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in good

Meet Your Doctor

September 2015 • Issue 115


Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

School bells chime!

Dr. Martin Morell

See Page 4

Make your educational experience a healthy one

See Page 5

Meds punish teeth

Back to School Special Section

See Page 14

Medical marijuana push See Page 20

Page 6 — CDC: School day starts too early for teen students Page 7 — Protect student athletes from sports injuries

More Reasons to Gobble Up Chicken See SmartBite column on page 10

Ayden Mosher, a 2-yearold from Herkimer, will be heading to Boston, Mass. this fall for a life-saving kidney transplant. Page 9

Men’s Health

Stop snoring!

Who said men have it easy? Their lives can be quite complicated too!

Sleep apnea can turn your life into a nightmare

Page 8

Page 11



Got a health-related activity or event that you would like publicized? Call Lou Sorendo at 315-749-7070 or email Mondays

Support group for OCD sufferers

Community Information Seminar:

Bariatric Surgery

September 9, 2015 • 6:00 pm

Presented by

January Hill, MD Utica Business Park 125 Business Park Drive, Suite 150, Utica, NY The offices of William A. Graber, MD, PC

To register call 315-235-2540 or toll free 877-269-0355

HEALTH NEWS IN BRIEF Trauma symposium on tap


he St. Elizabeth Trauma Center of the Mohawk Valley Health System and Midstate EMS will host the 29th annual Trauma Symposium Oct. 1-2 at Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel in Vernon. The conference begins at 6 p.m. Oct. 1 with dinner and a presentation. Friday’s presentations begin at 8 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m. Continental breakfast and lunch are included. This activity has been submitted to the Emergency Nurses Association for approval to award contact hours. This activity has also been submitted for approval for contact hours from the American Association of Respiratory Therapists. Midstate REMAC has approved this conference for three hours of basic life support and three hours of advanced life support continuing medical education for all level of EMS providers. For more information or to register for this year’s event, visit www.stemc. org/trauma or call 315-801-8127. Page 2

Miracle Home Makeover drawing slated


he Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare Foundation, in partnership with WKTV NewsChannel 2, Lite 98.7FM-WLZW, The Observer-Dispatch, Lewis Custom Homes and Home Builders and Remodelers Association of the Mohawk Valley, recently announced the start of the 19th annual $100,000 Miracle Home Makeover to benefit the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital at FSLH. One lucky person will win a $100,000 Miracle Home Makeover or $100,000 in cash. Seventeen bonus prize packages will also be given away to ticket holders after the grand prize drawing. Tickets are $100 each and must be purchased with cash — no checks, credit cards or money orders can be accepted. For more information, visit or call the FSLH Foundation at 315-624-5600. The drawing for the Miracle Home Makeover will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 21 at FSLH’s St. Luke’s Campus, New Hartford.

The Central New York Obsessive Compulsive Foundation, Inc., a registered nonprofit agency, has offered OCD sufferers in the region a weekly support group since 1997. Brian’s OCD Support Group meets from 6:30-8 p.m. every Monday except holidays in the Sister Regina Conference Room, first floor, St. Elizabeth Medical Center, 2209 Genesee St., Utica. Meetings are professionally assisted the third Monday of each month. For more information, call founder Susan Connell at 315-768-7031, email her at, visit www. or check out Cen NY OCD Support Group on Facebook. A speakers’ bureau is available at no cost.

Women’s support group to get together A women’s support/therapy group is meeting weekly from 5:30-7 on Mondays. Groups will be held in a confidential location in New Hartford and group size will be limited to protect anonymity. Topics of discussion may include family issues, stress, anger, relationships, grief, and more. Clinical therapist Cynthia Davis, who has over 20 years of experience, will lead the group. To pre-register, contact Davis at 315-736-1231, 315-794-2454 or email


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

Support for the grief stricken Grief Survivors meets from 6-7:30 p.m. every Tuesday at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. Drop-ins are welcome.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • September 2015

This is a faith-based support group for those suffering the loss of a loved one. For more information, contact Tanya at 315-735-6210, or visit online at www.


MVHS begins chapel prayer sessions Mohawk Valley Health System invites patients, residents, families and staff members of all faith traditions to join together in prayerful meditation in regular sessions called Prayerful Pauses. Prayerful Pauses will be held at 2:30 p.m. each Wednesday of the month in the following rotation: • First Wednesday: St. Marianne Cope Chapel at St. Elizabeth Medical Center • Second Wednesday: St. Luke’s Campus Chapel • Third Wednesday: Faxton Campus Chapel • Fourth Wednesday: St. Luke’s Home Chapel Individuals are welcome to pause and pray or meditate on their own if there is a fifth Wednesday in the month. Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare and SEMC are affiliates under the MVHS.


Overeaters Anonymous plans meetings

Overeaters Anonymous meets from 5:30-6:30 p.m. every Wednesday in Room 101 (first floor) at Rome Memorial Hospital, 1500 James St., Rome. It also meets from 7-8 p.m. every Thursday at Oneida Baptist Church, 242 Main St., Oneida. Participants are asked to use the rear door. There are no dues, fees, weigh-ins or diets. For more information, call OA at 315-468-1588 or visit


SEMC chapel changes mass time Effective immediately, mass will begin at 7 a.m. on both Saturdays and Sundays in the St. Marianne Cope Chapel at St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Utica. This is a permanent change that includes holidays such as Easter and Christmas and Sundays during Lent. The public is always welcome to attend and to utilize the hospital chapel.

Continued on Page 18

Health services crisis strikes Herkimer County

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New medical clinic planned to ease need for access to healthcare By Patricia J. Malin


hen it comes to medical services, some people believe Herkimer County is a desert. Like the drought that is plaguing the West Coast, the problem of access to primary medical care in Herkimer County grew slowly over the last few years before it reached a crisis point. A solution for Herkimer County residents is no mirage, however. By the end of 2015 or early next year, the Regional Primary Care Network will open a primary care facility in Herkimer County. A location has not yet been announced. U.S. Representative Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld), Janine Carzo, chief operations officer for the Rochester-based RPCN, and Herkimer County Administrator James Wallace made the joint announcement at the Herkimer County Legislative Chambers recently 6. Hanna visited Herkimer to bring attention to increased federal government funding for medical research. Included in the $2 billion budget for healthcare is a $983,000 New Access Point Grant Award to RPCN to operate a federally qualified health center and to attract new physicians and healthcare professionals to the area. “RPCN is excited to bring high-quality primary healthcare services to the greater Herkimer County region,” Carzo said. “Many of our neighbors go without basic health services because of the lack of affordable care. The vision for this center is to fill that gap by providing access to quality care in a place where health disparities are diminished.” Wallace said the new health center is much needed. “Giving our residents more options to seek quality health care regardless of financial barriers is a welcome addition to the services currently offered in Herkimer County,” he said. “Over the last several years, Herkimer County has lost clinics that provided primary care and baby care.” RPCN, which opened the Utica Community Health Center on Oneida Street in October 2010, serves more than 5,000 patients a year, including many who are low income and qualify for financial assistance. Hanna visited the UCHC site in the past and praised it for its “humanitarian aid.” It is located in east Utica, where it provides services for anyone regardless of income, including the refugee population. It also helps uninsured patients obtain healthcare.

RPCN reaches out

RPCN is evaluating a facility in downtown Ilion, but is still in negotiations with the landlord. RPCN operates five healthcare facilities across the Upstate region in Rochester, Wayne (Lyons), Rushville, Livingston and Utica. Bassett Healthcare Services of

Cooperstown and Mohawk Valley Health Systems — an affiliation of St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Faxton-St. Luke’s of Utica — operate small outpatient clinics in Herkimer County. Bassett operates the only hospital in the county. Little Falls Hospital offers 24/7 emergency services, but has only 25 beds for acute care. MVHS has medical offices in Herkimer, Mohawk and Little Falls, plus a health center in the town of Webb (Old Forge). Slocum-Dickson Medical Group has an office in Ilion that provides parttime care from eight specialists and shares space with Cooperative Magnetic Imaging. Adam Hutchinson, executive director at Herkimer County HealthNet, observed that the healthcare providers and hospitals have had trouble recruiting and retaining medical professionals in rural Herkimer County. “There is a lack of clinical providers,” he said. Christina Cain, the public health director for Herkimer County added, “The (hospitals) don’t have enough doctors. I think once they come here, they get overwhelmed [by the patient load] and decide to go someplace else where they can get greater support.” Cain, who has a 2 1/2-year-old son, said she and her family often wind up going to Albany, Johnstown or Gloversville for medical care. Lauren Bass, who is employed by Herkimer ARC, also sees the need in having a hometown clinic. “We (ARC) serve 680 people a day in the county. We need to give people a choice of where to go for primary care.”

21st Century Cures Act

Without the support from a nonprofit organization like RPCN, said Hanna, too many patients will “fall through the cracks.” Hanna (R-Barneveld) discussed the 21st Century Cures Act, a sweeping public health bill that the House of Representatives passed recently to give the National Institutes of Health the dollars to do more research into rare and intractable diseases, such as Lyme disease. The funding in this act is fully paid for and does not increase the federal deficit. “Increased research holds so much potential for many deadly and disabling health threats including major enemies like cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Hanna. “It is my hope that the Senate passes this bill soon so it can head to the president’s desk to be signed into law.”

Martin Morell, MD 4401 Middlesettlement Road New Hartford NY 13413 315-724-5353 tele 315-724-5255 fax

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Do you need a subscription to In Good Health? Call 749-7070 today! September 2015 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 3


Your Doctor

By Patricia J. Malin

Dr. Martin Morell

Dr. Martin Morell of Arthritis Specialists in New Hartford has one of the largest practices in his specialty in the Mohawk Valley. He recently compiled a book about research in the treatment of fibromyalgia, an effort that took him 10 years. He discusses the new developments in the treatment of arthritis with Mohawk Valley In Good Health senior correspondent Patricia J. Malin. Q.: How long have you been practicing here? A.: Eighteen years. I came here after my training at Albany Medical College. Q.: Why did you decide to specialize in rheumatology? A.: Rheumatology includes many conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, gout, psoriatic arthritis and lupus. These are all challenging to diagnose and treat. I love the challenge of finding the correct treatment plan for each individual patient to allow them to live their lives as pain free as possible. Q.: What specific services do you offer? A.: I treat 149 diseases and conditions related to arthritis, including diseases involving joints, tendons, ligaments and associated structures, and fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a challenging disease that is difficult to treat. I offer specific treatment for each diagnosis, such as joint injections, infused medications, balance testing and medication monitoring. Q.: What innovations or developments have you witnessed in your specialty since you began your practice? A.: There have been new medications developed throughout the years that give patients options for treatments. There are self-injectable biologic and infused medications for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Joint injections for osteoarthritis pain and inflammation, and medication are now available to treat the specific symptoms associated with the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. These treatments have all become available within approximately the last 12 years and have allowed me to see marked improvement and pain relief in my patients. Q.: You have started working with elderly patients on ways to prevent falling. Why is that important? A.: Falls can be life threatening and have devastating consequences. An important patient service I offer at my office is the state-of-the-art balance+plus testing. After reviewing results of the testing, if treatment is called for, patients are referred to a physical therapy facility. Q.: What is the most challenging aspect of your job? A.: Insurers are more and more difficult to work with to get their authorization to treat patients correctly. Increasing financial burdens for the patients put roadblocks up and oftentimes does not allow them to receive the proper treatments for their diseases. Page 4

Q.: What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job? A.: Working one-on-one with patients. Helping patients find relief and comfort from their daily pain and struggles while dealing with arthritis symptoms. Q.: People are living longer these days, which means they might suffer more with arthritis, back pain or spinal stenosis. What can doctors do to improve the quality of life for patients who are living with severe pain? A.: Early diagnosis and treatment of arthritis disease is very important. As a rheumatologist, I am up to date and current on all of the new treatments available and the sooner these treatment are started, the better the outcome for the patient. For example, the patient with a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis can start treatment with an intravenous infusion of medication that is designed to put the patient into instant remission of their symptoms for an extended period of time. We offer this infusion service in our office, giving the patient personal, professional care during their 1- to 2-hour procedure. With the realization of the devastating results of falls, we offer testing and programs that help patients avoid having to live dependent on others as

a result of injuries from a fall. Also, it is important to incorporate exercise, diet and weight control in the patient’s daily routine. Q.: Over the last 15 years, you’ve done a lot of research and published your findings on rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. What do you hope to accomplish with this new book?

