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in good

Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

August 2011 • Issue 66

GI expert talks about heartburn, acid reflux



Sexually transmitted diseases do not discriminate by age. See Page 5.

The face of juvenile diabetes

Are diet sodas harmful?

Caregivers ‘Wheel’ Cool! Get ‘In Good Health’ at home. See coupon inside

Those caring for others need some TLC too.

The Golden Years • The prospect of retirement a frightening one for many • Are you at risk for a stroke? Get informed! August 2011 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Got a health-related activity or event that you would like publicized? Call Lou Sorendo at 315.749.7070 or email Sundays

Good News: Support group to meet The Separated & Divorced Support Group meets at 5 p.m. on the first and third Sunday of each month at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. The group is free and open to all. For more information, call 735.6210, email, or visit

Denti Foundation gives scholarships Sundays The Third Option offers to Kelberman Center campers support for couples The Msgr. Carl J. Denti Foundation recently donated $2,500 to the Kelberman Center for two camper scholarships for its Awesome Summer Days camp in July. The Awesome Summer Days Camp is a recreational summer day camp program designed to develop social skills in a highly structured, fun and supportive environment, designed to pair social skill instruction and development with a typical summer day camp experience. The camp is for children 5 to 15 years of age with autism spectrum disorder, Aspergers Syndrome, or related challenges. Celebrating the occasion are Ann Custodero-Aery, Kelberman Center director of operations and special projects, and Louis Tehan, Upstate Cerebral Palsy president and CEO.



Joshua Mullen

44 Oriskany Boulevard, Yorkville, NY

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

Aug. 3

Summer concert series kicks off at Folts Homes Herkimer will once again become alive with the sound of music as the summer “Concert on the Lawn” series continues on the front lawn at Folts Homes, 104 N. Washington St., Herkimer. The concerts are held at 7 p.m. The August schedule of concerts includes: • Aug. 3—The Loyal Creek Band featuring blue grass and gospel music • Aug. 9—The Second Time Around Band recreates the swinging music from the Big Band Era made popular by musicians like Glenn Miller, Cole Porter, Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey. • Aug. 17—Completing the 2011 concert series will be the group Remnant, a trio vocal group who sings contemporary Christian music, along with familiar older hymns, throughout Central New York. Concerts are open to the public free of charge. All are welcome to bring lawn chairs or a blanket. For more information, contact Folts Director of Activities Linda Geno at 866.6964 ext. 265 or director of public relations Pat Walczak Frazier at ext. 317.

Women’s Spiritual Direction Aug. 4 Group takes a break There will be no Women’s Spiritual It’s time to enjoy ‘Dessert at Direction Group meetings in August at Dusk’ The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. The group normally meets at 6:30 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month. This group offers an opportunity for scriptural reflection, prayer

Now Accepting New Prosthetic Patients Call to schedule a free evaluation (315) 736-0161

The Third Option meets from 6:30-8:30 p.m. every other Sunday at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. The next scheduled Third Option session will be from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Aug. 7. The topic will be “Breaking the Hurt Cycle.” The Third Option is a support group for married couples who may be seeking new ways to handle old problems. Call 315.735.6210 extension 228, email or visit for more information. Inquire about free childcare.

and sharing. It is free and open to women of all faiths. Call 735.6210 or visit www.the for more information.

MACULAR DEGENERATION Now with prescribed telescopic glasses, you can read, drive, watch television and recognize faces better. For a FREE telephone consultation please call George S. Kornfeld, O.D.


Are you looking to indulge yourself in some decadent desserts, flavored coffees, chocolate truffles and bubbly

Continued on Page 16



Diet sodas

Harmful? Or is this just another health scare? By Barbara Pierce


n the constant struggle to keep the weight off, we reach for the diet soda. Recent studies strongly suggest that this might be self-defeating behavior. It might even be harmful behavior. If you drink diet soda instead of the real stuff, you can stop patting yourself on the back. In fact, you might want to throw away all the unopened cans in your refrigerator. Right now. Before you take another sip. The studies found that diet sodas are bad for your health in many ways. They link diet sodas to a variety of serious medical problems from an increased waist circumference to stroke and heart disease, to an increased incidence of diabetes. The study, done by the School of Medicine at the University of Texas, found that persons who drank diet sodas ended up with waistlines that increased three times more than those who avoided diet sodas. Persons who drank more than two diet sodas a day had waistlines that increased five times more those who did not drink diet soda. Heart disease is by far the number-one cause of death in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the best tool for predicting your risk of heart disease is the circumference of your waist. Even if your body mass index is normal, if your waist circumference is large, you are at risk for heart disease. It seems illogical and unfair that zero-calorie beverages could make you pack on pounds, but that’s what this research found. For each diet drink participants had per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight in the next six to seven years, compared with those who didn’t drink them at all, researchers found. “Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised,” said Helen P. Hazuda, professor and chief of the division of clinical epidemiology in the school of medi-

cine. “They may be free of calories but not of consequences.”

Negative consequences

The research also suggests that diet sodas may cause many other medical problems, including osteoporosis, heart disease, kidney problems, weight gain and diabetes. “This is new research,” said Crystal Wilkins, a registered dietitian in Oneida. “We need more information. There could be many other reasons for the fact that persons who drink diet soda have health problems.” Like Wilkins, other experts say it is unclear whether the drinks are directly responsible for the health problems, or if people with health issues or unhealthy behaviors just happen to consume more of them. “There could be many reasons for the findings,” said Wilkins. “I’ve never been a fan of regular sodas,” she added. “And I encourage people to limit the amount of diet sodas they drink. I recommend everything in moderation.” “Artificial sweeteners are a lot sweeter than regular sugar,” she said. “It’s a fact that after you eat them, you crave more sugar.” “As artificial sweeteners taste hundreds of times sweeter than regular sugar, our bodies come to expect sugary food to be extremely sweet. So we seek out more sugar-laden options,” said Hazuda. “When you drink a diet soda, your body may get confused—either causing

your metabolism to slow down or prompting a craving for more food to make up for the calories that never arrive,” she added. Wilkins added that there is controversy about another recent study by the University of Miami that showed that people who drank diet sodas had a 61 percent higher rate of heart attack and stroke than those who did not. The sample size was too small for it to be valid. Many women are at risk for osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become extremely porous and vulnerable to fracture. Middle-aged and older women who drank three or more colas per day had lower bone mineral density in their hips, according to a Tufts University study. Leaders of this study are convinced that cola is a risk factor for bone loss in older adults, particularly women.

The culprit is phosphoric acid, a flavoring agent that increases blood acidity. It’s a major component in many types of soda, but cola tends to have more. Excessive amounts of phosphorus may lead to bone loss. Even drinking just one can of diet soda per day puts you at risk for metabolic syndrome, another study found. This syndrome is a cluster of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. Symptoms include a large waist circumference, high levels of triglycerides, low levels of good cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. But once again, it is difficult to determine cause and effect. Researchers don’t know if there’s a biological pathway in diet soda that causes problems, or that people who drink diet soda also tend to eat foods with more saturated and trans-fats, exercise less and eat fewer fruits and vegetables. “Drink more water,” concludes Wilkins. “It’s the best beverage you can drink. If you don’t like plain water, jazz it up. Or drink low fat milk or 100 percent fruit juice.”

Poor patients keep ERs busy


ow-income adults aged 18 to 64 accounted for 56 percent of the 8 million visits made to rural hospital emergency departments in 2008, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The federal agency’s analysis also found: • About 44 percent of the adult visits to rural emergency departments were either paid for by Medicaid (28 percent) or were uncompensated or billed to uninsured patients (nearly 16.5 percent). • Only 31 percent of the visits were paid for by private health plans and 25

were covered by Medicare. • The top 10 reasons for rural emergency department visits included abdominal pain (233,064), back pain (223,248), chest pain from unknown cause (220,647), open wounds (211,587), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchiectasis (159,002) that can make breathing difficult. The report uses data from the Agency’s 2008 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) and data from supplemental sources from the U.S. Census Bureau. For information about NEDS, go to data/hcup/datahcup.htm. August 2011 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Blood supply drops to critically low levels Appeal for blood donors of all types issued


he American Red Cross NY Penn Blood Service Region has issued an appeal for blood donors of all types due to a critical blood shortage across the nation. While demand for blood products remains steady, donations to the Red Cross this summer are the lowest the Red Cross has seen in over a decade. All types are needed, but especially O negative, which can be used to treat any patient. There are many contributing factors that make collecting blood difficult in the summer months. Many donors are busy or traveling and school is out of session. “We urge eligible blood donors and first-time donors to help reverse this trend and give blood to help us recover from the shortage,” said Donna M. Morrissey, director of communications, American Red Cross-Northeast Division. “Now more than ever—please roll up your sleeve and give blood.”

Reaching out for help

The Red Cross is appealing to eligible blood donors, sponsors and community leaders to ask them to recruit blood donors to help meet the needs of patients in communities across the United States. The Red Cross has responded to more than 40 major disasters in more than 30 states over the past three months alone—delivering help and hope to people affected by floods, tornadoes and wildfires. But there’s another, more personal kind of disaster which can happen to anyone at any time if blood is needed and it’s not available. The Red Cross NY Penn Blood Services Region provides lifesaving blood to local hospitals and must have enough people give blood and platelets each weekday to meet hospital demand. Accident victims, as well as patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to give blood. A Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID is required. Eligible blood donors are asked to call 1.800.RED CROSS (1.800.733.2767) or visit to find a blood drive and to make an appointment. Page 4


Your Doctor

By Patricia J. Malin

Brad Bennett Since the 1950s and 1960s when psychotherapy began to become acceptable as a form of health care, demand for psychological treatment and testing has continued to soar. However, the trend is now combined with a growing shortage of psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. Brad Bennett, founder of Clinton Therapy and Testing, recently discussed such issues with In Good Health senior writer Patricia J. Malin. Q.: Why and how did you choose to go into medicine? A.: I always liked problem-solving and math, and I found interactions with people very interesting. When I was 15 years old, I was working as a bellhop, and later as a night clerk in a hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. I enjoyed chatting with the guests, and I often wondered what made people act the way they do. When I was 16, I went to my father (an insurance agent) and told him I wanted to study psychology. I briefly considered studying psychiatry, but I was more interested in studying people than biology. Q.: Why did you choose to locate in the Mohawk Valley? A.: I went to Colgate University (as an undergraduate) and became familiar with this area. I did my graduate work at Virginia Tech and when I graduated in 1982, I got a job offer right away from the Oneida County Mental Health Department. I worked as a child psychologist in an office in downtown Rome. I thought it would be a good place to start and I liked it. A year later, I met my future wife and stayed here. Three years later, I started a group practice in Rome with five professionals, and we later moved to Clinton. Now we have 14 professionals at Clinton Therapy. Q.: What specific services do you offer? A.: We offer a wide variety of psychotherapy and psychological testing services for adults, children and families, including ADHD, parentchild problems, couples and marriage counseling, anxiety, learning disorders, child and adult trauma experiences, personality difficulties, anger control problems, emotional concerns of the elderly, grief issues and depression. I’m not accepting new patients, but I can refer you to someone else. I work with both adults and children. It used to be about a 50-50 split. Now that I’m teaching, it’s 75 percent children. I teach behavioral medicine three days a week in the family residency program at St. Elizabeth Medical Center. I help new family medicine doctors understand psychology. We do not deal with substance abuse or have drug treatment programs. Q.: Do you ever make house calls? A.: If need be, but it’s not typical. I would if I’m treating someone who is afraid to leave their house. Q.: What is the most challenging or negative aspect of your job?

