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in good

Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

May 2011 • Issue 63

New doctor arrives in Rome

Laugh therapy


The Spectre of Autism What does spectrum disorder involve and how do we confront it? See Page 5

Can laughing actually improve your health?

‘God is Always Listening’ An Army wife’s lament Get ‘In Good Health’ at home. See coupon inside


It’s a proven fact: Loneliness can kill

Golden Years

Do blondes have more fun? • Telemedicine makes dramatic breakthrough • Alzheimer’s tragic, debilitating effects • Toe the line: Taking care of your feet • Realize the importance of bone health May 2011 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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MACULAR DEGENERATION Now with prescribed telescopic glasses, you can read, drive, watch television and recognize faces better.


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May 4

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Companies take on ‘11 Corporate Challenge Four companies in the Mohawk Valley have taken on the American Heart Association’s 2011 Corporate Challenge. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, First Source Federal Credit Union, Gilroy, Kernan and Gilroy, and Mele Corporation have entered a team in the corporate challenge—an eight-week workplace wellness challenge that kicked off March 7 and will culminate with an announcement of the results on May 4 at the AHA’s Go Red for Women Luncheon at Hart’s Hill Inn in Whitesboro. The corporate challenge requires each company to field a team of employees who will participate in wellness activities and programs organized by their team captains for the duration of the eight-week program. Tickets can be purchased by calling 266.5403. Supporting the Go Red for Women Luncheon helps advance research and education to prevent and treat heart disease and stroke.

May 5

Strokes focus of RMH Health Night



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Stroke is the No. 1 cause of adult disability in the United States and the third single leading cause of death. In recognition of National Stroke Awareness Month, Rome Memorial Hospital will help you learn what you can do to reduce your chances of suffering a stroke at Health Night at 7 p.m. May 5 in the hospital’s classroom. “Warning Signs, Treatment and the Prevention of Strokes” will be presented by the hospital’s emergency department medical director and chairman Saeed Tarokh. Tarokh is a specialist in emergency medicine and has been a member of the hospital’s medical staff for three years. Tarokh will discuss the importance of recognizing symptoms of stroke and seeking immediate medical attention. He will also discuss early warning signs such as transient ischemic attacks

and risk factors such as atrial fibrillation. Eighty percent of strokes are preventable through change of diet, exercise, and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Health Night is a free monthly lecture series. Advance registration is not required. Refreshments will be served.

May 10

HealthNet to host safety action plan Herkimer County HealthNet and the Federal Highway Administration are offering a free comprehensive and community-based pedestrian safety action plan workshop for municipalities located in Herkimer County. This three-day workshop serves as a tool for examining and prioritizing the engineering, educational and enforcement methods needed to improve pedestrian safety in Herkimer County and enhance existing pedestrian safety programs and policies. The pedestrian safety action plan workshop is a three-day event and is set for May 10-12 at the Herkimer County Community College Corporate Center, 100 Reservoir Road, Herkimer. To register for the workshop and for more information about the plan, contact Alison J. Swartz, Herkimer County HealthNet coordinator of Creating Healthy Places, at 315. 867.1499 or email For more information about Herkimer County HealthNet, log on to The workshop is a part of the Creating Healthy Places grant initiative funded by the New York State Department of Health for Herkimer County, administered by Herkimer County HealthNet.

May 13

Dinner theater to benefit Abraham House A murder mystery dinner theater called “Phantom of Harts Hill Inn” will take place at 6 p.m. May 13 at Harts Hill Inn to benefit Abraham House in Utica.

Continued on Page 16

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2011

Men fuel rebound in cosmetic surgery


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New statistics show sizeable increases in facelifts and other surgical procedures for men tatistics released March 21 by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) show that more men are going under the knife. Overall cosmetic plastic surgery procedures in men were up 2 percent in 2010 compared to 2009. However, many male surgical procedures increased significantly. Facelifts for men rose 14 percent in 2010 while male liposuction increased 7 percent. 2010 ASPS statistics show that men underwent more than 1.1 million cosmetic procedures, both minimally invasive and surgical. The majority of the men’s top 10 fastest-growing cosmetic procedures are surgical, which bucks the previous trend of growth in minimally invasive treatments. “The growth in cosmetic surgical procedures for men may be a product of our aging baby boomers who are now ready to have plastic surgery,” said ASPS President Phillip Haeck. “Minimally invasive procedures such as Botox and soft tissue fillers work to a point. However, as you age and gravity takes over, surgical procedures that lift the skin are necessary in order to show significant improvement.” Plastic surgeons say that another trend they see in male plastic surgery is the type of patient seeking their services.

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“Typically people think of celebrities and high profile men going under the knife,” said Stephen Baker, an ASPS member surgeon based in Washington DC. “And while that may be true, the typical male cosmetic surgery patient that I see is an average guy who wants to look as good as he feels. Most of my patients are ‘men’s men,’ the kind of guy you might not think would have plastic surgery.” Baker said that baby boomers who are now reaching retirement age are the new face of the male plastic surgery trend. “They want to look good. So when they have the financial means to do it, they are ready to do it now,” said Baker. In fact, one of Baker’s patients is an “average Joe” named Joe Marek. He recently underwent a facelift and eyelid surgery. The 57-year old said, “I didn’t feel that old. I felt young. I was working out. I was pretty active and I wanted to look like I felt inside.” Marek also said his 52-year-old girlfriend supported his decision to have plastic surgery. For more statistics released today on trends in plastic surgery including gender, age, regional, national average fees, and other breakouts, visit the ASPS Report of the 2010 Plastic Surgery Statistics at


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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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What are youth smoking? Established youth smokers choosing the same brands of cigarettes as adult smokers


ew York’s youth smokers are smoking the same heavily marketed brands as New York’s adults, according to a report issued recently by the New York State Health Department. The report—“Established Youth Smokers in New York Prefer the Same Brands of Cigarettes as Adult Smokers”)—says that about 75 percent of established high school smokers in New York preferred Newport, Marlboro or Camel cigarettes in 2010. “The fact that youth and adult smokers are choosing the same top three brands demonstrates that tobacco marketing effectively targets youth and adults,” said Sue Casanova, coordinator of BRiDGES to Prevent Tobacco for Oneida and Herkimer Counties. The top three cigarette brand preferences of New York’s established youth smokers (high schoolers who have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes and who have smoked on at least 20 of the past 30 days), as reported by the 2010 New York State Youth Tobacco Survey, are similar to adult smokers’ (18 and older) brand preferences, as reported in the 2009 New York Adult Tobacco Survey: • 37 percent of established youth smokers and 29 percent of established adult smokers prefer Newport cigarettes • 23 percent of youth and 29 percent of adults prefer Marlboro cigarettes • 16 percent of youth and 5 percent of adults prefer Camel cigarettes “When it comes to smoking, youth and adults are choosing—from among the many, many options—the same three brands,” said Casanova. “Clearly, tobacco industry marketing works, and we need to continue our efforts to protect children by, among other things, limiting the in-store marketing they’re exposed to.” It’s also worth noting that the No. 1 choice of youth smokers—Newport cigarettes—is primarily a brand of menthol cigarettes sold by Lorillard Tobacco Company. Newport was exclusively a menthol brand until November 2010, when Lorillard introduced a nonmenthol Newport cigarette. This comes at the same time as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is scrutinizing how mint-flavored cigarettes affect smoking habits. In addition to introducing a nonmenthol Newport cigarette, Lorillard (along with R.J. Reynolds) has sued the U.S. government to block a scientific advisory committee from reviewing the evidence and making a non-binding report to the FDA about menthol cigarettes. “Once again, (tobacco companies) are putting profits ahead of lives and health,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Page 4


Your Doctor

By Patricia J. Malin

Dr. Elemer A. Raffai Board certified orthopedic surgeon Elemer A. Raffai, has joined Rome Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, 107 E. Chestnut St. (Chestnut Commons), in Rome. With the addition of Raffai, Rome Memorial Hospital will have four orthopedic surgeons on its medical staff to meet the community’s needs. He recently spoke with In Good Health senior writer Patricia J. Malin about his numerous duties. Q.: Why did you decide to practice in Rome and the Mohawk Valley? Upstate New York is very different from Louisiana. A.: After surviving 12 hurricane seasons in Louisiana, I wanted to relocate to the Northeast to be closer to my parents and my wife’s parents in Montreal. Rome afforded me the opportunity to build a practice with an organization focused on quality in a community that needed me. Q.: What prompted you to become an orthopedic doctor; for example, any family influence or love of sports and experience with sports injuries? A.: I became interested in medicine as a teenager while volunteering at a pediatric hospital in Montreal. During medical school, I enjoyed surgery rotations and decided to pursue orthopedics. I’ve always enjoyed sports, including hockey and football, so I have a special interest in sports medicine. Q.: What ailments or disorders do you treat? A.: I am experienced in general orthopedic, arthroscopic and joint replacement procedures. This includes sports injuries, shoulder and knee cartilage and tendon tears, hip and knee replacements, carpal tunnel and bunion surgery. Q.: What is the most fulfilling (positive) aspect of your job? A.: Healing patients. My goal is to help my patients regain their function and mobility while alleviating pain so they can enjoy the things they love to do. Q.: There has been a lot of attention focused on sports injuries, particularly concerning the effects of repeated concussions on football players. Can orthopedic surgeons in general, and those at Rome Memorial, do anything to address this issue and prevent such injuries before they occur? Can there be a meeting with school officials, coaches, parents and athletes and recommend any changes? A.: Repeated concussions are dangerous for the future health of young

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2011

athletes. Once a concussion happens, young athletes should be thoroughly evaluated by their doctor and allowed an appropriate time of recovery. If a second concussion happens, everyone should be very cautious about allowing an athlete to return to

play in the near term. It would be my pleasure to meet with school officials. I’ve met quite a few already through my kids’ involvement in athletics. Q.: What are the newest developments in orthopedics? A.: With the advances in the materials used for joint replacement, we are able to offer a surgical approach to younger patients. Today’s implants are more durable; they last longer. In addition, computer-assisted navigation enables us to map out the patient’s anatomy on a computer for a better custom fit, which is important to reduce joint wear. Greater precision helps the new joint work better and last longer. Minimal-incision carpal tunnel surgery provides patients with a quicker recovery and

less pain. Q.: What challenges do you foresee in the future regarding healthcare? A.: Budget cuts from state and federal payers are difficult for doctors and hospitals. In many cases, reimbursements fail to cover the costs of delivering care.

Lifelines Age: 45 Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada Residence: Rome Education: Bachelor’s degree, biochemistry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; medical school and orthopedics residency at the University of Montreal Board Certification: Royal College of Surgeons of Canada Awards: Medical Scientist of Canada; Squibb Scientist Award; Interamerican Scientist Award Family: Wife, one son and three daughters Hobbies: Golfing, jogging, reading

kids’ health

Autism Spectrum disorder proves challenging to mom, family By Patricia J. Malin


obin Roberts watched from behind a picture window as her 10-year-old son, Mattison, sat at a small table and played quietly with his plastic spaghetti next to four other little boys in the Kelberman Center in Utica. A few years ago, this scene was unimaginable, Roberts recalled. He had started showing autistic tendencies, for example, an inability to speak, when he was only 18 months old, his mother said. Mattison was diagnosed with autism when he was 3. He used to be withdrawn and avoided interacting with other children. Thanks to treatment at Upstate Cerebral Palsy and years of patient understanding from the Kelberman Center’s doctors, therapists, social workers and aides, Mattison has started to emerge from his shell. That’s one reason Roberts is a participant in the annual Autism Walk each April to increase autism awareness in local communities. The Kelberman Center recently hosted the Walk for Autism on its campus off Armory Drive in east Utica. Autism now affects one out of every 110 children in the United States. Boonville, Cooperstown, New Hartford, Holland Patent, Oneida and Rome also hosted walks to raise funds for more services for those with autism spectrum disorder. All money raised stays in the Mohawk Valley. The Kelberman Center has a range of activities for autistic children that help their families get on with their lives. Mattison participates in Saturday Clubhouse activities and goes to Awesome Summer Days camp for five weeks in the summer. Both of these are a little less structured and offer children more leeway than they find during the typical school year.

