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in good

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

February 2012 • Issue 72

New Study Shows Americans’ Heart Health Needs Improvement

Experience factor key for SECON president See Page 12

Cardiovascular diseases still account for one in every three deaths in the U.S. See Page 6

Don’t snooze you lose See Page 8

Snow foolin’! Don’t forecast your own heart attack


Meet your doctor! Page 4 Get ‘In Good Health’ at home. See coupon inside

he American Heart Association’s Operation Winter Weather Warnings launched recently with an educational campaign targeted to individuals with existing heart disease or stroke, and those who may be at high risk. This includes people with a strong family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smokers, those who are overweight and the sedentary. For these individuals, the stresses of the season may pose extra concern and the association is urging individuals to exercise due caution to avoid sudden cardiac death. The American Heart Association recommends the following tips to help respond to and prevent sudden cardiac arrest: • Avoid sudden cold weather exertion. Snowstorms present particular challenges for everyone, primarily because getting rid of the snow usually means sudden exertion in cold weather. In and of itself, snow shoveling can be healthy, good exercise, but not if you are normally sedentary, are in poor physical condition, or have risk factors that make snow shoveling inadvisable for your health. Everyone who must be outdoors in cold weather should avoid sudden exertion, like lifting a heavy shovel full

of snow. Even walking through heavy, wet snow or snowdrifts can strain a person’s heart. • Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when your body can’t produce enough energy to keep the internal body temperature warm enough, causing it to fall below normal. It can kill you. Heart failure causes most deaths in hypothermia. Symptoms include lack of coordination, mental confusion, slowed reactions, shivering and sleepiness. Children, the elderly and those with heart disease are at special risk. As people age, their ability to maintain a normal internal body temperature often decreases. Because elderly people seem to be relatively insensitive to moderately cold conditions, they can suffer hypothermia without knowing they’re in danger. • Stay warm. People with coronary heart disease often suffer chest pain or discomfort called angina pectoris when they’re in cold weather. Besides cold temperatures, high winds, snow and rain also can steal body heat. Wind is especially dangerous, because it removes the layer of heated air from around your body. Similarly, dampness causes the body to lose heat faster than it would at the

February 2012 •

same temperature in drier conditions. • To keep warm, wear layers of clothing. This traps air between layers, forming a protective insulation. Also, wear a hat or headscarf. Much of your body’s heat can be lost through your head and ears, which are especially prone to frostbite. Keep your hands and feet warm, too, as they tend to lose heat rapidly. • Avoid alcohol before heading outdoors. Alcohol gives an initial feeling of warmth but this is caused by expanding blood vessels in the skin. Heat is then drawn away from the body’s vital organs. • Learn CPR and/or hands-only CPR. About 80 percent of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in private residential settings, so being trained to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation can mean the difference between life and death for a loved one. Effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after cardiac arrest, can double a victim’s chance of survival. Hands-only CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths and is recommended for use by people who see an adult suddenly collapse in an “out-ofhospital” setting.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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The Separated & Divorced Support Group meets at 5 p.m. on the first and third Sunday of each month at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. The group is free and open to all. For more information, contact Andrea, program coordinator, at 315-735-6210, or visit

GriefShare meets from 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. GriefShare, a faith-based support group, meets weekly to help people suffering from grief after losing a loved one. For more information, contact Andrea, program coordinator, at 315-7356210, or visit

Separated, divorced support group to meet


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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2012

hospital lecture

In observance of American Heart Month, Rome Memorial Hospital’s Critical Care Coordinator Richard Simpson will present “Living with Heart Failure” at 7 p.m. Feb. 2 in the hospital’s classroom as part of Health Night. Heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to the rest of the body. Following his presentation, Simpson will introduce Rome Memorial Hospital’s new discharge liaison, Michele Batterson, who has been a critical care nurse and supervisor at the hospital for over 16 years. 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 the hospital. Participants are asked to enter the North James Street entrance of the hospital. There will be signs to direct you to the classroom. Rome Memorial Hospital is a sponsor of the American Heart Association’s

Rome Indoor Run/Walk and Expo Feb. 4 at Rome Free Academy.

Feb. 4

Tickets on sale for annual Makeover My Heart event The fourth annual Makeover My Heart event will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Radisson Hotel in Utica. Tickets are $20 per person and are available for purchase either online at or in person at Slocum-Dickson Medical Group, 1729 Burrstone Road, New Hartford. Makeover My Heart is an organization whose mission is raising community awareness about women and heart disease. A limited number of tickets are available. Registration includes breakfast, lunch, all lectures, interactive workshops, and complimentary spa services. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.makeovermyheart. org or call 624-1974.

Feb. 4

AHA sets date for annual Rome indoor walk The American Heart Association announces the 10th annual Rome Indoor Run/Walk and Pre-registration event, sponsored by Rome Memorial Hospital, to be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon Feb. 4 at Rome Free Academy. Opening ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. The event offers different walk courses to attract different types of walkers. The Rome Indoor Run/Walk is the first Rome pre-registration site for America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk 2012 at Utica College March 3. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. For more information, call the AHA at 315-266-5403 or visit

Feb. 4

Free dental care to children without a dentist The children of Oneida, Madison and Herkimer counties will have something to smile about at the third annual Give Kids A Smile event to be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 4. Children between the ages of 4-10 who do not have a dentist are eligible to participate in the event and will

Continued on Page 15

Between You and Me


By Barbara Pierce

A new path to happiness

John N. Kalil Attorney at Law

Why is depression so prevalent in U.S.?


o one in Mexico is depressed. I lived in Mexico several years, and this fact impressed me. Most Mexicans have never heard of Prozac, Cymbalta, or Zoloft. I was taken aback by this because I had just retired from a career as a psychotherapist. I specialized in treating persons who were depressed. Droves of sad looking, bleak appearing hopeless people slogged through the doors of our clinic every day. Anguished young adults, thinking of killing themselves as life was Pierce too hard to go on. Gloomy middle-aged men and women, downtrodden by life, despondent over the wife or husband who had left them, or the job that had let them go. Lonely aged persons despairing over poor health, lack of any support, hopeless about life ever getting better. Why the difference, I wondered? Why are so many people in the States depressed when they have so much in their lives compared to the poor Mexicans with their simple lives? Perhaps it is because the Mexicans don’t have the luxury of being depressed, I thought. They can’t withdraw from life, to retreat into a miserable inner world. They have to work long hard hours, for a barely livable wage. There is no system that compensates them if they are too depressed to work. Several generations live together in their modest homes, and all must contribute toward the well being of the family. Their meals are plain; if they eat out, it’s lunch at the taco counter in the Centro Mercado. Only the wealthy have computers in their homes; only a few access the world of information at their fingertips. It is just these differences that account for the vast difference in the rates of depression, according to Andrew Weil, a world-renowned leader in integrating conventional medicine and alternative medicine. “There is abundant evidence that depression is a disorder of modern life in the industrialized world,” says Weil in his new book “Spontaneous Happiness.” “Our brains just aren’t equipped for 21st-century life.” In general, countries with lifestyles that are furthest removed from modern standards have the lowest rates of depression. The more “modern” a society’s way of life is, the higher its rate of depression. Within the U.S., those living in the Amish community who shun modern life in favor of a lifestyle like that of rural Americans a century ago have as rate of depression that is one-tenth of other Americans. Most of us are sedentary, spending

our time indoors, sitting. We overeat food that is much altered from its natural state. We are deluged by an unprecedented overload of information and stimulation. We are socially isolated. We can become happier by getting in touch with nature, and putting limits on our email and Internet use. “We are gathering scientific evidence for the benefits of living close to nature, not simply for enjoying its beauty or getting spiritual sustenance but for keeping our brains and nervous systems in good working order,” claims Weil.

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The remedies

His evidence: • We get vitamin D, necessary for optimum brain health, by spending time in the sun. • Primitive people did not develop the need for corrective lenses that so many of us need, as they grew up looking at distant landscapes, not staring at a computer or television screen. Eye health is an indicator of brain health. • Evolution did not prepare us to endure the kinds of man-made sounds that pervade our lives today. Noise strongly affects our emotions and nervous systems. To compensate for this, Weil recommends avoid or neutralize (with noise-canceling earphones) disturbing sounds. Instead, choose to listen to those sounds that have positive effects on your mood, including sounds of nature. Seek out places and times that provide silence. Silence refreshes the spirit. • Our cycles of sleep and waking are maintained by exposure to bright light during the day and darkness at night. Lack of natural light during the day, and exposure to artificial light at night disrupts these rhythms and interferes with our sleep, energy and moods. To make up for this, Weil recommends sleeping in complete darkness, and get outside in natural light as much as possible during the day. Information overload does not allow us to focus our attention. Set limits on the time you spend on the Internet, with email, and on the phone. Bring more of your awareness to the present moment. As we humans are social animals, reach out to others. Make social interaction a priority. It is a powerful safeguard of emotional well-being. Laugh! Spend more time with people you can laugh with.

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• Barbara Pierce, a published writer and a retired psychotherapist, writes memoirs for others, and helps people write their stories. Contact her at

Advertise with In Good Health Call 315-749-7070 February 2012 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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RMH celebrates 125 years of service Healthcare facility in Mohawk Valley carries on proud tradition


ome Memorial Hospital will commemorate 125 years of service to the community as part of its many health, wellness and fundraising events throughout 2012. Before there was a hospital in Rome, Dr. Thomas M. Flandrau, and his wife, Clarissa Foote Flandrau, opened their home to care for victims of a train accident in 1883 because there was no other place. That response to people in need of medical care spurred efforts to establish the city’s first “cottage hospital” in a vacant church rectory on Ridge Street. But, it wasn’t long before the Flaundraus took up the crusade to rouse public sentiment and funding to build a new hospital away from the web of rails and rumble of heavy train traffic in South Rome. Mrs. Flaundrau’s “example lent encouragement to others and the hospital movement became the most popular public charity that this city ever knew,” according to newspaper accounts.