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

A.: For me, it’s working with the insurance companies. There are frequent changes to policies and coverage and every company works differently. Fortunately, I have the world’s greatest office manager, Kristie Burke. She has been with me 20 years, and she helps me tremendously. Q.: What is the most fulfilling and positive aspect of your job? A.: I enjoy helping people grow and make healthy changes. I enjoy the challenge of it. If there is someone who is reluctant to change, I have to learn

new strategies to help people change or change my way of questioning them. I also feel good about helping people recognize their strengths instead of just addressing what they see as their problems and diagnoses. Many times these labels keep them “stuck,” so focused on what they need to change that they do not recognize, appreciate, and utilize the talents and skills that are working effectively for them. Once they

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Lifelines Age: 54 Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pa. Residence: Clinton Family: Wife, Kristina; sons, Michael 24, Steven 21 Education: Colgate University, BS, psychology, 1978; Virginia Tech, MA, psychology, 1982. Hobbies: Racquetball, reading, movies, family time

Golden years Seniors, sex and STDs Relearning the facts of life: increasing rate of STDs for seniors By Barbara Pierce

A deadly predator is stalking older Americans. You will be amazed what it is,” said Barbara Walters on 20/20 a few years ago. “It’s the AIDS virus. And you might not want to think that your parents and grandparents are having sex, but they are. And now you and they have reason to be concerned.” Jane Fowler, a grandmother in her late 60s, shared her story with Barbara Walters and the nation: “I lived a conventional traditional life: I was a virgin on my wedding night and I remained monogamous during 23 years of marriage. Then my husband left me.” Fowler began dating a man she had known her entire life. Pregnancy was no longer a concern. “If you know for a fact that you can’t become pregnant and you don’t know anything about sexually transmitted diseases,” she says, “why would you use a condom?” Five years later, a routine blood test revealed that she had contracted HIV. “I was stunned and devastated. I did not fit the stereotype: I was not a gay man, I had never been an injecting drug user, nor had I ever had a blood transfusion.” “I did not consider myself promiscuous. I did not frequent the singles bars; I went out with men my age who, like me, had been married and were divorced. It did not occur to me that I would put myself at risk by engaging in sex, unprotected sex, with a man who had been a close friend. “But what happened to me was infection with HIV.” The HIV infection causes AIDs, or acquired immunodeficiency disease syndrome. Thousands of older adults like Fowler find themselves sexually active in later life. HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are increasing in this population. STDs are no longer just an affliction of the young.

STDs do not discriminate

Anyone, at any age, can get HIV and other STDs. They affect males and

females of all backgrounds and economic classes. STDs usually come from having unprotected sex. You are at risk if you are sexually active and do not use a latex or polyurethane condom. Most STDs show no symptoms or signs; they show up through testing. They are a serious health problem to seniors. STDs can end your life. “Though people with AIDs live longer now, the potent medication that is used to treat it plays hardball with older people,” said Jean Kessner, public relations director at AIDS Community Resources, Inc. ACR is a nonprofit organization providing prevention, education and support to those infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS in the central, northern, and Mohawk Valley regions. In addition to HIV, other common STDs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HPV (human papilloma virus). Gonorrhea causes serious health problems; drug-resistant strains of this disease are on the increase. HPV is very contagious as it causes no symptoms. It can cause genital warts on both males and females, and cancer of the female reproductive system. The journal Sexually Transmitted Infections reported that researchers in England found that, in less than a

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

Health MV’s Healthcare Newspaper

decade, STD rates had more than doubled among people aged 45 and older. And the author of the study thinks that figure may be low. In the United States, the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures for STDs did not find an increase. However, that data relies on self-reporting, and in many parts of the country it is out of step with what physicians are seeing. “Our rates of syphilis and chlamydia are up across all ages,” says Sharon Lee, a Kansas City, Mo., family physician and medical director of HIV Wisdom for Older Women.

Social stigma exists

“Seniors with AIDs and STDs are a growing population,” said Allison Allen, case management supervisor at AIDs Community Resources. “There is such a stigma about older adults having sexual activity,” she added. “They aren’t educated about safe sex; they are afraid to talk with their doctor or friends because of the stigma.” The stigma is associated with the shame of being sexual and the shame of the possibility they may have an STD. Older people tend to delay or avoid altogether visiting a doctor for symptoms of what could be an STD. Doctors avoid discussing the topic because they feel uncomfortable bringing it up with older patients. Or worse, they make the dangerous assumption that older people are not sexually active. Researchers point to many things that contribute to the rise in STDs: The high divorce rate of older adults, and their lack of knowledge of current safe

Editor & Publisher: Wagner Dotto • Associate Editor: Lou Sorendo Contributing Writers: Amylynn Pastorella, Patricia Malin, Barbara Pierce, 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.

People not using condoms

A University of Chicago survey of single women aged 58 to 93 found that nearly 60 percent did not use a condom the last time they had sex. A study by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene showed that 54 percent of people over age 45 did not use condoms. And the introduction of Viagra and other medications for erectile dysfunction also contributes. Researchers found that men who use medication for erectile dysfunction had a higher rate of STDs, especially HIV, than men who do not use this medication. “The HIV epidemic is not over,” concludes Fowler. “People continue to die of AIDS-related complications, and people continue to become infected with the virus—this despite all our best attempts to educate.” It may fall to younger generations to teach their elders about the birds and the bees. “It used to be that you encourage parents to talk to their kids,” says Lee, “but now we’re encouraging kids to talk to their parents—and grandparents.”

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sex practices. Also contributing is the ease of finding dates online, where they don’t know the person’s sexual history. Perhaps the most critical reason for the increase is the outdated view of safe sex held by older adults. Many believe that condoms are unnecessary as they do not need to be concerned about getting pregnant.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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The adventure of retirement Transition from working world poses its challenges By Barbara Pierce


etirement is scary. And why shouldn’t it be? Everything about our life changes when we retire. Our daily routine—the alarm rings, stumble to the shower, grab some coffee, off to work where our life isn’t our own until it’s time to go home—gone. Our friends at work, always ready to hear about our problems with our kid, or compare notes on the latest episode of “Dexter”—gone. The paycheck that comes regularly—gone. We’ve looked forward to retirement for years. It’s something we should be able to do easily and do well. But this is not so for many of us. Retirement is a new, untried experience. It is a transition. Like any transition, it means letting go of the past and creating a new life. It can be a difficult transition because it changes our relationships. Now we’re with our partner all the time, a big change for both. If our partner still works, he or she is on a different track. The friends we counted on to talk with and to care about us aren’t there anymore. “He’s driving me crazy,” said Sheila Justin about her husband Hank. Both were teachers; they retired from teaching and went to live in Florida. “He just hangs around the house all the time. I have things I want to do and I feel like I can’t do them. I don’t want to spend every minute with him.” Retirement can be difficult as it forces us to think about things like

ahead about what is important to you. What gives meaning to your life? What things would you like to learn more about? What activities might you enjoy? Prepare to be surprised, with wonderful surprises and negative surprises. Your new world will have both. “The happiest A group of senior citizens engage in tai chi, a Chinese martial art retirees I know are those who conpracticed for both its defense training and its health benefits. tinue the hobbies they have always “Who am I?” “What really matters to enjoyed, or begin new hobbies,” said me?” “What should I do with all this Eileen Kent, owner and director of Stotime I have?” ries of a Lifetime in Utica. Kent collects Our work answered all those ques- stories, working with people to record tions; now we have to answer them for their stories. Most of the people she ourselves. comes to know are retired. “What would I do all day if I didn’t “The happiest retirees are involved go to work?” said Ben Stromberg, now in something: traveling, gardening, the 68 and fearful of leaving his familiar theater, painting, or jewelry making,” routine as a clinical social worker. “I she continued. Uncover your passions. don’t really have any hobbies. I can’t Retired teacher Hank Justin found think of anything I would want to do.” a new passion in woodcarving. Twice a Embarking on new adventure week he joins others at a senior center to carve. He’s even won blue ribbons Creating a new life takes time. for his carving. “I’ve learned something Be patient. It’s like taking a trip: You dream about the trip; you plan the trip; new, and have a bunch of friends here,” he said. you take the trip. Some days it’s like you dreamed it Get involved, stay involved would be; some days it’s totally differ“The happiest retirees are those ent from what you expected. who volunteer their time and talents,” Prepare for the adventure. Think Kent advises. “They make an impor-

tant contribution to the community and they have a purpose in life.” She recommends RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program in Utica at 315.223.3973) as a place to begin. Hank’s wife Sharon became involved with a local church, where she leads a woman’s support group and helps out with activities for teens. “It feels so good to do something that helps other people,” she said. “All you need to be happy is something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for,” said a wellknown quote. Several people supposedly said it; they all identified ‘something to do’ as the top priority. “It is important to stay mentally stimulated,” advises Kent. She highly recommends the Mohawk Valley Institute for Learning in Retirement at SUNY-IT in Utica, or courses such as yoga or tai chi at area senior centers. And Elderhostel for those who love to travel. “Some retirees are finally pursuing the job or business that they always wanted to be involved in,” added Kent. Stromberg, who did not want to retire, was laid off when his clinic downsized. He began writing, something he had always wanted to do but never had time for. He is writing his memoirs for his grandchildren. He also writes about the things he learned through his years of counseling with others. Kent recommends writing memoirs, capturing your life story by writing or recording it, by organizing all those old photos and transferring them to a format to save for your grandchildren.

Lyme disease: Debilitating infection runs rampant By Amylynn Pastorella


yme disease is the most common tick-bone disease and one of the fastest growing infectious diseases in the United States. The St. Elizabeth Medical Group’s Little Falls office recently sponsored a program called, “An Integrative Approach to Lyme Disease,” with featured speakers Dr. Julie Perlanski and Katie Gilday. Gilday is a practicing herbalist, flower essence practitioner and teacher. Lyme disease is an infection caused by the organism Borrelia Burgdorferi, classified as a bacterial spirochete that is transmitted to humans primarily from a tick bite. The name “Lyme” came from the area where the first infections were identified in Lyme, Conn. in 1975. The first initial cases ever detected seemed to resolve with penicillin. However over the years, Lyme disease has been found to be difficult to treat due to the effective survival mechanisms of the Lyme spirochete in addition to multiple co-infections with other organisms such as Babesia, Bartorella, and Ehrlichia. The Lyme spirochete itself is one of Page 6

system effectiveness, any other toxicity exposure, their genetic ability to detoxify, their nutrient status and other features. Common symptoms include a classic “bull’s eye rash,” joint pain and swelling, fevers/chills and muscle pain. Later stage symptoms are multiple and can include the preceding that comes and goes in addition to memory deficits, confusion, dizziness, weakness, tingling and ringing in the ears. In some the symptoms can be so debilitating they are life changing. The diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease can be complicated, especially for those who have had symptoms for several months or years. “Lyme disease can be difficult to detect with the classic lab testing available today. It is actually a ‘clinical’ diagnosis and should not be dismissed on the basis of a negative lab test,” said Perlanski.

Tricky disease

The classic use of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay screening followed by western blot will miss a substantial number of those infected, and there is not an ideal testing method. There are now several centers

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

the most effective infecting organisms known. It can exist in multiple forms— intracellular, cystict and cell wall—and it can penetrate deep into tissues and it can camouflage itself with proteins on the surface to prevent the immune system from attacking it.

How is it transmitted?

Once thought to be transmitted only through a tick bite, it is now thought to potentially be transmitted through other means besides ticks, such as other biting insects or blood, urine or saliva from another host. “Once the Lyme spirochete infects an acceptable host—there are about 300 hosts they can infect and survive in—it will multiply and transform in ways to evade the hosts immune system,” said Perlanski. Due to its spirochete nature with its motile tail-like structure, it moves easily to different tissues and penetrates deep into areas such as the joints, eye, brain, muscles and tendons and symptoms of infection occur depending on what tissues are invaded. Symptoms of Lyme disease are varied and tend to wax and wane over time and can change in the same person depending on other factors within that person such as their immune

in the Northeast devoted to treating patients with Lyme disease because it is so difficult to eradicate in some cases. When detected and treated early with at least 30 days of antibiotics, people can be “cured”; however, if it becomes well established or there are multiple co-infecting organisms, treatment is difficult. It generally takes a comprehensive integrative approach to treatment that would include antibiotics, herbal protocols, supplements to enhance immune function and lifestyle changes to create overall health. Lyme disease is present in endemic areas, such as the Northeast, so anyone who feels they may have symptoms of Lyme disease should seek medical attention. Perlanski specializes in family medicine, treating patients from newborn to elderly. She is in family practice in association with St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Little Falls, has a fellowship in integrative medicine, board certification in integrative holistic medicine and is pursuing certification in functional medicine. Gilday is a practicing herbalist, flower essence practitioner and teacher.