A.: The new book is titled “Fibromyalgia Unification Theory; Connecting the Dots.” It is in the printing stages now. I reviewed literature worldwide regarding fibromyalgia and used my vast experience of self-research to explain for the first time the full diagnosis process and disease in detail. Fibromyalgia symptoms were not believed to be real by many. The symptoms were all in the patient’s head, it was once said. I always believed that patients were telling me the actual symptoms they were experiencing, but I couldn’t always give them relief. I have dedicated myself to treating patients with fibromyalgia, so I was not surprised with the research and results in this book. I started collecting data and researching and felt that all of this information should be compiled and connected for understanding. I “connected the dots” so the patients could understand the difficulties they face. The book will be available to patients and the public. Q.: What advances or treatments for arthritis would you like to see in the future? A.: It is an exciting time to be in the rheumatology specialty. There are so many options now for treatment of the conditions associated with arthritis diagnosis. These treatments allow me the opportunity to give patients relief and hope for a better lifestyle and live as pain free as possible. Telemedicine technology is now available on the national level. This gives patients the ability to have a professional medical virtual appointment when they need it.

Lifelines Age: 51 Birthplace: San Juan, Puerto Rico Residence: New Hartford Education: Edison Community College, Naples, Fla., 1981-83; University of Puerto Rico, Ponce, Puerto Rico, 1983-88; Ponce School of Medicine, Ponce, Puerto Rico, 1988-92 Employment history: Internship, internal medicine, Albany Medical College, 1992-93; fellowship in rheumatology, Division of Rheumatology, Albany Medical College, 1994-97; assistant professor of rheumatology, Albany Medical College, 1997-98; partner, Arthritis Health Associates, Syracuse, 1998-2000; director, Sitrin Healthcare Fibromyalgia Clinic, 2001-12; solo physician, rheumatology, Arthritis Specialists, 2000-current; Telemed Clinic, NYS Correctional Department, 2006-current Professional Membership: American College of Rheumatology; Oneida County Medical Society Family: Wife, Zaida and two children: Alexander, 19, and Isabelle, 14 Hobbies: Cooking

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • September 2015

Back to School The Balanced Body

By Deb Dittner

Back to school health tips Students: Be studious when it comes to staying healthy


t’s that time of year to head back to school. Whether you’re a student, teacher, professor or parent, heading back to school can create many different feelings to arise. Some may feel excited, anxious, sad, happy, unsure, stressed, or just plain not ready for summer to come to an end. Wherever you may fit into this equation, there are some simple steps Dittner you can all take to make the school year a healthier one. • Sleep — Start out by heading to bed a half hour earlier. Sleep helps your body rejuvenate for the next day to come. A refreshed body full of energy will get you through the day with greater ease. To help you fall asleep, eliminate the use of TV, iPhones, iPads, and computers about an hour to two hours before bed time as these are stimulators. Consider an Epsom salt bath with therapeutic grade essential oils. This is so relaxing plus the much-needed magnesium from the Epsom salts not only aids in sleep but also in detoxification and muscle relaxation. A good night’s sleep will allow the body to waken more naturally and ready to face the day. Many reach for coffee or other caffeinated beverages to “wake up” and get through the day. These stimulants will actually create less energy in the long run. A great way to start the day is with a cup of warm water with the juice of one lemon. This helps to hydrate the body and begin the detoxification process. • Stand up and move — Sitting

Oneida, Herkimer in good


Health MV’s Healthcare Newspaper

for long periods of time in a classroom can actually lead to an increased risk of mortality. Block periods featuring 90-minute class sessions seem to be cropping up in many schools. Students, let alone the teacher or professor, can become bored and sleepy. Allowing students to stand, stretch, or strike yoga postures every hour is a must to get the blood flowing and will actually increase attentiveness. Physical movement — including taking the stairs in place of elevators — will improve joint flexibility as well. To get more movement into your day, park your car the furthest away from the entrance of the building. And remember to breathe. Fill your lungs



A monthly newspaper published by Local News, Inc. 20,000 copies distributed. To request home delivery ($15 per year), call 315-749-7070.

In Good Health is published 12 times a year by Local News, Inc. © 2015 by Local News, Inc. All rights reserved. Mailing Address: 4 Riverside Drive, Suite 251, Utica, NY 13502 • Phone: 315-749-7070 Email: Editor & Publisher: Wagner Dotto Associate Editor: Lou Sorendo Contributing Writers: Patricia Malin, Barbara Pierce, Kristen Raab, Malissa Allen, Deb Dittner, Mary Christopher Advertising: Donna Kimbrell Layout & Design: Chris Crocker Office Manager: Alice Davis 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.

with fresh air and you’ll feel more relaxed. • Hydrate — Proper hydration improves metabolism, decreases inflammation and muscle soreness, and keeps you alert. Typically you need to drink half your weight in ounces of pure, filtered water. Drinking smoothies with added chia seeds also helps to hydrate the body. Don’t like the “taste” of water? Add raspberries, cucumber slices, or mint leaves to change things up. Drinking water about 30 minutes before a meal will aid in digestion. The need for hydration increases if you’re an athlete. Make sure to listen to your body

and not wait until your performance decreases and you begin to cramp up. • Eating clean — A nutritionally sound diet consisting of whole-nutrient dense foods aids in brain function. Eating clean is a lifestyle. Eating clean consists of eating plenty of fresh vegetables (6-10 servings) and fruit (2-3 servings), healthy fats, lean protein and complete carbohydrates, proper portion sizes, plenty of fiber, and advanced preparation. By eating clean, you keep your body in a constant state of detoxification and healing. Nourish your body from the inside out with healthy whole foods and fluids while eliminating triggers that cause stress on the kidneys, liver, lungs, intestines, lymph and skin. For lifelong health and wellness, create balance in your body which eating clean promotes. Where there is food, there is life. • Laughter — There’s an old saying, “laughter is the best medicine.” So true! Enjoy the company of family and friends, and simply laugh! Laughter will decrease stress and makes for a better day. Enjoy a funny movie, listen to funny YouTube videos, or check out a comedy show. Laughter increases endorphins, expands the lungs, and creates an overall feeling of happiness. Start with just one of the above steps in preparation for the upcoming school year. Add another and then another as you’re ready to move forward in your commitment to health and wellness. • Deborah Dittner is a nurse practitioner and health consultant for amateur and professional athletes. If you’re an amateur or professional athlete looking to increase your energy, boost your performance and shorten recovery time, check out my website to learn how.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 5

Back to School

CDC: School starts too early

Teen-agers are getting short-changed on shut eye, experts lament


ost U.S. middle and high schools start the day around 8 a.m., which public health officials consider too early for teens, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. School start times that are too early can contribute to lack of sleep among teens, most of whom don’t get the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of shut-eye, the report said. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. “Getting enough sleep is important for students’ health, safety, and academic performance,” Anne Wheaton, an epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Population Health and co-author of the agency’s new report, said in a statement. “Early school start times, however, are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need.” The researchers analyzed information from a survey of nearly 40,000 public middle and high schools (and combined schools, with both middle

and high school grades) given in 2011 and 2012. The average school start time was 8:03 a.m., the study found. Only about one in five middle school students, and one in seven high school students started the school day at the recommended time of 8:30 a.m. or later. However, school start times varied greatly by state. In Hawaii, Mississippi and Wyoming, there were no schools starting at 8:30 a.m. or later, but in Alaska and North Dakota, more than 75 percent of schools started at 8:30 a.m. or later, the report said. Schools started earliest in Louisiana, where the average start time was 7:40 a.m., and latest in Alaska, where the average start time was 8:33 a.m. In New York, the average start time was 7:59 a.m., according to the report. Too little sleep in adolescents is linked with health problems such as obesity, symptoms of depression and not getting enough exercise, as well as poor academic performance, the researchers said. “Among the possible public health

interventions for increasing sufficient sleep among adolescents, delaying school start times has the potential for the greatest population impact by changing the environmental context for students in entire school districts,” the researchers wrote in the Aug. 7 issue of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Educating parents as well as those who make decisions on school start times about the impact of sleep deprivation on teen health and academic performance “might lead to adoption of later start times,” the researchers said. Other steps that can improve sleep in teens include setting regular bedtimes and waking times (even on weekends), and removing technologies, such as computers, video games and mobile phones, from teens’ bedrooms. Because the study looked at school start times in 2011 and 2012, it was not able to determine whether some schools had changed their start times in response to the 2014 AAP recommendation.

Healthcare in a Minute By George W. Chapman Telemedicine Mostly due to advances in technology, telemedicine is becoming more commonplace. What has been holding back the proliferation of telemedicine is reimbursement from insurance companies. While some insurance companies have been reimbursing for telemedicine, they have kept it fairly quiet. Slowly but surely, more insurers are paying physicians for telemedicine services. It has been estimated that telemedicine will save over $6 billion annually. This does not take into consideration the reduction in sick time and lost wages for patients. Telemedicine allows physicians and their support staffs to treat and monitor more patients that will alleviate the pending shortage of physicians. Many states are now pushing insurance companies to cover telemedicine. Primary care physicians Not surprisingly, those of us who see the same primary care provider fairly consistently — such as an internist, family physician or OB-GYN — have fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits than those who do not. A study of 49,000 medical visits published in “Health Affairs” found that the more familiar a physician is with your medical history and chronic conditions, the more successful your overall care will be. Retail clinics According to The New York Times, Page 6

CVS is now one of our largest healthcare companies. CVS operates 1,500 clinics among its 7,800 stores. Focusing on population health, CVS no longer sells tobacco products. CVS actually resigned from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce when it learned the chamber was lobbying against anti-smoking laws. Sixty percent of Americans live near a CVS store, so the ability of CVS to have an impact on population health is tremendous. Despite criticism from traditional providers, consumer satisfaction with retail clinics is high. Healthcare strains state/local budgets An analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts discovered that healthcare spending accounts for 31 percent of state and local government budgets. But don’t blame expanded Medicaid. The majority of healthcare spending is on public employees and retirees. It has increased 61 percent over the last six years. Medicaid spending has also increased and the federal government pays for most of it. A recent article in the Journal of Health Economics estimates the state liability for retiree health benefits is $1.1 trillion, or about one third of state annual revenues. Ninety-seven percent of this huge liability is unfunded. Premium review According to a study in “Health Affairs,” premiums are lower in states that have review authority over commercial insurers’ proposed rate increases. New York state has this regulatory

authority. Big insurers get bigger The merger frenzy among commercial carriers reached a high point last month when No. 2 Anthem announced its intention to purchase  No. 4 Cigna for around $50 billion. This would create the largest health insurer in the United States with about 53 million covered lives. Also last month, Aetna bid $35 million for Humana. Both deals have to be approved by shareholders and federal regulators. If approved, the impact of these mergers on premiums would not take effect until 2017 as most carriers have rates for next year set. Federal regulators will pay particular attention as more seniors opt for rapidly growing Medicare Advantage plans that are offered through commercial carriers. While larger is essential considering the necessary huge investments in technology and health information systems, the reduction in competition could leave many communities with little to no choice when it comes to health insurance. Massachusetts General the “best” For what it’s worth, U.S. News and World Report named it the best hospital out of 5,000 nationwide. The Mayo clinic in Rochester, Minn. came in second. Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and the UCLA medical center in Los Angeles tied for third. Physician shortage The shortage is expected to be felt

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • September 2015

by 2020 although there is much debate as to degree. In the meantime, medical schools have done their part by expanding enrollment. By 2018, there will be over 21,000 medical students, which is about 4,000 more than now. Teaching hospitals have done their part by voluntarily expanding the number of residency slots. The key word is “voluntarily” because they have not been reimbursed for the costs associated with the additional slots because the federal government has not done its part to address the shortage. Since 1996, there has been a cap on the number of residency slots to be reimbursed through additional Medicare payments. With more budget cuts on the way, many teaching hospitals will be forced to discontinue the additional slots they have added. As more medical students graduate, there are not enough U.S. residency slots or jobs available to them. They will be forced to find residency jobs abroad.

