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in good

Happy New Year!

Protect yourself against the wrath of winter! See Page 12


Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

January 2012 • Issue 71

New Year, New You Take advantage of clean slate. See Page 5.

Be prepared for germ warfare. See Page 16

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FSLH, St. E’s explore merger Utica-based healthcare titans look to unite efforts


he boards of directors for both Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare and St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica have each recently passed a resolution to begin discussions on the feasibility and benefits of merging, or undertaking other transactions that would more closely link the two hospitals. “The economic and regulatory environments continue to make it difficult for hospitals to survive. During the past several years, hospitals, particularly in New York state, have been struggling with the changes in reimbursement, unfunded mandates and an increasingly challenging regulatory environment. I applaud both boards for having the vision and commitment to explore a merger in order to sustain the healthcare needs of our community,” stated Gregory McLean, chairman of the board of directors for Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare. “Both institutions have strong commitments to the community and both recognize the need to be pro-active in this ever-changing healthcare arena.” While officials are unsure of the specific time line, they anticipate the process will take 18 to 24 months. “As we look around New York state, a number of hospitals have already merged or are in the process of merging,” notes Norman I. Siegel, chairman of St. Elizabeth Medical Center Board of Trustees. “Consolida-

tion and joint partnerships are not new for our area. Faxton Hospital and St. Luke’s Memorial consolidated their services in 2000. Both St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare jointly own the Mohawk Valley Heart Institute and have collaborative agreements for the Regional Cancer Program and the Central New York Diabetes Education Program. As we, the board members, look at the future, we feel it is responsible and prudent to explore the possibility of a combined system.” The two organizations employ nearly 4,900 employees and have combined operating budgets of more than $535 million.

Alll about togetherness

“As community hospitals, we have done a good job working together to not duplicate services in a number of areas. That alone has saved our community millions of dollars in resources. As we look to the future and see the continued decrease in reimbursement and the additional burden placed on healthcare for regulatory reform, we recognize it is no longer business as usual,” commented Scott H. Perra, president/CEO, Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare. “We will be exploring other models for the delivery of healthcare. While we are going through this process, we are very sensitive to what this announcement means to our healthcare

January 2012 •

family and our community. We recognize there will be concern among our employees, medical staff and members of our community. They will be anxious to know what this means regarding their jobs, where physicians practice and where patients receive care. Our pledge is to keep an open dialogue throughout this process.” “Both the hospitals are busy, with more than 90,000 patient visits in our combined emergency departments and urgent care and caring for more than 29,000 inpatients annually. As we begin this process, we have no preconceived ideas about the final outcome or what the new system might look like. There are a number of excellent resources throughout New York state, systems who have merged, and we will be talking directly to a number of them in the coming months,” said Richard H. Ketcham, president/CEO, St. Elizabeth Medical Center. “As we begin this journey, we have many avenues we need to explore, including working with the New York State Department of Health and our national, state and local government officials.” “It is very important that the sponsor of our medical center, the Sisters of St. Francis, is fully involved as our discussions develop,” Ketcham stated. “I am pleased that they have already pledged their full support for our participation in this process.”

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

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


Brenda’s Natural Foods • Organic and Raw Groceries • Vitamins and Suppliments • Great Pirices on Cooking Herbs • Large Selection of Gluten Free Foods • Cheeses and Teas

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It’s time to share the grief with support group GriefShare meets from 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. The faith-based support group is available for those who have lost a loved one. For more information, contact Andrea, program coordinator, at 315-7356210, or visit

“Ready, set … I do!” will be presented at The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica on Jan. 14, 21 and 28. “Ready, set ... I do! is an engaging approach to marriage preparation combining practical knowledge with God’s plan. In this three-session workshop series, couples will learn relationshipbuilding tools while gaining insight into themselves and each other. For more information, contact Tanya, program coordinator, at 315-735-6210 ext. 234, or visit

of Lourdes Church, 2222 Genesee St., Utica. “We hope that many people throughout the area will be able to attend and pay tribute to Sister Rose Vincent,” said Richard Ketcham, the president/CEO of St. Elizabeth Medical Center. “Sister touched the lives of so many individuals and organizations through her many Sister Rose Vincent years.” It was Gleason’s wish to have her funeral in Syracuse as is the tradition of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. “She was such an important part of the Utica community that it is important to have this tribute to her here, as well,” Ketcham noted. Arrangements for the memorial mass have been entrusted to the staff of St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Eannace Funeral Home, Inc. For those unable to attend the memorial mass, notes of tribute may be left at or call 1-800-357-3019.

Jan. 14

Jan. 31

The Good News Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, Utica. The Third Option is a support group for married couples who are experiencing problems. For more information, contact Andrea, program coordinator, at 315-735-6210 ext. 228, or visit Inquire about free childcare.

Jan. 14

Workshop trains future brides and grooms

Memorial mass scheduled ‘Women at the Well’ a spiritual journey for Sister Rose Vincent Jan. 8 Women at the Well will meet from 6:30-8 p.m. Jan. 31 at The Good News Couples: Ready to consider Gleason Sister Rose Vincent Gleason recent- Center, 10475 Cosby Manor Road, ly passed away peacefully at Jolenta ‘The Third Option’? Utica. The Third Option will meet from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Jan. 8 and Jan. 29 at

Convent, Syracuse. A memorial mass to honor her will be at 10 a.m. Jan. 14 at Our Lady

The group meets on the last Tues-

Continued on Page 15

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

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Between You and Me

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By Barbara Pierce

Are you a people pleaser?

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Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ By Barbara Pierce


s pleasing other people important to you? So important that you put the needs of everyone else above your own? Does the fear of what others will think stop you from doing what you really want to do? It’s so tough to say “no” even when you don’t really want to do something, so you run around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to do way too many things because you can’t say “no?” That does describe me. I’ve just had a wakeup call that tells me being a people pleaser is not the way to go. While being a “nice” Pierce cooperative person who everybody likes is not a bad way to be, people pleasing is a bad way to be. It puts a lot of pressure and stress on you. If you are overcommitted and trying to doing everything for everyone else but yourself, you will crash and burn. “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody,” said Bill Cosby. My wakeup call came up when a new friend asked me, “What do you do for fun?” I stared at her blankly, as if she was speaking in Chinese. Having fun was something I never did, just like I never speak Chinese. I realized I was using up all my energy resources on everyone else but myself. I recognized that I was on such an overload that I was making all kinds of mistakes, bad mistakes that could have serious consequences. Being a people pleaser can have serious consequences to our physical health, and definitely to our emotional health. Some of us always say “yes”

because it makes us feel that we are needed. It makes us feel important. “I am the only one who can do this right” is what we say to ourselves. Experts say this comes from a lack of confidence in ourselves. Years ago, I remember being stunned by the comment of a friend. I was a person dedicated to her job, giving 150 percent. I often stayed late to finish up paperwork, or talk to a patient in crisis. My friend, a supervisor in the hospital where I worked, suggested that administration viewed the fact that I worked overtime not as indication of what a superior, dedicated employee I was, but as an indication that I was not competent to do my job in the allotted time. What I thought was positive was a real negative. Here’s some strategies people pleasers can use: • Stop saying “yes.” It is easier to say “yes” than “no.” But you do need to say “no,” so that others don’t take you for granted and even lose respect for you. • It’s OK to say “no.” It really is. And it is necessary. Say it nicely with your best look of sympathy and regret on your face. But never apologize for saying “no.” • If it’s too hard for you to say “no,” buy time. Don’t say “yes” to anything until you take at least 24 hours to think about it. Just say, “Let me check my calendar; I’ll get back to you tomorrow one way or the other.” If there is not enough time to take those 24 hours and you are being asked because it’s an “emergency,” there’s a clue as to whether you are a people pleaser or not. You are not someone else’s emergency solution. When you say “no,” don’t explain; you don’t owe anyone an explanation. Use as few words as possible; the less


FLOYD Fire Hall 8367 Old Floyd road (Off 365) Monday 6:00 PM WEST WINFIELD Federated Church 452 East Main Street Thursday 5:00 PM UTICA-NORTH North Utica Sr. Citizens Community Center 50 Riverside Dr Wednesday 10:00 AM Thursday 6:00 PM WHITESBORO Baptist Church Corner of Main and Tracey Streets Wednesday 6:00 PM HERKIMER Reformed Church N. Main and Church Streets Wednesday 6:30 PM VERNON United Methodist Church Corner of Rt. 5 & Sconondoa St. Monday 5:30 PM

the battle against the bulge may want a gym close to home. • Hours of operation: The gym should be open when you plan to exercise. Early birds, for example, may need a gym with early hours to allow for the 5 a.m. swim before work. • Cost: Ask if the gym will waive the enrollment fee so that you’re only responsible for the monthly dues. • Free trial pass: Test the gym during the times you’ll likely exercise. Is the gym too crowded? Are the classes, equipment and atmosphere right for you? Are showers and changing facilities up to par? • Equipment quality: Check if the cardio and weight machines are clean and in good condition. • Staff: Are staff members qualified with the right certifications? You may want a gym with fitness trainers and dietitians to help you get healthier.