In the beginning

On Sept. 27, 1887, Dr. Flandrau laid the cornerstone of Rome Hospital at 117 E. Garden St. From that day 125 years ago, Rome’s community hospital has evolved to meet the health and wellness needs of Rome and surrounding communities. “We are proud to carry on the tradition of compassion and servitude exemplified by the Flandraus,” said Rome Memorial Hospital’s President/ Chief Executive Officer Basil J. Ariglio. “They saw a need and responded to it. Today, we continue to do just that.” “From 24-hour emergency care to routine testing for early detection, Rome Memorial Hospital provides a broad range of services to meet the community’s healthcare needs,” Ariglio said. “As a nonprofit facility, we provide approximately $7.4 million in uncompensated care a year to those who are unable to pay, while delivering exceptional quality and service.” Ariglio encouraged residents to participate in the hospital’s health fairs, lectures and special events throughout the year as an opportunity to learn ways to live a healthier lifestyle. “Our events also give residents an opportunity to learn more about the hospital,” Ariglio said. “People are often surprised by our growth and technological advances. We’ve really become a community hospital that thinks like a major medical center.” Page 4

Your Doctor

By Patricia J. Malin

Dr. Ashraf Aly Dr. Ashraf Aly, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, recently joined the medical staff at the Women’s Health Center at 2212 Genesee St, Utica, a two-doctor practice affiliated with St. Elizabeth Medical Center. He recently spoke with Mohawk Valley In Good Health senior writer Patricia J. Malin about his career. Q.: Why did you decide to practice in the Mohawk Valley? A.: I had completed my residency at SUNY Buffalo Graduate Medical Consortium Program in Buffalo. I also worked in the North Country at Lewis County Hospital in Lowville from July 2010 to March 2011, and in Carthage. I then decided to bring my family here. Q.: What prompted you to become a doctor? A.: When I grew up in Cairo, my family was very supportive. They encouraged me to enter medicine. I spent six or seven years in college in Egypt and got my bachelor’s degree and M.D. training. I wanted to come to the U.S. to continue my education. My younger sister is also a physician, and my wife is a resident in family medicine. In 1988, I received my M.D. degree and decided to make OB-GYN my specialty when I became a resident in Cairo. It seemed challenging. I then spent eight years practicing OB-GYN in Egypt. Q.: What specific ailments or disorders do you treat? A.: I practice OB-GYN, which includes general gynecology and infertility, social and health issues, prenatal care, pregnancy and complications of pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum care. I like working with new mothers. Q.: What is the most challenging aspect of your job? A.: Spending a lot of time away from my family. Q.: What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job? A.: It’s very easy to work here as a team. I like to help the patients. It’s a very diverse population. Q.: What are the newest developments in the field of obstetrics and gynecology? How do you keep up with these developments (reading, research)? A.: Reading the latest and recent journals, such as from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. There is a difference in the practice of medicine between the U.S. and Egypt. It’s more cutting-edge here. Also, Egypt is an Arabic country and there are more restrictions, but not dramatic differences. Q.: What do you do to relax from a stressful job? A.: I enjoy my free time with my family.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2012

Lifelines Age: 47 Birthplace: Egypt Residence: New Hartford Education: Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt, 1982-1988; Cairo University, Kasr Al Ainy School of Medicine, 1988 (M.D); Internship, Cairo University Hospitals, Cairo, Egypt, 19891990; SUNY Buffalo Graduate Medical Consortium Program, Buffalo, OB-GYN residency training, 2000-2004 Professional Affiliations: American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology; American Medical Association Family: Wife, Dr. Hend Abdelwahab, a resident in family medicine; three children Hobbies: Soccer and walking

Heart Health The Balanced Body

By Deb Dittner

Love Thy Heart Body’s engine needs to be fine-tuned


ardiovascular disease is the biggest threat to your health. During February, Heart Health Month, we need to take note of this special muscular organ within our body. This organ circulates blood, is one of our sources of life, and is where emotion and affection lie. Yes, the heart is amazing! But in order to achieve optimal heart health, we need to continue using the right combination of healthy lifestyle habits. A regular movement program consisting of a minimum of 30 minutes most days of the week will help to strengthen the heart muscle, maintain blood vessels, and help reduce heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and stress. Consider aerobic activities with an incorporated weight-training schedule. Weight loss can also lower cardiovascular risks. Don’t smoke as this has numerous negative health risks for the entire body. Smoking is the major preventable risk factor for heart disease. Smoking has numerous negative health consequences on the entire body such as decreased energy, dry and wrinkled skin, and loss of taste. Stress reduction can lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and homocysteine levels. Stress can be controlled through breathing techniques, meditation, visualization, regular movement, laughter and socialization. Reducing or eliminating foods that can contribute to stress, poor immunity and overgrowth of bacteria can also support heart health. Cholesterol is actually imperative to good health but our body will increase these levels in reaction to stress and inflammation. Reducing the risk

of heart disease can be supported with proper nutrition consisting of whole foods, vegetables and fruits.

Be diet-conscious

So what do we need to reduce or eliminate in our diets? Sugar increases the stress hormone, decreases immunity and feeds bacteria. Caffeine increases the stress hormone. Factoryfarmed meats and dairy cause inflammation. Pesticide-laden foods damage the immune, endocrine and reproductive system. By choosing wholesome foods, we can reduce the risk of heart Dittner disease. As said by Hippocrates: ”Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” It’s important to know your numbers when it comes to cardiovascular issues. Watching cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) will alert you to any problems that may damage heart health. The following are what is generally considered to be in the healthy range: • Total cholesterol: less than 200 • Triglycerides: less than 100 • HDL: For men, at least greater than 40 and for women, at least greater than 55 • LDL: Less than 100 • BMI: Body mass index is another important number where we look at the height and weight of an individual.

ONEIDA, HERKIMER, MADISON AND OTSEGO COUNTIES in good A monthly newspaper published by

Health MV’s Healthcare Newspaper

Local News, Inc. Distribution: 35,000 copies. To request home delivery ($15 per year), call (315) 749-7070.

In Good Health is published 12 times a year by Local News, Inc. © 2012 by Local News, Inc. All rights reserved. Mailing Address: 4 Riverside Drive, Suite 251, Utica, NY 13502 • Phone: 315 749-7070 E-mail: Editor & Publisher: Wagner Dotto • Associate Editor: Lou Sorendo Contributing Writers: Amylynn Pastorella, Patricia Malin, Barbara Pierce, Kristen Raab Advertising: Richard Annal, Marsha Preston Layout & Design: Chris Crocker Office Manager: Laura Beckwith

No material may be reproduced in whole or in part from this publication without the express written permission of the publisher. The information in this publication is intended to complement—not to take the place of—the recommendations of your health provider.

A normal BMI ranges from 18.5 to 25; overweight is from 25 and 30; and obesity begins at 30. Weight gain specifically around the abdomen is also associated with metabolic syndrome. by High blood pressure, abnormal blood sugar levels and low HDL with high triglycerides characterizes metabolic syndrome. Men should have a waist measurement under 40 inches and a woman less than 35 inches for optimal heart health.

Supplements can be helpful

Supplementation can be helpful for maintaining healthy hearts. Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant as it increases the oxygenation of the heart tissue. This is especially important for those taking cholesterol-lowering statin medications that can inhibit the body’s ability to synthesize CoQ10. B vitamins help to decrease stress and lower homocysteine. Vitamin C is another anti-oxidant which can help to regulate blood pressure. Fish oil may help to reduce blood pressure and inflammation. Other supplements that can be incorporated are garlic, ginger, hawthorn, magnesium and ginkgo.

The heart also needs emotional healing. It is important to practice compassion, gratitude, and forgiveness on a daily basis. Studies show that having a long-term relationship is beneficial to your health. There is joy in living together and for one another. Happy and healthy relationships give the couple a purpose in life, a reason to live and generally decrease stress. Couples are also not as likely to develop pneumonia, cancer, have heart attacks and even develop dementia. If a couple does have an argument, the immune system will suffer and it will take longer for the body to recover from an illness or injury. And lastly, we need to give and receive love as often as we possibly can. So this Valentine’s Day, show those you love heartfelt warmth and compassion. And always remember: “Live well, laugh often, love much.”

• Deb Dittner is a family nurse practitioner, Reiki master teacher and a holistic health counselor who works with men and women struggling with weight, hormones, and energy issues. For more information, call 518-596-8565 or visit www. to receive your free health report.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Heart Health

Cardiac Crisis Cardiovascular diseases account for one in every three deaths in the U.S.


merica’s heart and blood vessel health is far from ideal, according to new data in the American Heart Association’s “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update 2012,”published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. The update provides insight into our less-than ideal cardiovascular health. For example, obesity continues to be a major problem for many Americans. More than 67 percent of U.S. adults and 31.7 percent of children are overweight or obese. Over the past 30 years, the prevalence of obesity in children has increased from 4 percent to more than 20 percent. The American Heart Association defines ideal cardiovascular health based on seven health factors: smoking status, weight, physical activity, healthy diet, cholesterol, blood pressure and fasting glucose levels, as well as the absence of a diagnosis of heart or blood vessel disease. Based on that definition, the new data shows that 94 percent of U.S. adults have at least one and 38 percent have at least three of the seven factors at “poor” levels. Half of U.S. children 12 to 19 years old meet four or fewer criteria for ideal cardiovascular health. Between 1971 and 2004, our average calorie consumption has increased by 22 percent in women (from 1,542 to 1,886 kcal/d) and by 10 percent in men (from 2,450 to 2,693 kcal/d). Many of these increased calories come from consuming more carbohydrates, particularly starches, refined grains and sugars; larger portion sizes and calories per meal as well as consuming more sugar-sweetened beverages, snacks, commercially prepared meals (especially fast food) and high-calorie foods. Burning those calories is also an increasing challenge — 33 percent of adults engage in no aerobic leisure-

time physical activity. Furthermore, in 2009, among adolescents in grades nine through 12, 29.9 percent of girls and 17 percent of boys had not engaged in 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity — the recommended amount for good health — even once in the previous seven days. There is some good news in the update — the death rate from cardiovascular diseases (CVD — all diseases of the heart and blood vessels) fell 30.6 percent from 1998 to 2008, possibly due to better treatments for heart attacks, congestive heart failure and other acute conditions. The stroke death rate fell 34.8 percent during that time period, dropping it from the third to the fourth leading

cause of death. While the drop in ranking is mostly driven by decreases in the number of stroke deaths, likely due to better treatment options for acute stroke, reclassifying some respiratory diseases into one category also played a role. For example, deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis and pneumonia are now grouped under the larger category, “respiratory diseases.”

Serious as a heart attack

Unfortunately, other statistics in the update illustrate America’s continued cardiovascular disease burden: • Cardiovascular diseases accounted for one in every three deaths in the United States in 2008; more than

2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular diseases every day an average of one death every 39 seconds. • The cost of cardiovascular care and treatment increased over $11 billion from 2007 to 2008. • The direct and indirect cost of CVD and stroke in the United State for 2008 was an estimated $297.7 billion. “By monitoring health, as well as disease, the update provides information essential to public health initiatives, patient care and for people to take personal responsibility for their health and for their lives,” said Véronique L. Roger, lead author of the update and professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn. The American Heart Association has set a goal for America — to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent and reduce deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent by 2020. “If we’re to reach this goal, we’ll need to engage every segment of the population to focus on improved health behaviors,” said Donald Lloyd-Jones, an author of the statistical update and chairman of the department of preventive medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “In particular, more children, adolescents and young adults will need to learn how to improve and preserve their ideal levels of health factors and health behaviors into older ages. Moving people who are at poor health to make small changes in their behavior and reach intermediate health is a step in the right direction that can make a big difference,” said Lloyd-Jones.

