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Special GOLDEN YEARS Edition

in good

Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

November 2013 • Issue 93

Seniors: Protect your eyes See Page 6 Do holidays mean a time of depression? See Page 5


Healthcare Revolution Reform law has dramatic consequences

Page 5

See Page 3

Strokes do not discriminate Page 11

Cremation or burial? See Page 14 Get ‘In Good Health’ at home. See coupon inside

SDMG specialist declares war on cancer Page 4 Study: Teens more vulnerable to herpes Page 11

Holidays test self control Page 8


Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is proud to support Mohawk Valley. We remain committed to giving back to the local community where we’ve lived and worked for more than 75 years.

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Got a health-related activity or event that you would like publicized? Call Lou Sorendo at 315-749-7070 or email Nov. 4

Tobacco cessation classes offered The Tri-County Quits Tobacco Cessation Program is offering a three-part “Fresh Start” class to help participants stop smoking. The Fresh Start program is a groupbased tobacco cessation support program offered by the American Cancer Society. Classes will be held at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 4, 11 and 18 at The Regional Cancer Center at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare, 1676 Sunset Ave., Utica. The Fresh Start program is designed to help individuals quit smoking by providing essential information, skills for coping with cravings and group support. For more information or to register, call the Tri-County Quits Tobacco Cessation Program at 315-624-5639. Page 2

Nov. 5

Educational forum focuses on stroke Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare’s stroke program will host a free dinner and presentation, “Identification of Stroke in the Field,” to further educate emergency medical services providers and those caring for acute stroke patients about stroke. The event will be from 6:30-9 p.m. Nov. 5 at the community room in the Center for Rehabilitation and Continuing Care Services, St. Luke’s Campus, 1650 Champlin Ave., Utica. Contact Laura Love at or 315-624-6847 to make reservations.

Nov. 5

Arc to recognize employees The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter, NYSARC will be holding its annual

employee recognition dinner from 4:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at Valentino’s Banquet Hall, New Hartford. The dinner is free for all employees. The annual dinner will honor agency staff with five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 years of dedicated service, as well as employees of the quarter, employee of the year, team of the year and the President’s Cup award winner. As in past years, there will be an Arc exhibit including artwork and crafts made by employees, which all staff will be eligible to win through a raffle. The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter, NYSARC is a nonprofit human services agency that provides advocacy and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Oneida and Lewis counties.

Nov. 6

FSLH to offer continuing education course Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare’s Regional Rehabilitation Center will be offering “Introduction to Neuromuscular Developmental Technique — Part II,” an educational course for physical therapists, occupational therapists and students in related fields, on Nov. 6. It will take place at 5 p.m. in the rehabilitation gym on the inpatient rehabilitation unit at the Center for Rehabilitation and Continuing Care Services on the St. Luke’s Campus, 1650 Champlin Ave., Utica. Victoria Ponce, physical therapist at FSLH, will review how to use NDT principles to increase functional use of patients’ lower extremities for standing and walking.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2013

New York State Continuing Education Units will be provided for all physical therapists and physical therapy assistants. Occupational therapists and certified occupational therapy assistants are welcome to attend and will receive a certificate of participation to submit to the appropriate organizations to receive credit. The cost to attend is $20 to be paid at the event. Register by emailing or call 315624-8716.

Nov. 7

Joint pain focus of health night Ninos Oda, an orthopedic surgeon with extensive training in total joint replacement and shoulder surgery, will discuss treatment options for joint pain at Health Night 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at Rome Memorial Hospital. The free seminar, the first of several hosted by Oda throughout the year, will be presented in the hospital’s classroom. Rome Memorial Hospital’s classroom is located on the second floor of the hospital. Participants can enter the North James Street entrance. Health Night is a free monthly lecture series. Advance registration is not required. Refreshments will be served.

Nov. 8

Art exhibit, sale at Stanley Theater An art exhibit and sale featuring works from Upstate Cerebral Palsy art-

Continued on Page 16

Cover Story

Obamacare or Obummer-care? Just how will the Affordable Care Act impact the Mohawk Valley? The following is a question-and-answer session with Kathleen Dyman, executive vice president of the Medical Societies of Oneida, Herkimer, Cayuga, Chenango, Madison, Oswego and St. Lawrence counties, on Obamacare and its implications regionally. By Patricia J. Malin


bamacare, President Barack Obama’s signature health insurance reform legislation, could swell the ranks of the insured by an estimated 29 million Americans. Recently, New York and many other states set up health insurance exchanges to help the uninsured select their health care plans. Is the local medical community ready for the potentially large number of new patients that The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could bring to local hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices? Q.: What should local phyDyman sicians be aware of as a result of the opening of health insurance exchanges? A.: Local physicians may notice an increase in requests for new patients. The biggest challenge will be educating patients that have never had health insurance before and don’t understand the structure of the policy. If they have a high deductible plan, there may be significant out-of-pocket costs. Q.: Millions — and possibly tens of millions — of Americans are expected to sign up for health insurance in the coming year. Are local physicians and medical systems ready for additional patients? If not, what must be done to prepare for it? A.: Physicians are over stretched already. Medical school enrollment for family practitioners is down. I don’t believe anyone is “ready”. More triage will be needed to see

who needs an urgent appointment or callback. More physician extenders will be needed to handle any influx. Q.: Who is most affected by the provisions for 2014 under Obamacare? How are they affected? A.: Patients who had an employer-based plan and lose it to buy a replacement in the marketplace. The replacement will likely not be as rich in design. Patients without insurance with pre-existing conditions will now have coverage. Q.: How will Obamacare affect the fee-for-service system? A.: Physician practices will need to collect money up front and check on eligibility prior to delivering significant services. Q.: Will Obamacare place more focus on preventive care? A.: It is the intention but most physicians doubt it will happen. PPACA does allow for some preventive care with no co-pay or deductible but only those services that are recommended by a national body. Some of the usual tests that are done will incur out-ofpocket costs. Physicians already try to modify their patients’ risky behaviors, but if the patient does not want to change anything in their lifestyle — such as smoking, losing weight, and managing diabetes — the physician cannot force them to change. Q.: How will physicians benefit from the implementation of Obamacare? What aspect of it is the most significant for them? A.: Hopefully it will mean less uninsured patients and they will get the care they need before the patient is in crisis. Q.: What is your personal view about Obamacare? What aspects of it do you favor or oppose?

A.: I agree that everyone should be able to purchase health insurance. I don’t believe that all the young people will purchase it and would rather pay the fine. As it is some employers offer to pay a portion of the young people’s insurance and they still don’t buy it. The law is counting on young people to pay to offset the costs of the older, sicker patient. The concept was

good but it is a very complex law and I believe that some of my physicians will retire earlier than they originally planned to retire. I oppose the fact that Congress has exempted itself from this law but are forcing the rest of the nation to comply. For more information about Obamacare or about enrolling in a medical plan, go to

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Excellus: Do homework before buying insurance


ith the launch of the new health exchanges in October, Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield officials say consumers should take the time to research their options. “Consumers should at least do as much research when buying health insurance as they would when buying a major appliance or new vehicle,” said Lynne Scalzo, vice president, business strategy and health care reform, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. Individuals who are uninsured or pay too much for health coverage have until March 31, 2014, to enroll in a health plan through New York State of Health (www.nystateofhealth. , an online marketplace that’ll allow them to shop, compare and enroll in a new health plan. “There’s no rush,” Scalzo added. “Individuals have up to six months to compare plans, talk to experts and see which plan best fits their needs.” Here is how consumers can research their options: • Figure out how health insurance works. Watch videos or read up at • Estimate your 2014 income. You’ll need to estimate your household income to determine whether you’re eligible for financial help. • See if you’re eligible for financial help. Your premium may be reduced if your household income is below 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $45,960 for individuals or $94,200 for a family of four. Try the Tax Credit and Premium Estimator at • Determine your health care needs. List your typical health services and costs in a given year. Use the list to help you pick a plan that best fits your situation. If you go to the doctor a lot, for example, you may want a plan with lower copays for doctor visits. • See what health plans work with your doctor. It can be costly to see a doctor, pharmacy or hospital that’s not in a health plan’s “network,” or group of providers who’ve contracted with the insurer. You may need to double check this information with the provider or health insurer. “It won’t do you a lot of good to purchase a less expensive health plan, for example, if the insurer doesn’t contract with your doctor,” Scalzo said. • Consider all costs. Don’t just shop based on a health plan’s premium. Consider other health plan costs, such as deductibles and copays for services. “New York state’s new exchanges mark an entirely new health insurance process for everyone involved,” Scalzo said. “With a little bit of patience and the right homework, more individuals in Upstate New York will gain access to affordable health coverage.”

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Your Doctor

By Patricia J. Malin

Dr. Sultana Razia

Sultana Razia is a specialist at Slocum-Dickson Medical Group’s Breast Care Center, New Hartford. She recently discussed her profession and the recent news about innovations in cancer detection with Mohawk Valley In Good Health senior staff correspondent Patricia J. Malin. Q.: Actress Angelina Jolie attracted a lot of attention a few months ago by revealing she underwent the BRCA gene test for breast cancer. Her test was “positive,” which means she carried a mutation of the BRCA1 gene. Because of the prevalence of breast cancer in her family, she underwent a preventive double mastectomy, followed by reconstructive surgery. What was your reaction to that news? A.: In my opinion, I think she made a very right decision. Breast and ovarian cancer incidence are very high in persons who carry the BRCA gene mutation. Q.: Do you encourage women in the Mohawk Valley to take the BRCA test? A.: Yes, I encourage women who have a very strong family history to consider testing for the BRCA gene. But I also strongly emphasize them to be mentally and emotionally ready to take the results in a constructive way if it becomes positive. What I mean by that is if the test is positive for genetic mutation, I strongly recommend them to consider prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with possible reconstruction if they are physically fit. BRCA testing is done by drawing a blood sample from a patient. It is a very reliable test. Q.: Do you find women in the Mohawk Valley generally opposed to or in support of BRCA testing? A.: I find women in the Mohawk Valley are very interested in genetic testing, especially persons who have a very strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer. We frequently get referrals because of family history and a personal history of breast and ovarian cancer. To qualify, certain criteria need to be met. Q.: Why did you decide to come to the Mohawk Valley and practice oncology/hematology? A.: I lived in New York City before I moved here 14 years ago. My children were small. I wanted to move away from a big and busy city. I am so glad that I did. I find people in Upstate New York are the most warm, welcoming and respectful people. I love being a part of the community here. Q.: What prompted you to become a doctor and to specialize in oncology? A.: When I was a young child, I wanted to be a writer. My beloved father, the person whom I respected most in life, advised me to consider becoming a doctor. I still remember his soft but firm look at me saying that, “You can help so many lives.” As a medical student, I lost patients with cancer. I became interested from that time in knowing what caused cancer and what can we do to prevent and eradicate cancer. After so many years of practice, I

feel I am an author in my heart as I see so many lives, so many persons with cancer battle pain or happiness. I empathize with my patients’ happiness when we win the fight against cancer and become sad when we lose the battle. I am both a writer in my heart and doctor and scientist in my profession. Q.: What are the most common diseases you treat? A.: I treat patients both with cancer and hematological disorder and hematological malignancies; breast, lung, colon, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer; and anemia, leukemia, lymphoma and coagulation disorders, to name a few. Q.: What is the most challenging

