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in good

Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

November 2011 • Issue 69

Sex Drive in Neutral?

Have you heard? Audiologist specially certified in Mohawk Valley

Golden Years

Sign language excellent way for seniors to communicate Writing one’s memoirs gaining in popularity

Drug shortage causes alarm Get ‘In Good Health’ at home. See coupon inside


For many, libido overhaul is necessary. See Page 5.

Reconnect with your hippy days By Barbara Pierce

It’s not lost,” said 57-year-old Bruce Penske about his long-lost hippy. “It never went away. Once a hippy, always a hippy. It’s a state of mind.” To many Baby Boomers, “hippy” evokes vivid memories of love, peace, Woodstock, flower children, traveling in a VW bus, rock music, folk music. “Woodstock is more than a moment in time. It is about a way of being in the world,” says the website Steve Falco, of Utica, also 57, agrees with the Woodstock website slogan and Penske. “I’m just as nuts as I was then,” he said with a laugh. “I’m older, but I still have the same values. I still love the same music.” Falco is the owner and drummer of The Steve Falco Easy Money Big Band in the Mohawk Valley. Music of the ‘60s eloquently spelled out the values of the hippies. “We started questioning authority. We started asking ‘why?’” said Penske. “And we wanted peace. It was all in the songs.” Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Ohio”‘ mourned the four slain students at Kent State University. “Where have all the young men gone—gone for soldiers, everyone,” was Peter, Paul and Mary’s protest of the Vietnam war. As was Bob Dylan’s “How many deaths will it take ‘till he knows that too many people have died?” Acclaimed author and poet Eleanor Lerman lived the hippy life in Greenwich Village. She believes that,

for many, the memories and strong ideals of youth can fade. “When we were young, we were searching. We had many spiritual ideas,” she said. “Then we got lost in everyday stuff. The pressure of middle class and the issues of middle age absorbed us.” Lerman grew up in the Bronx and Far Rockaway, and now lives in Long Beach, Nassau County. In 1973, when Lerman lived in Greenwich Village, her celebrated work of poetry, “Armed Love,” was published. It received much attention, and a double X rating. Only 21 years old at the time, Lerman was not prepared for the notoriety thrust on her. She abandoned writing for more than 20 years. When she went back to writing, she considered the long distance between her two worlds: who she was as a young woman, and who she is now. The time comes, when we’re older, that we begin thinking again about those spiritual ideals we had as young people, she believes. “It’s very impor-

November 2011 •

tant, as we get older, that we go back to the spirituality of our youth. We begin to realize that those ideas and values may be even more important to us today,” added Lerman. Lerman believes those ideals they once held high may help boomers rediscover relevance and meaning in the lives they live today. She explores this in detail in her new novel, “Janet Planet.” The original intent of the novel was to rewrite the life of Carlos Castaneda, said Lerman. “He was a guru to us; his work meant a great deal,” she said. Aging hippy Janet Planet moves to Woodstock to re-establish her life. Like Planet, Lerman recommends that members of the Woodstock generation recapture the spirituality of their youth. Reconnecting with our personal spiritual beliefs is a worthwhile quest as we grow older. Lerman strongly agrees with the phrase, “Don’t follow leaders” that Bob Dylan sang in “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” “Life is all about exploring the mystery yourself, rather than blindly following a spiritual leader or organized religion,” Lerman said. “We don’t need a guru, a minister or a priest to tell us how to get meaning. We’re old enough and wise enough to know how.” On Dec. 11, at Herkimer County Community College, Easy Money will play at a benefit for veterans of the Korean War.

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

Nov. 3

Separated & Divorced Support Group available

Learn about Type 2 diabetes Health Night

The Separated & Divorced Support Group meets at 5 p.m. on the first and third Sunday of each month at The Good News Center, Utica. There will be no meeting Nov. 20. The group is free and open to all. For more information, contact Andrea, program coordinator, at 315-735-6210, andrea@the, or visit


GriefShare support group meets weekly GriefShare meets from 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Nov. 22 at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. GriefShare, a faith-based support group, meets weekly to help those face challenges and move from mourning to joy. For more information, contact Andrea, program coordinator, at 315-7356210, andrea@the, or visit

Rome Memorial Hospital’s free Health Night lecture, “Living with Type 2 Diabetes,” will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 3. The presentation will be held in the hospital’s classroom. “The prevalence of diabetes is astounding,” said Rome Memorial Hospital’s patient and staff educator, Mary Rose Spellicy. “Over 25 million people have diabetes, of which 7 million are not aware they Spellicy have a problem.” Nearly 30 percent of those suffering from the disease are over the age of 65. In recognition of American Diabetes Month, Spellicy will present an overview of Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease. Health Night is a monthly lecture

Continued on Page 17

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

Golden Years Sign of the times Sign language valuable resource for seniors By Amylynn Pastorella


merican Sign Language is a method becoming more popular among senior citizens to better communicate with others if they suffer from hearing loss as they age. Imagine being Joe, 78 years old, profoundly hard of hearing, and hungry for breakfast. Try as he may, Joe can’t hear the server in the dining room. He knows she’s shouting and still can’t make out the exact words. Joe becomes embarrassed and leaves the dining room without breakfast. If Joe and his caregiver had known a few simple signs, Joe could have communicated his desire for eggs and coffee and the server could provide breakfast without needing to raise her voice. Then there’s Mary, who has just been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s disease. She hired an inhome care worker, but they are having difficulty communicating as Mary’s words are failing her. The worker teaches Mary and her children some simple signs to ease their communication. Mary is thrilled as she can express her needs to her children and caregivers without feeling embarrassed or frustrated. Thirty to 40 percent of people over 65 have some kind of hearing loss. And 14 percent of those between 45 and 64 do. Using sign language can be very useful. Many start losing their hearing starting at the age of 50. Age-related hearing loss or presbycusis generally starts after the age of 50. It is a hearing loss that develops gradually over a period of time and gets worse with age. Hearing loss can have a severe impact on a senior’s quality of life. They can become irritable or fatigued or depressed. Hearing loss can be especially difficult to deal with after a lifetime of hearing. People withdraw, and they won’t want to go out as much. Sign language can help.

Valuable communication tool

Many organizations are starting to embrace the benefits of ASL in their facilities and senior programs. ASL has been referred to as the great “communication equalizer” when used to supplement and/or facilitate communication. Caregivers and seniors can reap the benefits of using ASL signs without needing to learn the entire language. It isn’t necessary to use all of the signs to communicate a sentence. In fact, a strategically placed sign for “eat/food,” or “toilet” while speaking the word can clear up so many miscommunications. ASL is easily taught to seniors and staff alike and easily integrated into everyday care. Since ASL relies on gestures rather than words, ASL aids communication when hearing and words fail us. Healthy seniors are also interested in learning ASL, as it provides a new and challenging activity that stimulates the brain. Since ASL uses both hemi-

Barb Joswick signs letters of the alphabet she has learned in the sign language class she takes at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Whitesboro. spheres of the brain, it is a wonderful addition to any brain fitness program. Here in Central New York, many seniors are actively learning American Sign Language through a class called Seniors Can Sign held at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Whitesboro. SCS is for anyone 50 years of age and older. Caregivers and health professionals who are interested in learning sign language to expand their communicative skills also can join. “Sign language is a way to communicate using simple gestures or movements to express ideas. We use gestures every day. We may nod our head to mean ‘yes’ or shake our head side to side to mean ‘no’. If we want someone to come to us, we would move our hand to motion him to come. Many signs have the characteristics of the word they are replacing. We hold a pretend phone to our ear to ask someone to call us. Sign language gives us other gestures or signs to use to communicate. It is a way to bridge the gap when we are hard of hearing. Using a few signs can really help,” said Nancy Jayne, instructor of the SCS course. Initial thoughts of learning sign language might seem difficult, but the level of learning is set at a slow pace.

Fun to learn process

“Once you get started learning the signs you realize it’s not as hard as you first thought. Sign language is easy and fun to learn because many of the signs look just like the word they are replacing. For example, the sign for “banana” is to hold up your index finger and pretend to peel it with the other hand. (Like peeling a banana). The sign for “baby” is to pretend to rock a baby in your arms. The sign for “eat” is to use your fingers to pretend to put food in your mouth,” said Jayne. For Barb Joswick of Whitesboro, learning sign language has been a dream of hers since high school. ASL has become popular among seniors. For more information about the SCS course or learning the language, contact Jayne at (315) 736-6872 or by email at

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Excellus launches new exercise, healthy aging program BCBS guidelines geared toward Medicare Advantage members


xcellus BlueCross BlueShield has selected Silver&Fit® as the new exercise and healthy aging program for its 84,000 Medicare Advantage members in upstate New York, including those enrolled in Medicare Blue Choice and Medicare Blue PPO. Silver&Fit is provided by American Specialty Health Incorporated, one of the nation’s leading health and wellness organizations. Silver&Fit offers memberships at one of more than 11,000 participating fitness clubs and exercise facilities. Silver&Fit membership includes all of the standard amenities offered by that club’s standard membership, such as access to weight equipment, cardiovascular equipment, and where available, pools, saunas, and whirlpool facilities. In some full-service fitness clubs, members may also participate in a fitness program specifically designed for Medicare members. Excellus BCBS Medicare Advantage members who are not able to participate at a fitness club or simply prefer to work out at home may participate instead in the Silver&Fit Home Fitness Program. Upon enrollment, those members receive a home fitness kit that may focus on strength and exercise, walking, aqua aerobics, Pilates, yoga, tai chi, dancing or stress management. Each kit includes tools to help members perform exercises at home. Members can also access e-coaching courses on, and some members are able to receive healthy aging DVDs for home-based health education. All Silver&Fit members receive The Silver Slate® quarterly newsletter, access to the website, and a toll-free hotline to provide information and answer questions about the program. Silver&Fit was developed to assist Medicare members in beginning or continuing a regular exercise program. Regular exercise has shown to be an important element in preventing some medical conditions, including high blood pressure and heart and lung disease. Cardiovascular and strength training can also help improve balance and flexibility, preventing common slips and falls and speeding up the recovery period from such injuries. Access to the network of exercise facilities is provided through ASH subsidiary American Specialty Health Systems, Inc.