Golden years Take care of the caregiver When providing support, find time to care for yourself By Barbara Pierce

I don’t know who she is or why she’s sitting here with me,” said Eleanor Kraft about her daughter Tonie. “I lost it. I totally lost it. I had to leave the room when she said that to the doctor,” said Tonie Kippenberger. “It broke my heart.” Kippenberger was the caregiver for her mother, a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. She quit her job to provide full-time care for her mother. She sums up what it’s like to be a caregiver: “It will destroy you. It almost killed me.” “Every day I ask God to remind me of my blessings,” said Maureen Weaver, caregiver for husband Joe, also a victim of Alzheimer’s. After caring for him at home for several years, Weaver had to place him in a nursing home. “I thought I could keep caring for him at home. But I was so worn out and I didn’t know it. My mind was clouded. I let my health go, and that caused other problems.” “To care for a disabled family member is so overwhelming,” said Susan Keeler, director of patient services, Acacia Certified Home Care of Utica. “It is emotionally overwhelming and physically exhausting.”

Care for the caregiver

“Caregivers need to focus on their own well-being. You need to put yourself first on the priority list,” said Andrew Weil, a well-known holistic physician. “If you don’t, you risk significant consequences, many of which can affect your own health.” “You need to reach out to others for help,” urges Keeler. “Reach out to family members, to friends, and to agencies for support. This is essential; you can’t do it alone.” Keeler recommends the New York State Office of Aging in Utica as a good place to start and a good resource for help. It can be reached at 315.798.5456. And she recommends talking with your insurance company to determine whether it will fund assistance in your home. The best advice to caregivers comes from the instructions we hear from flight attendants at the beginning of every flight: Put on your own oxygen mask first, before you assist others to put on theirs. You must care for yourself first. If you do not take care of yourself, you will not be able to care for your family member. Maintain your own body and spirit while you care for a loved one. Don’t get out of the habit of good eating. De-stress yourself with simple breathing exercises, play music, anything you

can do to reduce the harmful effects of stress. Exercise matters too. Even if you don’t have time to work out, get in some walking. Climb stairs instead of using the elevator. Getting your heart pumping will keep you energized and help you feel more upbeat. “It is vitally important for caregivers to get respite,” adds Kippenberger, now administrator of a home health agency in Florida. “You get so exhausted and overwhelmed. It’s imperative to get out. You can’t be strong for your loved one if you don’t get help. Even just going out to lunch with a friend, or sitting on a park bench for a brief time.”

Support groups

“Support groups are so helpful,” said Weaver. “You sit down with like-minded people, all going through something similar. They know where you’re coming from. If you don’t like the first group you try, try another. You’ve got to have support to keep you grounded.” “The sharing of information and

inspiration from others can help you get through,” said Weil. “I hear from so many family members that they don’t know where to start,” said Keeler. “Start by getting information. Contact local agencies, like the office of aging. It is important to reach out.” “Become informed,” recommends Weaver. The book she finds most helpful: “Coach Broyle’s Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers.” Inspired by what he learned by caring for his wife, legendary football coach Frank Broyles approaches the disease like an opponent on the field. This book can be downloaded free from “Speak up,” advises Kippenberger. “Talk to your physicians, nurses, therapists, everyone involved. Demand answers. Make them tell you what you can expect. You have a right to know where you are headed, what you’ll be facing.” “Though this journey is sad, I trust that God is giving me something to learn, something to come away with,” sums up Weaver about her experience as a caregiver.

Taxes cut smoking rate in Canada


ccording to a study by economists at the Concordia University in Montreal, between 1998 to 2008, for every 10 percent hike in cigarette tax, the number of Canadians who lit up went down by 2.3 percent. However, one group appears to be least affected by higher taxes on cigarettes. These are people in the age group 25 to 44. According to Sunday Azagba, the author of the study, these middle-aged smokers are not responsive to tax increases on tobacco products. August 2011 •

The younger age group of 12 to 24 are more sensitive to price increases caused by tax hike on cigarettes because majority of them are dependent on their allowance to finance their habit. However, majority of the middleaged group are employed and at the peak of their earning capacity. The study also found that the propensity to smoke was higher among Canadians who had only high school education compared with those who have post-secondary education.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Golden years Stroke: silent but deadly

Cerebrovascular accident can have devastating consequences By Amylynn Pastorella


n July 16, 2004, Melissa Mogensen of Ilion was trying to enjoy a few days off from work. She had spent the day nursing a migraine and cleaning her apartment. She felt a pain in her head and started to notice sparkly light spots in her vision. She felt weak and eventually fell to the floor. As she lay there in a heap on her freshly vacuumed rug, she began yelling for help. “I’m trying to say, ‘Help me, Grandpa, are you home? I need help!’ But it’s coming out of my mouth all garbled. I can’t yell for help, so I lay there for what seemed like an eternity,” she said. “Eventually I was able to sit up but I was still unable to use the left side of my body because it felt so weak,” said Mogensen. Most people would call 911 or their doctor’s office. Mogensen decided that what had just happened was a result of a migraine, so she did not make a big deal out of it. As the strength came back to her left side, she took a bath, made some dinner and packed a bag. She had decided that if she needed to go to the hospital that she would be prepared. After a few hours, Mogensen was brought to the hospital where after a few tests and being placed on the stroke floor of the hospital, an infarct was found on the frontal parietal lobe following the cerebrovascular accident. The doctor’s had discovered a spot. Mogensen had a stroke at the age of 23. “I was released after a couple days. My body seemed to have recovered on

people a year. That’s about one of every 18 deaths. On average, someone dies of stroke every four minutes. About 40 percent of stroke deaths occur in males and 60 percent in females. The brain is an extremely complex organ that controls various body functions. If a stroke occurs and blood flow can’t reach the region that controls a particular body funcMelissa Mogensen, a member of the Central New York Roller tion, that part of the Derby League, suffered a stroke at the age of 23. body won’t work as it should. If the stroke ocits own. I do not seem to have any recurs toward the back of the brain, for sidual effects, although I will occasionally place blame on my stroke for losing instance, it’s likely that some disability involving vision will result. The effects keys or forgetting a name or two,” said of a stroke depend primarily on the loMogensen. cation of the obstruction and the extent “Today, seven years have passed of brain tissue affected. since my stroke. I am as strong as ever The effects of a stroke depend on and determined to educate young several factors, including the location women about strokes. They can and of the obstruction and how much brain do happen to young women. Listen to tissue is affected. However, because your body and don’t be afraid to seek one side of the brain controls the ophelp,” said Mogensen. posite side of the body, a stroke affectDeadly killer ing one side will result in neurological Strokes are serious business no complications on the side of the body matter how major or acute it can be it affects. upon occurrence. Stroke is the thirdKnow warning signs largest cause of death and the leading There are many warning signs for a cause of adult disability in the United stroke: sudden numbness or weakness States. About 795,000 Americans each of the face, arm or leg, especially on year suffer a new or recurrent stroke. one side of the body; sudden confuOn average, a stroke occurs every sion, trouble speaking or understand40 seconds. ing; sudden trouble seeing in one or Stroke kills more than 137,000

both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and sudden, severe headache with no known cause. “If these warning signs are experienced, call 9-1-1 immediately and get to your nearest stroke center. Time lost is brain lost,” said Jennifer Pratt, regional director of communications for the American Heart Association. The AHA/American Stroke Association works to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. “That single purpose drives all we do. We fund scientific research, help people better understand and avoid stroke, encourage government support, guide healthcare professionals and provide information to enhance the quality of life for stroke survivors,” said Pratt. Risk factors of a stroke that cannot be controlled include age, heredity, race, sex, gender and prior stroke or heart attack. Risk factors that can be controlled, changed or treated include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes mellitus, carotid or other artery disease, peripheral artery disease in the narrowing of blood vessels carrying blood to leg and arm muscles, poor diet, physical inactivity and obesity and more. Strokes can occur at any age but can also be prevented with proper nutrition, physical activity and regular checkups by a physician. Stroke may affect one’s physical and communication abilities, as well as causing emotional changes and differences in behaviors. For more information about strokes, visit www.strokeassociation. org.

Drug prices to plummet in wave of expiring patents By The Associated Press


he cost of prescription medicines used by millions of people every day is about to plummet. The next 14 months will bring generic versions of seven of the world’s 20 best-selling drugs, including the top two: cholesterol fighter Lipitor and blood thinner Plavix. The magnitude of this wave of expiring drugs patents is unprecedented. Between now and 2016, blockbusters with about $255 billion in global annual sales are set to go off patent, notes EvaluatePharma Ltd., a London research firm. Generic competition will decimate sales of the brand-name drugs and slash the cost to patients and companies that provide health benefits. Top drugs getting generic competition by September 2012 are taken by millions every day: Lipitor alone is taken by about 4.3 million Americans and Plavix by 1.4 million. Generic versions of big-selling drugs for blood Page 8

pressure, asthma, diabetes, depression, high triglycerides, HIV and bipolar disorder also are coming by then. The flood of generics will continue for the next decade or so, as about 120 brand-name prescription drugs lose market exclusivity, according to prescription benefit manager Medco Health Solutions Inc. “My estimation is at least 15 percent of the population is currently using one of the drugs whose patents will expire in 2011 or 2012,” says Joel Owerbach, chief pharmacy officer for Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, which serves most of upstate New York. Those patients, along with businesses and taxpayers who help pay for prescription drugs through corporate and government prescription plans, collectively will save a small fortune. That’s because generic drugs typically cost 20 percent to 80 percent less than the brand names. Doctors hope the lower prices will

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

significantly reduce the number of people jeopardizing their health because they can’t afford medicines they need. Dr. Nieca Goldberg, director of The Women’s Heart Program at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, worries about patients who are skipping checkups and halving pills to pare costs. “You can pretty much tell by the numbers when I check the patient’s blood pressure or cholesterol levels,” that they’ve not taken their medications as often as prescribed, she says. Even people with private insurance or Medicare aren’t filling all their prescriptions, studies show, particularly for cancer drugs with co-pays of hundreds of dollars or more. The new generics will slice co-payments of those with insurance. For the uninsured, who have been paying full price, the savings will be much bigger. Daly Powers, 25, an uninsured student who works two part-time jobs at low wages, says he often can’t afford

the $220 a month for his depression and attention deficit disorder pills. He couldn’t buy either drug in June and says he’s struggling with his Spanish class and his emotions. He looks forward to his antidepressant, Lexapro, going generic early next year. “It’d make all the difference in the world,” says Powers, of Bryan, Texas. Generic medicines are chemically equivalent to the original brand-name drugs and work just as well for nearly all patients. When a drug loses patent protection, often only one generic version is on sale for the first six months, so the price falls a little bit initially. Then, several other generic makers typically jump in, driving prices down dramatically. Last year, the average generic prescription cost $72, versus $198 for the average brand-name drug, according to consulting firm Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions.

