in good Frozen foods: Are they nutritious? Page 8
Time to get your purr on! Page 15
Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper
March 2013 • Issue 85
Falling Flat on Facebook
Is popular social network ruining your relationship? See Page 5
Teen Suicide IGH series continues See Page 12
Men: Looking for love? Go where women are! Page 7 Depression in men: Get out of that funk! Page 6 Get ‘In Good Health’ at home. See coupon inside
Food & Nutrition Special Edition • The benefits of milk: See Page 8 • Eat healthy while staying on a budget: See Page 9 March 2013 •
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper
Dr. Graber is pleased to welcome Gregory Dalencourt, MD to the practice
Got a health-related activity or event that you would like publicized? Call Lou Sorendo at 315-749-7070 or email email@example.com.
Dr. Dalencourt is now seeing new patients for surgical consultation for those considering weight loss surgery
Our program has successfully met the highest standards set forth by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and is recognized as an ASMBS Center of Excellence. Surgeries are performed at Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica, and at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse. Dr. Graber is the Director of Bariatric Surgery at both hospitals.
To ﬁnd out more, visit DrGraberMD.com or call 877-269-0355 to discuss how we might help you in your search to ﬁnd a healthier you!
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Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in men and women. It is also one of the most preventable with proper screenings. In recognition of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Rome Memorial Hospital is offering free screening test kits that will provide at home results in two minutes. Men and women 50 and older can pick up a free kit from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekday in March, at Mohawk Valley Radiation Medicine, 107 E. Chestnut St., suite #103. Test kits will also be available each weekday in March at: • Boonville Family Care, 13407 state Route 12, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Smokers: Let’s make a ‘Fresh Start’ The Tri-County Quits Tobacco Cessation Program is offering a three-part Fresh Start class to help participants stop smoking. The Fresh Start program is a groupbased tobacco cessation support program offered by the American Cancer Society. Classes will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 5, 12 and 19 at the Regional Cancer Center at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare, 1676 Sunset Ave., Utica. The Fresh Start program is designed to help individuals quit smoking by providing essential information, skills for coping with cravings and group support. The Tri-County Quits Tobacco Cessation Program works throughout Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties to support healthcare providers and organizations with training and technical assistance that promotes quitting smoking. For more information or to register, call the Tri-County Quits Tobacco Cessation Program at 315-624-5639.
Seniors sign language class slated A seniors sign language class will be held from 6:30-7:30 Mondays from March 11 to April 8 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Whitesboro. Participants must be over 55 years old. This class is designed for older adults to learn the basics of sign language. Call Nancy at 736-6872 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for registration information by March 5.
Attorney at Law
Ilion’s weekly year-round farmers’ market features natural healthful local foods. These include grass-fed beef, lamb, pork, bacon, free-range chicken eggs, non-homogenized fresh milk, yogurt, cheese from grass-fed Guernsey cows, and an in-depth array of Amish and Mennonite jarred foods, raw honey, maple syrup, gluten-free baked goods and regular Amish baked goods made with butter, lard and natural ingredients. The market if featured from noon to 6 p.m. Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays at Parker’s Historic Clapsaddle Farm, Route 51, 437 Otsego St., Ilion. The Mohawk Valley Historic Association sponsors the market. For more information, call 8944660.
Dan Silverman, LCSWR
Over 38 Years Experience • Prompt • Personal • Professional INCLUDING • Personal Injury • Real Estate • General Practice
Ilion features year-round farmers’ market
• Camden Family Care, 5 Masonic Ave., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are not required. The EZ DETECT test is designed to detect blood in the stool that can be caused by bleeding ulcers, hemorrhoids, colitis, diverticulitis, fissures or cancer of the colon. The American Cancer Society recommends that both men and women at average risk should begin colorectal screenings at age 50. For additional information about the screening, call 338-0897.
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • March 2013
You can learn about colorectal health Colon cancer is the third most common cancer—excluding skin can-
Continued on Page 17
Flu strains Mohawk Valley Influenza hits Mohawk Valley region with a fury By Patricia J. Malin
f you’ve been listening to some typically alarming reports coming from mass media, this year’s influenza epidemic has been as scary as the science-fiction movie, “Contagion,” thanks to an earlier and longer flu season than normal, an ineffective vaccine, spotty shortages of the vaccine and “widespread” outbreaks throughout the United States. If the media, healthcare providers or your doctors haven’t shamed you into getting your flu shot yet, perhaps you will be able to avoid getting sick. However, there is a legitimate concern for the flu’s impact on seniors over age 65, pregnant women and children. The timing and severity of flu seasons can be highly unpredictable. Between 1976 and 2007, the number of deaths per season due to the virus ranged from 3,000 to 49,000. From Oct. 1 to Feb. 9, 8,953 people have been hospitalized with influenza symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said 64 children have died from influenza in 2012-2013. Adult deaths from the “A” or “B” strain or from pneumonia and influenza are more difficult to track and states are not required to report these deaths. Generally, 90 percent of deaths from flu are among people older than age 65. The CDC took statistics from 122 cities and said 9.1 percent of all deaths in week six were due to flu, but it did not give a specific number. This percentage was above the epidemic threshold of 7.5 percent for week six. However, the CDC said reports of flu declined for the third consecutive week as of Feb. 9, and it’s “likely that influenza-like illness has peaked” in the U.S. In New York state, the outbreak is now considered “low,” except in New York City. In the Mohawk Valley, where the flu season generally runs from October through April, this one has been on a record-breaking pace. In December, Oneida County had
the highest incidence of flu cases in New York state. The Oneida County Health Department began tracking the outbreak last fall. By Nov. 23, the number of flu cases had quadrupled to 562 and there were as many as 70 to 80 new cases a day. “To put this in perspective, the entire 2011-2012 flu season saw a total of 329 confirmed cases reported to the health department,” said Patrice Bogan, the county’s interim director of health. As of Feb. 19, Oneida County has had 1,609 confirmed cases of flu, but the worst appears over. “We have seen a drastic decline in newly reported cases since the second week of January,” said Ken Fanelli, public information officer for the health department.
Do as I say, not as I do?
As much as the hospitals and health department warn the public about the need to get the flu shot to protect themselves, the public doesn’t know what’s going on behind closed doors as the hospitals quietly battle the illness. If an individual goes to the emergency room or to an urgent care center for treatment of flu symptoms, how does he or she know if they are in safe hands? In New York state, hospital staffers are not required to get inoculated. Basically, no facility can mandate employees to get a flu shot because it’s not required by the New York State Department of Health. Rome Memorial Hospital President and CEO Basil J. Ariglio said he would support a state or federal mandate requiring healthcare employees to be immunized against the flu. However, more than 90 percent of Rome Hospital employees were vaccinated against the flu, according to infection prevention director LeAnna Grace. “Employees working in patient care areas who have not been vaccinated are required to wear a mask to protect themselves and our patients,”
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she said. “Those who choose not to be immunized are also required to sign a declination form.” Sandy Parsons, employee health manager at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica, said the hospital vaccinated 967 employees, or more than 50 percent (618 clinical positions, 349 non-clinical, plus volunteers, medical staff and contracted personnel) as of late January. She said the vaccination rate might be higher because some employees received flu shots from their own medical providers or other places of employment. However, even nurses will come up with the same excuses as patients when it comes to declining the flu shot. One of the most common is, “I’m afraid of needles,” said Parsons, or “the only time I got the flu shot, I got sick.” At Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica, a good majority of staffers and employees have complied with the request to get a flu shot: 65 percent of clinical workers and 67 percent of nonclinical. Carol Spinella, an RN who works at Faxton-St. Luke’s and part-time at Slocum-Dickson Medical Group in New Hartford, said she has never needed a flu shot in 21 years on the job, “knock on wood.” She emphasizes the hospital cannot force a healthcare worker to get a vaccine any more than it can demand it from the public. Spinella will protect herself while working around patients who are already sick or have compromised immune systems. “I always wear a mask when I’m in cardiology,” she said. But when she leaves her job and goes out into public, she said the responsibility falls on those who have the flu to protect themselves from spreading germs by wearing a mask.
The mercury factor
A nurse on one nursing blog (allnurses.com) commented that she opposed the flu shot because of its ingredients, including mercury and
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preservatives. Yet mercury is found in the natural environment and in fish. Actually a flu vaccine known as thiomersal contains ethylmercury, but it has been used in medicines and vaccines for decades in the U.S. and is regarded as safe. Thiomersal is added to vials of vaccine that contain more than one dose to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi in the event that they get into the vaccine. Parsons said SEMC uses a non-thiomersal vaccine. Three U.S. states mandate that all healthcare workers be vaccinated. Though it’s compulsory in Rhode Island, it hasn’t stopped more than 1,000 workers from signing a petition opposing the policy and getting a labor union to file a lawsuit. In Indiana recently, Goshen Hospital issued a mandatory policy stating that all employees must be vaccinated by Dec. 19. In early January, the hospital fired eight nurses because they refused to take the flu shot. Some of the fired employees sought exemptions for medical or health reasons, for example, because of concerns about allergic reactions, but not all exemptions were approved. Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas has required flu shots for employees since 2009. The Houston Chronicle reported that about 280, or 2 percent, of Methodist’s 14,000 employees were granted medical or religious exemptions from the vaccination this season. Nevertheless, a hospital spokeswoman said some employees have been fired for not getting a shot or an exemption. The CDC is responsible for tracking illnesses and coming up with a flu vaccine. Based on its studies of previous flu seasons, the CDC identifies as many as three flu strains it expects to see in a given year and then makes recommendations to manufacturers to formulate a vaccine. This year’s vaccine, though, is said to be only 60 percent effective. A strain identified as H3N2 showed up unexpectedly this year after the flu vaccine was formulated and is proving to be the most harmful.
March 2013 •
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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper
Little Falls Hospital buoyed by grant
ittle Falls Hospital has been awarded a grant of $100,000 in support of the construction and development of the Bassett Heart Institute LFH. This project is a component of the broad capital improvement that will enable LFH to meet growth in demand for outpatient care and facilitate emergency care. The grant was made possible by The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc., the Douglas J. Grant Fund; Frank, Mame and J. Lansing Reed Fund; & Ruth Begent Fund and the Wesley & Marion Small Fund. The Bassett Heart Care Institute is a component of the $12.3 million project that will enhance other areas of the hospital including the surgical area and operating rooms, radiology, physical and occupational therapy, and electrical service. LFH, Herkimer County’s only hospital and part of the Bassett Healthcare Network, is embarking on a major expansion and renovation project to upgrade its facility in order to accommodate a double-digit increase in the demand for outpatient services and continue to meet the needs of the region it serves. The project will improve access and the overall patient experience by enhancing the hospital’s surgical suite as well as radiology, cardiology, and rehabilitation services. LFH handles 14,000-15,000 emergency visits every year, performs over 80,000 lab tests, handles over 10,000 physical therapy sessions, and provides more than 1,000 outpatient surgeries. The hospital serves an estimated population of 54,000 people living in Herkimer County and parts of Fulton and Montgomery counties.
Whitesboro man wins 2013 Harley-Davidson
illiam Wiley of Whitesboro is the winner of Sitrin’s 17th annual Harley-Davidson fundraiser. Wiley rode away on a 2013 Street Glide FLHX, which has been the top selling bike for more than six years. It is valued at $20,094 and features the twin cam 103 engine. The drawing was held recently at Sitrin Medical Rehabilitation Center in New Hartford. This year’s fundraiser was a sell-out. A total of 4,250 tickets were sold at $10 each. Proceeds from the fundraiser benefit the Sitrin Medical Rehabilitation Center, a nonprofit corporation. Sitrin provides a variety of comprehensive medical rehabilitation services for children and adults, including the STARS adaptive sports program for people with physical disabilities.