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Your Doctor

By Patricia J. Malin

Dr. Kimberly Keane Kimberly Keane of the Sitrin Medical Rehabilitation Center in New Hartford recently became one of the first physicians in the nation to obtain pediatric audiology specialty certification from the American Board of Audiology. She recently spoke with In Good Health Senior Correspondent Patricia Malin about her career. Q.: Why did you decide to practice in the Mohawk Valley? A.: In 2003 my husband and I decided that we wanted to be closer to our families, and that is how I came to practice in the Mohawk Valley. Q.: What prompted you to become an audiologist? A.: My undergraduate degree is in communication sciences and disorders. One of my professors was an audiologist and I just loved his classes. I was just so interested in the communication between the ears and the brain and how we make sense of sound. When it came time to go on for my master’s degree, I strongly knew that I wanted to pursue it in audiology. Q.: What specific ailments or disorders do you treat? Why did you decide to specialize in pediatrics? A.: At Sitrin, we see individuals for diagnostic testing for several ailments or disorders, including sudden hearing loss, tinnitus, progressive decreased hearing, growths on the hearing nerve or in the middle ear, chronic ear infections, family history of hearing loss, noise-related hearing loss, and processing disorders. I decided to specialize in pediatrics as that has always been my passion. There is nothing more satisfying for me than when you first put hearing aids on a baby who hasn’t heard sound and they react for the first time. I also really enjoy getting to test the children. It is a real challenge some days, but one that I always enjoy. I also think that my “speech” background as an undergraduate also drove me toward pediatrics. Without access to sound, children cannot produce it! Even when children have a cold, their hearing may be affected, and this then affects how well they can hear at home and in school. Q.: What is the most challenging aspect of your job? A.: I would say the most challenging aspect of my job is how expensive the wonderful technology is that helps everyone hear better. It is typically not covered by insurance, and in these economic times, this can be very difficult for individuals and families. Q.: What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job? A.: Helping children and adults to communicate successfully with their friends and families. Q.: What are the newest developments in your field? For example, how

prevalent is childhood deafness? Have there been advances in technology and pre-natal treatment that have reduced the incidents of babies born with deafness? What are the most common types of treatment for deafness and what changes have occurred in the last 20 or 30 years because of computers? A.: In general, I think the public is much more aware of hearing loss in children. In 2001, the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program was initiated and so began newborn hearing screening protocols. The EHDI

programs promote universal newborn hearing screening, develop effective tracking and follow-up as a part of the public health system, and promote appropriate and timely diagnosis of hearing loss. We now identify babies with hearing loss within the first month after they are born if they fail their newborn hearing screening. Hearing aid technology has also greatly advanced, so we can usually fit these babies within the first three months. Hearing aids now have advanced digital sound processing on the inside, and cosmetically they are smaller and easier to keep on the heads of small infants. Q.: What challenges do you foresee in the future regarding healthcare in general or in pediatric healthcare? A.: In general, insurance companies are tending to pay for less and families are being held responsible for more. With the current economic concerns, this will influence what services families seek and can afford for themselves and their children. Q.: What do you do to relax from a stressful job? A.: I spend time with my wonderful family!

Lifelines Age: 33 Birthplace: Utica Residence: Clinton Education: BS Nazareth College; MS Syracuse University; Au.D. Pennsylvania College of Optometry Board certification: Pediatric audiology Family: Married, two boys Hobbies: Spending time with family

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

Golden Years Where did my libido go? There are ways you can restore sex drive By Barbara Pierce


bout one out of every three women say they have a low libido, according to a study circulating on the Internet recently. What exactly is a low libido? As defined by The Mayo Clinic. com, it means a persistent or recurrent low sex drive, a lack of interest in sex that causes you distress. A low desire for sex, less frequent thoughts of sex, slowed down arousal time, slowed climax time, and reluctance to initiate sex. Experts agree that it is difficult to measure what’s normal, and what’s not. It varies from woman to woman. If you want to have sex less often than your partner, neither of you are necessarily outside of the norm. And some people are born with a low sex drive. The desire for sex is important in intimate relationships; a loss of desire can have a negative impact on a relationship. Healthy relations have healthy sexual relations. “Libido isn’t just about being sexual,” says Dan Morris, clinical director of Kavod Addiction Recovery Center in Rochester. “Libido is a healthy interest in another person.” Morris, a licensed clinical social worker and a certified sex addiction therapist at Kavod, works with men and women to help them recover from sex and relationship addictions and lead a healthy life. “There are many possible reasons that a woman’s libido might be lessened,” explained Morris. “There could be physical, psychological, or spiritual reasons.” Morris cautioned that each woman is different, with different levels of interest in sex. There is no gauge to measure what is a healthy level of interest.

Scars run deep

“From my point of view, a woman

can lose sexual interest in her partner if she’s been hurt by him, maybe she’s had repeated hurts and disappointments in her partner. The sexual interest that is a vital part of a relationship goes away,” explained Morris. “The loss of libido is often related to the damage done to the relationship.” Serious problems in the relationship with her partner can be a cause. Past sexual, emotional, or physical abuse can affect a woman’s sex drive. Feeling stressed out and worried can result in a low libido. A difficult lifestyle, such as living with parents or parents-in-law, not having the feeling of privacy, or being tired at the end of a day of work and caring for children. Lack of sleep lessens libido. There are many physical reasons a woman may have a lagging libido. Major illness can cause a lessening of desire. For example, a woman with diabetes and the resulting nerve damage may have vaginal dryness, making intercourse painful. Some diseases cause a hormonal imbalance, which affects the sex drive. There is evidence that some foods have an effect on libido. Eating a healthy diet is important. While menopause does not reduce a woman’s sex drive, the physical changes in her body can cause problems. Vaginal dryness can occur, or a prolapsing uterus, fairly common in

older women and causing pain on intercourse. There are creams to counteract the dryness. Smoking, alcohol or drug abuse can upset the body’s hormonal balance and lead to a decreased libido. The side effects of some prescription medications also do. Obese women may be deficient in sex hormones. Pregnancy and post-baby hormonal changes can temporarily cause a loss of libido. Vaginal or pelvic infections that cause painful intercourse make women avoid sex.

Treatments available

There is no simple pill to revive a lagging libido. Most women benefit from a multifaceted treatment approach aimed at the many causes, says Mayo This may include sex education, counseling, lifestyle changes and sometimes medication.

Since relationship issues with her partner are so often involved in a woman’s lack of interest in sex, counseling is often recommended as a first step. A stronger emotional connection can lead to better sex. Talking with a certified sex therapist or a counselor skilled in addressing sexual concerns can be a big help. Sometimes, scheduling time for intimacy and making it a priority can get your sex drive back on track. Add zest to your sex life to rekindle the sizzle. And, learning techniques to reduce stress can often help. Rule out physical causes by a visit to your physician. Healthy lifestyle changes can make a big difference in your desire for sex. Regular exercise will improve your mood, improve your body image, and enhance your libido. Strengthening your pelvic muscles with Kegel exercises will help. (Tighten your pelvic muscles, hold for a count of five, relax, and repeat.) Fluctuations in your sex drive are normal in every stage of life. Don’t focus all of your attention on sex. Instead, spend time nurturing yourself and your relationship. Go for a long walk. Get extra sleep. Kiss your partner goodbye before you head out the door. Make a date night at your favorite restaurant. Feeling good about yourself and your partner can actually be the best step to take.

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

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Local News, Inc. Distribution: 35,000 copies. To request home delivery ($15 per year), call (315) 749.7070.

In Good Health is published 12 times a year by Local News, Inc. © 2011 by Local News, Inc. All rights reserved. Mailing Address: 4 Riverside Drive, Suite 251, Utica, NY 13502 • Phone: (315) 749.7070 E-mail: Editor & Publisher: Wagner Dotto • Associate Editor: Lou Sorendo Contributing Writers: Amylynn Pastorella, Patricia Malin, Barbara Pierce, 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.

November 2011 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Between You and Me

By Barbara Pierce

Passages of life What’s the big deal about writing memoirs? By Barbara Pierce

I remember that hot day in August, in my 15th year. It was the day that changed my life,” begins the life story of my 62-year-old sisterin-law, Elsy Castro Stromberg. She wants her grandson to know of his heritage, to know of her childhood in Ecuador, vastly different from his childhood. About the aching desire she had to come to the United States, and how she made that dream come true. “I write the stories of my life for my amazement,” says 84-year-old Larry Hurley. He has traced his ancestry back to a castle in 13th-century Scotland. He has self-published two books on his life. Celebrity memoirs have long been popular: Michael Moore just published his memoirs; so did Dick Cheney and Betty White. Tina Fey, Billy Idol, Keith Richards, even Bristol Palin, all have books about their lives. Now ordinary folks are jumping on the bandwagon. We all have stories to tell. I’ve started teaching classes on memoir writing; they are popular. Books that give us guidelines proliferate; multiple websites offer to help us.

What’s all the excitement about?

Telling our life stories is powerful; it can transform us. It helps us better understand ourselves; it helps us feel better about ourselves. Memoirs are the story of our life, or stories from our life. Stories about the times we lived in, the people and events that shaped us, our laughter, our sorrows; the life lessons we have learned. Writing memoirs, or life stories, is all about discovering who you really are, where you have been, and where you are going. When we reach our 60s, we begin to re-examine and assess our life. We look back at what happened, and what we learned from it. We begin to think about leaving a legacy for our grandchildren; a legacy of our experiences, our wisdom, our values. A legacy of the things that are important to us, and why they are important. “Important things just look like everything else, until you look back on them,” says a character in a novel by Richard Paul Evans. The ordinary activities of life are made fascinating by the passage of time and the way the world changes. The contrast between how we grew up and how our grandchildren are growing up is monumental. My grandchildren love their grandma. But all they know is a grandma who loves to putter around in her garden, loves to take them to the library, and takes them to the mall only Page 6

with much pleading.

Leaving a legacy

I want them to know more than that—I want them to know what I value, what’s really important to me, the wonderful career I had, the great adventures I had. Even the stupid mistakes I made, good learning experiences. So I wrote my life story and put it all in a beautiful book, using the few old photographs I had. And jazzed it up with images from the Internet that closely resemble my life and times. Like an old Ford with a rumble seat, the irrigation ditches that ran through my grandparents’ farm, good for swimming on hot summer days. Even an image of immigrants Pierce waiting in line at Ellis Island; I can imagine my grandmother in that line. In recent years, my husband and I lived on a sailboat and cruised. These years were a special chapter in my life, so I made a separate book about that. There are as many different types of memoirs as there are people. Some are short, some are long. Some write about places they have lived, or persons who influenced them, or their military career, or a special adventure. Some write a book with family recipes and the stories of each. And books can organize old photographs in a beautiful way. Most of us carry painful memories. You cannot live a lifetime without pain. In order to carry on, we put these memories in the back of our mind. Writing our memoirs can make us come face to face with some painful memories. As I helped my sister-in-law write her story, she cried. “After I was done crying, I felt relieved,” she said. “It was like I put down a big boulder that I didn’t even know I was carrying.” “I thought I had an ordinary life,” said Stromberg. “But what a beautiful life story it is!” I believe that each person’s life is unique; there are no ordinary lives. By sharing our stories, we leave a valuable legacy. • Barbara Pierce, a published writer and a retired psychotherapist, writes memoirs for others, and helps people write their stories. Contact her at

Healthy lifestyle helps fight dementia Proper exercise, diet critical to counter disease process By Amylynn Pastorella


isplacing keys or forgetting a friend’s name are normal common memory lapses and not particularly linked to Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that robs one of cognitive skills and independence. However, more research is showing that Alzheimer’s starts in the brain decades before behavioral symptoms appear. With that, there are many ways to protect brain health. Alzheimer’s disease is thought of as a old person’s illness but experts say critical proteins begin to break down as early as middle age. Because it is not likely to get diagnosed with Alzheimer’s early when the damage is just starting, adopting a healthy lifestyle now could contribute to preventing symptoms before they start. Some surprising strategies can ward off Alzheimer’s disease, such as losing weight, breaking up your workload, and even brushing your teeth. Follow some of the tips provided by the Central New York Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association below to improve brain health for years to come.