GEORGE W. CHAPMAN is a health consultant who operates GW Chapman Consulting in Upstate New York. To reach him, email

KIDS Corner Tips for keeping your children injury-free during fall sports


any children return to sports such as soccer, football, cross-country and volleyball when they return to school. Physicians in the division of sports medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center say preparation before the first day of practice is critical in helping to reduce the risk of injury. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 3.5 million children and adolescents 14

and under get hurt annually playing sports or participating in recreational activities. More than 775,000 children and adolescents 14 and under are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries each year. Most of these injuries are traumatic in nature and occur as a result of falls, being struck by an object, collisions, and overexertion during unorganized or informal sports activities. More concerning, say Cincinnati

Children’s Sports Medicine physicians, is the exponential increase in the number of overuse injuries experienced by young children today. These types of injuries are often the result of excessive training year-round or a rapid ramp up of activity after a period of inactivity. This scenario is common at the onset of any sports season. Doctors in the Division of Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s suggest these tips to ensure children’s safety when they return to school sports: • Four to six weeks prior to the onset of any sports season, children should start exercising regularly to get ready for their season. • Acclimate children to hot weather workouts by gradually increasing time outdoors in the heat and humidity. Acclimatization should occur for about the first 10 days to two weeks of practice to help prevent heat injuries. • Make sure children drink plenty of fluids and take frequent breaks: every 10-15 minutes while participating in sports or physical activity. Also make sure they wear light clothing and limit their exposure to the sun in the hottest part of the day. Applying towels soaked in ice cubes and water to the head and neck helps to stay cool. • When heat illness is suspected,

move the athlete into the shade or coolest area nearby. Try to cool them as quickly as possible by exposing the skin to ice/cold water and cool circulating air. • Young athletes with asthma should use preventative inhalers 20-30 minutes before exercise, do a gradual warm-up and should have an inhaler available to them during practices and during competition. • Make sure children wear any recommended protective equipment and ensure it is well-fitted. Protective equipment, such as helmets, can help prevent severe injuries such as skull fractures. Many head injuries result from helmets not being fitted or used correctly. Athletic trainers can fit helmets in the sports where they are needed. • Remind children to immediately tell the coach or trainer if they feel dizzy, “foggy,” have a lapse in memory, or have a headache after taking a blow to the head. • Parents need to be mindful that athletes who have symptoms affecting their thought process after taking a blow to the head should not return to the same practice, game or contest and should be evaluated by a physician prior to return to play.

AHA, ASA encourage college students to maintain heart-healthy lifestyle


taying healthy in college is more than just fitting into your skinny jeans — it can seriously help you later on in life. Why care now, you ask? The American Heart Association says “Life is Why.” Here’s a lesson you don’t want to forget: Nearly 68 percent of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, and obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. Check out this “study guide” to help your health exam. • Did you check in? After you’ve successfully updated your status on your social networks,

pop over to this to check your calories. Managing weight is a simple equation of burning as many calories as you take in. Use the app, manage your weight and continue to update your status. • Sorry to sound like a broken record, but eat your fruits and veggies. Mom and Dad were on to something when they taught you to eat an apple a day. The AHA recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal. Fruits and vegetables are low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods that keep you satisfied and may help you maintain weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.

• Stay hydrated my friends. Water is the best way to stay hydrated. Reach for water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and sports drinks, which add extra calories with little nutritional value. Plain water too boring? Try sparkling water or add fruit wedges to jazz it up. • Put down the double bacon cheeseburger. It sounds like a delicious option after that all-nighter you pulled, but your heart won’t be happy with you. Instead, reach for a grilled turkey burger piled high with veggies like avocado, tomato, onions and lettuce. In other words, choose lean cuts of meat and poultry without skin and

September 2015 •

with extra fat removed. Opt for grilled, baked, broiled, poached or roasted (we promise, it’ll still taste delish!) • Something sounds fishy! We’re talking about that deep-fried, breaded basket that you took in the cafeteria line. Instead, try baked, broiled or grilled fish (especially the oily kind, like salmon or trout) twice a week. • Slow down there, slugger. Let’s just say, drink in moderation. Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories and can have other negative effects on your health. The AHA recommends no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Tiny umbrella optional.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 7

Men’s Health Between You and Me

By Barbara Pierce

It’s tough being a man

Men learn to navigate through challenges toward achieving happiness


he women in my support group think it’s tough to be a woman. I suppose they’re right. But I think it’s even tougher to be a man. I’ve never been a man, but, as a therapist, I got to know many men well. All of them had plenty of tough expectations to live up to. Most men say the toughest thing about being a man is women. “Can’t live with ‘em; can’t live without ‘em,” I’ve heard many times. One guy says: “The hardest thing — above and beyond all else — is living without a woman. The second hardest is living with her.” I asked some of my male friends about this, those who live with a woman and seem reasonably happy. Here’s what they say works for them: “Accept that Pierce not everyone or everything is perfect. We’re all flawed. Have realistic expectations,” said Simon. Appreciate the strengths and accept the weakness of your partner. Accepting their weaknesses doesn’t mean being blind to their shortcomings. It just means you stop fighting it; you work around it. My ex and I lived on a boat for 15 years. Living on a 40-foot sailboat, you learn a lot about how to live with another person. If you happen to be a boater, you know that tying knots is important. Tying a bowline is a must. But I had a block against a bowline knot. Couldn’t seem to remember how to do it. He accepted that tying a bowline wasn’t something I did. He didn’t dwell on it. He focused on the fact that I could put together a good dinner on

top of the refrigerator and cook on a stove that swayed back and forth; that I could wash his shorts and T-shirts by hand if I had to; that I was happy in a 200-square-foot moveable home. He was aware of my shortcomings; he just didn’t fight them. And, he was good at letting me know the things that he appreciated about me. He spoke up and told me; that kept me happy. Letting your partner know what you appreciate about her is powerful reinforcement. Every time I cook dinner, my partner mentions how great it was. Sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s blah, but he never fails to show gratitude. And that encourages me to plug away and happily prepare the next meal. Showing gratitude is the best way to build a good relationship, experts say. Hearing that someone appreciates something that we do makes us do more of it. Here’s John’s advice: “Be non-demanding of your partner — partners

don’t tell each other what to do.” Criticizing your partner is a real happiness killer. Here’s how relationships erode: Once you’ve succeeded in endearing yourself to the person who’s become “the one” for you, you feel free — almost compelled — to bring up a whole host of issues you have with her. You begin to air all the things you don’t like about her. You set about trying to change her. Those things you don’t like about her were there all the time; you just choose to ignore them when the relationship was new. And that’s what you need to do now — ignore them. Keep your mouth shut. Experts say we should replace criticism with “feedback;” i.e. sharing how these behaviors negatively affect us. I don’t agree. I say keep your mouth shut. Instead, use positive reinforcement to get the behavior you want. When she does what you want, give lots of praise. Bruce told me how this worked for

Does testosterone improve men’s sex lives?


estosterone may not rev up men’s sex lives as much as they expect it to: Older men with slightly low testosterone levels did not experience improvement in their desire or intimacy after they took testosterone supplements, according to a new study. In the study, about 150 men age 60 and older were given daily testosterone supplements, and another 150 took a placebo. The men’s testosterone level at the study’s start was a little over 300 nanograms per deciliter, on average, which is on the lower end of the normal range for men. Page 8

Three years later, there were no differences between the two groups in how the men rated their level of sexual desire, erectile function and partner intimacy. Although men in the testosterone group did report a slight improvement in their satisfaction with intercourse, the effect was small and could have been due to chance, the researchers said. The findings agree with previous research that found that men with testosterone levels at the lower end of the normal range don’t see improvements in sexual function after taking testoster-

one supplements. Elizabeth Kavaler, a urology specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City who was not involved in the research, said that testosterone supplements may have a benefit for men whose testosterone level is lower than that of the men in the study — between 150 and 300 nanograms per deciliter. But “beyond that, it’s not going to help,” she said. Although some men may have the perception that testosterone supplements will make them stronger or more virile, “giving a guy testosterone is not the fountain of youth,” Kavaler said.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • September 2015

him. Most nights, his girlfriend would drift off to bed without saying good night. This bothered him; he liked a good night hug if he wasn’t going to bed with her. So what he did was notice the times she gave him a good night hug, and told her how much he liked it. Before long, she began doing it regularly. Her behavior changed because of positive reinforcement, not “feedback.” Advice from Casey: “If you feel dissatisfied with your life, don’t assume it’s your relationship. What other adjustments could you make to feel happier? Maybe you need a new hobby or more fulfilling job.” Frank suggests: “We talk too much and listen too little. Most of the time, women don’t want your opinion; they don’t want solutions for their problems. They just want someone to vent to, someone who will share their pain. Just listen, nod your head and tell them how much ‘that sucks.’ Don’t give your advice.” “Don’t feel guilty about looking at other women,” David recommends. “If you don’t touch, no harm done. We’re only human. We have imaginations. I’ll be having sex with the most exotic women till the day I die, if only in my mind.” A study of men by Harvard University found that the only thing that matters is relationships. A man could have a successful career, money and good health, but without loving relationships, he wasn’t happy. Strong relationships are far and away the strongest predictor of life satisfaction. • Barbara Pierce is a retired licensed clinical social worker with many years’ experience in helping people. If you would like to purchase a copy of her book “If I’m so Fantastic, Why am I Still Single?” or if you have any concerns you would like her to address, contact her at BarbaraPierce06@

Transplanting Hope Herkimer child faces life-saving kidney transplant surgery By Patricia J. Malin


year ago, little Ayden Mosher of Herkimer participated in his first Kidney Walk in Utica with his parents, Cindy Davis and Pat Mosher, and other family members. He might have to miss out on the 2015 walk, scheduled for Sept. 20 at the Masonic Care Community. The 2-year-old might be in Boston, Mass. instead, preparing for a life-saving kidney transplant, and that would be good news. A successful transplant would also bring a huge sigh of relief to his aunt, Jamie Mosher of Ohio. She has undergone rigorous testing and numerous trips to Boston Children’s Hospital ever since last February, when she offered to donate a kidney to her brother’s son and has proven to be a strong genetic match. His parents, grandmother and second cousin also got tested. Ayden was born on Sept. 22, 2013 with the pediatric Ayden Mosher form of polycystic kidney disease or autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. He spent the first 11 days of his life in the neonatal unit at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse. He wasn’t expected to survive at first. Despite weighing just 29 pounds now and a smaller than normal size, he has developed into a fairly active toddler. Finally, the conditions are right for a kidney transplant. “He can’t live a normal life,” Davis

said of her only child. “He has to be on 10-hour dialysis at night while he sleeps. We feed him small meals during the day. He has tubes coming out of his stomach. He can’t swim or take a bath or play outside because of the fear of getting infected. “He can’t have milk or ice cream,” she added. “Last week, a hole developed in one of his tubes leading to his stomach and he had to go to Crouse Hospital to have it replaced.” The tube broke down due to normal wear and tear. With a child, there is also the risk of tubes getting snagged on furniture or equipment. The Kidney Walk of Utica sheds a light on patients like Ayden who are suffering from kidney disease. The dollars raised through donations go toward research, education and it funds lifesaving programs that educate and support patients, their families and those at risk. Although ARPKD was first recognized in 1902 and found in both infants and adults, researchers were unable to trace its origin until 1947.