Golden years The spirit within Mohawk Valley seniors receive honors for volunteerism


the gas lines on the festival grounds. He volunteered at Christ the King Retreat House from 1953 to 1993. Cornacchia took an interest in helping seniors prepare their tax returns. In 1984, he signed up for classes and is now a volunteer instructor for the Internal Revenue Service. In 2002, he volunteered 157 hours to the IRS and spent 114 hours in 2004. “I was a pain in the neck to the IRS,” he said. He also acts as an adviser to his former fellow New York Central workers and their families regarding benefits and retirement funds. He has been awarded a certificate for his volunteer services to the Masonic Home and has been recognized by the Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Oneida County for his services and support. Cornacchia and his late wife, Margaret, were married for 67 years and had two children. Philip was her sole caregiver during her long illness. He has one daughter, Donna. His son died within six months of Margaret.

vilian Conservation Corps. He then went to work for New York Central Railroad. For the next 40 years, he toiled in track maintenance and as a freight handler, among other duties. “When I retired from the railroad, I told my mother, ‘Now, I’m going to be a full-time volunteer,’” he said. He has certainly kept his word. He has served as an usher at St. Mary of Mt. Carmel/Blessed Sacrament Church every Sunday since he was 18. He is the oldest active member of the church. “If age is a work of art, Philip is a masterpiece,” quipped his parish priest, the Rev. James Cesta, at the awards banquet. Cornacchia works the church festival every year, installing and connecting all

As a hospice volunteer since 2006, Carol Russell of Clinton provides emotional and practical support to dying patients and their families, whether it’s in a home setting, hospital, nursing home or at the Hospice & Palliative Care Inc.’s Siegenthaler Center’s residence in New Hartford. She travels extensively throughout Oneida, Herkimer, and Madison counties to help hospice patients. She provides respite for caregivers, assists with errands, provides transportation, and helps patients with the practical tasks of daily life. Russell also donates her time and efforts to Hope House, the Red Cross and plans on volunteering at St. Elizabeth Medical Center as a patient

By Patricia J. Malin


hilip Cornacchia remembers a nickname his Italian mother bestowed on him nearly a century

ago. “My mother used to call me ‘Fedele,’” he recounted as he accepted the Senior Citizen of the Year award from the Oneida County Office for the Aging/Continuing Care recently. For more than 90 years, Cornacchia has been “faithful” to that description, an exceptional man devoted to his family, his church, his work and his community. Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. honored Cornacchia at the Senior Volunteer Awards Ceremony and Banquet at the Roselawn Banquet Facility in New York Mills. “He is a gentleman of great knowledge and shares his talents with others,” according to Philomena Amodio, director of the Oneida County Office for the Aging. Meanwhile, Carol Russell of Clinton was recognized for Outstanding Contribution by a Senior Citizen. The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program of Oneida County received an award as the 2011 Outstanding Contribution by an Organization. The 95-year-old Cornacchia explained that he learned such values as honesty, loyalty and hard work at an early age. His parents emigrated from Italy to Utica in 1912 and he was born in 1916. As one of nine children (one of his sisters died when he was 2), one can imagine the invaluable lessons imparted by his mother and father. As a youth, he worked an endless number of odd jobs, including selling newspapers and picking beans to help support his family. For a year, he was the mailman at the Matt Brewing Co. In his teen years, he spent 17 months working for the 207th Co. Ci-

Hospice volunteer honored

advocate in the surgery waiting room. She and her husband have also worked for Habitat for Humanity in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, as well as in Wyoming and South Dakota. Prior to her retirement, Russell was director of student services for the Westmoreland Central School District. The volunteers who make up the long term care ombudsman program donate countless hours every month to ensure that the residents of Oneida County’s skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities have the best quality of life possible. The volunteers regularly visit their assigned facilities to meet with and visit the residents, and act as their advocate when they need help solving a problem or resolving a conflict. They will investigate all complaints and make appropriate referrals. They attend a 36-hour training program and are certified by the New York State Office for the Aging, which is administered through the Mohawk Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. All services are free of charge and confidential. These volunteers monitor facilities to ensure that all federal and state laws and policies are being followed and that all residents receive quality care and respect. Ombudsman volunteers have earned a high level of respect from administrators of the facilities that they visit. Picente awarded certificates of achievement to every individual senior volunteer who was nominated for an award. Two of those volunteers were Loretta and Chester Mandry, who are director and treasurer, respectively, of the New York Mills Senior Club. The Mandrys also celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on May 15.

Annual estimated cost of U.S. crash-related deaths: $41 billion


otor vehicle crash-related deaths in the United States resulted in an estimated $41 billion in medical and work loss costs in a year, according to state-based estimates released in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Half of this cost ($20.4 billion) was in 10 states, the report says. These cost findings are based on 2005 data, which is the most recent year for which comprehensive data on costs associated with crash deaths is available. The study was not configured to develop an explanation for the variation in state costs. “Deaths from motor vehicle crashes are preventable,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden. “Seat belts, graduated driver’s license programs, child

safety seats, and helmet use save lives and reduce health care costs.” CDC is releasing new fact sheets highlighting state-based costs of crash deaths, to coincide with the May 11 launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety. The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2011 to 2020 the Decade of Action for Road Safety, a period of enhanced focus on protecting lives on the world’s roads. CDC also found the cost related to crash deaths among children and teenagers from birth to 19 years old was nearly $856 million. The highest percentage of costs related to children and teen crash deaths was seen in Vermont (34 percent, $25 million), and the lowest was in Nevada (17 percent, $66 million). Despite the higher percentage in Vermont,

its cost is lower due to the much lower total cost of injury. “It’s tragic to hear that anyone dies on our nation’s roads. But it’s especially so when the person who loses his or her life is a child or teenager,” said Linda Degutis director at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Child passenger safety laws and comprehensive graduated driver licensing laws are proven to protect young lives. We encourage states to strengthen and enforce these laws to help keep more of our young people safe.” To prevent crash-related deaths and reduce medical and work loss costs, CDC’s Injury Center recommends that states consider the following strategies:

August 2011 •

Primary seat belt laws, which allow motorists to be stopped and cited for not wearing seat belts. Seat belts reduce the risk of death to those riding in the front seat by about half. Strong child passenger safety policies, which require children to be placed in age- and size-appropriate child safety and booster seats while riding in vehicles. Comprehensive graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems, which are proven to reduce teen crashes. GDL systems help new drivers gain experience under lower-risk conditions by granting driving privileges in stages. The most comprehensive GDL systems have been associated with up to 40 percent decreases in crashes among 16year-old drivers.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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GI issues can be heartbreaking Heartburn, acid reflux manageable ailments By Kristen Raab


icture how you feel after you have finished your dinner. The salad topped with vinaigrette, fresh tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese atop pasta, and your drink of choice were the perfect combination. Some people will feel full but comfortable after this meal, while others will experience burning in their chests or a bitter taste in the back of the mouth from the food coming back up. The unpleasant symptoms mean an individual is likely experiencing an episode of heartburn or acid reflux. According to Medline Plus, heartburn “happens when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach.” Acid reflux is also known as gastroesophageal reflux, and it happens when the acid rises into the mouth. Many Americans have an occasional bout with one of these problems. Typically, it is nothing to worry about unless it is impacting one’s quality of life. This usually happens when an individual suffers from severe attacks or they experience the pain at least once a week.

Expert’s perspective

Steven Kussin, who spent over 30 years in gastroenterology, said there is “a key difference between what a patient is feeling and what is signifi-

cant.” While Kussin said some people do have severe reflux, his research shows that only 3 percent of it is troubling. Having some discomfort is “part of being human,” Kussin said. “Feeling things does not necessarily imply suffering,” he noted. He cautions that alarming statistics must Kussin be placed into context. One such statistic is that 60 million Americans claim to suffer from heartburn. Additionally, 25 million say they have acid reflux on a daily basis. Kussin said, “The vast majority of people can deal with it successfully, but there’s a small number who identify it as a severe health problem.” Lifestyle modification can help mild symptoms. Diet and weight loss can help alleviate some of the discomfort. If a person has reflux or heartburn, it might be wise to avoid fatty foods, chocolate, peppermint, alcohol and acidic drinks such as red wine, orange juice and soda. Further, a wedge that elevates the

torso can provide some relief while an individual sleeps. These changes should be tried before therapy.

Plan of attack

It is safe to use antacids for mild, occasional symptoms. Kussin recommends trying the easiest, safest methods first before getting on medication. “Over-the-counter agents include H2 blockers such as Zantac and protein pump inhibitors as in Prilosec,” Kussin explains. He also says people who take antacids are better off taking a liquid version. Used too often over a long period of time, the sodium, magnesium and calcium could cause health problems. If a person needs to continuously take these relievers, it is likely time to see a doctor. Kussin emphasizes that severe cases of heartburn and acid reflux are not the norm. However, in severe cases, it is possible to develop painful swallowing, asthma, and “cancer in a very small number of Barrett’s Esophagus.” This occurs because severe changes in cells can lead to cancer, but this happens in few patients. As an individual who founded the largest GI practice in Utica, Kussin had a lot of interaction with patients. That time period coupled with his own healthcare experience lead Kussin to write a book titled, “Doctor, Your Patient Will See You Now: Gaining the Upper Hand in Medical Care” (Roman & Little Field publishing). The book aims to enable patients to be active participants in their care rather than passively following whatever a doctor says. For individuals who believe it is time to seek medical advice regarding GI issues, Kussin’s book and soon-

to-open practice can help put things into perspective. The Shared Decision Center will open in mid-August at 2310 Genesee St. Utica.

Understand the illness

Kussin and his staff will strive to help patients gain confidence in the decision-making process when faced with an illness so that they can make informed choices. Kussin says, “Patients don’t always need a second opinion, but they always need to understand the first one.” He also worries that patients “tend to be happier with their care than they should be” because the truth that one leaves a doctor’s office with is not necessarily the entire truth. The physician’s “schooling, demographics, cognitive biases, prevention vs. screening beliefs” and more can all influence the recommendations provided. In America, we have become a society that has “low tolerance, demands to feel better quick, definitely, and forever,” Kussin says. He said while some people handle an occasional bout with reflux or heartburn while others immediately see their doctors, it’s really about listening to how you feel. “If you are constantly self-medicating, then that is risky,” he said. Listen to what your body is telling you. If acid reflux or heartburn negatively impacts your life, then a doctor might have the answers. When the information is confusing or the diagnosis is serious, Kussin’s community-based center or book might be useful in uncovering the right path for each individual, especially when the patient will need long-term medical care. For more information about Kussin, his book and advocacy center, visit

Drug-related suicide attempts by males climb


new national study shows that from 2005 to 2009 there was a 55 percent increase in emergency department visits for drug related suicide attempts by men aged 21 to 34 — from 19,024 visits in 2005 to 29,407 visits in 2009. In 2009, there were a total of 77,971 emergency department visits for drug-related suicide attempts among males of all ages. The report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that visits from younger adult males involving certain pharmaceuticals increased substantially. Among males aged 21 to 34, emergency department visits for suicide attempts involving antidepressants increased by 155 percent and anti-anxiety and insomnia medications increased by 93 percent. Emergency department visits for suicide attempts among males aged 35 to 49 involving narcotic pain relievers almost doubled from 2005 to 2009, while the numbers almost tripled among men aged 50 and older. “While we have learned much about how to prevent suicide, it continues to be a leading cause of death among people who abuse alcohol and drugs,” said SAMHSA AdministraPage 10

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

tor Pamela S. Hyde. “The misuse of prescription drugs is clearly helping to fuel the problem. Greater awareness about the warning signs and risk factors for suicide, including abuse of alcohol and drugs, can help people take action and save lives.” Common warning signs of someone who may be at increased risk for suicide can include: • Talking about wanting to die • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose • Acting anxiously, agitated or recklessly • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs • Withdrawing or feeling isolated • Displaying mood swings People in crisis or concerned about someone they believe may be at risk for suicide should contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273TALK) for round-the-clock, immediate assistance anywhere in the country. The study focused on cases where a determination was made by the hospital emergency department staff that the admission was an intentional drugrelated suicide attempt, rather than an unintentional overdose.

Program for Cancer Survivors Wed,, Sept. 21, 2011 6:00 pm-7:30 pm Registration and Refreshments at 5:30

Integrated Approach to Healing After Cancer Heidi Puc, MD, FACP, ABIHM Dr. Heidi Puc is board certified in Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology, Hematology and Integrative and Holistic Medicine.