By Lou Sorendo
Michelle M. Johnston Michelle M. Johnston is the co-owner of Adirondack Pain Management, PLLC in Utica. She specializes in anesthesiology and pain management. Recently, Mohawk Valley In Good Health Associate Editor Lou Sorendo interviewed Johnston regarding her profession. Q.: What exactly does a pain management specialist do? A.: A pain specialist is a doctor who manages a patient’s pain. We can have different backgrounds to start off with and then must do specialized training in this field. My background is in anesthesiology. I became interested in this aspect while I was training at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. I then did a yearlong fellowship learning how to manage a patient’s pain. We use many things to help a patient with their pain depending on what the underlying problem is. We use many different modalities to help with pain, such as medications, prescribing physical therapy or occupational therapy, injection therapy, etc. Sometimes we recommend that a patient consider surgery and then we make the appropriate referral to a surgeon. Q.: Are there any particular approaches to pain management that you prefer over others? A.: I prefer to engage the patient in multimodal therapy. You have to treat the whole person. I find this helps the most in getting a patient’s pain under control. Q.: Why did you choose pain management as your medical specialty? What motivated you to enter this specialty? A.: I chose pain management as I found it very rewarding when I did it as part of my anesthesia residency. I like the continuity of care that is something that usually isn’t a part of an anesthesia practice, where you take care of people once and most likely won’t see them again. I like seeing patients over time and making a positive impact by helping them manage their pain. Q.: Are you trained in any other specialties? A.: I am also trained in anesthesia, which I still continue to practice. This also ties into pain management as I am helping to make women comfortable as they give birth. Q.: What are the most challenging aspects of your specialty? How about the most gratifying? A.: The most challenging aspect of my practice is constantly striving to reduce a patient’s pain. Unfortunately this does not mean making a patient pain free. Often times because of their chronic disease, this is not realistic. We try our best and work with the patient to come up with a treatment plan that works the best for him or her. The most gratifying part of my practice
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • March 2013
is when we achieve this and allow the patient to live his or her life with less pain. It’s gratifying to see them control the pain instead of the pain controlling them. Q.: Is pain management a popular specialty choice among medical stu-
dents today? A.: Medical students cannot choose pain management as their specialty per se but can access it through another residency, such as anesthesia, physical medicine and rehabilitation. Traditionally, medical students did not get good training on how to manage a patient’s pain. However, that is changing as pain is now the “fifth vital sign.” Q.: What skill sets are necessary to master being an effective pain management specialist? A.: For skill sets, I believe that you have to be a good listener. Each patient has a different story to tell. Each patient has pain affecting his or her life differently. A pain management doctor has to be comfortable with the multiple medications available to help with pain relief. If the specialist like myself does invasive procedures, they have to know the indications and contraindications of these and be good with their hands so they can give the
Continued on Page 14
Lifelines Age: 42 Birthplace: Syracuse Education: Bachelor of Arts in chemistry, Hartwick College, Oneonta, graduated magna cum laude in May of 1992; medical degree, State University of New York Health Science Center at Syracuse, graduated magna cum laude in May of 1996 Affiliations: Business partner in Adirondack Pain Management, PLLC with Kurt Foxton, who also practices anesthesia and pain management; member of the American Society of Anesthesiology; member of the New York State Society of Anesthesiology Personal: Married to Ronald Johnston, police officer; daughters Ashley, 15, and Brittany, 11 Hobbies: Spending time with family and friends; traveling; skiing and spending time in the Adirondacks
The Facebook Factor Can Facebook doom your relationship? By Barbara Pierce
ne out of three divorce filings mentioned the word Facebook, according to a British legal service. Facebook helps people connect like nothing else. But as it connects us, can it also tear us apart? Most divorce attorneys would say yes, most definitely, yes. Facebook is the leading culprit in more and more divorces. More and more relationships end because of Facebook. So many people, so many temptations. That’s obvious. But the top Facebook mentions in divorce were the same: inappropriate messages to “friends” of the opposite sex, and cruel posts between separated spouses. Sometimes, Facebook friends would tattle to one partner in a relationship about bad behavior by the other. “Affairs happen with a lightning speed on Facebook,” says an article in The Wall Street Journal. “In the real world, office romances can take months to develop. On Facebook, they happen in just a few clicks. The social network both re-connects old flames and allows people to ‘friend’ someone they may only have met once in passing. It puts temptation in the path of people who would never in a million years risk having an affair.” Add to this that people feel bolder behind a screen than in person, people still foolishly believe that “what happens on Facebook, stays on Facebook,” people type and press “send” faster than common sense can kick in, and people feed off the rush they’re feeling rather than rationally thinking about what they’re doing. This is a recipe for disaster, and it happens at quantum speed on Facebook. Greg Kovacs, licensed marriage and family therapist of The Samaritan Counseling Center of the Mohawk Valley, sees it this way: “We now have text messaging, cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, and email. We can traverse vast distances physically and virtually. We come in contact with hundreds of people each day—each with different perspectives, values, and opinions. Certainly, exposure to such diversity offers vibrancy and healthy challenges.
But this assaults our psychological moorings.” Those psychological moorings are what give stability to relationships. They keep us together during the tough times. When they are assaulted, our relationships will suffer, maybe even end. “You can’t blame Facebook for divorce, but it will exploit cracks that are already there,” says relationship expert Charles J. Orlando, online. Before your relationship status takes a turn toward “It’s complicated,” try these strategies to protect your relationship. • Avoid airing your dirty laundry. Oversharing relationship problems with others in a chat is not advisable. Divulging relationship issues creates intimacy with that person. In a chat session, things can quickly evolve from sharing about a current, bad relationship to setting a foundation for starting a new relationship. “I actually closed my Facebook account. lt was causing issues in my relationship and there was just too much drama with everyone commenting on everything you say and putting in their 2 cents. I just decided that it was doing more harm and causing more problems and drama then anything,” said Jenn on Circleofmoms.com. • Disengage from exes: “People rarely have pure intentions when they seek out exes,” says Orlando. His
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simple advice: “De-friend, disassociate, disengage.” The protection of the Internet allows for more forward, intimate conversation than you might have in person. And that can undermine your current relationship. Seeing what an old friend is up to is part of the fun of Facebook. But— and here’s the important part—only if your partner is OK with it. If you know your partner would be upset to see an old flame on your friends list, ignoring a friend request is the right move. It may not be a big deal to add friends from the past, but it may be a really bad deal for the relationship. • Connect in real life. Support each other online, but don’t let it replace
how you communicate. If you and your spouse gush about each other online, but then barely have a conversation when you’re in the same room, make an effort to connect in real life. Communicating in real life is the glue that creates relationships. It is the glue that holds them together. “Never let anything substitute for a real life connection in your relationship,” says Orlando. “Our relationships suffer when we put a Facebook friend ahead of our families and closest friends,” says Kovacs. It’s easy to get so swept up in your logged life that you prioritize it over your relationship. You have to learn balance so you don’t end up losing connections with the people you care about most. • Consider designating tech-free times in your home, whether it’s during dinner, after 8 p.m., or every Sunday. Times that you can connect in real life. Sheila O’Dea felt Facebook was becoming too much of a habit, so she quit. “It’s funny, it’s called a social networking site, but we are sort of disconnecting,” she said online. “It is mass communicating, but we are losing something -- we are losing our interpersonal skills.” “If you want to figure out who you are, spend some time talking, face-to-face, with your family,” advises Kovacs. “Yes, I want to be your Facebook friend,” concludes Kovacs. “But I also want to shake your hand and share a smile. And then I want to go home and have dinner with my family.”
in a Professional Medical Environment • Many Different Types of Pain Treated • Several Noninvasive & Invasive Methods
Adirondack Kurt Foxton, M.D. Michelle Johnston, M.D. Lorina Aiello, N.P. Welcoming Lisa Holmes, NP 110 Lomond Court, Utica (315) 292-1264 March 2013 •
Pain Management Accepting New Patients
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper
Men’s Health Between You and Me
By Barbara Pierce
Men and depression “
Every opportunity I had, I blew it,” said 55-year-old Bruce, with a huge sigh. “I’ve made so many dumb decisions---all of my life.” Bruce had come to see me because of these concerns he had about himself. “I’m self destructing all the time,” he continued. “I’m my own worst enemy.” As soon as we sat down, he spilled out the life-long list of how he had blown all the opportunities he had. And all the bad decisions he had made. What he said didn’t fit with how he presented himself. Attractive, well built, he looked like someone who had it together. He was bright, expressed himself well, friendly, open, and very likeable. He had been married to the same woman for 30 years and said their marriage was great. He liked his job at Lowe’s, played golf on his days off, and Pierce lived in a nice home. On the surface, it looked like he had it all. But he wasn’t sleeping well, he no longer felt like working on the woodworking equipment he had in his garage, and he was irritable and anxious. He wasn’t thinking of killing himself, but he wasn’t too keen on living. Under the surface was a desperately unhappy man. A man who had been unhappy for
many years. A man with depression. A few days before he called me, he had discussed his symptoms with his primary physician, who prescribed an anti-depressant. But Bruce read the warning label, read about all the possible side effects, and was not about to take the medication. By talking with his doctor about his feelings of sadness, and by talking with me about it, his spirits began to lift. He felt hopeful just by admitting how he felt.
Advice to be happy by
I shared with Bruce the things that I know will help depression. • Get exercise every day, whatever you can muster doing—walk, run, bike, hit golf balls. • Get out in the sun as much as possible. If you must be inside, sit near a window. • Cut down on the coffee, none after noon, so you will sleep better. • Eliminate sugar and junk food from your diet • Eliminate any alcohol. • Watch a funny movie, make yourself laugh • Listen to music you enjoy. Then I explained how the thoughts that run through our mind—the automatic thoughts—have profound significance. Thoughts are not just abstract
mental activity; they are concrete events that can be observed on a PET (positron emission tomography) scan of your brain. When your thoughts are negative and depressing, your brain as seen on a PET scan will be different from that of a normal, non-depressed brain. Your brain chemistry will be different from that of a person who is not depressed. So when you change your thoughts from negative to positive, your brain chemistry will change. It will change for the better, so that you do not have feelings of sadness. An incredible experiment proved this dramatically. When you are depressed, it’s hard to smile. So scientists had subjects hold a pencil in
their mouth. Holding a pencil between their lips forced their mouths into a fake smile. That fake smile changed the chemistry of their brain so that they were no longer depressed. Likewise, saying positive statements, such as “I feel pretty good today” “I feel quite happy about myself” “In fact, I’m feeling really great right now,” will change the chemistry of your brain. Even if you have absolutely no belief in those statements. If you just say them, they will change the chemistry of your brain. What Bruce was doing by thinking negative things about himself, by saying things like “I’ve blown it, I’m my own worst enemy,” etc. etc. he was putting the chemistry of his brain into a depressed state. So he agreed to give some things a try. He would catch himself when he said self-deprecating, negative things and change them into positive statements. He would say the fake sentences. He would force himself to watch funny movies and laugh. And talk with his physician about his concerns about medication. Next time I saw Bruce, he greeted me with a big smile. He confirmed that his mood was so much better, and his life felt better in every way. • 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?” contact her at BarbaraPierce06@yahoo.com, or contact her if you have any concerns you would like her to address.
Ski challenge raises dollars for Sitrin program
hanks to the support of the local community, more than $4,000 was raised through the 23rd annual Cross Country Ski Challenge, held recently in Boonville. More than 35 participants hit the trails, and brought in donations and pledges to support Sitrin’s adaptive ski program. Participants included Alli Morgan of Whitesboro and Shawn Cheshire of Syracuse, who are both training for the biathlon.
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • March 2013
“Funds raised through this event allow us to provide individuals of varying abilities the opportunity to participate in the sport recreationally or on a competitive level,” said James V. Wallace, director of physical therapy at Sitrin and adaptive biathlon coach. Proceeds will help purchase equipment for the athletes, including sit-ski frames, skis, and mountain boards, which are specifically adapted for each person’s abilities.