Solid track record

Davis said the Children’s Hospital of Boston performs an average of 24 kidney transplants in children each year. Ayden’s physician, Scott Sherman, a pediatric nephrologist in Syracuse, recommended the family use Children’s Hospital of Boston due to its success rate.

Ayden Mosher, a 2-year-old from Herkimer, will be heading to Boston, Mass. this fall for a life-saving kidney transplant. However, Ayden’s family has to drive to Boston twice a week — a four-hour trip one way, for testing and constant evaluation. It’s an even longer trip and rigorous process for Ayden’s aunt. “There are very strict guidelines for donors,” said Davis. “It’s been said that only 30 percent of donors get through the testing. It’s a rough process. It’s stressful.” Her sister-in-law wasn’t given clearance to be a donor until June. The transplant is tentatively scheduled for October. If Jamie, 34, survives the donation process and the operation succeeds, Ayden and his family will have to remain in Boston another two weeks while he recovers. Davis, 36, was ruled out as a donor, she said, because she is her son’s primary caregiver and can’t afford to be sidelined for any length of time. If the transplant is successful, Ayden can expect to live a “normal life,” she noted, even though it means taking anti-rejection medicine daily for

the rest of his life. If Ayden happens to be in Boston shortly after his birthday, there could be another big celebration. “I couldn’t ask for a better gift,” Davis said in a post on her Facebook page, The Utica Kidney Walk has set a goal of $25,000. Check-in time is 10 a.m., followed by the start at 11 a.m. Contact Nanette Carbone by emailing or calling 315-476-0311 to register. The seventh annual Utica Kidney Walk in 2014 raised a total of $23,879. Twenty-eight teams participated and Jack’s Pack led the teams with $4,000 in donations. The Kidney Walk is the nation’s largest walk to fight kidney disease. Held in nearly 100 communities, the event raises awareness and funds lifesaving programs that educate and support patients, their families and those at risk. More than 80 cents of every $1 donated to the National Kidney Foundation directly supports programs and services.

Brightwaters Farms bidding for medical marijuana license Continued from Page 20 24/7 and can only be opened from the inside, plus heavy locked metal doors that separate different sections of the greenhouse interior. The Utica site boasts many large, empty greenhouses that can grow plants hydroponically, in water and fertilizer only, thanks to an extensive irrigation system in the floor. The farm also has a research lab. Utica Mayor Rob Palmieri and other public officials contend that Brightwaters Farms’ plants would not only benefit patients suffering from epilepsy, cancer or multiple sclerosis. It would help the local economy by generating a potential 150 “well-paying jobs” plus sales taxes, he said. Quintal’s staff passed out white T-shirts to everyone at the Veteran’s Outreach Center in downtown Utica.

It featured a red heart in the middle, a logo on top, and it read “Utica + Brightwaters Farms = Medicine For Those In Need.” Forty-three businesses applied for licenses to grow medical cannabis and only five licenses were granted. They

are Bloomfield Industries Inc, Columbia Care NY LLC, Empire Health Solutions, Etain LLC and PharmaCann LLC. Bloomfield, Etain and PharmaCann will open dispensaries in Onondaga County. Quintal was unavailable for comment in regards to his response to not being selected and what his future plans consist of. According to the state department of health, patients with the following debilitating or life-threatening conditions are eligible to receive medical marijuana treatment: “cancer, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication or intractable spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease,

September 2015 •

neuropathies, Huntington’s disease,” plus other conditions associated with severe or chronic pain; severe nausea, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms. Within the next 18 months, Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, dystonia, post-traumatic stress disorder and rheumatoid arthritis will be included. The health commissioner has the right to add other debilitating diseases and conditions to this list. Each one of those companies could have up to four dispensaries apiece and could produce different varieties of the medication. New York patients could have access to as many as 20 places licensed to sell the drug. A Quinnipiac University poll in 2014 found that 88 percent of all New Yorkers think allowing medical marijuana at the recommendation of a doctor is a good idea.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Diet & Nutrition SmartBites

By Anne Palumbo

The skinny on healthy eating

More reasons to gobble up chicken


et’s not beat around the chicken coop: Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for both men and women in the United States; and high consumption of saturated fats raises our risk for this disease. Many of us are aware of this risk and have decreased our consumption of foods high in saturated fat — such as red meats — as a result. In fact, for the first time in over a century, Americans are eating more chicken that beef. Chicken is loaded with lean protein, serving up about 30 grams per average serving of skinless breast meat and just a tad less for skinless thigh meat. Protein is a powerhouse building block for muscles, cartilage, bones, skin and blood. This essential nutrient also makes up the enzymes that power many chemical reactions in our body, from digestion to metabolism. What chicken is not loaded with is fat, especially saturated fat or calories. It’s why so many doctors and nutritionists recommend its consumption over red meat. An average serving of skinless breast meat has only 1 gram of saturated fat and 165 calories, while the same size serving of skinless thigh meat has about 3 grams and 210 calories. How much saturated fat are we

allowed in a day? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage us to limit our saturated fat intake to less than 10 percent of our total calories. Chicken is super rich in niacin, an important B vitamin that helps keep our skin, hair and eyes healthy and also supports our nervous and digestive systems. In addition, niacin plays a key role in converting food to energy and influences how we process cholesterol. According to the Mayo Clinic, consuming a niacin-rich diet may raise our good cholesterol by 35 percent, while also lowering our bad cholesterol and triglycerides (another type of unhealthy fat). Lastly, chicken is a good source of selenium, a trace mineral that does wonders for our thyroid and immune system. A powerful antioxidant, selenium also helps make special proteins

that may prevent the kinds of cell damage that contribute to age-related diseases.

Helpful tips

Buy chicken that’s well-wrapped and then put the poultry in a produce bag to prevent cross-contamination. After prepping the chicken (the USDA advises not to rinse before cooking), wash everything that touched the meat with hot, soapy water. Whatever cooking method you use, the chicken must reach a temperature of at least 165 degrees fahrenheit to make sure all bacteria are destroyed. Buying chickens raised without antibiotics (look for the “USDA Organic” label) supports farmers who keep their chickens off these drugs and also preserves the effectiveness of antibiotics in humans. No hormones are ever used in the production of any US chicken.

Asian Chicken Salad with Cabbage Adapted from The World’s Healthiest Foods 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 5 cups Chinese cabbage, sliced thin 1 red pepper, sliced thin ½-1 cup shredded carrot ½ cup minced scallion ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted ¼ cup fresh cilantro 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

pinch of red pepper flakes salt and pepper to taste Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Tent chicken in foil, place on baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes (or until internal temperature reaches 165). Remove, open foil, and let cool. While chicken is cooling, thinly slice cabbage and pepper and shred carrot. Place in large bowl. Add minced scallion, chopped cilantro, and sliced almonds to this mixture. Using your hands, shred chicken into bite-size pieces and add to bowl. Whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Toss with cabbage-chicken mixture and then sprinkle with sesame seeds. (Double dressing if mixture seems too dry.) Anne Palumbo is a lifestyle columnist, food guru, and seasoned cook, who has perfected the art of preparing nutritious, calorie-conscious dishes. She is hungry for your questions and comments about SmartBites, so be in touch with Anne at

Dressing 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons soy sauce ¼ cup rice vinegar 2 tablespoons honey 1-2 cloves garlic, minced

Coca-Cola controversy: Is exercising more or eating less better for weight loss?


oca-Cola has given a $1 million to a new research organization that has pushed a message that lack of exercise is a bigger factor in the obesity epidemic than is calorie consumption. Science, however, still counts calories as the main driver of weight gain for most people. Although exercise makes people healthier, cutting calories usually plays a bigger role in weight loss, experts say. “There’s an overwhelming amount of research demonstrating that, from an individual perspective, the key is decreasing calories modestly to successfully lose weight over time,” said physician Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “It’s certainly great to add exercise, but to suggest that it’s the solution to the obesity epidemic … is ridiculous,” Cohen said. The new nonprofit organization, called the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN), received $1.5 million from Coca-Cola last year to help launch the organization, according to The New York Times.  In a statement, Steven Blair, a professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Page 10

Public Health and a member of GEBN, said that although the media have focused on “blaming fast food” and sugary drinks for the obesity epidemic, “there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause.” On its website, the GEBN does not deny that good health involves both eating a healthy diet and doing exercise. But the organization’s website also says there is “strong evidence that it is easier to sustain at a moderate to high level of physical activity (maintaining an active lifestyle and eating more calories)” than it is to be sedentary and eat fewer calories. In an editorial published in 2014, several members of GEBN wrote that increasing physical activity “may be more achievable than reducing [calorie] intake” for energy balance. However, Cohen disagreed with this message.  An exercise program by itself typically doesn’t lead to much, if any, weight loss, Cohen said. One reason for this is that exercise increases appetite, which can lead people to eat more, Cohen said. Exercise also causes the body to produce more muscle, which is heavier than fat tissue. In addition, it’s usually easier

to cut calories out of the diet than it is to exercise at the levels needed to burn enough calories for weight loss. For example, in general, experts say a person needs to cut 500 calories a day from his or her diet to lose 1 lb. (0.45 kilograms) a week. In theory, it would be possible to burn 500 calories through exercise instead of caloric restriction, Cohen said. But this would be

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • September 2015

difficult, because burning this amount of calories through exercise takes time, and in order for the strategy to work, people could not consume a single calorie more than they do already, despite their increased activity. “It would be much easier to eliminate those 500 calories [from our diet] than to find the time to exercise enough to burn 500 calories a day,” Cohen said.