FSLH infection prevention team earns best practice award


axton St. Luke’s Healthcare’s Infection Prevention Department was invited to attend the New York Organization of Nurse Executives Annual Leadership Conference in Tarrytown recently. At the conference, it was awarded a best practice award in the Central New York Region for its catheter associated urinary tract infections reduction team. Since implementing this team, FSLH has seen a 25 percent overall reduction of UTIs and the rate continues Page 6

to decline. Through hospital-wide initiatives that include consistent hand washing, wearing an isolation gown and gloves when entering a patient’s room that is on contact precautions, more private patient rooms and cleaning medical devices and patient rooms with the proper disinfectants and equipment, the employees of FSLH have reduced the spread of bacteria and hospitalacquired infections throughout the organization. FSLH uses a specific measurement

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2012

called nosocomial infection markers to measure hospital-acquired infections. During the past year, the hospital has reduced stool NIMs by 31 percent. That translates into 67 patients were prevented from acquiring an infection, 516 hospital days were prevented and there was a savings in additional direct costs of $278,000. Certain areas of hospital reimbursement by insurance providers are tied to clinical quality. FSLH has earned quality leader status with Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, which means the

hospital receives an additional $10 reimbursement for each Excellus patient that is cared for in 2012. “FSLH continues to see a reduction in the number of patients colonized or infected with resistant organisms such as MRSA or C. diff and we believe that mandatory isolation gowns, gloves and hand washing may be contributing to this improvement,” said Dr. James Bramley, infection prevention officer at FSLH.

Heart Health Run, walk for heart health Activities create funding momentum for fight against heart disease said. “Change I did.” Right away, she kicked smoking. “I had smoked for 15 to 20 years, and I had tried to quit. Once I had my heart attack, smoking was awful and I never wanted another cigarette,” she said. She has now become an exercise addict. “I want to be around for my young daughter,” she explained. She also started an exercise program. In preparation of the 2011 Heart Run & Walk, she formed “Mia’s Team.” From there, it was just a few more steps before she attempted the Boilermaker’s 5-kilometer run. “I never thought I could run a mile, let alone three,” Palmer said. “I plan on staying on this path for a very long time.”

By Patricia J. Malin


he face of heart disease is not anonymous. It’s a member of your family, a dear friend, a co-worker or a neighbor. It’s a 13-year-old girl born with a congenital defect; a senior citizen whose heart problems require constant vigilance; a 44-year-old woman who experienced an unexpected heart attack, and a Rome physician who was not even aware of his heart defect for many years. These are real people. Krysta DeRosia, Tim O’Connor and Maria Palmer, who are all survivors of heart disease, have been designated Red Cap Ambassadors for America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk, which takes place in Utica on March 3 at Utica College. Russell Arant, director of Rome Memorial Hospital’s surgical services, was named inspirational honoree for the 10th annual Rome Indoor Run/Walk. The event—sponsored by RMH—will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon Feb. 4 at Rome Free Academy. He was 35 years old before a routine physical discovered a congenital heart problem. The Red Cap ambassadors shared their stories from the heart at a recent reception at the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory. The Utica chapter of the American Heart Association announced the fundraising goal for the 2012 Run and Walk is $1.1 million. “I look normal on the outside,” commented 13-year-old Krysta DeRosia of New Hartford. “On the inside, I have a pig valve, an artificial valve and a pacemaker.” DeRosia was born with a heart condition called truncus arteriosis, meaning she had one main blood vessel leaving the heart, rather than the normal two. The anonomly reduces the flow of oxygen in the body and causes breathing problems, which are corrected through open-heart surgery. She has endured three operations, including the first one when she was 3 months old.

No stopping her

Now it rarely slows her down. “I am active, but I can’t play sports,” she said. She will be participating in the heart walk with about 15 family members and friends and they hope to raise $5,000 for critical heart research. Detection of heart problems and even a routine of good nutrition, exercise and physical checkups doesn’t always stop heart problems from recurring. Tim O’Connor of Lowville recalled that his first indication of heart trouble came in 1996. He was returning home from his 25th class reunion at Notre Dame University. While driving on the interstate in Indiana, he felt a sudden tightness and discomfort in his chest. He pulled

Kickoff in Rome

Shown from left are Tim O’Connor, Maria Palmer and Russell Arant. O’Connor and Palmer are Red Cap Ambassadors for America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk, set for March 3 at Utica College. Arant is the inspirational honoree for the 10th annual Rome Indoor Run/Walk on Feb. 4 at Rome Free Academy. over at a rest stop. A half hour later, he was taken by ambulance to St. Mary’s Hospital in Hammond, Ind. The doctors there performed an immediate catherization to relieve the blocked arteries. He spent several days in recovery. He was later referred to Mark Reger of Central New York Cardiology in Syracuse. O’Connor thanks Reger for implementing an exercise routine, which included annual stress tests. In 2001, Reger discovered the blockages had returned. This time, O’Connor had three stents inserted. Despite engaging in a walking exercise program, O’Connor wasn’t out of the woods completely. By December 2003, the stents had closed in once again, so he underwent bypass surgery. The following spring, he decided to participate in his first America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk. He and his wife, Jane, became volunteers at the Boonville event. Since then, O’Connor has formed a “wellness” team at his office at Lewis County General Hospital in Lowville. Thanks to pledges, donations and bake sales, the “Heart Throbs” have contributed $5,000 to the Utica chapter of the American Heart Association. They hope to start their own heart run-walk eventually in Lewis County. O’Connor’s message is that everyone, not just seniors, need continued vigilance of their physical condition.

Cardiac arrest

Maria “Mia” Palmer admittedly led a sedentary lifestyle that included smoking. Her heart finally rebelled, big time. She got the alarming message at 3:30 in the morning on Nov. 22, 2010. She was suddenly awakened, sweat-

ing and with sharp pains in her chest. She stumbled to the kitchen, but she said she barely had enough strength or breath left to dial 911. In the ambulance, the emergency technicians hooked her up to a heart monitor and told her she was having a heart attack. “I didn’t believe it,” she recalled. “How could that be? I was only 44 years old.” She has a 7-year-old daughter, Madison. At St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica, she underwent a catherization. Her doctor told her she had 99 percent blockage. Her immediate reaction, she added, was depression and embarrassment that her smoking habit, an admittedly stressful lifestyle, as well as inheriting her father’s cardiovascular disease, triggered the heart attack. “I knew right there that it was a wakeup call for me to change,” Palmer

Arant is a surgeon. He is director of Rome Memorial Hospital’s surgical services including the operating room, post-anesthesia care unit and the central sterile department. In 2010, even this knowledgeable professional was caught off-guard when an annual physical discovered that he suffered from a congenital heart birth defect called a bicuspid aortic valve. An aortic aneurysm had already formed, “a ticking time bomb,” Arant said. On Oct. 13, 2010, he underwent open heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. Throughout February and early March, other local heart run and walks will be held at Poland High School, the Masonic Care Community in Utica, Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown, The Fitness Mill in New York Mills, Herkimer County Community College, Oneida Healthcare, Colgate University, Sangertown Square Mall in New Hartford, Kirkland Art Center and Boonville. The annual WIBX Heart Radiothon teams up with the Health & Wellness Expo at Utica College on March 2. The expo offers free heart risk and other fitness assessments screenings from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Male nurses more masculine than other guys


espite the old stereotype that nursing is a “women’s profession,” male nurses display more typically masculine traits than men who work in other vocations, a new study suggests. The results show male nursing students scored higher on tests to measure masculinity than college men studying other subjects. “The nursing profession is attracting males who hold a high degree of masculinity,” the researchers wrote in a

February 2012 •

recent issue of the American Journal of Men’s Health. “Efforts should be made to counteract the prevailing belief that male nurses are effeminate.” The idea that male nurses are more effeminate has existed for generations, and is re-enforced by popular culture, according to the study. The stereotype may discourage men from entering the profession, and cause anxiety and tension among those who choose to pursue it.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 7

Sleep Disorders

Insomnia Lack of sleep can result in myriad of health, personal problems By Barbara Pierce

of coffee or soda makes it easily to fall asleep and stay asleep. Some people have found that even caffeine at lunch interferes with their sleep. • Keep your bedroom cool, quiet and dark. If you get up during the night, don’t turn on a light. Use a nightlight if you need a light. • If you can’t fall asleep at your regular time, get out of bed and do other things, advises Elbayadi. If you have things on your mind that worry you, try to get these things off your mind by writing them down before going to bed.


f you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep you have more than just a sleep problem. You have a health problem. “When you don’t get enough quality sleep you are at higher risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity,” said Sherif Elbayadi of Pulmonary Health Physicians in Fayetteville. These grave illnesses and a shortened life span were linked to chronic sleep loss in recent studies. Studies also found that sleep loss may cause permanent changes in the brain, some of which may predispose persons to depression or Alzheimer’s disease. Even just one night of lessened sleep can increase hunger-promoting hormones in the body, causing a craving for foods that are high in carbohydrates and high in sugar. Nodding off behind the wheel can have serious or fatal consequences. Other consequences of sleep loss include moodiness, irritability, lack of concentration, and poor memory. The list is long and disturbing. Even colds have been linked to lack of sleep. Many older women have problems getting enough sleep. “I used to be such a good sleeper,” said 62-year-old Roxann Luning. “Now I hardly ever get a good night’s sleep. I can’t fall asleep until 3 a.m. or so, and then I wake up at 7 a.m. I always feel so tired.” Mary Waters, 67, also used to be a good sleeper. “I can fall asleep with no problem, but then I wake up to go the bathroom, and I can’t get back to sleep. Usually not at all that night,” she said.

