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Meet Your Doctor


APRIL 2020 • ISSUE 170

COVID-19 Maria Gesualdo Dr. Maria Gesualdo has joined Hospice & Palliative Care as associate medical director. Page 8–

Weathering the storm See Page 9Pages 2-7 Health Careers

The Hangover Overindulge? Here’s some useful guidance. Page 18

Mental Health Special Edition

Pages 9-14 Color Your World Interior design professional Tara D’Amico says various colors impact people emotionally in different ways. Page 9

Wonders of Olive Oil

What makes olive oil so good for you? It’s rich in two important nutrients: hearthealthy unsaturated fats and disease-thwarting antioxidants. SeeSmartBites, ‘SmartBites’, Page 15 15 See Page April 2020 •

Brooke Lewis Brooke Lewis is a licensed master of social work and mental health administrator at DRN Counseling & Page 4 Consulting Services, Utica.

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Trending: More senior citizens using marijuana Page 12

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Brave New World

Getting on with your life in the age of coronavirus


s coronavirus continues to spread across America, people in some areas are quarantined. Conferences, sporting events and travel plans are being called off, while hand sanitizer and toilet paper are flying off the shelves. Short of finding a well-stocked bunker, how can you learn to live with this new normal? An important key to living with the looming threat of this virus is flexibility, experts say. “You have to be willing to change as the situation changes, and it’s likely to keep changing for a while,” said Robin Gurwitch, a psychologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.

Living with uncertainty

Gurwitch said uncertainty leads to high anxiety and panic. She said that’s likely one of the reasons why people have been stockpiling things like hand sanitizer and toilet paper. During any viral outbreak, “one of the things that helps to reduce anxiety and worry is when we have a very clear and unified messaging from respected officials. Viruses aren’t political, they’re a public health issue,” Gurwitch explained. “What is creating more distress now is that there are really different messages out there. When that happens, people start filling in the gaps in the messaging themselves, and they may think they’re not being told everything. That’s when you get panic buying,” she said. “Coronavirus has taken quite a bit of our sense of control. But buying supplies is something I can control. I can know that I have enough supplies. And it makes me feel like, ‘I’ve got this,’” Gurwitch said. Here are some additional steps you can take to bring back a little bit of normalcy to your life.

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ally. The CDC said air travel itself isn’t likely to be a problem. Physician Krystina Woods, director of infection prevention at Mount Sinai West in New York City, explained, “Planes do have filtered air. Proximity [to someone who is ill] is the thing that might be concerning, and you don’t have much control over who is sitting beside you on a plane. But you do have control over whether you wash your hands or touch your face.” If you decide to cancel a flight, policies on whether or not you can get a credit or refund vary, so check with your airline.

Large events

At home

Plenty of folks were caught short and don’t have a supply of hand sanitizer, but soap and water are fine. “At home, you don’t need alcohol-based sanitizer. Soap and water are also very effective,” said Chunhuei Chi, director of the Center for Global Health at Oregon State University. Chi said when you get home, wash your hands well, and clean your cellphone with alcohol, or put soap and a little water on a paper towel, clean your phone and immediately dry it. Don’t forget to clean surfaces that everyone touches often — doorknobs, toilet handles, faucets and remote controls.

Out and about

Life does go on, and you’ll need to go to work, school and shopping. When you leave your home, Chi suggested carrying tissues with you. Whenever you need to open a door, grab a shopping cart or even push an elevator button, use a tissue to create a barrier between you and the

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

object. If you have hand sanitizer — containing at least 60% alcohol — he said you can use it to disinfect your hands. “This virus is very sensitive to alcohol,” Chi said. Many stores also keep sanitizing wipes by their carts for you to clean the handle before you shop. Physician Debra Spicehandler, co-chief of infectious diseases at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, said it’s important to pay attention to potentially common sources of infection. “After touching pens, money, credit cards or even salt and pepper shakers, try to use hand sanitizer right away. If you can’t, don’t touch your hands to your face,” she said. And, Spicehandler said, skip handshakes altogether.


Travel is becoming more of a challenge. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising people not to fly unless it’s absolutely necessary. Check the CDC website before traveling internation-

At least for the foreseeable future, it’s going to be important to check whether or not an event is still taking place. A number of large conferences and events have been delayed or canceled out of an abundance of caution. The big California music festival Coachella has been rescheduled to the fall. New York stalled its big auto show until August, and the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, was canceled. “Indoor gatherings, especially any with 1,000 or more people, should be avoided,” Chi said.

Learning to live with the risk

“There’s been a lot of concern, bordering on panic recently. But most people who get the virus have relatively minor illness and the majority are getting better,” Woods said. Gurwitch advised staying upto-date on the situation by checking reliable sources of information, such as the CDC. And take the steps you can to control your personal and family situation. If you do get symptoms — fever, cough, difficulty breathing — call your doctor or local emergency room to find out what to do, Spicehandler advised. The CDC also recommends calling your doctor if you find out you’ve been exposed to someone who develops COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus. This article was distributed by HealthDay News.

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


o, in a pretty interesting turn of events, it appears that my lifestyle choice has become most other people’s mandated reality. I’m a homeschooling mother of seven kids, aged 1 to 16. For the last 12 years, we’ve inadvertently mastered the art of the quarantine. Sure, we’ve got sports clubs, co-ops, and piano classes, but when January hits, we basically stay home until the end of March. It’s cold, people are sick, and I usually have a newborn anyway, so who wants to go anywhere? We’ve adapted to this unconventional way of life over time with a few patterns of normalcy, a little creativity, and a whole lot of grace for one another. I’d like to invite you into our normal lives a bit, in hopes that what we’re doing can be helpful to your family during these unusual times as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic and home quarantines. There’s more to homeschooling than just “doing school at home.” You’ll find that the workload is pretty manageable, but there’s a lot of time during the day that demands to be filled. Ordinarily, in the pretty summer months, we can hit up parks and museums, summer camps, and art classes. But for the majority of the year when the weather isn’t optimal — or say, we’re in a global health crisis — your home has to become every place in the world to you. Add to that the stress of income loss, and we’re looking at family time, on a budget, in your home, indefinitely. Welcome to the club; it’s nice to have some new members! It can be daunting to think of “what to do” with the kids 24/7, but there’s no need to constantly keep them occupied. Boredom is a gift. It’s the soil where imagination is planted and memories grow. Do you remember when you were a kid, and the power went out? I’ll bet you smiled just now. There’s something about the loss of constant entertainment that sets us free. Which brings me to my next point — don’t just throw them in front of a screen. It’s tempting, but it’s detrimental to their development and your time together. Instead, help them think differently about how to use their newfound excess time. Most importantly, keep it simple. You don’t have to have a Pinterest-level craft prepared, or follow a souped-up schedule. Even though times have changed, kids really haven’t. Having a coloring contest, building a Lego city, and baking chocolate chip cookies are all still high-ranking family activities that everyone enjoys. It’s taken us several years to find our stride, but I’d like to give you a few tips to help you find yours so

Brian and Brooke DeMott homeschool their children, which makes for a smooth transition to quarantine in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Above, the children partake in a “Life Skills” class, making pizza from scratch. They are, from left, Judah, 10; Miriam, 3; Selah, 5; Malachi, 7; Stacia, 15; Enoch, 1; and Aliana, 11. that you can maximize this precious time with your family. — Consider a unit study: This can be a great deal of fun. Think about specific areas of interest for your kids, and make it a family endeavor to learn about it together. Do you have a son who loves owls? Read up on owls in our area; find a conservation group that will send you pellets to dissect for science; take a nature walk to try and scout some out (if possible); use owl spelling words for English and vocabulary, draw pictures of them for art, etc. You can make school really interesting this way and learn a lot about your children’s areas of interest.

Develop family activities

— Develop a family hobby: Everyone likes to learn new things. We all have a little more time on our hands and a little less cash, so why not try to learn to bake bread together? Maybe let YouTube spark an interest in karaoke (we have done this a handful of times and it’s a riot). Use scrap wood to build a puppet theater (or just some cardboard boxes) and practice a show. Start a family calisthenics routine to stay in shape together. There’s no limit to what you can learn.

— Life skills’ class: Sometimes we forget to include our kids in the day-to-day workings of being an adult, but these are critical skills for them to begin to learn at even very young ages. Everyone can do some kind of chore; even the 3-year-old can empty the bathroom garbage can, and he or she should. Assign some chores and teach them thoroughly how to do them well. If you have an investment portfolio, show your teenager what it looks like to buy stocks or mutual funds and what happens when the stock market crashes. Balance a checkbook together; let the kids help you fix the leaky faucet or switch out the laundry. It’s all a part of life. When it’s tempting to get them “out of the way,” remember that those are usually good times to breath in some courage and some patience, and ask them to participate with you. — Help others: It’s a hard time for a lot of people. Maybe you’ve recently been laid off because of food service closures. First, I’m so, so sorry. I understand; my husband is losing work, too. It’s scary and stressful when we don’t know how long we might be in the hole. But the best way to demonstrate to our kids what community ought to be is to do whatever we can to help.