Finding love for men It’s simple: Go where the women are By Barbara Pierce
I just can’t find anyone I really want to be with,” said 37-yearold Mike Cinelli. “I do want have someone in my life, maybe even get married. I just can’t find anyone.” “Sure, I want to be with someone,” said 42-year-old Bob Dwyer. “But I’m too busy to look. I meet women to hang out with, but someone I would live with? That’s hard. That takes time.” Like Cinelli and Dwyer, are you looking for more than a short-term sex partner? If you really want to be in a relationship, you will succeed if you make it your priority to find someone. Like you did to find a job. Go where the single women are. Go for volume to find the one who is right for you. For example, if you Google “Meetups near Utica,” you’ll find a long list of singles activities. There are dances, kayaking, cross-country skiing, social networking events, and small events. Single women love these things, and they usually outnumber men. If you go to one meetup and don’t like it, try another. And another. “We use Meetup as a way for people to learn about us and see what events we provide to our members,” said Christine Ames, president, Chapter 796 of Parents Without Partners, Single Parents of the Capital District. “We are the largest PWP chapter in the northeast region with 170 members.” The group is evenly divided between parents with children at home and older singles, over 55. Singles groups at churches are good for meeting marriage partners, says Wikibooks online, in a blog called “Where Couples Met.” Where you work is one of the best places to meet someone. Look around your work place. If all you see is other males, consider changing jobs, or even careers.
What are friends for?
Friends are the best way to meet someone. Let all your friends, relatives,
and neighbors know you’re looking. Then remind them from time to time. They all have a network of people, one of whom might become single at any time. Sure, they all have a weird cousin they want to set you up with, but go for the “screen-her-in” approach. With the screen-her-in approach, you meet anyone who might be a remote possibility. You meet her for coffee. In a few minutes, you may not be able to tell whether you have met your soul mate, but it’s usually enough time to tell you have not. If you’re not sure, see her a second time. Give a second chance to anyone who interests you in the least little bit. The idea is to screen her in, not out. Family members are good for helping you meet potential marriage partners. Take your mom to the Sons of Italy festival, the Purim carnival, or an Irish festival. She’ll find half a dozen mothers with daughters for you to meet. Parties and bars are good places to meet people, both for long-term relationships and short-term sex, says
Walk-run event drums up funds to fight heart disease
undreds of people joined the American Heart Association recently to fight against America’s #1 killer at the Rome Indoor Walk/Run and Pre-Registration for America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk. A total of 219 people took part in the event, raising $20,641 to fight heart disease and stroke. The event was held at Rome Free Academy and sponsored by Rome Memorial Hospital.
America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk Weekend’s fundraising goal is $1,143,000. It is scheduled for March 1-2 in Utica. A minimum amount of $25 in pledges for participants 18 years and older is required at registration to participate in the event. For more information, contact the AHA at 315-266-5403 or visit www. uticaheartrunwalk.org.
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Wikibooks. Don’t turn down any invitation to a party; a party at a friend’s ranks much higher than a bar for finding a long-term relationship. Take an acting class, advises Wikibooks. Actresses are interesting, fun, unconventional—and beautiful. You’ll develop confidence in expressing emotions. Acting classes will make you more attractive to women.
Reveal softer side
Acting or creative writing classes show you each student’s inner character. The gorgeous woman that you lusted after from day one will read a poem that makes you gag. The woman you didn’t notice for the first three weeks will perform a scene that moves your heart. Mohawk Valley Community College offers a class on acting in films. And check out all its other classes in subjects that maybe outside your box, like creative writing, dance, art and theater classes. Go where women are.
Grab your dog and go to a dog training class. Classes are small and people do make friends there, said Judy Curtin, training director for the Humane Society of Rome. Call Curtin at 315-866-6772 for details. Dogs are great for attracting women; sit on a bench, your dog at your feet and the women will be swarming. Take a class in something that’s not macho because that’s where the women are, such as cooking, writing, or dance. “My experience has been that I don’t meet women doing things I’m good at, like running marathons or designing circuit boards,” according to an author on the Wikibooks blog. “I meet more women—and the women are interested in me—when I do something I’m bad at, e.g., dance classes. Women like men who aren’t afraid to show their soft and vulnerable side.” Meeting online is the third best way to meet someone, says Match.com. This is definitely a way that works for more and more people. Whatever you try, have fun. And make it your priority. You will succeed.
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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper
Food & Nutrition
Facts about frozen foods Are they a dieter’s best friend? Or not? By Barbara Pierce
esto pasta primavera, lime cilantro shrimp, chicken Florentine, roasted beef merlot, pumpkin squash ravioli. Not only do they sound good; these frozen entrees taste wonderful. Frozen dinners can be a dieter’s best friend, and with good reason. Frozen dinners can rescue you when you’re too tired to cook and can save you when you get home late with nothing to eat in the house. They are fast, convenient, and inexpensive. They come in a huge variety of delicious sounding choices. Wilkins They are pre-portioned, so you don’t have to worry about overeating. With a Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice or Weight Watchers meal before you, you know the proper portion sizes have already been laid out for you. And where else can you enjoy chicken tenderloins, cornbread stuffing and whipped potatoes with just five grams of fat and 240 calories? However, there is a downside to stocking up on frozen foods. “Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine meals can be convenient and lower in calories,” said Crystal Wilkins, a certified dietitian-nutritionist from Mohawk. “But they can contain a significant amount of sodium.”
“To achieve a palatable meal, sodium and chemicals need to be added,” said Alessandra Kershaw, registered dietitian at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica.
Little do dieters know they’re pouring some serious salt into their weightloss wounds. A typical frozen entrée can be loaded with sodium. “Meals like Banquet and Stouffers can contain up to 1,600 milligrams of sodium per meal,” said Wilkins. “It is recommended you limit your sodium intake to less than 2,400 milligrams a day. Keep this in mind when choosing frozen meals.” It is important to read the fine print. Before you toss those “healthy” frozen meals into your shopping cart, be sure to go over the nutrition label with a fine-toothed comb. “Always read the label Kershaw to see fat, sodium and calorie content along with serving size and number of servings,” Kershaw advises. Select frozen meals that have no more than 800 milligrams of sodium. If you can find meals that are labeled with reduced sodium or heart-healthy, that’s even better. Too much sodium is problematic for individuals with high blood pressure or other health conditions that necessitate a low-salt diet. Also, if you are dieting, choose frozen entrees of no more than 300 calories if you are a woman, or 400 if you are a man, recommends Heather Bauer, registered dietitian, in her book, “Bread is the Devil.” Bauer, who has more enthusiasm about frozen entrees than either Kershaw or Wilkins, identifies her favorites in her book. She chooses the following entrees because they are at the low end of the sodium range, and because they are more flavorful, healthy, and satisfying.
By Anne Palumbo
The skinny on healthy eating
Bones’ Best Friend
ilk consumption falls by the wayside for many adults. Although we drink it as kids and encourage our own kids to drink it, many of us seem to lose that loving feeling for milk as we grow older. It’s unfortunate: milk is loaded with nutrients that aging bodies need. Milk is an excellent source of calcium, an important mineral that builds healthy bones and teeth, maintains Page 8
bone mass, regulates heart rhythm and facilitates nerve transmissions. One cup of milk provides about 30 percent of our daily needs, which equals as much calcium as 10 cups of raw spinach. Vitamin D is equally important for bone health, and milk’s a winner in that department, too, providing about 25 percent of our daily needs. Simply stated, vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, which is essential for strong,
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • March 2013
Go-to frozen dinners
The frozen dinners that Bauer prefers: From Kashi: black bean mango, lime cilantro shrimp, or sweet and sour chicken; most of the offerings of Amy’s brand; Organic Bistro’s salmon and chicken entrees, and Trader Joe’s tilapia, macaroni and cheese, and chicken tikka masala. Most of these brands taste better when cooked in a toaster oven, says Bauer. It reduces cooking time over a conventional oven, but takes longer than in a microwave oven. Both Kershaw and Wilkins say you can’t go wrong by making your own meals ahead of time and freezing them in proper portions. And freeze any leftovers you may in one-portion healthy bones. According to Georgia Gianopoulous, a dietitian at the Weill Cornell Medical Center, “Consuming adequate calcium and vitamin D helps protect against osteoporosis and lowers the risk of bone fractures.” More good reasons to down this nutrient-dense drink: Milk teems with protein (about 8 grams per cup) and phosphorous, two additional nutrients that, among other benefits, contribute to strong bones. And, it’s a very good source of riboflavin, a B vitamin that helps convert food to energy. Last but not least, milk has as much potassium as one small banana (good for regulating blood pressure) and a good amount of vitamin A, a powerhouse vitamin essential for growth, eyesight and healthy skin. You might be wondering: Will consuming more than the daily recommended amount of milk (three cups)
servings so they will be convenient to pull out and reheat. “Use frozen meals only when absolutely necessary,” Kershaw cautioned. And avoid having multiple processed foods in one day. Limit your frozen entrée to either lunch or dinner, not both. Consume everything in moderation and do not overdo any one food or food type, she recommends. If you choose to eat frozen meals, both Wilkins and Kershaw suggest you add a salad and a serving of fruit to your meal. This will help to fill you up and will add necessary vitamins, minerals and fiber to your meal. “As in all aspects of health and nutrition, moderation is the key,” Wilkins added. protect my bones even more? Recent studies at Harvard suggest not. Also: Will drinking warm milk make me sleepy? Drinking warm milk before bed may help you relax, but there is not enough tryptophan (a precursor to melatonin) in a normal serving of milk to cause any real drowsiness.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food & Nutrition The Balanced Body
By Deb Dittner
Healthy eating on a budget Follow these guidelines and you can save at the register
imes are economically tight for everyone these days. Every time you take a trip to the grocery store, the prices have risen but your paycheck has not. So, how can you continue to eat healthy and still maintain a reasonable budget? Cutting corners does not mean purchasing cheaper items consisting of a lower quality processed food. That would not be treating our body well at all. Cutting corners does not mean stopping at a fast food restaurant and purchasing the value meal Dittner which may consist of a low quality meat product topped with iceberg lettuce and a pale slice of genetically modified tomato, all on a white enriched bun, fried potatoes with catsup, and a sugary soda. Again, what happened to the healthy meals that our bodies so desperately need to keep us fueled and free of diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure? Cutting corners does not mean we cannot eat well. Some may perceive that in order to eat a healthy diet, we need to spend a lot of money. Not necessarily so! It is feasible to buy wholesome foods while sticking to a tight budget. Here are a number of ways to save. • Start cooking at home. It doesn’t need to be gourmet but it does need to consist of whole foods with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit and whole grains. Home cooking also helps to rid of the processed and already-prepared foods which are much more costly. Here in the kitchen, we teach our children life skills, we nourish our bodies, and we encourage ever-lasting bonds with our family. On weekends, prepare for the week by making one or two meals that can also be a dinner or two throughout the week. Slice and dice veggies ahead of time, prepare sauces, freeze parts of or whole meals that can be defrosting throughout the day and ready to heat when home from work and school. • Joining community supported agriculture not only provides you with
high-quality foods such as vegetables, fruits, meat and eggs, but also helps the economy since you are purchasing products locally produced, keeping our farmers in business. Local farmers work hard providing fresh, simple ingredients. • Take a trip to the health food store or go to the health food section in your local grocery store. There you can purchase items in bulk that generally cost less than the pre-packaged counterpart such as oats, rice, dried beans, and dried fruit, nuts, flour, and a multitude of other items. Buy only the amount that you need and follow your grocery list. • Pack your own lunch for school or work instead of eating in the cafeteria, deli or other establishment. Take leftovers from the previous evening meal, make soups and salads that transport well, and don’t forget the natural peanut butter and jelly on whole grain bread. • Supplement meat protein with lean bean protein like legumes. Purchasing dry beans especially in bulk cuts the cost dramatically while providing vegetable protein, fiber, iron, folate, carbohydrates and more. Prepare your dry beans by soaking the amount to be cooked the night before. This also allows for better digestibility. Beans can then be cooked either throughout the day, in a slow cooker, or in a pressure cooker. • Drink more water while cutting back on sugary juices, soda, and other bottled beverages. Our bodies are made up of more than 70 percent water and needs replacing. Don’t like the taste of water? Consider adding slices of lemon, lime or orange, mint leaves, or cucumber slices—so refreshing! Also adding essential oils such as lemon, orange, or lime also helps with detoxifying the body. • Plan ahead! Before heading to the grocery store, plan a menu for the week and stick to the items on your list. Over the weekend, browse through cookbooks to see what you and your family can cook up during the week. Often you’ll find that you have a good majority of the ingredients and just need to purchase the fresh foods to start the week off on the right path.