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2013

aspect of your job? A.: Breaking bad news to my patients. Q.: What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job? A.: When I give good news to my patients; also, when I can help their pain, suffering or quality of life. Q.: What are the cutting-edge developments in the field of oncology? What has changed in your diagnoses or treatment since you first came to Slocum-Dickson Medical Group? A.: I find mortality and morbidity rates in cancer have improved significantly, as well as quality of life. We now have growth factors to prevent infections, very good anti-nausea medications and red blood cell-stimulating agents. Ten to 15 years ago, we did not have those. Now, oral agents can be used to treat some cancers and leukemia. There are imaging studies to detect cancer in an early stage; for example, mammograms can detect cancer in stage 0. Q.: How do you keep up with developments in the field of oncology? Do you have time to devote to following research in your specialty? A. I attend oncology and hematology conferences regularly. I also get up-to-date information by reading journals and listening to audios from

Continued on Page 14

Lifelines Birthplace: Bangladesh Residence: New Hartford Education: Medical school, Dhaka Medical College, Bangladesh, 1979-1982; internship, Science Center at Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, 1990-1991; residency, Science Center at Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, 1990-1993 Affiliations: American Society of Clinical Oncology; American College of Physicians; New York State Medical Society; Oneida County Medical Society; Bangladesh Medical Society of North America; American Medical Association Family: Husband, Luftur; daughters, Punam and Pia

Golden Years

Put happy into holidays Those who are grieving, alone must find way to get through By Mary Christopher


he holiday season brings comfort foods, bonding with family and festive activities that many look forward to all year long. But for some, it is a season that can magnify feelings of grief, loneliness and depression. Coping at the holidays can be extremely difficult for a person grieving the loss of someone special or who is alone and has no one to spend the holidays with. Since everyone handles situations differently and can grieve in their own way, it is important for people to think about the holidays ahead of time so they have a plan in place. “It is important to take inventory over what you are capable of doing this year,” said Lisa B. Wolfe, a bereavement counselor at Hospice & Palliative Care in New Hartford. “Folks do what their heart tells them to do and someWolfe times it means changing traditions and sometimes it means keeping them the same.” Often times that means changing where a holiday is hosted, table seating, the food being served and talking to other adults about how to accommodate children if they are also impacted by the loss. In some families, it’s important to not forget the person who passed away and they may want to light a candle or set a place at the table acknowledging someone who is missed, Wolfe said. She said to keep in mind that what you are feeling during one holiday season is not forever and to utilize the people around you to make the day bearable.

Emotional triggers are likely to arise and make everyone aware that some tears may be shed. Wolfe recommends having a safe place to go to be alone to release the emotionality of the day. “It’s OK to have a good cry,” she said. Sister Lois Paciello from Our Lady of Lourdes

Let emotions flow

Church in Utica agreed that it is important to “let yourself feel what you are feeling and not bury pain or sadness,” she Paciello said. “It is only through the grieving process that we can start to feel ourselves again.” When someone is alone on a holiday, it is important to have the day mapped out so they are not feeling truly alone. Wolfe and Paciello said to still prepare a meal for themselves and occupy time with books and movies. A person feeling up to it may want to invite friends to their home to share in the meal. Volunteering right on the holiday or throughout the holiday season is a great way to lift the spirit and help others. The Rescue Mission of Utica is a valuable resource for those who need a hot meal or would like to volunteer. There are a variety of volunteer options including preparing meals, serving them or making home deliveries. “Sometimes it helps to fill that void in their life and it feels good to help others,” said Debi Kenyon, director of development at the Rescue Mission. “They really aren’t alone. This can be fulfilling throughout the year and not just during the holidays.” Healing through spirituality is

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In Good Health is published 12 times a year by Local News, Inc. © 2013 by Local News, Inc. All rights reserved. Mailing Address: 4 Riverside Drive, Suite 251, Utica, NY 13502 • Phone: 315-749-7070 Email: Editor & Publisher: Wagner Dotto • Associate Editor: Lou Sorendo Contributing Writers: Patricia Malin, Barbara Pierce, Kristen Raab, Malissa Allen, Mary Stevenson, Deb Dittner, Amylynn Pastorella, Mary Christopher Advertising: Donna Kimbrell, Jasmine Maldonado Layout & Design: Chris Crocker Office Manager: Laura Beckwith

also an important coping mechanism for those with faith. Paciello likes to instill the benefits of taking care of the body, mind and spirit for those who are grieving or feeling alone. If a person has belief in the afterlife and a religious faith, then “this puts grieving loss in proper perspective and they can look at life as it was and reframe it to what it can become,” she said. Through religious and support groups and clubs of interest a person may find commonality with others that is comforting and members may help each other get through tough times. “Meeting people with the same needs often produces healing and can

provide a joyful experience,” Paciello said. Keeping these things in mind can help a person deal with the emotional stress a holiday or special family day can bring when they are alone or missing someone departed. Wolfe likes to remind people that a holiday is just like any day. She added: “They have to remember that this is just another 24-hour day that can also be a challenge to get through like any normal day. Thanksgiving is just a Thursday, Christmas is a week day.” Anyone interested in volunteering at the Rescue Mission of Utica or who would like to inquire about services should call 735-1645 ext. 103.


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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Golden Years

Where’d you get those peepers? Common conditions of aging eyes Closed-angle glaucoma is less prevalent, but is a real eye emergency. This occurs when a patient’s pupil moves or dilates and actually blocks off the drainage angles in the eye. An ophthalmologist should be contacted immediately to avoid loss of vision. Symptoms of closed-angle glaucoma include severe eye pain, headache, blurred vision, nausea or vomiting, and seeing halos around lights. Risk factors for closed-angle glaucoma include extreme farsightedness, an iris that is abnormally large or far back in the eye, advanced age, heredity, and being of Asian descent. There is a wide range of treatments for the disease.

By Barbara Pierce


s the years go by, time can take a toll on your eyesight. First you can’t read the print that keeps getting smaller, then more frequent trips to the eye doctor, and then perhaps blurred vision or some other problem. Francis Migliaccio of Francis Eye and Laser Center of Utica identifies four common eye problems and tips for healthy eyes on his website www.

Dry eye syndrome

“Dry eye syndrome is a common disease in which the eye under-produces tears or tears leave the eye too quickly,” describes Migliaccio’s website. “A normal eye constantly produces tears, which act as a lubricant. For someone with dry eye, the lack of can cause problems.” Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include burning, stinging, or scratchy sensation in the eyes; eyes may redden and become easily irritated by wind or smoke; the eyes may produce stringy mucus; contact lenses may be difficult or impossible to wear, or sometimes the eye will actually produce excessive tears, and overflow. A common cause of dry eye can be over-the-counter and prescription medications such as antihistamines, beta-blockers, sleeping pills, or pain relievers. Overuse of diuretics can also cause dry eye. For this reason, it is important to inform your ophthalmologist about any medications you take. Treatments for dry eye include artificial tears, medication, or surgery to close the tear ducts. Also, Migliaccio recommends that persons with dry eye syndrome avoid situations in which tears evaporate quickly. For example, use a humidifier in a dry house, wear wrap-around glasses in the wind, and avoid smoke.


Cataracts, the world’s leading cause of blindness, are the clouding of the eye’s normally clear lens. Cataracts are more common after 40, but can occur at any age due to factors such as family history, diabetes, long term ultra-violet light exposure, certain medications like steroids, or eye

Age-related macular degeneration

injuries. Cataract symptoms may include blurry vision, lights that seem too bright or have a “halo” effect, double vision, decreased night vision, and dull or fading colors, says Migliaccio. Early on, a cataract may be treated with stronger glasses or contacts. Once the cataract begins to interfere with daily tasks such as reading and driving, surgery is the only option. Cataract surgery is a common procedure and complications are rare and treatable. It is an outpatient procedure usually over in less than 30 minutes. The doctor removes the cloudy natural lens from the eye while the patient is under a topical anesthesia. Next, the doctor inserts an intraocular lens, which remains permanently in place. Studies show that 95 percent of patients have better vision after surgery. Many no longer need glasses. Best steps to prevent cataracts from developing are recommended on Ditch the cigarettes; wear a wide-brimmed hat and good sunglasses, with 100 percent UV filter, lose

weight and exercise, and eat fish.


Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness in the United States. When the internal pressure in the eye rises to abnormal levels, Migliaccio explains, it puts extra stress on the optic nerve, causing significant damage. This damage can result in loss of vision. The two most common types of glaucoma are chronic open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma. Chronic open-angle glaucoma usually develops with age. Pressure gradually increases around the eye causing it to work less effectively. There are no symptoms in the early stages. Peripheral vision is usually the first to deteriorate. Then blank spots begin to appear. If untreated, it leads blindness. The best way to avoid serious vision loss is early diagnosis and treatment. Risk factors for chronic open-angle glaucoma include advanced age, family history, diabetes, farsightedness, nearsightedness or previous eye trauma.

Macular degeneration affects cells in the macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for central vision. Central vision is essential for most basic tasks. Though macular degeneration leaves peripheral vision unimpaired, it can be quite debilitating in its advanced state, explains Migliaccio’s website. The disease exists in two forms, dry and wet. Dry is by far the most common, and is the milder of the two forms. It develops gradually and usually leads to only minor vision loss. The vast majority of severe vision loss results from wet macular degeneration. That’s when fluids leak and permanently damage the outside cells that detect incoming light. As these cells are damaged, vision is lost. The cause of macular degeneration is unknown. Age is a factor, as is family history, smoking, hypertension, obesity, and/or high cholesterol. Symptoms include shadows or holes in vision, straight lines appearing wavy, trouble seeing details, and difficulty telling colors apart. There is no treatment for the dry form. Those at high risk should see their ophthalmologist at least once every one to two years to catch the disease in its infancy. There is no cure for wet macular degeneration. There are several treatments to combat the disease. Early detection is important. Once vision is lost there is no treatment to regain it.