Check out these tips

Elbayadi recommends simple things to try to improve the quality of your sleep: • Keep regular hours for bedtime and getting up. Your body will respond to the routine of going to bed at the

Doctor may be helpful

same time. Keep those hours, even on weekends. Even if you didn’t sleep well the night before, avoid the urge to sleep in. • Do not take naps during the day. “As people age, they are more inclined to nap,” said Elbayadi. “But naps take away from ‘sleep pressure.’” Sleep pressure builds with time spent awake and is diminished with sleep. If you nap during the day, you may not fall asleep as fast. • Start winding down hours before bedtime. Avoid vigorous exercise, avoid eating a heavy or spicy meal, and avoid extremes of temperature, as these things stimulate you, and may cause problems falling asleep. • Avoid alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol may initially help you fall asleep, but makes it harder for you to stay asleep. Don’t smoke just before

bedtime. Nicotine is a stimulant; the effects of nicotine are similar to those of caffeine. If you wake up during the night, do not have a cigarette. • Do not check your emails and text messages before turning off the light, as this can interfere with your sleep. Don’t let yourself be awakened by cell phone, texts, or emails. Get these technologies out of the bedroom, and definitely get them out of your children’s room. The glow alone can interfere with quality sleep. • Avoid caffeine for at least six hours before bedtime, advises Elbayadi. Caffeine has a long half-life, which means its effects may interfere with falling asleep or staying asleep long after you have enjoyed the beverage. Conduct your own experiment: See if eliminating that after dinner cup

After following these suggestions, if you continue having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or your daytime functioning is impaired, talk to your physician. Your physician may recommend a sleep specialist. If indicated, a sleep specialist will do a sleep study, an attended polysomnography. This is a comprehensive recording of the changes that occur as you sleep: brain waves, eye movements, EKG results, chest wall movements, and muscle activity. The results will help determine the problem. Sleep apnea is a common sleep disturbance. “Sleep apnea is not only about snoring,” said Elbayadi. “It is a sleep disorder and is often accompanied by serious health problems.” Symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring, apnea spells (brief suspension of breathing), and excessive sleepiness during the day. Talk to your doctor if you have these symptoms, suggests Elbayadi. Treatments for sleep apnea include weight loss, if indicated; avoiding alcohol, if that is a contributing factor; a dental device, or surgical repair of a deviated septum. Nasal strips can be helpful. The most reliable, non-invasive treatment is surgery to relieve the obstruction of the airways. This surgery is radical and not always successful.

St. E’s celebrates 145th anniversary


t. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica celebrated its 145th anniversary recently by honoring an employee and a recipient of its community award. Following a founder’s day service in the medical center chapel, The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter NYSARC, received the Founder’s Day Community Service Award. Barb Zumpano received the Mother Bernardina Award, which is named after the medical center’s founder and is presented to an employee. Medical center employees choose the winner of Page 8

the award. The Arc was selected because of its contributions to the community and individuals with developmental disabilities. The mission of The Arc is to provide a full spectrum of educational, vocational, residential, family support, service coordination, guardianship, respite care, recreational rehabilitation, day habilitation, clinical, senior and children’s services to people with developmental disabilities and their families. The agency serves over 1,650 individuals throughout Oneida and Lewis

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2012

counties. “As a community, we are extremely fortunate to have an organization such as The Arc to assist those who need the services it provides,” said Richard Ketcham, president/CEO of St. Elizabeth Medical Center. “The mission of The Arc is not unlike the medical center mission to care for all with respect and dignity.” Zumpano has been employed at the medical center for 40 years. She is the assistant in the marketing and public relations department. Zumpano is a graduate of Whitesboro High School. She is always available to help her col-

leagues and promotes the mission and image of the medical center. She takes photos and plans events. “Barb is a loyal, hard-working employee, who consistently exceeds what is asked of her,” said Robert Scholefield, vice president/COO. “Barb is also well known in our community and is involved in volunteering. She exhibits the spirit of Mother Bernardina.” Zumpano resides in Utica. She is the parent of three adult children, Shelly, Lisa and Heather. She has four grandchildren, two girls and two boys: Stephanie, Brandon, Kyle and Marissa.

Nutrition ‘TurboCharge’ your lifestyle Leave your diet and exercise rules in the dust, claims new book and cancer. Alessandra Kershaw, registered dietitian at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica, agrees that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain foods is a good recommendation. “As cookies and candies do taste good, don’t try to eliminate them. Just eat a lot less of those foods, and a lot more of the healthy stuff,” she recommended. “It’s not so much the food that we eat, but the portion control that is the problem,” she added. She frequently finds that people come to her for assistance, and believe they are eating healthy, but their portions are way too large. “The key is portion control,” she emphasized.


By Kristen Raab ast year, Americans spent an estimated $46 billion on diet products and diet self-help books. And two-thirds of those who dieted gained their weight back. Everything you have heard about dieting is wrong, say the authors of the new book “TurboCharged.” Written by health experts Dian Griesel and Tom Griesel, the book delivers practical advice to help readers lose body fat, improve their overall wellness, and slow the aging process. For the past three decades, the Griesels worked with researchers and health experts to refine their theories. The book does not sell a special diet plan, but rather focuses on the loss of fat. The Griesels, a baby boomer brother and sister, said the title of the book comes from their belief that everyone could use a kick-start, which they call “turbo charging.” Getting your body into high gear quickly can fire your metabolism, which leads to greater loss of body fat. “Accept your body for the shape you are. That is not going to change,” said Dian Griesel in an interview with a Fresno, Calif. talk show. “Whether you are short and stocky, or tall and lanky, you can’t change. But what can change is your body fat percentage. You can become buff,” she said. And lowering your body fat percentage is the fastest way to improve your health.

Eliminate refined foods

Focus on the loss of fat, advises the book. Burn off fat by eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and quality protein. Eat large quantities of these foods, as they will burn fat. You will see results in just a few weeks. Most Americans eat too much processed and refined foods, and not

Drink lots of water

Health experts Dian Griesel and Tom Griesel, authors of the new book “TurboCharged,” recommend you leave your diet and exercise rules in the dust. enough of nutrient rich natural foods, the Griesels found. To burn fat, eliminate refined foods from your diet, and reduce your intake of sugar. One of the reasons we overeat is that when we eat a diet of mostly processed and refined foods, and not enough nutrient-rich natural foods, our body knows there is a problem and sends us signals to eat more. And most of us end up eating more of the same problem foods. This creates a vicious cycle. Refined foods stimulate our taste buds. Who can eat just one potato chip? These foods are designed so that you

will want to eat more, say the Griesels. When we provide our bodies with all the nutrients required, by eating the natural foods that our bodies are best adapted to eat, we require fewer calories because all of our nutritional requirements are met. Eliminating all sources of refined foods has a very beneficial effect on our bodies, and helps us live longer, research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found. Not only does it slow the progress of aging, it delays the development of agingrelated diseases, like type 1 diabetes

Drinking lots of water is another recommendation of the book. “When you think you’re hungry, have a big glass of water,” said Dian Griesel in an interview. “Hunger is often mistaken for thirst.” She recommends drinking a huge glass of water at breakfast, and continuing drinking throughout the day and with meals. “It is good advice to drink more water,” noted Kershaw. You will feel full faster, and you will slow down your eating as you stop to sip water. Keep active is another recommendation made in the book. Kershaw definitely agrees. “You don’t have to go to the gym, just keep moving as much as you can.” Park away from the building and walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk through the mall on weekends, window shopping. For more information on TurboCharged and the groundbreaking recommendations made, see www.

Fast food: what the doctor orders


ounting calories doesn’t have to end when facing a fast-food menu. Between shopping excursions to the mall, juggling school activities or taking long car trips, swinging into a convenient burger or taco joint doesn’t have to mean you are entering a nutritional wasteland. “The average American consumes close to 50 percent of his or her meals outside of the home and fast-food restaurants are abundant,” said Jessica Bartfield, internal medicine, who specializes in nutrition and weight management at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System. “By following a few rules, you can keep any fast food meal in calorie check.” Bartfield likes sandwich shops that

allow customers to load up on vegetable toppings, which adds nutritional value, and also pass on higher-calorie ingredients like cheese and dressings.

“I am also a fan of fast-food places that offer soup or even chili as soup can be a terrific option, particularly ones loaded with veggies, lean meats and beans,” she said. “Be careful to avoid the cream- or cheesebased soups and beware the bread bowl, which can increase the calories by up to 1,000.”

Bartfield’s fast-food favorite five

1 — “Select grilled rather than fried. A fast-food grilled chicken sandwich has 470 calories and 18 grams of fat while the fried version has 750 calories and 45 grams of fat.” 2 — “Hold off on cheese, mayonnaise and salad dressings unless lowfat options are available. February 2012 •

Cheese can add an additional 100 calories or more per serving, as does mayonnaise and, often, you won’t miss the taste when ordering the plainer versions.” 3 — “Order the smallest size available. Go for the single burger rather than the double and for the small fry rather than bonus-size.” 4 — “Skip sugar-sweetened drinks, which are usually absent in nutritional value and don’t make you feel more satisfied. These calories quickly add up leading to excessive calorie consumption, especially at restaurants offering free refills on drinks.” 5 — Save half of your order for your next meal. You save calories, save time and also save money.”

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 9


A Leadership Conference for Health Care Professionals Employed in Acute, Long-Term and Home Care Settings

Radisson Hotel Utica Centre | 200 Genesee Street | Utica, NY 13502

Email inquiries to Utica College and Central New York Area Health Education Center (CNYAHEC) are pleased to invite health care professionals to the Second Annual Health Care Administration Conference featuring best of class practices in health care: Innovative Models of Delivering Patient Care—A Leadership Conference for Health Care Professionals Employed in Acute, Long-Term, and Home Care Settings. Keynote Presentation by JOHN KENAGY, MD Forbes Magazines’ “the man who would change health care” Author: Designed to Adapt: Leading Healthcare in Challenging Times 2011 American College of Healthcare Executive Book of the Year For more information or to register: or the Office of Corporate and Professional Programs at Utica College at (315) 792-3344

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

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2012


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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper


Page 11

Healthcare Leaders Dr. Marian Kovatchitch St. Elizabeth College of Nursing president applies expertise, experience to her job By Patricia J. Malin

image of the school and its students.

hether she is discussing her personal or professional life, “family” is a frequent word in Marian Kovatchitch’s vocabulary and lifestyle. Kovatchitch is president of the St. Elizabeth College of Nursing in Utica. As she notes, she is not new to the neighborhood. She has been on the staff there since 1977. She has pleasant memories of the way the school used to be 35 years ago in a less-harried time. But just like standing back and watching her children grow into adults, she knows she can’t hinder progress. Not that she has any revolutionary goals in mind as she implements her three-year Kovatchitch strategic plan. The college is humming along nicely. Nevertheless, she will continue to guide the staff and students as if they were a part of her extended family. Speaking of family, two of her daughters graduated from St. Elizabeth, one of who, Courtney, is employed next door at St. Elizabeth Medical Center. Kovatchitch is just the third president in the school’s history. She didn’t expect to become the head administrator, but she certainly was in the right place at the right time. She was standing in the wings in September 2010, when with some fanfare, the college introduced Thomas Connelly as president. He was a St. Elizabeth alumnus, an RN, and was the first PhD, as well as the first man to lead the college. He also had big shoes to fill. The first president of the college of nursing, Marianne Monahan, had retired on Sept. 17, 2010. She had been president for five years, and prior to that she was dean and assistant dean for 23 years. Connelly carved out a completely new path. He ended up resigning unexpectedly, just three months later. “He had a different focus that caused him to change his mind,” Kovatchitch explained. She was named interim president in January 2011 while the board of trustees conducted another search. But this one was right under their nose. She also very closely fits the

Kovatchitch was previously dean of academic affairs, and like many of her earlier posts, she has a habit of being active. “I definitely kept it handson,” she said during a recent interview in her new office. “I reviewed students’ grades and was responsible for everything related to the curriculum and faculty.” She oversees 17 full-time faculty in addition to five other support personnel. “As president, I have carried over my duties. I now report to the federal government and I have overall responsibility for the entire college, the staff, the students and faculty. It includes student activities, financial aid, the registrar, academics, even security,” she said. Last August, the incoming student nursing class consisted of 96 women and 13 men from a 15-county region in New York state and two from out-ofstate. Thirty-five percent of freshmen have advanced degrees and many are entering SECON to begin second careers. The total student population is about 218. Kovatchitch is a native of Indiana who grew up in Kentucky. She began her career in the Army Nurse Corps while her husband—whose family is from the Cooperstown area—served as a welder in Vietnam. Kovatchitch got her first job as a nursing teacher in 1975. She joined the St. Elizabeth faculty as a medical-surgical instructor. After 10 years, she became curriculum coordinator. In 2001, she was elevated to dean of academic affairs and held the post for another decade.