Guidelines posted

• Exercise keeps the body healthy by keeping the heart at a healthy rate and moving oxygen throughout the body. • Eating foods low in fat, cholesterol and sugars help the entire body. Keeping your numbers—weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar— under control keeps the heart healthy, which in turn keeps the brain healthy. There has been a great deal of research showing that Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as other antioxidant foods, can neutralize cell mutating free radicals. Foods like broccoli, blueberries, pomegranate and other nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables can only benefit brain health. • Smoking’s indisputable impact

on the cardiovascular system leads to less oxygen being carried to the brain. Two recent studies, one published in Archives of Internal Medicine, shows a more than 100 percent risk of developing an illness involving dementia. A previous study showed that people who smoked heavily in mid-life were 2.5 times more likely to develop a dementia than non-smokers. This study was published in Neurobiology of Aging. • More research is needed to understand the link between consuming alcohol and the risk of developing dementia. Heavy alcohol use can cause a range of other health problems. • Regular physical exercise may be a beneficial strategy to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. Some evidence suggests exercise may directly benefit brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow. Even stronger evidence suggests exercise may protect brain health through its proven benefits to the cardiovascular system. Because of the known cardiovascular benefits, a medically approved exercise program is a valuable part of any overall wellness plan. Although Alzheimer’s disease cannot by prevented, reversed or cured, following these tips can help reduce the risk of its development. A number of clinical trials are investigating experimental treatments, prevention strategies and other issues related to Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. Researchers are in the midst of an exciting time. More than 100 research studies pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are under way and recruiting volunteers. Their TrialMatch tool ( lets you search these trials quickly and easily. The Alzheimer’s Association’s 24-hour Helpline is available at 800272-3900 along with its website, www.

One in four Americans treated for high blood pressure


ne in four American adults (55.1 million) was treated in 2008 for hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The federal agency also reported that for hypertension treatment in 2008: • About 29 percent of blacks were treated for hypertension in contrast to 25 percent of whites, 15 percent of Hispanics, and 20 percent of individuals of other races. • Total expenses were $47.3 billion,

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

with $21.3 billion spent on prescription medicines; $13 billion spent on doctors’ office and outpatient visits; and another $13 billion spent for hospitalizations, emergency department visits and home health care. • Average treatment costs were higher for Hispanic patients ($1,272) and for black patients ($1,037) and patients of other races ($1,211) in contrast to the average treatment costs for whites ($748). • Slightly more women received treatment for hypertension than men, 25 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

Golden Years When a loved one is seriously ill Tact is needed when attending to those afflicted with ailments By Barbara Pierce


hen a friend or relative is seriously ill, we are concerned. But we’re not sure just what to do. We feel we need to do something, but we don’t know just what. So we do nothing. “She’s going through chemo, and I know that’s brutal,” we may say to ourselves. “I’ll just wait until I hear from her.” Or, “He was so down last time I called him, I really don’t want to talk to him when he’s like that.” Or, “I know her husband is so sick, I’m sure she’s too busy taking care of him to want to hear from me.” “Stay in touch with an ill friend or family member,” advises Terry Rockwell, owner and operator of Seniors Helping Seniors in-home services of Oneida and Madison Counties. Seniors Helping Seniors employs seniors to help other seniors in their homes. They help by cooking, light housekeeping, gardening, companionship, and more. They can transport seniors to doctor’s appointments and sit in, so that there are two pairs of ears hearing what is said. “Definitely reach out to keep in touch,” Rockwell emphasizes. “An ill senior is often lonely and needs companionship. They need someone to visit. They appreciate any company. Even a phone call means so much.” Rockwell and those who have cared for a seriously ill partner advise ways to show your concern:

Keep communicating

• Don’t expect the person in need to reach out to you. You must be the one to pick up the phone. Those who are ill or caring for an ill person just won’t think about picking up the phone to call you. But they will be happy to hear from you. “When my husband was so ill, all of my friends stopped calling,” said Mary White, following her husband’s

death. “They thought I was too busy to talk to them. I was really busy and overwhelmed, but I badly needed to hear a friendly voice.” • Offer specific ways to help. Don’t ask: “What can I do to help?” Most of us will politely respond, “Oh, nothing,” even though there are many things that would help. Instead say: “Can I drop by with some lunch for us?” or, “I just got a DVD of the funniest movie; how about if I bring some popcorn and we watch it together?” • Companionship is so valuable, says Rockwell. Just drop by to play cards. Or take your friend out for a drive so they can have a change of scenery. Nature can be a soul-soothing experience. Or take him out for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “My neighbor came to my door

every day to bring me the paper and check on me,” said Luann Sloan, about being a caregiver for her ill husband. “Even though she didn’t know me well, she was the only person who really supported me.” • Drop off some of your favorite books or DVDs, or something you know your friend would like. They need to be entertaining enough to distract the ill person. Laughter is good medicine; give them something humorous. • If the ill person does not have anyone to accompany him to the doctor, offer to do this. Having another person there to ask questions and to advocate for the ill person is important. If the person is going through chemotherapy or other treatment, keep him company. Read to him, play cards,

keep him or her distracted. If there is a caregiver, that person probably needs a break. Just so he or she can do nothing. If there are children involved, offer to care for them. • Don’t try to minimize or make the person feel better. If he or she wants to talk about the disease with you, let him. However, don’t try to find the magic words to eliminate his pain or the concerns. We hate to see those we love hurting, physically or emotionally. But our words really can’t make them hurt less. You don’t have to say anything. Just be there for him. • If he or she cries, realize that this is healing. Don’t try to make him stop crying, let him cry. When people can show their suffering to someone who cares, that is healing. • Don’t offer false hope. Avoid optimistic platitudes, like “I know everything will be OK,” or “Maybe some good will come out of this,” or, “This all part of God’s plan for you.” Instead say things like “I can’t imagine what you’re going through,” or “How tough this must be for you.” • Learn about the disease. Getting information from a book or online will help you greatly (MayoClinic.Com is a good source). But don’t assume he will want to know what you learned on the Internet. He needs to be the expert on his own disease. He may not want to talk about the disease with you, that’s OK. Don’t push. Be prepared with other things to talk about. • Stay connected. When people have a lengthy illness, it becomes very lonely after the first stream of wellwishers fades away. Regular phone calls, cards, or emails are welcome. (Though many seniors do not use email, reminds Rockwell.) And short visits. “Keep in touch, definitely reach out to keep in touch,” Rockwell concludes.

112 million annual incidents of DWI CDC report shows 11,000 are killed every year in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers


dults drank too much and got behind the wheel about 112 million times in 2010—that is almost 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving each day—according to a CDC Vital Signs study released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The four million adults who drink and drive each year put everyone on the road at risk,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden. “In fact, nearly 11,000 people are killed every year in crashes that involve an alcohol–impaired driver.” The study also found that:

• Men were responsible for 81 percent of drinking and driving in 2010. • Young men, aged 21–34, made up only 11 percent of the U.S. population in 2010, yet were responsible for 32 percent of all episodes of drinking and driving. • Eighty–five percent of drinking and driving episodes were reported by people who also reported binge drinking. Binge drinking means five or more drinks for men or four or more drinks for women during a short period of time. “Drunk driving is a public health problem with far–reaching effects,” said

Linda C. Degutis, director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Drunk drivers, who have delayed reaction times and reflexes, put even the most responsible drivers and pedestrians in harm’s way. Public support to prevent drunk driving is strong. Thankfully, there are proven ways to protect everyone on the road.” Proven, effective strategies to prevent alcohol–impaired driving include: • Sobriety checkpoints: At sobriety checkpoints drivers are stopped to assess their level of alcohol impairment. According to the Transportation Research Board, more widespread,

November 2011 •

frequent use of these checkpoints could save about 1,500 to 3,000 lives on the road each year. • Minimum legal drinking age laws: These laws prohibit selling alcohol to people under age 21 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Keeping 21 as the minimum legal drinking age helps keep young, inexperienced drivers from drinking and driving. • Ignition interlocks: These devices prevent drivers who were convicted of alcohol–impaired driving from operating their vehicles if they have been drinking.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Health issues Losing a child Mohawk Valley support group helps guide those crushed by grief By Amylynn Pastorella


tacey Borst, of Stitville, lost her 18-year-old daughter to cancer, a loss like no other loss she had experienced. “The death of a child is not supposed to happen. We lose our grandparents, parents, and siblings as we get older but children are not supposed to die before us,” said Borst. For Borst, people would avoid her because they did not know what to say in her time of grieving. Wondering how she could move forward without her daughter, she felt her life was at a stand still while everyone else was going on with their lives. She says the emotions and pain she felt was like having her heart physically break. “I think because of this people who have not experienced the death of a child have no idea how to react to it. And if you have never experienced that loss, you really have no idea what that type of grief feels like,” said Borst. During her time of grief, Borst found comfort in a local nonprofit organization called Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley. She found a place where she would relate to other parents who have lost a child and she learned how to cope with her unforgettable loss. “Through Compassionate Friends, we can share our feelings, sorrows, joy, and memories and learn how to come

David Roberts and his wife Cheri are part of a group that heads Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley. In addition to the Roberts, the other steering committee members are Debbie Millspaugh, Karen Wrate and Linda Findlay. to enjoy life again without having our children with us physically,” said Borst. “It’s a place to share exactly what we are feeling and knowing they understand exactly where you are coming from. We are all very supportive of each other and as we help ourselves through our grief journeys, we are

be supportive.

helping each other,” she added. The Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley was formed in June of 2010 as a result of the desire of David and Cheri Roberts and other parents who have experienced the death of a child. Its goal was to establish a setting that would provide support to families that have experienced the death of a child. The organization’s mission is to assist families toward the positive resolution of their grief following the death of a child of any age and to provide information to help others

Lifelong journey

Holding support group meetings on the second Tuesday of every month, the Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley believe that the journey

Boom time! Report reveals what baby boomers can do now to avoid health challenges


he first Utica, Rome and North Country baby boomers celebrate their 65th birthdays this year. About three out of four of them and others nearing this milestone selfrate their health as good or better, even though half report having at least one chronic condition, according to a report issued recently by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. Upstate New Yorkers who are 60 to 65 years old also feel good about their lives, with about 95 percent reporting very high life satisfaction. That’s slightly above the 93 percent of 18- to 59-year-olds who reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their lives. “The Facts About Turning 65 in Upstate New York” delves into healthrelated issues facing the oldest of the post-war baby boom generation (Americans born from 1946 through 1964). The report also highlights actions they can take to maintain or improve their health status. “Today’s 65-year-olds can expect to live an additional 19 years, which is about five years longer than was expected for an individual of similar age in 1946, the first year of the baby boom,” said Frank Dubeck, Excellus Page 8

BCBS chief medical officer and vice president medical policy. “But with aging comes a host of acute and chronic health conditions.” Excellus BCBS found that among 60- to 65-year-old upstate New Yorkers who responded to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, 14.5 percent have been diagnosed with one or more forms of cancer, about 20 percent indicated they had cardiovascular disease or diabetes and 51.9 percent have arthritis.