Hematology Oncology Associates of Central New York 5008 Brittonfield Parkway East Syracuse, New York 13057 (315)472-7504

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

August 2011 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 11

The Social Ask Security Office Column provided by the local Social Security Office

People with a disability can get a ticket to work


illions of Americans receive disability benefits from Social Security and there could be good news for many of those who want to work. A free and voluntary program called Ticket to Work gives individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security disability benefits access to meaningful employment while maintaining control over benefit choices. Ed Bairos, a farmer and mechanic, went back to the work he loved with the help of the Ticket program. He began receiving Social Security disability benefits after suffering from severe arthritis, complicated by a knee injury that would require 20 surgeries. He was concerned about losing the cash payments and health care he needed to survive and worried that employers might not want to hire him. Then Bairos learned about the Ticket to Work program when he received a notice in the mail from Social Security. The notice was a “ticket” that Bairos could use with an employment network of his choosing. Employment networks are organizations that offer specialized services such as career counseling, job search assistance, vocational rehabilitation and training. Bairos decided to use his ticket with an employment network and returned to work. He continued to receive health care and cash benefits because of work incentives, which are special consider-


Q: What should I do if an employee gives me a Social Security number but cannot produce the card? A: Seeing the card is not as important as putting the correct information on the worker’s Form W-2. You can verify employee Social Security numbers by using the Social Security Number Verification Service. Just go to This online service allows registered employers to verify employee Social Security numbers against Social Security records for wage reporting purposes. If the employee recently applied for a Social Security number but does not yet have a card when you must file the paper Form W-2, enter the words “Applied for” on the Form W-2. If you are filing electronically, enter all zeros (e.g., 00000-0000) in the Social Security number field. When the employee receives the card, file Copy A of Form W-2C, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement with Social Security to show the employee’s number. Q: How can I estimate my retirement benefit at several different ages? A: It’s easy! Use our Retirement Estimator at estimator to get a retirement benefit Page 12

ations that make it easier for beneficiaries to explore whether going back to work is right for them. Pleased with Bairos’ industry knowledge and skills as a farm manager, his employer gave him a promotion and a raise. Now he is self-sufficient, working for another division within the company. Bairos earns more money than he would have by relying solely on disability benefits. By using his Ticket, Bairos’ medical reviews were put on hold and he is eligible to receive Medicare coverage for up to eight and a half years after discontinuing his disability payments. “Returning to work has made me whole again, especially being able to work in the area that I love. My selfesteem was at its lowest when I wasn’t working and on disability. Returning to work not only improved my self-worth but also my financial wealth. The Ticket to Work program and the ability to keep my Medicare was the reason I was able to return to work,” he said. If you receive Social Security or SSI benefits due to disability, are between 18 and 64 years old and want to work, getting started is easy. Visit for more information on the Ticket to Work program and work incentives. You also may call (866) 968- 7842 (TDD (866) 833-2967) to learn how going back to work may affect your benefits.

estimate based on current law and real time access to your earnings record. The Retirement Estimator also lets you create additional “what if” retirement scenarios to find out how changes in your situation might change your future benefit amount. It’s also available in Spanish at www.segurosocial. gov/calculador. Q: If both my spouse and I are entitled to Social Security benefits, is there any reduction in our payments because we are married? A: No. We calculate lifetime earnings independently to determine each spouse’s Social Security benefit amount. When each member of a married couple meets all other eligibility requirements to receive Social Security retirement benefits, each spouse receives a monthly benefit amount based on his or her own earnings. Couples are not penalized because they are married. If one member of the couple earned low wages or failed to earn enough Social Security credits (40) to be insured for retirement benefits, he or she may be eligible to receive benefits as a spouse based on the spouse’s work record. Learn more about spouse benefits at

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

The National Kidney Foundation of Central New York is walking to battle kidney disease with its annual kidney walk on Sept. 18 at the Masonic Care Community in Utica. For more information on how to register for the kidney walk, visit or call 315.476.0311.

Walk the Walk Kidney walk to drum up funds to battle threatening disease By Amylynn Pastorella


ach year, 112,000 people are diagnosed with kidney failure. That’s one person every five minutes that will suffer from this common, harmful and treatable disease. Consider these facts: • More than 547,000 people in the United States are receiving treatment for kidney failure. • Patients with failed kidneys need dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive. • 382,000 currently depend on dialysis to stay alive • 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease with millions more are at risk • 88,000 are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans and the elderly are at increased risk for kidney disease. The leading risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes and family history. Over 26,000 people in Oneida County are affected by kidney disease. The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of fists. They are located near the middle of the back, just below the rib cage. Inside each kidney about a million tiny structures called nephrons filter blood. They remove waste products and extra water, which become urine. The urine flows through tubes called ureters to the bladder, which stores the urine until it is time to go to the bathroom. Damage to the nephrons results in kidney disease. This damage may leave kidneys unable to remove wastes. Usually the damage occurs slowly over years. There are no obvious symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell if kidney disease is occurring.

Walk planned in Utica

Because of the shocking facts and unfortunate results of kidney disease, the National Kidney Foundation of Central New York is hoping to stop and prevent kidney disease with an annual kidney walk on Sept. 18 at the Masonic

Care Community in Utica. “The kidney walk is a fun, inspiring community fundraiser that calls attention to the prevention of kidney disease and the need for organ donation. It’s also an opportunity for patients, family, friends and businesses to come together,” said John Bonura, director of events at the National Kidney Foundation of Central New York. Money raised from the walk will ensure that the mission of helping the millions with kidney disease continues. Funds will support vital programs and services such as kidney disease education through public awareness campaigns about risk factors and early detection. Free resources for patients and their families are available for early detection and prevention with The National Kidney Foundation’s free community kidney health screenings and risk factor assessments.

Insidious disease

“Over 26 million Americans— that’s one in nine adults—have chronic kidney disease, and most are unaware of it. Because symptoms may not appear until the kidneys are actually failing, millions of people with kidney damage remain unaware and are not taking steps to protect the health of their kidneys,” said Bonura. Last year the Kidney Foundation kidney walk had over 300 participants. This year, a goal of $25,000 has been set with hopes of exceeding that number. Those interested can register as a team captain and manage a team of fundraising walkers, join another walk team, register as an individual walker, or simply raise funds online without having to attend the kidney walk. The kidney walk is the National Kidney Foundation’s non-competitive fundraising walk. The focus is on education and prevention of kidney and urinary tract diseases, and awareness of the need for organ donation. Kidney walks are held nationwide from early spring to late fall. For more information on how to register for the kidney walk, visit www. or call 315.476.0311.

Between You and Me

By Barbara Pierce

Control freaks

By Jim Miller

Are you really in control?

If it’s Tuesday, I’m in control.” “My husband and I take turns controlling. It’s his turn to be in control of our relationship one day, and my turn the next day,” I said to my doctor, with a big laugh at my own humor. Right away, I realized it was about as funny as if I was asking him to saw off my arm—without anesthesia. Because who controls whom is a real issue for us. There’s no humor in the situation at all when both persons want to be in control. The word “control” implies all kinds of bad things. It implies one person totally dominating the other, and helplessness on the part of the one being controlled. It implies evil intentions on the part of the one dictating the rules. When we describe people as “controlling” we see them as power-hungry tyrants, domineering their innocent partner. But this is not really so. People who wish to control others are usually not driven by evil intentions. With the exception of the Middle Eastern dictaPierce tors that we often hear about in the news lately, most controlling people are not tyrants with malicious intentions. Instead, when we attempt to control, we are choosing a self-defeating way to boost our own insecurity. Being in control makes us feel more comfortable. We can relax, as we believe that everything will go along in a predictable and acceptable fashion as long as we’re in control. Love and control are tightly linked. Loving someone carries along with it a growing need for that person. Our need gives great power to the one who is needed. When we give them that power over us, we are afraid we have put our sense of well being into their hands.

Love connection

Allowing ourselves to love someone creates strong and scary feelings of dependency on that person. Dependency and control are tightly linked. If you have ever tried to control someone you love, you probably know the urge to control comes, not from strength, but from a feeling of insecurity. We aren’t sure the other truly loves us; we don’t trust his or her love. There are many ways control is achieved in a relationship. The most obvious kind of control is dictating how the other person should act or not act, by encouraging or discouraging that type of behavior. Often, control comes by monitoring our partner’s activities. Checking up on him, even when it is disguised by an innocent “I just wanted to see

how you’re doing,” may be motivated by anxiety that he doesn’t care enough, that our relationship isn’t secure enough. I know all this on an intellectual level. As a counselor at a shelter for abused women, I often met with women who were under the control of their partner. The abusive partner controlled her life, what she did, who she saw and talked to, where she went. Some men told their partner what to wear; some didn’t even let her wear makeup. He enforced his rules by physical force, just to ensure she didn’t ever break them. When I helped an abused woman see that his control was really to mask his insecurity, to mask the fact that he had a strong need for her and feared she would leave him, it was an eye-opener for her.

What lies beneath

She could usually recognize that these were the underlying reasons for his control and abuse. By recognizing this, and seeing the vulnerable, fearful person underneath the bravado, she was able to claim some power and make better decisions about their relationship. Claudia was such a woman, totally controlled by an abusive man. He spent all her savings, locked her inside the house whenever he left, told her she was lucky to have him, as no one else would want her. He threatened to jump off the bridge whenever she mentioned she wanted to leave him; this threat gave him much power over her. When she could see that this 6-foot-5 bully was emotionally just a baby in diapers, it gave her the strength she needed to break away. Control is an issue in every relationship. We all have some insecurity. An ideal relationship provides a secure and predictable partnership. It encourages and supports individual expression and individual freedom. Both persons make compromises and accommodations to create a happy, fulfilling relationship. Excessive control overshoots its mark: Rather than improving one’s life, as love can, it diminishes personal freedom, creates resentment, and ultimately makes one want to break free.

• 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.

How to find affordable dental care Dear Savvy Senior, Where can seniors turn to find affordable dental care? I had dental insurance through my work for many years but lost it when I retired. What can you tell me? Flossing Frank Dear Frank, Very few U.S. retirees have dental insurance today. Without coverage from traditional Medicare, and with private dental insurance typically costing too much to be feasible, most seniors are stuck paying full out-ofpocket prices every time they visit a dentist. While there’s no one simple solution to affordable dental care there are a variety of options that can help cut your costs. Here’s what you should know. Dental Discounts

One way you may be able to trim your dental care cost is by simply asking your dentist for a senior discount, especially if you’re paying up front. Out-of-pocket payers save the dentist’s office the cost and hassle of filing an insurance claim, so asking for a small 10 percent discount is not unreasonable. Another cost-effective way to reduce your dental expenses is to join a dental discount network. How this works is you pay an annual membership fee — roughly $80 to $200 a year — in exchange for 15 to 50 percent discounts on service and treatments from participating dentists. To find a network, go to (or call 888-632-5353) where you can search for plans and participating dentists by zip code, as well as get a breakdown of the discounts offered. Brighter (, 866-8931694), which launched in May in all states except Florida, Montana and Vermont, is another discounted dental service you should check out. It gives subscribers access to a network of 25,000 dentists offering 20 to 60 percent discounts on cleanings, crowns, implants, root canals and other procedures. You can sign up for a free one-month plan or opt for the premium plan, which costs $79 per year for individuals and families.

Low-Cost Care

Another way to get dental care at a lower price is at a dental school clinic. Almost every dental school in the U.S. (including the Eastman Dental, part of the University of Rochester Medical

August 2011 •

Center in Rochester) offers affordable care provided by dental students who are overseen by experienced, qualified teachers. You can expect to pay as little as a third of what a traditional dentist would charge and still receive excellent, well-supervised care. And for low-cost teeth cleanings, check with local colleges that offer dental hygiene programs. For training purposes, many programs provide teeth cleanings by their students for a fraction of what you’d pay at a dentists office. To locate dental schools or dental hygiene programs in your area visit

Low Income Care

If you’re strapped for cash, there are other resources that provide dental care to seniors at a reduced rate or for free. Here’s where to look: • Health centers: Federally-funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), there are thousands of health centers around the U.S., many of which provide discounted or free dental care to people based on financial need. To find a center near you visit or call 877-464-4772. • Local services: There are a few states, as well as some local programs or clinics that offer discounted dental care to those with limited means. To find out what may be available in your area, check with your state dental director (see for contact information), or your state or local dental society (see aspx). • Dental Life Network: Offers several programs that provide free dental care for elderly and disabled people who can’t afford to pay. To learn more or to apply for care in your state, visit or call 888-471-6334.

Savvy Tip

The best way to keep your dental costs down is through prevention and good oral hygiene. So remember to brush your teeth at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and get routine checkups every six months or at least once a year.

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

Page 13

Stressed Out? Your Doctor Hear this Meet

By Patricia J. Malin

Physician examines mental health issues Continued from Page 4 do that, they often feel less helpless and more optimistic. Lastly, I enjoy the process of helping people break some of the “rules” they have for themselves that create so much tension for them. Many of these rules may make no sense to other people, but we accept them as true ourselves. I remember a woman I worked with who was stressed partly because she believed that she had to respond to emails and letters immediately, or else other people would be upset with her. She dreaded opening her mailbox or email account each day because each contact from someone she knew felt like a demand on her time and energy. When I was able to help her realize that this rule was not valid, and that most people would not in fact expect such promptness from her, she became significantly less distressed. Q.: What innovations or developments have you witnessed in your specialty since you began your practice? A.: There are always new perspectives and approaches in helping people to change. In the 1950s and 1960s, psychologists began doing therapy. Up until that time, they just did testing. In the 1970s, psychotherapy began to become mainstream and patients had someone to go to besides psychiatrists. Social workers are also more prevalent now. One of the new theories that came about within the last 10 years is something called interior family systems. It’s difficult to describe, but basically the goal is to get us to understand the different parts of a personality. For

example, there is the child part, the adolescent, and the adult in all of us. We need to recognize and appreciate the different parts. We might, for example, learn how to treat an adult who is acting childishly. I don’t have a lot of training in it, but some members of my staff have the training. One of the changes is that people expect faster results these days, so that means I have to revise my goals. I might focus more on changing their symptoms rather than changing their view of life, which takes longer. There are also financial considerations. If treatment is covered by insurance, psychologists charge differently than psychiatrists, and so do certified social workers. Q.: What do you do to keep up on the latest developments in psychology? A.: Because I teach, I have to be aware of new developments. I talk with other professionals and read the latest journals. I’m fascinated by new ideas and I’m always looking for new approaches and new perspectives. It’s not just about listening and nodding. I keep evolving, even though some of the old techniques work well. We just keep refining them. Q.: What changes would you like to see in the future? A.: There is already a challenge. Locally, some people find it harder to get health care. I personally think that in a stressful society, there is a greater need for mental healthcare providers. That’s why some of our patients come from as far as Old Forge or southern Herkimer County, Lewis County and Madison County. There are not a lot of social workers either in some parts of the state.