*Xpress meeting: In & out in an hour ROME CENTER Mohawk Plaza (in the arcade) 1734 Black River Blvd Monday 10:00 AM Tuesday 11:30 AM Thursday 6:30 PM Friday 5:00 PM Saturday 10:00 AM FRANKFORT Morning Star United Methodist Church 4224 Acme Road (Rear entrance) Tuesday 5:00 PM LITTLE FALLS St Paul’s Universalist Church 565 Albany Street Monday 5:00 PM First ½ hour of each meeting is for registration & weigh-in. Discussion follows. Subsequent weeks: $12 per week or 6 weeks for $63.

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Finding the right fitness facility any holiday party goers will likely start 2012 searching for the perfect fitness facility to shed the holiday weight gain and fulfill a New Year’s resolution. Finding the right fitness facility can be a tricky task if you’re looking for more than just the lowest-cost option. “You need to assess your fitness goals before selecting the best gym for you,” said Janette Westman, health and wellness consultant, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “Do you want a basic gym with treadmills for a daily run or walk, for example, or do you prefer a gym with varied classes or state-of-the art equipment to keep you motivated?” Westman, a former personal trainer, offers the following tips for finding the right fitness facility: • Location: People often stop exercising because they lack the time. If you exercise after work, select a gym close to your employer. Weekend warriors in

you explain the better. When you explain, you are giving them the opportunity to challenge your explanations. Just say something simple like, “I’m sorry, but I have to say no right now.” Or say, “Thanks for asking me, but I do have something else scheduled.” It’s perfectly OK if the something else you have scheduled is to read a good book or take a bubble bath. Or sit on a park bench and stare into space. • Remember, it’s easier to change a “no” to a “yes” than vice versa. If you say “no” to something and you later wish you had not said “no,” you can always change your mind. Once you say “yes,” it’s almost impossible to get out of whatever it is. • People may lay guilt trips on you, to manipulate you into doing what they want you to. At first, they won’t like the new you. They always relied on you to come through, and they may get angry at you when you’re not ready to be their solution. Then, either they will respect you for the fact you are putting more value on yourself, or they will drift out your life in search of another patsy. • Think about your priorities and values. Ask yourself, “What are the most important things to me?” Then you will know whether to say “yes” or “no.” Use positive self-talk to remind yourself of your priorities. For example, say, “I need to focus on myself now. I can’t take on any new projects.” Stand firm. Practice makes perfect. It gets easier. • Barbara Pierce, a published writer and a retired psychotherapist, writes memoirs for others, and helps people write their stories. Contact her at

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January 2012 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Health groups target avoidable ER visits


ocal health care groups launched a campaign recently tackling potentially avoidable emergency rooms visits after an analysis shows that Upstate New Yorkers make more than 700,000 ER trips annually for minor issues such as sore throats and ear aches. “For the second year in a row, our detailed analysis of ER visits in which patients don’t stay overnight found that two out of five visits are potentially avoidable,” said Frank Dubeck, vice president and chief medical officer, medical policy, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “True emergencies belong in the ER,” Dubeck added. “But most sore throats and earaches, for example, should be seen by your primary care doctor. Your doctor will likely see you more quickly and your co-pay for a doctor visit will be less.” As a result, the Medical Societies of Herkimer and Oneida counties and Excellus BCBS are launching a public service campaign in the Utica region. The campaign features television and radio advertisements, urging people to first call their physician for non-urgent issues. The campaign is modeled after a similar campaign by the Baptist Memorial Health Care hospital system based in Memphis, Tenn. The Monroe County Medical Society teamed with Excellus BCBS to launch a similar campaign in the Rochester region. “The quality of healthcare is greatly improved when doctors and patients work together as partners,” said Suresh K. Sharma, president, Herkimer County Medical Society. “Patients should call their primary care doctor first when deciding the best place to receive care for medical problems.” “The goal of effective health care policy is providing to patients the highest quality of care at the lowest possible cost in the most appropriate environment,” said Paul A. Hamlin, president, Medical Society of the State of New York. “Educating the public to use the emergency room only when necessary and appropriate is absolutely consistent with this laudable goal.” According to the report: • One out of four ER visits in 2009 in which patients were treated and released on the same day was for a medical issue, such as a back problem, that didn’t need care within 12 hours. • Another 19 percent of visits were for medical conditions that needed treatment soon—such as ear infections—but could have been treated in a primary care setting. • A significant amount of health care“Many of the figures in the analysis are conservative,” Dubeck added. “The number of potentially unnecessary ER visits in Upstate New York is likely larger because the report did not include visits the NYU formula deemed ‘unclassifiable,’ such as injuries.” Page 4


Your Doctor

By Lou Sorendo

Dr. John Vakios John Vakios, radiation oncologist with 21st Century Oncology, recently joined the radiation oncology department at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica. Recently, Mohawk Valley In Good Health Associate Editor Lou Sorendo spoke with Vakios regarding his specialty and career. Q.: What are the primary functions of a radiation oncologist? A.: A radiation oncologist is a physician specialist who primarily uses radiation therapy to treat cancer. Specialists work together with primary care physicians to ensure that patients receive treatment for specific medical problems as well as complete and comprehensive care throughout life. Radiation has been used to treat cancer for more than 100 years. A radiation oncologist first evaluates a patient diagnosed with cancer with respect to his or her suitability for treatment with radiation therapy, and then discusses the patient’s treatment options. Radiation oncologists then formulate a treatment plan and prescribe a treatment dose, in the same manner that other physicians prescribe a medication. Q.: What do you feel it takes to be a successful radiation oncologist? A.: A radiation oncologist must have in depth knowledge of surgery, pathology, radiology, and oncology and the skill to formulate individualized treatment plans. This field requires a person to have a keen diagnostic eye, a calm temperament, good adaptation skills, the ability to make fast-paced logical decisions, a willingness to work as part of an interdisciplinary team, and to have strong communication and counseling skills. Q.: What do you feel are the most significant challenges to being a radiation oncologist? A.: The biggest challenge in all of medicine whether you are a doctor or a hospital is to continue to do more with less. We must provide quality personalized care to a growing number of patients. Health care reimbursement has declined for the last decade, while the cost of providing care has continued to increase. An example of this may be found in Cancer Volume 116, Issue 14, pages 3477–3484, July 2010: “In 1987, the total medical cost of cancer (in 2007 U.S. dollars) was $24.7 billion. Between 2001 to 2005 period, the total medical cost of cancer increased to $48.1 billion.” Q.: Why did you choose the specialty of radiation oncology? What motivated you to pursue that career path? A.: One of the primary influences in deciding to go into oncology was, while in medical school, one patient

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

strongly affected my desire to become an oncologist. He was also in medical school. He was a 27-year-old medical student who was diagnosed with lymphoma at a late stage. Unfortunately the treatment was not successful. This death severely devastated his family and his friends and made me wish that better therapies were available and that I could make a difference. Q.: What or who were the primary

influences on you while pursuing a career in medicine? A.: My first real involvement with a physician was when my grandmother became ill for several days and I was unable to spend time with her. Our family physician came to our home, examined my grandmother and prescribed her medication. To my relief, soon my grandmother was well enough to spend time with me again. I wanted to be like this man. I wanted to help people and make a difference in their lives as well as their families’ lives. Q.: How would you describe the level of access to quality healthcare in the Mohawk Valley? A.: With respect to cancer therapy, we have a phenomenal resource in The Regional Cancer Center. It is a nationally recognized community cancer center, accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. We offer stateof-the-art radiation therapy services, including stereotactic radiosurgery, body radiosurgery, intensity modulated radiotherapy, image guided radiotherapy, high dose rate brachytherapy and low dose rate brachytherapy.

Continued on Page 15

Lifelines Birth date: Aug. 14, 1952 Birthplace: Lancaster, Pa. Education: Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pa.; UMDNJ New Jersey Medical School, Newark, N.J. Affiliations: ASTRO, Greek Orthodox Personal: Married with one child Hobbies: Spending quality time with my wife and son; playing with my son and watching him grow up; reading Ludlum stories and science fiction

2012: Ready to make changes? Self-analysis key to determining positive change By Barbara Pierce


t’s that time of year. January holds so much conquerthe-world promise—a clean slate, a fresh new year. Yes, we can conquer the world this year! We can re-create ourselves! To work at something you love, instead of something you have to do. To have meaningful relationships, with a partner, with friends. To follow your dreams, to pursue that goal you have always wanted. “Many people connect the New Year with making changes and resolutions to improve their life,” said Eileen Kent, owner/director of Stories of a Lifetime, of Utica. “I prefer to think about these opportunities being available all year.” Kent is right. Opportunities are available all year. But whether it is the New Year, or later, many of us will get sidetracked by the demands of life. The ordinary, every day things we must do get in the way. Kent made a major change in her life when she was laid off her job. As she tells it: “Several years ago, when a local nonprofit agency was downsizing, it was an unwelcome change for those of us who were laid off. But, in evaluating the elements of the job I had liked best, I decided to combine those skills and experiences, and to begin a new business which I knew I would love.” Kent recognized that the part of her jobs that she liked best was being involved with people. And she had great skills in this area. This led her to what she now describes as her “life’s true passion— working with people to help them save their stories before their stories are lost forever in the passing of time.” In her business, Kent helps individuals, organizations, and businesses document their histories and stories on archival DVDs for future generations.