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You snooze, you win Are you a snorer? Could you have sleep apnea? By Barbara Pierce

Snoring isn’t the problem. Snoring is a symptom of a very serious problem,” said Dr. Charles Burns of Utica. “Snoring can be a red flag for a much more serious and sometimes fatal condition called obstructive sleep apnea.” With sleep apnea, your breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. Snoring occurs when your tongue relaxes onto the back of your throat, partially blocking your airway. As air tries to pass through, the vibrations produce the sound we know as snoring. Over half of those who think they just snore actually suffer from sleep apnea. When your breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep, this has serious consequences, said Burns. It causes the oxygen level in your brain to become low, and your body reacts by partially waking you with a gasp to re-open your airway. Because of these frequent arousals, people with sleep apnea don’t get enough deep, restful sleep. They may suffer quality-of-life issues such as daytime sleepiness, slow reflexes, poor concentration and an increased risk of accidents. Sleep apnea can also lead to serious health problems. It causes an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, early onset dementia, high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain and irregular heart beat. While snoring damages relationships by pushing couples apart, sleep apnea is far more serious. “I never knew I had a problem. I assumed I was tired, cranky, and forgetful because I was a parent, not because I was snoring,” said Jeff Giles in Money Magazine. “What broke my heart and made me seek help was when my wife would stagger off herself, trailing her blanket like Linus in ‘Peanuts.’” Giles went to a sleep expert and was diagnosed with sleep apnea. Burns listed the signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea that include excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, snoring, clouded thinking, irritability, mood swings, reflux disease, impotence and absence of dreams. “Anyone who is a snorer should get checked out for sleep apnea,” add-

ed Burns. “And any man with a neck size larger than 17 or a woman larger than 15 should be screened.” The only way to know for certain whether you have sleep apnea is to get a sleep study from a physician who specializes in sleep. The most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is a continuous positive airflow pressure machine. The CPAP device is a mask-like machine that provides a constant stream of air that keeps your breathing passages open while you sleep.

able,” said Burns. “And you can even go camping. They don’t need to be plugged in.” But don’t get the $19.95 one you see on TV at 3 a.m., he cautioned. All they do is stop your snoring; they don’t treat sleep apnea. Dental appliances work by repositioning your tongue and lower jaw forward, to increase your airway space and allow better breathing as you sleep.

CPAP can be difficult

About 60 to 70 percent of people are intolerant of a CPAP device, explained Burns. “My wife freaked out. She wouldn’t sleep in the same bed with me,” said Giles, who found the CPAP intolerable. He was happy to find a solution at his son’s dentist. To provide treatment to those who cannot tolerate a CPAP, Burns utilizes several custom dental appliances. He selects the one most appropriate for each individual. “It works like a charm,” he said. Unlike the CPAP, dental appliances are small, easy to transport, do not involve hoses or masks, do not rely on electricity, and make no noise. Most are acrylic and fit inside your mouth, much like an athletic mouth guard. “They’re much more reasonable to use, and the cost is far more reason-


The muscles of your tongue and soft palate tighten, and the end result is that, with a dental appliance in place, snoring and sleep apnea can be managed without masks or hoses. These well-researched appliances have helped thousands of people, Burns said. “Their small size, comfort, and easy maintenance make them a popular option.” It is important to get fitted by a dentist specializing in sleep apnea, advise the experts, and to see the dentist on a regular basis for follow up. You may also need to periodically have your dentist adjust the mouthpiece to fit better. Surgery to correct sleep apnea by increasing the size of your airway is a last resort, added Burns. “It’s pretty intense.” Burns adds that children can have sleep apnea. Children should not snore; if your child snores, he or she should be screened. Tired children react differently to being tired than adults; they become hyperactive. Some erroneously get put on medication. Burns offers a free consultation to help you stop snoring, breathe, sleep, feel, and function better. For more information, he can be reached at 315-724-5141 or see his website www. “These appliances have been life changing for many,” Burns concluded.

53 million adults in the U.S. live with a disability

n the United States, one out of every five adults has a disability, according to a new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common functional disability type was a mobility limitation — defined as serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs — reported by one in eight adults, followed by disability in thinking and/or memory, independent living, vision, and self-care. The researchers found that the highest percentages of people with disabilities are generally in Southern states, for example Alabama (31.5 percent), Mississippi (31.4 percent), and Tennessee (31.4 percent). New

September 2015 •

York ranks in the middle with 22.1 percent of any disability among adults 18 years of age and older. By contrast, that percent in Vermont is 17.8. The report did not determine why differences occur by state; however, states in the South tend to have some of the higher rates of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, which may also be associated with disability. “We are all at risk of having a disability at some point in our lifetime,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, “Health professionals and health care systems need to meet the needs of this growing population.”

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 11

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • September 2015

CDC: Over 4 million Americans drove drunk over prior month


new study finds that close to 2 percent of adults — about 4.2 million people — admitted to driving while intoxicated at least once over the prior month. The study, based on 2012 data analyzed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also outlines the “typical” drunk driver: Young males with a history of binge drinking. Curbing the problem could save countless lives, the CDC researchers said, since “alcohol-impaired driving crashes have accounted for about one third of all U.S. crash fatalities in the past two decades.” One expert agreed. Binge drinking is rampant among the young, said physician Scott Krakower, who specializes in alcohol abuse issues. “Individuals should not be afraid to seek help if they have a drinking problem,” he said. “Bottom line: if one is drinking, they should never drive a motor vehicle. They are putting innocent lives at risk.” In the new study, a team led by CDC investigator Amy Jewett looked at 2012 data from an annual federal government survey. They found that “an

estimated 4.2 million adults reported at least one alcohol-impaired driving episode in the preceding 30 days, resulting in an estimated 121 million episodes [per year].” Rates varied widely between states, and were often tied to a state’s drunk-driving laws, the CDC said. The Midwest fared the worst in terms of drunk driving, but that’s no surprise, the team said, because “persons living in the Midwest have consistently reported higher alcohol-impaired driving rates than those living in other regions.” The profile of the “typical” drunk driver probably won’t surprise many, either — a binge-drinking young male. According to the study, men aged 21 to 34 made up a third of all drunk driving episodes, while men overall made up 80 percent of impaired drivers. The report found that 4 percent of adults fall into the category of “binge drinkers” — men who consume five or more drinks at one occasion, or women who have 4 or more drinks per occasion. This 4 percent of adults are involved in nearly two-thirds of all drunk driving incidents, the CDC researchers noted.

Sexting, Internet safety among top health concerns for children


ith more kids online and using cell phones at increasingly younger ages, two issues have quickly climbed higher on the public’s list of major health concerns for children across the U.S: sexting and Internet safety. Compared with 2014, Internet safety rose from the eighth to the fourth biggest problem, ahead of school violence and smoking, in the 2015 annual survey of top children’s health concerns conducted by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. Sexting saw the biggest jump, now the sixth top-ranked issue, up from 13th. Childhood obesity, bullying, and drug abuse remained the top three

child health concerns for a second year in a row, while child abuse and neglect ranked fifth. Smoking and tobacco use, usually rated near the top of the list, dropped from the fourth top concern to the seventh — which may reflect the decline in smoking and tobacco use by youth in recent years. “The major health issues that people are most worried about for children across the country reflect the health initiatives providers, communities and policy makers should be focused on,” says physician Matthew M. Davis, director of the National Poll on Children’s Health and professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the U-M Medical School.

New law allows students to selfmanage diabetes at school


s parents get ready to send their children back to school this fall, the parents of children with diabetes have more than backpacks and school supplies to get organized — they must also plan for how their children’s diabetes needs will be met while they are at school. This year, thanks to a new state law, children will be permitted to carry diabetes supplies and self-manage their diabetes at school and at any school function. In addition, school staff members may volunteer to be trained to administer glucagon in an emergency when a nurse is not present. “The school year is always a stressful time for families of children with

diabetes,” said Renee Williams, assistant superintendent of the Honeoye Falls-Lima Central School District and advocacy chairwoman for the American Diabetes Association. “Hopefully this new legislation will reduce some of that stress for families, knowing their children will be able to self-manage their diabetes at school and have emergency back-up care in the event that a nurse is not available.” Under the new law, students who have obtained parental consent and written permission from a physician or authorized medical provider may carry and use diabetes supplies, equipment and food to treat hypoglycemia during the school day, on school property and at any school function.

The Social Ask Security Office This Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: benefits abound


ancer can affect any one of us, at any time. Sadly, thousands of people under the age of 20 are diagnosed with cancer every year, and it remains the leading cause of disease-related death for children. In September, we honor the strength and courage of children who are battling the many forms of cancer, as well as the young Americans who have lost their lives to these terrible diseases. Social Security provides benefits for children who suffer from many disabling diseases, including some forms of cancer. These benefits could help with the additional costs of caring for an ill child. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled children who have limited income and resources. If you wish to apply for benefits for your child, you’ll need to complete both an application for SSI and a child disability report. The report collects information about your child’s disabling condition, and about how it affects his or her ability to function. Here are the steps to apply. • Review the child disability starter kit. This kit answers common questions about applying for SSI benefits for children, and includes a worksheet that will help you gather the information you need. You can view the starter kit at • The SSI program is a “needsbased” program for people who have low family income and resources. SSI

Q&A Q: I heard that my disability must be expected to last at least one year to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Does this mean I have to wait until I’ve been disabled an entire year before applying for disability? A: No. If you believe your disability will last a year or longer, apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. Processing your application can take an average of three to five months. If your application is approved, we’ll pay your first Social Security disability benefits for the sixth full month after the date your disability began. For example, if your state agency decides your disability began on Jan. 15, we’ll pay your first disability benefit for the month of July. We pay in the month following the month for which benefits apply, so you’ll receive your July benefit payment in August. For more information about Social

September 2015 •

has strict limits on the amount of income and assets you can have and still be eligible for SSI. Contact Social Security right away to find out if the income and resources of the parents and the child are within the allowed limits, and to start the SSI application process. • Fill out the online child disability report. At the end of the report, we’ll ask you to sign a form that gives the child’s doctor(s) permission to give us information about his or her disability. We need this information to make a decision on your child’s claim. You can access the child disability report at Social Security also has an obligation to provide benefits quickly to applicants whose medical conditions are so serious that they obviously meet our strict disability standards. Social Security’s compassionate allowances program enables us to identify diseases and other medical conditions quickly that invariably qualify under the listing of impairments based on minimal objective medical information. The compassionate allowances list allows Social Security to identify the most seriously disabled people for allowances based on objective medical information that we can obtain quickly. Compassionate allowances is not a separate program from the Supplemental Security Income program. You can learn more about compassionate allowances at compassionateallowances. No matter what month it is, Social Security is here to provide benefits those with severe disabilities. If you or anyone in your family needs assistance, visit

Security disability benefits, refer to our publication, “Disability Benefits,” at Q: How do I apply for disability benefits? And, how long does it take to get a decision after I apply for disability benefits? A: You can apply for disability benefits online at To get a decision on your disability application usually takes three to five months to. The time frame can vary depending on • The nature of your disability; • How quickly we can get your medical evidence from your doctor or other medical source; • Whether it’s necessary to send you for a medical examination; and • Whether we review your application for quality purposes. Learn your claim status at www.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Dental Health

HEALTH NEWS IN BRIEF Lyme disease support group to meet

Tooth Attack

Protect your teeth against harmful medications By Malissa Allen


ore and more medications introduced to the market can cause permanent damage to your teeth and gums from long-term use. The medications that fix, cure or heal one ailment may work well for the medical issue, but also can cause some side effects, such as tooth damage, and it can come from both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. There are over 800 medications that can cause dry mouth. Dry mouth slows down the production of saliva flowing throughout the mouth. Without saliva to rinse particles and bacteria from the mouth, cavities become a higher risk. Dry mouth can cause denture wearers to develop blisters and sores. The gums become inflamed, ulcerated and bleeding. Once gum disease begins, it can lead to other problems that can include losing teeth. Aspirin is an acidic that can cause damage to the tooth enamel if chewed. Likewise, most asthma medications are also high in acids. Medications for blood pressure cause oral sores and discoloration of gum tissue. Anticoagulants like warfarin, heparin and coumadin can cause excessive bleeding during procedures. Antihistamines, anti-hypertensives, oral contraceptives, chemotherapy and immunosuppressive drugs are known to cause dry mouth, gum disease and increase damage to tooth enamel. Medicated syrups contain sugar. Sugar adds to the risk of tooth decay, especially in children. Brushing teeth directly after drinking the syrup is the best way to prevent problems. Medications used for seizures, calcium channel blockers and medications needed by organ transplants recipients can cause hyperplasia, meaning gum tissue overgrowth. Good oral hygiene care is difficult to maintain with this

condition. Minocycline is a medication used to treat acne. Its side effect causes teeth and gums to become blackened. Chlorhexidine is a mouthwash that can stain your teeth. Bisphosphonates — used to treat loss of bone mass and osteoporosis — have been known to contribute to a condition called osteonecrosis. This leads to full destruction of the jawbone. Corticosteroids — used in the treatment of a variety of conditions — can cause bone loss.