Chronic problem

“The cost of treating chronic diseases consumes 95 percent of the health expenses incurred by older adults,” Dubeck said. A look at health care expenses in New York state shows that 65- to 74year-olds comprise 6.9 percent of the population, but their per capita health expenses represent 15 percent of the total. “In addition to added expenses, chronic conditions can cause years of pain and suffering and functional decline that can lead to disability and loss of independence,” said Dubeck. He noted that despite widespread

perceptions about aging and statistics that depict declining well being as an inevitable part of it, poor health is not intrinsic to growing older. “It can be tragic when individuals don’t recognize the fundamental link between their personal health behaviors and their risk of illness,” said Dubeck. “For people who make this connection, the health burdens we typically associate with age, while not entirely avoidable, can decrease substantially.” Today’s leading causes of death among older adults often are preventable. Just three behavioral risk factors—smoking, poor diet and physical inactivity—account for more than a third of chronic disease deaths. All are directly tied to heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. “What else can today’s baby boomers do to avoid disease as they age?” asked Dubeck. “They can assume greater responsibility for their own health by adopting specific practices, many of which are aligned with the CDC’s Healthy People objectives for the population by the year 2020.” Comparing Healthy People objec-

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

following the death of a child is life long. Families do not get over the death of children or achieve closure. In time they learn to adjust to a world without the physical presence of their children, and find joy and meaning by making their child’s life count. “Our meetings are open to bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents. We have a lending library of grief-related materials that our families can access. We have phone support available as well and a Facebook page where families can post their thoughts 24 hours a day,” said Roberts. “We recently had our first special chapter program, where we brought in a national presenter via Skype. We hope to do more of these in the future as well as either a monthly or quarterly newsletter. We are also available to speak to other organizations about our services, and how to effectively deal with families who have experienced the death of a child,” said Roberts. Along with their programs, the organization recently held a fundraiser at Friendly’s to raise funds to facilitate their chapter outreach efforts. Friendly’s donated 10 percent of the gross food proceeds to the chapter leading it to raise close to $170. For more information about Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley, call 736-8684 or visit www. tives to the disease prevention and preventive care behaviors reported by 60- to 65-year-old upstate New Yorkers who participated in the CDC survey reveals that: • 31 percent reported colorectal cancer screening according to current guidelines (annual fecal occult blood test), compared to the Healthy People 2020 objective of 70.5 percent. • 35.5 percent reported having had a pneumonia vaccine, compared to the Healthy People 2020 objectives of 60 percent for high risk 18- to 64-year-olds and 90 percent for all adults ages 65 and older. • 43 percent reported having been diagnosed with high cholesterol, compared to the Healthy People 2020 target of 13.5 percent. • 53 percent reported having been diagnosed with high blood pressure, compared to the Healthy People 2020 target of 26.9 percent. • 59.7 reported having had the seasonal flu vaccine, compared to the Healthy People 2020 objective of 80 percent to 90 percent for low- and highrisk populations, respectively. “These numbers show that boomers in the 60- to 65-year-old age group have many opportunities to take charge of their health as they prepare for the years ahead,” Dubeck noted. View the complete report on turning 65 in upstate New York at

Health issues ‘I didn’t want to die’ One man’s experience with diabetes a tale of courage By Deb Dittner


very now and again, as a family nurse practitioner, I get a patient that is totally unforgettable. One who stands out from the rest; one who proves to me that what I do as a profession is exactly what I should be doing. Let me tell you about “John” and his wife “Mary.” They both requested anonymity for this story. Upon entering the patient exam room, I see John sitting on the exam table and Mary sitting in a chair next to him. Both were in their mid-30s and smiling as I entered. I introduced myself to John and Mary and then proceeded to ask John why he came to see me. He complained of increasing thirst and increasing urination. He said his mom has been diabetic for many years and on insulin injections. “I know the symptoms of diabetes from living with mom so I decided to check my own blood sugar with her glucometer,” he said. Amazingly, the reading was 360. The normal fasting blood sugar range is 70-120. “I’m afraid what this number means and I need to know exactly what to do,” he said, “because I don’t want to end up like mom taking medications for a disease that I know can be controlled.” John and I talked about a number of things, and I made more suggestions than I usually do on a first visit. But he kept asking for more and more. We discussed the diagnostic work that needed to be done—complete metabolic profile which includes the fasting blood sugar (John’s FBS was 380) and liver enzymes; HgA1C, which is a three-month cumulative test of the blood sugar; urinalysis; and inflam-

matory markers, just to name a few. We discussed exercise to include a minimum of 30 minutes most days of the week. He was relatively active already so we just needed to make his exercise routine more consistent but to also incorporate a change in activity. He had a loving and supportive wife who kept telling me, “Whatever you say, he will do, so just keep going.”

Nutrition the key

One of the most important discussions I have with a Dittner patient is their nutrition. Prior to this visit, John was eating a 16-ounce steak at one sitting with potatoes and vegetable, “large” bowls of pasta with a meat sauce, sweets, and numerous snacks during the day. Breakfast wasn’t a regular event and when he did have breakfast, it was laden with lots of bacon and eggs, sausage, toast with either jam or butter, and coffee with milk and sugar. Water wasn’t an issue of late but previously John drank very little. So as we discussed nutrition, I didn’t want to make it feel like I would be taking things away. I wanted to add foods to his diet. Breakfast, being the most important meal of the day, needed to be consistent. A suggestion to start with was a “smoothie” of sorts, consisting of carrot, celery and apple adding water for

consistency and cinnamon for added flavor. Cinnamon is frequently recommended for diabetics as this may help to lower blood sugar. Research has shown that people with diabetes that incorporate cinnamon into their diet regularly and also by tablet reduced blood glucose, triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Coffee can increase inflammation in the body’s system plus adding milk and, more importantly, sugar increased the inflammation even more. A slow decrease in coffee was recommended so as to not aggravate headaches along with changing up the sugar, and eventually eliminating white sugar. A Mediterranean-type diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to control diabetes. This diet is modeled after the eating patterns of Southern European regions and has been shown to reduce the risk of death from heart disease, cancer and diabetes and may also help to prevent the development of degenerative diseases by reducing inflammation. The diet emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats while minimizing the consumption of processed foods and animal products high in saturated fat.

Tremendous comeback

When John returned two weeks later for follow-up, we discussed his blood work, nutrition and exercise. On this visit, his fasting blood sugar was 150, a far cry from the previous 380. He told about his improved exercise program and a ton of things that he cut out of his diet, such as white sugar, large portions

of meats and simple carbohydrates, and coffee, and that he was down two pant sizes. He was feeling great and his blood sugars continued to improve each day. I was so impressed with his progress in such a short period of time. I asked him, “Why did you do basically everything we discussed? His answer, “I didn’t want to die.” Wow, what do you say to that? I was initially speechless (that rarely if ever happens). Mary said, “I told you he’d do it all.” I was so very proud of him for all his effort and his wife for her support. It is now a few years later and John is doing exceptionally well. His blood sugars are within normal range, as is his cholesterol, liver enzymes, HgA1C, and blood pressure. He exercises daily, shows no signs of neuropathy or retinopathy (both complications of the disease), and his nutrition is impeccable. John was able to connect with what mattered most in his life. We worked together to help reach his goals through understanding, research and the ability to connect with what mattered most—a life without diabetes. No, we can’t change our genes but we can change our genetic predisposition. We can live a more vibrant life and have a balanced body. What it takes is determination and the drive in oneself to be as happy and healthy as possible. • Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner, Reiki master teacher and a holistic health counselor who works with men and women struggling with weight, hormones, and energy issues. For more information, call 518-596-8565 or visit www. to receive your free health report.

Diabetes: the tsunami of diseases More than half of all Americans will have diabetes by 2020


alf of all American adults are destined to develop diabetes or pre-diabetes by 2020 if they don’t make dramatic lifestyle changes, according to a dire new prediction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If current trends continue, the ranks of American adults with excessive blood sugar levels would swell from 93.8 million this year (about 28 million diabetics and 66 million more with pre-diabetes) to 135 million in 2020 — and cost society $3.35 billion by decade’s end. In addition, diabetes is becoming one of the most common chronic diseases in children and adolescents. According to the American Diabetes Association, one in every four

children is currently diagnosed with diabetes. Experts believe that unless people improve their diet and start exercising more regularly, diabetes could become an epidemic of tsunami-like proportions. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine by scientists at Montefiore and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, found that metformin, the drug typically used to treat diabetes, combined with lifestyle changes, can effectively delay the onset of diabetes. As a result of these findings, the American Diabetes Association now recommends use of this medication for treating pre-diabetes. The condition is diagnosed in patients when blood glu-

cose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes, placing people at high risk for diabetes. Recent research has shown that some long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory system, may already be occurring during pre-diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. With Type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With Type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in

November 2011 •

your blood. Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems. It can damage your eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb. Pregnant women can also get diabetes, called gestational diabetes. Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes may include fatigue, thirst, weight loss, blurred vision and frequent urination. Some people have no symptoms. A blood test can show if you have diabetes. Exercise, weight control and sticking to your meal plan can help control your diabetes. You should also monitor your glucose level and take medicine if prescribed.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 9

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

November 2011 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Health issues Catastrophic shortfall Reports note shortages of cancer drugs By Patricia J. Malin


etting a diagnosis of cancer and battling the disease is frightening enough. Now there is news that is even scarier: Some cancer drugs are in short supply. Recent reports in the national media have described shortages of drugs such as Taxol (pacliltaxal), a mainstay in chemotherapy treatment. For example, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Web page recently cited a breast cancer patient who was receiving Taxol at the Georgia Cancer Specialists. Due to a shortage of Taxol, she began receiving an alternative medicine. However, she ended up in the emergency room with an allergic reaction. Fortunately, the story said, enough Taxol was found to allow her to continue her treatments without further interruption. According to the Journal-Constitution, “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has monitored the situation for six years, recently reported 2010 was a record year for drug shortages and the situation could get worse.” The drugs affected are most commonly used to treat breast, lung, lymphoma and colon cancer. But following on the heels of the reports of the scarcity, Congress held a series of hearings in late September. Executives from the pharmaceutical companies were called to testify and since then, the shortages have been alleviated or have been addressed even if the causes have not been conclusively identified. The International Monetary Fund and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are both investigating the issue. According to Reuters News Agency, due to the Congressional inquiry, a Government Accountability Office report is due to come out in November.