April 2020 •

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

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Best ways to kill coronavirus in your home


our kitchen cabinet may already be stocked with cleaning agents that can kill coronavirus. But not all chemicals will work, and none are as gentle on your skin as commercial hand sanitizers, according to Rutgers University experts. Siobain Duffy, an associate professor of ecology with expertise in emerging viruses and microbial evolution, and Donald Schaffner, a distinguished professor and extension specialist in food science with expertise in microbial risk assessment and handwashing, offer the following tips for cleaning to kill the pathogens that cause COVID-19 and other deadly diseases. “Each disinfecting chemical has its own specific instructions, but an important general rule is that you shouldn’t immediately wipe a cleaning solution off as soon as you’ve applied it to a surface. Let it sit there long enough to kill viruses first.”

General disinfecting guidelines

• The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends daily disinfection for frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops,

as its disinfecting ability fades with time. • Non-porous items like plastic toys can be immersed in bleach for 30 seconds. Household surfaces that won’t be damaged by bleach should get 10 or more minutes of exposure. • Bleach solutions are very hard on the skin, and should not be used as a substitute for handwashing or hand sanitizer.

handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks. • The CDC also recommends the use of detergent or soap and water on dirty surfaces prior to disinfection. • If someone in your home is sick with flu-like symptoms, consider regularly disinfecting objects in your home since SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to survive for 16 hours on plastics. • Whatever cleaning solution you use, let it remain in contact with the surface long enough to kill viruses and other pathogens. The time needed will depend on the chemical. • Don’t use different cleaning agents at the same time. Some household chemicals, if mixed, can create dangerous and poisonous gases.


• Alcohol in many forms, including rubbing alcohol, can be effective for killing many pathogens. You can dilute alcohol with water (or aloe vera to make hand sanitizer) but be sure to keep an alcohol concentration of around 70% to kill coronaviruses. Many hand sanitizers have a concentration of about 60% alcohol, and Lysol contains about 80%; these are all effective against coronaviruses. • Solutions of 70% alcohol should be left on surfaces for 30 seconds (including cellphones — but check the advice of the phone manufacturer to make sure you don’t void the warranty) to ensure they will kill viruses. Pure (100%) alcohol evaporates too quickly for this purpose. • Containers of 70% alcohol should be sealed to prevent evapora-


• Bleach can be diluted with cold water to make an effective disinfectant against bacteria, fungi and many viruses including coronaviruses. You can typically use one-quarter cup of bleach per 1 gallon of cold water — but be sure to follow the directions on the label of your bleach. • Make dilute bleach solution as needed and use it within 24 hours,





tion. But unlike bleach solutions, they will remain potent as long as they are sealed between uses. • A 70% alcohol solution with water will be very harsh on your hands and should not be used as a substitute for handwashing and/or hand sanitizer.

Hydrogen Peroxide

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

Natural chemicals (vinegar or tea tree oil)

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

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

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

Healthcare in a Minute By George W. Chapman

COVID-19: NYS approves $40 million emergency response package


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

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

Amazon’s huge influence

stores. In lieu of the dire predictions of a physician shortage, Amazon could considerably reduce the deficit with increased automation and artificial intelligence.

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

Oneida, Herkimer In Good

MV’s Healthcare Newspaper

lege-educated workers have remained stable. The escalating death rate has occurred primarily over the past three decades. This phenomena is explained in their new book titled, “Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism.” Similarly, advanced countries in Europe are not experiencing this awful trend. Authors Case and Deaton point out that middle-class incomes have stagnated more in the US than other industrialized countries. Exacerbating the problem is our expensive healthcare system which impacts lower paid workers more by draining resources that could be spent on other things which would improve their lives.

Non-college-educated worker ‘Deaths of Despair’ up

A study conducted by Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton found that “deaths of despair” — caused by alcoholism, drug abuse, suicides, depression, obesity — are soaring among America’s non-college-educated workers. Similar deaths among the col-

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.

ACA in limbo

The fate of the Affordable Care Act remains up in the air. It won’t be determined by the Supreme Court until mid-2021 or later. Consequently, the delay exacerbates and prolongs the uncertainty and anxiety for insurers, providers and enrolled consumers. The makeup of the Supreme Court has shifted since it last upheld the ACA over a challenge regarding premium subsidies for the indigent five years ago. Last year, a court of appeals ruled the individual mandate was unconstitutional, but did not conclude the entire law was unconstitutional. Mostly “blue” states are challenging the entire law and therefore sending the issue to the Supreme Court. Politics pervades all decision-making in Washington.



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



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

“I had cancer...

cancer never had me.” Meet Tracy: Mother, patient, advocate and blessed!

“When I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer in 2004, I was a single mom. So when I received my diagnosis, I thought, ‘This, too?’ I was shocked. A friend introduced me to HOA. At HOA, cancer wears a face, and not a number. Let me explain.”

To read more about Tracy’s story, and HOA, visit


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.

April 2020 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Mohawk Valley responds to COVID-19 threat COVID-19 changes hospital operations To better protect patients, medical staff and employees throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, further visitor restrictions have been put in place at the Mohawk Valley Health System. As directed by the New York State Department of Health, visitation to the main MVHS campuses is suspended at this time. This restriction applies to the Faxton, St. Elizabeth and St. Luke’s campuses. In line with these new restrictions, the laboratories in the three main campuses are closed to the public. For a list of lab locations outside of the main campuses, visit https://mvhealthsystem.org/locations?type=lab. For updates related to the COVID-19 outbreak, visit mvhealthsystem.org/coronavirus.

Visitation prohibited at MVHS CRCCS Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, visits to the Mohawk Valley Health System Center for Rehabilitation and Continuing Care Services are prohibited. “To allow our residents to continue communicating with their loved ones, we will be setting up Skype appointments,” a spokesperson said. If interested in setting up a Skype appointment with a resident, contact the director of therapeutic recreation, Amy Deangelo, at 315-624-8643. She will help with setting up a Skype application and other information regarding an appointment. Available appointments fall within the following time slots: — Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.; 1-4 p.m.; or 6-7:30 p.m. — Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m. There are limited weekend appointments. “Additionally, we would like to reiterate that loved ones must refrain from dropping off any items to our residents as they will not be accepted,” the spokesperson said. “These items may be contaminated with the virus and pose a risk to our residents.” Those with any additional questions regarding COVID-19 and the precautions being taken at MVHS may refer to the COVID-19 Information page at mvhealthsystem.org/ covid-19-information.

RMH suspends routine visitation Out of caution, Rome Memorial Hospital has suspended all routine visitation due to COVID-19 to ensure the safety of patients, residents and staff. In addition, the hospital will be reducing the number of entry points on its campus. “We’re asking for everyone’s cooperation and understanding of the need to limit the number of people who come into contact with our patients and nursing home residents to protect those who are most vulnerable,” said Emma Ingalls, director of infection prevention. One medically necessary support individual will be allowed to accompany a patient to a clinical area upon passing a health screening. These include any patients with confusion, altered mental status, developmental delays or agitation or mobility issues, and children under the age of 18. In addition, one support person is permitted to accompany surgical, emergency and maternity patients. Exceptions to the visitor policy will be made for family to visit critically ill patients upon completing the health screening. The following entrances will be open for patients to access the hospital: — Emergency department: 24 hours a day — Main lobby, James Street: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays — Bartlett entrance, Oak Street: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays All other entry points will be closed. Both the main lobby and Bartlett entrances are closed on the weekend. “Protecting the health and well-being of our patients and caregivers is our top priority as our community works together to slow the spread of the virus,” Ingalls said.

MVHS Dental Health Office closed Rome Rescue Mission Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 responds to COVID-19 in the area, the Mohawk Valley

Health System Dental Health Office will be closed until further notice with the exception of dental emergencies. Those who are experiencing a dental emergency can call 315-6246227. Page 6

The Rome Rescue Mission is responding to the COVID-19 outbreak with established protocol and continued services. “Our primary purpose and goal is the safety of our staff, men, women and children in low-income

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

households, senior citizens and the community at large,” a spokesperson said. Community breakfast, lunch and dinner will continue to be provided at 413 E. Dominick St. on a takeout basis. The mission is adhering to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state agencies’ recommendations for providing services and shelter in the future. The Rome Rescue Mobile Mission will be providing meals to anyone in need. The Rome Rescue Mobile Mission expects to be providing over 4,000 meals per month. The investment for these additional delivery services is expected to reach over $10,000 per month. To cover the cost of these unexpected services, the mission has set up a Go Fund Me page. The mission is asking individuals and businesses for their support. Updated information will be posted at romemission.org and Facebook. The mobile mission will be delivering food at the following parking lot locations: — South Rome Senior Center: Noon to 12:30 p.m. — Colonial I apartments: 12:451:05 p.m. — Colonial II Apartments: 1:101:30 p.m. — Valentine Apartments: 1:502:10 p.m. — Liberty Gardens: 2:20-2:40 p.m. — Pinti Field: 3-3:20 p.m. — Park Drive: 3:30-3:50 p.m.

VHS, VRS address COVID-19 threat With the spread of the COVID-19 in New York state and across the region, Valley Health Services and Valley Residential Services have made it a top priority to protect the health and safety of patients, residents and staff. They are following guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health in an effort to ensure the health and wellness of the population and protect them from unnecessary exposure to upper respiratory illness, including COVID-19.