Act early

Here are some suggestions to avoid teeth and gum problems. Take a list of your medications — including prescription, over-thecounter, natural supplements or illegal drugs — with you to the dentist and ask for an evaluation. If a medication causes issues with your dental health, seek the advice of your physician. Your

physician might decrease your dosage, change the method of intake or even recommend discontinuing the medication. Fluoride helps strengthen your teeth and your dentist can apply topical fluoride to assist in preventing tooth decay. Your dentist might give you prescription mouthwash for home use to assist in gum health. Teeth that are already decayed will require fillings, crowns or extractions if necessary. Dentures can be useful and necessary for those with tooth loss. Partial dentures are for people missing some teeth, but not enough for a full set of dentures. Also known as a bridge, the partial fills in the gap between the natural teeth. Partials are custom made by your dentist or orthodontist. A full set of dentures is required for those who have had all their teeth removed. The dentist makes a mold of your mouth and creates an exact replica. Dental implants are permanent teeth that are drilled directly into the bone.

Getting your smile back

Here are a few options to ensure your dental health: limit carbonated drinks and alcohol (and if possible, avoid altogether); restrict intake of sticky or sweet foods; choose sugar-free foods and chew sugar-free gum, and stop smoking. Brush babies’ teeth with warm water only; use low fluoride toothpaste for younger children and ask your pharmacist for sugar-free medicated syrups. Drinking fluoridated water is OK; always spit out toothpaste and do not swallow it; change your toothbrush every two to three months; floss daily; visit your dentist and clean your teeth regularly, at least twice a year. Early prevention is the best way to help prevent any further damage to your teeth.

CDC: U.S. infant deaths at lowest rate ever


he number of U.S. infants who die before their first birthday continues to decline and is at a historic low, health officials recently reported. Between 2012 and 2013, the rate dropped only slightly, from 5.98 deaths per 1,000 births to 5.96. But that’s part of a long-term trend: Since 2005, when infant mortality stood at 6.86 per 1,000 births, the rate has fallen by 13 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Every single time an infant dies in the first year of life it is a tragedy for a family,” said report author T.J. Mathews, a demographer at CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. However, “in 2013, we saw the lowest infant mortality rate ever,” he Page 14

said. “That’s good news. There were many years when the rate was steady and wasn’t declining, then in 2009 we started to see some declines, and we are continuing to see that. It’s not a sharp decline, but it’s going in the right direction.” In 2013, 23,446 infants died in the United States, 208 fewer than in 2012, the researchers found. “Not long ago, we were around 28,000 to 30,000 deaths,” Mathews said. “There are still a lot of infant deaths, but that there are fewer means there have been positive changes.” For most groups, the infant death rate remained stable. However, death rates among Puerto Ricans and Cu-

ban-Americans dropped significantly — 14 percent for Puerto Rican women and 40 percent for Cuban-American women. Mathews noted that the disparity in infant deaths between blacks and whites persists. The infant death rate for blacks is double that of whites. “That sad fact has been constant,” he said. David Mendez, a neonatologist at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, said, “Access to care seems to be the driving force behind these disparities.” Most infant deaths occur among babies born early with birth defects. Many deaths are also due to preterm delivery.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • September 2015

The Mohawk Valley Lyme Support Group will meet from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 20 at the New Hartford Library on Oxford Road. Other meetings will be held from 2-4 p.m. Sept. 20, Oct. 18, Nov. 15 and Dec. 20. For more information, contact Renee at 797-6666 or email

Wine and beer tasting gala scheduled The Believe 271 Foundation will host its second annual wine and beer tasting gala from 7-10 p.m. Sept. 24 at Hart’s Hill Inn, Clinton Street, Whitesboro. The event is open to the public. Tickets are $15. For an optional $5, patrons can purchase a Believe 271 drinking glass. The Believe 271 Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides funds for Mohawk Valley firefighters and their families who are faced with life-threatening illnesses. For more information, go to www.

Herkimer HealthNet to host workshop Herkimer County HealthNet will be hosting a Walkable Communities Workshop and Recognition Luncheon Sept. 25. The workshop starts at 9 a.m. and luncheon will take place at noon. The event will be held at the Village of Ilion Municipal Auditorium, 49 Morgan St., Ilion. The public is encouraged to attend. The Walkable Communities Workshop will focus on making roadways and walkable environments more attractive to people as well as support and promote the concept of Complete Streets. A Complete Streets community is committed to making roadways safer and more accessible for all users and all abilities — motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, people in wheelchairs, seniors and transit riders. For more information or to RSVP, contact Alison J. Swartz or Elyse Enea at Herkimer County HealthNet, 315867-1499 or by email at ajswartz@ The deadline to register is Sept. 21.

New event helps fight childhood obesity A new event in the Greater Utica area will help bring attention to the fight against childhood obesity. The American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association and presenting sponsor AmeriCU Credit Union will host the first Walk in the Wild on Sept. 26 at the Utica Zoo. Today, about one in three American children and teens is overweight or obese. That’s nearly triple the rate in 1963. Admission to the Utica Zoo will be free for adults and children from noon to 3 p.m. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit

Wanted: coding specialists Medical coding course now offered by local college By Barbara Pierce


he Utica School of Commerce is now a licensed education site to teach medical coding. With the start of the fall semester, USC The Business College joins with the American Academy of Professional Coders to teach the AAPC’s curriculum. USC is the only college in Central New York to offer this. Certified Instructors teach all the coding courses. The mission of USC The Business College is to prepare men and women for successful careers in business and technology. The 119-year-old academic institution provides numerous opportunities for its students to prepare for a career in an ever-changing business world. “We’re so excited about this,” said Kim Ross, department chairperson. “As a member of this prestigious organization of professional coders, we are better equipped to provide our students with top-notch instruction in this vital industry.” As critically important members of a medical team, medical coders are the health care professionals who are in charge of processing patient data such as treatment records and related insurance information. When a medical service is performed, a code must be assigned to a bill. “That’s how doctors get paid,” explained Ross. “They get paid by diagnosis codes.” The health care industry depends on skilled, qualified coders to accurately record, register and track each patient’s account. Coders work in any health care facility, individual doctor’s offices or hospitals. “This is a growing field; this is a good career field to get into. There are jobs waiting because there is a shortage of certified medical coders,” Ross added. “Our relationship with AACP opens up a whole new avenue of opportunities for our current and prospective students.” And it pays well, according to Ross. In 2012, the average salary for a certified coder was $47,000 annually. “To be certified as a professional coder, a two-year apprenticeship is required. However, with us teaching the curriculum, the curriculum will allow the student to earn up to the two

years of apprenticeship as they take the courses,” said Ross. “The students will complete real-world case studies to improve their competency in this growing field while gaining experience.”

Two-year program

“It will take two years at USC, in total, to take the exam to be certified and employable in the field. There will be no need to go any further,” she added. Ross is also excited that USC The Business College will administer the AAPC exam to become a certified coder on campus. “We will teach the exact AAPC curriculum so they will have an increased chance of passing the test to become certified,” she said. When students complete the AAPC curriculum, 90 percent pass on their first attempt. “That’s substantial,” Ross said. “It’s a difficult test. We’ve seen some really brilliant students struggling to pass it in the past. Now they will have a better chance of passing the first time.” “I don’t want to do any other job,” said certified medical coder Karen Collins online. Collins has been a coder in an OB-GYN practice for 13 years. “I’ve worked so hard for my credentials; I don’t believe I will ever stop coding as a career. I found that my major strengths are the appeals process and finding the ‘why’ and ‘why not.’ I am sure when asked 20 years from now what my job title is it will have something to do with coding.” “Every day is a new adventure,” said coder Corrie Alvaraz online. Alvaraz has been in the medical coding field for 30 years working for a national company. “You never know what change has taken place. Insurance carriers may change their regulations, problems may surface that need immediate attention, or someone will need assistance with an insurance claim,” Alvarez said. “We’ve been saying it all along: Medical coders have a great gig!” said the AAPC website on the fact that Woman’s Day magazine recently named medical coding as one of eight legitimate ways someone can work from home. For more information on the medical coding course at USC The Business College, contact 1-800-321-3USC or see the website at

Veteran of Little Falls Hospital board retires Joan Conboy was recently recognized by Little Falls Hospital, an affiliate of Bassett Healthcare Network, at its annual meeting for her 38 years of service. Conboy has been a board member since 1977. John Bullis, chair of the hospital’s board of trustees, said, “Joan Conboy’s leadership as a member of the Little Falls Hospital board of trustees, for the past three decades, cannot be overstated. Her knowledge and expertise, particularly with regard to hospital governance and credentialing procedures, is highly regarded and has been recognized by her peers throughout New York state.” Celebrating with Conboy are Michael L. Ogden, left, Little Falls Hospital president and CEO, and Bullis.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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H ealth News New director at Community Recovery Center Ashlee L. Thompson has been named the new director of Rome Memorial Hospital’s Community Recovery Center. Thompson has been a chemical dependency counselor for nearly five years at the outpatient center, which provides alcohol and substance abuse counseling. She has been serving as interim director since May. Thompson earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Le Moyne College, Syracuse, and her Master of Science Thompson degree in childhood education and special education from Touro College, New York City. A credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselor through the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, State of New York, Thompson began her career in chemical dependency treatment in 2006 as a counselor at the Insight House Chemical Dependency Services, Inc., Utica. The Community Recovery Center provides treatment for adults and adolescents who are addicted to alcohol, prescription medications and illegal drugs. Thompson serves on the Oneida County Opiate/Heroin Task Force. The group consists of people from law enforcement, service providers, contract agencies, non-profit organizations and community members. The task force is striving to create workable solutions to the problem of increased use of opiates and heroin by focusing on specific actions, including education, treatment and increased services.

NP specializes in sleep, breathing disorders

Nurse Practitioner Diane Scalise, has joined the staff at Rome Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine. Scalise joins Dr. Anwar Wassel and nurse practitioner Laura Carnevale at the practice specializing in breathing and sleep disorders, located at 267 Hill Road, Suite 300, in Rome. Scalise said she was drawn to working with pulmonary Scalise and sleep disorder patients after 14 years in urgent care. “I had a lot of experience with a lot of different conditions, but working with patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or problems due to sleep apnea led me to the desire to specialize in pulmonary disorders,” Scalise said. Scalise earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Utica College and worked as a registered nurse Page 16

in intensive care and surgery before pursuing her degree as an adult nurse practitioner at SUNY IT. As a nurse practitioner, she has cared for patients in both inpatient and outpatient facilities.