No impact locally

In the Mohawk Valley, however, there never was a widespread shortage

of Taxol. Manzurul A. Sikder, a member of the hematology/medical oncology department at Slocum-Dickson Medical Group in Utica, said he was surprised to hear of the shortage of Taxol elsewhere in the U.S. “Large hospitals can stock up on medicines, whereas we (the clinic) can’t,” he said. “If we did have a shortage, I would send patients to Faxton (Hospital in Utica, part of the FaxtonSt. Luke’s Network).” Taxol was originally derived from the bark of the Pacific yew tree, but has been manufactured artificially for decades. Sikder, who in 2010 was chief fellow, hematology/oncology at the Wilmot Cancer Center, University of Rochester, explained that shortages are caused by many reasons, for example, the costs of research and production, as well as demand. “Pharmaceutical companies are like every other business,” he said.

More teens using condoms


he percentage of teen males aged 15–19 years in the United States who used a condom the first time they had sex increased between 2002 and 2006–2010, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report, “Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth,” from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, found that eight in 10 teen males used a condom at first Page 12

sex, an increase of 9 percentage points from 2002. The study also found that 16 percent of teen males used a condom in combination with a female partner’s hormonal method, a 6 percentage point increase from 2002. Other findings include: • In 2006–2010, about 43 percent of never–married female teens (4.4 million), and about 42 percent of never–married male teens (4.5 million) had had sexual intercourse at least once (were sexually experienced). These levels of sexual experience have not

“They want to make a profit. There is not much money in generics and Taxol costs only a few dollars to make.” According to a recent Reuters news story, drug shortages have been common in the U.S, “but they were previously intermittent and largely temporary. They have shot up in a very short time, with a record of over 200 scarce medicines this year alone, up from 56 in 2006,” according to FDA data.”

Widespread effect

Faced with a shortage, hospitals and doctors are postponing care “or using second-best or more costly alternatives,” said the Reuters story. “The shortages have also forced delays in clinical trials for cancer, which use these drugs as a baseline to test the effectiveness of novel therapies.” The Journal-Constitution reported “some drug manufacturers are discontinuing older drugs and replacing them with newer ones, which are usually changed significantly from 2002, though over the past 20 years there has been a decline in the percentages of those who were sexually experienced. • Seventy–eight percent of females and 85 percent of males used a method of contraception at first sex. With a few exceptions, teenagers’ use of contraceptives has changed little since 2002, and the condom remained the most commonly used method. • One exception was an increase among males in the use of condoms and in dual use--the use of a condom combined with a partner’s use of hormonal contraceptive at first sex. • Another exception was a significant increase in the percent of female

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

more profitable, according to the FDA.” The substitutes, as with the patient in Atlanta, can be less potent or less reliable. “What is perhaps most worrying is that the officials in charge of addressing the problem are no closer to identifying the underlying causes,” the Reuters article explained. Another problem in drug production is consolidation of pharmaceutical companies—a handful of companies make 80 percent of the medicines, according to the FDA. The manufacturers, in turn, blame the FDA for tighter reimbursement policies that have cut into the profits. As Sikder and The New York Times noted, there are considerable concerns about quality control and patent rights on more expensive drugs manufactured by U.S. companies. And while there is less competition from domestic companies, there is increasing competition from other countries. India and China are pouring money into building new biotechnology factories and turning out cheaper generic drugs for breast cancer, colon cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis. China and India together manufacture more than 80 percent of the active ingredients in drugs sold worldwide. A recent article in The New York Times said a discussion on how poor countries can afford drugs for HIV/ AIDS and cancer patients was going to be part of upcoming United Nations’ hearings on communicable diseases. While cheaper drugs seem like a partial solution, The Times added that the Obama Administration is fighting attempts by China and India to export these cheaper knockoffs to the U.S. Sikder said he would also take a wait-and-see approach on the quality of drugs from overseas. Some members of Congress are concerned about the drug shortage and are taking action. New York Senator Chuck Schumer has asked for an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.

teenagers who used hormonal methods other than the pill, such as injectables and the contraceptive patch, at first sex. Six percent of teen females used a non–pill hormonal method at first sex in the latest survey compared to 2 percent in 2002. • Despite long term improvements in pregnancy risk behaviors among teens, differences still exist among Hispanic origin and race groups. Non–Hispanic black males have the highest percentages who are sexually experienced, and Hispanic males have the highest percentages using no contraceptive method at last sex. The report is available at: www.




Tattoos popular avenue of expression By Amylynn Pastorella

observed, such as covering all areas to be touched during the procedure with barrier film or plastic. The artist should be wearing nitrile gloves to protect themselves, as well as reduce the risk of allergic reaction in their client from latex exposure. The artist should also be well-instructed in preventing disease transmission, as well as tattoo technique to avoid scarring the client’s skin. Most states in the United States require a person to be 18 years of age; however, there are some that allow tattooing of minors with parental consent and others that require clients to be 21 years old. Every state that regulates tattooing applies its own age restrictions to body modification. “As an artist, I personally recommend an age requirement between 18 and 21. I don’t believe that minors possess the mature judgment for such a permanent procedure,” said Callahan.


alking down the street one day, you might see a beautiful pink flower with very detailed color and design. Then you might see a religious symbol or sign representing another culture. It may seem like I’m describing the scenery, but yet I am describing another scene or rather scenes—tattoos. So many people have them and display them that it might be hard not to notice. Today, tattoos are no stranger to the naked eye. People get tattoos for many reasons. The reasons people get tattoos are as varied as the tattoos they get. Tattooing has become very mainstream in the wake of reality TV shows such as “Miami Ink,” “Inked” and “Tattoo School.” Unfortunately, such programs have led to a flood of untrained artists in the industry and an equal tide of unscrupulous clientele. The antiquated stigma of tattoos being only for the dregs of society, along with bikers, sailors and loose women, is still prevalent in workplaces everywhere. It would seem that having “reality” shows about the industry have so far only perpetuated this stigma by displaying unrealistic, dramatic nonsense, rather than educating the general unadorned public about tattooing and what sort of people “The Adorned” actually are. “I myself am an adorned person, a semi-conservative mother of unadorned teenagers. When people meet me, they always say that they would never guess what I do for a living and that I certainly don’t seem like the ‘tattooed type.’ No one ever seems to realize how offensive such statements are. I wish there were more informative means of introducing the world to the actual tattooed community. The soccer moms, the nurses, doctors, lawyers, councilmen, college girls and grandmothers I tattoo regularly in my studio are hardly the type of people displayed on TLC,” said Bethanne “Texas Betty” Callahan, owner and artist of Bodily Charm Tattoo and Piercing in Utica. “Some people wish to be seen as belonging to a group that functions outside the norm of society. Some wish to immortalize a loved one or express an idea they feel strongly about. Some simply wish to decorate their bodies. In my experience, I have even seen people who used a tattoo to spice up a cooling marriage,” said Callahan.

Express thyself

For Jason Kane, of Ilion, his tattoos are a form of expression. He has gotten seven tattoos since he was 18 years old and some of them have been of his own design. “Some people get them just to fit in while others get them to express themselves or even to remember someone they lost or love,” said Kane.

Reversing the procedure

Depending on how you see it, tattoos can be beautiful to fans of them and confusing to those who do not get the idea of them. Nonetheless, the safety side of getting a tattoo should be recognized before officially branding the skin. Just like any invasive procedure, there are certain risks involved with getting a tattoo. Since the skin is being broken, it is imperative that the tattooist works within medical guidelines to ensure their client’s health and safety. Unfortunately, all states do not regulate the body modification industry. The risks of getting tattooed, therefore, involve infection, both from a lack of sterility on the artist’s part and from a lack of proper aftercare on the part of the client. Some infections can lead to cellulitis. Other risks include scarring of the skin and allergic reactions to the pigment used or even the products used during the procedure, such as latex gloves or ingredients in the cleanser. If a tattooist practices safe methods, avoids cross-contamination and continues to educate themselves on the risks of contamination and bloodborne pathogens, and if the client is honest and knowledgeable about

their allergies and health history, a tattoo is almost always as safe as a trip to the dentist’s office. There are medical conditions which prohibit some people from getting tattooed, or tattooed in certain areas. Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis and melanoma are certainly prohibitive for obvious reasons. Also, clients with diabetes are advised to avoid getting tattoos on the extremities, due to circulation issues that prolong healing time, leading to a higher risk of infection. At Callahan’s studio, they decline to do any procedure on pregnant or nursing women. “There are many ways to research a local artist or tattoo shop, one being word of mouth, to find whether or not the artist is capable to meeting your individual needs because they are permanent,” said Kane. “Responsible tattooists complete training known as an apprenticeship, during which they should be instructed in aspects of dermatology, cross-contamination, working in a sterile environment, needle-stick procedure, tattoo technique and first aid, among other things,” said Callahan.

Cleanliness the key

Their workstation should be clean and preventive measures should be

November 2011 •

Tattoos are permanent fixtures on the body. Getting one should be a sure decision as it can be a painful procedure to remove them. “There are several ways to remove a tattoo. An older and semi-outdated method is dermabrasion, where the tattoo is basically sanded off. This procedure leads to some scarring and is rather painful,” said Callahan. Technology advancements have led to the use of lasers to remove tattoos, a method that is less painful, and just as effective as dermabrasion and causes less scarification. Some states require that laser removal be done only by plastic surgeons, where some states allow tattoo artists themselves or aestheticians to use lasers. The risks of laser removal include hyper-pigmentation, hypertrophic scarring, and not removing the tattoo at all. The success of laser removal depends largely on the method and materials used in the tattooing procedure itself. It is always important for clients to thoroughly investigate any artist that they are considering. One should inspect the artist’s work and make sure that that artist’s style is compatible with their tastes. Many people select artists on the basis of price, which is always a poor criteria. When considering allowing any person to tattoo you, it pays to go into their studio and watch them in action. Look at their portfolio, and if the work is good, look around the shop. Look for their autoclave, their clean and contaminated areas. Are they separated? Watch the artist work. Is he or she changing their gloves regularly? Are they touching things and then touching their client? Is everything they touch during the procedure covered with barrier film or plastic? The two most important things an artist should possess are quality work and a sterile work environment and procedure.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 13