Effective immediately, Valley Health and Residential Services has suspended visitation. “We understand visiting with loved ones is important and it is for this reason VHS-VRS is being very proactive in providing family members a variety of other ways to connect with their loved ones. Should a resident experience a health crisis, the resident’s representative will be notified and special visitation procedures will be implemented,” a spokesperson said. Additionally, Valley Health Residential Services has postponed its April 16 Lunch ‘n’ Learn event with Estate Planning Law Center. “As COVID-19 progresses in the U.S., experts from all areas of our health network meet daily to understand the current situation and adjust our response as needed,” the spokesperson said.

SDMG implements COVID-19 measures Slocum-Dickson Medical Group in New Hartford has instituted preventive measures in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “The health and safety of our patients has always been our top priority and during this time of heightened precautions, we are implementing several measures of protection for our patients and staff,” an SDMG spokesperson said. • Entrances and patient screening: SDMG is limiting entrance to its main and urgent care entrances only. All other doors will be used only for exiting the building. All patients and companions, regardless of their reason for visiting the facility, will be screened at these two entrances. The screening procedure will be relatively quick, but we do ask that patients allow for some additional time to complete this process. If a patient is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, they may be asked to return to their vehicle and contact their doctor’s office or urgent care by phone. • Reducing traffic: If patients need to be accompanied to their appointment, they are being asked to limit companions to only one person, including children. Every person entering the building will need to go through a screening process. Additionally, SDMG is limiting traffic throughout its building by not allowing pharmaceutical representatives, food vendors, and any other non-essential vendors into the facility during this time. • Reduced hours of operation: SDMG has reduced hours by closing its facility at 6 p.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. on weekends. Its urgent care, laboratory and radiology departments are open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Patients can visit SDMG.com or its Facebook page for updates regarding precautionary measures.

By Jim Miller

How Medicare is covering COVID-19 Dear Savvy Senior, Is Medicare covering testing for the coronavirus? My husband and I are very nervous about this virus and would like to find out if or when we should get tested, and how Medicare manages it. Nervous Nelly

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

Medicare coverage

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

When to call your doctor

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

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

Prevention tips

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

Rome Memorial Hospital supporting local businesses amid pandemic Teams at Rome Memorial Hospital continue to have food delivered from local businesses to support the local economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Food was recently delivered from LaRoma Pizzeria and Restaurant in Rome. Nursing administration staff ordered from and donated money above and beyond the cost of the food in a show of support and solidarity with the local business community. Above, Josh Butler, left, long-time delivery driver at LaRoma Pizzeria and Restaurant, is shown delivering pizza and trays of food to RMH recently. Ashley Edwards, interim nurse director, maternal childcare services, center, is shown receiving the delivery.

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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. April 2020 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 7

Study says AA most effective to beat drinking problems


lcoholics Anonymous, the worldwide fellowship of sobriety seekers, is the most effective path to abstinence, according to a comprehensive analysis conducted by a Stanford School of Medicine researcher and his collaborators. After evaluating 35 studies — involving the work of 145 scientists and the outcomes of 10,080 participants — Keith Humphreys, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and his fellow investigators determined that AA was nearly always found to be more effective than psychotherapy in achieving abstinence. In addition, most studies showed that AA participation lowered health care costs. AA works because it’s based on social interaction, Humphreys said, noting that members give one another emotional support as well as practical tips to refrain from drinking. “If you want to change your behavior, find some other people who are trying to make the same change,” he said. The review will be published March 11 in Cochrane Database of Systematic Review. Although AA is well-known and used by millions around the world, mental health professionals are sometimes skeptical of its effectiveness, Humphreys said. Psychologists and psychiatrists, trained to provide cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy to treat patients with alcohol-use disorder, can have a hard time admitting that the lay people who run AA groups do a better job of keeping people on the wagon. Early in his career, Humphreys said, he dismissed AA, thinking, “How dare these people do things that I have all these degrees to do?” Humphreys noted that counseling can be designed to facilitate engagement with AA — what he described as “an extended, warm handoff into the fellowship.” For the review article, Humphreys and his colleagues evaluated both AA and 12-step facilitation counseling. AA began in 1935 when two men in Akron, Ohio, were searching for a way to stay sober; they found it by forming a support group. They later developed the 12 steps, the first being accepting one’s inability to control drinking; the last, helping others sustain sobriety by becoming a sponsor of a new member. The AA model — open to all and free — has spread around the globe, and now boasts over 2 million members in 180 nations and more than 118,000 groups. Though the fellowship has been around for more than eight decades, researchers have only recently developed good methods to randomize trial participants and measure its effectiveness, Humphreys said.

Page 8


Your Doctor

By Barbara Pierce

Dr. Maria Gesualdo Dr. Maria Gesualdo has joined Hospice & Palliative Care as associate medical director. Hospice & Palliative Care provides quality, compassionate and end-of-life care to those in the Mohawk Valley. Q.: What led you to take the position of associate medical director of Hospice & Palliative Care? A.: For the past eight years, I had the opportunity to work as both a clinician caring for pulmonary and critical care patients while at the same time growing and developing my administrative skills both at Slocum Dickson Medical Group in New Hartford and the Mohawk Valley Health System. Recently, my administrative responsibilities were coming to an end. When I learned of the position at Hospice & Palliative Care, I was immediately interested. I saw this as a great opportunity to incorporate my clinical and administrative skills with my vast experience dealing with the sensitive matters associated with critically ill patients and their families. I always admired and appreciated the wonderful services and dedication provided to my patients by Hospice & Palliative Care and saw this as an opportunity to be part of that team. I just knew that I would feel very comfortable in this role. Q.: What is the mission of Hospice & Palliative Care? A.: For hospice, the mission is to provide quality, compassionate endof-life care. For the Advanced Illness Management: Palliative Care program, the mission is to help alleviate patient and family suffering and to promote patient quality of life for chronically and seriously ill patients. Q.: How do the two programs differ? A.: Hospice patients require a physician’s prognosis of six months or less to live. For these patients, care is aimed at managing distressing symptoms, especially pain and anxiety, and improving quality of life. These patients are no longer seeking life-prolonging treatments. In other words, the patient wishes to allow a natural death. Our A.I.M: Palliative Care program focuses on managing distressing symptoms and improving quality of life. Unlike hospice, it does not require a prognosis of six months or less to live. Patients may continue life-prolonging or curative treatments. Like hospice patients, palliative care patients can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to receive guidance and support from a registered nurse. Q.: How do you carry out your mission? A.: It’s carried out through a dedicated and caring interdisciplinary

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

hospice criteria and has a comfort care plan in place. Once a patient is admitted, I provide documentation for his or her admission and medication coverage. I make recommendations to their primary care provider to comply with standards of care. If the PCP cannot be reached, I am available to prescribe any medications necessary. Additionally, I oversee interdisciplinary group meetings to discuss every patient and the services they are receiving.

group including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified home health aides, social workers, a spiritual care coordinator, bereavement counselors, and support staff along with administrators who work closely with myself and our medical director, Dr. Deborah Lang, to assure patient needs are met. We are also fortunate to have trained volunteers who support our mission. Q.: What is your role as associate medical director? A.: I work closely with Dr. Lang to assure patient needs are met and to facilitate a smooth transition to hospice. Once a hospice referral is made, I assure that the patient meets

Q.: Do you feel the community is aware of Hospice & Palliative Care and the important role it plays in the lives of many? A.: We certainly strive to get the word out, but there is always room for improvement. Hospice & Palliative Care does a great job with education. Fundraisers throughout the year are helpful in raising funds to support patient care and getting community members more engaged. I would like to see our community view Hospice & Palliative Care as an extension of the excellent health care being delivered to patients by their providers. Excellent care shouldn’t end as the patient deals with an advanced illness or faces end-of-life decisions. Patients should feel reassured that there are services available through Hospice & Palliative Care to better assist them and their families with improving quality of life or coping with terminal illness.