Cataract surgeries on rise as boomers age


s baby boomers enter their retirement years, health care costs for complex and debilitating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease are expected to soar. Not drawing as much attention is the likelihood of similarly rising expenses for common age-related medical procedures. A Mayo Clinic study looked at one of those — cataract surgery — and found that more people are getting the vision-improving procedure, seeking it at younger ages and having both eyes repaired within a few months, Page 6

rather than only treating one eye. The demand shows no sign of leveling off, raising the need to manage costs and ensure access to appropriate cataract treatment, the researchers say. The findings are published in the Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery. “Cataract surgery rates are rising in all age groups between 50 and 90, but the greatest increase is in the 70- and 80-year-olds. And part of that is that our older population, or the aging baby boomers, are working longer, they

want to be more active, they have more demands on their vision,” says senior author Jay Erie, a Mayo Clinic ophthalmologist. “That’s why they’re looking for surgery sooner — so that they can remain independent, remain active, continue to work.” Cataracts can blur vision and worsen glare from lights. They can make it difficult to drive safely, perform household tasks and maintain a normal level of independence. In cataract surgery, the eye lens is removed and usually

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2013

replaced with an artificial lens, without requiring a hospital stay. In the United States, age-related cataracts affect at least 22 million people and cost an estimated $6.8 billion to treat each year; the cataract caseload is expected to rise to 30 million people by 2020, the researchers noted. Despite the common nature of cataracts, the U.S. has little current population-based data on cataract surgery, information that can help estimate demand.

Golden Years Golden Years, Golden Opportunities Mohawk Valley seniors keep their minds, bodies sharp By Mary Christopher


t was a typical fall afternoon inside the SUNYIT Campus Center with students and instructors buzzing amid a flurry of activity. But, the energy wasn’t stirred by recently-graduated high school students. Instead, a steady flow of retirees and seniors flocked to their classes at the Mohawk Valley Institute for Learning in Retirement located at the SUNYIT campus in Utica. These students, ranging in age from their mid-50s to well into their 90s, are part of a growing trend among the baby boomer generation that is aging and retiring but still has the desire to learn and be productive. Lifelong Maher learning and enriched learning environments can help reduce cognitive decline and poor self-image and help older adults deal with depression, all health issues that can be associated with aging, experts say. “People who learn, live, grow, move, think and socialize will stay healthy,” said Ann Maher, executive director of MVILR. “Our programs have become a part of [many students’] social and intellectual stimulation in this phase of their life. Many of them

have the attitude that ‘we are old and we have fun learning.’” The MVILR is a nonprofit organization based at the college that offers a wide range of classes and programs geared toward retirees and people in that age demographic. Classes are offered weekdays during the fall and spring semesters on topics ranging from conversational Spanish, digital greetings and memoirs, the Civil War, freedom of watercolors and many more. New Hartford resident Jessica Scialdo has been a member of the MVILR for three years and loves how it “is a place full of stories,” she said. Scialdo has met people of different backgrounds and enjoys attending classes about topics she doesn’t know much about. “It’s important to not get tunnel vision,” she said. “These classes are a great way for people to exchange ideas and thoughts on a variety of things.”

Well-rounded experience

Similar experiences were shared across town as Eileen Spellman scurried about the three different activities taking place at once at the New Hartford Senior Center. Spellman, the executive director, said she is always amazed at the high energy and level of involvement the members bring to the center. Chair yoga, aerobics, knitting and art were just a sampling of what was happening on a recent Monday morning. Spellman also frequently brings in speakers to talk about current affairs and issues involving retirement, health or seniors.

Seniors: Stay in the game


hen people retire, slow down their career or have children leave home, they may find they have extra time to enjoy new things. The AARP recommends the following suggestions:

• Pick up a long neglected hobby or try a new hobby. • Get involved in your community by volunteering or attending local events. • Learn something new (an instrument, foreign language, new game). • Take a class or join a club. • Travel somewhere where you have never visited. • Spend time in nature (hiking, fishing, camping, skiing) • Enjoy the arts by visiting a museum or going to a concert “It is socialization, stimulation and people helping people,” Spellman said. “There is an attitude from so many of our seniors that you get out, you volunteer and you keep active.” It’s that mentality that helps retirees maintain a healthy and meaningful lifestyle. Many of the women who knit and crochet Spellman together donate hats and other items to local agencies and feel good about helping others. Utica resident Connie Watkins

takes art and yoga classes and reads in the center’s summer program. “I’m so busy, I don’t know whether I’m coming or going,” Watkins said. “It is so important to keep the mind stimulated and be involved with friends to keep the mind going.” A 2011 AARP survey of retired Baby Boomers found that 41 percent do not want to stop working. That number has remained stable for 15 years, according to the AARP website (www. According to the AARP website, staying healthy over age 50 means finding activities that you enjoy. Everyone has different ways of experiencing meaning and joy and pleasurable activities and those tastes can change over time.

4 Ps of choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan


f you are 65 or older, now is the time to think about your health care needs for the coming year. Open enrollment for Medicare 2014 is underway, and seniors only have until Dec. 7 to select or change their coverage. Medicare coverage is not affected by the Affordable Care Act. Many seniors are interested in Medicare Advantage Plans. Commonly known as Part C, Medicare Advantage provides insurance for hospitalization and in-patient care (Part A) as well as doctors’ services, outpatient care and some preventive services (Part B). It may also include prescription coverage (Part D). There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan. Fidelis Care Chief Marketing Officer Pamela Hassen offers a few tips, better known as the four Ps, to help you choose the right plan for you.


While many Medicare Advantage products offer similar, comprehensive benefits, the prices may be very different. “Some products have a monthly premium but $0 copay. Others have a copay but $0 premium. Think about your health care needs in the coming year,” says Hassen. “Also, think about

whether you need prescription drug coverage. That could be a deciding factor.”

mine if flex spending will cover your out-of-pocket costs.

Peace of mind


Hassen says making a list of your current doctors as well as doctors you may need to see in the next year is helpful. “If your primary care physician or a specialist you see regularly isn’t in the network, think about whether you feel comfortable making a change,” Hassen says. She also recommends looking at the hospitals in the network and finding out if you would be covered if you need medical care while traveling or visiting relatives in another part of the state.


Take a look at the benefits and services offered through the product you are considering. “If you need eye exams, dental benefits, or hearing aids, find out if they are included,” advises Hassen. “You should also know if your prescription drugs are in the plan’s formulary, how much they will cost, and whether your local pharmacy participates. “A flex spending account may be an added benefit. Making a list of your over-the-counter medications and medical supplies can help you deter-

“When you make a Medicare Advantage Plan decision, you should feel confident you made the right choice for you,” says Hassen. “Be sure to consider the quality and performance of the plan, health care providers, and hospi-

tals.” Talking to friends, neighbors and relatives about choices they have made is a good start. Hassen advises seniors to start thinking about their Medicare coverage for 2014 now. “The plan you choose will likely be your plan for an entire year. You don’t want to wait until December to start looking into your options and rush into a decision.”

New geriatric care management firm opens


SW and Associates is a new geriatric care management firm serving the Central New York area. Anne Schug Williams founded the business, which works with seniors and their families to handle case management, advocacy, and elder planning needs. Services include information and referral, assessment and Schug Williams

November 2013 •

planning, placement coordination, care planning and coordination, crisis intervention and family support and liaison. Schug Williams has 25 years of experience in health care and her market covers Central New York. For more information, call 315-796-5217 or email

Got a health-related story idea? Call 315-749-7070 today!

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 7

Fitness & Nutrition The Balanced Body

By Deb Dittner

Exert control this holiday season Avoid temptation and stay on course to healthy lifestyle


t’s that time of year when preparations for the holidays are filled with family tradition, hustle and bustle, family and friend gatherings, and work and school assemblies. However, unexpected happenings also creep in. The next couple months seem to fly by faster each year so planning ahead, making the list (and checking it twice), and following simple but tried and true tips will make the season one to fondly remember. • Nutrition: Remember to eat sensibly throughout the day. By eating regular balanced meals, your body will be satisfied and will Dittner not feel the need to binge. Skipping meals to try to save calories for the evening gathering will only leave your body in a state of starvation, causing you to be more likely to eat everything in sight. Allow yourself to eat what you want. By not allowing yourself a certain food because you think it will be too many calories or that it is unhealthy often produces a passion so irresistible that you end up eating the food anyway. Fully enjoy what you want and just remember to be mindful. We also tend to be tempted by many delectable and rich foods causing us to overfill our plate. Manage the holiday meal as you would any other meal and eat to portion size having a small amount of everything, and remembering to chew each bite with intention. Don’t forget to share a favorite holiday dish. By incorporating the best quality organic ingredients into your dish shows your love and creativity to family and friends.

One of my favorite holiday smoothies that can be a healthy breakfast or afternoon snack is: Pumpkin Smoothie Ingredients: 2/3 cup organic butternut squash or pumpkin puree (organic canned is the most convenient and available at your local health food store. Fresh, steamed works great too) 1 banana 1 cup coconut water (Adjust to the consistency you like. You can also use almond or rice milk). A handful of ice Pumpkin spice mix (or cinnamon) Directions: Put all ingredients into a Vitamix or high speed blender, pour into your favorite glass, and sprinkle with cinnamon or pumpkin spice mix. Enjoy!! • Intention: Be aware of your food choices and enjoy every mouthful by utilizing your senses. Inhale the scent of food. Does the scent appeal to your liking? What are the colors? How does it taste? Is it sweet, spicy, sour or salty? By thoroughly enjoying your food the first time around, there may not be a need for a second or third helping. • Movement: Remember to continue with your exercise program. Even if you may be away from home and your usual routine, you need to incorporate physical activity into your day. Consider taking a walk with a family member or friend either before or after your meal. Ask if anyone belongs to a gym or fitness center and would like to do a workout together. Exercise assists in better handling of stress and anxiety, plus it will burn any extra calories you may indulge in at holiday festivities. • Self-care: Eating healthy whole

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2013

foods, getting proper sleep between seven and nine hours nightly, and drinking plenty of water are all important habits to maintain this time of year. Keeping up with a healthy lifestyle will decrease the stress and cause you to feel better. Take time daily to rest and unwind whether it is through meditation, yoga, a walk with the dog, an evening bath with therapeutic grade essential oils, or reading a book. • Gratitude: Count your blessings each and every day. Savor each and every moment. Being thankful

during the holiday season is the key to success. If you find yourself stressing over even the smallest thing, pause for a moment, breathe deeply and purposefully calm your mind. Have fun with family and friends this holiday season. Take delight in all it has to offer. Show gratitude to all living beings. A very happy and healthy holiday season to all!! • Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner specializing in reiki and holistic nutrition. Check out her website at www.The-Balanced-Body. com.