How to achieve your goals

Here are some strategies that can help you achieve what you set out to do on that bright New Year’s Day. “Is what you’re doing in your life now working?” is the well-known question from Dr. Phil McGraw. Many people spend much time and effort doing things that don’t work for them, yet they do them over and over. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. “Check every area of your life, and when you find one that isn’t working, tell yourself: ‘This may have been my habit, but now’s the time to change it,’” advises McGraw. Figure out what in your life needs to be changed. If your partner is wonderful when he’s sober, but he is rarely sober, and he is abusive when drunk, what you’re doing isn’t working. Don’t put up with less than you deserve. Or, if the life you have chosen leaves you financially hanging on by your fingernails, what you’re doing isn’t working. Or if you dread going to work each day, you deserve better than this. Like Kent, analyze your life. Analyze your skills; analyze what you are good at; and what turns you on. Then, determine your priorities. When most women look at their priorities and how they spend most of their time, they are usually way down on the list, or not even on the list. We tend to live reactive lives, rather than proactive lives. We wake up every day and deal with what is thrown our way. If you don’t take care of yourself, then you can’t take care of others. If you run out of time before you get around to the simple things you want and need to do, you have got to make yourself a higher priority.

Share your intentions

Once the light bulb goes on, and you realize that something is wrong

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and you need to change, talk with others about it. Instead of keeping your intentions to yourself, make them known to others. Other people can reinforce your behaviors. And, often, as you talk with others, you will further develop your plan. Also, it’s harder to abandon a dream when you have told everyone. As you develop your plan, anticipate obstacles that may come up, and anticipate how you might deal with them. People who think ahead in terms of how to get around obstacles are more likely to stick with their plan. “Whether it is a self-motivated change, or one that is imposed on you, use it as a catalyst for something better

in your life,” advises Kent. “The Chinese symbol for change includes two meanings: danger and opportunity. Most people only think about the danger of the unknown parts of change. But opportunity is also present in every change.” “Is this the year you finally begin to do the work you really love?” asks Kent. “Is it time to make changes that will increase your sense of purpose and happiness? And don’t let your age be an excuse. How old will you be next year if you don’t do it? I was only 59 when I began Stories of a Lifetime!” For more information on Stories of a Lifetime, see

Feeling anxious, tense or worried? Call today to receive A Free Personal Consultation and Effective, Holistic Healing Pat Jones at (315) 982-0843 Email

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In Good Health,

Editor & Publisher: Wagner Dotto • Associate Editor: Lou Sorendo Contributing Writers: Amylynn Pastorella, Patricia Malin, Barbara Pierce, Kristen Raab Advertising: Richard Annal, Marsha Preston Layout & Design: Chris Crocker Office Manager: Laura Beckwith

Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper. Reaching health consumers, health professionals. 20,000 copies distributed each month

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 5

The Balanced Body

By Deb Dittner

Chase away wintertime blues SAD pervasive during dark, dreary winter days By Deb Dittner


or many people, winter can bring about serious mood changes. You may experience cravings for carbohydrates, struggling with exhaustion, or feeling of not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. These symptoms may last well into April, when a return of increased energy and elevated mood occur. This cyclic form of the blues, known as seaDittner sonal affective disorder, or SAD, is thought to be triggered by a decrease in sunlight and shorter days during the winter months. Light therapy is often used to treat SAD but is only effective for some. Other tips to help beat winter depression is: • Breath work (pranayama): Most people tense up and hold their breath. Breath work practiced twice a day can help manage stress and lift your spirits. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends breath work while sitting in a comfortable position. Exhale completely through the mouth followed by inhaling through the nose for the count of four. Hold for the count of seven. Exhale through the mouth for the count of eight then repeat. For more breathing techniques, visit www. • Yoga: Regular yoga practice will help to boost the mind and decrease the symptoms of depression. Numerous research studies have been done showing that yoga will lower stress hormone levels and increase the interruption of anxiety neurotransmitter, GABA. One of the simplest and most effective yoga poses is “Bridge Pose” as it opens up the heart and lungs, allowing more oxygen to flow more freely. Other blues busters include walking, biking

or moving in whatever ways you like. Exercise is as effective as any antidepressant and has no negative side effects. • Sunshine: Early morning exposure to bright light assists in keeping the hormone levels in check and your body clock working appropriately. Fifteen to 30 minutes of exposure to sunlight daily helps to reverse depression during the winter months. Increasing vitamin D levels is also crucial in boosting one’s immunity.

Rest is essential

• Sleep: Restful sleep for seven to eight hours nightly will help to improve mental health. This can be best accomplished with lifestyle changes involving exercise and light exposure combined. Additionally, sleeping in a quiet, dark room, keeping a regular schedule and avoiding stimulants (television/computer, alcohol, nighttime exercise, sugar and smoking) will be helpful. Develop a routine before bed, setting a relaxing tone such as drinking a cup of herbal tea, taking a soothing bath or listening to calming music. • Calming nutrients: Antioxidants (blueberries, broccoli, kale, sweet potatoes); B6 (walnuts, chickpeas, peanut butter, avocado), B12 (eggs, beef, poultry), protein (eggs, fish, beans, almonds), fiber (apples, spinach, broccoli, lentils), magnesium (green beans, cashews, Swiss chard, dates), and iodine (eggs, yogurt, strawberries, fish) all aid in calming the mind and body. Omega-3 fatty acids (cold-water fatty fish like salmon and sardines, spinach, kale, nuts and seeds) nourish the brain and help the body to utilize serotonin, helping to boost mood. • Aromatherapy: Essential oils ease mental fatigue and encourage more restful sleep. The oils are uplifting and calming and can be put through a diffuser, or combined with bath salts for a soothing nighttime ritual. • Essential oils of benefit are lavender (the mother of all essential oils), frankincense (the father of all essential oils), chamomile, clary, rose, orange, lemon, and basil, just to name a few. A diffuser in the bedroom is an excellent way to promote a peaceful night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and energetic. Therapeutic grade essential oils can be found at • Healthy nutrition: Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean protein can make all the difference in one’s mood. A Mediterranean diet has been shown to boost mood, reduce the risk of death from heart disease and cancer, and may prevent the development of degenerative diseases. Check out the local farmers’ market for fresh and local products. Removing junk food from the diet will also help one’s emotional and physical state. Sugar initially may energize only to follow with a crash; artificial sweeteners such as aspartame have been shown to decrease serotonin; and trans-fats increase inflammation, all raising depression.

A SAD situation

“Les” (who requested anonymity) suffers from SAD and has found that “there is no magic bullet.”

One thing that Les has found helpful in handling her symptoms was to be strict about taking her supplements each and every day. Les takes a high quality multi-vitamin, calcium/ magnesium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. She researched the supplements, had certain blood levels drawn (vitamin D and magnesium), and discussed the plan with her health care provider. Certain supplements were increased to create better absorption while decreasing her symptoms. She was finally getting the sleep that she needed, increased her energy and decreased joint achiness. “I have to say that diet, exercise and a regular bedtime are all key,” Les says. Eating “lots of leafy green vegetables for natural calcium” has really helped and “I found out I really like kale,” she noted. With the holidays approaching, Les found herself attending more functions that put her to the test. At a certain event, she found herself having “a glass of wine and three pastries.” That night she didn’t sleep well at all, determining that “all that sugar made me toss and turn” and she woke feeling quite achy. “It must be the sugar,” Les says both from the wine and the pastries creating inflammation and little nutrition. If you find the symptoms of SAD are too much to bear, visit your health care provider to determine if there is a need for other interventions. Discussing your symptoms with a qualified professional can help in the restoration of a sense of well-being and control. • Deb Dittner is a family nurse practitioner, Reiki master teacher and a holistic health counselor who works with men and women struggling with weight, hormones, and energy issues. For more information, call 518-596-8565 or visit www. to receive your free health report.

St. Elizabeth MC celebrates 145th anniversary


t. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica celebrated its 145th anniversary recently by honoring an employee and a recipient of its community award. Following a founder’s day service in the medical center chapel, The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter NYSARC, received the Founder’s Day Community Service Award. Barb Zumpano received the Mother Bernardina Award, which is named after the medical center’s founder and is presented to an employee. Medical Page 6

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

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

The agency serves over 1,650 individuals throughout Oneida and Lewis counties. “As a community, we are extremely fortunate to have an organization such as The Arc to assist those who need the services it provides,” said Richard Ketcham, president/CEO of St. Elizabeth Medical Center. “The mission of The Arc is not unlike the medical center mission to care for all with respect and dignity.” Zumpano has been employed at the medical center for 40 years. She is

the assistant in the marketing and public relations department. Zumpano is a graduate of Whitesboro High School. She is always available to help her colleagues and promotes the mission and image of the medical center. She takes photos and plans events. “Barb is a loyal, hard-working employee, who consistently exceeds what is asked of her,” said Robert Scholefield, vice president/COO. Zumpano resides in Utica. She is the parent of three adult children, Shelly, Lisa and Heather.