Lifelines Birth year: 1969 Birthplace: Livingston, New Jersey Current residence: New Hartford Education: Doctor of Osteopathic medicine degree, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, Old Westbury; internship and residency, St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; fellowship in pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine, Penn State Health System, Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania Affiliations: Mohawk Valley Health System, St. Luke’s, St. Elizabeth’s, Rome Memorial Hospital Personal: Married, three teenagers Hobbies: Baking, traveling, reading mystery novels, watching scary movies, enjoying quality time with family, friends and my dog Buddy

Mental Health

Color your world

Different color schemes generate different moods By Barbara Pierce

Colors are powerful!” said Tara D’Amico, real estate and interior design adviser for Coldwell Banker Sexton, of Clinton. Colors play a starring role in our lives, from the clothes we wear and the cars we drive, to how we decorate our homes and work spaces. Colors influence our moods, impact our lives and provide a glimpse as to who we are. “We all know that walking into a beautiful room with calming cool blue walls and richly toned fabrics can instantly lower our stress and soothe our soul,” D’Amico continued. “On the contrary, when your child dresses himself in a red shirt and orange pants, it’s like nails on a chalk board to our inner feng shui.” In today’s hectic world, we should be selective about what colors we surround ourselves with, she suggested. It’s an easy way to bring peace into lives through our wardrobes, homes and work spaces. Color can be a mood lifter or a depressor. Colors and emotions are closely linked; every color creates different emotions and feelings. Our reaction to colors is highly individualized, rooted in our experiences. Colors can make us feel happy or sad; they can make us feel relaxed, and even make us feel hungry. Warm colors — reds, oranges, and yellows — often evoke feelings of happiness, optimism and energy. They change our heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. On the other side of the color spectrum, cool colors — blues, purples and greens — tend to evoke feelings of calm, but can also trigger sadness and indifference. D’Amico offers these color tips for your home: — Whites, creams and light neutrals (my personal favorites) bring peace, serenity, clarity, promote cleanliness and cultivate communication. — Neutral, neutral, neutral when it comes to painting walls, furniture, and décor: Whites, creams, grays and tans; the lighter the better. Neutrals are peaceful colors. They’re a great choice for us here. When it’s dreary outdoors, they help to make indoors a comfortable and

D’Amico happy place. Whites bring light into any space and overall soothe. My home is about 10 different shades of white. People say, ‘You’re so brave having white with three kids!’ But here’s a secret: White is the easiest color to clean and it doesn’t fade. Not to mention it’s very soothing. I think it’s heavenly.

Amazing grays

Grays are amazing, and are very neutral to use as a whole house paint color. Classic gray, by Benjamin Moore, is my favorite. I recommend this color to my real estate and design clients and use it in my own properties; it’s a fabulous color. Some may think gray is boring or dreary, but that is not so. That perfect gray sofa, accented with creamy velvet drapes, makes your living room the favorite spot in the house. From HGTV.com: “Gray has an inherent calmness and sophistication. Choose a solid gray that symbolizes strength, or a softer gray that offers a delicate feel.” Using light neutrals for the majority of your home and accenting with beautiful pops of color is a smart and cost-effective decorating philosophy, D’Amico said. We get sick of color quickly and seasons change — using interchangeable items such as throw pillows, blankets and rugs keeps visual interest up and

cost down. — If you love fire engine red, sunshine yellow, or vivid orange, fear not. You don’t have to give them up completely. Just incorporate them sparingly and consistently. Use pops of these colors as accents. — Cooler blues and greens can be relaxing and serene. They are said to infuse wisdom and creativity. Blues are lovely for bedrooms to promote rest. Blue makes you feel safe and relaxed. Workers in blue offices feel the most centered, calm and hopeful, say experts. Since blue can lower heart rates and green reduces anxiety, a combination of blue and green is best for the workplace. For most people, cool colors are calming. Green, a prevalent color in nature, makes us feel peaceful. Use as

a wall color or incorporate it subtly. Adding houseplants makes your space feel calmer and look brighter and warmer. The fewer colors you combine and the simpler and more pared back a design is, the more calming it will feel. — Reds, yellows, bright pinks and oranges are very stimulating to the brain. They are uplifting, lively colors. Art studios, classrooms, or think tank spaces could benefit from them. Add a dash of color here and there in your world — a glass vase with brightly colored flowers or a plant to your dining room table, a vibrant blanket thrown over the back of the couch — and see if it makes you smile. It might just be what your soul is searching for.

Country music show gets rescheduled


he Friends of The Arc Foundation announces multi-platinum MCA Nashville recording artist Josh Turner will perform at The Stanley Theatre in Utica Oct. 23. The concert, originally scheduled for April 3, was postponed due to COVID-19 prevention practices and concerns. Proceeds from this show will benefit The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter.

Fans who have already purchased tickets, either through the Stanley Box Office or Ticketmaster. com, and would like a refund due to a conflict with the new date are asked to call 315-724-4000 or email bbaker@ thestanley.org. Fans with tickets who plan to attend the show on Oct. 23 are unaffected. April 2020 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 9

Mental Health


What can you find to laugh about? By Barbara Pierce


ife is grim these days. Watch the news for even a few minutes and your stress response will probably hit all-time highs. The stress response is your body’s way of responding to any kind of threat. When you sense danger — whether it’s real or imagined — your body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction. This is your body’s way of protecting you. It works to help you stay focused, energetic and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life — giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid a car accident. Stress can also help you rise to meet challenges. It’s what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV. But beyond a certain point, stress stops being help-

ful and starts causing major damage to your health, mood, productivity, relationships, and your quality of life. Too much stress can work against you, said Dominick Nicotera, a licensed clinical social worker and founder and executive director of DRN Counseling and Consulting Services in Utica. DRN Counseling focuses on teaching effective ways of coping with life’s challenges. When your stress response kicks in, your body releases a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, he explained. Overexposure to these hormones can do harm to your body and puts you at increased risk of many health problems. That’s why it’s so important to learn healthy ways to cope with the stressors we’re facing. One of the best ways to take a break from life’s harsh realities is laughter. We all have a genuine need to roar with laughter, delight in the absurd, do wacky things, and laugh so hard water shoots out of our nose. “Laughter is definitely a good way to relieve stress,” said Nicotera. “Laughter creates endorphins, the feel-good chemical. Just like exercise

creates endorphins, laughter is in the same category — it creates endorphins and decreases stress.” Whether you’re laughing loudly with friends or chuckling quietly at a TV show, laughing does you good. Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke. Laughter actually causes physical changes in your body that cool down your stress response. Researchers found that 30 minutes after participants in a study laughed, the level of their stress hormone fell by 40%.

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Page 10

Laughter, health tie

As well as lowering your stress hormones, laughter has so many

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

awesome benefits to your body: — It boosts your immune system; effects last several hours after you laugh. — It relieves pain by causing your body to produce its own natural painkiller. — A rowdy laugh increases and then decreases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result is a good, relaxed feeling. — It helps you connect with other people. — It improves your mood, lessens depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier. — Put humor in your life: Many of us get more serious as we age. Watch babies and young children — they laugh easily and so hardily at the dumbest things. You can encourage and develop your sense of humor; it’s easier than you think. — A good place to start is with yourself. Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Just think for a moment of the incredibly stupid, klutzy, harebrained things you’ve done in your life. The key is in looking — you can usually find what you’re looking for. — Find a few simple items such as photos, jokes, cartoons, greeting cards or comic strips that make you chuckle. Then hang them up at home or in your office. Keep funny movies, books, magazines or comedy videos on hand for when you need an added humor boost. — Hang out with people who make you laugh. Share your favorite funny stories or jokes with those around you. If you don’t have a good memory for funny stuff, make notes and carry them with you. — Play a game with others that makes you all laugh. Taboo played with my family makes me laugh hysterically. — The Internet has a treasure trove of things to make you laugh. It makes me laugh to see others laughing; laughter is truly contagious. Try youtube.com. I crack up when I watch CNN’s Anderson Cooper describing the celebration of “Dyngus Day” in Buffalo. He can’t stop laughing and I can’t as well. — Practice laughing. Even if it feels forced at first, it still does your body good. Fake it until you make it; your body can’t tell the difference. Fake works just as good as the real thing.

Mental Health Between You & Me

By Barbara Pierce

Moods depend on yourself What creates our happiness? What causes our suffering?


s it the things that happen to us that determine whether we’re happy or sad? Is it other people in our lives that cause us to agonize or make us happy? I don’t think it is circumstances or other people. I strongly believe that we create our own happiness and we cause ourselves to suffer — most of the time anyway. I’d like to remind you of some of the ways we can make life better for Pierce ourselves. Making these changes will pay off in all aspects of your life. It will boost your mood, build resilience, and add to your peace and feelings of well-being as well as limit those times of suffering and agony. I’ve put together these suggestions from what I’ve learned from many years as a psychotherapist. In that role, I helped people make their lives work better as well as found what I’ve found works for me. — It’s how you see things that matter. You know this: No matter what happens, it’s really your attitude that matters. Life doesn’t always go the way you want it to. Whether it’s a minor inconvenience like unexpected traffic or a major setback in your career, relationships or health, one thing is certain: You can cry and whine about it, or not. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain,” is a quote I have on my wall because I try to live my life that way. It comes down to the meaning we choose to give the events and circumstances we find ourselves in. Caught in the rain? You can gripe about what your hair will look like, or enjoy the sensations of the rain. Stuck in traffic? You can grumble and curse, or sing along to your favorite songs. When you have a major setback in your life, accept it. It happened, you don’t like it, but you will be OK with it. Then think: “What steps do I need to take to change this situation?” Take those steps and then step

back. If there’s nothing you can do, just be OK with it.