Robin Roberts and her son, Mattison, share some quality time recently.

Matter of inclusion

The Kelberman Center is open for activities during school breaks and was considering adding more hours during Easter. Mattison used to attend special classes at Hugh R. Jones School in Utica. Now, he has been integrated into second grade with his peers, a few of whom also have disabilities. He is still assisted by a special education teacher or aide. Roberts said he’s learning how to behave by watching the other children. “He had worse behavior in self-com-

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In Good Health is published 12 times a year by Local News, Inc. © 2011 by Local News, Inc. All rights reserved. Mailing Address: 4 Riverside Drive, Suite 251, Utica, NY 13502 • Phone: (315) 749-7070 E-mail: Editor & Publisher: Wagner Dotto • Associate Editor: Lou Sorendo Contributing Writers: Amylynn Pastorella, Patricia Malin, Barbara Pierce, Christine Bord, Kristen Raab Advertising: Donna Kimbrell, Marsha Preston Layout & Design: Chris Crocker Office Manager: Laura Beckwith

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

bined class and he has better models in the inclusion class,” she pointed out. “Academically, he is on grade level in writing, speech and spelling,” she added. With Mattison attending school regularly, it allows Roberts, a widow, time to devote to her full-time job at Madison-Oneida BOCES. She also has an 18-year-old daughter who is graduating from high school and preparing to go off to college this fall. Tammy Thomas, director of the Kelberman Center, pointed out that social workers specialize in helping Mattison and other autistic children improve their social skills. “They focus on getting them to play together and tolerating others,” she said. “He’s still unsure (about being around other children),” Thomas said, “but a few years ago, he would be on the floor screaming.” Mattison receives occupational and physical therapy one on one. Therapists encourage him to talk. He is allowed to play by himself at times, but they have gradually gotten him to accept playing alongside other children.

Breaking through

Roberts has noticed a big improvement. “He’s more expressive,” she said. “He didn’t talk at all until he was 4 ½. We did signing and then helped him pick out shapes, then advance to single words. Now he can speak in full sentences.” Even at summer camp, they chart his progress. Roberts said one of the May 2011 •

counselors, Shannon, has developed a good rapport with Mattison. “I see a big impact on his behavior,” his mother said. “He has less and less tantrums and he’s able to verbalize his wants. And we’re more confident, too. He used to be scared whenever we took him someplace (new). We’re able to take him bowling with us. He goes fishing and he plays laser tag. We’ve taken him to the MOST Museum in Syracuse and the Gifford Zoo.” His memory is so good that he repeats lines from movies, cartoons and TV shows. “His favorite activity is watching YouTube,” she said. Roberts noted that she gets good support from family members as well in getting Mattison to become more sociable and trusting. “My mother lives upstairs. My parents, my brother, my girlfriends, my neighbor, they all help me out,” she said. Her employer is also aware of the difficulties that arise when a family member has autism. “The place you work has to be supportive,” Roberts said. “If not, it’s another challenge. It’s unpredictable. It’s not like your child has a cold or a broken bone. It’s getting them to understand what autism is.” She said she might be late to work because Mattison refuses to get dressed or insists on wearing a certain article of clothing to school that day. “He might have 45 pairs of socks, but you have to find the pair he wants, the right color. It sounds bizarre (to her boss), but it’s the truth.” She admitted that Mattison’s behavior in public has often drawn the ire of strangers. “Sometimes, he would scream for hours,” Roberts said. “But I wish people wouldn’t jump to conclusions.”

Picking battles

She has learned to adapt to his requests, which might seem unreasonable to others. “I can pick up if something is setting him off,” she said. “When we go to McDonald’s, he has to have his chicken nuggets and Sprite without ice. If we get home and he finds ice in his Sprite, I know I have to go back and get another Sprite. You can’t fight every battle. There are some things we’re still working on. For example, I think it’s important for him to say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye.’” Mattison’s father, Kevin, died when he was 8, and Robin Roberts said it was difficult for her to explain his absence. “Some things you can’t explain to an autistic boy,” she said. Mattison still has trouble separating from his mother. “He’s leery when people leave,” she said. She is already trying to get him to accept that his older sister will be living away from home next year. “We do the best with the skills we have,” Roberts said.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 5

golden years

Telemedicine Parkinson’s patients at Presbyterian Home aided by technology By Patricia J. Malin


he Presbyterian Home and Services’ groundbreaking telemedicine program, which is designed specifically to help patients with Parkinson’s disease, is becoming well recognized throughout the world. Nevertheless, it’s taken a significant amount of legwork by Tony Joseph, administrator for the Presbyterian Homes in New Hartford, to reach this point. In 2009, he traveled to Paris, France, to discuss how telemedicine significantly improves treatment for Parkinson’s patients. The innovative program combines old-fashioned closed circuit television broadcasts with 21st century computer technology to link Parkinson’s patients at the Presbyterian campus with their doctors and specialists elsewhere in the United States. Recently, Joseph was one of the featured speakers at the first Utica College-Central New York Area Health Education Center conference held

at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona. Joseph discussed how The Presbyterian Home has become a leader for Parkinson’s disease care, education and research. It is the first program of its kind in the U.S. (and perhaps in the world) within a Joseph skilled nursing setting specifically designed to help Parkinson’s patients, he said. “We’ve created something no one else has,” Joseph pointed out. It all started years ago with just one patient, an old friend from Utica whom Joseph had known since his youth.

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“Nick” was an outstanding high school baseball player, a big guy, 6-foot-2, 225 pounds. A decade ago, though, suffering from Parkinson’s, he became a resident of Presbyterian Home. Joseph was reunited with Nick and took an interest in his case. The disease, which is believed to be inherited, most often affects elderly people, occurring after the age of 50. According to some statistics, as many as 40 percent of Parkinson’s patients eventually need nursing home care. With Parkinson’s, brain cells degenerate over time. Patients exhibit muscular tremors in the face, hands and trunk, develop paralysis that causes difficulties in speaking and walking, weakness and limited vision. As the disease progresses, patients have greater problems with their balance and falls may occur more frequently. In 2002, Presbyterian Home set aside one room specifically for Parkinson’s patients. By 2006, it had expanded to an entire suite where patients have access to telemedicine in private and comfortable surroundings accompanied by their family members. In 2007, Presbyterian Home embarked on a collaboration with the University of Rochester Department of Neurology to conduct clinical studies of Parkinson’s patients. It was originally a short-term contract, but in 2008 the two facilities agreed to extend the study and it still continues. In 2010, Presbyterian Home expanded its telemedicine program to include physicians at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. “The challenge of Parkinson’s is a patient’s mobility,” said Joseph. “It is difficult to travel. In the past, they might have had to travel from Utica to Syracuse or to Rochester. If someone is wheelchair-bound, they would have had difficulties getting in and out of the car, parking and getting access to the doctor’s office. They might have had to travel eight to 10 hours in a day just to spend 10 minutes with their doctor.” In many areas of Upstate New York, there is a limited number of neurologists and other specialists.

Wonders of technology

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2011

Now they come to Presbyterian Home and have a 45-minute, oneon-one session with their physician by way of a TV hookup. Discussions among patients, their family members or caregivers, their nurses and the physician hundreds of miles away in Rochester are accomplished effortlessly. The viewing is enhanced with a 42-inch screen at both locations. As surprising as it sounds now, there was a bit of hesitation from their staff members before Presbyterian Home began its telemedicine program, Joseph admitted. “There was a concern that by using this technology we might

lose the personal touch,” he said. Far from it. When patients come to the telemedicine suite, they receive assistance from nurses and nurse practitioners. They might be directed to a motion-activated bed, one that is designed to prevent falls. The floors in the room are decorated with special tiles and carpeting to help give patients solid footing. Patients who are afflicted by blindness or limited vision can activate the radio and even the window blinds just by using their voice. “Obstacles are minimized for those with movement disorders,” Joseph explained. The specially trained nurses and nurse practitioners work with the patients and caregivers to discuss their concerns with the physicians and neurologists. “There’s an obvious convenience and improved communication,” Joseph told the audience at the healthcare conference. Studies have shown that telemedicine can have a beneficial impact on the patient, he added. “In one case study, there was a significant improvement in the patient’s outcome, which led to reduced stress and even a reduction in his medicine,” Joseph said. According to a handout Presbyterian Home prepared for the health conference, in one case, the eliminated medications resulted in a savings of $181.50 a month. Joseph’s frequent speaking engagements serve not only to raise awareness about Presbyterian Home’s cuttingedge program, but to find supporters and donors. He admitted that innovations such as telemedicine can be costly. “Equipment gets expensive,” he said. “We spent $30,000 initially on Dell computers and Turtle Beach cameras.” Both the host facility and recipient facilities require cameras, microphones and a broadband Internet connection. The Presbyterian Home consults regularly with a committee of technology experts, including Dr. Ed Lipson of Syracuse University. However, Presbyterian Home for CNY was recently awarded a $25,000 grant toward its telemedicine program by the J.M. McDonald Foundation, Inc. The Hartford Financial Services Group Giving Committee of New Hartford has shown its support for members of the community with Parkinson’s disease. Mike Wardle, director of new business, and John Ryznar, giving committee chairman of The Hartford, recently presented Lenora D’Apice, director of development at Presbyterian Home, with a generous donation of $500 that will benefit its Parkinson’s Renovation Project. The project, slated to begin this spring, will combine advanced technology and enhanced services specifically designed for those living with Parkinson’s disease.

golden years

Alzheimer’s Elderly stricken with disease with no known cure By Amylynn Pastorella


early everyone has moments of forgetfulness. What was his name? Where did I put my keys? But what if you forget to lock the front door? These could be signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. AD does this by wiping out neurons and the connections that control memory, and it then attacks areas responsible for language and reasoning. Once additional areas of the brain are damaged, a person with Alzheimer’s disease becomes helpless and unresponsive. “Most people think that Alzheimer’s is only memory loss. It isn’t. Losing or misplacing your car keys is not memory loss. Alzheimer’s is holding your keys in your hand and not knowing what they are or what they do,” said Jared Paventi, chief communications officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York chapter. “There’s not a telltale symptom, but a group of them which signal something is wrong. These include

memory loss, but also difficulty in planning and problem solving, problems with completing familiar tasks, confusion with time or place, trouble with spatial relationships, decreased judgment, mood changes, and difficulty with words or recalling what something is when they see it,” said Paventi. There are 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, of which 200,000 are aged 64 or younger. AD is common among older people, but it is not considered a normal part of aging. It initially affects new memories, then gradually spreads to other parts of the brain. Although treatment can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and help its symptoms in some people, currently there is no cure for this devastating disease.

Drugs available

“No medicine exists to treat Alzheimer’s disease, but we can treat the symptoms. The cognitive issues— memory loss, confusion, thinking and reasoning issues can be treated with drugs. The FDA has approved five drugs specifically for Alzheimer’s-related memory loss,” said Paventi. Although scientists do not fully understand the cause of AD, it does not care who it affects. It does not discrimi-

nate based on gender, race or ethnicity. However, researchers estimate that two-thirds of those with the disease are women. Further research into the causes or cure for AD is continuous. According to Paventi, doctors have identified five new genes that indicate an increased potential for development of Alzheimer’s. This is a major development because it doubles the number of genetic pathways to study. “This was possible because of the 50,000 people who participated in the study. We know that there is strength in numbers, and finding a cure will happen when we can successfully increase two numbers—the federal government’s funding of Alzheimer’s research through National Institutes of Health and the number of people participating in clinical trials,” said Paventi. The first members of America’s largest age group—the 77 million baby boomers—began retiring this year. If no cure is found, one in eight will develop Alzheimer’s and drive the number of people living with the disease up to as many as 16 million by mid-century. Currently, Alzheimer’s disease

research is funded in the $400-$500 million range. That total must at least double to have a greater impact, critics say. Rates of death from cancer, heart disease and stroke, and HIV/AIDS have dropped as a result of strong government commitments to research. “At the same time, our research funding has stagnated and the rates of death have increased to where Alzheimer’s is now the sixth-leading cause of death in America,” said Paventi. Alzheimer’s disease is a slow disease that starts with mild memory problems and ends with severe brain damage. Seeking a consultation with a doctor is highly recommended if symptoms are seen. A 24-hour helpline staffed by experts in dementia care is available for questions about the disease by calling 800.272.3900. Registration is under way for the Walk To End Alzheimer’s, scheduled for Sept. 24 at the Masonic Care Community in Utica. To get involved visit the Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York chapter, check out its website at www.