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Elks Club of Rome shows its softer side Members of the Elks Club of Rome Lodge #96 pitched in to help newborns and children at Rome Memorial Hospital, visiting the maternity and emergency departments with a donation of homemade caps and stuffed animals. From left are Pam Durant, representative of the Elk’s Lodge Kaps and Kuddles for Kids Committee; Brenna Ricci, a nurse in the maternity department, and Katie Painter, nurse manager of maternal/child services at Rome Memorial Hospital.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 9

Dealing with Diabetes Utica man struggles, but finds a way to manage disease By Patricia J. Malin


ictor Talerico of Utica can speak firsthand of the risks of diabetes and how it can strike without warning. Talerico was diagnosed with Type 2 (adult) diabetes when he was 37 years old in 1990. He recalled that he was going through some personal difficulties prior to getting the diagnosis. “In 1986, I got divorced, and in 1990, I lost my job,” he said. “There was a lot of stress on myself and I wasn’t taking care of my sugar, so I might have had (diabetes) before my marriage. But I don’t think I had the (typical) symptoms.” As he got older, Talerico, 60, has experienced more problems with diabetes. It has forced him to come to grips with the disease, to educate him self and to work with his doctors to treat it seriously. He joined the Trading Up program at Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica in 2011 and is an advocate to help others with similar conditions. Talerico felt comfortable with the group from his first meeting. “I figured I could learn from it and get educated,” he said. “I was always raising my hand and willing to share my experiences.” The Central New York Diabetes Education Program, a cooperative effort of FSLH and St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica, organizes Trading Up. The group provides an outlet for

Page 10

doctors, the pharmacists, the nurses and ask questions (about diabetes),” he said. “They can’t read your mind. Get a buddy to walk with. Go to the classes. I just found out I was doing something wrong, something I had been doing for a long time.” By taking practical steps to change one’s lifestyle, patients may reverse prediabetes and avoid Type 2 diabetes and Utican Victor Talerico taps into educational resources in order associated dangers to keep abreast of his battle with diabetes. such as heart attack, stroke, blindness and people to exchange information and amputation. provide support. Attendees can speak Tough times with others who are living similar Talerico remembers experiencing lifestyles and dealing with the daily considerable discomfort prior to his diimpact of diabetes management. agnosis in 1990. First of all, he had been Type 2 diabetes threatens one in overweight (174 pounds). He lost his three Americans and 90 percent of job as a chef at the Rescue Mission in these individuals don’t even know Utica and was going through a stressthey’re at risk, according to FSLH. ful divorce, he said. During a vacation Talerico’s most frequent piece of in Las Vegas, he noticed excessive thirst advice for Trading Up participants: and urination. Get a support system. “Talk to your “I didn’t know the symptoms of diabetes,” he admitted. When he eventually saw his primary doctor and began treating his diabetes, he wasn’t vigilant about taking his medicine. “I was on Medicaid for awhile and I was concerned about the cost of the drugs,” he said. “It was hard to take my medicine and hard for me to remember, so that was part of my problem.” In 1990, Talerico’s sister told him about Margarita Perez-Cheron, an internist at Slocum-Dickson Medical Group in New Hartford who specializes in diabetes, metabolism and endocrinology. In 2011, he heard about the diabetes program organized by Caroline Jacobus at Faxton. He enrolled in a free gym class at the Parkway Senior Center. He learned how to modify his diet, reduce his blood pressure and cholesterol and realized the need to take his medicines on schedule. He lost

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2013

an additional 20 pounds since June, so his weight is about 150 pounds. Although he got his weight under control, his diabetes had already contributed to poor circulation in his feet. He gave up walking temporarily, but has since learned to do modified exercises. “I limp when I walk and I have a bad back,” he said. “I can’t use the treadmill, but I can use a (stationary) bicycle. When I’m on the phone at home, I’ll walk around the room to get exercise. I also walk up and down stairs. Whether you’re disabled or overweight, everyone needs to get some exercise.”

Taking control

Through the CNY Diabetes program, Talerico said he received help for enrolling in Medicare, and then got additional insurance coverage through Humana. He received treatment from a local podiatrist and an eye doctor. His insurance company paid for new diabetic shoes. He learned about the use of overthe-counter generic drugs for diabetes and for cataracts, which he developed 10-15 years ago. He monitors his blood sugar regularly so that his A1C level remains between 6.5 and 7.0. Through the CNY Diabetes program, he has participated in group tours at Price Chopper and Hannaford’s stores in Utica, New Hartford and Herkimer. People with diabetes or pre-diabetes are invited to shop with a registered dietitian and learn about healthy food choices. “Price Chopper has a Nu-Val system and ranks food on a (nutritional) scale of 1 to 100,” Talerico said. “We learned that the foods with the highest scores in the 80s and 90s, like broccoli and lettuce, are the best for you.” The Trading Up program meets in the Soggs Room at St. Luke’s Home in the Center for Rehabilitation and Continuing Care Services, 1650 Champlin Ave., New Hartford. Call 315-624-5620 or email for details. The Central New York Diabetes Education Program, which focuses on treating pre-diabetes, consists of 16 classes and holds its classes at the CNY Diabetes office on the fourth floor of the Faxton Campus, 1676 Sunset Ave., Utica.

Stroke of Fate

an old-fashioned way: “flight or fight.” You are weakening your body’s defenses when you live on the edge. Combine this with heredity factors. Drug abuse has an impact. Cocaine use, even past use, damages the brain and increases the risk of a stroke. Steroids all weaken the brain and increase your risk of having stroke.

Alarming rise in risk for young people

By Barbara Pierce


trokes are not something we usually associate with young people, but the risk of having a stroke is on the rise for the young. “It’s a significant and scary change,” said Angelina Roche, stroke program clinical coordinator at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare, Utica. “At least 35 percent of stroke patients we see are under 65,” she said. “This is an alarming increase. It’s huge.” “It’s difficult to know the reason,” she added. “Are we seeing more or are strokes in the young being better recognized? A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control says we are seeing more strokes, even in the 15- to 35-yearold group.” Strokes are commonly called “brain attacks” because they mirror heart attacks: something stops blood from reaching the brain, killing the parts of the brain that would’ve received that blood. Like heart attacks, they can be the result of blood clots formed by cholesterol. But they can also happen in people who are apparently healthy. They can happen in the young, and they are happening more often in the young. The consequences are unpredictable. Some recover completely. Some end up with disabilities. Some die. Kathryn Tucker, 26, had just gone to bed when she felt a sharp pain the back of her head before her vision went

out and she went numb. Her brother got her to the hospital where doctors at first dismissed her symptoms as a migraine. But Tucker was having a stroke, as reported on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I was absolutely terrified,” said Tucker, who was sent home from the emergency room without medical intervention. “I slept for three days straight,” she said. “Then, when I woke up, my vision was horrible. Everything was distorted and one-dimensional. I could barely get around.” She ended up going to an urgent care facility. From there, she was referred to a neurologist who diagnosed a stroke. Nine months later to the day, her twin, Kimberly Tucker, suffered a stroke in exactly the same way, except on the other side of her head. As Tucker found, strokes in the young are often misdiagnosed. “Even when a young person seeks medical care for their symptoms, health care professionals don’t think of a stroke,” Roche said. “Risk factors are not well attended to by young people or by the medical community.”

Causes of strokes

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is the primary cause of strokes, Roche said. “Young people don’t go to a doctor. You’re young; you’re invincible. You may have high blood pressure and not know it,” she said. “The bottom line is that smoking and the birth control pill increase your

KIDS Corner Study: Teens more vulnerable to herpes

They may have lower levels of protective antibodies to the virus than in years past


oday’s teens may be at higher risk than ever of contracting genital herpes because they don’t have enough immune system antibodies to shield them against the sexually transmitted virus, a new study suggests. This increase in risk may be the result of fewer teens being exposed in childhood to the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), a common cause of cold sores, researchers reported Oct. 17 in the online edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases. “HSV-1 now is the predominant herpes strain causing genital infection,” explained physician David Kimberlin, chairman of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, and the author of a

journal editorial. According to Kimberlin, the new findings suggest that almost one in 10 adolescents who a decade ago would have already acquired HSV-1 and built up some immunity may now encounter HSV-1 when they first become sexually active. That could leave them more susceptible to genital herpes than young people were in the past. “This [also] has potentially significant consequences on neonatal herpes transmission,” which occurs when a baby contracts the herpes virus from a genitally infected mother, Kimberlin said. “We must continue to monitor these changes and watch for shifts in neonatal herpes infection that possibly could result.”

Kathryn, left, and Kimberly Tucker, 26-year-old twins of Chandler, Ariz., both suffered strokes. risk of having a stroke by 35 percent,” he said. Bad migraine headaches are a significant risk factor, she noted. Migraines with an aura present are an even higher risk. Pregnancy is a high-risk condition. As Roche explained, there is 30 percent more blood going through your body and levels of hormones are higher. Many risk factors are genetic, such as diabetes, vascular disease, heart disease, or another family member who had a stroke. Or, an atrial septal defect is evident. This is a hole in the heart that may be too tiny to show up and doesn’t get diagnosed until you have a stroke. Even though you have a healthy lifestyle, that doesn’t matter when it comes to issues of heredity. And, African Americans and Hispanics are at high risk. “Also, we live in a very stressful world,” added Roche. “Stress levels increase your blood pressure. The increase in stress level in our environment has a significant increase in folks having strokes.” Our bodies respond to stress in

Symptoms of a stroke

Classic symptoms of a stroke include: • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination While young people may experience the classic symptoms of stroke, they can also experience different and vague symptoms that are often dismissed as something else: • Headaches • Dizziness • A tingling sensation • Sudden nausea and vomiting • Pain on one side of the body • Extreme exhaustion Time is of the essence. You need to get treatment within three to four hours after the stroke, said Roche. After this time period, the life-saving medicine that will reverse the damage is not as effective. Don’t wait for the next day. Don’t wait for your husband to come home from work, said Roche. Get treatment immediately.

Body image tied to suicidal thoughts in young teens


eeing oneself as overweight or obese may be an important, independent predictor of suicidal thoughts, especially in young girls, reports a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Understanding the link between body image and suicide is critical, said the study’s lead author, Dong-Chul Seo, associate professor at the School of Public Health at Indiana University. “The study’s findings clearly indicate that overweight perception is an independent predictor for suicidal ideation, the same as depression.” Seo and his colleagues analyzed the responses of 6,504 middle school and high school students surveyed from 134 schools in 50 states between 1995 and 2008. Researchers found that suicidal thoughts were higher in those who thought they were overweight compared to those who didn’t see themselves as overweight (18 percent vs. 10.4 percent), even after controlling for such variables as age, ethnicity and depression and independent of actual body mass index (BMI). Furthermore, the effect was stron-

November 2013 •

ger in girls at age 10 than in boys. Overall, there was a decrease in suicidal ideation as participants aged between 15 and 21 years old. By the time they were 28 years old, the rate of suicidal thoughts leveled off to 5.8 percent in those who didn’t perceive themselves as overweight and 6.7 percent in those who did. Seo added, “The findings of the study underline the need for development of effective interventions to address body weight perception to reduce suicidal ideation and as well as attempts, especially among female teenagers.”