Matter of perception

I especially like this parable: A man who was traveling came upon a farmer working in his field. “Is that your village down there?” he asked. “What are the people there like?” The farmer responded: “What were the people like in the last village you lived in?” “They were rude, unfriendly, and dishonest. That’s why I left. I’m looking for a new place to settle down.” “I’m afraid you’ll find that the people in my village are the same,” the farmer replied. “This is no place for you.” Later another man came up to the same farmer and asked him what the people in his village were like as he was looking for a new home. Again, the farmer asked: “What were the people like where you lived?” “Oh, they were wonderful,” he replied. “Such kind, friendly, and generous people.” The farmer said, “You’ll find the people in my village just as wonderful. You’ll be welcome to stay.” Watch your “all-or-nothing” thinking. Of all the things that caused my clients the most suffering and unhappiness, this was it. All or nothing thinking is when you see things in black or white. For example, the woman who, after her husband left her, said: “I’ll never love anyone ever again.” Or the man who didn’t do well in a job interview: “I just can’t do interviews at all. I’ll never get a job.” All-or-nothing thinking refers to thinking in extremes. You are either a success or a failure. Your performance was totally good or totally bad. If you are not perfect, then you are a failure. Life is rarely black or white. This way of thinking does not account for shades of gray, and can be responsible for a great deal of negative evaluations of yourself and others. — Make social connection a priority, especially face-to-face: We are social creatures with emotional needs for relationships and connections to each other. Our brains crave companionship. Ask a zoo keeper to develop

‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.’

a space for Homo sapiens, and he would list at the top: “Obligatorily gregarious — do not house in isolation.” Phone calls and social networks have their place, but nothing can beat the mind-boosting power of quality face-to-face time with other people. — Find purpose and meaning in life: Find something that really interests you and pursue it ferociously. Activities with purpose put sizzle into our lives, energize us, challenge us and make us feel productive. Your

purpose will be found in things that you are good at and that you care deeply about. Take a step back and look at each of these suggestions. Which do you need to add to your life? • 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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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 11

Mental Health

Battling Burnout Yes, there really is such a thing By Barbara Pierce


ork can be stressful: running from meeting to meeting, juggling deadlines, dealing with rude customers, clients in crisis, callous bosses and a never-ending string of emails and longer “to do” list. There comes a point when it becomes too much. You’re overwhelmed by it all. I’ve been there. As a counselor in a counseling center, I stopped caring about my clients. Day after day, hour after hour, I saw person after person — each in a crisis, each sad, and some to a heart-breaking level. It was a stressful, difficult job. I became overwhelmed with stress from the constant barrage of challenges. Despite the fact that our boss arranged for times for us all to talk with each other, support each other, and I thought I was taking caring of myself outside the office, I was at the point where I didn’t really care about those sad stories. I was jaded, cynical and ineffective with my clients. I was suffering from burnout. I needed to stop working at that job, or at least take a long break. My clients deserved better than what I was giving them. Burnout is when we experience stress over an extended period of time, say experts. The impact of burnout is very real: lack of motivation, decreased job confidence and performance, increased moodiness and negative thinking. Burnout is now a legitimate medical diagnosis, according to the World Health Organization’s handbook that guides medical providers in diagnosing diseases. Burnout — brought on from chronic workplace stress — is real and is impacting an increasing amount of people.

Internet searches for “how to cure burnout” increased by 88% in the past year, says a research group. Now that the diagnosis has been made legitimate, medical providers can diagnose someone with burnout if they meet the following symptoms: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional effectiveness. This change gives people who suffer burnout more legitimacy — they are recognized as having a severe issue. Burnout is like stress, but a little different. Dr. Sharmila Dissanaike teaches mindfulness as a method to help combat the growth of burnout in physicians. “Stress is the person who looks a little crazy when they turn up for an after-work get together at the end of the week, strung out and frazzled. The burned-out person is the one

who didn’t even bother to show up,” Dissanaike said. “It takes things that should be enjoyable and flattens them into a list of tasks. The end result is that everything, from wedding celebrations to registering to vote, becomes tinged with resentment and anxiety and avoidance,” is how Anne Helen Petersen describes it in “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation,” which went viral on buzzfeednews. com.

No simple solution

“You don’t fix burnout by going on vacation,” Petersen adds. “You don’t fix it through ‘life hacks,’ like inbox zero, or by using a meditation app for five minutes in the morning, or doing Sunday meal prep for the entire family, or bullet journaling.” So, how do you fix it? “Burnout and compassion fatigue are genuine concerns for professionals in the helping field,” said Brooke Lewis, social work supervi-

sion at DRN Counseling & Consulting Services in Oneida County. “Achieving a healthy work-life balance is of utmost importance,” she said. “Identifying activities, hobbies, and stress-reducing exercises to do throughout the course of the day and week is beneficial to combating burnout.” “It’s important to take care of yourself,” added her employer, Dominick Nicotra, founder and executive director of DRN Counseling & Consulting Services. “Me, I exercise, swim, lift weights, and golf. Do whatever you enjoy doing.” “Put it down and the end of the day and don’t take it home,” he suggested. Employers have a big role in addressing burnout. “We’re there for each other,” said Nicotera about helping his employees. “We talk to each other; we help each other get through.” Sharing with others and supporting one another is critically important. Employees who have little control over their schedules, interactions and time management are at risk of burning out, say experts. Having inflexible structures and policies can leave workers feeling trapped, experts warn. Employees should look for ways to add more control to their daily schedules. It is recommended to take 10 to 15 minutes each morning to outline a few goals to help regain a sense of control. Employers need to recognize that employees should have as much autonomy as possible over their work to help prevent burnout. Burnout is real. It’s something to be aware of and work to head off. What helped me was a long vacation away from the office — and away from emails and phone calls.

Marijuana use among U.S. seniors skyrockets


mericans may want to rethink the stereotype of the pot-loving teen: More U.S. seniors are using the drug now than ever before. The proportion of folks 65 and older who use pot stands at 4.2%, up from 2.4% in 2015, according to figures from the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health. “The change from 2.4 up to 4.2, that’s a 75% increase,” said senior researcher Joseph Palamar, an associate professor of population health at New York University Langone Medical Center. “It didn’t double, but 75% is a pretty big increase, I think.” Emily Feinstein, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Center on Addiction, reviewed the study and commented that the trend is “not surprising.” “First, older people are more Page 12

likely to experience pain and other chronic conditions,” Feinstein said. “Secondly, marijuana has become increasingly available and acceptable within society. Together, these two factors are probably driving this trend.” But Palamar doesn’t think the wave of marijuana legalization sweeping the nation has prompted Grandma and Grandpa to give weed a try, either to ease aches and pains or have a pleasant evening. Rather, he thinks the proportion of aging marijuana users is increasing because more older folks are already familiar with pot. “A lot of people who use marijuana are aging into the 65-and-older age bracket. I personally think that’s what’s driving this,” Palamar said. “Of course, there are new initiates,

but I don’t think there are that many older people trying weed for the first time ever.” There still are a lot fewer seniors using pot than younger folks, Palamar added. It’s just that marijuana use overall has continued to rise in the United States, affecting nearly all groups of people. The NYU researchers analyzed responses from more than 15,000 older adults. Pot use rose more drastically among specific groups of seniors between 2015 and 2018, including: • Women (93% increase) versus men (58%), although nearly twice as many men use compared with women overall. • College-educated (114% increase) versus high school or less (17%). • Households making more than

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

$75,000 a year (129%) or $20,000 to $49,999 (138%), compared with folks making less than $20,000 (16%) or between $50,000 and $74,999 (3%). • Married seniors (100% increase) versus singles (45%). Seniors taking up pot after smoking it back in the day are probably doing so for potential medical benefits, although the survey didn’t ask this question, Palamar said. “From what I see, I think a lot of older people are using weed more for medical reasons rather than recreational reasons,” Palamar said. “I know someone in this age group who for never in a million years I thought would use marijuana. She eats a marijuana gummy every night to help her sleep, because she feels it helps better than anything else. I think this is becoming more common.”

Mental Health The Balanced Body

By Deb Dittner

Enhancing mental health There are ways in which to alleviate anxiety


f you listen to the news either on the radio or television, you will hear a variety of situations that can cause worry and anxiety in your everyday life. Situations such as coronavirus, flu, travel, large crowd activities, and rationing of everyday products such as toilet paper and water can cause these feeling to elevate. The persistent and excessive worry can develop into what is known as generalized anxiDittner ety disorder. What factors can you implement to aid in the recovery from GAD? Initially start with your support system — a close friend or two that you can confide in and talk things through together. Marriage can also cause a decreased risk of anxiety disorders compared to those who are divorced. Those people, your friends and partners who you share in the everyday joys of life, create emotional and social support and more positivity overall. Make sure to listen to the person confiding in you, or if you are the one talking, you need to have a good listener to confide in. Be fully present in your attention and time. Introduce other tools into your everyday life to help manage GAD such as: — Meditation helps to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Start with approximately 5 minutes a day and build as needed. Meditation will provide a feeling of overall calm. There is an app entitled “CALM” which I highly recommend. — Movement such as yoga or tai

chi will aid in deep breathing. Getting outside for a walk will expose you to Vitamin D through sunlight, boosting your mood. Being out in nature has been shown to decrease anxiety and depression. Getting out in fresh air especially now as the weather is getting warmer and it staying light longer is a very good thing. — Therapeutic-grade essential oils and supplements such as lavender, lemon balm, valerian, kava root, magnesium (especially at bedtime), B-complex, chamomile, and passionflower have been known to help with anxiety and aiding in sleep. — Boost the immune system by taking Vitamin D3 (as directed by your health care provider) and Vitamin C. — Consume whole nutrient-dense food, making sure that each meal and snack consists of fat, fiber and protein. When anxiety is elevated, you may skip a meal or go too long between meals causing your

blood sugar to decrease (hypoglycemia). Be sure to carry a variety of wholesome snacks if you are out and about, and pack a hardy lunch if you’re headed to work for the day.