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Here’s to saving money and eating all the nutritious foods that our bodies so well deserve! • Deborah Dittner is a family
nurse practitioner who specializes in Reiki and holistic nutrition. Check out her website at www.The-BalancedBody.com.
Macular Degeneration Dr. George Kornfeld uses miniaturized binoculars or telescopes to help those with vision loss keep reading, writing, driving and maintaining independence. By Elana Lombardi Freelance Writer
Just because you have macular degeneration or other eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy doesn’t mean you must give up driving. “People don’t know that there are doctors who are very experienced in low vision care.”Dr.George Kornfeld, a low vision optometrist. Bonnie was helped with two pairs of glasses: Special $475 prismatic glasses let her read the newspaper and bioptic telescopes helped her distance vision.
Low vision patient, Bonnie Demuth, with Bioptic Telescope
March 2013 •
“My new telescopic glasses make it much easier to read signs at a distance.” Says Bonnie, “Definitely worth the $1950 cost. I don’t know why I waited to do this. I should have come sooner.” Low vision devices are not always expensive. Some reading glasses cost as little as $450 and some magnifiers under $100. Every case is different because people have different levels of vision and different desires. “Our job is to figure out everything and anything possible to keep a person functioning visually.” Says Dr. Kornfeld. Dr. Kornfeld sees patients in his five offices throughout upstate New York including Buffalo. For more information and a FREE telephone consultation call:
585-271-7320 Toll-free 1-866-446-2050
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper
Waiting game MV hospitals evaluated on key factors, such as waiting time in ER By Patricia J. Malin
he United States government collects and maintains a surprising amount of data on hospitals in an effort to help consumers monitor the quality of healthcare in their community. The website www. Medicare. gov from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services maintains a section called “hospital compare.” Its latest release provides statistics on hospital emergency departments. Consumers can use the website to compare local hospitals either by state or by zip code. While patients might not always have a choice of where to go in a life-threatening situation, these statistics can shape consumers’ opinions so they or their families can make a decision in advance of needed emergency care. Under new regulations mandated by the Affordable Care Act or “Obama Care,” emergency care reimbursements to hospitals are expected to be reduced starting in 2014, with those costs getting picked up by state exchanges. In the meantime, hospitals need to become more efficient and deliver better patient outcomes. Also under federal regulations, hospital emergency rooms are mandated to take anyone
regardless of ability to pay. Waiting times at different hospitals can vary widely depending on the number of patients seen, staffing levels, efficiency, admitting procedures or the availability of inpatient beds. Minutes do count and any delay in receiving care in the ER “can reduce the quality of care and increase risks and discomfort for patients with serious illnesses or injuries,” the website says. The comparison chart for the Utica-Rome area lists four hospitals (in alphabetical order), Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare at 1656 Champlin Ave., Utica; Oneida Healthcare Center in Oneida; Rome Memorial Hospital, 1500 N. James St., Rome, and St. Elizabeth Medical Center, 2209 Genesee St., Utica. St. Elizabeth is Oneida County’s designated trauma center as well, so it is the “go-to” facility for first responders to provide comprehensive emergency medical services to patients suffering traumatic injuries from motor vehicle accidents, criminal assault, falls or fires.
Each of the local hospitals tracks ER statistics. And in recent years, they’ve all made improvements to the physical infrastructure in their emergency departments. “It is a tremendous benefit to the
community as a whole to have public reporting of emergency department performance,” said Loretta Myers, director of emergency and critical care services at RMH. “Transparency in all aspects of healthcare is key to assuring the safest, highest quality of care to our community.” The hospital compare website evaluated each hospital in seven categories, including the number of minutes it takes after a patient enters the ER to be evaluated by a healthcare professional, a nurse or a Myers physician. This “door to doctor” statistic is the number-one factor in determining how well emergency departments do their job and a statistic which many hospitals tout in their marketing and advertising campaigns. Local hospitals did well in the amount of time it takes to evaluate a patient who comes to the ER. SEMC had the best average, 32 minutes from door to doctor, followed closely by Rome (34), FSLH (54) and Oneida (55). The state average is 36 minutes versus a national average of 59 minutes, according to hospital compare. The data was collected nationwide from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2012. Other categories were the amount of time it takes a doctor to admit a patient to an inpatient room after an evaluation in the ER; the time it
HELP REDUCE ER CROWDING. FOR COLD AND FLU SYMPTOMS, SEE YOUR DOCTOR. A recent study found that each year there are hundreds of thousands of emergency room visits in upstate New York that could be avoided. Minor conditions like cold and ﬂu symptoms, congestion, back pain, earaches and sports injuries are best treated by your doctor. If your doctor isn’t available, consider visiting an urgent care facility. And do your part to relieve ER crowding.
Sponsored by the Medical Societies of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. A nonproﬁt independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • March 2013
takes a patient with broken bones to receive pain medication; the average time patients spent in the emergency department before being sent home, and percentage of patients who came to the ER with stroke symptoms who received brain scan results within 45 minutes of arrival. In three of the overall categories, the New York state average is alarmingly higher than the national average. RMH has been monitoring its ER statistics for at least a decade, said Myers. Its website notes that most of its emergency patients can expect their visit to take about four hours from arrival through discharge. “Through several improvement initiatives, we have been able to decrease our patient arrival to medical evaluation average wait time by 33 percent in the past 12 months,” she pointed out.
RMH steps up
RMH did better than the state average in three categories: • Average minutes patients spent in the emergency department before they were admitted to the hospital as an inpatient (284) • Average minutes patients spent in the emergency department after the doctor decided to admit them as an inpatient before leaving the emergency department for their inpatient room (100) • Average minutes patients spent in the emergency department before being sent home (148) “RMH was the top-rated hospital for patient safety in Rome, Utica or Syracuse for patient safety, according to a Consumer Reports analysis (in August 2012),” Myers added. “Over 60 percent of our patients discharged from the emergency department receive follow-up phone calls from our highly trained nurses to assure that patients’
Ambulances are ready to respond at the St. Elizabeth Medical Center’s Emergency Department in Utica. needs are met even after the visit.” Rome’s ER provides medical care to approximately 26,000 people a year. Its emergency department was expanded in 2006 with the goal of providing patients with privacy and comfort in a private room. However, since 2006, the number of ER visits in Rome has increased significantly, from 19,100 in 2006 to 27,500 in 2012, Myers observed.
ER functions. Unlike a doctor’s office, there is no set schedule made ahead of time. The picture changes every minute. One good comparison is a bridge tollbooth where you can generally predict the busy times of the day/ evening, day of the week and busy months. However, there is no way to predict the exact numbers that come in (to the ER) and the degree of acuity.”
Meanwhile, SEMC copes with more emergencies than any other local hospital. There were 40,805 visits in 2012, according to Dr. Shravanti Halpern, interim medical director of the emergency department. With a staff of 50 RNs, 30 ER assistants, 10 MDs and six mid-level providers), SEMC led local hospitals with the speediest door-to-doctor time of 32 minutes. Halpern noted the hospital is in the process of hiring two more mid-level providers. The ER at SEMC was last renovated in 2006-07, with the new area opening in November 2007. Halpern said it can be Halpern helpful to consumers to compare hospital ER waiting times, but considering the unpredictable circumstances of emergency care, the statistics need to taken in context. “The pros are that (consumers) will have the real-time information available and hence get to make informed decisions regarding which hospital to go to based on the wait time,” she said. “But cons are that since this is an ER and not urgent care, by the time they reach (the hospital), and if there is a trauma-medical code-life-threatening event, that will always take priority over non-emergent issues and their care may get delayed based on their complaint. Hence, such information may frustrate them.” SEMC tracks time-related ER statistics monthly and yearly. Halpern said hospitals report their statistics voluntarily to the government, but they are not in real time. “In conclusion, the ER is a very complex, dynamic and unpredictable department,” said Halpern, a pediatrician and an ED physician. “The public, in general, understands the way an
FSLH has been using a new, improved process the past two years to improve the accuracy of data, explained Tom Zinger, nurse manager of the emergency department. It has also paid attention to improving patient comfort. In 2010, FSLH implemented the national emergency department over crowding score, which is an alert system that Zinger lets employees and medical staff know how busy the ER currently is. “Each level of the NEDOCS system, from green (low volume of patients) to red (high volume and/or complex patients) has a pre-arranged set of action plans,” he said. “Our NEDOCS team is made up of employees from various departments who report to the ER to support the needs of the patients and staff. Departments such as environmental services, nutrition and laundry are also alerted so they can send staff and supplies to the ER.” In recent years, FSLH has also instituted patient liaisons/advocates to help support patient and family members in the ER. “Patient liaisons register patients upon arrival and patient advocates check on patients and their family members to make sure they are being cared for,” said Zinger. “Nurse managers from units throughout the hospital meet several times a day to discuss patient discharges and open beds so ED patients can be moved to an inpatient room as soon as possible.” While ER patients are getting evaluated, FSLH has tried to ensure more comfort for their family members. In 2011, FSLH renovated its waiting room in the ER. In addition, said Zinger, two pediatric exam rooms have been renovated.
Leader of the pack
& Palliative Care Oneida, Herkimer and Eastern Madison Counties
FSLH on top of reporting
Call us today to make a referral!
March 2013 •
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper
The Ragin’ Cajun
By Malissa Allen
Teen Suicide Chilling statistics and the unending question: Why? Editor’s note: This is the second of three segments on the topic of teenage suicide. Staff writer Malissa Allen is exploring the whys that surround this baffling human phenomena.
uicide is heard of today on a daily basis. Just recently a friend of mine back home in Louisiana buried her second husband, due to him taking his own life. Also, it was announced recently that country music singer Mindy McCready took her own life after losing the struggle with depression. A month prior, standing in the same place, her longtime boyfriend took his life as well. This segment has been hard to write. I’ve talked with families, wives, children, husbands, friends, and those left Allen behind having to learn to cope with the aftermath of suicide. Especially when its children who decide they no longer want to live. What could be so wrong in a 13-, 14-, 15-year-old’s life, bad enough to drive them to take their own life? The answer is sometimes never known. We hear so much more about bullying being the driving force behind many. We have many more opportunities available through electronics today to openly disgrace young people. The statistics in the United States have changed dramatically. According to the website, www.nimh.nih.gov., suicide is the third-leading cause of death among adolescents and the most feared outcome of psychiatric illness. Many psychiatric illnesses, including major depression, bipolar disorder, chronic illness, and alcohol abuse, are associated with increased risk of suicide. Depression is one of the most important risk factors for suicide.