Page 12


Hands-on approach

A different time

When Kovatchitch originally came to the school, nursing students were conventional high school graduates, almost all single women and 18 years old. They lived in dorms on the St. Elizabeth Hospital campus on Genesee Street while working on their degrees. “They had weekends off, but they really had no life outside school,” she recalled. Most of the faculty consisted of the Sisters of St. Francis, who were then

Name: Marian Kovatchitch, MS, RN Title: President, St. Elizabeth College of Nursing Age: 64 Hometown: Evansville, Ind. Residence: Herkimer Education: University of Evansville, Evansville, Ind., BS, nursing, 1969; Syracuse University, MS, nursing, 1985. Affiliations: Professional Nurses of Central New York; Utica College Advisory Board; The Central New York Area Health Education Center Advisory Board; American Nurses Association; Consortium of Nurse Educators and Nurse Executives of the Mohawk Valley (vice-chair); National League For Nursing; Iota Delta Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau (International Nursing Honor Society) Family: Husband, Joseph; children: Jason (active military, Army, currently serving sixth tour of duty in the Middle East), Emily, Courtney, and Erin affiliated with Maria Regina College in Syracuse. The dorms were later torn down to make way for a new administrative/classroom building for the college of nursing. The Sisters of St. Francis, too, faded into history and even Maria Regina College closed. But the nursing school, now with lay teachers, has continued to thrive. Its name was changed to the St. Elizabeth College of Nursing in 1996. Though it remains a two-year program, standards are higher today. Students now find themselves enrolled on a fast track to a Bachelor of Science degree and without having to travel far. Thanks to a matriculation agreement with SUNY Institute of Technology in Marcy, known as 1-2-1, nursing students actually begin with general studies at SUNYIT. They spend their sophomore and junior years at St. Elizabeth, and close out the baccalaureate program at SUNYIT. SECON has learned to take into account the diversity of its student body, meaning not all of its incoming students are practicing nurses. “They come from all walks of life,” Kovatchitch noted, “and they work Monday through Friday.” For them, SECON offers a program of weekendonly nursing classes, one that is becoming increasingly popular.

Collaborative approach

Over the years, the college has reached out to other area institutions and drawn on their areas of expertise, including Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica, which operates St. Luke’s Hospital and the cancer center at Faxton. The senior class will soon begin its pediatric and maternity rotations at both St. Luke’s and the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse. Despite the changes, Kovatchitch said SECON has stayed true to its mis-

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2012

sion. “Our curriculum is a model of compassion and caring, and the faculty has to buy into that,” she said. “When we’re interviewing applicants, the faculty sits in and is able to ask questions and see if they’re a good fit for the college. This is a small school and we want someone to feel like they’re a part of the family.” Kovatchitch said she has never departed from the philosophy she has followed throughout her career. “When I was going to school at Syracuse University, one of my professors told me to be a good role model. He said, ‘The essence of teaching is to give something of yourself to your students.’ I have expectations of myself and the faculty when it comes to our work ethic and professionalism,” she said. And the college expects students to give back, too. Kovatchitch said one of her goals in her strategic plan is to make community service a requirement for students. Though many students and faculty do get involved in the community, it’s optional. Some of the students help deliver teddy bears to pediatric patients; they visit abused women living in the shelters, and get to know psychiatric patients. Kovatchitch is not interested in seeing the college pursue unplanned growth. She is pleased with the size and stability of the student body. “We have a ratio of one faculty to eight students,” she pointed out. Above all, SECON represents a long tradition. “We want students who come here to realize this is a vocation; it’s not about finding a job,” the president said. “This is a calling. It’s about caring for people, many of whom are the most vulnerable in our population.”

Business Spotlight

By Jim Miller

How to get your affairs in order Dear Savvy Senior I would like to get my personal and financial information organized so my kids will know what’s going on when I die. Any tips would be appreciated. Overwhelmed Senior Dear Overwhelmed, Organizing your important papers and personal information is a smart move and a great gift to your loved ones. Here are some tips to help you get started. Get organized

The first step in getting your affairs in order is to gather up all your important personal, financial and legal information so you can arrange it in a format that will benefit you now, and your loved ones later. Then you’ll need to sit down and create various lists of important information and instructions of how you want certain things handled when you die or if you become incapacitated. Here’s a checklist of areas you need to focus on.

Personal information

• Contacts: Make a master list of names and phone numbers of close friends, family, clergy, doctors, and professional advisers such as your lawyer, accountant, broker and insurance agent. • Personal documents: Include such items as your birth certificate, Social Security card, marriage license, military discharge papers, etc. • Secured places: List all the places you keep under lock and key or protected by password, such as safe deposit boxes, safe combination, security alarms, etc. • Service providers: Provide contact information of the companies or people who provide you regular services such as utility companies, lawn service, etc. • Pets: If you have a pet, give instructions for the care of the animal. • End of life: Indicate your wishes for organ, tissue or body donation including documentation (see donatelife. net), and write out your funeral instructions. If you’ve made pre-arrangements with a funeral home include a copy of agreement, their contact information and whether you’ve prepaid or not.

Legal documents

•Will: Include the original copy of your will and other estate planning documents you’ve made. • Power of attorney: This names someone you trust to handle money matters if you’re incapacitated. If you

don’t have a will or power of attorney, do-it-yourself resources like legalzoom. com can help you create them for a few dollars. • Advance directives: These documents — a living will and medical power of attorney — spell out your wishes regarding your end-of-life medical treatment when you can no longer make decisions for yourself. For free advanced directive forms visit or call 800-658-8898.

Financial records

• Income and debt: Make a list of all income sources such as pensions, Social Security, IRAs, 401Ks, interest, investments, etc. And do the same for any debt you may have — mortgage, credit cards, medical bills, car payment. • Financial accounts: List all bank and brokerage accounts (checking, savings, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, IRAs, etc.) and their contact information. And keep current statements from each institution in your files. • Company benefits: List any retirement plans, pensions or benefits from your current or former employer including the contact information of the benefits administrator. • Insurance: List the insurance policies you have (life, long-term care, home, auto, Medicare, Medigap, prescription drug, etc.) including the policy numbers, insurance agents and phone numbers. • Credit cards: List all credit and charge cards, including the card numbers and contact information. • Property: List real estate, vehicles and other properties you own, rent or lease and include documents such as deeds, titles, and loan or lease agreements. • Taxes: Keep copies of tax returns for seven years and the contact information of your tax preparer. Keep all your organized information and files together in one convenient location — ideally in a fireproof filing cabinet or safe in your home. Also be sure to review and update it every year, and don’t forget to tell your loved ones where they can find it. Savvy tips: To help you get organized, Nolo (, 800-728-3555) offers a great resource book called “Get It Together” for $18.50. You can also purchase helpful guides at

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 photo are, front row from left, Mohawk Medical Supply LLC owner Maria Hunt; Ozzie Hunt; back row from left, Sabrina Hunt; and Holly Cassella, manager.

Mohawk Medical Supply


ohawk Medical Supply LLC, 101 W. Main St., Mohawk, is a privately owned company dedicated to providing quality durable medical equipment and services for over a decade. It specializes in the rental, sales and service of a variety of durable medical equipment including: • Hospital beds, trapeze and hoyer lifts • Wheelchairs (manual and power mobility) • Canes, walkers and commodes • Stair lifts and vehicle lifts • Lift chairs • Diabetic shoes with custom inserts • Aids for daily living • Portable oxygen concentrator rentals • Cpap/Bipap and Nebulizers All respiratory services are provid-

ed by a staffed of registered respiratory therapists. Mohawk Medical Supply also offers repair services, equipment setup and instruction, as well as free insurance billing. “We pride ourselves on our staff of highly motivated and trained professionals. We are a family run business that strives to know and understand all our patients’ needs and respond to them in a personal and friendly manner,” said owner Maria Hunt. “We work together and with other healthcare professionals as a team to provide the finest patient care available.” Mohawk Medical Supply delivers all of its products and services to customers in the Mohawk Valley and surrounding areas. It has been accredited by the Joint Commission for Medicare since 2009. For more information, call 315-8663700.

History made for minimally invasive surgery


n Tuesday, Dec. 20, Santiago Horgan, chief of minimally invasive surgery at UC San Diego Health System, was the first surgeon in the United States to remove a diseased gallbladder through a patient’s belly button with the aid of a new FDA-approved da Vinci Si Surgical System. With one incision, Horgan removed the gallbladder in 60 minutes. The patient returned home five hours after the groundbreaking surgery and reported minimal pain. “Our goal is to offer surgery options that reduce discomfort, shorten

February 2012 •

hospital stays and minimize scarring,” said Horgan, a robotic surgery expert and director of the UC San Diego Center for the Future of Surgery. “With the aid of this robotic system, we can accomplish all three. This is a significant advancement for the 750,000 patients who need gallbladder removal each year.” Intuitive Surgical, Inc. received FDA-approval on the new operating platform specifically for cholecystectomy procedures, the surgical removal of the gallbladder.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Men’s Health From doctor to patient Accident victim reinvents his career as consultant, advocate By Aaron Gifford

“The point here is not to get a second opinion, but to fully understand the first one. When you do this, you become a different kind of patient. You can’t make a wrong decision if it’s your decision.”


teven Kussin’s perception of the health care business was transformed when the doctor himself became a patient. That event, as traumatic as it was, inspired him to help others make the most informed decisions possible about their own medical care. A car accident six years ago nearly destroyed the gastroenterologist’s right hand and limited the use of his feet. He sustained 14 broken bones. After several months of recovery, Kussin attempted to resume his hugely successful practice in Utica, but quickly realized that he no longer had a surgeon’s steady touch and felt he would be putting his patients at risk if he continued to perform procedures. Starting as a sole practitioner, he had expanded the business to three locations and employed 60 people. It was heartbreaking to leave a career that spanned 30-plus years. “I felt I was really good at what I did,” said the 57-year-old New York City native, who completed his undergraduate degree at Colgate University in Hamilton, Madison County. “There’s nothing about being a physician where you ever have to question yourself. You make a wonderful income, people look up to you and you help them.” During Kussin’s hospitalization, he worried about his future as a physician. But he also had the unique opportunity to experience medicine as someone who already knew the doctors, the facilities and the choices. “I knew the doctors, their lives, their wives and their strengths,” Kussin said. “I also saw that my care was so much better than everyone else around me. I got better care because I am so much more informed. I started to think about that. You shouldn’t have to be a doctor to be treated like one.”