Thousands fight heart disease, stroke at America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk


housands of runners and walkers recently showed their advocacy for a world of longer, healthier lives at America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk in Utica. The Mohawk Valley drew a crowd of about 5,000 walkers and runners to Utica College. Participants helped raise $803,935 at the event. Participants who could not make it to the event, or have additional donations to turn in, may turn in money (including matching gift funds) by April 15 to receive any and all incentives, prizes, club benefits and awards. New this year, participants have until April 15 to choose an incentive prize from the rewards center online

Careful when ‘hangry’

— Eating out or picking up a snack when “hangry” may not be the healthiest choice during times of anxiety. Enjoying a healthy meal with friend(s) or a partner provides the appropriate nutrients and socialization. — Eliminate sugar from your diet. Sugar is inflammatory. Sugar can lead to an imbalance in blood sugar and hormones, both of which can cause anxiety to rise. — Eliminate alcohol from your daily habit as this can worsen anxiety. — Decrease or eliminate caffeine. Caffeine has its pros and cons but as individuals, some can tolerate caffeine and others should avoid it

at www.UticaHeartRunWalk.org. Runners and walkers who raised at least $250 can earn the limited edition 2020 America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk T-shirt. If anyone has not already received a T-shirt, they can be picked up at the AHA office located at 125 Business Park Drive in Utica, from 8:30 to 5 p.m. weekday. For more information, call 315580-3964 or visit www.UticaHeartRunWalk.org. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association also announced the winner of the Lifestyle Change Award, sponsored by Sovena and Olivari Olive Oil — Anne Wightman. April 2020 •

by all costs. Eliminating caffeine for a month and then reintroducing will help in determining how your mood is affected. There are many non-caffeine drinks available such as herbal teas, decaf green tea, and other “coffee-like” beverages such as Postem or Rasa. — Emotional freedom technique is a simple and effective tool for dealing with emotional issues and anxiety. You tap the stress-relief points located at the eyebrows, side of the eye, under the eye, under the nose and the chin. This is a basic tapping technique during which time you state the anxiety-related problem to work on. There are YouTube videos available and apps that can be followed. — Breathing techniques can promote a restful, relaxing state of mind. This can be done anywhere and at any time. An example: Take a deep breath in to the count of four, hold for the count of seven, then release for the count of eight. Repeat at least three times and note a gentle calm that will come over you. — Support one another. If your friend or partner is wearing a color that looks exceptionally good on them, give them an authentic compliment. Expressing genuine compliments will make them feel good and will also help your state of mind to be happier and healthier. If you or a loved one continues to have anxiety issues, follow up with your primary care provider to direct you to the appropriate needed help. • 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.


primecareny.org 1.844.347.3168 info@primecareny.org IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 13

Health Careers

Brooke Lewis

Licensed Master of Social Work/Mental Health Administrator Brooke Lewis is a licensed master of social work and mental health administrator at DRN Counseling & Consulting Services, 2621 Genesee St., Utica. She recently spoke about the mental health profession. the position? A.: When you think of social workers, typically you think of individuals who are caring, social and good listeners. While these are all very important, it takes professionalism acquired through education and experience to be effective. Three qualities I think are imperative to being a strong therapist are authenticity, creativity and reliability. Authenticity is imperative as an individual needs to be able to ensure the therapist genuinely is invested in his or her well-being and remains true to the integrity of the profession. Without authenticity, the therapeutic relationship will be unable to be cultivated. Creativity is an important element of being a social worker as you must be able to think outside the box to develop opportunities to empower each client through identified barriers and struggles. In our society, it is easy to get stuck on a particular thought or barrier. In the field of social work, we focus on opportunities, solutions and empowerment in accessing viable options. To that end, creativity is essential. The foundation of any therapeutic relationship is trust. A social worker not only needs to be able to be relied upon to make and keep scheduled appointments, but also to follow through with assurances made to clients. These can include completing documentation and making and coordinating phone calls to other providers.

Q.: How did you get started in your career? A.: When asked how long I have been in the field, I often jokingly respond, “from birth”! My mother has been involved in the field of human services for approximately 35 years. Throughout my childhood, I would attend events such as Bowl for Kids Sake, the Buddy Walk, and even was a part of some integrated sessions as a young child as a peer role model. I have always been drawn to people and am a strong advocate of vulnerable individuals. However, I knew I would be pursuing a career as a mental health therapist after I worked with individuals struggling with homelessness and dual diagnosis as a case manager. This is where I found my passion in the field of social work. I was afforded the opportunity to learn from the incredibly resilient individuals on my caseload while promoting their well-being. This is what spurred me to pursue my graduate degree in social work. Q.: What training did it take? A.: To become a licensed master of social work is no easy task. A four-year bachelor’s degree in a human services-related field is required before applying for graduate school. Graduate school consists of two years of full-time study or four years of part-time study. In my case, I felt it important to continue to gain valuable experience as a mental health court coordinator while obtaining my master’s degree. Therefore, I worked full-time and attended graduate school part-time for eight years. Within the master of social work program, there are two required internships where a significant amount of knowledge is acquired. This provides an opportunity for MSW students to practice their skills under the supervision of a licensed professional. Upon graduation from graduate school, each graduate must apply for licensure with the New York State Department of Education. This includes multiple-choice (anxiety provoking!) examination that must be passed in order for the MSW graduate to become a licensed master of social work. In summation, it takes 6 to 8 years of college education with two internships, an application and passing an examination to become an LMSW.

Q.: What are your favorite parts of your position?

A.: My favorite part about being

Page 14

Q.: Many health care practitioners suffer from burnout. Is this a downside of the mental health profession as well? an LMSW is the ability to continuously learn from the individuals I work with. I am honored to be able to join individuals in their efforts to achieve their definition of well-being. Calling attention to resiliency, determination, and strengths within my clients is an aspect of my position I find to be extremely rewarding. As a therapist, I get to be a part of the worst times, but also the best times with those I serve. Q.: What are the most challenging aspects of your profession? A.: As a therapist, you enter into the field because you care about people. However, once in the field, you quickly learn it takes so much more than merely caring to be effective. The most challenging aspect is learn-

ing to establish healthy emotional boundaries. Being a therapist, you are exposed to connecting with someone as he or she shares aspects of their life that may be extremely difficult to hear, such as trauma, abuse or extreme loss. It is important to strike a balance between sympathy versus empathy, along with being able to reflect on how hearing negative events may be impacting you on both a professional and personal level. Learning how to navigate through heart-wrenching client accounts while remaining professionally effective is perhaps the most challenging aspect of the job. Q.: What are the most important qualities one needs to be effective at

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

A.: Relating to burnout, it is important to continuously do self-reflection and “check in” with yourself. I also advise clinicians to utilize professional peers and clinical supervisors to assist in monitoring caseload size, emotional processing and overall support. Burnout and compassion fatigue are genuine concerns for professionals in the helping field. It is imperative to take preventive measures and to have a plan in place of what to do when you feel the stress or emotional toll rising. Achieving a healthy work-life balance is of the utmost importance. Identifying activities, hobbies and stress-reducing exercises to do throughout the course of the day and week is beneficial to combating burnout.


By Anne Palumbo

The skinny on healthy eating

The Amazing Benefits of Olive Oil


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

which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by helping to lower bad cholesterol levels in your blood. When you choose to eat healthy fats over unhealthy fats (i.e., saturated and trans fats), you are doing your body good! Olive oil is especially high in monounsaturated fats, quite low in saturated fat, and has no trans fats. Olive oil stands apart from most oils because it boasts a unique and abundant combination of beneficial antioxidants. Antioxidants protect our body from disease and accelerated aging by gobbling up harmful free radicals — byproducts of the oxidation process that can turn good cells bad. Worried about chronic inflammation? Olive oil may be your ticket to quieting the painful and often destructive fire within. Research has shown that olive oil contains two nutrients that can fight inflammation: oleocanthal (an antioxidant) and oleic acid (an unsaturated fatty acid). Chronic inflammation is believed to be among the leading drivers of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and arthritis.

Like most oils, olive oil contains about 120 calories per tablespoon. While it’s one of the healthier oil choices, it’s still high in calories compared to actual vegetables. Experts recommend that we use olive oil in moderation and in place of overly processed oils and butter, not with them.

Mixed greens with favorite vinaigrette 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper 1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots (or 2 cloves garlic, minced) 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/3 cup olive oil Salad greens of choice

In a small bowl, whisk everything together but the olive oil. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until well blended. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Place the greens in a large bowl and toss with enough dressing to coat the leaves.

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.