Fancy footwork Keeping healthy from head to toe By Kristen Raab


fter a long day, taking off your shoes and resting your throbbing feet feels amazing. Extensive standing, walking more than usual and improper footwear can all contribute to tired and sore feet. Some common foot ailments should not be brushed off as normal, as the causes and implications can be far reaching. Painful dry cracks may be caused by everything from thyroid conditions and poor circulation to diabetes or skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis. Cracked feet can increase the risk of infection, so caution must be used to prevent such occurrences. One way to reduce cracks is to limit exposure to hot water. While a piping hot bath might chase away the central New York winter blues, it is awful on your skin. Exfoliating scrubs and pumice stones should be used regularly, but do not use too much pressure when using these products. Buy a foot cream with a sloughing ingredient such as glycolic acid. Use a lotion before bed under a pair of socks, and you will notice a change quickly. Smooth cuticles are an essential for women seeking pedicure perfection,

but more importantly, properly maintained cuticles offer protection. The cuticle provides a barrier between the nail and skin, which keeps the infection risk lower. To keep your cuticles in tip-top shape, dry your feet thoroughly after showering. Using an orange stick to gently push the cuticle back can also help.

help, too. Athlete’s foot is certainly not just for athletes. It’s a fungal infection that emerges when warm, sweaty feet come into contact with fungus, typically in locker rooms or showers. Minor cases can be treated with over-the-counter products, but severe infections might mean a trip to the doctor’s for antifungals.

Corns and calluses can be embarrassing, uncomfortable and even painful. They are caused when pressure is placed on the skin due to certain shoes or the way a person walks. Another cause is pronation, a way of walking in which a person rotates his or her foot in and down while walking. Avoiding corns and calluses is easier than treating them. Some of the tips to do this include buying shoes later in the day as feet will be more swollen, reducing the tendency to buy too-tight shoes. Use caution with high heels; anything over about an inch and a half damages your feet. Treatment for calluses includes visiting a podiatrist who can trim them down. If the callus has formed due to hammertoe, surgery might be necessary. Orthotic insoles can sometimes

Keeping feet dry is a good protection plan. Regularly change your socks after exercise or any other time they become damp. Baby powder placed on feet and in between toes will reduce moisture. Also, give your shoes a rest. Remember how wet your boots were after you came in from shoveling snow this weekend? That moisture took a while to dry out, and normal sweat can take a full day to disappear from shoes. The following are suggestions for foot health from The American Podiatric Medical Association: • If you have persistent pain, see a podiatric physician. • Inspect feet regularly for changes. • Be sure to wash between the toes, and ensure they are completely dry. • Toenails should be trimmed

Corns and calluses

Dry feet essential

May 2011 •

straight across. • Use the proper shoe for the conditions. Running, walking and basketball shoes serve different purposes as the names suggest. • Walking barefoot increases the risk of infection and injury. Wear shoes. • As with any other health issue, proper dieting aids in improving foot woes. Iron helps improve the strength of skin and omega-3s, found in olive oil and salmon, help moisturize from the inside out. Spring is here, and once the rain clears, flip-flop and sandal season will truly begin. Start taking better care of your feet now, so that they can be both beautiful and healthy for years to come.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 7

golden years Lesser-known (but vital) nutrients Proper nutrition requires a balanced approach By Melissa Stefanec

formation and wound healing. It plays in important role in the metabolism of proteins, cholesterol, glucose and carbohydrates. It is also an antioxidant. • Sources: Pecans, almonds, legumes, green and black tea, whole grains, coffee, tea, egg yolks, cocoa and pineapple juice.


ating a balanced diet is a daunting task. You have to make considerations for fat, calories, salt, protein and carbohydrates. You also want to make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals. A lot of us know we need common vitamins such as vitamin C or D, or minerals such as iron. However, to complicate things more, there is a host of other vitamins and minerals most of us know very little (if anything) about. In Good Health sat down with two registered dietitians to get the story on some of the less-publicized vitamins and minerals and how they fit into a healthy diet. Maureen Fauler and Julie Mellen shared their knowledge on the subject. Here is the list of some of these nutrients and some information that will help you navigate the vitamin and mineral maze.

Folate (Folic Acid)

Folate is a B vitamin that is crucial for the prevention of birth defects such as spinal defects. It’s water soluble, which means you can’t get too much of it because the body will dispose of it through urination. It helps in the formation of red blood cells and is necessary for cell division. Folate is needed to make DNA and RNA and it helps prevent anemia. It is also necessary for reproduction. • Sources: Leafy green vegetables, fruits, especially citrus fruits and juices, dried beans and peas, yeast and liver.


Next to calcium, phosphorus is the most abundant mineral in the body. These two important nutrients work closely together to build strong bones and teeth. Phosphorus helps filter out waste in the kidneys and plays an essential role in how the body stores and uses energy. It also helps reduce muscle pain after a hard workout. Phosphorus is needed for the growth, maintenance and repair of all tissues, cells, DNA and RNA. Phosphorus helps the body balance and use other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, iodine, magnesium and zinc. • Sources: Protein-rich foods such


as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, and legumes (beans). Other sources include whole grains, potatoes, dried fruit, garlic cloves and carbonated beverages.


This mineral is important for cellular metabolism. It is required for the activity of approximately 100 enzymes, plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division. It supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence and is required for proper sense of taste and smell. • Sources: Oysters, red meat and poultry, beans, nuts, crab and lobster, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, liver, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast and dairy products.


This mineral is important, but is only required in small amounts. It plays an important role in protecting cells from free-radical damage. It is also an important part of red blood cells and plays a role in cardiovascular function. It also works in combination with proteins to help regulate thyroid function and aid the immune system. • Sources: Protein-rich foods, meat, eggs, milk, nuts, whole grains and garlic.


This mineral is required only in small amounts. It is involved in bone

This mineral is needed for many biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. It plays a role in activating the different enzymes in the body. It helps build strong bones and teeth and supports cardiovascular function. • Sources: Legumes, nuts, whole grains, tofu, bananas, apricots, seafood, coffee, tea, wheat bran, wheat germ and vegetables

Vitamin K

This vitamin is fat-soluble. A fatsoluble vitamin is stored in fatty tissue and can become toxic to the body if intake is too high. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting and calcium metabolism. • Sources: Cabbage, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables such as spinach, cereals, soybeans, vegetables and green tea. Vitamin K is also made by the bacteria that line the gastrointestinal tract.

Whole foods vs. supplements

Although most nutritionists will recommend getting nutrients from whole foods, many of us don’t eat a perfectly rounded diet each day. That’s why taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement is ideal. “Realistically, not everyone is going to eat a balanced diet every day to get all of their needs,” said Fauler of Crouse Hospital, who is a certified dietitian nutritionist and also holds a master’s in health administration. It doesn’t matter what kind or brand of multivitamin and mineral supplement you take. It can be store brand or geared toward a specific demographic such as a women’s or senior’s supplement. Taking any supplement with 100 percent of your daily value of most nutrients should fill in any gaps in your diet.

“You don’t eat perfectly every single day, so a multivitamin and mineral supplement will give you a little extra insurance,” said Mellen, who is also a certified diabetes educator at the University Healthcare Center at Upstate University in Syracuse. Taking a single daily dose of a multivitamin and mineral supFauler plement should be adequate for most people. If you take too much of a supplement it will either build up to toxic levels in your body (in the case of fat-soluble vitamins) or you will just get rid of it while urinating (in the case of water-soluble vitamins). Striking a healthy balance of nutrients is essential. “Don’t mega dose on any of those nuMellen trients,” said Mellen. “They all work together.” Taking extra supplements of a single vitamin or mineral isn’t typically necessary for a healthy person. Exceptions can be made if a doctor does a blood test and determines you don’t have enough or have too much of a certain nutrient. “Normally that is only warranted if someone has some sort of medical condition,” said Fauler. Once you have mastered a healthy diet and are taking a supplement, you should be covered in the vitamin and mineral department.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield names president


hristopher C. Booth of Pittsford has been appointed president of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. The announcement of his appointment came from David Klein, the company’s chief executive officer, and Randall Clark, chairman of the board of directors for health plan’s holding corporation, The Lifetime Healthcare Companies. “This appointment recognizes the great leadership Chris has demonstrated for our organization,” said Klein. Booth also retains his existing title of Page 8


chief operating officer for both the health plan and the holding company that he has held since January 2010. “With this promotion, Chris assumes responsibility for the health plan’s entire

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2011

operations,” Clark said. Joining the company in 2004 as chief administrative officer and general counsel, Booth was promoted to executive vice president for commercial markets and health care affairs in January 2009. He has more than two decades of experience working with the corporation, having worked for Hinman Straub PC, the corporation’s outside legal counsel in Albany. Booth, 50, resides in Pittsford with his wife Gail and their three daughters. He serves on the board of directors for

the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, the Greater Rochester Enterprise and the Young Entrepreneurs Academy and he serves as a trustee of United Way of Rochester, St. John Fisher College and WXXI-TV and Radio.

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health issues ‘God is always listening’ What is it really like to be an Army wife? By Amylynn Pastorella


hen Carlee Elwood of St. Johnsville married her husband Tom, she knew from the start that he could be deployed. Elwood’s husband was in the Army National Guard and was an MP (military police). He received an honorable discharge in October. Tom was gone for 15 months with about 10 of those months spent in Iraq. It was a long 15 months, Elwood said, but she wasn’t worried about her husband in Iraq because he had proper training and a good team of soldiers along with him. However, the everyday stress of life did take its toll when she had to do everything by herself. “It was very depressing and sad to feel by yourself. I did get to learn a lot about myself though when he was gone. I did have happy times too, just felt a bit empty when I wasn’t sharing it with my husband,” said Elwood. The use of social networking, Facebook, Skype and Yahoo Messenger, made it a little easier for Elwood and her husband to communicate. Here they could share inside jokes, comment on photos and feel satisfied that each was safe. “Email was our best bet, computerwise. Just a quick note would cheer up my day, as well as his. The phone was the cheapest way to connect as well

and we were able to talk on the phone almost everyday,” said Elwood. Life without her husband around was stressful for Elwood. Her best friend was gone and she had to fill his shoes until his return home. Elwood maintained a full-time job that allowed her to be around other people, took care of her home, her property and anything else present in life.

The emptiness of it all

“There is something about going home to an empty house that gets at you after awhile, especially when it’s usually teeming with life. I stuck to my schedule though and did little special things for myself. It’s a situation you just have to make the best out of,” said Elwood. Being in a war or dangerous situation can lead to apprehension. Elwood was always aware her husband was in a war zone but wasn’t afraid of him being in the conflict. According to Elwood, her husband was stationed in a sensitive area and would not go into details about his missions and duties which in a way helped her to not know the possible dangers he may have faced. “Tom is a great leader and he always told me he would do whatever he could to make it back home,” said Elwood. Being an “Army wife” is something that may take some getting used to, but support is available. For Elwood, church helped her cope with having her hus-

band in the armed forces not only for the religious connection, but because she was able to connect with other people. “Let yourself cry, but don’t let it take over your life. Be aware that you are a part of the deployment,” said Elwood. “Adapt and overcome, which is one of the Army’s many mottos,” added Elwood. Similarly, Dan and Helen Darjany of Marcy have two sons in the Navy. Having their sons DJ and Andy in the Navy is something they accepted without a problem but still think about their safety. Not being sure of what they wanted to do after high school, each joined the Navy following in their father’s footsteps and let their own journeys begin. The Darjanys feel lucky that neither of their sons are in harm’s way, but are mindful that they are far from home.