Community approach Utica Community Health Center reaches out to those in need By Patricia J. Malin At first glance, one might think the Utica Community Health Center at 1651 Oneida St. keeps a low profile. Its plain, non-descript one-story building sits at a right angle to the street, almost invisible to passersby. Still, it is adjacent to a busy supermarket and is just two blocks below the well-traveled Parkway. It has been operating on the edge of Utica’s Cornhill and its ethnically diverse neighborhoods since October 2010 with little fanfare. Just don’t tell that to the nearly 2,000 patients it has treated, many of which would have limited access to routine health care or dental services without this health center. The celebration of National Community Health Center week (Aug. 7-13) and a visit from U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna (R,C,I-Barneveld) prompted the center’s first open house and official ribbon-cutting ceremony recently. Utica CHC introduced the center, its health care providers and the staff to as many as 200 local business leaders, including Utica Mayor David Roefaro and State Sen. Joe Griffo (R,C,I-Rome).

for Rochester Primary Care Network, which operates the Utica center. RPCN and its four health centers operate as federally funded, tax-exempt, private nonprofits. They provide health care services and dental care to everyone, especially low-income individuals and families Dr. Cynthia Jones meets with U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna (R,C,Iwith commerBarneveld) during his recent visit to the Utica Community Health cial insurance, Center. Medicaid, Medicare “Utica CHC would like to take this and to those opportunity to celebrate their early suc- without coverage. In Utica, many of its cesses in bringing accessible primary patients are newly settled immigrants care into the heart of the city,” said and refugees. Janine Carzo, chief operating officer The other health centers are in Lyons (Wayne County), Rushville (Yates County), and Mt. Morris (Livingston County), although the latter two provide dental services only. Administrative headquarters are on Monroe Avenue in Rochester. RPCN also has five school-based health centers in the Rochester area. Hanna toured the Utica center and presented RPCN President and CEO Michael Leary with a certificate of Congressional recognition. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s representative, Beverly Grossman of Community Health Center Association of New York State, also presented a proclamation honoring the facility. Hanna asked how the community health centers are funded. “We received a federal grant of about $660,000,” Leary told him, “but it doesn’t cover everything. The total annual grant expenditure is approximately $1 million.” The funds come from the Health Resources and Services Administration. There are 11,000 such community health centers in the U.S., Leary told Hanna, which make them the largest form of healthcare delivery in the nation.

Aiding the poor

Carzo said 28 percent of Utica’s patients are low-income. They have lost access to emergency care and generally use expensive emergency rooms for access. Leary said the patient base also includes the working poor who don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare, but that the health center bases its fees on a sliding scale tied to income. “The refugee population (in Utica) is a costly endeavor,” said Leary. “There are appropriations for these health centers in the federal budget, but the demand is growing and the Page 14

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

budget has already been reduced next year. The biggest threat is that we can’t make up dollars. We would have to cut back on services.” UCHC serves as the community’s safety net. It provides primary care, including preventive medicine, wellchild checks, immunizations, behavioral services and lab tests, in addition to routine dental care. Hanna also asked how the center copes with a shortage of doctors and nurses. “We have a low turnover in providers,” Carzo replied. The Utica Community Health Center has a staff of 50. It has just two doctors, Cynthia Jones, who gave up a practice in Chicago to relocate here a year ago, and Randy Snow, who arrived in June. UCHC recently added Myra Fuentes, a nurse manager, originally from Puerto Rico. The dental staff includes Pablo Elizondo, who is fluent in Spanish, Harpreet Tiwana, and newly hired April Champen. Support is provided by two nurse practitioners, additional nurses, two dental hygienists, plus administrative staff under the supervision of practice manager Dianne DiMeo. It also has office hours on Saturdays and evenings.

Diverse, caring staff

“The staff (is) a good mix of individuals with experience combined with those who represent the community we live in,” Carzo told Hanna during his visit. “The staff speaks six different languages and represents many cultures. This is an extremely important point for community health centers as we pride ourselves on caring for everyone in our communities.” A patient, Lori Dougall, spoke to Hanna about the quality of care at UCHC. She said she became permanently disabled in 2005. “To Medicaid and Medicare, I’m a slip of paper,” she remarked. “I expect to be treated as a human being and I have been well-received here.” Hanna learned another unique feature about these community health centers. “A majority of our board members must be patients,” Leary said. “There are few models like this.” Such an arrangement contributes a sense of cohesiveness and quality control among the patients, their health care providers, the board of directors and governing regulations. Patients in the Utica region can call 315-793-7600 for medical and dental appointments.

Endoscopy Center plans open house


he new Mohawk Valley Endoscopy Center, 116 Business Park Drive, Utica, will be holding a community open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 3. The public is invited.

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

Autumn offers lessons for retirement

By Jim Miller

New flu vaccine for seniors provides better protection Dear Savvy Senior, I’ve read that there is a new extra-strength flu vaccine being offered to seniors this year. What can you tell me about it, where can I find it, and does Medicare cover it? Flu-Conscious Connie

your doctor or pharmacist, or check the online flu-shot locator at for clinics or stores offering flu shots. Then, contact some in your area to see whether they have the High-Dose vaccine. CVS, Walgreens, Safeway, Kmart, Rite Aid and Kroger are among some of the chains offering the High-Dose shot. You’ll also be happy to know that if you’re a Medicare beneficiary, Part B will cover 100 percent of the cost of your High-Dose vaccination. But if you’re not covered the cost is around $50 to $60 — that’s about double of what you’d pay for a regular flu shot.


Dear Connie, The new extra-strength flu vaccination you’re inquiring about is called the Fluzone High-Dose, and it’s designed specifically for seniors, aged 65 years and older. Here’s what you should know.

Fluzone High-Dose Manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur Inc., the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December 2009, and was first made available last flu season on a limited basis. The main difference between the Fluzone High-Dose and a regular flu shot is its potency. The High-Dose vaccine contain four times the amount of antigen (the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibody) as a regular flu shot does, which creates a stronger immune response for better protection. This extra protection is particularly helpful to seniors who have weaker immune defenses and have a great risk of developing dangerous flu complications. The CDC estimates that the flu puts more than 200,000 people in the hospital each year and kills around 24,000 — 95 percent of whom are seniors. As with all flu vaccines, Fluzone High-Dose is not recommended for seniors who are allergic to chicken eggs, or those who have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past. To locate a vaccination site that offers the Fluzone High-Dose, ask

Another important vaccination the CDC recommends to seniors — especially this time of year – is the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine for pneumonia and meningitis (the vaccine is called Pneumovax 23). Pneumonia causes more than 40,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, many of which could be prevented by this vaccine. If you’re over age 65 and haven’t already gotten this one-time-only shot, you should get it now before flu season hits. Pneumovax 23 is also covered under Medicare Part B, and you can get it on the same day you get your flu shot. If you’re not covered by insurance, this vaccine costs around $75 to $85 at retail clinics. This vaccine is also recommended to adults under age 65 if they smoke or have certain chronic conditions like asthma, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, diabetes, sickle cell disease, have had their spleen removed, or have a weakened immune system due to cancer, HIV or an organ transplant.

Savvy Tips In addition to getting vaccinated, the CDC reminds everyone that the three best ways to stay healthy during flu season is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and stay home if you’re sick. For more information on the recommended vaccines for older adults see


Social Security is the foundation for a secure retirement, but was never meant to be the solesource of income for retirees

n autumn, animals know winter is coming and take the steps to prepare. Bears grow thicker fur and settle in for peaceful hibernation. Squirrels collect and store acorns and other nuts. Birds, favoring warmer weather and having the means to make it possible, fly south for the winter. When it comes to preparing for retirement, we can learn from the animals — making sure the transition into the later years of our lives is as smooth and comfortable as possible. The best place to start is a visit to www.socialsecurity. gov. You can get an instant, personalized estimate of your future Social Security benefits at To prepare for a comfortable retirement, you should start saving as early as possible. Social Security is the foundation for a secure retirement, but was never meant to be the sole-source of income for retirees. In addition to Social Security, you also will need savings, investments, pensions or retirement accounts to make sure you have enough

Q&A Q: I live in a hurricane zone and there’s always a good chance I’ll have to evacuate. What should I do if I’m expecting my check and a hurricane disrupts the mail? A: To avoid this situation altogether, get your payments sent electronically. Direct deposit and direct express are the fast, easy and secure ways to receive your benefit payment. For more information, see www.socialsecurity. gov/deposit. Q: How long does a person need to work to become eligible for retirement benefits?

A: We base Social Security benefits on work credits. Anyone born in 1929 or later needs 40 Social Security credits to be eligible for retirement benefits. You can earn up to four credits a year, Send your senior so you will need to work at least 10 questions to: Savvy years to become eligible for retirement Senior, P.O. Box 5443, benefits. Learn more by reading the Norman, OK 73070, or publication How You Earn Credits at visit www.savvysenior. org. Jim Miller is a html. contributor to the NBC Today show and author Q: Will my son be eligible to receive of “The Savvy Senior” benefits on his retired father’s record book. November 2011 •

money to live comfortably when you retire. Learn about retirement planning and how to save at But wait, there’s more. If you decide you’re going to be a “snowbird” when retirement comes, and go to warmer climates during winter weather, make sure that your Social Security payment goes with you. The best way to do that is to use direct deposit. You never have to worry about where your monthly payment will be delivered — it will show up in your bank account whether you’re in the Dakotas or the Florida Keys. Learn all about electronic payments at www. Whether you’re in the spring, summer, or entering the autumn of your life, the best time to start preparing for retirement is always the present. A good place to start is at www.socialsecurity. gov. Even the animals know they can’t wait until the last minute to prepare for a comfortable winter. Take a lesson from our furry and feathered friends and prepare for your own comfortable retirement.

while going to college? A: No. At one time, Social Security did pay benefits to eligible college students. But the law changed in 1981. We now pay benefits only to students taking courses at grade 12 or below. Normally, benefits stop when children reach age 18 unless they are disabled. However, if children are still full-time students at a secondary (or elementary) school at age 18, benefits generally can continue until they graduate or until two months after they reach age 19, whichever is first. If your child is still going to be in school at age 19, you’ll want to visit www. Q: My brother had an accident at work last year and is now receiving Social Security disability benefits. His wife and son also receive benefits. Before his accident, he helped support another daughter by a woman he never married. Is the second child entitled to benefits? A: The child may qualify for Social Security benefits even though your brother wasn’t married to the second child’s mother. The child’s caretaker should file an application on her behalf. For more information, visit us online at

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 15

Eye Care Eyes on the prize Keep your window on the world clear By Amylynn Pastorella Depending on the ailment or disease, there are a number of reasons why eye problems develop. Eye problems may be hereditary or acquired throughout life. Hereditary predisposition to an eye ailment would be caused by a non-modifiable risk factor—there isn’t much one can do to change the genes they have. Conversely, we refer to some acquired diseases as having modifiable risk factors—one may modify their risk, such as ceasing to smoke, or changing to healthier food habits. “The single thing we can do to prevent vision trouble, or at least to be able to catch vision-threatening eye conditions early enough to save or preserve vision, is to visit our eye care professional on a routine basis. Your eye care professional will be able to guide you with knowledge and care through your life so that your eyes may be as healthy as they possibly can be,” said Scott Bushinger, an optometrist with Costello Eye Physicians and Surgeons of New Hartford.