New book released

That was the premise for Kussin’s book, “Doctor, Your Patient Will See You Now.” He stayed busy writing when he was unable to practice. The writing took three years and was difficult at first, but after several months Kussin got the hang of it. It received rave reviews from The New York Times and is on track to be published in paperback in August. The first half of the book provides an insider’s analysis of doctor’s offices, medical groups, hospitals and emergency rooms, while the second half deals with empowering the patient, whether it’s questioning a physician’s decision, selecting a new provider or taking steps to prevent acquiring infections while hospitalized. Dr. Christopher M. Johnson, author of “How Your Child Heals: An Inside Look at Common Childhood Ailments,” called Kussin’s book an excellent guide to “patient-hood.” Page 14

who need to weigh their best- and worst-case scenarios with the quality of their remaining life. Kussin’s business also includes an insurance consultant, Linda Lovrim, who advises clients on what procedures are covered and how much they could potentially pay for care out of pocket.

Developing plan of action

Steven Kussin “The American medical system is a vast, sprawling, complicated thing,” Johnson said. “It is barely understandable to the physicians who work in it, and totally bewildering to the majority of patients who must use it. Dr. Kussin’s book is a hard-headed, practical user’s guide for people who want to know how our complicated and messy system works day-to-day in doctor’s offices and hospitals. It shows readers how to be savvy, how to be their own best advocate in getting care and avoiding bad care.” Kussin used the momentum from his book to get back into seeing patients. But this time it was in the role as an adviser, not a physician. Three months ago, he established the Shared Decision Center in a revitalized multistory building in Utica. He says it is the only freestanding independent facility of its kind in the nation. He promotes the center on his website,

Standing up for the patient

Professional consultants in other regions or states charge upward of $300 an hour for patient advocacy services and most of their work is performed by telephone or in the office of a group practice. Kussin’s service is priced at $165 per visit, which can last more than two hours and includes follow-up

telephone calls if necessary. Right now he’s just hoping to cover operation and facility costs. “The others (in this field), their only overhead is their telephone bill,” Kussin said. “I have an office, but it does not look like a doctor’s office on the outside or the inside. The only difference between me and having a doctor in the family is with me, you have to cough up the $165.” Still, Kussin does not consider himself a patient advocate. His main function is to make a patient informed about all of their choices. That would include discussions about the costs of procedures, recovery time and quality of life—the risks, the benefits, the full spectrum of what’s ahead. He will not endorse any option, and every client is required to sign a waiver that acknowledges that Kussin would not testify in any malpractice lawsuits against medical providers. “This is supposed to be a completely neutral place for them to learn,” he said. “The point here is not to get a second opinion, but to fully understand the first one. When you do this, you become a different kind of patient. You can’t make a wrong decision if it’s your decision.” This type of service is especially helpful to men who are considering prostate removal, or cancer patients

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2012

In this practice, Kussin’s tools are digital and interactive. He has a vast library of online manuals and articles, and he uses a software program that allows clients to rate how they feel about each option as they narrow down their choices toward establishing a plan of care. He also role plays with the clients, challenging them to scrutinize a care plan, bargain over co-payment amounts and bring a “healthy skepticism” toward provider recommendations. Kussin likens the process to buying a car, asserting that patients should still consider themselves as a customer and recognize that they have power to make a deal with their physician or take their business elsewhere. Kussin enjoys his new career but maintains it is still not as satisfying as practicing medicine. He hopes to “become saturated” with clients and long days, but in its infancy stage the practice sometimes serves only one of two people a day. During his opening week, Kussin actually had more calls from local physicians looking for jobs than he had from prospective clients. The doctor said his business will grow as more people become dissatisfied with their health care choices, largely because of insurance company policies that dictate medical practices. “There will be longer lines, shorter visits, more complexity to care,” he said. “The divide will be worse than it is now.” Kussin still has many good friends and respected colleagues in the local medical community, but because his services are often perceived as a threat to health care businesses “they won’t go near me with a 10-foot pole,” he said. “But in time,” he added, “I hope they realize that I’m just here to make patients better patients.”



Continued from Page 2 receive preventive treatment including an exam, cleaning, sealants and fluoride varnish. An appointment is necessary to participate in the GKAS event. If your child or you know a child who may benefit from the program, call the Mohawk Valley Perinatal Network at (315) 732-4657 ext. 226 or toll-free at 1-877267-6193 ext. 226. Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare’s Dental Health Center and the Mohawk Valley Perinatal Network are organizing the event. It is made possible by grants from the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at FSLH and the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area. For more information about GKAS, call (315) 624-5602 or visit

Feb. 5

Ski challenge to support new adaptive program Community members are welcome to participate in the 22nd annual Cross Country Ski Challenge to be held Feb. 5 at the Boonville Search and Rescue Building, Route 12, Boonville. This year’s challenge will benefit the new adaptive cross-country ski program at the Sitrin Medical Rehabilitation Center in New Hartford. A minimum entry fee of $50 is required, which can be raised through donations from family, friends, and co-workers. Individuals may pay at the door on the day of the event. Registration will take place from 8-9 a.m. at the Boonville Search and Rescue Building. Official entry forms are needed. For more information, or to receive an entry form and/or pre-register for the ski challenge, contact Sylvia Hough at 315-525-7952 or Cheryl Jassak at 315737-2245. Forms can also be downloaded on Sitrin’s website at

Feb. 8

‘Baby Care Basics’ help expectant parents prepare Parents-to-be can learn about childbirth, newborns and other related topics by attending the upcoming “Baby Care Basics” program set from 7-9 p.m. Feb. 8 at Rome Memorial Hospital in the classroom. Sandy Graichen, a maternity nurse at the hospital who has many years of experience in labor and delivery, will teach the free educational program. No advance registration is required for program. Refreshments will be served. Participants are asked to meet the instructor in the hospital lobby (North James Street entrance), where they will be directed to the classroom. For more information, call 3387143.

Feb. 10/March 4

Are you ready for March Meatball Madness? Abraham House has a call out to all children aged 5-12 to create a poem about meatballs. Six winners will be chosen to participate in the kid judges’ panel for March Meatball Madness from noon to 3 p.m. March 4 to determine which local restaurant has the best meatball recipe. March Meatball Madness will be held at the Blue Flag Room at Hotel Utica located at 102 Lafayette St., Utica. The poem about meatballs must be no longer than eight lines. The six winners will receive four complimentary tickets to March Meatball Madness, a March Meatball Madness T-shirt and a Meatball Madness game. Children must send or drop off their poems by Feb. 10 to Abraham House at 1203 Kemble St., Utica. On the back of their poem, the children need to include their name, school, telephone number and age. Winners will be notified by Feb. 16. Abraham House also has an open call out to restaurants that may want to participate in Abraham House’s March Meatball Madness. There are four trophies to be won along with bragging rights to having the “Best of the Best Meatballs in the Mohawk Valley.” Abraham House also has a call out to anyone 18 years and older who would like to participate in the first ever meatball eating contest during March Meatball Madness. The meatball-eating contest will start at 2 p.m. The contestant who can eat the most meatballs in 90 seconds will receive $200, a winner’s trophy along with bragging rights. Contest applicants must also submit $100 in pledges to sponsor themselves as a contestant. Applications and pledge forms are available at Abraham House or on its website at Deadline for applications is Feb. 21. For more information, contact the Abraham House at 733-8210. The Abraham House’s mission is to provide a secure and loving home without charge to the terminally ill.

Feb. 12

Support group for married couples to meet The Third Option will meet from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Feb. 12 and Feb. 26 at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. The Third Option is a support group for married couples whose mission is to learn new ways to handle problems. For more information, contact Andrea, program coordinator, at 315-7356210,, or visit

Feb. 14

Tickets remain for Sitrin’s Harley-Davidson raffle Tickets are available for Sitrin’s 16th annual Harley-Davidson motorcycle fundraiser. This year’s model is a 2012 HarleyDavidson Road King Classic FLHRC. The drawing will be held at noon Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day) at the Sitrin Medical Rehabilitation Center. Proceeds benefit the Sitrin Medical Rehabilitation Center, which provides a variety of comprehensive medical rehabilitation services for children and adults, including the STARS adaptive sports program for people with physical disabilities. Tickets are $10 each and a total of 4,250 will be sold. They can be purchased securely online at www.sitrin. com, in person at Sitrin, 2050 Tilden Ave., New Hartford, or by calling (315) 737-2245. Ticket buyers do not need to be present at the drawing to win. Entrants must be 18 years of age.

Feb. 15

Hospital hosts breastfeeding class Rome Memorial Hospital is hosting a free breastfeeding class at 7 p.m. Feb. 15 in the hospital’s classroom to help mothers-to-be recognize the benefits of breastfeeding and give them the encouragement to overcome some of the obstacles. The speaker, Sandy Graichen, is a maternity nurse at the hospital with children of her own. No pre-registration is required. Refreshments will be served. Participants may meet the instructor in the hospital lobby, North James Street entrance. For more information, call 338-7143.

Feb. 28

Women at the Well plan to meet 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. Women of all ages are invited to come to Women at the Well to enrich their awareness of God in their life and become more attentive to the ways He nourishes them each day. The event is free and open to all Christian women. For details or to register, call The Good News Center at (315)-735-6210 or visit—events calendar.

March 2

Retrouvaille rebuilds hurting marriages The Good News Center in Utica will be offering a weekend experience designed to help couples find a new way of looking at themselves and one another. Retrouvaille has helped marriages survive addiction, adultery, anger and indifference. The program focuses on teaching communication skills between a husband and wife. The weekend experience lasts from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. Overnight accommodations and meals are included. For more information, visit www., or for confidential inquiries contact Andrea, program coordinator, at 315-735-6210 ext. 228, or

March 2-3

America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk 2012 slated In celebration of America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk 2012, volunteers, board members, High 5 Club members, team captains, heart survivors and corporate donors came together to kick-off this year’s event with the annual media kick-off and news conference at Masonic Care Community in Utica. America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk Weekend 2012 is scheduled for March 2-3. Highlights for this year’s event at Utica College’s Harold T. Clark Athletic Center include the following: • WIBX Heart Radiothon is sponsored by Slocum-Dickson Medical Group and is broadcasted by WIBX of Townsquare Media. The radiothon will be broadcast from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 2 and from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 3. • Health & Fitness Expo with health and wellness assessment screenings sponsored by the Mohawk Valley Heart Institute will take place from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. March 2. Areas covered will include health-related material, free screenings and wellness information. • WKTV Heart Telethon is sponsored by Bassett Healthcare Network and broadcasted by WKTV NewsChannel 2. The telethon will be broadcast live from 7-8 p.m. March 2 and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 3. For more information, contact the American Heart Association at 315-2665403 or visit www.uticaheartrunwalk. org.