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 11

Rome Twigs announce Tree of Lights campaign Flood-damaged church gets help The North Central New York Chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans recently presented a check to Trinity Lutheran Church, Herkimer, for $932 to cover costs of replacing education ministry materials destroyed in the summer flooding. These materials are a vital part of the church’s Sunday school program as well as its junior and senior youth group activities. Celebrating the occasion are, from left, Thrivent Chapter Financial Director Helga Morrison; Rev. Ann Zimmerman, pastor at Trinity; and disaster response coordinator Patsy Glista. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is a nonprofit Fortune 500 financial services organization helping nearly 3 million members achieve financial security and give back to their communities. The local chapter meets monthly at Lutheran Care in Clinton to review local funding requests and disburse funds where needed. Lutheran Disaster Response is based at LutheranCare as well. For more information, contact Karen Ostinett at 315-235-7104 or email

Rome Strip Steel is the corporate sponsor of the Rome Twigs’ 2013 Tree of Lights campaign. The company has donated $1,000 to the Twigs fundraiser for Rome Memorial Hospital. The Tree of Lights reception and ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1 in the hospital lobby. At 7 p.m., the congregation will move outside to light the tree. Pictured in the Twigs’ gift shop located in the lobby of Rome Memorial Hospital are, from left, Marcia Murphy, president of the Rome Twigs; Sally and Kirk Hinman of Rome Strip Steel; and Susan Williams, General Twig and Tree of Lights committee representative. Individuals may purchase lights to honor a living person, remember a deceased loved one, or express thanks. Each light on the tree represents a gift of love and remembrance. In order to be included on the scroll, donations of $5 or more for a light must be received by noon on Nov. 20, addressed to Rome Memorial Hospital, Att: Tree of Lights, 1500 N. James St., Rome, NY 13440. Make checks payable to Rome Twigs.

Insight House recognizes award recipients From left, Insight House President and CEO Donna M. Vitagliano, honorees Sherry Coleman and Craig Tuttle, presenter Denise Spagnola, and honoree Charles Pucillo celebrate during the agency’s 10th annual Recovery Recognition Dinner held recently at the Radisson Hotel in Utica. Also recognized were Christina Davis and Bill Robertson as “employees of the year.”

Page 12

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2013

The Social Ask Security Office


Column provided by the local Social Security Office


Dr. Graber is pleased to welcome Gregory Dalencourt, MD to the practice

Social Security serves those who’ve served

n Nov.11, we honor our nation’s veterans for their service to America. What better time than now to tell you — and for you to help spread the word — about the many benefits and wealth of information Social Security has available for veterans and military personnel? Social Security recognizes those who put their lives on the line for our freedoms. Members of the armed forces receive expedited processing of their Social Security disability applications. The expedited process is available for any military service member who became disabled during active duty on or after Oct. 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs. Some dependent children and spouses of military personnel may also be eligible to receive benefits. Visit our website designed specifically for our wounded veterans: www. There, you will find answers to a number of commonly asked questions, as well as other useful information about disability benefits available under the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. Please pay special attention to the fact sheet available on that website, “Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors.” You’ll also find a webinar that explains the faster disability process available to wounded warriors. The program covers general information


Q: I got an email that says it’s from Social Security, but I’m not so sure. They want me to reply with my Social Security number, date of birth, and mother’s maiden name for “verification.” Did it really come from Social Security? A: No. Social Security will not send you an email asking you to share your personal information, such as your Social Security number, date of birth, or other private information. Beware of such scams — they’re after your information so they can use it for their own benefit. When in doubt, or if you have any questions about correspondence you receive from Social Security, contact your local Social Security office or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to see whether we really need any information from you. Q: I run a small business and I am hiring a few employees. How can I recognize a valid Social Security card? A: There are more than 50 different versions of the Social Security card, all of which are valid. Although there are several versions of the card in circulation, all prior versions of the card are valid. The number is what is most im-

about Social Security disability benefits as well as topics unique to wounded service members. The online video is less than three minutes and a great introduction to disability benefits for veterans and active duty military. On the same webpage, you’ll also find links to useful Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense websites. The requirements for disability benefits available through Social Security are different than those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application. Military service members are covered for the same Social Security survivors, disability, and retirement benefits as everyone else. Although the expedited service is relatively new, military personnel have been covered under Social Security since 1957, and people who were in the service prior to that may be able to get special credit for some of their service. To learn more about Social Security for current and former military service members, read “Military Service and Social Security.” It’s available in our digital library at www.socialsecurity. gov/pubs. But first, take a look at the wounded warrior page at www.socialsecurity. gov/woundedwarriors. The webinar, factsheet, and pertinent links will brief you on everything you need to know to “maneuver” your way through the Social Security process.

portant. The best way for you and other employers to verify a name and Social Security number is to use the free Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS). Once you register for Business Services Online at www.socialsecurity. gov/bso, you can start using SSNVS. SSNVS allows you to quickly verify whether a person’s name and number match Social Security’s records. Q: What are the benefit amounts for which a spouse may be entitled? A: A spouse receives one-half of the retired worker’s full benefit if the spouse retires at full retirement age. If the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age, we reduce those benefits by a percentage based on how much earlier the spouse retires. However, if a spouse is taking care of a child who is either under age 16 or disabled and receiving Social Security benefits, a spouse gets full (one-half) benefits, regardless of age. If you are eligible for both your own retirement benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we always pay your own benefit first. If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your retirement benefit, you’ll receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse’s benefit. Learn more at

Dr. Dalencourt is now seeing new patients for surgical consultation for those considering weight loss surgery Our program has successfully met the highest standards set forth by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and is recognized as an ASMBS Center of Excellence. Surgeries are performed at Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica, and at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse. Dr. Graber is the Director of Bariatric Surgery at both hospitals.

To find out more, visit or call 877-269-0355 to discuss how we might help you in your search to find a healthier you!

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November 2013 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 13


Your Doctor

By Patricia J. Malin By Jim Miller

How to find affordable Doc keeps pace with cremation services latest in profession

Dear Savvy Senior, Can you offer any tips for finding low-cost cremation services? I don’t want to stick my kids with a big funeral bill after I die. Still Alive Dear Alive, Cremation is definitely one of the most affordable ways to go, when you go. Costs usually run between $600 and $3,000, which are significantly lower than the average full-service funeral that averages around $10,000 today. Cost is also one of the big reasons why the popularity of cremation is soaring. Roughly 40 percent of Americans now choose cremation, up from 27 percent just a decade ago. Here are some tips for locating lowcost services. Compare providers

Because prices can vary sharply, start by calling the funeral homes in your area (most funeral homes provide cremation services) and ask them how much they charge for a “direct cremation,” which is the least expensive option. With direct cremation, there’s no embalming, formal viewing or funeral. It only includes the essentials: picking up the body, completing the required paperwork, the cremation itself and providing ashes to the family. If your family wants to have a memorial service, they can have it at home or your place of worship after the cremation, in the presence of your remains. To locate nearby funeral homes, look in your local yellow pages under “cremation” or “funeral” or visit You may also be able to get help and referrals through your nearby memorial society or local funeral consumer alliance program (see funerals. org/affiliates-directory or call 802-8658300 for contact information). These are volunteer groups that offer a wide range of information and prices on local funeral and cremation providers. If, however, you’re not up to calling around, there are also a number of free websites — like funeraldecisions. com and — that you or Page 14

your family can use that can do the work for you. With these sites, you just answer a few questions, and your nearby funeral homes will provide estimates based on your request.

Low-cost urns

The urn is another item you need to be aware of that can drive up costs. Funeral home urns usually cost around $50 to $300, but you aren’t required to get one. Most funeral homes initially place ashes in a plastic bag that is inserted into a thick plastic box. The box is all you need if you intend to have your ashes scattered. But if you want something to display, you can probably find a nice urn or comparable container online., for example, sells urns for as little as $25. Or, you may want to use an old cookie jar or container you have around the house instead of a traditional urn.

Financial help

If you can’t afford your cremation costs, there are a number of places you can turn to that may help. For starters, many towns or counties provide assistance through their social services department if you or your family can’t afford to pay. Your family should also be able to get some aid from Social Security, which pays a survivor a one-time death benefit of $255. And if you’re a veteran, the VA provides a burial benefit that includes a free burial at a national cemetery and a free grave marker. But it doesn’t cover funeral provider or cremation costs.

Free cremation

Another option to consider that provides free cremation is to donate your body to a university-affiliated medical school. After using your body for research, they will cremate your remains for free, and either bury or scatter your ashes in a local cemetery or return them to your family, usually within a year or two. To find a medical facility near you that accepts body donations, the University of Florida maintains a directory at Or, call the National Family Service Desk, which operates a free referral service at 800-727-0700.

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.

Physician stays ‘in the loop’ Continued from Page 4 research to practice. Taking re-certifying boards also keeps me updated with recent advances. I will tell you one thing: I think oncology and hematology is probably one of the most rapidly advancing fields in medicine. I also attend American Society of Clinical Oncology and American Society of Hematology meetings to keep me in the loop. Q.: What challenges do you foresee in the future regarding healthcare, locally and nationally? A.: I think future years are going to be very challenging to medical providers and patients and health insurance companies. The cost and quality of care I think will be affected the most. Q.: Technology and computers are playing an ever-increasing role, for example, in the use of electronic health care records. How do you react to this trend? A.: I think electronic medical records are vital to providing quality care to patients. I am very fortunate that

Slocum-Dickson Medical Group, where I have worked for the last 15 years, incorporated EMR many years ago. Q.: What suggestions do you have to improve the practice or treatment of oncology-hematology in the future? A.: I believe oncologists and hematologists should not only treat the particular disease in patients, but also should advise them to incorporate regular exercise, mild to moderate weightlifting, and a balanced diet [into their lifestyles]. I also emphasize screening for other cancers and provide advice as to what steps a family should take. I find a few moments of kind advice work well for my patients. Q.: What do you do to relax from a stressful job? A.: To tell you the truth, I do not find lot of time for myself, which is bad. I do like to walk and lift weights, which is most relaxing to me. I love to read and listen to music. Do you know what is most relaxing to me? It’s when my children come home from college and we hang out.

Married people diagnosed with cancer live longer than singles Study finds association between marriage and cancer outcomes


ew results from a large retrospective study of the National Cancer Institute’s SEER database show that patients with cancer who were married at the time of diagnosis live markedly longer compared to unmarried patients. Researchers also found that married patients are more likely to be diagnosed with earlier-stage disease and much more likely to receive the appropriate therapy. This study is the first to show a consistent and significant benefit of marriage on survival among each of the 10 leading causes of cancer-related death in the United States lung, colorectal, breast, pancreatic, prostate, liver/bile duct, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, head and neck, ovarian, and esophageal cancer. It has been established previously that social support, including assistance with decision-making, instruction regarding coping strategies, and management of depression and anxiety, extends survival after a diagnosis of

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2013

cancer. “Marriage probably improves outcomes among patients with cancer through increased social support,” said lead study author Ayal Aizer, a chief resident in radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “Our results suggest that patients who are not married should reach out to friends, cancer support or faith-based groups, and their doctors to obtain adequate social support.” For patients who are married, spouses are typically their primary sources of social support sharing the emotional toll of the illness, accompanying them to doctors’ visits, and ensuring they follow through with recommended treatments. It had been suggested that marriage might improve outcomes for patients with cancer, but prior studies on the effect of marital status have not been conclusive. The study assessed clinical and demographic data from the SEER registry on 734,889 patients diagnosed between 2004 and 2008.