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

April 2020 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 15

Spiritual Health Milk & Honey

By Brooke Stacia Demott

Looking past the facade Can Christianity provide thread of hope?


he well-dressed, smooth-talking here. Theists and humanists alike Information Age rapped on our can’t ignore the evidence of entropy, doors at the sunset of the 21st the inevitability of war, greed and century, and charmed his way into selfish ambition, and we all feel a strange sense that we are careening our affections. toward some epic grand finale. Curiosity propelled us to his Hollywood has capitalized on side, and he dazzled that apocalyptic bankroll with a us with his rapidly decade of zombie pandemic cinema, deepening pool and with every creeping terrorist cell of fact and fiction. that emerges and every annual viral His conversation pandemic that threatens to wipe out was thrilling. We the world with a flesh-eating bacteria were captivated by or super flu, we feel the groaning of his eclectic array the earth. of personalities. And every election year, we look Pretty soon, we for a savior on the ballot. were committed. The human narrative is unnervSilent vows ingly predictable. It’s as if we underwere exchanged, Demott stand innately that this is all winding and we unwittingly he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not to a close, and that our only hope lies married the Interering humanity into a fairly regular, follow them. When you hear of wars outside of ourselves. net. revolving state of paranoia. and uprisings, do not be frightened. The bad news is, we tend to look Turns out, our spouse is a Streams of full-color panoramas These things must happen first, but at our stock portfolio, our medical textbook narcissist. But he’s got us of this broken world are ever before Order Proposal# the end will not come right away.” personnel, or our elected officials convinced that we can’t live without our eyes, remindingMP us that we are he classification of: Then he said to them: “Nation Ad to save us from whatever new and him; we’re unnervingly codepenhopelessly at the mercy of unprewill rise against nation, and kingdom Letterterrible future is cresting the horizon. dent, abandoning all hope of healthy dictable, unalterable catastrophe. against kingdom. There will be great But no matter which world catastroboundaries. Add to that a host of very wealthy earthquakes, famines and pestilences phe is smacked down, the next one And even though he’s a hustler sponsors that can persuade media 2014 in various places, and fearful events is popping up in another corner at and a pathological liar, we just can’t outlets either directly, or indirectly, and great signs from heaven” (Luke increasing speed. seem to say goodbye. to report events with their preferred Acct# A1ZGFE Sales Rep: GRIMALDI, JENNIFER L Size: HCN6 Ad Id: AMZHMA1 Contract# 5544766 21:8-11). The good news is there is hope Welcome to the new age, where level of urgency, and it only takes a This was part of Jesus’ response on the other side of this broken the sea of information drowns every- few hours to send the world into a to the question posed by his disciworld. one who dives in, and the waters are tailspin. ples: “What are the signs that the We all know it. We all have a too murky to see clearly. This is an era that requires a disbeginning of the end is near?” The looming, unrelenting sense that there Real time, interactive, constantcerning eye, and a calm hand. time frame they’re referring to was is some solution to this injustice, ly accessible news cascades from “Watch out that you are not commonly known to the Jews as the some ultimate relief from all of this an infinite number of increasingly deceived. For many will come in “last days,” the final epoch which pain. In order to find the truth, we unverified sources, successfully ushmy (Jesus’) name claiming, ‘I am signaled the return of the Lord was have to be willing to release our grip imminent. on the things of this world which At this point, it’s important for are rapidly passing away, and ask Diabetes? us to understand why the Bible is a ourselves the question: Could the MP Order Proposal# decidedly unique historical relic. The universal human awareness that the ar at the classification of: Flat Feet? Ad Letter 66 books contained in the canonized world isn’t as it should be, and the Plantar Fasciitis? scriptures are a collection of ancient te 05/2014 universal desire for a hero to right texts written over the course of 2014 Acct# A1ZGFEYou Sales Rep: GRIMALDI, L Size: HCN6 Ad Id: AMZHMA1 Contract# may be JENNIFER eligible for shoes at little or5544766 no cost! these wrongs, be an echo of a story many centuries, the oldest of which that was written in eternity? Could were initially preserved carefully by Jesus Christ really be the one we’ve Jewish scribes who took great pains all been waiting for? to record each copy with flawless “Then I saw a new heaven and precision, believing them to be the a new earth, for the first heaven and Diabetes? very words of God. the first earth had passed away, and Flat Feet? Later, after the ministry of Jesus, the sea was no more.  And I saw Plantar Fasciitis? eyewitnesses to his life, death and the holy city, New Jerusalem, comYou may be eligible for shoes at little or no cost! even his resurrection penned ining down out of heaven from God, dependent accounts within a genprepared as a bride adorned for her eration of his death, validated by husband. And I heard a loud voice several hundred original documents from the throne saying, “Behold, the discovered over the last two millendwelling place of God is with man. nia. It’s not just a book of comfortHe will dwell with them, and they ing platitudes to the weak-minded will be his people, and God himself romantic — it’s an epic history, laden will be with them as their God.  He with mind-numbing genealogies, and will wipe away every tear from their predictions of future world events. eyes, and death shall be no more, Many of them are eerily specific, and neither shall there be mourning, nor have already come to pass. crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelations 21:1-4). Fatalistic approach AMZHMDNLM 14-Mar-2014 07:57 While technological advancements continue to find ways to keep • Brooke Stacia Demott is a columus distracted, alive and entertained, nist with In Good Health newspaper. Got few people would argue that the a question for Demott? Feel free to email ing Listing Information: world is only going to get better from her at brooketo@aol.com. AMZHMDNLM 14-Mar-2014 07:57 Page 16

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

uire a change, please contact your sales representative ellow Book Customer Service at 1-800-891-1899.

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10 things Medicare doesn’t cover By Jim Miller


hile Medicare (Part A and B) covers a wide array of health care services after you turn 65, it doesn’t cover everything. If you need or want certain services that aren’t covered, you’ll have to pay for them yourself unless you have other insurance, or you enroll in a Medicare Advantage health plan, which may offer some additional benefits. Here’s a look at some commonly needed medical services that original Medicare doesn’t pay for. 1. Most dental care: Routine dental care including checkups, cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions and dentures are not covered by Medicare. However, some Medicare Advantage plans do cover basic dental care services. 2. Routine vision care and eyeglasses: Medicare does not cover routine eye exams, eyeglasses and contact lenses (except following cataract surgery), but tests, treatments and surgeries for medical eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration are covered. Some Medicare Advantage plans do offer routine vision benefits. 3. Alternative medicine: Acupuncture, chiropractic services (except to fix subluxation of the spine), and other types of alternative or complementary care are not covered by Medicare. 4. Prescription drugs: Medicare (Part A and B) doesn’t provide coverage for outpatient prescription drugs, but you can buy a separate Part D prescription-drug policy that does,

or a Medicare Advantage plan, that covers both medical and drug costs. 5. Cosmetic surgery: Most cosmetic procedures are not covered, however, if the surgery is due to an injury or deformity, it might pay. For example, Medicare will cover a breast prosthesis for breast cancer survivors. 6. Hearing aids: Medicare will not pay for hearing exams or hearing aids, but may cover a hearing and balance exam if your doctor determines it’s necessary. Some Medicare Advantage plans do offer hearing benefits. 7. Long-term care: Nursing home care and assisted living facilities are not covered by Medicare. But, Medicare will help pay up to 100 days of skilled nursing or rehabilitation care immediately following a hospital stay of three or more days. 8. Personal home care: If you need to hire help for bathing, dressing or getting out of bed, Medicare typically won’t cover these costs either, unless you are homebound and are also receiving skilled nursing care. Housekeeping services, such as shopping, meal preparation and cleaning are not covered either unless you are receiving hospice care. But a few Medicare Advantage plans do offer in-home support services. 9. Routine foot care: Medicare does not cover most routine foot care, like the cutting or removing of corns, calluses and toenails. But they do cover medically necessary podiatrist services for foot problems like hammertoes, bunion and heel spurs, along with exams, treatments and therapeutic shoes or inserts if you

have diabetic foot problems. 10. Overseas coverage: In most cases, health care outside of the United States is not covered by Medicare except for very limited circumstances — such as on a cruise ship within six hours of a U.S. port. But, Medigap supplemental plans D, G, M and N cover 80% of emergency care abroad, and some Medicare Advantage plans cover emergency care abroad too. The best way to find out what Medicare covers is to talk to your health care provider, visit Medicare. gov/coverage and type in your test, item or service, or download the Medicare “What’s covered” app on the App Store or Google Play. And to

look for Medicare Advantage plans that offer additional benefits visit Medicare.gov/plan-compare. Also keep in mind that even if Medicare covers a service or item, they don’t pay 100% of the cost. You will have to pay a monthly Part B premium (which is $135.50 for most beneficiaries) and unless you have supplemental insurance, you’ll have to pay your annual deductibles and copayments, too. However, most preventive services are covered 100% by Medicare with no copays or deductibles. — Jim Miller is the author of the “Savvy Senior” column published every issue in In Good Health.