More kids living with grandparents


n 2009, 7.8 million children lived with at least one grandparent, a 64 percent increase since 1991 when 4.7 million children lived with a grandparent, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Among children living with a grandparent, 76 percent also were living with at least one parent in 2009, not statistically different from the 77 percent who lived with at least one parent in 1991. “The people with whom children live affect their well-being,” said Rose Kreider, a family demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau. “These statistics give us a lot of detail about the number of parents children live with, as well as whether they live with siblings, grandparents or other relatives.” These statistics released in July come from the household relationship module of the Survey of Income and Page 14

Program Participation collected in 2009 and published in the report Living Arrangements of Children: 2009. In 1991, 5 percent of white, 15 percent of black and 12 percent of Hispanic children lived with at least one grandparent. By 2009, 9 percent of white, 17 percent of black and 14 percent of Hispanic children lived with at least one grandparent, a significant change for white children but not for black or Hispanic children. Many children who do not live with a parent live with a grandparent. More than half of the children living with no parents were living with grandparents. Percentages for black children (64 percent) and non-Hispanic white children (55 percent) did not differ from Hispanic children (61 percent), but the percentage of Asian children living with no parents who lived with grandparents was lower, at 35 percent.

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

In search of the least stressful career? Consider audiologist or hearing aid specialist By Barbara Pierce


tressed out by your career and looking for a change? Consider a career in health

care. A new report analyzed the stress levels of 200 careers. Commercial airline pilot topped the list as the most stressful job. Other high stress jobs included firefighter, police officer, stockbroker, newscaster, taxi driver, and photojournalist. Stress on the job is caused by risk, overwork, disagreeable duties, handling crises, making critical on-the-spot decisions, poor quality of equipment, conflict with your boss or fellow workers, or you may be in the wrong setting or the wrong career. Stress on the job can cause you to be in a bad mood, with a short temper, have disturbed sleep, headaches, and a host of other things that are bad for your mental and physical health. Of the 10 careers that are least stressful, five are in health care. Careers that involve low stress have very little danger and minimal physical demands, claimed Tony Lee, who is responsible for the report. Lee is the publisher of the website, which describes itself as the premier site to find local and niche jobs. Careers in health care that fill the bill for low pressure and competition, with shorter work weeks, include dietitian, dental hygienist, speech pathologist, occupational therapist and chiropractor. Other careers that are low stress include musical instrument repairer, bookbinder, and computer programmer. The least stressful of all careers in health care is audiologist, professionals who assess and treat hearing disorders. “I’m absolutely happy doing what I’m doing,” said hearing aid specialist David Shultz, of Hearing Health LLC in Utica. Shultz finds his current career considerably less stressful than his previous career as a dairy farmer. A hearing aid specialist is trained to assess hearing loss and recommend and fit hearing aides. “I like helping people,” Shultz explained. Hearing loss is a big issue for people as it hinders them greatly in social situations. Approximately 30

percent of people over the age of 60 have some degree of hearing loss. “I like to put people back in the mainstream,” said Shultz. Shultz became interested in this profession as he needed a hearing aid, and could not find one that worked for him. He made a career change to help himself and others, and happy that he did. To enter the field, he had two years of college, then one year of supervised training. There is much overlap of hearing aid specialist and audiologists. Audiologists have additional training, generally a master’s degree. “Audiologists are relatively few in number,” said Dr. Ted Venema, coordinator of the Hearing Aid Specialist Program in Conestoga College in Ontario, on the Internet. “Without hearing aid specialists, we could not meet the hearing needs of the population, especially in smaller cities.” Shultz assesses the degree and type of hearing loss a person has, using a computer program to determine how the person differentiates and responds to a series of tones in a controlled sound environment. Next, he determines the type of hearing aid that will best compensate for the hearing loss and programs it for the individual. Much of his time is spent servicing, reprogramming, and cleaning hearing aids. Every four to six months the aids need to be serviced and reprogrammed. “Caring about people” is the most important quality one needs for this career, says Shultz, and an ability to relate to and communicate with seniors. Shultz estimates that 90 percent of his clients are seniors.

Advertise with In Good Health Call 315.749.7070

Hot wheels Boilermaker wheelchair race provides thrills and spills By Patrician J. Malin


f Krige Schabort insists he could beat you in wheelchair racing by standing on his head, you better believe him. That’s nearly what he did in winning the Boilermaker 15K wheelchair division in a blazing time of 33 minutes, 16 seconds recently in Utica. Schabort, a professional wheelchair athlete who lives outside Atlanta, Ga., defeated runner-up Joshua George of Illinois by a full minute. And that was despite Schabort’s nearly “Humpty Dumpty”-like spill near the 8-mile mark of the 9.7-mile race. When the steering mechanism on Schabort’s wheelchair broke while turning the corner from Champlin Avenue onto Whitesboro Street, he fell headlong Schabort into the street. Race volunteers were allowed to help lift Schabort back into his chair. Nonplussed, and with barely a bruise, the muscular 48-year-old went on to cruise to his fifth consecutive Boilermaker wheelchair championship even though his wheelchair was damaged. If that wasn’t newsworthy enough, a young Utican got the spectators’ hearts racing by finishing third overall in the wheelchair division. Hermin Garic, a 21-year-old amateur and a member of the Sitrin Stars team, finished in 38:49 minutes against an elite field. Meanwhile, Amanda McCrory, an acquaintance of George’s from Illinois, won the women’s wheelchair race in a record-smashing time of 39:11 despite never seeing the course in advance. The previous record set by Shirley S. Reilly was 44:35. Cody Arnold (17th) of Syracuse and Antonio Grieco of Utica (21st) each won a customized racing wheelchair valued at $2,500 by finishing in less than two hours and 15 minutes, courtesy of the Sitrin Medical Rehabilitation Center in New Hartford. Sitrin, the major sponsor of the Boilermaker wheelchair event, hosted its annual Boilermaker wheelchair reception recently and honored past and future wheelchair racers.

Krige Schabort has a good lead on Whitesboro Street in Utica heading into the final mile of the Boilermaker. winner of the New York City Marathon and Chicago Marathon wheelchair divisions. In 2010, he set the world record in the Kona Iron-Man Triathlon in Hawaii (swim-handbike and wheelchair) in 9 hours, 26:04 minutes.

Following the Boilermaker, he, his wife and their three young children were headed to Cape Cod for a race. His wife is a therapist who works in between races. As a professional athlete, he attracts sponsors and said

Racing in his blood

On a cool morning with temperatures in the 60s, Schabort was eyeing the course record of 32:40 set in 2000 by Saul Mendoza, but the accident cost him some valuable minutes. Still, he kept plugging away. “Mentally, I was getting stronger and I knew I had a couple of minutes lead,” he said. “When I was at the (Valley View) golf course, I kept pushing harder, and then when I got to the downhill I had a big lead.” He is a seasoned competitor, having raced for 23 years. He is a frequent

Utican Hermin Garic, a 21-year-old amateur and member of the Sitrin Stars team, finished third overall in the wheelchair division. August 2011 •

he participates in about 20 races a year in the United States. He averages between $35,000 and $40,000 in annual earnings. “It’s not fantastic money, but it helps,” he said, “especially if the race organizers invite my family like they do in New York and Chicago. It is a good lifestyle and low stress.” Schabort is originally from South Africa and now lives in Cedartown, Ga. In 1987, during his country’s war with Angola, he was caught in a bombing raid and nearly lost his life. When he awoke in the hospital, he found out his legs had been amputated. He spent three years in therapy before he found an outlet in wheelchair sports. “I still have shadow pain in my legs,” he pointed out, “but I learn to deal with it. Actually, I’m very fortunate to have a normal family life.” He admits he occasionally gets depressed, but he strives to maintain a positive outlook. “Having a great family helps me,” he said. “They’re very supportive. I learned from my friends that when you’re depressed, you need to fight your way out of it. It’s also something I learn from my religion as a Christian.”

‘Bosnian Bombshell’

Garic’s friends nicknamed him the “Bosnian bombshell” for his unexpected result. This was his best time in seven Boilermaker races. He is a native of Bosnia, which like South Africa, has experienced a lot of warfare. When Garic was 4 years old, his family was en route to a bomb shelter when a grenade exploded. He was the only one who was injured, but he suffered damage to his back. “As the ambulance was taking me to a hospital, it hit a bump and crashed and severed my spinal cord,” he said. Shortly afterward the attack, his family managed to immigrate to Utica, where he has lived for 16 years. He had a time of 46 minutes last year in a borrowed racing chair, which is a lot lighter than the conventional wheelchair. The difference this year was that he obtained a custom-fitted race chair for his 5-foot-9, 130-pound frame. “It was like getting new shoes,” he said. He was able to get a grant for the wheelchair from the Challenge Athletes Foundation. Then he went out and seriously trained for the race, about 15 miles a day. He said he would start his training at Proctor Park, which shadows the first mile of the Boilermaker and is close to his house in east Utica. He would work his way up to the Parkway, go through the Valley View golf course and finish at the tennis courts at the intersection with Oneida Street before turning back. After the race, Garic and his wheelchair pals whooped it up, literally spinning their wheels to the music at the Boilermaker party.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Continued from Page 4 champagne? The Friends of the Presbyterian Homes will host another “Dessert at Dusk” fundraising party. It will be held from 7-9 p.m. Aug. 4 at Harts Hill Inn in Whitesboro. Featured will be music by Jeff Glatt. Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased at the door or at the Presbyterian Home. For more information, call 315.272.2266.

Aug. 10

‘Baby Care Basics’ help prep expectant parents Parents-to-be can learn about childbirth, newborns and other related topics by attending the upcoming “Baby Care Basics” program from 7-9 p.m. Aug. 10 at Rome Memorial Hospital in the classroom. The free educational program will be taught by Sandy Graichen, a maternity nurse at the hospital with many years of experience in labor and delivery. No advance registration is required for the program. Refreshments will be served. Participants are asked to meet the instructor in the hospital lobby by the North James Street entrance. For more information, call 338.7143.

Aug. 13

YMCA film debuts at Feel Good Film Fest “Hope is in Me—A Musical Journey” is a short documentary film about the YMCA Center for The Creative Arts. The film was produced by Hank Leo, CEO of The YMCA of the Greater Tri-Valley in Rome, Rick E. Lewis of Nexstar Broadcasting and Brian O’Neal, founder and lead singer for the rock, roll and soul band The BusBoys. The film is having its screen debut at the Feel Good Film Festival on Aug. 13. The festival screening is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Raleigh Studios, 650 N. Bronson Ave., Hollywood, Calif. 90004. Tickets and additional information are available at

Aug. 13

Camp set for children/ families with autism Registration has begun for the Kelberman Campout, an overnight camping trip for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families. It will begin at noon Aug. 13 and end at 11 a.m. Aug. 14. Summer camp activities include swimming, canoeing, sports, arts and crafts and a bonfire. Kelberman Center staff and a registered nurse will be on site. Kelberman Campout will take place at Camp Nazareth, 112 Long Lake Road in Woodgate. For more information or to register, contact the Kelberman Center at 315.797.6241.