Holidays a tough time

“I am very proud of both of my son’s choices that they have made in their Navy careers. It is most evident that they have been far away when the holidays roll around and they are deployed. Since they have both been in the Navy, we have lost several members of our family and it

was hard not having them here. It was hard for them not to be able to be with the family at these times also,” said Darjany. Both sons have been able to take the same time off at the holidays, but like Elwood, technology has improved communication for the Darjanys. Having cell phones and Internet cafés on their bases, communicating is easier. “I remember the first time my son Andy and I got to video chat and when I saw him on my computer, I screamed and embarrassed him. Everyone in the cafe could hear me,” said Helen. Coping with loved ones in the military and armed forces may be a scary thought, but there are many things families can do to make the process easier. Support groups are available, and keeping busy and communicating with loved ones often can make the deployment not feel so bad. “Find a place where you are welcomed 24/7 and just go over there and sit with them when you feel sad,” said Elwood. “Always keep the faith in your soldier. When you are down, he’s down too. I’m not saying to be happy all the time and never express your feelings, but do it with discretion. Remember they are in a constant-stress environment. Pray. God is always listening,”

No bones about it Bone health vital, particularly with women By Kristen Raab


bout 10 million people in the United States suffer from osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Of that total, 80 percent of the afflicted are women. This disease occurs due to the excessive loss of bone, the inability to make enough bone or a combination of the two problems. The reasons that women are more likely to develop osteoporosis are because of smaller, thinner bones and estrogen changes. When women enter menopause, estrogen levels decrease dramatically, which limits the protection of bones. Roughly five years after menopause, it’s possibly to lose at least 20 percent of bone mass. Bones change throughout life, however, and there are ways to protect and improve bone health. Bones contain collagen, calciumphosphate mineral complexes and living bone cells. Peak bone mass oc-

curs between ages 18-25. This is because bone grows faster than it is lost until this age bracket. Critical bone building lasts from childhood through the 20s.

Risk factors

Magan Leahy of central New York is only 29 years old, yet she received the news that she had osteoporosis three years ago. Leahy’s doctor sent her for testing after she started experiencing pain and swelling in her wrists. After Xrays and a complete blood count test, a bone density scan led to the diagnosis. Leahy said she had no additional symptoms. She fell into a high-risk group for osteoporosis due to her thin build and family history. Leahy’s grandmother also has osteoporosis. Additionally, Leahy falls into an “at risk group” being that she is Caucasian. Women of Asian and Caucasian descent are the most likely to have lower peak bone mass. Calcium, vitamin D and regular exercise are all a part of decreasing the occurrence of osteoporosis. A healthy diet and lifestyle are also helpful. Experts

say to eat fruits and vegetables and avoid smoking, excessive drinking and unhealthy eating habits. Leahy has been advised to exercise regularly, strength train, and follow additional recommendations. Calcium and vitamin D supplements and enriched foods are necessities. She explains that doctors told her to avoid drinking alcohol and that she must limit her caffeine intake. Additionally, Leahy said she feels fear and reluctance to be physically active as well as limited in her choices of athletic activities for fear of a fall.

sports or physical activity that will put me at risk for a fracture,” she said. Tasks that others do without a second thought can prove risky for a person whose bones fracture easily. “Even simple tasks such as rearranging furniture in a room or lifting things out of the garage for spring cleaning are concerns for me,” she said. Rather than feeling sorry for herself, Leahy has used this experience to grow. “I have learned the importance of being organized and keeping meticulous medical records and most importantly, how you are your best advocate Effects lifestyle for your health,” she said. Living with osteoporosis is not She said it is essential to keep doceasy. tors apprised of any symptoms or pain Leahy said she experiences pain from the mild arthritis that afflicts most you are experiencing so that they may of her joints. She also has tendinitis in help you. Leahy said she views her osteopoher wrists, and her lower back has sufrosis as “a temporary limitation” that fered small fractures that cause some has given her the chance to “reexampain. ine” the way she cares for her body “It is difficult for others to understand that I am unable to participate in and health.

May 2011 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 9

HIGH CHOLESTEROL? Brand-name drugs are just

generics in disguise. If you take a brand-name prescription drug, you should know that there are new generic and over-the-counter options that can save you money. Not every brandname drug has a generic equivalent, but there are generic and over-the-counter alternatives for treating many conditions, including high cholesterol. Generic drugs are real medicine. They are approved by the FDA as safe and effective, but they cost less. A lot less. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if generic drugs are right for you.

Generics are

A nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association

Page 10

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2011


book, that always “does a body good.” By Anne Palumbo

The skinny on healthy eating

Rhubarb: more than pie filler


h, the sweet smells of spring… cut grass, clean air, hyacinth flowers, and the enticing aroma of a freshly baked strawberry-rhubarb pie. Raised in Ohio, where rhubarb grew wild alongside our house, I couldn’t wait to harvest the tall, pinkish stalks. These days, I continue to eat rhubarb, both fresh and frozen. While I don’t consume it on a regular basis, I appreciate its tart taste, as well as its many health benefits. Low in fat, cholesterol, sodium and calories (only 26 per diced cup), rhubarb is a decent source of fiber, a good source of vitamin C, and a great source of vitamin K. Vitamin K, which according to nutritionist Susan Brown, helps to keep calcium in the bones and out of the arteries, is an “overlooked bone builder and heart protector.” Used in traditional Chinese medi-

cine for thousands of years, rhubarb is often prescribed as a digestive aid and laxative for its natural ability to stimulate a sluggish system. That being said, no wonder rhubarb has earned the nickname, “nature’s broom.” On the research front: Scientists at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK recently found that baking rhubarb for 20 minutes boosted its levels of anticancerous chemicals. The antioxidants, known as polyphenols, have been shown to selectively kill or prevent the growth of some cancer cells. All the good stuff notwithstanding, I’ll be reaching for rhubarb this May because nothing evokes the feel-good memories of my childhood quite like this unique vegetable—and, in my

Helpful tips

Choose stalks that are medium in width, firm, and have glossy skin. Cut off and discard the leaves (if present), which are poisonous. Wrap rhubarb in plastic wrap and store in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to a week. Cook only in non-reactive cookware — glass, stainless steel, Teflon-coated aluminum, etc. — due to its acidic nature. Rhubarb cooked in reactive cookware — aluminum, iron, copper – will turn an unappetizing brown color.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crunch For the filling: 5 cups rhubarb (cut into ¾” pieces) 2 cups sliced strawberries 3 – 4 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

(recommend: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Sticks) 1 teaspoon vanilla Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or light coating of oil. Make the filling: Mix rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in a bowl. Transfer to baking dish. Make the topping: Stir together flours, oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, sugar and nuts. Whisk vanilla into melted butter and slowly add to dry ingredients, stirring gently with a fork until clumps form. Sprinkle topping evenly over filling. Bake until brown on top, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 20 minutes before serving. Top with scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt (optional).

Anne Palumbo is a lifestyle columnist, food guru, and seasoned cook, who has perfected the art of preparing nutritious, calorie-conscious dishes. She is hungry for your questions and comments about SmartBites, so be in touch with Anne at

For the topping: ½ cup all-purpose flour ½ cup wheat flour ¾ cup rolled oats ½ teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon coarse salt ½ teaspoon cinnamon 1/3 cup brown sugar ½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted (8 minutes in 350 degree oven) 6 tablespoons butter, melted

2011 allergy season to last longer this year Health experts offer tips for eye allergy sufferers


he 2011 allergy season is expected to be 27 days longer in northern portions of North America, according to health experts. Researchers who conducted a recent study on the topic have linked the issue to a rise in global warming, with more weeks of pollen season. Upper latitudes are warming faster than mid-latitudes, and the pollen season is increasing with the warming. Thereby areas of America are experiencing additional weeks added on to their traditional allergy season. Findings of the study can be found in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. One of the areas that is particularly troublesome are eye allergies.

 

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 50 million Americans have allergies, which may in turn trigger asthma. Ragweed allergies, or hay fever, affects up to 30 percent of Americans. “Ocular (eye) allergies affect one in every five individuals and it is estimated that 50 percent of individuals with seasonal and indoor allergies also experience some degree of ocular allergy,” said Dr. Paul Karpecki, clinical director of the Koffler Vision Group in Lexington, Ky. Karpecki offers the following advice to allergy sufferers: • Find out what causes your allergy and try to avoid the trigger. “If pollen is what bothers you, try to stay

indoors and minimize the amount of time you are in the wind, which blows allergens around.” • Be cautious with allergy pills that claim to ease allergy symptoms. “Quite frequently, allergy medication can dry the eyes out. If you must take an allergy pill, try to take it at night so the drying effect is not as dramatic. Talk to your doctor about what medication(s) are best for you.” • Allergy season is particularly challenging for some contact lens wearers because allergens and other irritants can build up on contacts over time, leading to discomfort and symptoms such as itching, tearing and redness. • Use preservative-free artificial tears. “People who suffer from eye

allergy symptoms may also find that the preservatives in artificial tears also cause discomfort.” • Consider allergy drops, which are prescribed by a doctor. “I tell my patients to put the drops in each eye in the morning before inserting contact lenses and then put a few drops in at night after they remove their lenses.” • Take more frequent showers to wash away allergens and at night, turn off ceiling fans, as allergens and dust are easily picked up by a fan. • Take a cool washcloth and place it over the eyes to ease swelling and discomfort. “Relax for a bit with the washcloth over the eyes to relieve symptoms.”

R E A L M E N D O G E T W E I G H T - L O S S S U R G E RY ! After years of yo-yo dieting, Marc had gained 165 unwanted, health-defeating pounds. He turned to Upstate’s Bariatric Surgery program for help. And he got it. Bariatric surgery is not “the easy way out,” he is quick to say. “Success requires discipline, commitment ...and Upstate.”


May 2011 •

The only program in CNY accredited by the American College of Surgeons’ Bariatric Surgery Center Network

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 11


The Social Security Office

Column provided by the local Social Security Office

A valuable gift for mom Helping moms save nearly $4,000 a year


other’s Day is right around the corner. It’s always nice to give Mom a card, flowers and candy. But this year people all over the country are helping their moms save nearly $4,000 a year on the cost of prescription drugs. You can help your mom too — and it won’t cost you a dime. The high cost of prescription medication can be a burden on mothers (or anyone) who have limited income and resources. But there is extra help — available through Social Security — that could pay part of her monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. That extra help is worth an average of almost $4,000 a year. To figure out whether your mother is eligible, Social Security needs to know her income and the value of her savings, investments and real estate (other than the home she lives in). To qualify for the extra help, she must be enrolled in Medicare and have: • Income limited to $16,335 for an individual or $22,065 for a married couple living together. Even if her annual income is higher, she still may be able to get some help with monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. Some examples where income may be higher include if she or her spouse:

Q&A Q: I can’t seem to find my Social Security card. Do I need to get a replacement? A: In most cases, knowing your Social Security number is enough. But if you do apply for and receive a replacement card, do not carry that card with you. Keep it with your important papers. For more information about your Social Security card and number and for information about how to apply for a replacement, visit If you believe you’re the victim of identity theft, read our publication Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number, at www. Q: What can Social Security do to help me plan for my retirement? A: Social Security has some great online financial planning tools you can use to make an informed decision about your retirement. Social Security’s online Retirement Planner and our online Retirement Estimator are both tools you can access online at any time. These will let you compute estimates of your future Social Security retirement benefits. They also provide important information on factors Page 12

–Support other family members who live with them; –Have earnings from work; or –Live in Alaska or Hawaii; and • Resources limited to $12,640 for an individual or $25,260 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks and bonds. We do not count her house and car as resources. Social Security has an easy-to-use online application that you can help complete for your mom. You can find it at Just select the link on the left of the page that says, “Get extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs.” To apply by phone or have an application mailed to you, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800325-0778) and ask for the Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (SSA-1020). Or go to the nearest Social Security office. To learn more about the Medicare prescription drug plans and special enrollment periods, visit www.medicare. gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800633-4227; TTY 1-877-486-2048). So this Mother’s Day, give your mom a gift she can really use yearround — a savings of up to $4,000 a year on her prescription drugs. Flowers whither and candy is consumed, but the extra help through Social Security will keep on giving throughout the year.