Watch for secondary causes

As many know, eye problems can develop with age. However, there are things parents should know about protecting their child’s vision. Just because their child may not verbalize or seem to have visual problems, that doesn’t mean that their

KIDS Corner Children of older dads fare as well in school Findings contradict other research


en who become parents later in life are not putting their children at risk for academic problems, a new study suggests. Researchers in Sweden found children born to fathers in their 50s performed no worse in school than kids with fathers in their 30s. The findings, they noted, challenge previous studies that suggested a father’s older age can have a negative impact on his children’s IQ. In the study published online in PLoS ONE, researchers collected data on the school performance of more than 135,000 children in Stockholm. Researchers also considered how the social advantages of being raised by older parents would come into play in how Page 16

by swelling caused by leaking blood vessels that affect the macula, which is in the center of the retina—the layer of tissue on the inside back wall of the eyeball. Wet macular degeneration is one of two types of age-related macular degeneration. The other type—dry macular degeneration—is more common and less severe. Wet macular degeneration almost always begins as dry macular degeneration. It’s not clear what causes wet macular degeneration to develop. “I typically tell patients that their current multivitamin will suffice in keeping their eyes healthy. Only if they are diagnosed with macular degeneration would I recommend switching over to these specific eye vitamins,” said Bushinger. Many systemic diseases can potentially cause eye problems. Diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and thyroid disease are just a few that can potentially cause secondary eye disease.

well the children did in school. “To the delight of fathers choosing to wait before having children, our results suggest that children of older fathers perform no worse in school,” said study leader Anna Svensson, of the Karolinska Institute’s Department of Public Health Sciences, in a news release. “When we studied children’s final year-nine grades we could see no difference between children of fathers in their 50s and children of fathers in their 30s.” The children of fathers younger than 30 performed slightly worse in school than kids of other men. This could be explained by differences in the educational background of the parents, researchers said.

eyes don’t need to be examined. For example, in amblyopia, commonly known as “lazy eye”, a child has normal or near normal vision in one eye, but poor vision in the other eye. When both eyes are open, the child only uses the “good” eye and ignores the blurry image from the weaker eye. It is only until the vision is tested one eye at a time that a problem is noticed. If normal ocular health is noted at birth, the next examination should be at 6 months of age in order to rule out ailments such as amblyopia, which can impede normal development of the eyes. It is advised that a child have their first eye exam at 6 months and that parents shouldn’t wait until their child is school aged.

You can control visual health

Both diet and smoking can definitely affect vision. Patients routinely joke about eating lots of carrots. In fact, the beta-carotene (vitamin A) found in carrots plays a role in initiating the excitation of retinal nerve cells within the eye. In developed nations, most individuals get plenty of beta-carotene and vitamin A in their diets; however, blindness secondary to vitamin A deficiency is prevalent in Third World countries. For patients wishing to use vitamin supplements, it is always recommended to be especially careful of taking too much of the fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. Taking too much of these can lead to toxicity. Patients often ask about special vitamin supplements specific to eye health. Typically these formulations are based on studies that examined how to slow the progression of macular degeneration. There is no study out there that states taking these specially formulated eye vitamins will prevent the onset of macular degeneration in healthy adults, but that isn’t to say they wouldn’t potentially help maintain eye health. Wet macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that causes vision loss in the center of your field of vision. Wet macular degeneration is marked

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

“I would encourage anyone diagnosed with a new systemic disease to ask their primary care physician about any potential visual ramifications. If there is any doubt, your primary care physician can recommend and refer you to your nearest eye care professional. It can also work the other way around. In some instances, your eye doctor may be the first to suspect or diagnose a systemic disease,” said Bushinger. For instance, there are characteristic pigmentation formations that occur in the peripheral retina of some individuals that can actually be a sign of an increased risk of polyps and colon cancer, called “Gardner Syndrome”. Bushinger said people are shocked by the amount of information optometrists can get about the overall health of a patient by simply looking into the eyes. It is recommended to see a doctor immediately if people notice any symptoms such as pain, sudden decreased vision, new floaters or spots in the vision, flashes of light that shouldn’t be there, redness in the vision, double vision, or if there is a change in their peripheral vision. With eye problems generating rapidly, there are many treatments that can be sought. The newest thing in vision correction now is a term called “adaptive optics.” Essentially, people all have mild aberrations in their vision that cause different levels of blur. Most aberrations can be corrected with glasses or contacts so that we may see 20/20. With adaptive optics, the aim is to eliminate higher order aberrations in the surface of the cornea so that we may see 20/15 or 20/10.

Adaptive optics in play

New forms of refractive surgery allow for these aberrations to be corrected and glasses and contacts will soon apply this technology as well. Adaptive optics was actually first introduced through the use of high-powered telescopes that are used to zoom in on planets and distant stars. The aberrations of the earth’s atmosphere continuously change as scientists use these high-powered telescopes and blur the image. By blurring the image, researchers can see if they can develop new ways of correcting this if it affects patients. So, scientists developed telescopes with an array of mirrors that could adapt to the changing aberrations caused by space and atmosphere in order to get crystal clear images of outer space.



Continued from Page 4 series, sponsored by Rome Memorial Hospital. Advance registration is not required. Refreshments will be served. Rome Memorial Hospital’s classroom is located on the second floor of the hospital. Those interested in attending can enter the North James Street entrance of the hospital. There will be signs providing directions to the classroom. For more information, call 3387143.

Nov. 3

School of Radiography slates open house Those interested in pursuing a career in X-ray technology are invited to attend the School of Radiography at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare open house at 6 p.m. Nov. 3 at 1705 Burrstone Road, New Hartford (across the street from the St. Luke’s Campus and next to Castlewood Café). Families are welcome to attend with the interested candidate. The school of radiography is approved and accredited by the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Environmental Radiation Protection in cooperation with the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology and received reaccredidation of its eight year national award in 2010. For questions regarding the open house, call 315-624-9260.

Nov. 4

Expert to speak on social thinking/autism Professionals, teachers and families are encouraged to register early for the 8th annual Kelberman Center Autism Institute featuring Michelle Garcia Winner, a leading expert in the field of social skills. The conference is a collaboration among the Kelberman Center, Enable and the E. John Gavras Center. The event takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Turning Stone Resort in Vernon.

This workshop is designed for parents and professionals to understand the inner mind of persons with social learning weaknesses, such as high functioning Autism Asperger Syndrome, ADHD, non-verbal learning disability and the undiagnosed student. Cost is $120 for professionals and $50 for family members and the fee includes attendance, continental breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks and all registration materials. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis and attendance is limited. Visit to register. A limited number of scholarships are available. For more information, or to register by phone, contact Laura Tarasiewicz at the Kelberman Center at (315) 797-6241.

Nov. 5

FSLH to feature youth aquatic classes Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare’s Wellness Center is taking registrations for youth aquatic classes which begin Nov. 5. “Mommy & Me” is for ages 6 months through 4 years and offers a fun and stimulating experience to build important developmental skills while promoting parent-child bonding. “Kidzercise” is for children aged 5-12 and is a swim program that promotes fun and exercise for children. The aqua therapy pool is located at The Regional Rehabilitation Center, Faxton Campus, 1676 Sunset Ave., Utica. For more information or to register, call 624-5484 or email

Nov. 6

Senior Sunday: Lunch and Learn Lecture featured On Nov. 6, Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica will host a Senior Sunday: Lunch and Learn Lecture. The topic is “Coping with the Holiday Blues” and will be presented by Samuel Westmoreland, the inpatient staff psychiatrist at FSLH.

The lecture will be held at noon in the Soggs Room at St. Luke’s Home, 1650 Champlin Ave., Utica. Seating is limited. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 315.624.HOME (4663). A hot lunch will be served followed by the presentation. A voluntary donation of $5 per person would be appreciated to supplement the cost of the luncheon.

Nov. 13

Taste of Little Falls approaching The Little Falls Hospital’s annual “Taste of Little Falls” prepares to “Experience Oriental Enchantment” from 5-8 p.m. Nov. 13 at The Knight’s Inn, 20 Albany St., Little Falls. This event showcases the best of area restaurants and chefs and attracts over 200 people every year. Gifts, paintings, jewelry, gift certificates and baskets will be on auction for guests to purchase tickets. Auction donations are one ticket for $2 or three tickets for $5. Admission is $45 per person or $85 for couples. Walk-ins are an additional $5. To receive information on sponsorships opportunities and to purchase tickets in advance, contact the Little Falls Hospital Development Office at 315-823-5326. All proceeds will help Little Falls Hospital acquire new technology, introduce new programs, and improve health education to better serve the residents of the Mohawk Valley.

Nov. 20

Abraham House features Festival of Wreaths Abraham House’s “Festival of Wreaths” will be held on from 12-4 p.m. Nov. 20 at Daniel’s, 8360 Seneca Turnpike, New Hartford. The public will vote on wreaths designed by local businesses and individuals. There will be four winning categories of best of show, best of theme, children’s choice and most original. The public will also be able to bid on the wreaths. The Festival of Wreaths also will feature live entertainment, Santa and a Kids Korner of free holiday activities. Festival of Wreaths is sponsored by Daniel’s, Eannace Funeral Home, Massoud’s Tree Farms and Omnicare. Tickets at the door are $3 for adults and $1 for children 12 and under. For more information, call Patty Shenberger at Abraham House at 733-8210 or visit its website at www. Abraham House provides a secure and loving home without charge to the terminally ill in the community.