Coping with difficult people Somebody out there getting under your skin? Here’s what to do By Barbara Pierce


hey are everywhere—your angry boss who is always blowing up at you for nothing, your creepy lurking neighbor, your sister-in-law who thinks she’s so special and unique. Every family has at least one of them; most work environments have a few “difficult” people. People who make you want to duck whenever you see him or her coming your way. People who cause you to make up excuses to avoid being around them. They can be a large source of stress to us. Our natural inclination is to try to figure out why the “difficult” person does these annoying things and behaves in these ways, said Amanda Mogle, licensed mental health counselor at Samaritan Counseling Center of the Mohawk Valley. “Instead, it’s more helpful to focus on what we can do to minimize conflicts,” she continued.

What to do

Instead of trying to figure out where he’s coming from, or ducking or avoiding the person, Mogle recommends some easy techniques: • First, get away. Leave the room or the conversation. If a situation or conversation is becoming tense, leave. Calmly alert others to where you are going and that you plan to return shortly. For example, “I think it’s best if I (step away, get some fresh air, etc.), I’ll be back in about 10 minutes to finish solving this problem.” Step away to see what is really going on. Recognize that it is the other person that has issues; it’s not you. Do not take their attack personally. Yes, people whom you find difficult to deal with do have issues. Most everyone who tries to relate to them in a rational way finds them difficult to deal with. It is their thinking that is distorted. It is their distorted thinking that causes them to behave in the ways that they behave. Your narcissistic sister-in-law really believes that she is better than others and deserves special treatment. Your unpredictably angry boss may believe deep down that others will take advantage of him, or hurt him, if he doesn’t lash out against them first. Your creepy neighbor may believe that he can’t trust anyone, that people have hidden motives, and he must be on guard to protect himself. • Next, Mogle advises that you remind yourself of the big picture that has nothing to do with this person. For example, say to yourself: “I value my relationship with my brother. So I will put up with his obnoxious wife because I care for him. Or, “I took this job because I love what I do and this project working with this nasty creep will be over in a few weeks.”

ed” your expectations. Mogle cautions that you do this with a light spirit, and do not laugh out loud or share your “results” with those involved. Dr. David Burns suggests a variation of this technique in his book “Feeling Good.” He suggests you caricature the person in your mind. Make him

a cartoon figure; ridicule him in your mind. For example, you might see a self-important windbag as a fat turkey strutting through the barnyard. Everyone responds well to acknowledgement and admiration. For effective communication with a difficult person, Burns says find some truth in what he is saying. Even if you are

convinced that what he is saying is totally wrong or unreasonable, find some truth with which you can agree with • Practice empathy, adds Mogle. Take a moment to wonder what life might be like from his perspective. Put yourself in his shoes and try to see the world from his eyes. Have you ever won an argument, but realized that your “win” seemed to put a bigger strain on your relationship and actually caused you more stress? Mogle asks. To avoid this, ask yourself what you really want to accomplish in this moment. Often, you might discover that there is a completely different solution that might better accomplish your goal. Mogle concludes: It is common to have the same conflicts with the same people over and over, and it is difficult to know where to begin to break the cycle. Many people face ongoing interpersonal conflicts that drastically effect their emotions and have taken years to develop. Professionals in the mental health field are able to teach you many steps and techniques similar to those above that may be appropriate for deep-rooted conflicts. Professional therapists can also help you improve you communication with others.

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For couples, there’s ‘Good News’ Good News Center seeks to patch up, solidify relationships with a touch of spirituality By Amylynn Pastorella


ick and Tina DeRosia of New Hartford met in the 1990s and had many things in common. Very happy with that, they dated and eventually got married. Early in their marriage they both worked full time hours on opposite schedules and had what they thought was the American Dream: the house, the kids, the pets, and the happiness. As time went on, they saw less and less of each other because of their busy schedules. At times, they both saw the green monster of jealousy when they thought their spouse was attracted to other people. But fate took their hands and helped them realize that they did not want to ruin their marriage. After contemplating many counseling problems, they decided to reach out to The Good News Center in Utica that focused on finding the importance of family and marriage. “We realized we did not want to give up on our marriage. However, we knew we could not do it on our own. We needed help. The Good News Center provided the help we so desperately needed which were tools to communicate and deal with conflict more effectively,” said Tina. After being involved in the pro-

grams offered by The Good News Center, Rick and Tina have become volunteers for the center, sharing their stories with other couples who find themselves in difficult or failing marriages. “We share our story to help others realize they are not alone,” said Tina.

Marriage, family programming

The Good News Center offers an array of programs that focus on the marriage cycle through education and peer mentoring. The Good News Center is a nonprofit organization working in the Central New York community to carry out its mission of “sharing the love of Jesus Christ through hospitality, spiritual renewal and support of parish and family life.” Its marriage and family programs focus on encouraging personal growth to strengthen marriages and families. It is dedicated to providing couples with a place to turn for guidance and support. Whether couples are simply looking to reignite the fire or their marriage is headed for separation or divorce, there is good news: The center is there to help. “When people are in trouble, they can go anywhere, but many come here,” said Mike Buckley, executive director. In a day and age when many marriages are failing all around, The Good News Center hopes to offer support

Rick and Tina DeRosia to husbands, wives and their families. Marriage and family programs at The Good News Center are focused on strengthening marriages and families. Programs such as Retrouvaille, The Third Option, “Ready, Set, I Do!” Common Sense Parenting and many more are available for families dealing with various issues.

Consider the options

Retrouvaille is an overnight experience at the center for married couples that are anxious about their marriage and relationships, alone or distant from their spouse, disillusioned or bored in their marriage or are frustrated, hurt or angry with their spouse. The Third Option program is an

KIDS Corner Kids and cholesterol: What you need to know


ecently, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services shocked parents around the country when they issued new guidelines regarding children and cholesterol. Their recommendations, joined by those of The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, outline guidelines that suggest all children between the ages of 9 and 11 should have their cholesterol levels checked. The move, which came about because children today are being seen with abnormal cholesterol levels and even the beginning stages of artherosclerosis, has left many parents seeking answers to their questions. “It is a big change, because formerly the recommendation was only for those who had a family history of high cholesterol,” explains Pamela McCullough, a pediatric nurse pracPage 8

titioner and the director of the nursing program at Stratford University’s Woodbridge campus in Virginia. “This should be seen by many parents as a sign of our times and what is going on with the lifestyles we are raising our children to lead. It is also a great time for families to learn all they can, and to make changes in order to live a healthy lifestyle.” The two most important things that parents need to know in order to address this issue are 1) to learn all they can about cholesterol, and 2) to make healthy lifestyle changes. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced in the body’s liver. While the substance is important to cell function, having too much of it can lead to a narrowing of the arteries, as it builds up inside the body. In addition to the cholesterol our body makes, we end up getting more

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

of it through our diet and lifestyle choices. The first thing families will want to do is focus on eating a healthy diet. This will help reverse and prevent obesity, which should also lead to a reduction in cholesterol levels. Dietary cholesterol is found in animal-based

on-going group program to build better marriages. It is designed for all married couples and can be used both as marriage enrichment or crisis intervention. For couples that see only two options (his way/her way), the Third Option program teaches the skills needed to have happier, healthier marriages. When couples are struggling, they will say they have “tried everything,” but what they usually mean is they have tried the same two extreme options over and over, never finding what works. The Third Option is assertiveness—the middle healthy ground. Ready, Set, I Do! is a program for couples to prepare for a lifetime together. It is an engaging approach to marriage preparation combining practical knowledge with “God’s plan.” “When marriages have been broken, that can lead to broken families. People who have been involved in our programs have come in need of something and through the course of their participation and willingness to want to change, we see many people grow,” said Buckley. Not only are programs available for couples and families, there are opportunities for members of the community to relax and visit the landscaped grounds of The Good News Center. For more information about The Good News Center, call 315-735-6210 or visit its website at

foods, such as meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy products. Focusing the family diet on healthy meals that include minimal amounts of animal products is ideal. The goal is to eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-cholesterol sources of protein (e.g., beans, tofu, nuts, lentils, etc.). Additionally, families are advised to increase their child’s activity level. Today, children often spend more time engaged in sedentary forms of electronic entertainment than they do in physical activity. Parents should aim for their children to get at least one hour of physical activity per day, which includes such things as running, brisk walking, playing sports, bike riding, etc. “This is a serious issue for parents to be aware of, because high cholesterol problems in a child today can lead to major problems as an adult,” adds McCullough. “The sooner parents help their children to be in control by living a healthy lifestyle, the better off they will be. Once you focus on making these healthy lifestyle choices, the rest usually falls into place.”

A Conversation With ...