affecting retirement benefits, such as military service, household earnings, and Federal employment. You can access our Retirement Planner at www. Find the Retirement Estimator at Q: I understand that to get Social Security disability benefits, my disability must be expected to last at least a year or be expected to result in death. But I’m disabled now. Does this mean that I must wait a year after becoming disabled before I can receive benefits? A: You do not have to wait a year after becoming disabled. If you’re disabled and expect to be out of work for at least a year, you should apply for disability benefits right away. It can take months to process an application for disability benefits. If we approve your application, your first Social Security disability benefit will be paid for the sixth full month after the date your disability began. For more information about Social Security disability benefits, refer to Disability Benefits (Publication No. 05-10029) at www.socialsecurity. gov/pubs/10029.html.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2011

Want to live to 100? Have network of friends, confidants By Barbara Pierce


oneliness kills. Yes. Faster than cigarettes. Faster than Dunkin Donuts. Faster than being a couch potato. Researchers found that people with the strongest network of good friends lived longer than those who had few close friends. The Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging followed nearly 1,500 people over the age of 70 for over a 10-year period. “Social relationships have beneficial effects on survival in adults,” say the researchers Richard Dick in the American Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. “Greater social networking with friends and confidants had significant protective effects against mortality over a 10-year period.” Or, in plain English: With a strong network of close friends, you increase your odds to remain alive for another 10 years. The study also found that contact with children and relatives had little impact on the risk of death. Other studies don’t agree; they support that having emotional support from any source is important. “Love protects your heart in ways that we don’t completely understand,” said noted cardiologist Dean Ornish. “Instead of viewing the time we spend with friends and family as luxuries, we can see that these relationships are among the most powerful determinants of our well-being and survival.” “Our friends are our family,” said 86-year-old Sarah Dick. “They are our chosen family.” Her husband, 92-yearold Richard Dick, agrees. “There is much evidence that family and friends are good medicine for the elderly. Being alone with the absence of love is bad medicine,” he said. There are many older people who feel lonely. When older people are asked to identify their most serious problems, loneliness and isolation are ranked high. “The support systems of seniors contract so gradually that the meagerness of their social resources, when finally realized, often comes as a shock,” said Gail Wernsing, certified social worker at the Samaritan Counseling Center of the Mohawk Valley. “They lose family and friends to death, and Florida, and are far less likely than previous generations to share a roof—or even a town—with their children.”

Build a social network

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flames by an encounter with

another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who kindle the inner spirit,” said Albert Schweitzer in this good definition of friendship. However, one cannot sit around waiting for someone who will kindle our inner spirit to come knocking on our door. We must go out in search of them. If you want to make friends, you first need to put yourself out there somehow. “While we mourn the loss of those who are gone, we still make new friends,” adds Sarah Dick. “We have found, despite our advancing years, that we still have more to give to others despite our infirmities and the lessening of our energy. We reach out to others.” “Bus trips and bingo are not for everyone, but senior centers frequently offer an array of classes and activities, adds Wernsing. North Utica Senior Citizens Community Center has a full array of activities: Scrabble, ping pong, bingo, poker, pool, a chorus, taekwondo and more. For more information, call 315.724.2430. Ava Dorfman Senior Citizens Civic Center in Rome also has many opportunities to get together with others: games, bridge, Wii, clogging, line dancing, and bingo are just a few. For more information, call 315.337.8239. Find those activities that you enjoy, and go. If you don’t like the first one you try, try another. Friends are made through familiarity, by showing up time after time. Volunteering is a great way for people of all ages to meet others. “In this community, volunteer opportunities abound. People can often match volunteer positions with the skills they learned and utilized in their working lives,” recommends Wernsing. Help design graphics for the Mohawk Valley Center for Arts, welcome refugees with the Mohawk Valley Resources Center for Refugees, help the Red Cross in many ways, mentor a teen, help a child learn to read, cuddle a newborn. The Volunteer Center in Utica links volunteers with needs in the community. For more information, call 315.735.4463. “I am myself a library junkie, and can’t recommend them highly enough,” added Wernsing. “Most provide nooks in which to read quietly, as well as more social areas, offering coffee and perhaps a communal jigsaw puzzle. Libraries splendidly permit as much or as little interaction as desired; thus, some people will know every librarian by name, as well as his or her favorite authors, while others will simply find a peopled—but not too intrusively peopled—place in which to read newspapers and periodicals.” Also, churches are very good places to develop social connections. “In general, one never knows whom one may meet, or where,” Wernsing added. “On the classroom blackboard, my daughter’s fourth grade teacher wrote: ’80 percent of life is showing up.’ Worth remembering at any age.”

Between You and Me

By Barbara Pierce

How to get to know a person These never-fail hints are all around you

I’ve got a big problem,” said Jessica to the women in our support group. “I’ve been seeing this guy I met through, and he wants to move in with me. I’ve only known him a few weeks. I don’t think he’s right for me. But how can I know for sure?” Several other women in the group chimed in to say they wondered about the men in their lives. Like Jessica, they were single and seriously looking for the right person. But they weren’t sure how to recognize the right person when he showed up. I believe there are many easy ways to know if he or she is right, many clues that are there on the first date, even that first phone call. Hints, red flags that are right out there to see. If we are aware of these clues early in the relationship, we can save ourselves much pain down the road. Hold off making a decision about him until you run through this list. Other than the first one, most of these hints aren’t deal breakers. They Pierce are indications of what your relationship will be like once the newness wears off. • First, quick involvement is a major red flag. This one is a deal breaker. When a person claims he fell in love with you at first sight, or that you are made for each other, or you’re the only one who really understands him, the first person he has felt this way about, run the other way. Fast. Very fast. Persons who aren’t able to make a real commitment start out trying to get you to commit to them. He has a drive to get you to fall for him. Once you do, you’re history, because then he gets very scared. We are flattered when he tells us we are the first person he has ever really loved, talks about how the two of you could be so happy together, though you barely know each other. Trust me on this, I’ve been there; quick involvement is a huge danger sign. • Then, listen to him. Starting with the first conversation you have. Listen for whether he always talks about himself. If he likes to talk about himself all the time, don’t expect that to change. Listen for how well he listens to you. If you have something you wish to talk about, does he tune you out, or does he refocus the conversation back

on himself? Or does he really listen to you and try to understand you? Listen for whether he takes responsibility for himself and his actions. If he frequently shifts the blame to others, rather than accepting responsibility for any negative situation or problem in his life, this is a big hint that this is not a person to have in your life. If he has problems with his family members, is it always their fault? If he never had a successful relationship with anyone else, was it always 100 percent the fault of the other person? And you do need to get him talking about his relationships with his family and with other women in his past. You will find a huge amount of necessary information. People don’t change a whole lot; he’ll probably be the same with you. • Observe things about his behavior: How does he treat strangers? (Waiters, grocery clerks, etc.) Is he kind or rude? The way he treats people he does not know often reflects how he will treat people in general, including you, once the glow wears off. Does he always have to be first? When walking through a door, taking a bite out of your freshly baked cookies, ordering dinner. If he always goes first, this could mean he’s selfcentered. Are you willing to always be second, always be the giver? How does he treat pets? Is he warm toward them, or aloof, or even mean? If you have kids, this indicates how he will treat them. What does he watch on television? If you’re a “60 Minutes” person who likes to discuss issues of the day, and he’s an “I can’t miss ‘Two and a Half Men,’” how important is this to you? In any new relationship, keep your eyes and your ears open, before you let yourself make a decision about whether this is the person for you.

• Barbara Pierce is a licensed clinical social worker who has many years’ experience in helping people with relationships and parenting. She resides in Florida. Her “Between You and Me” column appears monthly in Mohawk Valley In Good Health. Do you have a concern or question that you would like Barbara to address? Send your concerns to her at for her consideration.

By Jim Miller

Reverse mortgages have gotten more affordable Dear Savvy Senior, What can you tell me about reverse mortgages? I was considering one a few years ago but decided against it because it was too expensive. But now I hear they are much more affordable. What can you tell me? Looking for Cash Dear Looking, One of the biggest drawbacks of reverse mortgages over the years has been the high upfront costs. But now, thanks to some new federal rules and reduced lender fees, reverse mortgages are much cheaper for cashstrapped retirees to get into. Here’s what you should know. The basics

Let’s start with a quick review. A reverse mortgage is a unique loan that lets older homeowners convert part of the equity in their home into cash that doesn’t have to be paid back as long as they live there. To be eligible you must be age 62 or older, own your home (or owe only a small balance) and currently be living there. There’s no income qualification. You can receive the cash either as a lump sum, a line of credit, regular monthly checks or a combination of these. And with a reverse mortgage, you, not the bank, own the house, so you’re still responsible for property taxes, insurance and repairs. Repayment is due when you or the last borrower dies, sells the place or lives elsewhere for 12 months. Then you or your heirs will have to pay off the loan (which includes the money you borrowed plus accrued interest and fees) either with the proceeds from selling the place, or if you want to keep the house, with money from another source.

Cheaper loans

Most reverse mortgages on the market today are known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), which are backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The big complaint about HECMs has always been the high upfront fees, which include a 2 percent loan origination fee, 2 percent mortgage insurance, along May 2011 •

with appraisal fee, closing costs and other miscellaneous expenses. All told, the cost of getting a HECM can run around 5 percent of the value of your home. But starting last fall, the FHA introduced a new HECM “Saver” loan that offers a smaller loan amount that’s about 40 percent cheaper than a traditional HECM has been (which is now known as the HECM “standard”). The new Saver loan virtually eliminated the 2 percent upfront insurance premium to create the savings. But with the Saver, the amount you can borrow is about 10 to 20 percent less than what you could get with the HECM standard. So, for example, a 70year-old with a home worth $300,000 could get a lump sum of about $149,000 with a Saver, versus around $187,000 with a standard loan. To calculate how much you may be able to borrow visit

Lender fee cuts

You also need to know that as a way to drum up business, many lenders today — like Generation Mortgage, MetLife Bank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and others — are waiving loanorigination fees and other upfront charges on some loans, which could also save you thousands of dollars. Most lenders, however, are offering these deals only to fixed-rate HECMs that require borrowers to take out a lump sum. The cuts are generally not available to adjustable-rate loans that can be taken as a line of credit or in monthly payments.

Required counseling

Because reverse mortgages are very complicated, you’re required by the government to first meet with an independent counselor to make sure you completely understand how they work. Counseling can be done in person or over the phone and many counseling agencies today provide it for free or at a minimal fee. Some locations charge around $125. For more information on reverse mortgages, or to locate counseling agencies in your area, visit or call 800-569-4287.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior. org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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health issues In harmony with health Music enhances physical, mental well-being By Barbara Pierce

I’d rather play than do anything else,” said Steve Falvo of Utica. “I eat and sleep my drums.” Falvo has been a professional musician for nearly 40 years. Falvo is the owner/drummer of the Easy Money Big Band, a 17-piece ensemble headquartered in Utica, one of the most sought-after bands in the area. In the ‘70s, he played drums for a local group, The Dominoes. And he played with Abbey Road, which opened for James Brown, the Drifters, Fifth Dimension, and others. “It keeps me young,” he continued. “I don’t think about my age when I’m playing. I feel like I’m 25.” “It cracked open my soul when I first heard the flute music of Tim Wheater,” author and artist Julia Cameron wrote. “It opened a door that led to a deep wellspring of creativity … Music travels to the farthest shores of the soul. It transforms, inspires, and heals.” “Music has the power to influence

my heart, my mind, and my soul in ways which no other outside source can,” said an on-line blogger, succinctly describing how music impacts him. What is it about music that gives it so much power and importance to us all? From the prenatal stage to death, we respond to it. Even people in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease respond to music when nothing else reaches them. When the disease has destroyed their ability to remember close family members, their musical memory is the one thing that survives the ravages of the disease. “Tears ran down her face as she heard her wedding song,” said Shana Fortnam, director of recreation at LutheranCare in Clinton, when referring to a resident. This resident, so disabled by Alzheimer’s that she cannot speak or even leave her room, was so moved by hearing her wedding song, played by the harpist who came to her room. Music is the only thing she responds to, from the deep reaches of her soul. Music inspires and evokes our

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emotion in a healthy way. It touches our emotional being, our souls, and evokes moods and feelings that are sometimes difficult to express. It can change a difficult mood and make it happy or excited; it can change a light mood and take it deeper and more profound.