• According to www.cdc.gov, 38,364 people killed themselves in 2010—an average of 105 each day. • Over 487,700 people with selfinflicted injuries were treated in U.S. emergency departments in 2012. • Suicide and self-inflicted injuries result in an estimated $41.2 billion in combined medical and work loss costs. These numbers underestimate this problem. Many people who have suicidal thoughts or make suicide threats never seek outside help. New York is one of the leading states with recorded suicide deaths. These numbers are shocking to say the least when you think of how small our communities are. There are many reasons why teens Page 12
become suicidal. A suicide rarely has just one cause. The teen years are an extremely stressful with the Internet and social networking available today, Facebook being number one. An untreated mental illness, depression, is the leading cause for suicide. Many people who commit suicide suffer from untreated or poorly treated depression, resulting from difficult life experiences. These life experiences might include family changes or illness, loss of family or friends, and feeling lonely, helpless, hopeless or depressed.
Awareness is critical
Knowing the signs and symptoms of teenage depression seems to be the hardest part for families, as well as knowing when to step in with interventions. Parents never think their children are “sad” enough to actually take their own lives, thinking it’s simply teenage issues that will pass. According to the website, http://www.health.ny.gov, the following signs are considered to be red flags for when to seek help for your child. Teen suicide often occurs after a recent stressful life event in the family, with a friend, or at school. It is important for you to know the warning signs for suicide so you can get your teen the help he or she needs. A teen considering suicide might have one or more of these behaviors: • Suicidal ideation (thinking, writing, drawing or talking about suicide, death, dying or the afterlife) • Dependence on alcohol or drugs • Lack of a sense of purpose in life • Trouble focusing or thinking clearly • Increased withdrawal from family, friends, school, jobs and society; poor grades may be a sign that the child is withdrawing at school. • Lack of interest in favorite activities • Reckless or risk-taking behaviors • Rash, bizarre or violent behavior • Changed eating or sleeping patterns, such as being unable to sleep or sleeping all the time • Deep feelings of grief, uncontrolled anger, shame, hopelessness, guilt or anxiety If you or someone you know shows any of the aforementioned warning signs, do not ignore them. Talk openly with your child and express concern, support, and love. If your child does not feel comfortable talking to you, suggest that he or she talk to another trusted adult such as a family member, a pastor, minister, rabbi or priest, a coach, a school counselor, or a family doctor. Do not leave your teen alone. Remove the objects your child might use to harm himself or herself. Make sure your teen does not have access to guns, other possible weapons or medications. Seek help immediately from: • Your child’s doctor
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • March 2013
Suicide prevention websites • www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/youth_ suicide.html • www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org • www.spsamerica.org • www.samhsa.gov/prevention/suicide.aspx • www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/suicide_prevention/ regional/Central/oneida_coal.html • www.ocgov.net/mentalhealth/teenservice
• Mental health services (Ask your doctor for a referral) • The nearest emergency room • Emergency services (911); and/or a suicide hotline such as: — National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-
8255) — The Trevor Helpline: 1-800-8508078, (specializes in gay and lesbian suicide prevention) — National Hopeline Network: 1800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) — Nineline: 1-800-999-9999
Mohawk Valley man wrestles with ‘embarrassing’ issue Ulcerative colitis a debilitating colon-related illness By Patricia J. Malin
artin Smithfield has what he calls an “embarrassing” condition. It’s a bowel disease known as ulcerative colitis. He doesn’t want to use his real name for this story. Nevertheless, he wants to call attention to the disease and wants others to know that treatment can be effective. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease that inflames the lining of the large intestine (the colon) and rectum. While it affects both men and women, the disease often develops between the ages of 15-30 and again between 50-70. However, it is possible for anyone at any age to develop it. Approximately half a million Americans are affected by ulcerative colitis, according to one prescription drug website. People of Caucasian and Jewish origins have a higher risk of developing colitis compared with other racial and ethnic subgroups. Smithfield, who lives in the UticaRome area, is 53 now. His problem began in February 1993 when he noticed blood in his stool. “At first, I was worried it was cancer,” he said. “I had a colonoscopy and my doctor told me that my colon looked like it had been rubbed by sandpaper.” While his doctor ruled out cancer, colitis is still a perplexing disease. It requires long-term monitoring and there is no specific cause or cure. The one positive is colitis can be usually controlled by prescription drugs and there is no need for surgery. William Jorgensen, director of the St. Elizabeth Family Medicine Residency Program, Hobart Street in Utica, sees from two to five patients a week with either ulcerative colitis or its related maladies: irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. “It’s classified as an ideopathic disease,” he said. “It’s an auto-immune disease in which the body is sensing something foreign.” With colitis, ulcers and abscesses form in the colon and rectum and cause bloody stools and diarrhea at times, as well as abdominal pain or sudden bowel movements. Fatigue and weight loss can also be symptoms. The risk of developing colitis is higher if someone has a close
relative who has UC, and Smithfield’s younger sister and two cousins also developed it. Ulcerative colitis is sometimes confused with Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Unlike Crohn’s disease, colitis does not affect the esophagus, stomach or small intestine. Irritable bowel syndrome is a milder disorder that does not cause inflammation of the intestinal lining.
Hope on horizon
Diagnosis and treatment have improved considerably Jorgensen since Smithfield was first diagnosed. He recalls his first doctor telling him, “I can’t do anything for you.” That doctor theorized that it was caused by “emotional tension,” though Smithfield doesn’t recall going through any tumultuous events in 1993. Jorgensen said doctors don’t have a good handle on what causes ulcerative colitis, but they believe stress does contribute to flare-ups. “He treated me with sulfa drugs from 1993 to 2004,” said Smithfield of his previous doctor. “But after awhile, they lost their effect.” The sulfa drugs were antibiotics that successfully blocked bacterial growth and activity, but also caused diarrhea. Because of these side effects, sulfa type drugs are not as commonly used today. “You need to look at the risks as well as the benefits of treatment,” Jorgensen added. Smithfield eventually changed doctors and found a specialist at Digestive Disease Medicine in the Utica Business Park. His specialist now prescribes Remicade and Humira, both of which are brand-name drugs typically used to treat arthritis. Humira can be administered in the doctor’s office every two months, but Smithfield was given another option. “I can give myself a shot of Humira every two weeks,” in the privacy of his home. The drugs promote intestinal healing. Through the years, Smithfield has
learned to manage his disease. He hasn’t lost a lot of time from work, which is physical in nature, except when he was hospitalized for one week in February 2004. But he worries that if his employer learns about his condition, he will be considered “damaged goods.” Most people are able to live normally with ulcerative colitis, despite periods of alternating flare-ups and remission when the symptoms of the disease disappear. Remission can last from weeks to years. In Smithfield’s case, the disease comes around approximately every 11 months, always in February. Smithfield jokes, “Maybe it’s due to
shoveling snow.” Jorgensen pointed out that a poor diet of fatty foods could also contribute to flare-ups. Smithfield has to carefully plan his meals. Other than that, he doesn’t let the colitis prevent him from leading a regular life. “If I know I’m going to be traveling out of town, I’ll just take two Immodium tablets,” he said. Smithfield used to attend a support group at St. Elizabeth Medical Center, but the group apparently disbanded for lack of interest. He said if anyone wants to restart it, contact him through In Good Health newspaper by emailing email@example.com
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By Lou Sorendo By Jim Miller
Do you need to file a tax return this year? Dear Savvy Senior, My income dropped way off when I retired early last year, and I’m wondering if I fall into the so called “47 percent” of Americans who won’t have to pay any income taxes this year. What can you tell me? Curious Senior Dear Curious, The percentage of seniors, age 65 and older, who won’t have to pay income taxes this year, is actually around 56 percent, according the Tax Policy Center. Here’s a breakdown of the 2012 filing requirements along with a few other tax tips to help you determine if you need to file.
with a dependent child and your gross income was less than $15,700 ($16,850 if age 65 or older).
Special situations Be aware that there are some special financial situations that require you to file a tax return, even if your gross income falls below the IRS filing requirement. For example, if you had net earnings from self-employment in 2012 of $400 or more, or if you owe any special taxes to the IRS such as alternative minimum tax or IRA tax penalties, you’ll probably need to file. To figure this out, the IRS offers a resource on their website called “Do I Need to File a Tax Return?” that asks a series of questions that will help you determine if you’re required to file, or if you should file because you’re due a refund. You can access this page at www. irs.gov/uac/Do-I-Need-to-File-a-TaxReturn%3F, or you can get help over the phone by calling the IRS helpline at 800-829-1040.
Check your state Even if you’re not required to file a federal tax return this year, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re also excused from filing state income taxes. Check on that with your state tax agency before concluding you’re entirely in the clear. For links to state and local tax agencies see taxadmin.org — click on “Links.”
Whether or not you’ll need to file a federal income tax return this year will depend on your filing status, your age, and your gross income. If your gross income falls below the IRS filing limits, you probably won’t have to file. Gross income includes all the income you receive that is not exempt from tax, not including Social Security benefits, unless you are married and filing separately. You probably don’t have to file this year if: • You are single and your 2012 gross income was less than $9,750 ($11,200 if you’re 65 or older). • You are married filing jointly and your gross income was under $19,500. If you or your spouse is 65 or older, the limit increases to $20,650. And if you’re both over 65, your income must be under $21,800 to not file. • You are head of household and your gross income was below $12,500 ($13,950 if age 65 or older). • You are married filing separately and your income was less than $3,800. • You are a qualifying widow(er)
If you do need to file a tax return this year, you can get help through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (or TCE) program. Sponsored by the IRS, TEC provides free tax preparation and counseling to middle and low income taxpayers, age 60 and older. Call 800906-9887 to locate a service near you. Also check with AARP, a participant in the TCE program that provides free tax preparation at nearly 6,000 sites nationwide. To locate an AARP TaxAide site call 888-227-7669 or visit aarp. org/findtaxhelp.
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.
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • March 2013
Specialist examines treatment options Continued from Page 4 patient the best result possible. Q.: What are some of the conditions treated by pain management specialists? A.: Pain specialists treat multiple painful conditions. To name a few: trigeminal neuralgia; fibromyalgia; neck pain; back pain; herniated discs in the spine causing pain or pinching a nerve (like the lay term “sciatica” to give an example); complex regional pain syndrome; joint pains (shoulder, knee, hip, etc.); post herpetic neuralgia; and diabetic or any other peripheral neuropathy, to name a few. Q.: What are some of the major treatment options available to patients? A.: There are many different types of medications—not all narcotics—to treat various conditions. The pharmaceutical industry is always searching for better medications. We often prescribe physical or occupation therapy to help patients learn different things to help them manage their pain, such as stretching, exercise, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Different injections are also available. For example, someone with chronic arthritic knees may benefit from a steroid injection or an injection series that replaces the needed fluid in the knee. Someone with “sciatica” may benefit from an epidural steroid injection. A patient with terrible arthritis in the spine giving them intractable back pain may benefit from steroid injections around the joint or radiofrequency ab-
lation of the nerves that are responsible for back pain. If conservative measures or surgery have not relieved a patient’s pain from a herniated disc, he or she may be a candidate for a spinal cord stimulator trial/placement. Q.: Do you employ any nontraditional forms of pain management, such as acupuncture? A.: We do not currently offer acupuncture in our office but I have patients that get good relief from it. I believe it also has a role in pain management. Q.: Is there a trend among pain management specialists to carefully monitor distribution of narcotic-based medications due to the abuse issue occurring today? A.: We have been carefully monitoring our patients on narcotics for years. There has been a trend toward this in the pain management community as narcotic misuse has become a real problem in our society. We want to treat pain; however, it has to be done as safely as possible. In order to do this, patients sign a narcotics contract and are closely monitored. Urine drug screens and pill counts are also employed. Q.: Have there been any medical breakthroughs in the field of pain management over the last several years that have benefited both physicians and patients? A.: Pain management continues to evolve. There continues to be research using different medications to improve pain relief. Spinal cord stimulation also continues to advance. Peripheral nerve stimulation is also being researched to help patients with localized pain.