Dr. Carl Spivak Surgeon discusses innovative endoscopic spine surgery Q: Tell me about your practice? A: I am a neurosurgeon who specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery at Bassett Healthcare. I completed two fellowships in Complex Spine Surgery at Stanford University in California and Interventional and Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery at Semmes-Murphey Neurologic and Spine Institute in Tennessee. I have worked at Bassett Medical Center for the past four years. I see patients at Little Falls Hospital and in Cooperstown. I focus on treatment of spinal disorders through pain injections and minimally invasive spine surgery, primarily endoscopic. Q: What is minimally invasive spine surgery? A: It is spine surgery with a skin incision less than 1-inch, but it is more than just a small incision. The surgery is done through a tube in between back muscles to decrease muscle damage and weakness caused by muscle retraction. Do not confuse minimally invasive surgery with the term “microsurgery.” “Microsurgery” only refers to the use of a microscope not the size of the incision or the amount of muscle damage. Q: How is endoscopic laser spine surgery different than minimally invasive surgery? A: Endoscopic spine surgery is state-of–the-art minimally invasive spine surgery. A micro video camera is inserted through a very small incision to the damaged area of the spine. The camera projects the images onto a video screen so the surgeon can easily visualize the pathology. Tiny instruments are inserted through the camera to repair the spine under direct visualization. The media often emphasizes lasers but they are only one of many endoscopic instruments. Q: Why is endoscopic spine surgery better than traditional surgery? A: Traditional surgery is more destructive in its approach to the spine for the problem being treated. The

cess for high-risk patients. There is very little blood loss. These benefits result in less post-operative pain and quicker recovery. Q: What types of conditions can endoscopic spine surgery treat? A: Treatment is effective for conditions that cause back pain, leg pain, numbness and weakness, such as bone spurs, bulging discs, stenosis, herniated disc, facet joint disease, sciatica, scoliosis, spondylolisthesis

larger the incision the more collateral tissue damage and consequential scar tissue that forms. This scar tissue may result in future difficulties. Endoscopic spine surgery is extremely minimally invasive, even for minimally invasive spine surgery. The incision is very small, often less than 1 cm in size. There is minimal damage to skin, muscle, ligaments and bone. No general anesthesia is required, decreasing medical risks and improving ac-

and others. Q: Why can you help people others say they cannot? A: Traditional surgery is limited because the surgeon requires direct vision of the pathology with their eyes or microscope. The endoscope camera visualizes areas that are not usually accessible, through the foramen and around corners. This greater visualization combined with less damage and surgical risk increases the spectrum of pathology that can be treated safely. This allows treatment of spinal disorders others say they cannot treat. This happened many years ago in orthopedic sports medicine, with introduction of endoscope to knee surgery. Today no one doubts the incredible benefits of endoscopy of the knee. We are seeing this happen in spine surgery. Q: Can you help everyone? A: Not everyone can be helped or will be satisfied. This is still spine surgery. I do sincerely believe that in those that are not improved, the negative consequences of the open techniques are at least avoided. Endoscopic spine surgery bridges the gap between conservative care and traditional spine surgery. It is a major advance in the treatment of spinal disorders. Q: Why doesn’t everyone do the surgery this way? A: These procedures require a unique combination of skills that take time to acquire; it is a hybrid procedure that falls in between interventional pain and minimally invasive spine surgery. They are cutting-edge techniques. I believe that with time these procedures will replace most open surgeries of the spine similar to orthopedic, urology, general and gynecological surgery. Endoscopic spine surgery is the future.

Dr. Carl Spivak is based at the Department of Neurosurgery at Bassett Hospital, One Atwell Road, Cooperstown, NY 13326. To reach him, call 607-547-3334.

Herkimer County HealthNet presents incentive awards


erkimer County HealthNet recently presented four $5,000 awards to the villages of Frankfort, Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk. All four municipalities demonstrated commitment to and effort in projects that promote and facilitate physical activity. Some of the programs include safety lighting on sidewalks, pedestri-

an walkways and trail areas, crosswalk striping and signage at various intersections, as well as park, playground, and trail signage in areas that promote physical activity. Adam Hutchinson, executive director of Herkimer County HealthNet, said, “While the incentive awards do not cover infrastructure or capital projects, some of which have already been set forth by municipalities, we’re glad to be

able to support additional projects that enhance places where all abilities can enjoy physical activity in a safe setting.” The Creating Healthy Places grant in the past has assisted in funding for various projects such as playground and trail studies, trail creation and enhancements, playground equipment and surface material, and playground relocation.

January 2012 •

Herkimer County HealthNet is a New York State Department of Healthfunded rural health network that administers the Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play grant. Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play in Herkimer focuses on preventing obesity and Type 2 diabetes by supporting and promoting environmental changes in Herkimer County.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 9


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

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FSLH breaks ground for expansion at St. Luke’s Home


axton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica held a groundbreaking recently for its multi-million dollar expansion at St. Luke’s Home. The new construction and expansion is designed to improve long-term care services and consolidate community-based alternatives for Oneida County residents. The site will also house inpatient rehabilitation services for the system as well as an outpatient dialysis unit. A fall 2012 opening is anticipated. In September 2010, FSLH was awarded a $31.3 million grant from New York state which was part of a competitive grant opportunity offered by the NYS Department of Health and the Dormitory Authority. The funding was provided through Phase 20 of the Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law of New York State and the Federal-State Reform Partnership. “This is an incredible opportunity for our organization and the community to provide much needed services at one location,” noted Scott H. Perra, president/CEO of FSLH. “With the grant we are able to consolidate our home care services including Senior Network Health, Visiting Nurse Association and Mohawk Valley Home Care to one site. We will also centralize our inpatient rehabilitation services at the new complex. Our rehab patients are often supported by our home care services team and having them in one complex allows patients to benefit from

HIGH CHOLESTEROL? Brand-name drugs are just

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

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

a collaborative plan of care.” St. Luke’s Home, which opened in 1996, is located on the 64-acre site of Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare. Construction plans for St. Luke’s Home include the renovation of 20,000 square feet of space and the creation of nearly 40,000 square feet. FSLH has partnered with Alesia & Crewell Architects, PC, and Charles A. Gaetano Construction for the project that is anticipated to create $14 million in construction jobs. “The economic activity from the construction will bring much-needed work for local construction sector workers,” noted Oneida County Executive, Anthony J. Picente Jr. “When complete, this project will provide a high level of quality care and there will be job openings for trained health care workers, which will help even more people support their families. For all of the important impact this project will have on our economy, its greatest impact will be on the quality of life for the people that will be served.” “This project is a welcome addition to St. Luke’s Home,” said Wendy Goetz, administrator for St. Luke’s Home. “The expansion allows us to bring on site our adult day health care program and increase the number of participants from 40 to 50. One other change at the home includes downsizing our nursing home beds from 242 to 202 beds, complemented by our 41-bed sub-acute rehabilitation unit.”

St. E’s Guild donates $50,000


t. Elizabeth Medical Center Guild President Grace DeFazio Bouse recently presented a check for $50,000 to Richard Ketcham, president/ CEO of St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica. The funds are raised through various guild activities and will benefit the purchase of digital mammography equipment for St. Elizabeth Medical Arts. The St. Elizabeth Medical Center Guild has a long history of assisting the hospital in various projects. The original guild began in 1890 when the hospital was located on Columbia Street. Members of the early guild volunteered two hours monthly making

towels, sheets and pillowcases, which at the time were sewn by hand. The present guild was organized by Sister M. Veronica in 1926. Over the years, the guild has undertaken many fund-raising projects and participated in many activities to benefit the patients, families and medical center employees. Today’s members hold an annual holiday bazaar. There is a group of women called the “Pillow Ladies,” that meets several times a month to make heart pillows for the patients in the CTICU who have had open heart surgery. Additionally, the medical center gift shop is operated by the guild.


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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 11

Skin Care Fixes for winter woes

Protect skin against drying effects of relentless winter weather By Barbara Pierce


anuary is here—the coldest month of the year. The coldest recorded temperature in the state was a low of minus-52 in northern Herkimer County. (Yes, minus 52!) Expect frequent wind chill advisories for our area. The full force of winter is upon us, bringing with it dry, itchy, winter skin, chapped lips, and dark moods. Mostly, we’ll stay inside. We’ll stay in our heated homes, with our nice hot showers. “While the indoor heat is comforting, it wreaks havoc on our skin,” said Kathy Kline, owner of A Personal Touch Beauty Spa in New Hartford. “It depletes the skin of the moisture that we so desperately need.” The dry indoor heat from furnaces, combined with low winter temperatures, low humidity, and strong winds, saps our skin of moisture. Dry skin becomes itchy skin. It can be painful. “There are many people who don’t use lotions in their daily routines, but this is the time of year we need to be diligent about hydration from head to toe,” added Kline. Basic skin care does not need to be difficult nor time consuming. Kline recommends that you avoid harsh bar soaps that are detergent based. Instead, opt for gentle creamy cleansers for your face and body, or choose soaps that are naturally made from rich oils or goat’s milk. As hot water robs your skin of moisture, it is best to shower in lukewarm water. If you can’t bear this, try to keep your showers short, and only

shower once a day. This also means skipping hot baths. The hot, hot water temperature is torture to dry skin. The same rule applies to hand washing: Wash your hands in lukewarm water, not hot. If your skin turns red after washing, the water is too hot.

Wet and wild

Kline advises that you apply body oil or moisturizers right as you step out of the shower, while your skin is still moist. This not only helps you use less of the product because it will spread more freely, but it traps the water into the skin and leaves a protective barrier so that more moisture isn’t lost.