Aug. 26

Blood drive scheduled at Little Falls Hospital Little Falls Hospital will be holding a blood drive on Aug. 26. The blood drive will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be held in Conference Room A, located on the fourth floor of the hospital. Individuals who are at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health meet the basic eligibility requirements to give blood. Call Kate Reese at 823.5326 or email for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Sept. 30

‘Sex Addiction’ topic of training session The Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc., in partnership with the Oneida County Dual Recovery Training Coalition and the National Association of Social Workers, announce a program on “Sex Addiction.” Dr. Patrick J. Carnes will present the training from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 30 at Hart’s Hill Inn, Whitesboro. Registration fee is $65, and includes lunch and program materials. CASAC/CPP hours will be given. To learn more, contact Miranda Nieto at

SEMC tourney raises funds for equipment


t. Elizabeth Medical Center Foundation held its 16th annual Charity Golf Tournament on recently at the Yahnundasis Golf Club in New Hartford. A total of 228 golfers helped to raise over $120,000 to purchase digital mammography equipment for St. Elizabeth Medical Arts in New Hartford. “This tournament was a great way to bring people together for a wonderful day of golf and at the same time raise necessary funds for the Medical Center,” said tournament co-chair Terry MielPage 16

nicki. “The golf committee is very appreciative of the outstanding financial support of all of our supporters,” said co-chair Dr. Sudershan Dang. The St. Elizabeth Medical Center Foundation provides financial, philosophical and social support enabling the medical center to continue to provide for the medical needs of the community, regardless of race, national origin, creed or ability to pay. For information, or to find out how you can become a part of foundation events, call 315.734.4287.

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

H ealth News Rehab program makes leadership changes Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare’s Rehabilitation Program in Utica recently made the following leadership announcements: • Amanda Straney has been named physical therapy/ occupational therapy acute care manager for FSLH. Straney is responsible for the day-to-day operations of physical therapy and occupational therapy services for the acute care units at the St. Luke’s Campus. Straney She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., where she received her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy, and Utica College, where she completed her Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Straney has worked for FSLH since 1996 as a physical therapy site supervisor in the acute care hospital and is certified as a NIDCAP professional, offering assessment and treatment of premature infants. Her professional experiences include guest lecturing at Utica College about pediatric care, presenting the amputation care plan in Las Vegas and pediatric care in Boston at National Conferences for the American Physical Therapy Association. • Virginia (Ginger) Oliver has been named physical therapy/ occupational therapy long-term care manager/ clinical program coordinator at FSLH. Oliver is responsible for the operations of physical therapy and occupational therapy services Oliver at St. Luke’s Home and assists with the development of new clinical programs. She is a graduate of Springfield College in Massachusetts, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Physical Education; the University of Miami School of Medicine, where she received her Master of Science in Physical Therapy; and Utica College, where she completed her Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Oliver worked previously as a director of rehabilitation therapy at Rome Memorial Hospital and as a site supervisor for FSLH. She is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and has completed trainings and continuing education sessions on bone and joint disease, wound care, stress management, wellness and prevention programs, and bariatric therapy. • Diane Jackson has been named occupational therapy/physical therapy intensive rehabilitation unit/outpatient manager at FSLH. Jackson is responsible for the operations of the physical therapy and occupational therapy services for the outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation units and the wellness program at the Faxton Campus.

With more than 30 years of rehabilitation experience at FSLH, she is a graduate of Utica College, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy. Jackson has been the director for the occupational therapy department at FSLH since 1986 and Jackson previous to that was an assistant director and staff therapist. She is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association, New York State Occupational Therapy Association and has attended professional seminars on topics such as hand and upper extremity rehabilitation, sensory integration, splinting and stroke rehabilitation. • Christine Stegemann has been named hearing and speech manager. Stegemann is responsible for the operations of the audiology, hearing instrumentation and speech pathology departments at FSLH and St. Luke’s Home. Stegemann is a graduate of Stegemann the State University of New York College at Geneseo, where she received her Master of Arts in Audiology and Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology/Audiology. She completed a Doctorate of Audiology at A.T. Still University, Arizona School of Health Sciences. For more than 20 years, she has worked at FSLH as an audiologist, supervisor of audiology and hearing instrumentation and the director of hearing and speech. She works as a New York statecertified hearing aid dispenser as well as a licensed audiologist, with her certificate of clinical competence in audiology from the American-SpeechLanguage-Hearing Association.

FSLH volunteers celebrate 2010 accomplishments Volunteers of Faxton St. Luke’s Volunteer Association celebrated an outstanding year in 2010 with a strawberry social hosted by Sodexo recently. Scott Perra, president/CEO of Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare, thanked the volunteer association for its donation of $100,000 McNally to the hospital in 2010. The organization also sponsored 12 Red Cross blood drives collecting 664 pints of blood, which resulted in a cost avoidance of $1.1 million for the

Continued on Page 17

H ealth News Continued from Page 16 hospital. Volunteers contributed a staggering 69,801 hours of service to the hospital that equates to a value of about $1.9 million in savings for the services they provide. The association also recognized the top five individuals with the most hours of service in 2010. With 949 hours, Beverly McNally took top spot for the year. Roberta Monroe was close behind with 933 hours, Gladys Young had 895 hours, Roger Czupryna had 642 hours, and rounding out the top five was John Levitas with 570 hours.

FSLH makes staff announcements Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica recently made the following staff announcements: • Michael Attilio has joined FSLH as a family practice physician with the Adirondack Community Physicians Barneveld medical office. Attilio received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and completed Attilio medical school at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. He completed his internship and residency at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is board certified in family medicine. • Sue Warwick has been named director of volunteer services and guest relations FSLH. In her new capacity, Warwick will be responsible for guest relations, service excellence, recognition and reward Warwick programs as well as the oversight of the volunteer services department. • Lori Winston has been named medication assistance program coordinator for FSLH. In this position, Winston coordinates the medication assistance program, a cooperative program between FSLH and Cardinal Health. The program, which is funded by drug manufacturers, Winston is designed to help patients who have little or no healthcare insurance to receive the medications they need. Winston began her career at FSLH

in 2007 as a care attendant in the emergency department and also worked as a level II technician the pharmacy department.

Angels, Beacons represent FSLH in Relay for Life Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare has sponsored the Relay for Life in Utica since it began 16 years ago. This year the event took recently at Mohawk Valley Community College. Sheilah Kittle and Lori Austin, employees at The Regional Cancer Center, led “The Angel Buds” as captain and co-captain. Their team was made up of employees from the cancer program, radiation, outpatient infusion, sixth floor oncology, the Breast Cancer Center and their families. The Angel Buds raised $3,878 through bake sales, luminaries, basket raffles, a lottery board, and cash donations. The cancer program also provided a tent, food, prizes for the survivors, cake, and punch. The other team representing FSLH was the “Burrstone Beacons,” made up employees in the finance department and their families. The team raised a whopping $4,500 through bowl-athons, night glow golf, a 50/50 raffle, basket raffles, luminary sales and cash donations. Anne Marie Will served as the Beacons’ team captain. FSLH donated a total of $9,240 to cancer research. To get involved in Relay for Life 2012, contact Rene Fish at 315.624.5321.

Abraham House seeks donations for campaign Abraham House is seeking $5 donations for its summer appeal campaign to cover expenses for operating their home for the terminally ill. It costs Abraham House $14,000 a month for utilities, building repairs, insurance and staffing. Abraham House does not receive any insurance reimbursement for the care it provides. Abraham House relies solely on the generosity of the community to help provide a final home for individuals from Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties when it is unsafe for someone to remain in their own home or when caregivers are elderly or ill themselves and cannot provide the needed care. Abraham House has a target goal of $28,000. All donations are tax deductible and are welcomed no matter the amount. Donations can be sent to Abraham House, 1203 Kemble St., Utica, NY 13501. For more information, contact Abraham House at 733.8210.

Abraham House makes call for volunteers Can you spare four hours every three months? Abraham House needs volunteers willing to care for terminally ill guests, especially in the evening or weekends for a four-hour shift. No previous healthcare experience is needed since volunteers are

mentored on a one-to-one basis around their own schedule. However, healthcare workers are welcomed. Abraham House provides a secure and loving home without charge to the terminally ill in the community. Abraham House is located at 1203 Kemble St., Utica. Call Patty Shenberger, executive director, at 733.8210 for further information.

Herkimer County HealthNet has partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Herkimer County in an effort to promote healthy eating and increasing the use of farmers’ markets. For additional information about the “Eat 3” farmers’ market programs, call Cornell Cooperative Extension at 315.866.7920. For more information about the Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work, and Play in Herkimer County grant, call 315.867.1499.

HealthNet names new board Physician joins cardiology members department of SDMG Herkimer County HealthNet recently welcomed new board members. HCHN operates as a New York State Department of Health Rural Health Network. HCHN works to meet its vision of collaboration, to regularly identify health and human service needs in Herkimer County and facilitate programming to address those needs by operating with the mission of improving the health and well-being of individuals who live, work, play, and learn in Herkimer County. The new members are Theresa Grescheck, administrator of the Mohawk Homestead; Debra Lynch, coordinator of health services for Herkimer County Community College; Cassandra Sheets, chief executive officer of the Center for Family Life & Recovery; Sandra Soroka, executive director of the Neighborhood Center; and Ann Tonzi, executive director of Hospice and Palliative Care. he five new members join the 28member board that oversees HCHN’s finances, policies and practices, programs, strategic planning and other activities.

‘Eat 3’ promoted at farmers’ markets this summer Cornell Cooperative Extension of Herkimer County will be available at area farmers’ markets this summer to promote “Eat 3—Eat Well, Eat Local, Eat Together” as part of the Creating Healthy Places to Live Work and Play grant through NYS Department of Health awarded to Herkimer County HealthNet. Recipes, food samples, and preservation ideas for using fresh produce will be shared along with the new 2011 Herkimer County local foods map. Free reusable grocery bags will also be available while supplies last. CCE staff will be available at the following locations on dates and times noted. Market hours will remain as normally scheduled. • Mohawk Farmers’ Market (Weller Park, West Main Street): 2-5 p.m. Aug. 3 • Little Falls Farmers’ Market (M&T Bank lot, Albany Street): 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 6 Herkimer County HealthNet, Inc., along with other agencies in New York state, administers the Creating Healthy Places Grant to Live, Work, & Play grant to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes by increasing physical activity and increasing healthy eating.

August 2011 •

Joya Ganguly recently joined the cardiology department of SlocumDickson Medical Group in New Hartford. She is a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist (heart rhythm specialist). She specializes in the treatment of a variety of heart-rhythm disturbances and performs electroGanguly physiology studies. An EPS records the electrical activity and electrical pathways of the heart and can help uncover a heart rhythm abnormality. She also specializes in atrial fibrillation, ablations, and device placement. Ganguly completed her electocardiology fellowship at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She completed her general cardiology fellowship at Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center in Detroit and her internal medicine residency at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. Ganguly received her medical degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. She is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease and echocardiography.

Excellus CFO to retire at end of 2011 Zeke Duda, senior executive vice president and chief financial officer for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, announced his retirement at the end of 2011 after 39 years with the company. “I’m very proud to have played a role in building a small health plan Duda serving the local Rochester area into a much larger mission-oriented enterprise,” said Duda. “Today, we offer health coverage in most of Upstate New York, sell long-

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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H ealth News Continued from Page 17 term care coverage in 50 states, and provide direct patient services through our home care business, medical professional offices and hospices.” For many months, the company’s board of directors has known of Duda’s retirement plans and has conducted a search for his soon-to-be-named replacement. “Zeke has overseen a series of successful mergers and acquisitions in both the core health plan business and the growing, for-profit long-term care insurance business,” said David Klein, chief executive officer for both the health plan and its holding company, The Lifetime Healthcare Companies. “That simply could not have been accomplished without his enormous talents and insights.” A 1973 graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology, Duda began working for the company in a variety of financial positions that started while he was a student. Duda volunteers for numerous professional and community organizations, principally in the Rochester area where he lives. He and his wife, Jane, have three adult children and live in Penfield.

St. E’s Medical Group welcomes new physician Ashraf S.B. Aly has joined the staff at St. Elizabeth Medical Group in Utica. Aly specializes in obstetrics and gynecology. He is accepting new patients at St. Elizabeth Medical Group’s Women’s Health Center at 2212 Genesee St., Utica. Aly is a gradAly uate of the Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt, where he completed an internship and residency training. He then completed his obgyn residency training at the SUNY at Buffalo Graduate Medical Consortium Program, Buffalo. He has practiced in New York state in the Carthage and Lewis County areas. He is a member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Medical Association. Aly resides in New Hartford with his wife, Dr. Hend Abdelwahab, who is in her third year with the St. Elizabeth Family Medicine Residency Program. They are parents of three children: two daughters, Rawan and Ritaj, and a son, Mohamed.