75 years of service

Between You and Me

Slocum-Dickson celebrates history, new upgrades By Patricia J. Malin


n 1938, three Utica physicians, Charles Dickson, William Dickson and Millard Slocum formed a group practice and rented quarters at 258 Genesee St. in downtown Utica. Despite the passage of 75 years and growth, the Slocum-Dickson Medical Group remains a physician-owned and operated, multi-specialty practice in Central New York. SDMG hosted a modest 75th anniversary party recently by welcoming the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce to a Business After Hours reception at 1729 Burrstone Road. It also unveiled its new, expanded hematology-oncology suite, which opened in early October. “The new office suite offers the latest equipment for the preparation of chemotherapy medications and other anti-cancer agents, and includes a variety of updates that will create a warm, comfortable environment for patients undergoing treatment,” said Anne Falchi, chief operating officer for SDMG. The suite is located on the main level in the west wing of the building, just down the hall from the laboratory and radiology services. The suite has seating for 14 patients, up from nine in the former unit on the second floor. Unlike the old unit, which had an open, but cramped floor plan, each patient now has a reclining chair situated in a cubicle with sliding glass doors on each side for added privacy, adjustable lighting, plus individual LED TVs. In one corner, there

are adjoining chairs for a patient and his or her family member, friend or another patient. There is a separate room for phlebotomy and an infusion area for patients having blood drawn or receiving injections. There is also a dedicated patient reception and waiting area. Board-certified hematology-medical oncology specialists Sultana Razia and Manzurul Sikder have office space and two large patient exam rooms. Each of the four nurses will occupy a station, whereas they formerly shared one large counter space. “We finally outgrew our old space upstairs,” said Heidi Carnright, an RN who has worked in the oncology unit for nearly six years. “This is much better now, facing the patients instead of standing up and having our back to them.” The nurses now have a private room, too. A “patient nourishment center” or separate snack area within the suite provides an added convenience. The oncology suite also features a large aquarium for the patients’ enjoyment and relaxation. The Slocum-Dickson group moved to its current location in New Hartford in 1986. It now employs more than 70 physicians and 500 staff members. It has additional locations at 55 Central Plaza in Ilion, and 91 Perimeter Road at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome.

The chemistry of relationships

Is there really such a thing?


ooking for a partner? Many of us are counting on “chemistry”—whatever that is — to guide us. But I’m learning that you can’t rely on chemistry to help you find the right one. Chemistry is a trick. It fools you. It deceives you. “Chemistry is about ... well, chemicals,” says relationship coach Rori Raye online. “They hit your nose, and the cells of your body, and they remind you of things long ago and turn you on. They make you think you’ve hit ‘the one.’ They make you want to open your heart, body and soul to him.” “Chemistry is misleading. Don’t trust it!” I used to caution my clients, those who consistently fell in love with men who were bad for them and then blamed “chemistry.” “When you feel that feeling of excitement that you call chemistry, what Pierce you’re feeling is ‘uncertainty.’ He’s not a person you can count on, and that is why you have feelings of excitement. You can’t trust those feelings,” I warned. Easy for me to say. I was in a cocoon with a husband waiting at home. Now there is no one waiting at home, and I am out there looking. I’ve found that chemistry is big. No matter how old one gets, those feelings are primieval and basic. So I’ve been thinking about the whole concept of what exactly is “chemistry,” and why do I feel it is necessary for me to have it. I learned a lot from my friend, Jeff. He’s 55. When he was 19, he broke his neck surfing in Hawaii. Since then, he’s been in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down. His arms and hands aren’t even of much use, so he needs a personal caregiver. Jeff’s a great guy, with a great attitude. When you take time to get to know him, he’s a super likeable guy. But he pretty much gave up on ever having a romantic relationship. Who gives a second look to a guy in a wheelchair? Then about 10 years ago, he hired a new caregiver, Christa, a bright, beautiful woman. They became friends; she fell in love with the person she got to know. They married and are happy together. Christa wasn’t looking for an explosion of chemicals; she was looking for a great companion. Or, maybe she wasn’t even looking. But she recognized a good relationship when she found it. Could I do that?

Is it love?

Dr. Stephen Eadline, president of the Slocum-Dickson Medical Group, accepted a plaque from the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce acknowledging Slocum-Dickson’s 75th anniversary.

By Barbara Pierce

Research shows that if you put two strangers together, give them a series of questions to ask each other, so that they each talk about themselves and get to

November 2013 •

know the other, their chances of falling in love are much higher than any two strangers who meet by chance. As we reveal ourselves to another person, and as that person reveals himself to us, we begin to care. And that may be the take-away thought because, after all, feelings of chemistry are mistaken for love or lust. And those feelings don’t last. We’re wired that way, so that we will propagate our species. But a good solid relationship, while it may begin with lust, needs to evolve into an intimate caring relationship. That’s when each reveals themselves to the other, becomes truly known to the other. An intimate caring relationship: two people who know each other well, respect each other, look out for one another, and support each other through good times and bad. They solve problems together, compromise, work out conflicts and maintain closeness and caring. Those things have nothing to do with chemistry. So why can’t I skip the need for chemistry and get to the relationship part? “We assume that a lack of ‘chemistry’ at the beginning means ‘love’ isn’t possible,” says Raye. “We assume ‘true love’ is what it’s like in the movies, without considering that perhaps it looks and feels completely different in real life.” I agree with her. I do make those assumptions. “Super Brain,” a fascinating book by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi, makes the point that the mind can overcome the wired-in pattern of the brain. In other words, your ability to think trumps your feeling of chemistry. When you think, “I love this painting by Monet,” you are training your brain to send chemicals. At the instant you think: “I like X,” whether X is a Monet painting, an ice cream sundae, or a person, your brain goes into a mode. It remembers what you like, it registers pleasure, remembers where the pleasure comes from, makes a note to repeat the same pleasure in the future, and — most importantly — it sends chemical reactions of pleasure to every cell in your body. I think I’ve got it. My brain causes the chemicals, that feeling of chemistry. And I am in charge of my brain. • Barbara Pierce is a retired licensed clinical social worker with many years’ experience in helping people. If you would like to purchase a copy of her book “If I’m so Fantastic, Why am I Still Single?” contact her at, or contact her if you have any concerns you would like her to address.

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Continued from Page 2 ists will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Stanley Theater, 259 Genesee St., Utica. Register by calling 724-6907 ext. 2278, email or register online at The event is free and open to the public.

Nov. 9

Benefit scheduled for Boonville man Kim Lampman finds herself compelled to ask for help. Her brother, Mark Lampman of Boonville, was recently diagnosed with retroperitoneal sarcoma, which is soft tissue cancer. He had a 43-pound tumor in his abdominal cavity and it has engulfed his right kidney, adrenal gland and right colon. Surgery and radiation took place in Buffalo at Roswell Park in September to remove the tumor and the organs. The benefit will be from 1-5 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Boonville Elks Lodge, 13054 state Route 12, Boonville, to defray medical and travel costs. Kim is seeking help with any donations such as items for a Chinese auction, monetary donations or one’s time. To help, call her at 315-796-0147. Cost is $15 per person or $25 per couple.

Nov. 9

Centering prayer sessions slated “Introduction to Centering Prayer” will be featured from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. The cost is $10 per person and includes lunch and optional follow-up sessions. To register, contact Tanya at 315-7356210, or visit

Nov. 12

St. E’s CON set for open house St. Elizabeth College of Nursing in Utica is recruiting students and will hold an open house from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 12 in the multipurpose room at the college. The college offers a two-year associate in applied science degree in nursing. The nursing courses include patient care that is planned and supervised by a faculty member with expertise in a particular nursing area. One of the strengths of the program at St. Elizabeth is its clinical component that combines the theory learned in class with actual nursing practice, allowing for immediate transfer and application of knowledge. SECON offers an evening-weekend nursing program in addition to the weekday program. It is designed to meet Page 16

the needs of the adult learner who is unable to attend class during the weekday hours. St. Elizabeth College of Nursing is one of the first hospital based nursing programs to receive dual accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. To reserve a seat at the open house, go online at For more information, call 315-7988347.

Nov. 12

CNY Diabetes Education Program supportive The Central New York Diabetes Education Program’s new adult support group for those with diabetes and pre-diabetes, “Trading Up,” will host the fourth meeting of the year at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 13 in the community room at the Center for Rehabilitation and Continuing Care Services, 1650 Champlin Ave., Utica. New members are welcome to attend. The group provides an outlet for people to give and receive both emotional and practical support as well as to exchange information. RSVP by Nov. 12 by calling 315-624-5620 or email Those responding should leave their full name and telephone number. The Central New York Diabetes Education Program is a cooperative effort of Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare and St. Elizabeth Medical Center.

Nov. 12

Lecture series focuses on pulmonary wellness The Presbyterian Residential Community will host a pulmonary wellness community lecture series, with sessions once a month in November, December and January. Robin Light, certified respiratory therapist, and Maurine Farruggia, personal trainer, will lead the lectures. The sessions will each focus on a different topic and all will provide tips for improving pulmonary health. Sessions are scheduled as follows: • Nov. 12: Breathing retraining — Breathing retraining techniques decrease the work of inhaling and exhaling. • Dec. 10: Energy conservation — Learn to do routine daily tasks more efficiently, with less shortness of breath. • Jan. 14: Managing stress — Your body needs relaxation to reduce stress and help reduce shortness of breath. All lectures will take place at the Presbyterian Residential Community, 4300 Middle Settlement Road, New Hartford, from 1-2 p.m. Participants may use the wellness center entrance. The lectures are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Call 315-235-2834 or 315-235-2817 to make a reservation.

Nov. 13

‘Great Adventure’ Bible study series set “Great Adventure Bible Study Series: Matthew, The King and His Kingdom” will be presented from 10 a.m. to noon or 6-8 p.m. Nov. 13 to May 14 at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. Registration is $40 per person. Contact Tanya at 315-735-6210 ext. 234, or

Nov. 13

FSLH stroke support group addresses holidays Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica will host a free stroke support group presentation at 6 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Soggs Room at St. Luke’s Home in the Center for Rehabilitation and Continuing Care Services, 1650 Champlin Ave., Utica. Sue Spina, director of social worktransitional care at FSLH, will discuss depression and stroke, and how to cope with these feelings during the holiday season. For more information, call Laura Love at 315-624-6847.

Nov. 19

Remember the date: Memory screening set As part of National Memory Screening Day—an annual initiative of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America—St. Joseph Nursing Home in Utica will offer free, confidential memory screenings from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 19 at the home, 2535 Genesee St. Qualified healthcare professionals will administer the memory screenings and provide educational materials about memory concerns, brain health and care-giving. The face-to-face screenings consist of a series of questions and tasks, and take five to 10 minutes to administer. For more information, call Kathy Poupart at 315-797-1230 or visit www. The screenings are open to the public.