If your skin feels tight and taut, you aren’t using enough moisturizer. Drinking more water does not hydrate your skin. Dry skin is not a sign of overall dehydration, so you will not see major benefits by drinking more water. Kline recommends using a heavier cream on your face at night. If you spend much time outdoors, it should also be used in the morning. “That protective barrier against the elements is what we’re looking for,” she advises. “Be sure to apply a broad spectrum of sunscreen daily as well.” As your hands and feet can suffer terribly from dry, itchy skin, put on moisturizer and gloves before you head outside. At night, consider lathering up your feet with moisturizer and sleeping in cotton socks. “A monthly facial treatment will do wonders for your skin,” said Kline. “Combine an exfoliating treatment such as a glycolic acid peel or microderm abrasion with a deeply nourishing and hydrating mask. Or, try

a salt glow for the body where nourishing oils are massaged into the skin while the salt buffs away the flakiness. Moisturizer is much more effective on skin that has been exfoliated.”

Lip service

Dry, peeling lips can be made much worse by cold temperatures and wind, combined with heated indoor areas with low humidity. Licking your lips will dry them out further because saliva contains enzymes that draw moisture out of the skin. For your lips, apply a lip balm. If you want to add more color, choose a moisturizing lip gloss. Before you apply it, brush your lips gently with a toothbrush to exfoliate the dead skin, so the color will coat your lips more evenly. The wind and cold also dries out your eyes. For most people, over-thecounter artificial tears will do the trick. And you can use them as often as you like, they are just lubricant saline. If your eyes feel dry all the time, see your eye doctor to determine the cause. Some medications cause dry eyes. Consider getting a home humidifier for the winter months. Your skin needs more than 30 percent humidity to stay properly moisturized. A room heated by a furnace can have as little as 10 percent moisture. And recent research has shown that omega-3 fish oil pills can help super dry skin. You may see an improvement in a few weeks. The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 IU a day of vitamin D; a good recommendation for winter, when we get so little sunlight.

Going generic A modest increase in Upstate New York’s generic fill rate can bring major health care cost savings


nnual health care spending in Upstate New York can be reduced by $500 million to $1 billion by increasing the percentage of all drug prescriptions that are filled with a generic by just a few points, according to a fact sheet issued recently by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “Last year in Upstate New York, 72.1 percent of prescriptions were filled with a generic,” said Joel Owerbach, vice president and chief pharmacy officer, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “Increasing that rate to 75.8 percent, which is the percentage in the combined Finger Lakes and Western New York region, would reduce annual health care spending by $500 million, and raising it to 80 percent would reduce health care spending in upstate New York by $1 billion.” In the Utica/Rome/North Country region, where the 2010 generic fill rate Page 12

was 68.6 percent, the estimated annual savings opportunity ranges from $159 million with a 75.8 percent generic fill rate to $253 million with an 80 percent generic fill rate. “At first glance, raising Upstate New York’s generic fill rate from its 2010 level to the 75.8 percent benchmark that represents the Upstate New York area with the highest generic fill rate may seem ambitious,” Owerbach noted, “but it’s by no means impossible.” A historic overview of generic fill rates in Upstate New York detailed in “The Facts About Opportunities to Save With Generic Prescription Drugs” shows that the generic fill rate has steadily rose in every Upstate New York region between 2005 and 2010. In the Utica/Rome/North Country region, for example, the generic fill rate grew from 47.1 percent in 2005 to

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

62.9 percent in 2008 and 68.6 percent in 2010. For the first eight months of 2011, the region’s generic fill rate stood at 71.5 percent. The upward trend in Upstate New York’s generic fill rate is accompanied by another up shift—in the share of generic prescription drugs as a percent of all prescriptions written by physicians in Upstate New York. Generic medicines represented 52.5 percent of all prescriptions written in 2005; the number was 72.1 percent in 2010. Brand-name drugs now make up a smaller portion of all prescriptions written in Upstate New York (27.9 percent in 2010). Some of the savings achieved through the growth in generic prescribing are offset by yet another turn, which reveals that the average cost of a brand-name drug has risen 73 percent during the past five years (from

approximately $120 in 2006 to $208 in 2011) and 12 percent in the past year. Generic medicine costs, by contrast, on average decreased by 7.5 percent (from $19.63 in 2006 to $18.16 in 2011). “Even though the cost of brandname prescription drugs is higher, no less than 42 brand-name drugs either have or will become available as generics in 2011 and 2012,” pointed out Owerbach, “which easily can mean a 2point to 4-point increase in the Upstate New York generic fill rate.” This year, the largest potential long-term prescription drug savings will come from Lipitor, used to treat high cholesterol, which has 154,000 users in Upstate New York. “When generic atorvastatin became available on November 30, 2011, that alone was expected to eventually offer an estimated $162.5 million annual savings opportunity,” said Owerbach.

Blood lines

The Social Ask Security Office

Giving blood a noble gesture toward those in need

Column provided by the local Social Security Office

By Amylynn Pastorella



very two seconds someone in the United States needs blood. The need for blood is constant. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. More than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day. The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs. One blood donation can save up to three lives. “It’s so important that each person understands their responsibility to give blood, if they are able. About 38 percent of our population is eligible to donate, but only 5 percent of those people actually give. Blood cannot be manufactured—it can only come from generous donors,” said Tiffany Lott of the American Red Cross of the Mohawk Valley. January is National Blood Donor Awareness month and anyone who donates in the month of January will receive a coupon for a free bag of Dunkin Donuts coffee. The American Red Cross empowers ordinary people to perform extraordinary acts of service. Blood donors are ordinary people—high school students, factory and office workers, business executives, parents and grandparents, and people from every walk of life. But they share one thing—a generous spirit, a desire to give back to their community and help others. Blood donors play an integral role in the delivery of modern healthcare. Many life-saving medical treatments and procedures involve blood transfusions and would not be possible without a safe and reliable blood supply. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. Blood donation is a simple fourstep process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments. Every blood donor is given a mini-physical, checking the donor’s temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin to ensure it is safe for the donor to give blood. The actual blood donation typically takes less than 10-12 minutes. The entire process, from the time of arrival to the time of departure, takes about an hour and 15 minutes.

Valuable lifeline

American Red Cross Biomedical Services plays a critical role in the nation’s health care system. It is the largest single supplier of blood and blood products in the U.S. “In the Mohawk Valley, we are part of the NYPenn Blood Service Region. The mission of The American Red Cross Biomedical Services is to fulfill the needs of the American people for the safest, most reliable and most cost-effective blood services through voluntary donations,” said Lott. The American Red Cross of the Mohawk Valley holds many blood

drives in the region monthly, many of which take place in January. Eligible donors can call 1-800RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit for more information and to make a blood donation appointment. If a person needs blood, there is no other option, no drug or other medical technology that can save that person. Blood recipients rely on generous strangers to donate the gift of life. Every time someone chooses to donate blood, they can give someone the perfect gift—more time with his or her family and friends. Giving blood takes around an hour, but this can give someone else hours, days, even years of time. The Red Cross was founded on the simple idea of neighbors helping neighbors in time of need. The Red Cross brings more than 50 years of blood collection and transfusion experience, deep community connections and a network of nationwide resources.

Did you know?

• Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. • More than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day. • One donation can help save or sustain up to three lives. • An average adult has about 10 pints of blood in his body. Roughly one pint is given during a donation. • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately three pints. • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O. • Type O negative blood (red cells) can be transfused to patients of all blood types. It is always in great demand and often in short supply. • More than 1 million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment. • Sickle cell disease affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., 98 percent of whom are African Americans. • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

All about retirement

ocial Security is as American as baseball and apple pie. Not everyone likes apples or baseball games, but almost every American who reaches retirement age will receive Social Security retirement benefits. In fact, 96 percent of Americans are covered by Social Security. If you’re ready to retire in the near future, this article is for you. We’d like to share with you a few important items about Social Security retirement benefits and how to apply for them. When you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn “credits” toward Social Security benefits. If you were born in 1929 or later, you need 40 credits (10 years of work) to qualify for retirement benefits. To qualify for retirement benefits, 10 years is the minimum. However, the amount of your benefit is determined by how long you work and how much you earn. Higher lifetime earnings result in higher benefits. If there were some years when you did not work or had low earnings, your benefit amount may be lower than if you had worked steadily or earned more. Also, your age when you retire makes a difference in your benefit amount. The full retirement age (the age at which full retirement benefits are payable) has been gradually rising from age 65 to age 67. You can retire as early as age 62, but if benefits start before you reach your full retirement age, your monthly payment is reduced. Find out what your full retirement age is by referring to the convenient chart in our publication, Retirement Benefits, at pubs/10035.html. It’s in the second section. Just as you can choose an early retirement and get a reduced payment, you also can choose to keep working

beyond your full retirement age to take advantage of a larger payment. Your benefit will increase automatically by a certain percentage from the time you reach your full retirement age until you start receiving your benefits or until you reach age 70. The decision of when to retire is an individual one and depends on a number of personal factors. To help you weigh the factors, we suggest you read our online fact sheet, When To Start Receiving Retirement Benefits, available at pubs/10147.html. You may want to consider your options by using our Retirement Estimator to get instant, personalized estimates of future benefits. You can plug in different retirement ages and scenarios to help you make a more informed retirement decision. Try it out at When you decide to retire, the easiest and most convenient way to do it is right from the comfort of your home or office computer. Go to www. where you can apply for retirement benefits in as little as 15 minutes. In most cases, there are no forms to sign or documents to send; once you submit your electronic application, that’s it! In addition to using our awardwinning website, you can call us tollfree at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY, 1-800-3250778) or visit the Social Security office nearest you. Either way you choose to apply, be sure to have your bank account information handy so we can set up your payments to be deposited directly into your account. To learn more, please read our publication, Retirement Benefits, at pubs/10035.html.