American Heart Association celebrates area children AHA addressing obesity epidemic
here were over 300 attendees from local families that took part in the 13th annual Kids Walk presented by the American Heart Association and sponsored by GPO Federal Credit recently. Not only were kids treated to a one-mile walk and family fun health expo, but one lucky recipient, Kiara Haden from Utica, walked—or rather rode—away with a new bike. Each child participant was entered for a chance to win a bicycle, compliments of Midstate CERT Team. The AHA also celebrated a poster contest, sponsored by Preferred Mutual Insurance Company, in area schools to showcase health and wellness. All of the first- and second-place winners had artwork displayed at the event along
with those receiving honorable mentions. “Childhood obesity is an epidemic facing our country and region today,” says event organizer Theresa Swider. “Families attending the kids walk are treated to a fun-filled afternoon of education and the importance of healthy eating and exercise through interactive booths and activities. The American Heart Association wants to partner with families to reduce risk factors that our community’s youth face due to inactivity and poor eating habits.” Today, about one of three American kids and teens is overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963. For more information, call 1-800AHA-USA1 or visit www.heart.org.
‘Purr-fect’ solution Like any members of the family, furry felines need healthcare too By Barbara Pierce
o you suspect that your veterinarian doesn’t tell you everything? What kinds of things could your vet be holding back from you? Veterinarian Dr. Jon Rappaport, CEO of Petplace.com newsletter, asked this question of a vet who writes for the online newsletter. For this vet to speak honestly, he called himself the “Irreverent Vet,” hoping to prevent a deluge of mail from unhappy vets. Veterinarian Dr. John Rothwell, owner of the Paris Hill Cat Hospital in Sauquoit, responded to the comments made by the Irreverent Vet. This full service veterinary hospital is dedicated solely to the care of cats and kittens. It is a Central New York regional resource for feline health. A veterinary hospital is a small business. “Most vets don’t want to talk about this, but a vet hospital or clinic is a small business,” says the Irreverent Vet. “It is like any other business that requires money for services rendered. It is sometimes hard because vets love animals, but they also have bills to pay. They can’t give away services and still be able to pay all the bills.” “At Paris Hill, this equation solves itself,” Rothwell said. “Our stated goal is to provide clients with appropriate, affordable, and effective care for their family cat. We help them make good decisions about spending money on their cats. Word of this spreads fast. The bills get paid. Eleven families that work here get income and medical insurance. Leftover funds are invested into the facility.” Your vet wants to sell you preventive medications, says the Irreverent Vet. “There is a good profit margin on preventive medications (flea control/ heartworm prevention). They would
prefer that you buy them from them as opposed to over-the-counter or mail order services. They generally feel that the quality of their products are superior.”
Our furry friends
“We are a feline-only facility and therefore have a pharmacy that is solely stocked with preparations that we have researched and know to be safe and effective in cats,” said Rothwell. “Since there are many medications that are appropriate for use in dogs and not at all in cats, clients tend to come here personally to inquire and purchase.” There is a high profit margin on vaccines, says the Irreverent Vet. As the profit margin on treating a sick pet is low, vaccines help provide a balance. And, the overhead on a veterinary practice is higher than most people realize.
The modest Rothwell did not refer us to the Paris Hill Cat Hospital’s Facebook Page, but it is brimming with heart-warming stories about cats who have been rescued and given emergency care at Paris Hill, with no consideration of who will pay the bill, like the cat hit by a car who spent three days in intensive care. Staff called him Dempsey because he was such a fighter. For nine days, until his owner located him, they cared for Dempsey with his severe injuries, and no assurance that anyone would pay for his care. And their feral cat outreach program, where feral cats are brought in to be spayed/neutered, vaccinated, treated for parasites, and given a better quality of life. Another important point on vaccines, adds the Irreverent Vet, is that
veterinarians are very careful on where they get their vaccines, how they are shipped, stored, and given. Some pet owners turn to less expensive feed store vaccines that can be associated with vaccine “failures.” These failures are attributed to poor quality products, and/or inadequately meeting refrigeration requirements. Paris Hill Cat Hospital does insure that the quality and storage of their vaccines is top quality. Vaccine recommendations have changed, says the Irreverent Vet. Fifteen years ago, the recommendation for vaccines was yearly updates for both dogs and cats. Some vets still practice this. However, recent research has indicated that most vaccines last longer than one year, and vaccines can be given every three years. Antibody titer is a laboratory test that determines if a vaccine is needed and is a good option to yearly vaccines. Vets get attached, concludes the Irreverent Vet. Vets are professionals, and try to act as though certain things don’t bother them, but often they do. For example, when a patient they have been seeing for years dies, they shed tears. Patients become family. Rothwell adds: “At these moments, we channel our inner caretaker and go to a very contented place that is unique to our profession. Only the veterinarian can provide a dignified and painless end to a loved one’s life.” It all comes down to a relationship built on trust, trust between you and your veterinarian. Build a relationship that you and your pet are comfortable with, because you will share several important years together as a team on behalf of your pets. More information on Paris Hill Cat Hospital in Sauquoit can be found at www.ParisHillCatHospital.com or by calling 315-737-7587.
USA, Sitrin STARS curlers get edged out Narrowly miss medal in 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championships By Patricia J. Malin
eam USA, comprised of Sitrin STARS athletes, made a strong showing recently in the 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championships in Sochi, Russia. Team USA made it to the medal round, but had to settle for fourth place among 10 teams, an improvement over 2012 when it placed fifth. The USA 2013 national championship team is comprised of Jimmy Joseph of New Hartford; Patrick McDonald of Madison, Wisc., the skip or team cap-
tain; David Palmer of Mashpee, Mass.; Penny Greely of Green Bay, Wisc.; and Meghan Lino (alternate) of East Falmouth, Mass. Marc DePerno of the Sitrin Rehabilitation Center in New Hartford is the STARS program director and USA team leader. Steve Brown of Wisconsin is USA’s head coach. The bronze medal game was a nail-biter, resulting in a 6-5 win for China. USA has qualified for the 2015 World Wheelchair Championships and will head to Russia again next
year to compete in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. Canada defeated Sweden in the gold medal game to capture its third consecutive world wheelchair curling title. The team consists of members of the Sitrin STARS (Success Through Adaptive Recreation & Sports) program. Implemented in 2001, this adaptive sports program is the only one of its kind in Central New York. The wheelchair-curling program began in 2002 in collaboration with the Utica Curling Club. Sitrin is a national March 2013 •
sponsor of USA wheelchair curling. The Sitrin STARS have achieved international success in major wheelchair curling tournaments. They placed fourth at the Paralympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and won a bronze medal in the 2008 World Wheelchair Curling competition in Switzerland. In addition, the STARS have competed in previous world wheelchair curling championships in Scotland, Czech Republic, Sweden and Korea, as well as the 2006 Paralympic Games held in Italy.
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper
Mary in the Middle
Perinatal network gives birth to hope A death Network offers multiple resources, including health insurance and tax help By Jacob Pucci
he Mohawk Valley Perinatal Network has a solution for those uninsured by private health providers but ineligible for federal health care programs such as Medicaid. The Utica-based health network received funding for the Community Health Advocates program in 2011, providing additional healthcare and economic resources for those in Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties. The federally funded program was made possible through the Affordable Care Act and health care reform, which gave funds to the New York State Department of Health. The state in turn funded the program at the MVPN in partnership with Community Service Society of New York. From the program’s inception in November 2011 to June 2012, 277 people were assisted through the program alone. That does Haldenwang not include the 761 people whom the network assisted with applications for public health insurance. The latter, known as facilitated enrollment, is a service the agency has offered since the 1990s. Network staff expressed enthusiasm regarding the response. Diana Haldenwang, executive director of the MVPN, said, “277 people is much higher than we expected. It allowed us to give much more time and effort to these people than we would have been able to do previously due to the federal funding.” The program also helps connect people to affordable health care, discounted prescription drug programs, clinics that offer free or discounted health care and most recently, help with past due medical bills. The nonprofit agency does want to remind people that while the resources are useful, time is of the essence.
Haldenwang said often times people are letting bills go to collection before calling the healthcare facility or the network, which she warns is far too late. “Once the bill is in collection, there is not much we can do with the health care facility at that point to call that back and get that bill reduced,” she said. Aside from the recent Community Heath Advocates program, the agency offers aid and resources in all areas of healthcare. “We do pretty much anything someone might need related to health insurance and affordable healthcare,” Haldenwang said. As the name of the agency suggests, the network pays even closer attention to maternal needs and child health. Page 16
Services such as home visiting, prenatal care and informational meetings for expectant parents are pivotal, especially in an area where Haldenwang said could see an improvement in postnatal health. “Oneida County does not have the best birth outcome for mother and baby,” Haldenwang said. “It is not nearly where we want it to be.” In addition to both perinatal and general health care, the agency expects to help with the health insurance exchange, which will take place statewide in October. The shift comes on the heels of federal healthcare reform and while the agency expects the transition to be smooth, Haldenwang expects people will need help using the new health exchange system. A health insurance exchange is a set of government-regulated and standardized health care plans in the United States, from which individuals may purchase health insurance eligible for federal subsidies. All exchanges must be fully certified and operational by Jan. 1, 2014, under federal law.
Change in the wind
The network will have staff available to guide people through the change, which while it will keep the program looking very similar, Haldenwang sees potential in the switch. “We really have opportunity for growth,” she said. Meanwhile, the agency is working with the Mohawk Valley Asset Building Coalition and the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance—or VITA—program to provide individuals and families earning up to $51,000 per year with free tax service. The MVPN office, located on Cornelia Street in Utica, is only one of several locations in the area to provide the free tax service. In the past, the agency had one full-time staff member to handle the work, which had serviced between 50 and 75 people. This year, Haldenwang said the agency also has a volunteer aiding the program to handle an everincreasing workload for the in-demand program. “Many people get their taxes done for free through this program,” she said. The tax service also allows the agency to tell the public about what other services it provides. The service, however, is open to any individual or family who is eligible and a need for health services is not necessary to utilize the tax program. Whether it is health care services or tax preparation, Haldenwang sees the agency as a vital part of the Mohawk Valley. “It is really important to us that we get people connected to the services they need,” Haldenwang said. “When they have what they need, they can contribute better and do the things they want to do in their community and for their community.”
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • March 2013
By Mary Stevenson
in the family
t was an ordinary Thursday, as if any days are ordinary. We woke, had breakfast and began the tour of dropping one son off at the college for his classes, dropping another son off to the high school for his day and brought our foster son to the agency for his family visit. Ordinary chaos in our household on an ordinary day. In the midst of waking up and making breakfast, I noticed a missed call on my cell phone. It was my brother-in-law. Odd, I thought. He never calls me. But there was no message and no second call so I figured it was a “butt dial” and went about my morning. On my way back to the house for a few minutes of calm before the next storm, my brother-in-law called again. His first words were, “Mary, I have some sad news.” Stevenson I couldn’t have imagined the next words from his mouth: “Your mother passed away this morning.” I immediately pulled over, sobbing and trying to breathe. I was alone in the car but I knew I needed to make the calls I have dreaded for years. First, I called my husband. He was working on the other side of the country with a three-hour time difference and had just gone to bed from his night shift. I couldn’t wake him. The next calls went to our boys, all of whom were in classes and I had to leave messages to call me as soon as possible. I drove to each campus, three in total, to tell them in person their beloved Nonnie was gone. I called a close cousin and asked her to please call the rest of the family and let them know we lost mom. I went to pick up the baby after his visit and had to inform those who were involved with his case of a death in the family and what I would need from them to assist in his care while I attended to the arrangements. I don’t
know how I got to everyone like I did but I managed to spread the devastating news. Rose hadn’t been sick, per se. She had her medical conditions but nothing seemed as though death was imminent. She had been in the hospital the night before to stabilize her blood sugar levels but nothing that was alarming enough to keep her admitted. She came home, sat up and visited for a while then told my father she was tired and headed to bed. That was the last time dad heard her sweet voice. She had passed peacefully during the night; when John woke, she had already been gone for some time. My dad was crushed, devastated, and brokenhearted. This was his beautiful bride of 43 years who weathered all kinds of storms with him—raising teenaged girls with all their mood swings, job changes, cross-country moves, and deaths in the families. They saw the graduations of their daughters from high school and college, the weddings that added sons-in-law to the mix, the births of their eight grandchildren, and time to themselves. The happiness they created in those four-plus decades is what helped get me through the days following her passing. The day before mom died I spent trying to figure out how to get the water running in our house again. It was a frustrating few days for the members of this house. My life was carrying on with its ups, downs and mundane tasks that make up life. My mother and father spent it as they did every day— together, watching TV, talking and loving each other. I am sure mom went with a smile on her face and love in her heart—the love she gave and the love she received. I will miss her every day and thank her for being my mother. She is at peace and not in pain. I have faith in that. • Mary Stevenson is a staff writer with Mohawk Valley In Good Health newspaper.