Nov. 23

Are you able to cope with holiday season? Surviving the Holidays-Grief Survivors is slated from 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 23 and Dec. 14 at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. Surviving the Holidays-DivorceCare will be offered from 1-3 p.m. Nov.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2013

23 and Dec. 14 at The Good News Center. For details, call The Good News Center at 315-735-6210 or visit — Events Calendar.

Nov. 23

Search is on for crafters, antique dealers St. Joseph Nursing Home in Utica is looking for crafters and antique dealers for its Holiday Treasures Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 23 at the nursing home, 2535 Genesee St., Utica. This event will include baked goods, various crafts, and antiques. The cost of a space is $20, and individuals interested in registering for a booth can contact Deana Grippe at 315-797-1230 or at dgrippe@stjosephnh. org. Proceeds from this event will be used to enrich the activities program for residents.

Dec. 4

Lights of Love Remembrance Service set The St. Elizabeth Medical Center Foundation will hold its 13th annual Lights of Love Candle Lighting and Remembrance Service at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. Co-chairs Bunny Gottuso and Christine Abbass invite the public to share in this special event where people remember loved ones, honor individuals, say “thank you” to someone who has brightened a life through special care or service, or give a donation as a holiday gift. Gifts may be made in memory or in honor of a loved one, in celebration of a birth or special event, in recognition of a patient, in honor and acknowledgement of medical center staff, or as a friend of the medical center. Holiday lights will illuminate the medical center, with each representing the special people acknowledged through this year’s campaign. A minimum donation of $10 per honoree is encouraged. The deadline to be recognized in this year’s LOL campaign is Nov. 22. Proceeds from the event will benefit the purchase of endobronchial ultrasound equipment for the medical center, replacement beds for CT/ICU, new furniture for the central admitting waiting area and the renovation and upgrade to the Mohawk Valley Sleep Disorders Center. For more information, call the foundation office at 315- 734-4287, email or contribute online by visiting foundation. All contributions are tax deductible.

Study: One-third of U.S. adults obese


he adult obesity rate in the United States remains as high as ever, with one in three Americans carrying unhealthy amounts of weight, according to a new federal report. The obesity rate has remained essentially unchanged for a decade, despite the large amount of attention focused on its threat to public health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. “It’s kind of a confirmation of what we saw last time, that the prevalence of obesity in adults may be

leveling off,” said co-author Cynthia Ogden, a senior epidemiologist with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. “From 2003-04 through 2011-12, there have been no statistical changes in obesity in adults.” “The goal of the human species since we evolved has been to have enough to eat, and we’ve gotten there. Unfortunately, it’s so plentiful we can take in more than [we] need,” said Matt Petersen, managing director of medical information and professional engagement for the American Diabetes Association.

H ealth News Oneida County hospitals support regulation

FSLH offers free speech screenings for children

Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare, St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Rome Memorial Hospital support the new smoking cessation regulation that bans smoking on the grounds of general hospitals and residential healthcare facilities. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed this provision into law to take effect on Nov. 1. Both Utica hospitals and their associated facilities and properties have been tobacco-free since November 2006. RMH became tobacco-free in 2007. “While Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare and St. Elizabeth Medical Center have been tobacco-free for close to seven years, we feel this new law is an excellent reminder of the dangers tobacco use poses not only to those using the products but also to those around them,” said Scott H. Perra, presidentCEO of FSLH. “This new law helps to promote a healing environment where people need it the most. We commend our governor and state legislature for recognizing the health benefits of this regulation and for making it law,” said Richard H. Ketcham, president-CEO of SEMC. Tobacco use affects not only a person’s health but it can also affect the ability to recover after an illness or surgery. Smoking slows wound healing, increases risk of wound infection and increases bone-healing time. The hospitals offer Tri-County Quits: Tobacco Cessation Program for individuals looking to stop using tobacco products. For more information on the program, call 315-624-5639 or visit www.

For a limited time, the hearing and speech center at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare’s Regional Rehabilitation Center is offering free speech and language screenings for children. Any child with a demonstrated need for assistance and the potential for improvement is eligible to participate. In the areas of speech and hearing and autism spectrum disorders, studies have shown that early detection and intervention are important. Studies indicate that parents of children with ASD often notice a developmental problem before their child’s first birthday. Speech and language screenings take place at the Faxton Campus, 1676 Sunset Ave., Utica, and can serve to identify if a child has delayed development due to hearing loss. The screenings support early intervention and provide guidance and reassurance to concerned parents. Screenings are available by appointment only. Call 315-624-5455 to schedule a screening.

FSLH makes medical staff announcement Minnie Sheila Cruz-Tolentino has joined Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare’s Adirondack Community Physicians Barneveld medical office. Prior to joining ACP, Cruz-Tolentino was a family physician for Maine General Health in Fairfield, Maine, and a junior faculty member at Maine-Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency in Augusta, Maine. Cruz-Tolentino earned her Doctor of Medicine from the University of the East Ramon MagCruz-Tolentino saysay Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, Philippines. She completed the St. Elizabeth Family Practice Residency Program at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica. Cruz-Tolentino is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is a member of the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

St. Johnsville has new assistant administrator Melissa Chirillo is the new assistant administrator at St. Johnsville Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Chirillo holds a Bachelor of Science degree in health services management from SUNYIT along with an associate’s degree in liberal arts and elementary education. She has previously worked Chirillo in long-term care and also medical office settings. Chirillo joined St. Johnsville in April of this year as director of human resources.

St. Johnsville names employee of quarter Sherry Siggins has been elected employee of the quarter for October– December 2013 at St. Johnsville Rehab & Nursing Center. Siggins has been employed at the facility since January of 2003. Siggins was recently made LPN supervisor and has excelled in her new role, according to a St. Johnsville spokesperson. “Her leadership skills are exemplary, and she is both thorough and professional. Sherry believes in familybased care and in the nursing team as a whole,” the spokesperson added.

St. Johnsville names new nursing head Tennille Fox is the new director of nursing at St. Johnsville Rehabilitation

and Nursing Center. Fox holds a registered nursing license from Fulton Montgomery Community College. She joined St. Johnsville Rehab and Nursing Center seven years ago when she started working as an LPN. She then obtained her RN in 2010. “Tennille is Fox a caring, hardworking individual who has exceptional leadership skills,” a St. Johnsville spokesperson said.

present to win. Entrants must be 18 years of age. Tickets are available to U.S. residents only. Proceeds from this fundraiser 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.

Scholarships help close diversity gap in medicine

Sitrin’s second annual Stars & Stripes Run/Walk drew more than 500 participants recently at SUNYIT, including veterans, active-duty service members and families. The patriotic event raised nearly $82,000 to support Sitrin’s Military Rehabilitation Program. This year’s event, presented by Adirondack Bank, included a 5K run and wheelchair race, a two-mile walk, a military-inspired obstacle course, and an adaptive sports symposium. Teams and individuals participated in the day’s events in honor or in memory of loved ones who have served the country. Proceeds from this event support Sitrin’s Military Rehabilitation Program, which provides comprehensive care for wounded warriors who have post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, amputation, and other combatrelated conditions. “There is no greater honor than serving those who have put their lives on the line for our country,” said Rosemary Bonacci, Sitrin’s vice president of development and communications. Those interested in making a donation can visit or call 315-737-2406. Sitrin’s third annual Stars & Stripes Run/Walk is slated for Oct. 11, 2014 at SUNYIT.

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women™ and Macy’s, its national sponsor, are offering a way to help multicultural students in the medical field cover the rising cost of higher education. Applications are open for the Go Red Multicultural Scholarship Fund. The fund — now in its third year — provides $2,500 scholarships for multicultural women pursuing college or graduate school degrees in healthcare fields. Besides easing the financial burden for students, the AHA and its supporters are striving to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in medicine and increase culturally sensitive, patient-centered care. The number of minority medical school graduates is increasing steadily, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. However, the figures are still low compared with the population at large. For example, among 17,364 medical school graduates in 2011, 1,129 were black (6.5 percent), 1,336 Hispanic (7.6 percent) and 3,767 Asian (21.6 percent). Only 5.4 percent of African-American and 3.6 percent of Hispanic nurses in the nation are registered nurses, according to the 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics. In contrast, minorities make up 36.6 percent of the U.S. population. “Building a diverse physician and medical workforce is a critical component in the delivery of patient-centered care to the multicultural communities that will enter the healthcare system once the Affordable Care Act is implemented,” said Jennifer Mieres, AHA Go Red For Women spokesperson. For more information and to complete an application, visit GoRedFor The deadline to apply for 2014 scholarships is Dec. 31.

Sitrin’s annual HarleyDavidson raffle under way

AHA Community Impact Grants Available

Sitrin’s Stars & Stripes Run/ Walk raises big dollars

Tickets are available for Sitrin’s 18th annual Harley-Davidson motorcycle raffle. One lucky winner will ride away on a 2014 Street Glide FLHX, which is Harley’s bestseller year after year. This popular bike is valued at $20,899, and features the High Output Twin Cam 103™ engine. Tickets are only $10 each, and a total of 4,250 will be sold. They can be purchased securely online at www., in person at Sitrin Medical Rehabilitation Center, 2050 Tilden Ave, New Hartford, or by calling 315-7372245. The raffle will be held noon Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day) at Sitrin. Ticket buyers do not need to be

November 2013 •

Jennifer Carbone Zuccaro, president for the American Heart Association Greater Utica Area Advisory Board, along with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, are requesting applications for 2013-2014 Greater Utica Area community impact grants. There is a need to support community-based activities that address AHA’s mission to fight heart disease and stroke, the AHA said. Many local community groups and organizations are working, or would like to work, on projects that would result in improvements in the cardiovascular health of their communities, the

Continued on Page 18

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Page 17

H ealth News Continued from Page 17 AHA said. The AHA, Utica, will receive $25,000, which will provide funding for community-based organizations in the Greater Utica area. Zuccaro said as the AHA focuses its attention on systems change, it often lacks local staff presence to directly participate and support many of these community initiatives. This funding will help to ensure that activities continue and new, creative projects are developed, according to the AHA. Grant applications are requested that support projects aimed at reducing cardiovascular disease, stroke, and their risk factors that fall within the four cause areas of the AHA: Go Red For Women, Power to End Stroke, childhood obesity and physical inactivity. For more information about each cause, visit Request a community impact grant application by calling the AHA at 315-266-5403 or emailing The deadline to submit grant applications is Dec. 31.

AHA fills two key staff positions Jennifer Balog and Anne Sullivan have joined the team at the Utica division of the American Heart Association. Balog has been named as senior director of development. Balog previously served as the community chapter executive of the American Red Cross in the Mohawk Valley. She has six years of experience as a development professional. Sullivan will Balog be joining the team as director of development, Heart Walk and Go Red For Women. Sullivan has been the owner and marketing consultant for Strategic Advertising Agency for 22 years. Sullivan has also worked with Gatehouse Media, Citizens Bank, and the Greater Utica Area Catholic Schools. Sullivan America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk is on March 1, 2014 at Utica College. Visit www.uticaheartrunwalk. org to start a fundraising team.

