surprise billing measure delayed

Both houses of Congress thought ending surprise billing would be a no-brainer. But that was before a barrage of last-minute lobbying by nonparticipating providers and healthcare staffing companies that make money via surprise billing. Congress reached a “compromise” by establishing benchmark rates and an arbitration “backstop” for charges above $750. Vested interests in the status quo will continue

to thwart efforts to reform healthcare and lower costs.    

ACA fate undetermined

President Trump continues to vow to terminate the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) without offering a viable replacement. Twenty million Americans are insured via the ACA. There has never been an outcry over the ACA from any of the major stakeholders, designers or founders — including insurance companies, hospitals, physicians and consumers — because it is working. The courts have ruled the individual mandate to carry insurance was unconstitutional because the penalty to not carry insurance was considered an illegal tax. States against the ACA argue the whole law should be thrown out since the individual mandate was declared unconstitutional. A threejudge panel agrees the individual mandate is unconstitutional but has asked the lower courts to review whether or not the entire ACA should be declared unconstitutional. If the entire ACA is tossed, so will be coverage of pre-existing conditions.  NYS Medicaid problems NYS has the most expensive Medicaid program per capita in the country. Most of that can be attributed to relatively generous benefits and some of that can be attributed to fraud and mismanagement. Roughly: the federal government pays 50%, NYS pays 25% and local municipalities pay the remaining 25%. NYS enrollment has been

steady at about 6.2 million people since 2015 thru 2020 (projected). The budget for the same period has increased from $60 billion in 2015 to a projected $74.5 billion this year. That means the per capita cost has increased from $9,677 in 2015 to a projected $12,000 this year. NYS is expecting an overall budget shortfall of $4 billion for the fiscal ending March 31,2020.  

Gun violence funding

Congress has authorized $25 million in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health to study gun violence, which has become one of the leading causes of death. Forty thousand Americans a year die via gun violence. Sixty percent — or about 24,000 of the deaths — are suicides. Although a relatively paltry amount (we spend over a trillion a year on healthcare) the bipartisan bill was seen as at least a start at addressing the issue and getting some evidence-based data for possible solutions. 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.

We did it.


Oneida Health is ranked among America’s Top 2% of Hospitals for Patient Safety & Experience

Visit oneidahealth.org/awards to learn more

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2020



Got a health-related activity or event that you would like publicized? Call Lou Sorendo at 315-749-7070 or email lou@cnymail.com.


Feb. 10

Grandparents’ support group takes shape

Tobacco cessation program on agenda

The Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc., in partnership with the Parkway Center, will be providing a grandparents’ support group. The support group will be held from 2-3 p.m. Mondays at the Parkway Center, 220 Memorial Parkway, Utica. The group is open to grandparents who are raising children of loved ones that are experiencing active addiction, working on recovery, in residential-outpatient treatment, are hospitalized, incarcerated, or are dealing with other familial concerns. Those interested may contact CFLR’s Utica office at 315-733-1709 or the Parkway Center at 315-223-3973.

Herkimer County HealthNet will offer a free three-week tobacco cessation program called Freshstart from 4:30-6 p.m. beginning Feb. 10 at the John Guy Prindle Apartments, 80 E. North St., Ilion. The program will meet from 4:30-6 p.m. every Monday for three consecutive weeks. Freshstart is designed to help smokers plan a successful quit attempt by providing essential information, skills for coping with cravings and group support. Freshstart incorporates the most current guidelines for tobacco cessation support into face-to-face group support sessions. Program participants choose a combination of techniques and cessation treatments they will use in their quit attempt. For more information or to register for this program, call Herkimer County HealthNet Executive Director Elyse Enea at 315-867-1552 or email her at eenea@herkimercounty.org. Herkimer County HealthNet is a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of individuals who live, work, play and learn in Herkimer County and the Mohawk Valley.

Food Addicts in Recovery to meet Food Addicts in Recovery holds an anonymous meeting from 6:308 p.m. Mondays at Trinity United Methodist Church, 8595 Westmoreland Road, Whitesboro. For more information, call Helen at 315-794-2314.


Insight House offers family support group Insight House Chemical Dependency Services, Inc. is offering a family support group meeting from 6:15-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Insight House, 500 Whitesboro St., Utica. The group is free and open to anyone who is concerned about a loved one’s relationship with alcohol, opiates-heroin, or other substances. For more information about the group, call 724-5168, ext. 265, from 8:30-4 p.m. weekdays. All calls are strictly confidential.


Loved one on drugs? There is support CNY Services Milestones is featuring a support group for anyone dealing with another person’s drug or alcohol addiction. The support group meets at 6 p.m. Thursdays at 502 Court St., Suite 210, Utica. The support group is free and open to those struggling with a child, partner, wife, husband, mother, father or friend who is battling addiction. For more information, call Tony at 315-717-9153.