Excellus regional president expands role Eve Van de Wal, regional president of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Utica Region, will have expanded responsibilities in Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties effective immediately. In her enhanced role, Van de Wal will be responsible for supporting and maintaining business relationships and community engagement in the North Country. She will oversee operations in the company’s Watertown office. Van de Wal Van de Wal has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of health care delivery and health insurance. In her 17 years with Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, she held several management positions before being appointed president of the company’s Utica region in 2008. Prior to joining Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Van de Wal spent 15 years in critical care and coronary care nursing. “Eve brings solid knowledge of our business to the expanded role she will have in the North Country,” said Christopher Booth, chief executive officer. “She is recognized for her success in building strong relationships with community leaders in Northern New York.” Van de Wal is a member of the board of directors of Health Workforce New York, the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area, Mohawk Valley Economic Development Growth Enterprises Corporation, Adirondack Bank and The Community Foundation of Oneida and Herkimer Counties. She is also an active member of the Utica College Risk Management Insurance Advisory committee, the Dean’s Advisory Council for Utica College, Oneida County Vision 2020 and the Utica Rotary. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the SUNY Brockport, Van de Wal earned master’s degrees in health services management and business administration from SUNY Institute of Technology. She and her husband Dale have two children and reside in New Hartford.

MVHS welcomes neurosurgeon Nicholas Qandah recently joined The Mohawk Valley Health System Medical Group’s Neuro Sciences Group/Neurosurgical Specialists Office in New Hartford. Qandah earned his medical degree from Midwestern University AZCOM in Glendale, Ariz. After completing

MVHS hosts summer medical camp for Mohawk Valley teens The Mohawk Valley Health System recently hosted two medical camps for teens aged 15-18 at St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare. MediCamp demonstrates to teens how a hospital operates and provides them with the opportunity to explore different departments for potential career endeavors. Above, MediCamp student Rawan Aly removes a cast on a mannequin with the help of William Gaetano, an emergency department physician at SEMC. Twenty-one teens participated in the camps. neurosurgical residency training at the Virginia Tech Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, Va., Qandah was awarded the AO complex spine fellowship in orthopedics and neurosurgery at the University of Washington-Harborview in Seattle, Wash. Qandah returned to the Virginia Tech Carilion Clinic and served as the director of the complex spine program for neurosurgery and assistant professor of neurosurgery for the residency program. Qandah is board certified in neurosurgery and a fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons. He treats patients with back and neck pain, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease and herniated discs. Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare and St. Elizabeth Medical Center are affiliates under the Mohawk Valley Health System.

FSLH’s stroke program receives award Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare, an affiliate of the Mohawk Valley Health System, has received the American Heart Association/American

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • September 2015

Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll Elite. The award recognizes FSLH’s commitment and success ensuring that stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence. “With a stroke, time lost is brain lost, and this award demonstrates our commitment to ensuring patients receive care based on nationally respected clinical guidelines,” said Angelina M. Roche, stroke program clinical coordinator at FSLH. To receive the award, FSLH achieved 85 percent or higher adherence to all Get With The Guidelines-Stroke achievement indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month periods and achieved 75 percent or higher compliance with five of eight Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality measures. To qualify for the Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite, FSLH met quality measures developed to reduce the time

Continued on Page 17

H ealth News Continued from Page 16 between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, to treat ischemic stroke. For more information on Get With The Guidelines, visit

Lutheran Care enjoys ‘hogs and dogs’ Residents of LutheranCare in Clinton were treated recently to a special display presented by the Erie Canal Chapter of the Harley Owners Group. Arriving on their motorcycles, 17 members of the Harley Owners Group spent time with residents while enjoying a barbecue and participating in raffles of Harley memorabilia donated by Harley Davidson of Utica.

Physician joins SDMG Urgent Care Department Wafa Qamar recently joined Slocum-Dickson Medical Group’s Urgent Care in New Hartford. Qamar is trained to provide treatment for basic acute illness and conditions in the urgent care setting. She completed her family practice residency at Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, N.J. and her rotating internship at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Qamar Rockaway. She earned her degree in osteopathic medicine from Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harlem. Slocum-Dickson’s Urgent Care delivers prompt, personalized medical care for minor, non life-threatening health problems such as sprains, broken bones, cuts, backaches, job-related injuries and common illnesses. Urgent care can be found on the lower level of Slocum Dickson Medical Group, 1729 Burrstone Road in New Hartford.

Family practitioner joins SDMG Ahmed Rezk recently joined Slocum-Dickson Medical Group in New Hartford in the specialty of family practice. Rezk was born and raised in the local area and is a graduate of New Hartford High School and Utica College. Rezk specializes in the total healthcare of adults and Rezk children 8 years of age and older, providing continuing comprehensive health maintenance for the whole family. Rezk completed his family medi-

cine residency at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway and Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, N.J. He earned his Doctor of Osteopathy degree from Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harlem. During his time at Utica College, he served terms as president and vice president of the Asa Gray Biological Society of Utica College and worked as a biology teaching assistant. Rezk was the recipient of several scholarship awards.

VRS announces staff appointments Valley Residential Services, the first assisted living facility in Herkimer County, recently welcomed new staff members to the facility located off Pine Grove Road in East Herkimer. Joining VRS with a wealth of experience in the nursing field is Robin Gookins, who now serves as director of clinical services. Gookins graduated from Mohawk Valley Community College and has nursing experience in the acute care setting and in providing home care services. She is pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in nursGookins ing at Utica College. At VRS, Gookins is responsible for supervising nursing services concerned with patient care and to assist with case management duties for residents in the enriched housing and assisted living program. Meanwhile, Christine Shepardson accepted the position as director of community life for Valley Health Services and VRS. Shepardson has worked in the healthcare field for over 32 years. She is New York state accredited as an activities director and certified through the National Council Certification for Activity Professionals. In 1992, ShepShepardson ardson joined VHS as the activities director-volunteer coordinator and served as director of development from 19972005. In her new position at VRS, Shepardson is responsible for educating area residents about the services available at VRS and VHS, including assisted living, nursing home care, short-term rehabilitation and adult day health care. VHS, located at 690 W. German St., Herkimer, is the parent organization of VRS and an affiliate of the Bassett Healthcare Network.

Herkimer BOCES LPN student awarded Zonta Club scholarship Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES licensed practical nursing adult student Lisa Wolicki, left, receives the Zonta Club scholarship from Sherrilyn Wiers-Brown, financial aid counselor. The scholarship is given to a student who has returned to school after an extended absence. Wolicki graduated from the part-time day LPN class recently. If you’re interested in joining the Herkimer BOCES adult practical nursing program — which offers a full-time class, a part-time day class and a part-time evening class — call 315895-2210 or visit for information.

Mohawk Valley Perinatal Network plans scavenger hunt race


ohawk Valley Perinatal Network, Inc. is planning its third annual “Run, Sherlock, Run!” scavenger hunt race in the Mohawk Valley. It will be held on Oct. 4 and will start from the St. Francis DeSales Center on Genesee Street in Utica. Clues will be provided to teams of two, three or four runners, directing them to secret checkpoints in Utica. Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams finding all checkpoints in the shortest time, and a post-race party will be offered to participants. Participation is capped at 300

runners. The mailing address is Mohawk Valley Perinatal Network, 1000 Cornelia St., 2nd Floor, Utica, N.Y. 13502. The Perinatal Network’s mission is to improve birth outcomes and maternal, child and family health, facilitate collaboration among providers and community organizations and advocate for change. For more information about getting involved in “Run, Sherlock, Run!” visit or call the Perinatal Network at 732-4657. Sponsorship and volunteer opportunities are available.

Read the latest in Mohawk Valley health news! Subscribe by calling 749-7070 today! September 2015 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Continued from Page 2

Sept. 4

Get ready to ‘Knock Your Socks Off’ The Mohawk Valley Health System’s Central New York Diabetes Education Program is offering a free “Knock Your Socks Off!” foot (podiatry) clinic for people with diabetes. The event will take place at noon Sept. 4 at the CNY Diabetes Education Program office located on the fourth floor of the Faxton Campus, 1676 Sunset Ave., Utica. An area podiatrist will conduct a brief educational seminar followed by a personal foot exam. For more information or to register, call CNY Diabetes at 315-624-5620. Proper foot care is especially critical for people with diabetes because they are prone to foot problems such as a loss of feeling in their feet, changes in the shape of their feet and foot ulcers or sores that do not heal.

Sept. 5

‘Nickel Social’, vendor fair slated A Family “Nickel Social” & Vendor Fair will be held from 2-6 p.m. Sept. 5 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 714 Washington St., Utica. The cost for guests 16 years and older is $5; children aged 5-15 are $3, while a family four-pack (two adults and two children) costs $12. Children under 5 are free. The cost includes admission, a door prize entry, a family photo and one strip of 25 tickets. A nickel social is a raffle-style sale featuring small-to-medium mostly preowned items. For tickets, contact Cee at 315-5606319.

The group meets every other Sunday. For more information, contact Tanya at 315-735-6210, or visit www.

Sept. 9

YMCA to hold golf tournament The YMCA of the Greater Tri Valley will hold the 28th annual Frank Martinelli Corporate Cup golf tournament Sept. 9 to raise money for the Y’s Annual Heroes Campaign. The event will be held at Kanon Valley Country Club, located on Lake Road in Oneida. It will include a luncheon, an 18-hole captain and crew format, prime rib dinner, raffles, putting contest and an awards ceremony. Registration begins at 11 a.m. with a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. For more information about the golf tournament or to learn more about the Y’s Annual Heroes Campaign, contact Jennifer Cossette at 315-336-3500 ext. 229 or

Sept. 14

Support forum for cancer patients, survivors The Faxton Campus Cancer Center’s monthly support forum for patients and cancer survivors will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 14. The cancer support forum meets at 6 p.m. on the second Monday of every month in the cancer center’s fireplace lounge on the main floor of Faxton Campus, 1676 Sunset Ave., Utica. The forum, led by the cancer center’s social worker, offers support to anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis. Light refreshments will be served. For more information or to RSVP, call 315-624-5241.

Sept. 6

Sept. 19

The Separated & Divorced Support Group will meet from 5-6:30 p.m. Sept. 6 at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. The group meets every other Sunday. The meetings are free and open to all. For more information, contact Judy at 315-735-6210, or visit

Rome Hospital Foundation’s fifth annual “Brew Ha Ha” will be held Sept. 19. The craft beer tasting event, presented by Oneida Savings Bank and VNA Homecare, will be held from 4-8 p.m. at Woods Valley Ski Area in Westernville. Since it’s inception in 2011, Rome Hospital Foundation’s “Brew Ha Ha” has raised over $55,000 to support the mission of Rome Memorial Hospital in delivering quality healthcare to the Greater Rome community. Advanced tickets are $40 each or $75 for a pair. Designated driver tickets are available for $10 each. Tickets sold at the door are $50 each. Tickets are on sale at Ace Hardware of Rome and Teddy’s Restaurant. They can also be purchased by calling 315338-7181 or online at

Separated? Divorced? There is support

Ready to explore The Third Option? The Third Option support group for married couples will meet from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Sept. 6 at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica.