John and the late Rose Prichard share a special moment recently.
H ealth News Hospice & Palliative Care names new CFO Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc. in New Hartford recently appointed Justin P. Miller as its chief financial officer. Miller served most recently as a senior auditor with D’Arcangelo & Company. In this position, he was responsible for planning, coordinating and managing financial stateMiller ment audits for clients that included various nonprofit organizations, employee benefit plans, as well as several governmental entities. Prior to that, Miller was a staff accountant with the firm. He began his career as an accountant with the Department of Defense. Miller holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is a certified public accountant and also serves as treasurer of the New York Mills Library. In his new role, Miller assumes responsibility for hospice’s financial
management, long-range financial planning, and related activities. He resides in New York Mills with his wife, Beth, and son Brayden.
Hospice names clinical services supervisors Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc., in New Hartford has appointed Donna Ramsey and Kate Zielinski as clinical services supervisors. Ramsey began her career at HPCI as a primary RN. Prior to accepting a position with HPCI, she was an intensive Ramsey care nurse for nine years. She is a certified hospice and palliative care nurse. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Phoenix. She resides in Rome. Zielinski joined the hospice team in 2012 as a primary RN and was promoted to clinical services supervisor. She has over eight years of nursing experience, primarily as an emergency
Continued from Page 2 cers—found in men and women in the United States. In recognition of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Babette Clapper, a Rome Memorial Hospital endoscopy nurse certified in gastroenterology, will provide information to help you take charge of your colorectal health at the hospital’s health night lecture at 7 p.m. March 7. The free educational program will be held in the hospital’s classroom. In addition to this education program, men and women aged 50 and older can be proactive in detecting problems early by picking up a free colorectal cancer home test kit at Mohawk Valley Radiation Medicine any weekday in March. Those interested can ask for an easy-to-use test from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 107 E. Chestnut St. Health night is a monthly lecture series, sponsored by Rome Memorial Hospital. Advance registration is not required. Refreshments will be served. Rome Memorial Hospital’s classroom is located on the second floor of
room nurse. She is a graduate of St. Elizabeth’s School of Nursing and holds a master’s degree in psychology from SUNY, and a master’s degree in mathematics from SUNY Cortland. She resides
the hospital. Guests are asked to enter the North James Street entrance of the hospital.
It may be time to consider ‘The Third Option’ The Third Option meets at 6:30 p.m. every other Sunday at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. The next meeting is March 10. The Third Option is a support group for married couples. For more information, contact Andrea, program coordinator, at 315-735-6210 ext. 228, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.thegoodnewscenter.org.
CNY Diabetes Education Program offers foot clinic Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare’s
Zielinski in Marcy.
New physician joins St. E’s in Utica St. Elizabeth Medical Center and its medical group recently announced that Thomas Socash has joined the medical staff and will continue to provide care at its Town of Webb Health Care Center. The center is located at 114 South Shore Road, Old Forge. Socash has been affiliated with Central Adirondack Family Practice since 1990. Socash received his medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine, Grenada, West Indies. He completed a Master of Science degree in biomedical sciences at Barry University, Miami Shores, Fla. and a
Central New York Diabetes Education Program is offering a free “Knock Your Socks Off!” foot clinic for people with diabetes at noon March 15. The event will take place at the CNY Diabetes Education Program office located on the fourth floor of the Faxton Campus of FSLH, 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. CNY Diabetes Education Program is a cooperative effort of FSLH and St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica.
Come join ‘Women at the Well’ Women at the Well meet from 6:30-8 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. The next meeting will be March 26. It is free and open to all Christian women. For details and to register, call The Good News Center at 315-735-6210 or visit TheGoodNewsCenter.org—Events Calendar.
Got a calendar item to share? Call 749-7070 March 2013 •
Bachelor of Arts degree in psychobiology from Hamilton College in Clinton. Socash is a 1990 graduate of the St. Elizabeth Hospital Family Practice Residency Program. Since graduation, Socash, was also a preceptor for the residency Socash program until 2012. Socash and his wife, Pamela, reside in Old Forge, where they raised their family. They are the parents of four adult children, Tyler, Nicole, Trey and Eric.
SEMC names new health and safety coordinator Gregg Sponburgh was recently appointed coordinator of environmental health and safety at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica. Sponburgh received a master’s degree in public health from Tulane University in New Orleans, La., and a Sponburgh Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Norwich University Military Academy, Northfield, Vt. He served in the United States Army, as a captain, environmental science officer. As a U.S. Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, Sponburgh commanded a civil affairs company in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002. Prior to joining SEMC, Sponburgh worked as the environmental health and safety officer at Utica College. He is a resident of Mohawk.
Physician joins Advanced Wound Care team William F. Lindsey has joined Advanced Wound Care of St. Elizabeth Medical Center as a full-time physician. Lindsey was in private practice at Oneida Surgical Group for the past 27 years. Lindsey is board certified by the American College of Surgeons. He received his medical degree from the University of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln School of Medicine in Chicago, Ill. Lindsey completed a general surgery residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago and a surgical oncology
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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper
H ealth News Continued from Page 17 fellowship at the University of Illinois at the medical center. He serves as a clinical adjunct faculty member of Le Moyne College in Syracuse and the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester. Lindsey serves on the medical staff of both Lindsey St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Oneida Healthcare Center. He and his wife, Sheila, are residents of Chittenango. They are parents of four children and seven grandchildren.
LFH appoints senior director of HR Marlene E. Little has joined Bassett Healthcare Network as senior director of human resources at Little Falls Hospital. Little brings to LFH a broad range of experience in human resources, including exceptional employee relations skills. Little Before joining Bassett, Little was director of human resources at IntegraCare Corporation and prior to that she was manager of human resources for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Passavant, McCandlesss & Cranberry campuses. She received her degree from the University of Pittsburgh/Chadwick University in business administration. Little is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management as well as a volunteer human resources consultant at Key Group Consulting, Inc.
LFH recognizes nurse manager’s achievement Little Falls Hospital is celebrating the achievement of Tammy Hendrick, who received her Bachelor of Science in nursing through an online program at Utica College. The program prepares licensed registered nurses for an advanced career in today’s healthcare environment. It teaches nurses how to assume roles that demand critical thinking, decisionmaking, communication and leadership skills. “As you grow and gain experience in the nursing profession, you begin Page 18
to recognize the rewards the nursing profession offers. Nursing rewards come to you through helping patients and families through some of the most difficult and the most joyous times in their lives. Nursing has become one of my most Hendrick valued life achievements,” Hendrick said. Hendrick works in the surgery department at LFH. She is also nurse manager of surgery, GI services, post anesthesia care unit, ambulatory surgery, and central supply.
LFH adopts electronic medical record system Little Falls Hospital is using the electronic medical record instead of a paper patient chart. LFH is one of four hospitals in the Bassett Healthcare Network that went live with the EMR recently. Bassett affiliate hospitals in Cobleskill, Delhi and Sidney have also adopted the EMR. All four hospitals are now connected electronically with Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, which went live with the EMR in December of 2012. The end result will be improved care coordination, improved efficiency in health care delivery, improved medication safety and an enhanced patient experience across the entire Bassett Healthcare Network. Instead of retrieving patient information from multiple locations in a paper chart for patient history or orders, doctors and nurses will access this information securely from portable electronic workstations right at the patient’s bedside or outside the patient’s room, depending on what’s best for the patient. Bassett’s outpatient health centers went live with the EMR in 2011.
LFH nurse earns high accolades Little Falls Hospital is celebrating the achievement of Nicole Ellis, who received her Bachelor of Science in nursing degree from Utica College. The curriculum covered a wide range of topics that included nursing management, clinical pharmacolEllis ogy, community health nursing and health assessment. Ellis has been working at LFH for
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • March 2013
four years and entered the health care field due to her desire to help people.
Local hospitals noted for quality, efﬁciency Excellus BlueCross BlueShield recently congratulated three hospitals in the Mohawk Valley for being recognized by the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program in the areas of knee and hip replacement. Bassett Medical Center, Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare and St. Elizabeth Medical Center are being recognized for their knee and hip replacement programs. Since 2006, consumers, medical providers and employers have relied on the Blue Distinction program to identify hospitals delivering quality care in bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery, and transplants. The Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program expanded recently to include new cost-efficiency measures, as well as more robust quality measures focused on improved patient health and safety. For more information about the Blue Distinction Program and to see a list of Blue Distinction Centers in the area, visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.
Excellus awards hospitals for quality improvements Fifty-four Upstate New York hospitals and health centers last year earned $26 million in quality improvement incentive payments from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield as part of the health insurer’s hospital performance incentive program. In the past nine years, quality performance incentives from Excellus BCBS have exceeded $145 million. “Our many years of working with our hospital partners to drive improvement in quality of care and patient safety by linking payments to improvements in health outcomes provides a strong foundation for the new models of collaboration anticipated with health care reform,” said Carrie Frank, vice president of quality and health informatics at Excellus BCBS. Participating in this program in 2012 were 11 Utica/Rome/North Country hospitals, including Adirondack Medical Center, Alice Hyde Medical Center, Aurelia Osborn Fox Memorial Hospital, Bassett Medical Center, CVPH Medical Center, Community Memorial Hospital, Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare (two hospitals), Oneida Healthcare Center, Rome Memorial Hospital and St. Elizabeth Medical Center.
FSLH employee appointed command master chief Robert A. Sylvester, director of safety and emergency preparedness at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica, has been appointed command master chief of Operational Health Support Unit Portsmouth.
OHSU Portsmouth is one of the largest OHSUs in the Navy Reserve, encompassing 16 units in seven states and nearly 600 sailors. The OHSU provides medical services and support to operational support centers that serve all branches of the military, Sylvester staff for humanitarian missions and disaster relief, and staffs United States’ Navy hospital ships. The OHSU also ensures sailors are prepared for tours of duty with any type of unit filling a medical role whether it be administrative, medical or combat. As director of safety and emergency preparedness at FSLH, Sylvester is the designated safety officer whose responsibilities include oversight of the safety steering committee and all activities related to the provisions of a safe, functional and effective environment for patients, visitors and other individuals serviced by FSLH. Sylvester received his Associate of Applied Science degree in occupational and environmental health from the University of Phoenix and his Bachelor of Science in health care management from Touro University.