For the first time, the public had a chance to see all 10 vehicles the winner of the drawing will choose from. The vehicles were on display recently during a special kick-off at Harley-Davidson of Utica. The grand-prize winner of the 10 of Hearts Drive Away Drawing will get to choose one of 10 vehicles. One first-prize winner will receive a $500 Fastrac Markets gas card. One secondprize winner will receive a $250 Fastrac Markets gas card. Tickets will be available from now until the drawing on March 1 or until they sell out. They are available at or Individual tickets are $30 each or two or more tickets for $25 each ticket. Proceeds will benefit the American Heart Association in the fight against heart disease and stroke. The drawing will be live on the WKTV Heart Telethon at America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk between noon and 12:30 p.m.

Community health assessment set for review A draft data book of the 2013 community health assessment for Oneida and Herkimer counties has been posted on St. Elizabeth Medical Center’s website at item/432/. Faculty and staff from the Central New York Master of Public Health Program provided technical support to a team made up of representatives of St. Elizabeth Medical Center and other local hospitals, the Oneida County Health Department and community agencies. The CNYMPH program is a graduate program in public health sponsored by Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical University. This work group also included representatives of neighboring Herkimer County because many of the services used by residents of Herkimer County, particularly acute care hospital services, are in Oneida County and many community service agencies serve both Herkimer and Oneida counties. Data was compiled from numerous sources. A community health forum, held last May, marked the formal launch of the CHA process. The results of the forum helped to frame the key issues to examine during the course of the process. This collaborative process ensured broad participation in the analysis of data and selection of priority areas. Community partners continue working on the action plans related to the health goals and outline objectives and interventions to incorporate the work being done in these areas. Contact the St. Elizabeth Medical Center Marketing and Public Relations Department at 798-8195 or email with comments on the draft data book.

St. E’s recognized for Fundraiser benefits cardiac care American Heart Association quality St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Something new has been added to the popular 10 of Hearts Drive Away Drawing. Page 18

Utica has been designated an Aetna Institute of Quality Cardiac Care Facility in cardiac medical intervention and

cardiac surgery. Aetna makes information about the quality and cost of healthcare services available to its members to help them make informed decisions about their healthcare needs. In line with this goal, Aetna recognizes hospitals and facilities in its network that offer specialized clinical services for certain health conditions. Facilities are selected IOQ for consistently delivering evidence-based, safe care. For more information on cardiac services, visit or call 315-734-3329.

SEMC receives national recognition from ACS The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program has recognized St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica for excellence in surgical patient care. Out of 374 hospitals in the United States that participate in the ACS NSQIP, St. Elizabeth is one of only 37 hospitals that have achieved meritorious outcomes for surgical patient care. As a participant in ACS NSQIP, St. Elizabeth is required to track the outcomes of inpatient and outpatient surgical procedures and collect data that directs patient safety and the quality of surgical care improvements. “The ACS NSQIP Program is an important part of our surgical quality improvement program. It enables us to compare our surgical outcomes with hospitals all across the country, taking into account patients’ overall health and surgical risk. We are extremely proud that the American College of Surgeons has found that our results for 2012 place us in the top 10 percent of the almost 400 hospitals participating in the program. This is a reflection of the outstanding physicians, nurses and technicians who work in our surgical services program,” said Dr. Albert D’Accurzio, vice president and chief medical officer at St. Elizabeth.

VHS welcomes new physical therapist Lauren Penc recently joined the rehabilitation staff of Valley Health Services in Herkimer. Penc attended Whitesboro High School and continued her education at Mohawk Valley Community College and Utica College where she earned her doctorate in physical therapy earlier this year. Penc said she appreciates Penc that VHS offers rehabilitation for outpatients, long- and short-term care patients and adult day health care registrants as well. “I have always wanted to work in the rehabilitation setting as I believe this is where physical therapy and occupational therapy have the most pro-

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2013

found impact on the lives of patients who are otherwise not safe to return home,” she said. A life-long resident of the Mohawk Valley, Penc resides in Deerfield and is looking forward to her marriage in August of 2014.

Help make the holidays happier at UCP Upstate Cerebral Palsy children are in need of holiday gifts now more than ever. UCP has begun its annual Holiday Miracles Project to help supply needy children receiving agency services with gifts and necessities this holiday season. Each year, caseworkers identify children who receive services at the agency who are in need of assistance. Caring volunteers from the area are then assigned a child, receive a child’s wish list from his or her caseworker, and then purchase items on the list. Co-workers, families and individuals are invited to participate and help make Holiday Miracles a success, through either sponsoring a child or children, volunteering to shop or wrap gifts or through making a donation. For more information or to shop for a child this season, visit upstatecp. org/holiday-miracles-project or call 315-724-6907 ext. 2302.

The Arc names employees of quarter Erica Grande, outreach coordinator/MSC, is The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter, NYSARC’s employee of the third quarter in the south region. As a first point of contact for prospective individuals and their families, Grande does a “phenomenal job” assisting them and acting as a representative of The Arc in this capacity, a spokesperson said. Amanda Delles, habilitation specialist, is employee of the third quarter in the agency’s north region. Delles demonstrates the agency’s core values in everything she does, and she is the “go to person” when other staff need help or information, a spokesperson noted. Kathy Zammiello, project coordinator in day services, is employee of the fourth quarter in the agency’s south region. Zammiello demonstrates the core values of The Arc by her willingness to help others, improving systems to keep the agency moving forward and volunteering her time and talents beyond the requirements of her position, a spokesperson said. Louis Sowich, maintenance mechanic in facilities management at the Arc, is employee of the fourth quarter in The Arc’s north region. Sowich, who is responsible for maintaining residential buildings, was selected for his hard work and dedication to the job and the people served by the agency. The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter, NYSARC is a nonprofit human services agency which provides advocacy and

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Health in good

H ealth News Continued from Page 18 services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Oneida and Lewis counties. The Arc’s core values are compassion, dignity, dedication, integrity, progressive and person-centered family-based.

Working toward a healthier Herkimer This fall, Herkimer County HealthNet will be surveying Herkimer County residents about community health issues in the region. The survey, which is being conducted by the SUNY Potsdam Institute for Applied Research, is taking place through Nov. 30. Questions about health care coverage, access to preventive health care, access to dental care, and frequency of healthy behaviors will be asked. The survey will be completely anonymous. Herkimer HealthNet is urging residents to complete the phone survey in order to better identify local health care needs and develop more appropriate strategies for meeting residents’ needs. The survey can also be completed online at herkimer/. More information about Herkimer County HealthNet can be found at its website, Questions about the survey can be directed to Dr. J. Patrick Turbett, Potsdam Institute for Applied Research, at or 315-267-2718.

Sports medicine specialist teams with hospital James Dennison has joined the team of surgeons at Oneida Orthopedic Specialists, Oneida Healthcare announced recently. He joins Joseph Pierz, John King, David Patalino, Jonathan Wigderson and physician assistant Christopher Lott at the Route 5 offices in Oneida. Dennison received his medical degree from SUNY Upstate Medical University, where he also completed his Dennison general surgery internship and general surgery residency. He is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and received a fellowship in sports medicine from American Sports Medicine Institute, Health South Sports Medicine/Rehabilitation Center, Birmingham, Ala. Dennison is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, American Sports Medicine Fellowship Society, American College of Sports Medicine and Wilderness Medicine Society.

Veteran physician joins Verona Health Center Marcia Newsom, a long-time Oneida physician, has joined the physician team at Oneida Healthcare’s Verona

Health Center. Newsom has been in solo practice in Oneida since 1982 and, in a letter to her current patients, she expressed gratitude to the hospital for facilitating her transition to a multi-physician setting while also ensuring continuity of care. She joins John D. George III, Erin Thompson and Keith Marshall in the new Verona Health Center building on West Main Street, which Oneida Healthcare opened last fall. Newsom received her medical degree and completed her internship in family medicine Newsom at the University of Mississippi in Jacksonville, Miss., and was the university’s first recipient of the George Lally Bevill Memorial Fellowship Fund Award for “showing outstanding characteristics in the dedication to and practice of the arts and sciences of medicine.” Newsom is board-certified in family medicine. In addition to her private practice, she has served as a staff physician at Oneida Healthcare’s Extended Care Facility since 1995 and is also is a volunteer physician at the Mary Rose Free Clinic in Oneida. Newsom is a member of the American Association of Family Physicians; former president (first woman) of the Central New York Academy of Medicine; former president (first woman) of the Multi-County Medical Society and former chief of staff of the former Oneida City Hospital.

Insight House names employee of quarter Natalie Larkin was recently selected as Insight House employee of the quarter. Supervisors nominate employees of the quarter for their reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism and uniqueness of contribution. Larkin, of Utica, is a case aide and has been with the agency for 15 years. Her duties include working with the program director and the clinical team to meet the needs of patients, and documenting and maintaining Larkin files in an accurate, concise and professional manner.

New addition to SDMG’s ENT department Jana Podzimek is joining Slocum-Dickson Medical Group in New Hartford in the specialty of otorhinolaryngology. Podzimek is board certified in otorhinolaryngology and facial plastic surgery. She provides care for patients who have disorders of the ears, nose, throat,


EMPLOYMENT Looking for that perfect employee to bolster your staff? Advertise your needs and reach job-seekers throughout the Mohawk Valley for as little as $69 a month. Call 749-7070 for more information.

Sales Professional Wanted In Good Health is a growing newspaper serving the needs of the Mohawk Valley. We are now looking for an individual to help sell print and online advertising on a part-time basis. If you are dynamic, articulate and more importantly, have previous experience selling advertising, we’re interested in talking to you. Call Lou Sorendo at 315-749-7070 or send an email to

Help Wanted! In Good Health is a growing newspaper serving the needs of the Mohawk Valley. We are now looking for an individual to help deliver our newspapers on a part-time basis. If you are dependable, have a vehicle and can handle a 40-pound bundle, this job is for you. The route is in the city of Utica. Pay is $9 per hour plus 30 cents a mile. Interested? Call Lou Sorendo at 315-749-7070 or send an email to or related structures of the head and neck. Podzimek completed her otolaryngology, head, and neck surgical residency at Flint Osteopathic Hospital in Flint, Mich. She completed her general surgical residency and Internship at Garden City Osteopathic Hospital in Garden City, Mich. She received Podzimek her medical degree from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Mo. Podzimek is a member of the American Osteopathic Colleges of Ophthalmology and Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery; the Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery; the American Osteopathic Association; and the American Medical Association.

November 2013 •

Ilion massage therapist receives induction Kelley Holmes-Morton, owner of Heads-R-Turning Salon & Spa, 6 W. Clark St., Ilion, was recently inducted into the New York State Society of Medical Massage Therapists. HolmesMorton has been a state-licensed massage therapist since 1999. The NYS Holmes-Morton Society of Medical Massage Therapists is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is the education and advancement of the massage therapy profession. The NYSSMMT is comprised of approximately 350 members.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2013

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