Sensory experience

We respond to music in complex, fascinating ways. Not only are our feelings and emotions influenced, but the very cells of Falvo our bodies. For example, when we hear marching music, a certain family of chemicals floods our body; our pulse rate goes up; our muscle strength increases. Our system goes into “alert,” ready to do battle. Soothing music releases another family of chemicals, endorphins, which create a feeling of well-being. Our blood pressure slows; our pulse rate slows. PET scans show that there are actual changes in our brain in response to music. Music relieves pain and anxiety. Research at the University of Warsaw found that patients undergoing dental work without listening to music on headphones were five times more likely to have fear and negative feelings about their dental work, as compared to those who did listen to music during the procedure. Women giving birth who listened

to music during labor were only half as likely to need anesthesia. Stroke victims re-learning to walk while listening to music showed much greater gains than those who did not listen to music. Those working with patients in hospice care find that music relieves pain significantly, and eases their minds. In their final moments, music helps them let go into a peaceful death. Music has power, power for the good. It does travel to the farthest reaches of our souls, as it comforts the dying and causes an emotional response in those with late stage Alzheimer’s. The music we grew up with and loved as a teenager implants itself deep in our nervous system. Think about the music you choose today, and how long you have chosen that type of music. My friend in her 80s loves Ella Fitzgerald and the Big Band sounds. Another, in his mid-50s, loves Eric Clapton and the songs of the Vietnam era. My daughter loves country. We like what we like, mostly because we already like it. And because it’s deep in our souls. • Editor’s note: For information on where the Easy Money Big Band is playing, call Falvo at 315.725.5169 or go to

Stay healthy with food stamps


ave you ever wondered if you could get a little extra help with your food bills? Many seniors are using their life savings to pay for everyday costs like food and housing. And like our doctors remind us, good nutrition is the best medicine to stay healthy. You don’t have to use up your savings or cut back on food during these tough times. The good news for a million older New Yorkers is there is free help called the Nutrition Outreach and Education Program. NOEP helps people in the area apply for federal food stamp benefits.

Much like with Social Security and Medicare, tax dollars have built this strong and valuable nutrition support program. With high gas, food and utility costs, many are using these federal food dollars to help stretch their grocery budgets and bring federal tax dollars back to New York at the same time. Although benefits will vary, the average benefit is about $100 per month for a single older adult. Call Catholic Charities of Herkimer County at 315.894.9917 soon for assistance to find out if you may be eligible for food stamp benefits.

health issues

LOL Benefits of a good belly laugh By Barbara Pierce

owner/operator of Next Level Athletic Performance in Marcy, combines humor and fitness. He finds his clients get better results when he includes laughter and fun in the process of getting fit.


oogle “humor in the Mohawk Valley” and the first result is the Utica Daily News’ Humor Video, from YouTube. I guarantee that you will roll on the floor laughing as an anxious monk in medieval times gets tech help to learn a new system, the technology of a book. At least I did (roll on the floor laughing). I guess it hit home, reminding me of my early feeble attempts to become computer-savvy. That big laugh was good for me, and will be for you. What is it about laughter that makes us feel so good? According to the Mayo Clinic Women’s Healthsource, here’s what researchers say about the benefits of a good laugh: Laughter encourages healthier functioning of blood vessels, increases blood flow, and lowers blood pressure. Laughter stimulates our immune system, with effects that last hours after you laughed. It reduces pain, reduces spikes in the blood sugar of diabetics, lowers stress hormones, and lifts your mood. It’s true. Laughter has the power to heal both your mind and your body. In fact, doctors now use laughter therapy, laughter yoga and laughter clubs to help people get well. Laughter helps people heal themselves, even from serious illnesses. In his 1970s classic book “Anatomy of an Illness,” Norman Cousins describes how the Marx Brothers helped his recovery from a painful, usually terminal illness. He checked out of the hospital and watched their movies all day, every day. He was then able to sleep, pain free, and eventually recovered from his illness.

Primal instinct

Laughing is our first way of com-

Fun and fit

municating. Apes laugh. So do dogs and rats. Babies laugh long before they can speak. All language groups laugh the same way. Whether you are in Hong Kong, Paris, Cairo or Tibet, everyone laughs the same. Back to my search for “humor in the Mohawk Valley”: I learned that early inhabitants of the Mohawk Valley survived “because of prayer, ingenuity, and because they had a wonderful sense of humor,” according to one historian. In fact, several results involved books written about the early settlers

of the Mohawk Valley, some with a “puckish sense of humor,” others with “much natural humor.” So it would seem that we in this area have the legacy of a good sense of humor, a lighthearted response to life. Some advocates of laughter even say that a good laugh is as helpful as exercising. Certified Yoga instructor Barb Fisher, who teaches a laughter yoga class at the University of Michigan, claims that 20 seconds of a good hard belly laugh is worth three minutes on the rowing machine. Steve Krebs, fitness instructor and

“Fitness should be effective but fun,” said Krebs. “I am a jokester by nature, and always make sure to make my clients feel comfortable by making them laugh.” Krebs Krebs’ good sense of humor is demonstrated on his fitness video; it does make one laugh. Krebs’ website is Laughter is a magnet. We gravitate toward those who seem to be having fun. Laughter is contagious. It’s like yawning, but more fun. All you have to do is watch and listen to people laugh, and soon you’ll be laughing too. Laughter is the glue that holds people together. Psychologist John Gottman, who specializes in marital stability and divorce, has found that for couples who stay married more than seven years, the absence of laughter is a better predictor of divorce than the presence of outright animosity. Our relationships are only as good as our histories of laughter together. Go to YouTube and search for medieval helpdesk with English subtitles. Or make it a point to do anything that will make you laugh. A laugh a day keeps the cardiologist—and the psychiatrist—away.

St. E’s, CDT extend praise to donors Flag will fly to honor life-saving donations


t. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica is partnering with the Center for Donation & Transplant to honor patients and their families that choose to give the gift of life through organ or tissue donation. St. Elizabeth Medical Center will recognize its organ and tissue donors by flying a Donate Life flag in their honor each time a donation is facilitated at the hospital in 2011. After the flag has been flown, it will be given to the donor’s family in memory of the loved one, as part of an aftercare packet designed to help families cope with their grief.

The medical center will also flew the flag during National Donate Life Month in April to help raise awareness of the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation. “I am thrilled that St. Elizabeth Medical Center is recognizing the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation by flying the Donate Life Flag in honor of their donors,” said Jeffrey Orlowski, chief executive officer of CDT. “The flags provide awareness of the importance of donation and also serve as a symbol of respect for those who have given the gift the life. The families of our donors find it very

meaningful to receive the flag in recognition of their loved one.” To thank St. Elizabeth Medical Center for its support of CDT’s mission, CDT has dedicated a rose in honor of medical center donors that will be placed on the Donate Life float in the 2012 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. in January. 2011 marked the eighth year that the donation and transplant community has participated in the Rose Parade through the Donate Life float, which is designed to inspire more than 30 million U.S. television viewers to give the gift of life. St. Elizabeth Medical Center’s dedicated rose will May 2011 •

join hundreds of others from across the nation to create a living memorial called the “Family Circle Garden” that is incorporated into the float. For more information about the Donate Life float, or to read St. Elizabeth Medical Center’s rose dedication, visit the Donate Life float website at The CDT is the federally designated, non-profit organization that coordinates the retrieval of donated organs and tissues at 43 hospitals throughout western Vermont and northeastern New York state.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Continued from Page 4 Players of Utica will perform this interactive dinner theater. Advance adult tickets are $40 and children’s tickets are $25. Seating is limited so it is recommended that tickets be bought ahead of time. Tickets at the door are $5 extra. A buffet dinner is included in the ticket price. Tickets can be purchased anytime at Abraham House, 1203 Kemble St., Utica. Call Abraham House at 733.8210 by May 4 to have tickets mailed. “Phantom of Harts Hill Inn” is sponsored by Nunn & McGrath Funeral Directors. Abraham House provides a secure and loving home without charge to the terminally ill in the community.

May 13

Abraham House to raffle off mountain bike A Schwinn mountain bike used on the TV show “Friends” will be raffled off to benefit Abraham House in Utica. The bike is signed by Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox and comes with a letter of authenticity. Additional prize winners will be awarded gift certificates, bar tabs, and more. Raffle tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at Abraham House, 1203 Kemble St., Utica or at That Place, 216 Bleecker St., Utica. Call Abraham House at 733.8210 to have raffle tickets mailed by July 15. The raffle drawing date is July 30. This bike will be showcased at the Phantom of Harts Hill Inn murder mystery dinner theater on May 13 at Harts Hill Inn and other locations throughout Utica. The bike was donated to That Place to be raffled off to help raise money for Abraham House Abraham House provides a secure and loving home without charge to the terminally ill in the community.

May 14

Joe Utterback to play benefit concert Presbyterian Homes Foundation and the First Presbyterian Church of Utica are hosting celebrated American jazz pianist, composer and recording artist “Dr. Joe” Utterback. The concert will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Utica at 7 p.m. May 14. From the Tony Awards gala reception dinners in New York City to music festivals across the country, his high energy jazz delights audiences. Utterback infuses familiar blues, ballads, Broadway and jazz classics with a captivating, dynamic style. All proceeds from the concert will benefit the Presbyterian Homes Parkinson’s Project. The goal of the project is to reconPage 16

struct the Parkinson’s residence into a high-tech environment that will enable each resident to live as independently as possible. Ticket prices are $15 individually or $25 for couples. To purchase tickets, call Pat at 272.2267.

May 19

UCP spaghetti dinner to benefit prom Community members can support the Upstate Cerebral Palsy Tradewinds Education Center Prom by attending a spaghetti dinner fundraiser from 3-6 p.m. May 19 at the Sitrin Rehabilitation Center, 2050 Tilden Ave., New Hartford. Tickets are $5 each and people are welcome to eat in or take out. The Tradewinds Prom is an opportunity for children with differing abilities to attend a prom just like any other high school student, complete with limousine rides, walking the red carpet, dinner and dancing. Proceeds from the spaghetti dinner will help make this a night to remember for these students. To inquire about tickets for the spaghetti dinner, contact Rikki Walker at 315.798.4040 ext. 234 or Chris Arruda at 315.533.1150 ext. 272. Those interested in volunteering or donating to the Tradewinds Prom can contact Patti Carey, Upstate Cerebral Palsy associate executive director, at 315.798.4040.

June 3

SEMC, Midstate EMS to host trauma symposium The Trauma Center at St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Midstate EMS will host their 25th annual Trauma Symposium at the Radisson Hotel in Utica on June 3. There will be separate day and evening sessions featuring speakers and DVD presentations. The day session is scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and includes lunch. The evening session runs from 4:30-8 p.m and includes dinner. Scott Bolleter, chief, Office of Clinical Direction, Emergency Health Science Department, Bulverde-Spring Branch EMS in Bulverde, Texas, will give a lecture during the day session. In addition, he will deliver the keynote speech at dinner titled “In the Line of Fire.” Advance registration is required. The fees for pre-hospital care providers are $35 for the day session only, $30 for the evening or $55 for both. The fee for nurses, allied health professionals and residents is $50 (day), $45 (evening) or $85 (both), and for physicians, it’s $100 for each session. For more information, contact the St. Elizabeth Trauma Service at 315.798.8127.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2011

June 5

June 6

VHS planning ‘Magic of Herkimer’ event

Support group plans educational series

Event planners at Valley Health Services announced that the ninth annual Magic of Herkimer will be honoring William Streck, president/CEO of the Bassett Healthcare Network. The community is invited to commemorate Streck from 5-8 p.m. June 5 at Herkimer County Community College. Lisa M. Betrus, CEO/administrator of Valley Health Services, said, “In 1988, after just two years at the helm, Dr. Streck was instrumental in facilitating the affiliation between the progressive health care system that is Bassett, and Valley Health Services. Partnering with Bassett has allowed VHS to develop and grow to best meet the needs of our community. We are privileged to have this opportunity to honor Dr. Streck.” Streck adds, “VHS was an early partner with Bassett in Herkimer County and remains a key part of our larger enterprises in the region that now includes VHS, the Herkimer Health Center, Little Falls Hospital and First Community Care of Bassett.” Tickets are $40 each and may be purchased by contacting Peg Scarano at 315.866.3330 ext. 2247 or by way of email at pscarano@valleyhealthservice

The next monthly meeting of the Alzheimer’s/dementia support group held at Folts Homes in Herkimer will feature educational programs by healthcare professionals. The meeting will take place at 5 p.m. June 6 at Folts Homes (Judd Mansion conference room), 104 N. Washington St., Herkimer. Both programs will allow for interactive discussion. Folts Homes MDS Coordinator Lee Ann Kelley will explain the progression of dementia/Alzheimer’s disease and offer assistance in evaluating cognitive levels and dealing with problem behaviors. The support group meets the first Monday of each month and is open to the public and all caregivers. For additional information, call the Folts Homes’ Social Services Department at 315. 866.6964, ext. 324.