Q: I prefer reading by audio book. Does Social Security have audio publications? A: Yes, we do. You can find them at Some of the publications available include What You Can Do Online, How Social Security Can Help You When A Family Member Dies, Apply Online For Social Security Benefits, and Your Social Security Card And Number. You can listen now at Q: I am receiving Social Security retirement benefits and I recently went back to work. Do I have to pay Social Security (FICA) taxes on my income? A: Yes. By law, your employer must withhold FICA taxes from your paycheck. Although you are retired, you do receive credit for those new earnings. Each year Social Security automatically credits the new earnings and, if your new earnings are higher than in any earlier year used to calculate your

current benefit, your monthly benefit could increase. For more information, visit or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Q: How are my retirement benefits calculated? A: Your Social Security benefits are based on earnings averaged over your lifetime. Your actual earnings are first adjusted or “indexed” to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Then we calculate your average monthly indexed earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most. We apply a formula to these earnings and arrive at your basic benefit. This is the amount you would receive at your full retirement age. You may be able to estimate your benefit by using our Retirement Estimator which offers estimates based on your Social Security earnings. You can find the Retirement Estimator at estimator.


January 2012 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 13

Kids’ Health 2-year-old battles eye cancer New Hartford family pull out all stops to save child’s eyes, vision operation performed by a neurosurgeon that also delivered chemotherapy directly to the tumors.

By Amylynn Pastorella


benefit was held recently called “Nina’s Fight For Sight” for 2-year-old Nina Parrish of New Hartford. She is battling retinoblastoma—a rare form of eye cancer that can be found in children under the age of 5 years old. Nina is the daughter of David and Ciara Parrish. They had become suspicious of Nina’s health when they noticed that Nina’s left eye was drifting outward when Nina was about 9 months old. Thinking she might have a lazy eye, David and Ciara figured it was something they would bring to her pediatrician’s attention at her 12month check up. Aside from her eye drifting, David and Ciara noticed that the pupil of one her eyes would seem to have a whitish or translucent glare in photographs. But again, they did not question her vision, so they thought it was the camera’s glare. Nina’s pediatrician referred the bubbly 2 year old to a pediatric ophthalmologist, so it was at that appointment when a thorough eye exam was done. The specialist noticed a “severe abnormality” and considered it could be RB, so he personally scheduled an appointment with a top RB specialist in Philadelphia the next day to confirm whether or not it was cancer. So the next day, David, Ciara and baby Nina went to Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia and the diagnosis of Nina having retinoblastoma was confirmed.

‘Unexpected shock’

“It was an unexpected shock. Because even though you are told that your baby has cancer and they explain what it is, we just had so many uncertainties about Nina’s life, her eyes, her vision, treatment, expenses, etc.,” said Ciara. “Everything runs through your head at once and I just wanted to break down and cry for days. You quickly realize that as a parent, it’s your job to be the ‘strong’ one and you do,” she said. “You just suck it up and do what is right and what is best for your child. I still have really low days where I ques-

Goals established

David, Ciara and 2-year-old Nina Parrish are shown at the Relay for Life in 2011. tion why my baby has cancer. But the focus remains on getting her healthy and cancer free,” said Ciara. Nina has been diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma, which affects both eyes. The stages of retinoblastoma are classified as A-E—A being stage 1, E being stage 5. Nina has two tumors in her right eye with a stage B classification, and in her left eye she also has two tumors, but is classified with stage E. Her left eye is much more severe because not only are the tumors considerably larger, there are also hundreds of vitreous seeds all over that eye. Nina’s team of doctors has her being treated with systemic intravenous chemotherapy that she receives every four weeks for six months at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She also receives chemotherapy in the form of a shot in her left eye, along with receiving cryotherapy and laser therapy at the Wills Eye Hospital every four weeks. She also went in for a special procedure that involved a chemosurgery

Parents as advocates

Two-year-old Nina Parrish is receiving treatment of a rare eye cancer called retinoblastoma.

Tickets remain for Sitrin’s annual Harley raffle


ickets for Sitrin’s 16th annual Harley-Davidson fundraiser are available. One lucky person will ride away on a 2012 Harley-Davidson Road King Classic FLHRC. Tickets are $10 each, and a total of 4,250 will be sold. They can be purchased securely online at www.sitrin. Page 14

com, in person at Sitrin, or by calling (315) 737-2245. The raffle will be held at noon Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day) at the Sitrin Medical Rehabilitation Center. Ticket buyers do not need to be present at the drawing to win. Entrants must be 18 years of age.

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

“The doctors have a goal of three different things: to first save her life; second, to save her eye(s); and third, to save her vision. Once Nina was diagnosed, there were no questions that they would save her life. Trying to save her eyes and vision are what they are in the process of doing currently,” said Ciara. According to her parents, Nina luckily does not know exactly what’s going on. She has grown accustomed to being around lots of doctors and nurses and going to a lot of appointments. It takes a toll on a toddler, especially when she is receiving chemotherapy and she is hooked up to machines and bound to her stroller for hours at a time. Because Nina’s diagnoses happened in a quick amount of time, David and Ciara were using all of their expenses to travel and get everything Nina needs. The recent benefit was provided by the Parrish family. “Nina’s Fight For Sight” was a way for David and Ciara to bring awareness of retinoblastoma but also an opportunity to say thank you for all those who have supported Nina. “It’s immeasurable how much support we’ve received once we’ve shared Nina’s news with people. At first, we felt very alone in this fight, but we quickly learned that talking about Nina’s diagnosis actually resonated with people. Family and friends instantly started planning the benefit and people began to come together to help us and Nina in any way possible,” said Ciara.

Proceeds benefit the Sitrin Medical Rehabilitation Center, which provides a variety of comprehensive medical rehabilitation services for children and adults, including the STARS adaptive sports program for people with physical disabilities.

Since the diagnosis of their daughter, David and Ciara have become an advocate for Nina. They are always willing to promote the importance of good health for all children. “I would advise parents to really take notice of their child’s overall health, not just the obvious things, but the small things. You are your child’s biggest advocate and they depend on you to survive and be healthy. RB, with diagnosis, has a very high success rate with treatment. It’s when it goes untreated that you might find a less desirable outcome for your child. In plainest terms, if something doesn’t seem right or look right with your child, mention it to a doctor and even try to do your own research about what you are concerned with,” said Ciara. According to both David and Ciara, their experience has taught them that cancer can affect anyone of any age and that is does not discriminate. “I’m not only a mom of a baby who has cancer; I am an advocate against cancer. We need to fight together,” said Ciara.



Your Doctor


By Lou Sorendo

Radiation services to see increase in demand Continued from Page 4 We also offer medical oncology services with outpatient and inpatient infusion, clinical trials, tumor registry, nutritional support, psychosocial counseling, palliative care and patient navigation. The level of care we can provide is on par with larger hospitals in major cities. This is a major asset for the community and the key reason I chose to relocate to the area. Q.: With the rise in the aging population, do you expect demand for radiation oncology services to increase in the years to come? Will your specialty be staffed and ready to handle an increased workload? A.: The American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology states that it expects demand for radiation oncology services will outpace the supply of radiation oncologists by 10-fold in the next decade. This is likely to create a shortage that will adversely impact patient care. As the demand for radiation therapy grows, radiation oncologists will have to work to seek greater efficiencies in their practices to accommodate the growth in demand. If growth in demand cannot be accommodated, wait times for radiation therapy may increase and quality of care could suffer.

Q.: What significant technological and/or medical advances have there been recently in the field of radiation oncology that increases the quality of care for patients? A.: New three-dimensional treatment planning systems have transformed the practice of radiation oncology, allowing the visualization of dose delivery in three dimensions and making complex treatment techniques possible. This, with newer CT scanners, has improved therapy by guiding our treatment machines (linear accelerators) to deliver precise radiation treatments not possible a decade ago. Q.: What types of cancers are becoming more prevalent nowadays? A.: The incidence of skin cancer is climbing in both sexes; more men are diagnosed with prostate cancer; more women are diagnosed with breast cancer; lymphoma is increasing in prevalence; increases in cancers of the brain, central nervous system and acute lymphocytic leukemias. Q.: What can the average person do to stay cancer free? A.: Only lifestyle can be changed. Exercise, maintain your ideal body weight, eat well, don’t smoke (and if you do smoke, stop smoking now), try to manage stress and get regular checkups and screenings (mammograms, colonoscopies, PAP smears, etc.)

Continued from Page 2 day of each month. Women of all ages are invited to come to Women at the Well to enrich their awareness of God in their lives. The meeting is free and open to all Christian women. For more information or to register, call The Good News Center at (315) 735-6210 or visit TheGoodNewsCenter. org—Events Calendar.