Excellus BCBS listed among best plans in nation


xcellus BlueCross BlueShield has the top-rated HMO/POS plan in New York state, according to the National Committee for Quality Assurance health insurance plan ranking for 2011-2012. Excellus BCBS is the only health plan in New York state to have a commercial product ranked in the top 20 nationally. The health plan also maintained its strong rankings in other product lines. NCQA’s Medicare health insurance plan ranking for 2011-2012 listed Excellus BCBS Medicare plans at 26th in

the nation, while the NCQA Medicaid health insurance plan ranking for 20112012 listed Excellus BCBS at 15th. “This clearly shows the value of having nonprofit health plans in upstate New York,” said Christopher Booth, president and chief operating officer of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “Regardless of age or income, the health care consumer wins when the emphasis is on quality rather than on guaranteeing a return on investment for shareholders.” NCQA is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits

and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. It also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performance. NCQA’s Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set is the most widely used performance measurement tool in health care. The national rankings reflect a health plan’s performance based on: • Success in preventive care and treating illness (60 percent of overall score) • Results of consumer satisfaction surveys (25 percent of overall score)

November 2011 •

National Nurse Practitioner Week Celebrated


hroughout the week of Nov. 13–19 nurse practitioners (NPs) from across New York state and the country will celebrate their contributions to the healthcare industry and the role they will play in the new age of health reform. “We celebrate not only the success and progress of nurse practitioners over the past several decades in New York state, but the sweeping national health reform enacted by the President and Congress,” said Seth Gordon, president and CEO of the Nurse Practitioner Association New York State. “By restructuring the way our country’s health care system is managed, it’s inevitable that the role of nurse practitioners will continue to expand and evolve. In New York, there are more than 13,000 licensed nurse practitioners. The Nurse Practitioner Association of New York State serves as the statewide voice for the profession. “The stage has been set for a broad reconsideration of the roles and practices of NPs. Now is the time for New York state to recognize the capabilities of NPs and remedy those barriers that place unnecessary restrictions on the services these highly trained healthcare professionals can provide.” “In the new age of healthcare, nurse practitioners remain the best fit provider for quality, cost-effective and timely patient care. NPs have been filling patient care voids for nearly half a century and are now needed more than ever,” said Gordon. “Nurse Practitioner Week serves as the perfect time to recognize our state’s NPs and to embrace them as an integral part of our healthcare team. Our healthcare system and the people it serves deserve nurse practitioners who are free to practice to their utmost abilities.” Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who today function as mainstream healthcare providers in various primary care and specialty roles. The combination of nursing experience and advanced study makes NPs uniquely qualified to provide high quality, nurturing and individualized care. NPs diagnose and treat illness, monitor and manage chronic conditions, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe medications. In New York State, NPs typically work in practices or settings similar to physicians and are committed to providing quality care as valuable members of a collegial healthcare community. Presently, there are about 145,000 nurse practitioners nationwide certified in various specialty areas, including acute care, adult health, community and family health, gerontology, holistic nursing, neonatology, obstetrics/gynecology, oncology, palliative care, pediatrics, perinatology, psychiatry, school health and women’s health. For more information, visitwww. or the local chapter at

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 17

H ealth News Health department urges residents to get vaccinated Oneida County Health Department officials are reminding county residents now is the time for all persons six months and older to get vaccinated against influenza. The Oneida County Health Department has scheduled flu immunization clinics at various sites throughout the county through mid-November. The cost for adults 19 years and older not covered by Medicaid or Medicare Part B is $25. Some private insurance will be accepted for payment. Children up to 18 years can get the vaccine during any of the health department clinic’s regular immunization clinics. The charge for the children’s vaccine is set on a sliding fee schedule based on one’s ability to pay. A schedule of immunization clinics can be found on the health department’s website at www.ocgov/ Oneida/health. This year’s vaccine combines protection against the H1N1 virus and several strains expected to be most common during this flu season which runs through March. For more information on preventing influenza, visit www.ocgov/Oneida/health or call the Oneida County Health Department at 798-5747.

Flu schedule posted

Oneida County Health Department posts flu schedule The Oneida County Health Department has posted its seasonal flu schedule for November. Go to to schedule an appointment for children and parents/guardians. Call 798-5748 for more information.

Adult flu clinics

• Nov. 2: Sherrill City Office Building, 373 Sherrill Road, Sherrill—1-3 p.m. • Nov. 4: Oneida County Health Department, 406 Elizabeth St., Utica— 1-3 p.m. • Nov. 8: Parkway Seniors, 220 Memorial Parkway, Utica— 10 a.m. to noon • Nov. 10: Town of Bridgewater Municipal Building, Route 8, Bridgewater—9:30-10:30 a.m. • Nov. 10: School House Apts., Stafford Avenue, Waterville—11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. • Nov. 18: Oneida County Health Department, 406 Elizabeth St., Utica— 1-3 p.m.

Abraham House refuge for terminally ill Abraham House provides a secure and loving home to the terminally ill at no cost to the individual for anyone living within Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties. Abraham House provides aroundthe-clock personal care to ensure the terminally ill have a place to die in dignity. Many people die alone, do not have someone who is able to care for them or they are in unsafe surroundings. Abraham House also provides an apartment for free for family members that wish to stay close to their loved one, especially on those blustery winter Page 18

nights often seen in Upstate New York. Abraham House is based closely on the model of a family caring for a loved one at home. Abraham House counts on volunteers to be the heart of the mission of Abraham House in order to be fiscally responsible with the money it receives. Abraham House does not receive insurance reimbursement and, therefore, totally relies on the generosity of the community through donations and fundraising events. If interested in volunteering at Abraham House or participating in an upcoming fundraiser, contact Abraham House at 733-8210 or visit its website at www.the

Fund drive on tap

The Abraham House is conducting a fund drive. All items collected will benefit the Abraham House. Items can be dropped off at Abraham House, 1203 Kemble St., Utica. Needed items include applesauce packs, baby wipes, cans of Coca Cola and ginger ale, envelopes, fruit packs, grocery gift cards, hard candy, laundry detergent (high efficiency only), Lysol air freshener spray, pasta, ready-made pudding snacks, soups (no cream soups), stamps, dusters, and wet cloths. Monetary donations are accepted as well.

Credit union leader to chair ‘Go Red’ luncheon The American Heart Association recently announced that First Source Federal Credit Union President/CEO Michael Parsons is the chairman of the 11th annual Go Red For Women Luncheon. The 2012 Go Red Luncheon will take place May 2 at the Hart’s Hill Inn. Parsons will lead the organizational and fundraising efforts for women in the Greater Utica/ Mohawk Valley area to raise awareness against the largest health threat facing women: cardiovascular diseases. Go Red For Women is the American Heart Association’s solution to Parsons save women’s lives. One out of three women is still dying from heart disease, but the good news is, this leading killer is often preventable. “We all know someone that has suffered from heart disease and we can do a better job of prevention,” says Parsons. “Eighty percent of my employees are female, so I am committed to providing a workplace where wellness and good health can thrive and want to expand that to our community.” Go Red For Women is nationally sponsored by Macys and Merck, and locally sponsored by First Source Federal Credit Union and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. For more information on the luncheon and other local Go Red events, call 315-266-5403.

HealthNet gets grant from Community Foundation Herkimer County HealthNet, Inc. has been awarded a grant $10,000 from The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc. These funds will be used to upgrade and enhance HCHN’s computer systems. According to Adam Hutchinson, executive director of Herkimer County HealthNet, “These funds, generously awarded by The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, will enable HCHN to more efficiently and effectively meet its mission of improving the health and well-being of individuals who live, work, play, and learn in Herkimer County.” The foundation has made more than 4,300 grants totaling over $34.3 million in support of causes ranging from education to health care, the arts to the environment. Grants are generated by the more than 270 funds that compromise the foundation’s endowment. For more information about HCHN and its initiatives, call 315-867-1552 or visit

Help make holidays bright at Upstate Cerebral Palsy Upstate Cerebral Palsy children are in need of holiday gifts now more than ever due to budgetary restraints and the current economic state. UCP has begun its annual Holiday Miracles Project to help supply needy children receiving agency services with gifts and necessities this holiday season. Each year, case workers identify children who receive services at the agency who are in need of assistance. Caring volunteers from the area are then assigned a child, receive a child’s wish-list from his or her case worker, and then purchase items on the list. Coworkers, families and individuals are invited to participate and help make Holiday Miracles a success, through either “adopting” a child or children, volunteering to shop or wrap gifts or through making a donation. For more information, or to shop for a child this season, visit upstatecp. org/holiday-miracles-project or call (315) 724-6907 ext. 2278.

Lions Eye Bank at Albany names ‘Visionary of Year’ Donna A. Sickler, nurse manager at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica, was named the 2011 Visionary of the Year by the Lions Eye Bank at Albany. Sickler was chosen for this distinction because of her unending commitment to cornea donation and efforts to promote the gift of sight. The award was presented at the seventh annual Donor Memorial Service held recently in Albany. Sickler’s efforts also contributed to FSLH being named the 2011 Hospital of the Year in June. FSLH was honored by the Lions Eye Bank at Albany for its compassionate care of grieving donor families. Thanks to donors, corneal trans-

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

plant surgery becomes a reality for one of the nearly 2,000 people who lose their sight each month. The Lions Eye Bank at Albany works to obtain corneal tissue and provides it for the visually impaired in Northeastern New York and Great Barrington, Mass. Individuals interested in becoming an organ, tissue or eye donor can enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry by signing the donor box on the back of their license or identification card, or by visiting For more information about the Lions Eye Bank at Albany, call (518) 489-7606 or visit

FSLH welcomes home war veteran Dr. John Sperling, commander, US Navy Reserves, recently returned home from deployment to Camp Bastion in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He served with British and American troops at the Role 3 Hospital. Sperling is a surgeon at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare’s Adirondack Community Physicians Surgical Group and practices with Drs. Ferreiro, Wasiczko and Williams. Their office is located at the St. Luke’s Campus, Professional Office Building, Suite 335, 1656 Champlin Sperling Ave., Utica. “Dr. Sperling is an excellent surgeon who possesses many positive qualities,” said Barbara Kantor, nurse manager for the operating room and the post-anesthesia care unit at FSLH. Sperling earned his Bachelor’s degree in environmental studies/biology from Alfred University in Alfred and received his medical degree from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He completed his internship and residency in general surgery at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, N.J. Prior to joining FSLH, Sperling was a staff surgeon and director of emergency services at Griffiss Air Force Base.

LFH collecting ‘sharps’ from area residents

Little Falls Hospital would like to remind area residents that the State Department of Health Law requires that hospitals and nursing homes have a procedure for the proper disposal of “sharps”—needles, syringes, and lancets that are generated as a result of self-maintenance programs involving the delivery of injected medication. Little Falls Hospital collects the items on a regular basis. Private residents can bring their sharps to the hospital reception desk from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Items must be in an approved, shatterproof, leak-proof, and puncture-resistant container. The hospital has the right to refuse sharps placed in non-approved containers. Private residents with questions about the collection service can call 823-5265.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 19

The area’s only ACR Breast Imaging Center of Excellence. Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare (FSLH) is the only Breast Imaging Center of Excellence in the Mohawk Valley. For hospitals and health systems, earning a breast imaging accreditation is not easy. As a Center of Excellence designated by the American College of Radiology (ACR), we offer the highest quality of standards to diagnose breast cancer. Our technologists have been trained by a world-renowned mammographer and our radiologists are the only physicians in the Mohawk Valley that specialize in advanced breast imaging training. We support our patients with a team approach including digital mammography, surgery, medical and radiation oncology services and our Breast Patient Navigator program.

Technology at work for you. Our Breast Care Center features the lastest in technology like our GE Senographe Essential Digital Mammography system.

Each day Suzy Burns, RN, is building relationships with breast cancer patients. As a breast patient navigator and registered nurse at FSLH’s Comprehensive Breast Care Center, she is specially trained to coordinate the clinical, educational and supportive needs of patients who are either facing a possible breast

For more information call (315) 624-5764.

Page 20

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

cancer diagnosis or are newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

no charge to patients in our community.

From the time of an abnormal mammogram, she is available to provide education and support in comprehensive breast care all at

Burns is located at the Faxton Campus and serves as an expert guide in all aspects of breast care.

In Good Health  
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Healthcare Newspaper for Mohawk Valley