June 6

Music festival to benefit Mike DeLouisa A music festival featuring seven hours of local music including Syndicate, The Bomb and The Fulton Chain Gang to benefit Mike DeLouisa will be held June 5. “The DeLouisa Benefit Festival” begins at 1 p.m. and will run through 8 p.m. at 12 North Sports Bar, 10125 Mulaney Road, Marcy. The festival will benefit DeLouisa and his family as they battle his diagnosis of stage four brain cancer. DeLouisa, a talented drummer and founding member of The Fulton Chain Gang, lives in New Hartford with his wife and high school sweetheart of 39 years, Donna Kelly. The complete list of bands on two stages include: Syndicate, The Bomb, Fulton Chain Gang, Fritz’s Polka Band, Tim Creaser, Redneck Rodeo Cowboys, Reckless Driving, Hard Times, Twenty Main, Augustine, and Time Trooper. The event will also include 50/50 raffles every hour, auctions, and entertainment for the kids with face painting and clowns. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door for adults; $15 for kids aged 12 to 18. Food, beverages and entertainment will be provided, while a cash bar will be available. Children 12 and under are free. Advanced tickets can be purchased by calling Dave Montany at 796.3534 or Claudine Laskowski at 865.4977 or visit the Syndicate website at and order advanced tickets. If you are unable to attend but would like to make a donation, a bank account for Mike has been set up at M&T Bank. Visit any location to make a donation in the account of “The DeLouisa Benefit Festival” or contact Montany or Laskowski with any questions.

June 27

Sitrin’s Summer Day Camp accepting registrations Sitrin Health Care Center is offering a summer day camp that fosters friendship and fun for children aged 6-14. Sitrin’s Traveling Summer Day Camp, which is now accepting registrations, will run June 27 through Aug. 19. The traveling camp is headquartered at the Sitrin Health Care Center, 2050 Tilden Ave., New Hartford, and campers will visit a different, fun destination each day. For more information or to obtain a registration packet, visit www.sitrin. com or contact camp director Cara Bulson Arcuri at 315.737.2255.

Oct. 18

Miracle Home Makeover kicks off Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare Foundation, in partnership with WKTV NewsChannel 2, Lite 98.7FM, The Observer-Dispatch, Lewis Custom Homes and Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Mohawk Valley, announce the start of the 15th annual $100,000 Miracle Home Makeover to benefit the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital at FSLH. One lucky person will win a $100,000 Miracle Home Makeover or $100,000 in cash. Tickets are on sale now. Individuals who buy their ticket by May 4 will be added to a special early-bird drawing to win a 16-by-16 foot concrete patio by Clemente Fane Concrete, landscaped by Greenscapes and adorned by an outdoor patio set and fire pit from Target. For more than a decade, the Children’s Miracle Network Miracle Home project has built miracles for the children of the community. A maximum of 4,000 tickets are available and may be purchased for $100 each by calling FSLH’s Foundation Office at 315.624.5600 or by visiting The drawing for the Miracle Home Makeover will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 18 at Jay-K Lumber Corp., Seneca Turnpike, New Hartford. For more information, call 315.624.5600.

H ealth News Kelberman honored with prestigious award Michael Kelberman, founder of the Kelberman Center for autism services and cardiologist with Central New York Cardiology, P.C, recently was honored at the Central New York Business Journal’s 2011 Nonprofit Awards with the “Impact Award.” This award recognizes an employee of a nonprofit, a board member, or a volunteer who created or implemented a new or existing program that not only changed the organization but also the community. Kelberman is the founder and visionary behind the Kelberman Kelberman Center for autism services. Realizing the impact autism has on individuals and families, with one in 110 children in the United States currently born with the disorder, Kelberman provided leadership to a $1 million campaign to raise the start up funds for the organization, and at the same time recruited experts in the field to relocate to the Utica area. He created an organization that provides cutting edge programs and services, including evaluation and diagnosis, individualized education, social and life skills enhancement, training and research. The Kelberman Center, an affiliate of Upstate Cerebral Palsy, provides opportunities for children and adults of all ages to access targeted autism services to support them in their homes, at school and in their everyday lives. Under his leadership as board president, the center has expanded to include a pediatric neuropsychologist, numerous other Ph.D. level psychologists as well as school-based consultation services, implementation of recreation programs embedded with social skill training, community education and training opportunities for families and professionals and a professional advisory board comprised of national experts in the field of autism, all giving the center national recognition. According to his nominator and Kelberman Center Executive Director Helen Stepowany, “Dr. Kelberman has become the voice of autism in our community. Since the creation of the Kelberman Center in 2005, literally thousands of individuals and their families have received life-changing services that have given them hope, reassurance and the tools needed to navigate throughout the complex word of autism.”

MVHI receives praise, recognition Mohawk Valley representatives of the American Heart Association recently presented Mohawk Valley Heart

Institute with a recognition plaque for MVHI’s sponsorship of health and wellness screening, which was held at the AHA Health & Fitness Expo. Established in 1997, MVHI is a collaboration of independent hospitals in Utica, St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare. The AHA Health & Fitness Expo event was in conjunction with the 2011 America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk.

AHA welcomes Hanna to coalition The American Heart Association Founders Affiliate recently announced that Congressman Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) has joined the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition and applauds him for helping to combat the nation’s No. 1 killer—heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Founded in 1996, the bipartisan, bicameral Hanna coalition works to raise awareness of the seriousness of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, and acts as a resource center on heart and stroke issues, including biomedical research, quality and availability of care and health promotion/disease prevention. The coalition also works to advance public policy aimed at fighting these cardiovascular diseases. “Heart disease remains our largest health threat,” says Dr. Frank Dubeck, president-elect of the American Heart Association Advisory Board in Utica. “We look forward to working with Congressman Hanna to help prevent heart disease and stroke.”

Tobacco Cessation Center offers classes The Regional Cancer Center’s TriCounty Tobacco Cessation Center in Utica offers classes to help support and assist those wishing to quit smoking. Call 315.624.5639 for information on a class nearest to you. They are held in Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties. The New York State Tobacco Control Program supports the New York State Smokers’ Quitline, which offers free telephone coaching as well as free nicotine replacement therapy, like the patch or gum, to eligible callers. Quitline specialists are available by calling 1.866.697.8487 or 1.866.NYQUITS. “The New York State Tobacco Control Program is committed to saving lives, reducing disease and saving money,” according to Deb Domagal, tobacco cessation specialist, Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare’s Tri-County Tobacco Cessation Center.

FSLH makes staff announcement Ann Anken has been promoted to assistant director for the dialysis program at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare. In this position, Anken oversees all clinical operations of the dialysis department and ensures that all clinical staff has the correct training and competencies. She provides advocacy and support to the physician providers and Anken also incorporates her previous role of quality manager into her position as assistant director, assisting with the development and achievement of clinical excellence for the department. Anken reports to Kelly Knoeller, director of the dialysis program. Anken received her nursing degree from Mohawk Valley Community College and her bachelor’s degree in nursing from SUNYIT Utica-Rome. She has worked at FSLH for more than 35 years and has been working for the dialysis program since 1977. Anken was the charge nurse for the dialysis program and in 2009, became the quality manager for the program. In 2010, she received national certification in nephrology nursing.

FSLH makes staff announcements Adirondack Community Physicians of Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare recently made the following staff announcements: • Jeff Darling has been named operations manager of patient access for ACP. In this position, Darling is responsible for patient registration and supervision of the office assistant staff. He enDarling sures resources, policies and work processes support delivery of patient care and are aligned with organizational and departmental mission and goals, and also serves as a liaison for patient billing-related issues and projects. • Ed Reynolds, RN, has been named operations manager of clinical services for ACP. In this position, Reynolds is responsible for the leadership and direct supervision of nursing and medical imaging personnel for all ACP medical offices. He promotes the delivery of high-quality patient care with responsiMay 2011 •

bility for staff performance, clinical policy and procedure, regulatory/ accreditation compliance, work flow analysis and performance improvement. • Mark Testa has been named Reynolds provider liaison for ACP. In this position, Testa provides coordination, administrative support and advocacy to ACP physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and leadership. He serves as the primary conTesta tact and resource for all provider support issues and requirements and also provides support for the ACP leadership team.

ACP surgeons move to St. Luke’s Campus The Adirondack Community Physicians surgical group—featuring Jorge Ferreiro, John Sperling, Robert Wasiczko and Mark Williams—are moving from their office at 95 Genesee St. in Utica to the Professional Office Building at the St. Luke’s Campus, 1656 Champlin Ave., Utica. The surgeons will be in Suite 335, located on the third floor of the POB. The entrance to the POB is adjacent to the main front entrance at the St. Luke’s Campus. The new office phone number is 624.4090 and the fax number is 624.4095.

Herkimer County HealthNet names executive director Adam Hutchinson of Herkimer has been hired as executive director of Herkimer County HealthNet. A 2002 Utica College graduate, Hutchinson has worked for HCHN since 2005, first as administrative assistant to the executive director and then as Hutchinson network coordinator.

Continued on Page 18

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 17

H ealth News Continued from Page 17 In those positions, he has been involved in every aspect of the HCHN’s operations. Hutchinson is a master’s candidate at Bay Path College for a degree in nonprofit management and philanthropy. He is originally from Rome and lives in Herkimer with his wife and children. HCHN works to meet its mission of improving the health and well-being of those who live, work, play and learn in Herkimer County by addressing factors that negatively impact health, including access to quality healthcare, chronic disease, physical activity, and nutrition. It receives its funding from various New York State Department of Health grants and charitable organizations.

Herkimer County HealthNet announces grants Herkimer County municipalities and 501(c)3 organizations can apply for grants from Herkimer County HealthNet to support the efforts of the Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work, and Play grant initiative funded by the New York State Department of Health. Herkimer HealthNet is offering grants up to $10,000 to be used for trails and trail improvements and up to $6,500 for playgrounds and playground improvements. The municipality or 501(c)3 organization is expected to demonstrate matching or in-kind contributions on its part through collaboration with community organizations, donated materials and volunteer time. The Creating Healthy Places Grant purpose is to reach out to communities to assist with community improvements that will lead to decreased rates of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes by increasing opportunities for physical activity for local families. Recommended strategies and measures to help communities tackle the problem of obesity through environmental change and policies that promote physical activity include: • Increased opportunities for extracurricular physical activity • Improved access to outdoor recreational facilities • Enhancing infrastructure supporting bicycling • Enhancing infrastructure supporting walking • Enhancing personal safety in areas where persons are or could be physically active • Enhancing traffic safety in areas where persons are or could be physically active The deadline for submitting the grant applications is May 13. Grant applications are available at Herkimer County HealthNet’s website; www.herkimerhealthnet. com or by emailing Alison J. Swartz,

Abraham House thanks SUNYIT Abraham House wants to express its gratitude to the SUNYIT PsycholPage 18

ogy and Sociology Club for sponsoring a dinner theater benefit for Abraham House recently at Harts Hill Inn, according to Patty Shenberger, executive director. Over $8,000 was raised as 141 people were in attendance to support the work of Abraham House in providing a secure and loving home without charge to the terminally ill. “It is very inspiring to see the SUNYIT students showing such compassion and community-minded spirit in wanting to contribute to the community in this way,” Shenberger said. “Thank you to Dr. Joanne Joseph, SUNYIT Psychology Club adviser, and Ronnie Tichenor, SUNYIT Sociology Club adviser, for their leadership of these remarkable students.” “Thank you goes out to the wonderful entertainment of the night that included Michael Joseph, a nationally known magician, who wowed the crowd with his magic tricks and to the 7th Dimension Barbershop quartet who enticed the crowds with their beautiful music.” She also extended thanks to Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and SUNYIT for their corporate sponsorship of this event and to all the individuals and businesses who contributed to the live and silent auction. “We also appreciate RoAnn Destito for allowing us to honor her contributions to our community and to the SUNYIT community,” Shenberger said. “It was a wonderful event made possible by the hard work of SUNYIT students.”