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Page 17

Hangovers: All you need to know Hit the bottle too hard? Here’s some worthwhile advice on recovery By Barbara Pierce


angovers are excruciating, agonizing and tormenting. You feel so terrible that even walking down the block seems impossible. Drinking too much alcohol causes hangovers. Whether or not you get a hangover depends on your weight, when you last ate, what type of alcohol you drank and how long you spent drinking it. Some people may feel hung over after as few as two or three drinks; others can tolerate many more. About 23% of all drinkers are resistant to hangovers altogether. Some drinks cause more intense hangovers. Darker alcohol, like bourbon, has a substance that can worsen hangover symptoms. Wine contains sulfites that are preservatives. People who have sensitivities to sulfites may get a headache after drinking wine. Alcoholic carbonated beverages are absorbed faster due to the carbonation, which can cause you to get much drunker much faster, setting you up for a nasty hangover. Hangover symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, decreased sleep, fatigue and brain fog. They begin several hours after you stop drinking when the blood-alcohol concentration begins to fall. The symptoms peak when the blood-alcohol concentration in the body returns to about zero. The symptoms can last from a few hours to 24 hours or longer.

What helps?

What’s the best hangover cure? “I wish I could offer something to help, but there’s no medication that will help a hangover,” said a pharmacist in Utica. “There is no magic hangover cure, just ways to ease the pain,” said a pharmacist in Herkimer. “If you have a headache, take Advil to ease the pain. Make sure you have some food in your stomach.” “Don’t use a Tylenol or ibuprofen or anything that contains acetaminophen as it can cause liver damage when combined with alcohol,” she said. The combination of alcohol and

acetaminophen can be toxic to the liver. “And stay hydrated,” she said. “Only time can help,” advises the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse online. “There is no way to speed up the brain’s recovery from alcohol use — drinking coffee, taking a shower, or having an alcoholic beverage the next morning will not cure a hangover.” There is no one-size-fits-all hangover cure because everyone’s body is different. You will have to find what works best for you and it will likely be a combination of things. We like these tips from thespruceeats.com: — Get some sleep: As your body needs to recover, stay in bed as long as you can. Even an extra hour or two of sleep will help out tremendously. — Drink water or juice: Water is the first thing you should drink in the morning. The alcohol you drank last night dehydrated your body and the best way to feel better is to rehydrate

it. Continue drinking water over the next few hours; however, too much can make you feel worse. While some people swear by Gatorade and other sports drinks, there’s no evidence that these work better than water or juice. — Avoid caffeine: A weak cup of coffee may be OK, but an entire pot will only dehydrate you more and it may make your headache worse. — Try sweet tea. The sugar and caffeine will give you a little boost without dehydrating you too much. Most teas have less caffeine than coffee. If you’ve got to have caffeine, drink one glass of water for every caffeinated beverage. This will help counteract the dehydration side effects.

Nurse your way back

— Eat something: Food may seem like the last thing you want right now, but it can help. Begin with something bland, like a piece of bread, crackers or pretzels, or a

banana. — Get up and move: When even standing seems like a challenge, it takes willpower to get up and move. This isn’t a magic cure, but it can help. It can also increase your metabolism, ridding your body of the toxins faster. Even a short walk in the fresh air can do wonders. If your hangover is at the level where even that is not a good idea, take a few minutes to just sit outside and breathe. No one who has ever had a hangover wants to hear this, but the only certain cure is time. “Totaled, plastered, crocked, polluted. Zonked, loaded, smashed … ” Teens in the cartoon “For Better or Worse” are trying to think of as many words that mean the same as “drunk. “How about ‘stupid?’” the younger sister suggests. She’s right. Hangovers are our body’s way of reminding us that it’s stupid to drink too much. For most of us, the best way to prevent a hangover is to drink responsibly.

Report: Cancer death rates continue to fall in U.S.


.S. death rates from cancer continued falling from 2001 to 2017 — dropping an average 1.5% a year, a new report shows. The annual decline was slightly larger among men (1.8%) than women (1.4%), according to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer. The report is prepared by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the U.S. National Cancer Institute; the American Cancer Society, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. “The United States continues to Page 18

make significant progress in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment,” said CDC director, physician Robert Redfield. “While we are encouraged that overall cancer death rates have decreased, there is still much more we can do to prevent new cancers and support communities, families, and cancer survivors in this ongoing battle,” Redfield added in a CDC news release. There were decreases in all major racial/ethnic groups and among men, women, young adults, teens and children. Rates of new cancers leveled off among men and increased slightly

among women from 2012 to 2016, according to the report. The researchers also found that from 2013 to 2017: • Among men, death rates fell for 11 of the 19 most common cancers. They remained stable for four cancers — including prostate — and increased for four cancers: mouth and pharynx; soft tissue including heart, brain and other nervous system, and pancreas. • Among women, death rates decreased for 14 of the 20 most common cancers, including the three leaders — lung, breast and colon. However, death rates rose for cancers of the uterus, liver, brain and other nervous

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

system, soft tissue including heart, and pancreas. Rates were stable for mouth and pharynx cancers. • Overall cancer death rates among children up to 14 years fell an average of 1.4% a year. Rates among 15- to 39-year-olds decreased an average of 1% a year. • Deaths from melanoma skin cancer fell more than 6% a year among men and women. • Lung cancer death rates decreased 4.8% a year among men and 3.7% a year among women. However, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, accounting for about one-quarter of all cancer deaths.

s d i K Corner

Ask The Social

Security Office

From the Social Security District Office

Social Security 1 in 4 gets unneeded number for newborn antibiotics at G children’s hospitals etting your newborn a Social Security number is important. If your child is born in a hospital, the easiest way to secure a Social Security number is when you give information for your child’s birth certificate. If you wait to apply for a number at a Social Security office, you may encounter delays while we verify your child’s birth certificate. When you give information for your child’s birth certificate at the hospital, you’ll be asked whether you want to apply for a Social Security number for your child. If you say “yes,” you need to provide both parents’ Social Security numbers, if you can. Even if you don’t know both parents’ Social Security numbers, you can still apply for a number for your child. There are many reasons why your child should have a Social


Q: When a person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, are benefits payable on that person’s record? A: Social Security survivors benefits can be paid to: • A widow or widower — unreduced benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60; • A disabled widow or widower — as early as age 50; • A widow or widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits; • Unmarried children under 18 or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children; • Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled; and • Dependent parents age 62 or older. Even if you are divorced, you still may qualify for survivors benefits. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov.

Q: I receive retirement benefits, but I also still work. How much can I earn and still collect full Social Security retirement benefits?

A: Social Security uses the formulas below, depending on your age, to determine how much you can earn before we must reduce your benefit: • If you are younger than full retirement age: $1 in benefits will be

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

deducted for each $2 you earn above the annual limit. • In the year you reach your full retirement age: $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $3 you earn above a different limit, but we count only earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. • Starting with the month you reach full retirement age: You will get your benefits with no limit on your earnings. Find out your full retirement age at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/ ageincrease.htm.

Q: Why should I sign up for a My Social Security online account?


ne-quarter of kids who receive antibiotics in U.S. children’s hospitals are given the drugs inappropriately, which increases the risk of antibiotic resistance, researchers say. “Antibiotic resistance is a growing danger to everyone; however, there is limited data on children,” said study co-author, physician Jason Newland, a professor of pediatrics at Washington University in St. Louis. “Data on adults have suggested that 30%-50% of antibiotics used in hospitalized adults is inappropriate,” Newland noted in a university news release. He said the goal of the study was to determine if antibiotics used to treat hospitalized children were “suboptimal.” That means doctors shouldn’t have prescribed any antibiotics; they could have used a more effective antibiotic; or they could have prescribed a different dose or for a shorter duration. “Health care workers must be vigilant since the inappropriate use of antibiotics is fueling dangerous drug resistance in children,» said Newland, who directs the antimicrobial stewardship program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. About one in three patients in U.S. children’s hospitals receives one or more antibiotics, the researchers said in background notes. They analyzed data from nearly 12,000 patients at 32 U.S. children’s hospitals. The kids were prescribed one or more antibiotics to treat or

prevent infections. Of those patients, 25% — or nearly 3,600 — received at least one antibiotic considered inappropriate, according to the study. The most common cases of inappropriate antibiotic use were: giving the wrong antibiotic for a particular infection (27%); prolonged antibiotic use after surgery to prevent surgical-site infections (17%); unnecessary use of antibiotics (11%); and use of broad-spectrum antibiotics when a drug that targets a specific type of bacteria could have been used (11%). Pneumonia, or lower respiratory infections, accounted for the greatest percentage of suboptimal prescriptions — 18%. The researchers also found that about half of inappropriate antibiotic use would not have been detected by current antibiotic stewardship programs designed to prevent antibiotic resistance. “Arguably, this is one of the most important findings because it helps us to identify blind spots in antimicrobial stewardship programs,” Newland said. “Antibiotics currently not targeted for review still have a significant need for oversight. The obvious solution is to expand routine reviews to include all antibiotics. Unfortunately, this is resource-intensive and may not be feasible at some hospitals,” he pointed out. The study was recently published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

A: My Social Security gives you a personal online account you can securely use to check your Social Security information and do business with us. With a My Social Security account you can: • Keep track of your earnings and verify them every year; • Get an estimate of your future benefits if you are still working; • Get a replacement Social Security card if you meet certain criteria; • Get a letter with proof of your benefits if you currently receive them; and • Manage your benefits: – Change your address or telephone number; – Start or change your direct deposit; – Get a replacement Medicare card; and – Get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax season. To find all of the services available and set up an account, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. April 2020 •

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