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Rome Hospital Foundation to host ‘Brew Ha Ha’

By Jim Miller

Medicare options for retirees who travel Dear Savvy Senior, What are the best Medicare coverage options for retirees who travel a lot? Almost 65 Dear Almost, The best Medicare options for retirees who travel extensively depends on your destination. Let’s start with a quick review of the different coverage choices Medicare offers beneficiaries today.

One option is Original Medicare, which has been around since 1966, and covers (Part A) hospital services and (Part B) doctor’s visits and other medical services. If you choose Original Medicare, you may also want to get a Medicare (Part D) prescription drug plan (if you don’t already have coverage) to cover your medication costs, and a Medicare supplemental (Medigap) policy to help pay for things that aren’t covered by Medicare like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. Or, you could get Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, which is sold through private insurance companies, that covers everything Original Medicare covers, plus many plans also offer prescription drug coverage and extra services like vision, hearing and dental care all in one plan. To help you evaluate your options, the National Council on Aging offers an online tool at MyMedicareMatters. org, and your State Heath Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) provides free Medicare counseling — call 800677-1116 for contact information. You can also shop and compare Medicare health and drug plans and Medigap policies at find-a-plan, or call 800-633-4227. Also note that whatever Medicare plans you choose to enroll in, if you find that they are not meeting your needs or your needs change, you can always switch to a different plan during the open enrollment period, which is between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7.

U.S. travel

If you and your husband are planning to travel domestically, Original Medicare provides coverage everywhere in the U.S. and its territories (this includes all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa) as

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • September 2015

long as the doctor or hospital accepts Medicare. But if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, your coverage may be restricted. This is because most Medicare Advantage plans (which are usually HMOs or PPOs) require you to use doctors, hospitals and pharmacies that are in the plan’s network within a service area or geographic region. So if you’re traveling outside that area, you may need to pay a higher fee, or your services may not be covered at all. Before enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, check the benefit details carefully to see what costs and rules apply when traveling outside your service area.

Traveling abroad

If you’re planning to travel abroad, Original Medicare does not provide coverage outside the U.S. including cruising, except in rare cases, and Medicare drug plans will not cover prescription drugs purchased outside the U.S. either. But, there are some Medigap policies that do provide limited coverage abroad. Medigap C, D, F, G, M, and N plans will pay for 80 percent of medically necessary emergency care outside the U.S., but only for the first 60 days of the trip, and you have to meet an annual $250 deductible first. There’s also a lifetime maximum benefit of $50,000, so you’d need to cover any costs above that amount. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, your coverage outside the U.S. will depend on the plan. Some plans offer emergency care coverage while others don’t. You’ll need to check your plan for details. If you want additional emergency medical coverage when traveling abroad, some good shopping sites are and insuremytrip. com, which compare policies from major travel-insurance companies. Prices vary considerably, ranging from under $100 to several hundred dollars depending on your age, what they cover and how long you’ll be away. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior. org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

Health in good



Advertise your health-related services or products and reach your potential customers throughout the Mohawk Valley for as little as $90 a month. Call 749-7070 for more info.

Opportunities Available QUALITY CARE. COMMUNITY FOCUS. Regional Primary Care Network (RPCN) is a not-for-profit network of Community Health Centers with multiple service locations that provide primary medical and dental care. RPCN is dedicated to providing access to quality health care for all, regardless of financial, cultural, or social barriers.

JOIN OUR TEAM NOW! Utica Community Health Center located in the heart of Utica is seeking qualified individuals for the following positions:

Staff will assist people we support to achieve their personal life goals through development of individualized supports to help achieve their desired outcomes. Goals may include housekeeping, money management, and other daily life skills. You may accompany them on community outings such as sports events, dances, and movies. Requirements: High School Diploma/GED, current CNA license may be considered, clean valid NYS driver’s license, and the desire to make a difference!

(FT-experience with healthcare facilities and NYS regulations)

RPCN provides a generous compensation package including competitive salaries, dental, health, and retirement plans. National Health Service Corps approved site. EOE.

Please send your resumes/cv to More info:

VNA of Utica and Oneida County honors employees


The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter, NYSARC announces a new pay incentive, effective August 1 This incentive is for new hires willing to work one of several identified Residence Manager or Residence Counselor PART-TIME weekend shifts that are available agency wide in the Residential Services Department.

Family or Pediatric Physician (FT/PT) Nurse Practitioner (FT/PT) RN’s/LPN/MA’s (FT) Facilities Manager

he Visiting Nurse Association of Utica and Oneida County recently observed its 100th anniversary with a celebration attended by more than 150 employees, business partners and community members. The event featured presentations on the organization’s rich history, as well as recognized employees for their outstanding contributions to the agency and its patients. Seven of the VNA of Utica and Oneida County’s nearly 120 employees were honored for years of service greater than 25 years, including: • Jeanne Gymburch — clinical nursing supervisor with 33 years of service • Sharon Tomaino — home health aide with 32 years of service • Audrey Wheeler — home health aide with 31 years of service • Judith Perkins — licensed practical nurse with 31 years of service

Earn up to $12.54 an hour part time, in our Residential Services Department

• Cynthia Horning — accounts receivable billing specialist with 28 years of service • Carolyn Yacco — social worker with 27 years of service • Katherine Gray — clinical nursing supervisor with 27 years of service The VNA of Utica and Oneida County also honored two employees with nurse and caregiver of distinction awards that are given to individuals who demonstrate excellence in customer service. Case Manager Dawn Whitecombe received the nurse of distinction award in honor of her dedication to patients and their families, and her leadership among peers. Cynthia Horning received the caregiver of distinction award for her long-time dedication to the organization and in recognition of her contributions to the efficient and effective operation of many departments and processes at the VNA of Utica and Oneida County.

Contact Human Resources today for more information.



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Drivers Wanted For delivery of IGH newspaper bundles

September 2015 •

Mohawk Valley In Good Health newspaper is recruiting drivers to help distribute its popular monthly publication. The job entails delivering 20-lb. bundles of IGH to various dropoff sites in largely commercial districts. Individual must be hard-working, honest, have a dependable vehicle and be able to lift 20-lb. bundles and walk up stairs. Interested? Contact Alice at 749-7070. The job pays $9 an hour plus mileage.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 19

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Joint Effort Momentum for medical marijuana grows in Utica, New York state By Patricia J. Malin


ackenzie Kulawy sat on the floor against a wall at the Veteran’s Outreach Center in downtown Utica, her Labrador snoozing at her feet. It was an inconspicuous place for the 12-year-old girl, despite being the center of attention at a press conference called by Utica Mayor Rob Palmieri recently to discuss healthcare. Even while wearing her trademark pink cycling helmet, Mackenzie was almost invisible in the room, surrounded by adults standing and listening to the mayor’s remarks, while others sat at tables eating lunch. With her mother, Julie, her older sister, Kaitlyn, and her grandmother, Patricia Reed, sitting nearby, Mackenzie felt safe, but also tired after giving interviews to a television news crew and several reporters. Mackenzie is the centerpiece of an effort by officials from Utica, Oneida County and New York state to get legislation passed to allow the limited use of marijuana for medical patients. Mackenzie is afflicted with Doose syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. She suffers unpredictable and severe seizures that cause her to fall and hit her head against nearby objects or on the floor. That’s why she wears a helmet and is accompanied by her therapy dog Bella, who can sometimes predict the occurrence of seizures and will summon help. “Every seizure causes damage to the brain,” Palmieri told attendees at the press conference. The city was backing an attempt by Brightwaters Farms of north Utica to get a state license to grow and distribute medical marijuana under strict guidelines. The Utica Chamber of Commerce, Upstate Cerebral Palsy, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr., Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) and State Sen. Joe Griffo (R-Rome), also publicly announced their support. Page 20

In July 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill authorizing the sale and use of medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription. It wasn’t until this past July 31, however, that licenses were awarded to five companies. Brightwaters, however, was not on the list. In June this year, Griffo and Brindisi sponsored bills in the State Senate and State Assembly to legalize the possession, manufacture, use, delivery, transport or administration of medical marijuana by a designated caregiver for certified medical use. The legislature also approved a bill to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medical marijuana as soon as possible. Mackenzie and her family visited the state capital and met with legislators last spring to press her cause. Brindisi featured Mackenzie in a photo and report in a newsletter about his Assembly bill, A07060. “Getting the medical marijuana program started quickly would provide the treatment she and many other young people in New York need to lead healthier, more productive lives,” he wrote. The Assembly bill would “prescribe procedures for such possession, acquisition, including certification of patients by their practitioner, and that, in the practitioner’s professional judgment, the patient would receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from use of medical marijuana.” Two months ago, Cuomo signed the bill authorizing emergency access. The state health department was supposed to implement the program six months after the dispensaries were granted their licenses. Despite the governor’s approval, New York state and the other states are in conflict with the federal government, which hasn’t approved medical marijuana nationwide. Plus, it’s not legal to transport marijuana across state lines. Supporters of medical marijuana point to a purer and milder variety of cannabis that does not cause addic-

Mackenzie Kulawy, right, draws on the support of family members that include, from left, her grandmother, Patricia Reed; sister Kaitlyn Kulawy; and her mother, Julie Kulaway. Mackenzie also has a therapy dog, Bella. tion or bizarre behavior. The drug is produced with low quantities of THC, pot’s psychoactive ingredient, and would be administered via a pill, spray or oil only. Reed has a background in healthcare management and has followed the effort in other parts of the nation to legalize medical marijuana. “There has not been any recent research in this country on the use of medical marijuana due to federal law classifying marijuana as a class 1 drug [above heroin, which is a class 2 drug],” explained Reed. Reed said the hemp variety could be immensely useful to Mackenzie and thousands of other patients ill with life-threatening diseases. Of the 23 states and the District of Columbia that have passed laws to allow access to medical marijuana, Colorado has the most generous application. In 2014, it began allowing residents to purchase marijuana in small quantities for personal and recreational use from authorized dealers.

Cuomo inserted a provision that the marijuana only be available in the form of pills, oils and vapors and cannot be smoked. Reed said Mackenzie’s family was disheartened to learn that medical marijuana would not be produced locally. In addition, the state has apparently pushed back the start of the delivery of the medication from January until next March. “That would be a travesty,” she said. Mackenzie had to drop out of New York Mills Central School last April due to her seizures. “I miss school,” she said. “I miss my friends.” Mackenzie gets tutoring at home from her grandmother and mom. Julie Kulawy is an RN who is employed by the Mohawk Valley Health System at the St. Luke’s campus. Reed retired to help care for her granddaughter. Mackenzie’s mother, meanwhile, underwent radiation treatment for breast cancer in July, but has returned to work.

Brightwaters Farms makes pot pitch


nthony Quintal Jr.’s family has been in the farming business, growing ornamental plants and some vegetables since the 1600s on Long Island. Brightwaters Farms also acquired a farm in the Catskill region several years ago. Then in 2014, a realtor contacted Quintal and asked him if he would be interested in purchasing the old Baker Greenhouses property on Herkimer

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • September 2015

Road in Utica. Brightwaters, which remains headquartered on Bayshore, Long Island, now has three farms, but each one is locally managed. Quintal said he has 1 million square feet of growing space, making it the largest farm in New York state capable of growing marijuana. It is also a very secure site, he noted, thanks to its indoor loading docks that are locked

Continued on Page 9

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