Winter activities can land you in ER


he return of snow to Upstate New York means that many people are ready to hit the slopes, the ski stations, the snowmobiles trails and other places for their dose of outdoor activities. According to orthopedic surgeon Daryl O’Connor, who formerly cared for U.S. Olympic ski and winter sports athletes in Salt Lake City, Utah, this is the time when we see many winter-related accidents. Here are O’Connor’s evaluations of the top five winter sports and the problems they pose: 1. Sledding — “More than 700,000 injuries are reported each year in the United States due to sledding. More

February 2012 •

than 30 percent are head injuries, caused by collisions,” O’Connor said. 2. Hockey — “Lacerations, as well as neck, shoulder and knee injuries are common in hockey. Many injuries are caused through contact with another player, the ice, a puck or actual skate blade,” he said. 3. Ice skating — “Injuries to the wrist as well as head and neck are most common and most injuries are caused by falls,” he said. 4. Snowboarding — “Wrist and elbow injuries are caused by falls on outstretched hands,” he said. 5. Skiing — “Knees really take a pounding and injury is often caused by extreme twisting force,” he said.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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H ealth News Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare makes staff announcements Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica recently made the following staff announcements: • Marianne Baker has been named director of regulatory affairs for FSLH. In this position, Baker is responsible for the oversight and coordination of medical staff credentialing profiles, Department of Health surveys and response, specialty surveys, coordination of the DNV survey and response, as well as direct Baker oversight of the stroke program, infection prevention department and the quality programs for FSLH affiliates. She will also oversee and coordinate the grievance process and dissemination of policies and procedures that support the ISO certification program. • Kathryn Ward has been named director of quality improvement for FSLH. In this position, she is responsible for the day-today oversight of the quality management department and FSLH’s quality indicators. She will coordinate root cause analysis Ward and failure mode effects analysis meetings as well as explore ways that technology can assist with data collection and analysis in the future. She is also responsible for providing support to medical staff committees and ensuring data, credentialing profiles and peer reviews are conducted and documented as required. Ward will continue her role in the clinical quality value analysis program to increase the safety of equipment and supplies purchased as well as reduce costs.

FSLH receives grants from United Way In 2011, Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica received $85,000 in grants from the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area to expand patient care and improve availability of services. Funding was provided to the OB Care Center, the FSLH Dental Health Center’s annual Give Kids A Smile program and the Central New York Diabetes Education Program. • FSLH received two-year funding from the United Way to develop a patient navigator program in the OBCC. • GKAS is a one-day event orgaPage 16

nized by the FSLH Dental Health Center to provide free dental care to children who do not have a dentist. In 2011, nearly 180 children received free dental care. The 2012 GKAS event is scheduled for Feb. 4. • The CNY Diabetes Education Program received two-year funding from the United Way to provide programs that encourage individuals to work toward a healthy weight and maintain good health.

Volunteer Association announces officers The Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare Volunteer Association in Utica recently announced the 2012 officers for its board of directors. • Jane Gwise has been named president of the volunteer association and has served as vice president and member-at-large. Gwise began volunteering more than 20 years ago at Faxton Hospital serving on the Faxton Council. Gwise She volunteers in the outpatient infusion unit in the Regional Cancer Center at the Faxton Campus. • Grace Vento-Zogby has been named vice president and has volunteered for six years in the outpatient infusion unit and is in her second term on the volunteer association board. She was a classroom teacher and a reading specialist for 34 years at the Sauquoit Valley School District and became a volunteer because of the care and compassion her brother received while he was a patient at FSLH. • Craig Heuss has been named treasurer and has been a volunteer for the past five years. He originally delivered mail at the Faxton Campus before assuming the position of treasurer for the volunteer association. In this capacity, he has implemented a software system that saves time and improves efficiency. Heuss was a director of accounting and finance at Community General Hospital in Syracuse for 32 years. The FSLH Volunteer Association actively seeks to improve the care patients and their families receive. The organization operates gift shops at both the St. Luke and Faxton campuses, and organizes vendor sales throughout the year. Profits from these endeavors allowed the volunteer association to give $100,000 back to FSLH in 2011. If you would like to get involved and volunteer at FSLH, call Sue Warwick, director of volunteer services, at (315) 624-6052.

Oneida Healthcare Center has acquired the state-of-the-art da Vinci Si Surgical System.

OHC acquires advanced surgical system


neida Healthcare has acquired the da Vinci Si Surgical System. “This advanced level of technology takes surgery beyond the limits of the human hand and this acquisition complements our goal of extending minimally invasive surgery to the broadest possible base of patients,” said president and CEO Gene Morreale. “Our new surgical suite was designed with this kind of technology in mind and this approximately $2 million investment will help us provide the best possible outcomes for our patients and surgeons,” he added. Morreale said Oneida Healthcare’s da Vinci system is the only one between Syracuse and Albany and will be available to physicians and patients in Madison and Oneida counties, as well as the Utica-Rome area and entire Mohawk Valley region. Dr. Alberto Del Pino of the Oneida Surgical Group said robotic surgery can

be used for a multitude of gynecological and general surgical procedures, including his specialty, colorectal surgery. “The da Vinci Si has several unique features designed to provide additional clinical benefits and efficiency in the operating room, many of which translate to patient benefits,” he said. He cited several major benefits, including enhanced 3D, high-definition vision of the operative field with up to 10 times magnification, superior visual clarity of tissue and anatomy, and surgical dexterity and precision far greater than even the human hand. Del Pino was quick to emphasize, however, that robotic surgery doesn’t replace the surgeon. “It’s still our hands and skill performing the surgery but the unparalleled precision, dexterity and control of this system will now enable a minimally invasive approach for many complex surgical procedures. It’s simply the best tool available,” he said.

Nurse manager takes over urgent care

Potomac Hospital in Woodbridge, Va., as well as St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica. Yoshimoto earned an associate’s degree in nursing from St. Elizabeth College of Nursing and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Utica College. She is enrolled at the University of Phoenix in the masters of healthcare administration/informatics program.

Melanie Yoshimoto has been named nurse manager of urgent care for Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica. Prior to joining FSLH, Yoshimoto was a nurse manager of the orthopedic neurosurgical unit at Southern Hills Hospital in Las Vegas. She has also held staff and charge nurse posiYoshimoto tions at Sentara

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2012

Faxton St. Luke’s makes staff announcements Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica recently made several staff announcements. • Maria Carucci has joined FSLH as the director of pharmacy. In this position, she directs all aspects of the

Continued on Page 17

H ealth News Continued from Page 16 administration and operations of the pharmacy department. Carucci is a graduate of Albany College of Pharmacy and comes to FSLH with more than 30 years of experience in the delivery of pharmacy services. Her most recent position was principal consultant for I.C.E. Consulting, Inc., where she provided Carucci reimbursement strategy and managed markets expertise to client companies as they prepared for the launch of medical devices and pharmaceutical or biotechnology products. • Kathy McKeone has been named nurse manager for FSLH’s Regional Dialysis Centers. She has been employed at FSLH in dialysis since 1998 and has served in many roles including LPN, RN, McKeone charge nurse and most recently as a clinician for the program. Prior to joining FSLH, she was a LPN at SUNY Upstate Medical Univer-

sity in Syracuse. McKeone earned her registered nurse degree from Onondaga Community College and a Bachelor’s degree in nursing from SUNY-IT Utica-Rome. She recently received her certification as a nephrology nurse.

RMH appoints risk management coordinator Deborah Sherwood has been appointed risk management coordinator at Rome Memorial Hospital. The risk management coordinator focuses on safety. “By analyzing potential risk and anticipating problems, we’re able to take steps to prevent injuries or medical errors before they ever occur,” Sherwood said. “Our goal is to protect our patients, visitors and employees by taking a proactive approach to reduce risk.” Sherwood Sherwood must be aware of all aspects of the hospital’s operations, from the business office to nursing units to parking lot maintenance. A registered nurse at the hospital since 2005, Sherwood earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science in Nursing from St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center School of Nursing, Syracuse, in 1992, as well as being a certified rehabilitation registered nurse.

KIDS Corner Depression, binge eating go hand in hand in teen girls By Laura Kennedy


eenage girls who feel depressed are twice as likely to start binge eating as other girls are, according to a new nationwide study. The reverse is also true: Girls who engage in regular binge eating have double the normal risk of symptoms of depression. The findings suggest that young women who display signs of either depression or binge eating should undergo screening for both disorders.

“Binge eating prevention initiatives should consider the role of depressive symptoms … and incorporate suggestions for dealing with negative emotions,” reports the article, which appears in the current issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. This study could provide important new opportunities to address the nation’s obesity epidemic, according to senior author Alison Field, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. The new study is the largest to look

RMH recognized for quality measures in ICU The Healthcare Association of New York State has recognized Rome Memorial Hospital for demonstrating commitment to and expertise in improving quality care. The hospital was featured in the state healthcare association’s 2011 Leading the Quest for Quality publication acknowledging RMH’s achievement in aligning medicine with evidence-based practice to improve outcomes of critical care ventilator patients. The publication highlights excellence in care throughout the state and provides a tool for organizations to learn about improvement and safety strategies to use at their own facilities. Critical care coordinator Richard Simpson led the intensive care and nursing team in the research, education and adoption of a new protocol that reduces the amount of sedation a patient receives while on a ventilator and, consequently, improves quality of life, according to director of education, Gale Barone.

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 2012 are available in the guidance departments of both Rome Free Academy and Rome Catholic School. The interest accrued annually from the Blanche and Fred Griffith Scholarat the relationship between binge eating and depression during adolescence, when most eating disorders surface. The study authors defined binge eating as eating a large amount of food in a short amount of time and feeling a lack of control over eating during the episode. The study labeled girls who ate large amounts of food but did not feel out of control “overeaters.” The findings rely on surveys conducted as part of the nationwide Growing Up Today Study. The authors focused on girls because eating disorders and depression are more common in females than in males. The researchers analyzed data from nearly 5,000 girls aged 12 to 18 who answered questions in 1999, with follow-up surveys in 2001 and 2003. Teens and young women who reported in the first survey that they always or usually felt “down in the dumps” or “depressed” were about twice as likely as others were to start overeating or binge eating during the following two years. “The most common approach to obesity has been to focus on eating better and exercising more, but many

February 2012 •

ship Fund is used to assist nursing students whose goals are to become registered nurses. 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.