FSLH makes medical staff announcements January Aisha Hill has joined the bariatric surgery program at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica. She is affiliated with Dr. William A. Graber’s bariatric practice in New Hartford. Hill earned her Bachelor of Science in biology with a minor in chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, La., and her Doctor of Medicine from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in Hill Lubbock, Texas. She completed an internship and residency in surgery at SUNY Buffalo in Buffalo and a fellowship in laparoscopic and bariatric surgery at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va. Hill is board certified in surgery and is a member of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons. FSLH was the #1 ranked bariatric hospital in New York state for 2011 and 2012, and is among the top-5 percent of
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H ealth News hospitals in the nation for its bariatric surgery program with a 5-star rating by HealthGrades.
Mohawk Valley doc inducted into ACS Due to his achievements, Patrick Costello has earned the right to use the designation FACS, which stands for Fellow, American College of Surgeons, after his name. The Oneida native has been an eye and eyelid surgeon in the Mohawk Valley for nearly nine years. He was among 1,377 initiates from around the world who became fellows of the ACS during convocation ceremonies at the college’s Costello 2012 annual Clinical Congress held recently in Chicago. Costello was nominated by his colleagues for the distinction, which was followed by an ACS review of his personal, educational and surgical history and an invitation for an oral interview before the board. Costello is in practice with his brother John at Costello Eye Physicians and Surgeons located in New Hartford, Oneida, Rome and Hamilton, and is an adjunct faculty member at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. In 2012, Costello joined other area eye surgeons and Rome Memorial Hospital to open the Griffiss Eye Surgery Center, where he performs all of his surgeries. He received a medical doctorate in 2000 from Albany Medical College and served on the faculty at Albany Medical College.
Insight House introduces new outpatient program Insight House Chemical Dependency Services, Inc. in Utica is offering an intensive outpatient program for those individuals severely impacted by addiction. Participants will engage in threehour sessions for three evenings each week, Tuesday through Thursday, generally for a period of six weeks. Specialized group and individual sessions focus on relapse prevention and recovery skills. “Intensive outpatient programming provides evidence-based treatment to those needing a higher level of care. Offering this service during the evening hours also allows participation for those who are working or who have other responsibilities during the daytime,” said Bonnie Carr, vice president at Insight House. For more information regarding the intensive outpatient program at Insight House, call Carr at 724-5168, ext. 265, between 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays or visit the website at www. insighthouse.com. All calls are strictly confidential.
Scholarships available for nursing students Students interested in pursuing a nursing career may be eligible for financial assistance through a fund administered by Rome Memorial Hospital. Scholarship applications for 2013 are available in the guidance departments of both Rome Free Academy and Rome Catholic School. “We’re pleased to provide this financial support to help future nurses get started on their career paths,” said RMH Vice President/Chief Nursing Officer Durinda Durr. “The field of nursing provides unlimited opportunity for people looking for a career where they can make a difference.” Selection is based on scholastic achievement, financial need, personal qualifications and professional promise. Female applicants must be citizens and legal residents of Rome and a high school graduate or senior who is expecting to graduate in the current year. Candidates must also be accepted or eligible for acceptance in an approved school of nursing. Two or more scholarships are distributed annually for the first year of nursing school. The scholarship can be extended for two additional years if the recipient demonstrates need and is doing well academically. For more information, contact your high school guidance counselor or call 338-7060. Applications are due by May 1 and should be mailed to the nursing administration office, Rome Memorial Hospital, 1500 N. James St., Rome, NY 13440.
Excellus BCBS employees collect items for local veterans Excellus BlueCross BlueShield employees recently showed their support for local veterans by collecting nonperishable foods, personal hygiene items and pillows, towels and linens for the Central New York Veterans Outreach Center’s food pantry and donation room. Pictured are Chad Tooke, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield employee and vice chairman of the board of directors of the Central New York Veterans Outreach Center, and Eve Van de Wal, regional president for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. The Central New York Veterans Outreach Center is a community-based nonproﬁt organization that provides comprehensive support services to veterans and their families. The center serves more than 250 homeless and in-need veterans each month. For more information, visit www. cnyvoc.org.
New adult primary care facility opening soon Rome Memorial Hospital is establishing Delta Medical, a new primary care practice, to help area residents who are in need of a primary care provider. Internal medicine physician Humberto Perez is expected to begin seeing adult patients at 1819 Black River Blvd. in March after the hospital receives approval from the New York State Department of Health to open Perez the practice. “With the national shortage of primary care providers and the recent loss of some of Rome’s well-respected physicians, we recognize that many area residents are trying to find a new provider,” said Rome Memorial Hospital President/Chief Executive Officer Basil J. Ariglio. “Fortunately for Rome, Dr. Perez came to the Mohawk Valley to help us temporarily and decided to stay.” Perez worked in the Tampa, Fla. area for the past 20 years before relocating to the Mohawk Valley in response to the region’s increased need for pri-
mary care physicians. Perez had earned his license to practice medicine in New York in the early 1990s while earning his fellowship in geriatric medicine at New York Medical College in Valhalla. As an internist, Perez specializes in providing comprehensive primary care for adults. Focusing his practice on preventative and pro-active treatment of disease, Perez said hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol are major focuses of managing adult health. “Prevention or management of these conditions is key to healthy outcomes,” Perez explained.
RMH names new ICU nurse manager Rome Memorial Hospital Registered Nurse Whitney Perry has been appointed as the new nurse manager of the hospital’s intensive care unit. Perry worked at Rome Memorial Hospital in the 1990s as a respiratory therapist and later became a registered nurse. She returned to the hospital in 2009 as an RN in the emergency department and then as a clinical educator for the hospital. She earned her respiratory therapy and registered nurse credentials at Mohawk Valley Community College
March 2013 •
and is pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Keuka College. For Perry, the most important aspect of caring for the very sick is attention to detail. “You have to pay attention to your patient very closely,” she explained. “That is why the patientWhitney nurse ratio in ICU is only 2 to 1.” Responsible for the daily operations of the ICU, Perry works closely with the nursing staff and physicians, but she is also there to support the patients and their families.
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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper
Cancer Crusade FSLH experts help women maneuver through breast cancer journey By Patricia J. Malin
ina Davis has always been terrified of needles. Recently, when it came time for her to get a biopsy following a suspicious mammogram, she wondered how she would gather up the courage to submit to a needle. Enter Suzy Burns, the “guardian angel” for Mohawk Valley women confronting the fear of breast cancer. “She has a wonderful approach to providing care; (you) have your own RN explaining the tests and treatment,” said Davis of Burns. “She literally held my hand.” Just as the “war” on cancer takes new steps everyday, so does the treatment of cancer care continue to evolve. Burns is a patient navigator and coordinator of the Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare breast cancer program, which went into effect last spring at The Comprehensive Breast Care Center on the Faxton campus in Utica. Burns said FSLH is following a national trend with its patient navigation program, although the history of case management actually dates back to 1863. In the 1980s, case management techniques began to become more widely recognized again, especially in the area of acute care, geriatrics or trauma. Burns now works with a team of nurses and physicians in oncology navigation. Burns accompanied Davis to the Imaging Center at Faxton in late November, shortly after Davis, 63, had been informed that she should go undergo a second mammogram and biopsy. That biopsy revealed stage 1 breast cancer. In the first week of December, Davis underwent a lumpectomy at Faxton’s Regional Cancer Center. Again, Burns was at her side. In the meantime, leading up to the surgery, Burns provided Davis with a description of the diagnosis, the course of treatment and options the cancer patient could expect. But it was Burns’s emotional support that proved priceless, according to Davis. “It’s how the doctors and nurses treat you with a whole difBurns ferent attitude,” she said. “(Having a navigator) makes you feel like you’re in good hands. You want to know they’re watching your every breath. I have her (phone number) on speed dial now!” Davis is now scheduled for yearlong radiation treatment at Faxton but said she will not need chemotherapy.
Point of contact
Burns said she works as part of a team with the medical staff and the patient “from the time they come into the imaging center for the initial conversation between the patient and the radiologist, to the biopsy and surgery (when necessary). We will help the Page 20
patient with the scheduling of appointments. We can help them if they’re apprehensive, just being with them in person, even holding their hand. We’re a point of contact.” It’s not unusual for Burns to call the oncologist or radiologist on the patient’s behalf and get test results back to the patient on a timely basis. “It’s not always easy to speak with a physician because they’re so rushed,” she said. “But my schedule is flexible.” Burns has found time to appear in an online video for FSLH discussing the patient navigator program for women with breast cancer. It introduces patients to The Comprehensive Breast Care Center at Faxton, provides details about surgery, the HERS program at Faxton (Women’s Health Education and Referral Services), plus the Perfect Fit boutique. The boutique provides clothing and wigs for post-mastectomy patients. The Breast Care Center’s website at http://faxtonstlukes. com/center-services/ cancer-center/breastcare-center also provides information about insurance. FSLH will bill the insurance companies directly, but the Zonta Club of Utica generously donates funds for women who are uninsured or underinsured.
New notification requirements
Meanwhile, New York state issued a new law in January that requires mammography providers to inform patients if they have dense breast tissue. This law is designed to help improve breast cancer detection and prevention. Dense breast tissue increases the likelihood that cancer will grow undetected until a later stage when it becomes less treatable, least survivable and more expensive to treat. To comply with these new guidelines, the imaging
IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • March 2013
center at Faxton, which provides nearly 16,500 mammograms annually, will now include a statement of notification to patients with this condition. “Breast density is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer because dense breast tissue can make it difficult to detect tumors by mammography alone,” said Sean Whip, administrative director of medical imaging at FSLH. The statement of notification reads: “Your mammogram shows that your breast tissue is dense. Dense breast tissue is very common and is not abnormal. However, dense breast tissue can make it harder to find cancer
on a mammogram and may also be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. “This information about the result of your mammogram is given to you to raise your awareness. Use this information to talk to your doctor about your own risks for breast cancer. At that time, ask your doctor if more screening tests might be useful, based on your risk. A report of your results was sent to your physician.” The patient’s doctor will also get a more detailed report from the imaging center. The report will indicate the Breast Imaging Reporting and Database System (BI-RADS) density category from 1-4. Category 1 is less than 25 percent glandular (fatty) to category 4, which is more than 75 percent glandular (very dense). All patients in category 3 and 4 will receive a breast density notification in accordance with the state mandate. Whip explained, “This new law provides women with better health care information to pursue other screening options to find cancers early, when they are most treatable and survivable.” For further information concerning these new requirements, contact the New York State Department of Health Office at 518-402-7550 or call FSLH’s Imaging Center at 315-624-5510.
Women need to be vigilant regarding cervical cancer
lthough January is generally considered Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, the Cancer Services Program of Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties reminds women of importance of early detection and treatment of cervical cancer year-round. “Last year, more than 10,000 women in the U.S. were diagnosed with cervical cancer,” said Wendy Hunt, program coordinator for the cancer services program. “The rate of advanced cervical cancer has declined, however, due in large part to women being screened and treated early.” The cancer services program offers free pap tests, as well as mammograms, for uninsured women living in Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties at any time. A pap test examines the cells of the cervix and can determine both cancerous and abnormal cells that can lead to cancer. It is recommended that women aged 21-65 have a pap test every three years. Women over 65 who have had
no abnormal pap test in 10 years may decide after consulting their physician to stop having pap tests. Certain factors put women at higher risk for cervical cancer including the human papilloma virus, also known as genital warts; sexual intercourse at an early age or many sexual partners; a history of sexually transmitted disease, and smoking. Cervical cancer often has no symptoms, yet it is one of the most treatable forms of cancer. The vaccine for HPV (Gardasil), for example, is effective in preventing strains of the HPV virus responsible for causing 70 percent of cervical cancers. It is recommended for girls 9 to 18 years old and is also recommended for boys. It is considered most effective in patients who have not yet been exposed to the HPV virus. For more information on cervical cancer or the cancer services program, visit the Oneida County website at www.ocgov.net/onida/health or call 798-5248.
The Healthcare Newspaper for Utica and the Mohawk Valley