Surgeon attends national breast center conference Rome breast surgeon Beth A. Bulawa recently attended the 21st annual National Interdisciplinary Breast Center Conference. A member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, Bulawa joined other professionals involved in breast health care from across the nation to exchange ideas and learn Bulawa about advances and new techniques in providing breast health care to patients. It was an opportunity to learn about advances in diagnostic imaging, breast biopsy techniques, and genomic and proteomic research, as well as the latest scientific evidence to support early detection and treatment in early stage cancer. “With research, modern medicine has made tremendous advances in our ability to diagnose and treat breast disease,” said Bulawa, who has practiced in Rome since 1993. “As experts in the field, it’s our role to help our patients understand their treatment options, listen to their concerns and help them find their way through the healthcare system.”

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2011

Bulawa specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of breast disease, including the evaluation of breast lumps and abnormal findings on mammograms, sonograms and MRI of the breast. She provides surgical management of breast disease, including biopsy, lumpectomy and mastectomy. Bulawa is also experienced in general surgical procedures.

Orthopedic surgeon joins Rome practice Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Elemer A. Raffai is accepting new patients at Rome Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, 107 E. Chestnut St. He joins Dr. R. Mitchell Rubinovich at the Chestnut Commons practice, which has been open in Rome since 2005. With the addition of Raffai, Rome Memorial Hospital will have Raffai four orthopedic surgeons on its medical staff to meet the community’s need. Richard Mutty and Shiv Bhatt have private practices in Rome. A native of Montreal, Canada, Raffai was in private practice for 12 years in Eunice, La., where he also served as the official team doctor for high school sports teams and the Ice Gators, a semi-pro hockey team. He also trained medical students and orthopedic residents at the Louisiana State University Medical Center for two years. “I’ve always been active in sports, including hockey and tennis, so I have a special interest in sports medicine,” Raffai said. “Athletes have a desire to get back on their feet as quickly as possible. So, preparing their rehabilitation plan is as important as prompt diagnosis and treatment.” “As part of the rehabilitation process, we also want to focus on strategies to prevent future injuries,” Raffai said. “Many young athletes tend to spend a lot of time in the weight room bulking up, which can decrease range of motion and flexibility. We teach them the importance of correcting muscle imbalances, stretching and proper hydration to reduce the risk of a season-ending injury.” In addition to repairing common sports injuries like torn rotator cuffs and anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs), Raffai is experienced in general orthopedic, arthroscopic and total joint replacement procedures. Raffai and his wife reside in Rome with their four children. After surviving 12 hurricane seasons in Louisiana, they are looking forward to being closer to family in nearby Canada.

RMH welcomes newest board members Julie Grow Denton, an attorney at McMahon and Grow, has been appoint-

ed to the Rome Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she earned her bachelor’s degree at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pa. She was a law clerk for Federal District Court Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. and Federal Circuit Court Judge Richard Cardamone before joining the Rome firm. Other recent additions to the hospital’s board include accountant Kim M. Cook, retired educator Mary Davis, businesswoman Sally Hinman, and obstetrician-gynecologist Ankur Desai. Serving with them are board chairman Dr. Chester Patrick, vice chairman and treasurer David C. Nolan, secretary Lynn G. Reese, Dr. Ronald Cantor, W. Robert Herrmann, and Michael Kramer. Cook is a certified public accountant and partner of Wallis, Loiacono & Cook, CPAs, P.C., which provides business and personal tax, accounting, auditing, payroll and business valuation services in Rome, Camden and Lowville. Davis earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Livingstone College, Salisbury, N.C., and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Michigan State University, East Lansing. Hinman earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Utica College and worked for Metropolitan Insurance for 13 years before joining the administrative team at Rome Strip Steel in 1992. Desai is a board-certified physician specializing in comprehensive obstetric and gynecological care with Mohawk Valley Women’s Health Associates.

SEMC Guild receives recognition The Healthcare Association of New York State has recognized the Guild of St. Elizabeth Medical Center with the 2010 Auxiliary Advocacy Recognition. The auxiliary was recognized for significant time and effort serving as an advocate for the facility and the community. Annually, the auxiliary provides scholarships and awards at the College of Nursing graduation. Each year, daffodils are purchased from the American Cancer Society, “dressed up,” and distributed to patients. The gift shop has an assortment of items and floral arrangements for patients, visitors and employees. The medical center chapel is decorated at Easter and Christmas with flowers donated by the auxiliary. Volunteers assist medical personnel at the annual American Heart Association’s Health & Fitness Expo sponsored by the Mohawk Valley Heart Institute. Guild members also participate in HANYS’ grassroots letter-writing campaigns. Auxiliary members not only volunteer at all its fundraisers, but also volunteer in various departments throughout the medical center.

Continued on Page 19

H ealth News Continued from Page 18 The application was submitted to HANYS by the auxiliary president, Grace DeFazio Bouse, and legislative chairperson, Carole Nunziata.

St. Elizabeth’s in national spotlight St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica has been named a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield for demonstrating better overall quality of care and patient results in knee and hip replacement surgery. Blue Distinction is a national designation awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality healthcare in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacement, spine surgery or transplants. To earn this designation, St. Elizabeth Medical Center was evaluated based on an objective, evidence-based selection criteria established with input from expert physicians and medical organizations. The goal of Blue Distinction is to identify medical facilities that deliver better overall quality and medical outcomes for a specific area of specialty care, helping patients and doctors to make more informed hospital choices. In 2010, 448 knee and hip-replacement surgeries were performed at St. Elizabeth. Orthopedic pain-reduction techniques have also improved ambulation and recovery time. In addition, St. Elizabeth Medical Center is the only hospital in the region to receive Excellus Quality Leader Status in 2010 for achieving a benchmark level of performance in reducing hospital-acquired infections. To learn more about the Blue Distinction designation, visit www.bcbs. com/bluedistinction.

SDMG adds family practice physician Sherin Varkey will be joining the family practice department of Slocum-Dickson Medical Group in New Hartford. She will be practicing at SlocumDickson’s Ilion location at 55 Central Plaza. Varkey provides quality care and treatment for the whole family, 8 years of age and above. As a family practice physician, VarVarkey key specializes in continuing, comprehensive health care and serves as the patient’s advocate in all health-related matters. She diagnoses and treats a variety of illnesses and will refer patients to a specialist when necessary. She can also perform routine gynecological exams for her female patients. Varkey completed her family prac-

tice residency at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse. She completed her medical school internship at Sri Ramachandra Hospital in Porur, Madras and earned her medical degree from Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute in Porur, Madras. Varkey is board certified in family medicine. She is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and has been involved in several volunteer activities such as the residency recruiting committee at St. Joseph’s Hospital and the local homeless clinic.

Family practitioner joins SDMG Kathleen Stornelli will be joining the family practice department of Slocum-Dickson Medical Group in New Hartford. Stornelli specializes in the total healthcare of the individual and the family. She possesses skills and qualifications that allow her to provide continuing, comprehensive health maintenance and medical care to the entire family. Stornelli Stornelli is trained to diagnose and treat a broad spectrum of Illnesses. She is board certified in family practice with over eight years of experience as a physician. Stornelli completed her family practice residency and internship at Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, N.C. She earned her medical degree from New York Medical College. Stornelli served in the United States Army during the Iraq War where she managed an urgent care clinic. She was recognized with two Army achievement medals, three Army commendation medals, a national defense service medal, a global war on terrorism service medal, and an Iraq campaign medal. She is also a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Society that recognizes excellence in medical students and physicians.

RN needed

for 22.5-40 hour position in busy home health care agency. Must have daily weekday availability, some weekend visits required with flexible scheduling. Position requires case managing clients in their homes, monitoring field employee performance with top notch assessment & documentation skills. Effective time management a must. Vehicle required. Competitive hourly wage, benefits & mileage. Home care experience a plus.

Health in good


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Full Time Scheduling Coordinator for busy Utica home health care agency. Excellent time management, phone & customer service skills essential. Must enjoy fast paced environment. Hours: 8a-4:30p M-F. Competitive wage & benefits. Great work environment! Interviews will be scheduled with selected candidates.


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Home Health Care Aides needed for busy homecare

agency. Experience preferred but will train. Rome/Blossvale areas weekends, days & nights available. Clinton/Utica areas weekends & days available. Need transportation & phone. Call CareGivers 797-7050 Tues/Wed between hrs. of 1-3 for an appt to apply.

750 East Adams Street I Syracuse I

May 2011 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 19

Do blondes really have more fun?

Hair color determines one’s fate

By Amylynn Pastorella


any medical journals have researched and studied the ways hair color can affect a woman’s

health. A decade’s worth of clinical studies show that there is a strong link between a woman’s natural hair color and her chances of developing diseases and disorders. Read on about how a particular hair color affects health. • Redheads: It is suggested that red heads should pop in ibuprofen (Advil) when they go to the dentist office and remind the hygienists of their naturally red hair. A 2009 Cleveland Clinic study found that ginger-haired people tend to be particularly resistant to local anesthetics used in dentistry. Besides making for a painful cleaning, that hypersensitivity to pain may lead to anxiety about dental procedures. “Painful procedures can lead women to avoid going to the dentist and this hypersensitivity can also apply to surgical procedures,” said Dr. Daniel Sessler, lead researcher for the study. “Redheads also require more general anesthesia,” said Sessler. Other things that redheads should be conscious of is their higher risk for developing Parkinson’s disease and being more high strung or anxious. There is nearly a 50 percent greater chance for redheads to get Parkinson’s disease. The gene that is responsible for fiery hues is headquartered close to a gene that, if mutated, can increase the risk for Parkinson’s disease and proximity can be all it takes to make one gene affect another. • Blondes: With light hair and fair skin, blonde haired women are susceptible to having eye issues and a greater chance of skin cancer, specifically melanoma. According to the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery, blondes produce less melanin, the cells that give hair and skin its pigment. It can leave them especially sensitive to sunburns, sun damage and developing skin cancer. On the lighter side of the spectrum, blondes are most likely to shine. Blondes always get credit for having all the fun, but there has been specific Page 20

proof that they have some of the shiniest hair. Blonde hair has a certain characteristic that allows it to reflect light better while still appearing to have soft, warm tone, according to the Journal of Cosmetic Science. • Brunettes: Dark-haired women are more likely to smoke. The melanin that gives hair its chocolate color also slows the liver’s ability to metabolize nicotine, making it stay in the body’s system longer. Research also shows that brunettes have less of a chance to develop multiple sclerosis but are more likely to get lymphoma. “Women with dark hair have a certain DNA coding that not only affects pigment, it increases the risk for this disease,” said Dr. Marit Bragelien Veierod of the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences in Oslo, Norway. Although they have some health concerns to keep in mind, brunettes are not damsels in distress. According to studies, women with dark hair are least likely to be needy. Perhaps if Rapunzel had dark hair, she would not have needed to be rescued.

Impact on personality

As hair color can have its affects on health, hair color can give woman certain personality traits that make them who they are. Blondes are sexy, redheads are hot headed and brunettes are “good” girls. Is this the message your hair color sends? “I see so many women with different hair colors every day and I can see that each color has its own personality trait,” said Tricia Caruso, a cosmetologist at Hair East Salon in Utica. “Many women also come in to either change their hair color or add color to their natural locks depending on what is going on in their lives at the moment. It may also give them the lift they need,” said Caruso. Take some time to consider what hair color is doing in regards to health issues. Do not treat hair as only a fashion accessory; take some time to look into what hair means for health. In the meantime, remember that hair color and style says a lot about a person. A gorgeously colored, well-styled head of hair will give people the impression of someone who is put together and professional. An edgy haircut with a dramatic color gives the impression of a creative, unique personality.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper • May 2011

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