Employee of the quarter named at VHS Mary Ann Koscinski, dietary technician, was recently selected as Valley Health Services’ employee of the third quarter of 2011. She joined the staff at Valley Health Services in Herkimer in April of 2011. The coworker who nominated Koscinski said, “Mary Ann always helps Koscinski every department whenever she can. She has been a special asset to the activities department by offering to get residents books and puzzles and transporting them to and from their rooms.” The VHS employee of the quarter program recognizes the outstanding performance of Valley Health Services employees.

Continued on Page 18 pathways can lead to being overweight,” said Marian Tanofsky-Kraff, a clinical psychologist at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland. “There is a group of people where it may be more psychologically driven. Targeting some of these psychological factors might help prevent obesity.” “Binge eaters or overeaters can be very secretive, so parents may be unaware that there’s a problem. That’s a really important message for clinicians,” adds Field. “If they have patients who are depressed, they need to ask about disordered eating patterns and vice versa.” The authors note that survey respondents include few youths belonging to ethnic minorities or lower socioeconomic groups, so the study findings might not apply to all populations. In addition, the surveys did not include information on use of medications, such as antidepressants, which might affect outcomes. • Laura Kennedy is a contributing writer with Health Behavior News Service.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 17

H ealth News Continued from Page 17 Employees submit nominations and the winner is entitled to a designated parking spot for three months, a gift certificate, recognition in local papers and the facility newsletter and becomes eligible to participate in the employee of the year program.

SDMG adds internist to staff Adnan Cemer recently joined the internal medicine department of Slocum-Dickson Medical Group in New Hartford. Cemer provides comprehensive primary care for adult patients. As an internist, he specializes in the prevention and treatment of adult diseases and the Cemer general health care of the patient, providing quality lifelong care. Cemer said he is excited to return to his hometown to practice medicine. He is a graduate of Proctor High School and Utica College. Cemer went on to earn his medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine in Roseau, Dominica, West Indies. He completed his internal medicine residency at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. Cemer is a member of the American College of Physicians.

Surgeon joins team at SDMG Anthony Cutry recently joined the general surgery department of Slocum-Dickson Medical Group in New Hartford. Cutry is board certified by the American Board of Surgery. He completed a general surgery internship and his general surgery residency at Rhode Island Hospital, Brown University Program Cutry in Providence, R.I. where he also served at executive chief resident. He received his medical degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo. He is a member of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons and the American Hernia Society. In addition, Cutry earned a PhD in biochemistry from SUNY Buffalo and Page 18

completed his post-doctoral fellowship in molecular immunology at SUNY Stony Brook. Cutry’s general surgery practice includes laparoscopy, reflux, colon procedures, vascular surgery, thyroid, parathryoid, adrenal, and breast surgery.

SDMG adds to surgery department Melissa LoPinto recently joined the general surgery department of SlocumDickson Medical Group in New Hartford. LoPinto completed her surgical internship and residency at the UICMetropolitan Group Hospitals Program in Chicago. LoPinto received her medical degree LoPinto from Rosalind Franklin University/The Chicago Medical School in Chicago. LoPinto is an associate member of the American College of Surgeons. She is completing her master’s degree in public health at the University of Illinois-Chicago. LoPinto’s general surgery practice includes laparoscopic surgery, colon, breast, thyroid, and parathyroid surgery.

Insight House gets Sears Family Foundation grant The Sears Family Foundation of Rome has awarded $2,000 to Insight House Chemical Dependency Services, Inc. to support the purchase of a medication cart for the agency’s residential program. As part of its service offerings, Insight House in Utica operates a 44-bed residential program for those individuals needing more intensive assistance. Since 1971, Insight House has provided professional and confidential drug and alcohol treatment services to individuals and their families. The agency is the largest substance abuse treatment center in Central New York and offers a comprehensive range of outpatient, residential and prevention programs.

VHS hosts doctor of physical therapy intern Valley Health Services in Herkimer is serving as an eight-week clinical site for Alyssa Papaleo, a physical therapy graduate student of Ithaca College. She completed her undergraduate studies at Ithaca College in May of 2011, with a bachelor’s degree in clinical health science. Papaleo is working toward her doctorate in physical therapy. “I enjoy the fact everyone at VHS is so involved with the care of the

Ace’s Angle

By Amylynn Pastorella

Put some heart into it! Volunteering warms the heart, helps community By Amylynn Pastorella


hen I think of February, I think of Groundhog Day and have high hopes that we will not have six more weeks of winter. I also think of Valentine’s Day, not only as a day for lovers to celebrate their love, but to celebrate the joy of loving others. I don’t think it is hard to show love as we might think it is. Love can be shown in many ways. Flashing a joyful smile, Pastorella being generous to a stranger, etc. We bring out our good qualities when we show compassion and sincerity toward others. I recently found that through volunteering, I have been able to make a positive difference in the lives of others. People appreciate the idea of someone else giving their time to help the greater good. Do you give your time to help others? Can you find time to make a difference in the world? Think of how fortunate and well off we would be if we did things for others more and lived more selfless lives. Just a few hours a week can make a great difference. There are many local organizations which excitedly welcome volunteers because they are in a vast need for them.

Relay for Life

A great volunteer opportunity is coming up through the American Cancer Society. Each year, the American Cancer residents. The integrated care provided here also gives me the opportunity to experience other aspects of rehab including occupational, massage and lymphedema therapies,” she said. Papaleo is Papaleo a native of Little Falls and upon receiving her doctorate would like to work with children in need of physical therapy.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • February 2012

Society holds its annual Relay for Life event in which community members form teams, rally for 24 hours and raise money for cancer research, awareness, education and advocacy. I have been involved in the Relay for Life for over 10 years. My family and friends have a team in honor of my 27 years as a survivor of a rare form of cancer called retinoblastoma. Our team comes together to raise money through various fundraisers. Cancer does not discriminate, thus everyone is affected by cancer in some ways. The relay means many things for many people. Cancer survivors and caregivers celebrate, we all remember those who lost their courageous battles and most importantly, we all fight back to find a cure for this devastating disease. The Relay For Life will take place on June 9-10. The kickoff for the relay will be Feb. 2 at Mohawk Valley Community College. The kickoff is an informational event for interested people to learn what the relay is all about and how they can help make a difference. If you wish to not participate, you can still help by purchasing luminaria candles that will be lighted in honor and in memory of cancer survivors at the June event. If this sounds interesting to you, visit the kickoff event. I will be there to show my support for the event. This is one of many ways you can get involved and change the world for the better. Give a little of your time and make an enormous difference for others.

• Do you have a health-related question for Amy “Ace” Pastorella? Send your questions to or mail to In Good Health, 4 Riverside Drive, Suite 251, Utica, NY 13502.

VHS names employee of fourth quarter Tom Samsel, certified nursing assistant, was recently selected as Valley Health Services’ employee of the fourth quarter of 2011. He joined the staff at the Herkimer facility in August 2009. The co-worker who nominated Samsel said, “Tom is the kind of employee every nursing home wants to have on staff. He gives of himself unconditionally.” The VHS employee of the quarter program recognizes the outstanding performance of Valley Health Services

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H ealth News Continued from Page 18 employees. Employees submit nominations and the winner is entitled to a designated parking spot for three months, a gift certificate, recognition in local papers and the facilities newsletter Samsel and becomes eligible to participate in the employee of the year program.

Lutheran Care receives VA certification LutheranCare in Clinton recently secured a contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide rehabilitative and nursing home care to VA beneficiaries, one of a select number of providers in the region to serve veterans. The services offered at LutheranCare will address the total medical, nursing and psychosocial needs of VA patients. Given the large population of veterans in Central New York, LutheranCare’s VA certification offers another service provider option for those receiving VA benefits and their families. LutheranCare is a faith-based health care organization committed to serving the people of this community by providing quality programs and services to those in need of professional and compassionate care. For more information, call 315-2357130.

MMRL selects employees of the year for 2011 Dr. Alexander Burashnikov and Gabriel Caceres were selected as 2011 employees of the year at the Cardiac Research Institute at Masonic Medical Research Laboratory.

Burashnikov, known by his coworkers as Sasha, started working at the MMRL in the experimental cardiology program as a postdoctoral fellow in 1994. Upon completion of his fellowship in 1997, he was employed as a research associate and was promoted to the level of research scientist in 2000. His studies in recent years have focused on development Burashikov of safe and effective drugs for the treatment of atrial fibrillation. AF is characterized by a quivering of the upper chambers of the heart and an uneven or irregular rhythm of main pumping chambers of the heart. This disease affects over 2.6 million Americans. He and Elena, his wife, live in New Hartford with their two children, Lidiya and Ivan. Caceres is a research assistant in the molecular genetics program. He and his colleagues search for the causes of inherited cardiac arrhythmias. One of his many roles at the laboratory is to take patient blood samples sent to the MMRL from physicians all over the world and extract Caceres DNA for genetic screening. He is also responsible for maintaining cell lines for future research. Caceres lives in Oriskany with his wife, Janice Hoffmann-Caceres. Founded in 1958, MMRL has gained international renown and wide acclaim in the scientific and medical community as a leading cardiac research center.


EMPLOYMENT Advertise your services or products and reach your potential customers throughout the Mohawk Valley for as little as $80 a month. Call 749-7070 for more information.

Report: 3.9 million calls to poison centers nationwide


merica’s 57 poison centers fielded 3.9 million calls in 2010, an average of nearly 11,000 per day, according to the recently published 2010 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System. According to the report, poison experts at the nation’s poison centers treated 2.4 million human poison exposures and handled 1.5 million information calls in 2010. Children younger than 6 accounted for about half of all the poison exposure calls; however, adults 20 and older accounted for 92 percent of all deaths reported. A total of 1,730 deaths were reported in 2010; of those, 139 were younger than 20, including 55 younger than 6. Sedatives/hypnotics/antipsychotics,

cardiovascular drugs, opioids, and acetaminophen combinations were most frequently associated with poison-related deaths. Poison exposures with serious outcomes increased 4.5 percent over the previous year. Eighty-one percent of poisonings were unintentional, and 15 percent were intentional. Of the 15 percent, 9 percent were suspected suicides. “Poisonings continue to be a significant cause of illness and death in the U.S.,” said Alvin C. Bronstein, lead author of the report. “The NPDS provides a nationwide infrastructure for public health surveillance of poison exposures, including drug, consumer product, environmental and food poisoning. February 2012 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • Februar February 2012

In Good Health  
In Good Health  

A monthly newspaper featuring healthcare and wellness in th Mohawk Valley