Dispose of sharps/needles at St. E’s St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica provides a household sharps disposal program for people who want to dispose of sharp medical instruments such as insulin hypodermic needles. The program is open to individuals Page 18

from private residences, not businesses. Sharp instruments, packed in a puncture-proof container and clearly marked as “sharps,” may be brought to the hospital services department, located in the basement of the medical center, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays (excluding holidays). For more information, contact hospital services at 315.798.8249.

Practitioners complete training Kim Thompson and Dr. Julie Perlanski recently attended a three-day intensive continuing medical education course in Chicago that was offered by The Institute for Functional Medicine. “The Advanced Practice Module on Re-establishing Balance of the Hypothalamic, Pituitary, Adrenal, Thyroid and Gonad Axis” is part of their functional medicine certification. The training they completed presented evidence-based best practices, results from emerging research, and protocols gleaned from clinical experience to aid in the evaluation and treatment of hormone-related dysfunctions and diseases, allowing them to improve the quality of care they provide to patients with such diseases. Thompson is the owner of Healthy Transformations, 3985 Oneida St., Suite 104, New Hartford. Perlanski has her fellowship in integrative medicine and practice through St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, 500 E. Main St., Little Falls.

Insight House names employee of the quarter Mary Friedlander was recently selected as Insight House employee of the quarter. Employees of the quarter are nominated by their supervisors for their reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism and uniqueness of contribution. Friedlander, of Whitesboro, is Friedlander a laboratory technician and provides routine laboratory care and testing in accordance with agency policies and procedures. She has been employed at Insight House in Utica since 2008.

UCP selects its employee of month Darlene Browell of Oneida, a residence counselor at the Upstate Cerebral Palsy Morrisville Individualized Residential Alternative, was recently named the Upstate Cerebral Palsy employee of the month. Browell has been with the agency for over two years and in that time has worked exclusively in the overnight position. As part of her job duties, Browell settles the residents in for the night and

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

Ace’s Angle

Distress call

Reaching out to someone in need By Amylynn Pastorella


was recently offered the opportunity to provide a local reader with words of encouragement to help them get through a difficult time. Feeling distressed, this reader reached out to me, a stranger, seeking motivation as she battled a host of psychological disorders as well as alcoholism. As stated in the letter, this reader had begun seeking treatment but was looking for additional assistance to help her through the ordeal. This Pastorella reader felt very alone and hopeless like no one liked her. Knowing she had to push herself and be strong, she still felt something was missing in her quest for improved health and well being. Upon receiving this letter, I wanted to instantly send my heartfelt support for this reader to get better. No one should have to go through such distress. Unfortunately, we all face dilemmas in our lives and the trick to solving any problem is to never give up. I commend this reader for trusting me and seeking encouragement. For this reader: I want you to know you are a beautiful person. You are strong and important. You can do anything you set your heart and mind to. You took responsibility and sought help. The biggest hurdle is to first realize that you have a problem. Now you are doing something about it. I know you are on your way to becoming the best person you can be. I believe you can and will do that. This person wants to get better. It then tends to the household chores, including cooking, cleaning and laundry. In the morning, she gets everyone ready for their days, whether it be going to the Morrisville Day Habilitation site or to doctor’s appointments. Browell has a daughter, Amanda, who also works at the house as a behavior specialist assistant. Upstate Cerebral Palsy is the premier provider of direct-care services

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is very moving that they sought the words of someone else to get through. This experience has greatly touched my heart. I had to reflect on this experience because this is something I place on everyone: One person can make a difference. Giving yourself the best life you can is a tremendous feat. Our lives do not have to simply consist of material things. It is also the small things that help us live each day to the fullest. My days are never complete without a smile. I love hugs, laughter, interaction with others, kindness, sincerity; so much more than I love all the shoes and purses in my closet. It is also the way we live our lives that helps us. Someone once said life is like a garden. It can be filled with flowers, fruits, vegetables and even weeds. We need to learn how to pick the weeds out of our lives to live healthier. It is up to us to make our lives great and to persevere through any weeds that come our way. We will always run into weeds throughout our lives; it is how we choose to pluck those weeds that builds character. Being positive, optimistic, self-assured and confident are wonderful attributes to living a plentiful and healthy life. Dolly Parton once said, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” Those words say it all. Empower yourself. Show the world who you are and embrace every minute. If you have a health concern or questions about health matters, contact me. I love hearing from you. When you seek my advice, I do my very best to get you answers.

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

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Health in good

H ealth News Continued from Page 18 and programs for individuals who are physically, developmentally, or mentally challenged and their families.

St. Johnsville names employee of quarter

St. Johnsville Rehab & Nursing Center announces that Constance (Connie) Hickey has been elected employee of the quarter July-Sept. 2011. Hickey has worked at the facility in the housekeeping department since

March 2001. “We feel that Connie is worthy of this award because she is a wonderful housekeeper and never complains when asked to do extra jobs,” according to Karen Bass, administrative assistant.

Olivari first timer award winner announced Chip O’Hara of Auburn is the Olivari First Timer Award winner after clocking the fastest time in the Boiler-

maker 15K road race recently among all first-time runners. O’Hara, 30, ran the long distance race in 49:54 and finished 33rd overall. “I’ve wanted to run the Boilermaker for a number of years now, but it makes for an early Sunday morning with the hour and a half drive from Auburn to Utica,” O’Hara said. “I heard a lot of good things about the race from other runners and I did more long-distance training this year, so I decided to get up early and give it a try.” O’Hara finished just behind many of the elite athletes and placed second in his age group, male 30-34. O’Hara said he enjoyed his first Boilermaker and plans to attend again next year. In addition to the award for the fastest first-year runner, Olivari also recognized every first timer with a small gift. The collaborative effort between Olivari Mediterranean Olive Oil and the Boilermaker Road Race is part of both company’s efforts to encourage healthy, balanced lifestyles. “A healthy lifestyle gives you more energy, a positive attitude, and just makes you feel better,” O’Hara added. “Along with good nutrition, I think running is a great way to help maintain a healthy lifestyle because it’s a very efficient and low-cost means of exercise that many people can do.” Olivari Mediterranean Olive Oil is based in Rome.


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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Family Affair For the Kinnes, battling juvenile diabetes requires a team effort Marny, though, is still refining her knowledge. “It is a disease that keeps you on your toes because his sugar can change drastically in a matter of an hour,” she said. “And there isn’t always an explanation as to why it changed. There are times when you just shake your head because you did everything you were supposed to do.” She said Tyler has been fortunate to have only been hospitalized twice in the last two years because the entire family has educated themselves, teachers and school staff, including the nurse and school bus drivers, and especially the babysitter, about preventing setbacks.

By Patricia J. Malin

I didn’t know a lot about diabetes,” said Marny Kinne, referring to that memorable day on Memorial Day weekend in 2009 when her son, Tyler, was diagnosed. “But I knew it was going to change his life forever,” she said. Taking up the challenge, Kinne said she immediately jumped on the Internet and began researching the disease as soon as her son was hospitalized. Now two years later, Tyler outwardly seems to be leading a pictureperfect healthy life of a 7-year-old. Meanwhile, the coffers of the Central New York chapter of the American Diabetes Association are much fuller thanks to the dedication of the Kinne family. “It was only a few weeks after his diagnosis that I decided I wanted to do more,” Tyler’s mother explained. “Of course we were helping him in his everyday life, but it didn’t feel like enough to me.” Marny threw herself and her family, including her husband, Mark, Tyler’s twin sister Sierra, and now their 3-year-old son Peyton, into the whirlwind effort by participating in the local “Step Out Walk,” which is held each September in the Utica area. Their neighbors in Vernon Center and seemingly the entire community have jumped on the bandwagon for Team TJK. In the last two years, the Kinnes have raised $8,356.84, according to Marny’s calculation. “So far this year we have raised $1,335,” she said. “We are only $290 away from raising $10,000 in just two years.”

Gratifying experience

As Marny and Mark sat on their front porch on a recent summer evening watching the three kids and their black lab, Storm, race around the yard while playing ball, Marny indicated that raising so much money for diabetes is a long-term, yet rewarding effort. On Aug. 14, the family will host a fundraising breakfast for Team TJK at the Verona Firehouse. Mark, who works as a carpenter at Hamilton College, is a volunteer firefighter in Vernon Center. Several of his fellow firefighters and Tyler’s relatives, friends and doctors make up Team TJK, he said. On July 31, the local Diabetes Association chapter held a three-hour “Zumbathon® to Dance Out Diabetes” at Daniele’s in New Hartford. Several Zumba instructors from Central New York—Annie Ledo, Cubana Butterworth, Kerry Daly, Lacey Dolan, Adri-

Getting pumped

Tyler Kinne, right, shares a sporting moment with his twin sister Sierra and his 3-year-old brother Peyton.

ana Keane and Cory Sawyer—were scheduled to participate. All of this precedes this year’s Step Out/Walk to STOP Diabetes, which will be held on Sept. 24 at Sherrill Brook Park in New Hartford. Marny, who is employed as a microbiologist at Mascoma in Griffiss Park in Rome, spends a lot of her free time on fundraising. She sets up canisters and posters for Team TJK in local stores and bars, “places where most people pay with cash and leave their extra change in the cans.” She keeps fans aware and up-todate of her goals on her Facebook page. For technologically challenged donors, she provides her phone number and snail mail address and mails out fliers. Last year, she received a $1,000 donation from a friend on Facebook, then Hamilton College matched the donation. Still, Marny said she is grateful for even $1 and sends a personal thank you note to every contributor. Her time-consuming campaign is a small price to pay for the comfort from knowing that the dollars are helping to further the research into diabetes. “The ADA website is full of useful information,” Marny said. “The people


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

at the Utica office have been very helpful, and the Step Out Walk has introduced us to lots of other families going through the same situation.”

That fateful day

It all started on May 24, 2009 just 11 days after Tyler turned 5 that the family received the “sad diagnosis” that Tyler had type 1 (or juvenile) diabetes. For three days prior to that, she recalled, Tyler was feeling awful. He was urinating frequently, excessively thirsty and losing weight. Despite the weekend holiday, Tyler’s parents took him to the hospital. Mark stayed by his bedside as he was given insulin and fluids, while Marny “immediately got online and read as much information as I could. I wanted to learn what diabetes meant and what could have happened for him to get it.” Some studies suggest diabetes is caused by a genetic mutation, but no one in Marny’s or Mark’s family has had either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Other studies point to environmental factors, but the Kinnes have lived in rural Vernon Center for the last seven years. Besides, Sierra (they were born a minute apart), shows no sign of the disease, nor does Peyton.

Tyler wears an insulin pump that is not visible under his clothes. The pump provides regular doses of insulin every hour and then it delivers more insulin before each meal or snack. Tyler’s daily routine consists of three meals and two snacks, all of which require him to prick his finger and check his blood sugar. Before the school year begins, Marny said she discusses the guidelines with the school nurse, principal and teachers and ensure they have all the supplies they need for the term. Marny plans his lunch and snacks and asks the nurse to record his carbs. The nurse also checks his blood sugar before lunchtime and administers insulin if necessary. Sierra helps Tyler by carefully scanning food labels when she goes shopping with her mother to see if the product is safe for him. Peyton strives to get involved, too. “They will hold his hand whenever he asks,” said Marny. Tyler doesn’t seem to get extra attention at home, and his siblings are probably too young to notice if he does, his mother noted. Mark and Marny try not to treat him differently. “I want Tyler to experience all life has in store for him with as few limitations as possible,” Marny said. Sometimes, Mark will take the kids to a fast-food restaurant and Tyler often gets what he wants within the confines of his diet. “How do you tell a 7-year-old that he can’t have cake or ice cream?” Mark asked. Tyler has accepted his unique condition, for now. “One night before bed he asked me, ‘Mommy when’s my diabetes going to go away?’ Wow, how do I answer that?” I asked. “It won’t, unless they find a cure,” Marny told her son. “He asked what a cure meant and I responded, ‘A cure is a way to fix it.’ It’s hard to explain to someone his age just how devastating diabetes can be,” she noted.

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