Support forum for patients, cancer survivors The Mohawk Valley Health System’s Cancer Center’s monthly support forum for patients and cancer survivors will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 10. The cancer support forum meets at 6 p.m. on the second Monday of every month in the Cancer Center’s fireplace lounge on the main floor of Faxton Campus, 1676 Sunset Ave., Utica. The forum, led by the Cancer Center’s social worker, offers support to anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis. Light refreshments will be served. For more information or to RSVP, call 315-624-5241.

Support group to meet at Rome Memorial Hospital The brain aneurysm, AVM (arteriovenous malformation) and stroke support group will meet from 5:307:30 p.m. Feb. 10 at Rome Memorial Hospital’s second-floor classroom. The group meets on the second Monday of every month. RMH is located at 1500 N. James St., Rome. For more information, call Deb Dunn at 315-533-6467 or email RomeNY@JoeNiekroFoundation.org.

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Feb. 13

Feb. 17

Laryngectomy support group to meet

Family support group confronts addiction

The Laryngectomy Support Group will hold its monthly meeting at noon Feb. 13 in the Sister Regina Conference Room on the first floor of the St. Elizabeth Medical Center hospital building, 2209 Genesee St., Utica. The support group is sponsored by SEMC. Laryngectomy support group meetings are held at noon on the second Thursday of each month. A laryngectomy is the procedure to remove a person’s larynx and separates the airway from the mouth, nose and esophagus. The laryngectomee breathes through an opening in the neck, called a stoma. The public is welcome to attend. Those with questions can call 315801-4475.

Families who are dealing with the problems of addiction can find help and information at a support group meeting from 6-7 p.m. Feb. 17 in the second-floor classroom at Rome Memorial Hospital. The group meets the third Monday of each month and is free and open to everyone. Offered by the hospital’s Community Recovery Center, the support group provides an opportunity to discuss issues with others who are in the same situation; education; monthly support; development of communication skills that will work with those suffering from addiction; development and utilization of boundaries; the opportunity to address any questions or concerns; and access to community resources and referrals. Certified by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, the Community Recovery Center, 264 W. Dominick St., Rome, offers quality, comprehensive alcohol and substance abuse treatment for adolescents and adults. Open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Friday and from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, the center participates with most major insurance programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. A sliding scale fee is available for self-pay clients. For more information about the support group or the Community Recovery Center, call 315-334-4701.

Feb. 14

Breastfeeding café opens at Rome Memorial The Mohawk Valley Breastfeeding Network, in partnership with Rome Memorial Hospital, has opened a new breastfeeding café to provide pregnant and breastfeeding moms and their families a place to support one another, socialize and get breastfeeding clinical support if needed. The group meets from noon to 2 p.m. on the second and fourth Fridays of the month at Rome Memorial Hospital, fourth floor, 1500 N. James St. The next meetings will be on Feb. 14 and Feb. 28. There is no cost to participate and mothers can bring their babies to be weighed at the hospital’s “Weighto-Go” station. Snacks will be provided. Dads and grandparents are welcome. For more information, contact Laurie Hoke in RMH’s maternity department at 315-338-7291. You can find meeting announcements on breastfeeding café and Rome Memorial Hospital Facebook pages.

Excellus BCBS makes health awards available Nonprofit organizations in Upstate New York can apply for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Community Health Award grants totaling $115,000 to help fund the health and wellness programs they offer residents of Upstate New York. Nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations in Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s 31-county Upstate New York region are invited to apply for an award of up to $4,000 each. The award can be used for programs that have clear goals to improve the health or health care of a specific population. Programs that improve the health status of the community, reduce the incidence of specific diseases, promote health education and further overall wellness will be considered. The deadline to submit an application to be considered for an Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Community Health Award is Feb. 14. For additional information and the online application, go to ExcellusBCBS.com/Community. Award winners will be announced in March.

February 2020 •

Feb. 19

Valley Health Services accepts syringes Valley Health Services is accepting the community’s medical waste of needles, syringes and lancets from noon until 2 p.m. on Feb. 19. The service is available on the third Wednesday of every month. The waste must be in approved puncture-resistant containers available at local pharmacies and properly marked “biohazard.” The containers may be brought to the outpatient receptionist on the ground floor at VHS, who will contact the personnel responsible for medical waste disposal. VHS is located at 690 W. German St., Herkimer. Questions may be directed to Tammi King, infection control nurse, at 866-3330, ext. 2308.

Feb. 26

Narcan training class available In response to the influx of overdoses in the local community, Insight House is offering a free community Narcan training class. The class is held from 2-3 p.m. on the last Wednesday of every month at 500 Whitesboro St., Utica. The next session will take place Feb. 26. Space is limited and preregistration is recommended by calling 315-724-5168 ext. 238.

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