Feb. 25-26

‘Kids Need Heroes’ hoops tournament set The Kids Need Heroes Basketball Tournament will take place Feb. 25-26 at the Rome Family Y, 301 W. Bloomfield St., Rome. Historically, the tournament has taken place at the Oneida Family Y. More detailed information including cost and registration will be available shortly. The YMCA of the Greater Tri-Valley is a 501(c)3 nonprofit community service organization and as such relies on grants and community contributions to exist. The YMCA of the Greater Tri-Valley has two other locations besides

March 23

Conference to highlight models of patient care Utica College and the Central New York Area Health Education Center invite area health care professionals to the second annual health care administration conference, “Innovative Models of Delivering Patient Care.” The conference will be held March 23 at the Radisson Hotel Utica Centre, Utica. Designed for health care professionals employed in acute, long-term and home care settings, this leadership conference will provide participants with the opportunity to learn about successful models of delivering patient care from the leaders who developed them. For more information, contact the Office of Corporate and Professional Programs at Utica College at (315) 7923344 or CNYAHEC at (607) 756-1090 or visit

2011 is one for the weather record books


Utican is Children’s Miracle Network $100,000 winner

Rome: Oneida Family YMCA, 701 Seneca St., Oneida, and the New Hartford School Age Child Care Site, 25 Oxford Road (St. Stephens Episcopal Church) in New Hartford. For more information, visit www.

he year 2011 will be one talked about when discussing weather extremes. It is tied for the 10th hottest year since record keeping began in 1850, according to a United Nations agency. 2001 has also been a year of severe weather. Droughts in East Africa killed tens of thousands; deadly floods in Asia left scores dead; and 14 separate weather catastrophes in the United States swept the country and left behind damage topping $1 billion in each incident. World temperatures keep rising and are heading for a threshold that could lead to irreversible changes of the Earth, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN weather office, stated. The weather agency also noted that Arctic sea ice has shrunk to record volumes in 2001, adding that the 13 hottest years on the books have all occurred in the last 15 years. The WMO’s preliminary report,

based on the first 10 months of the year, was released in Geneva and at the UN climate talks in South Africa. The WMO report noted that high temperatures heated the Earth in 2011 despite the presence of a cooling La Nina effect. In a separate report, the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported this month that extreme weather-related events and frequency will intensify as the Earth continues to warm. Both reports show that climate change is real and its manifestation in weather and climate patterns are already being observed around the world. Weather experts are seeking ways to limit pollution blamed for global warming, and are discussing how to raise $100 billion a year to help poor countries move to low-carbon economies and cope with the effects of global warming.

Advertise with In Good Health

Valerie Sangiacomo of Utica has 100,000 more reasons to be happy this holiday seasonRecently, she won the 15th annual Children’s Miracle Network $100,000 Miracle Home Makeover. The project, which benefits women’s and children’s services at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica, has raised more than $3 million over the past 15 years. All 4,000 tickets were completely sold out. Above, Eileen Pronobis, executive director of the Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare Foundation, presents Valerie Sangiacomo with her Children’s Miracle Network $100,000 Miracle Home Makeover winnings.

Call 315-749-7070 January 2012 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 15

Germ warfare Take precautions at places where germs rule By Jim Miller

By Amylynn Pastorella

How to find and research doctors who accept Medicare Dear Savvy Senior, What resources are available to help seniors locate and research Medicare doctors? My husband and I are approaching age 65 and need to find a new internist or primary care doctor who accepts Medicare. Our current doctor is not enrolled with Medicare and will not continue seeing us as Medicare patients. Looking For Care Dear Looking, Depending on where you live, finding a new primary care doctor or specialist that accepts Medicare patients can be challenging. Because of low reimbursement rates and greater paperwork hassles, many doctors today have opted out of Medicare or they’re not accepting new patients with Medicare coverage. With that said, Medicare is now offering a service that makes finding Medicare-approved doctors a little easier. And, there are a number of good resources available today that can help you check up on prospective doctors for free. Here’s what you should know. Medicare Doctors

The government’s new online “Physician Compare” tool is one of the easiest ways to locate doctors in your area that accept traditional Medicare. Just go to where you can do a search by physician’s name, medical specialty or by geographic location. Or, if you don’t have Internet access, you can also get this information by calling 800-633-4227. Keep in mind, though, that locating a Medicare-approved doctor doesn’t guarantee you’ll be accepted as a patient. Many doctors limit the number of Medicare patients they accept while others have a full patient roster don’t accept any new patients. You’ll need to call the individual doctor’s office to find out. Another option you may want to consider is to join a Medicare Advantage plan. These are government approved, private health plans (usually HMOs and PPOs) sold by insurance companies that you can choose in place of original Medicare. These plans may have more doctors available than original Medicare does. See to research this option.

Doctor’s Check Up

After you’ve found a few Medicareapproved doctors that are accepting new patients, there are plenty of resources available today that can help you research them. Some of the best include Page 16

HealthGrades, Vitals and RateMDs. These are free doctor-rating websites that provide important background information as well as consumer comments and ratings from past patients. Here’s a breakdown of what each site offers: • provides in-depth profiles on around 750,000 U.S. physicians including their education and training, hospital affiliations, board certification, awards and recognitions, professional misconduct, disciplinary action and malpractice records. It also offers a 5-star ratings scale from past patients on a number of issues like communication and listening skills, wait time, time spent with the patient, office friendliness and more. • provides some basic background information on around 720,000 U.S. doctors along with unedited comments from past patients and ratings on things like promptness, bedside manner, accurate diagnosis and more. • primarily offers ratings and anonymous comments from past patients. It’s a good idea to check out all three doctor-rating sites so you can get a bigger sampling and a better feel of how previous patients are rating a particular doctor.

Fee-Based Help

Another good resource to help you gather information is at angieslist. com (888-888-5478). This is a fee-based membership service that also offers doctors ratings and reviews from other members in your area for $7.60 for one month or $25 for the year. Or, consider purchasing a copy of the “Consumers’ Guide to Top Doctors.” Created by Consumers’ Checkbook, a nonprofit consumer organization, this book will help you find top-rated doctors that have been recommended by other doctors. Their database lists 24,000 physicians, in 35 different fields of specialty, in 50 metro areas. The cost for this guide is $25 plus shipping and handling (call 800-213-7283 to order a copy), or you can view the information online at for $25.

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

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


iruses and bacteria run rampant on the surfaces you touch every day. Below are the eight germiest public places revealed. • Grocery store—Germiest items: shopping cart handles and seat buckets • Children’s playgrounds—Germiest items: swings, jungle gym and other equipment; playgrounds are germ minefields. Kids touch everything they see and often put their fingers in their mouths. • Public restrooms—Germiest item: sink • Offices—germiest items: telephones and desks • Restaurants—Germiest items: table surface, high chairs • Libraries—Germiest items: countertops and surfaces • Cruise ships—Germiest item: handrails • Malls—Germiest item: escalator handles Germs are everywhere and it can be difficult to get away from them. It is helpful, however, to avoid contact with bacteria in public places whenever possible. You can help yourself and your family members reduce the risk of getting sick by making some simple changes in how you function in public places. It is essential that you understand where these microorganisms are so that you can avoid them. Germs are located on virtually every surface that you may come into contact with. Of course, you won’t get sick from each of them. Bacteria can live on some surfaces for a long time, making it essential that you take action to prevent touching them. More stores and schools are supplying anti-bacterial wipes to use. You should carry some with you wherever you go. When shopping, always wipe the handle of the shopping cart or basket before you touch it. This is a common place where bacteria collects.

Avoid touching your face, particularly your mouth, nose and eyes. These areas provide instant access to your mucous membranes and are virtually unprotected. You will greatly reduce the risk of getting sick by keeping your hands off your face. Germs are primarily transmitted by your hands. Arm yourself and your family with antibacterial hand gels. These products provide a good barrier against bacteria on your hands without the need to wash them. Use drugstore cleanser wipes to wipe down surfaces before you touch them. Give a quick wipe to the parts of the car that you touch most often, such as the steering wheel and the car seat. Avoid touching areas that many people have already touched. Door handles are notorious places for germs to hang out and can harbor bacteria for long periods of time. Try not to use public restrooms, but if you must, use seat covers and don’t place your handbag on the floor. Many of us may worry about germs in public places. A good strategy to follow is to not get grossed out every place you go, just make sure you wash your hands thoroughly when you get home.

Rome Memorial Hospital earns three-year MRI accreditation


ome Memorial Hospital has been awarded a three-year accreditation by the American College of Radiology for its magnetic resonance imaging services, announced medical imaging director Sharon Carson. “ACR accreditation acknowledges that our patients receive the best possible images, using the latest technology with the highest safety measures,” Carson said. Rome Memorial Hospital was awarded accreditation for its achievement of high standards after a peerreview evaluation of the hospital’s protocols and best practices. Over a 45-day period, evaluations of actual MRI cases, image quality,

technology and equipment were conducted by independent board-certified radiologists who are experts in the field. The ACR also highlights the qualifications of personnel and the skills of the radiologists in interpreting MRI images, as well as the facility’s The hospital’s high definition MRI technology uses computers and magnetic fields for neurological, vascular, musculoskeletal and breast exams. According to ACR, the gold seal of accreditation represents the highest level of image quality and patient safety. In addition to MRI accreditation, Rome Memorial Hospital also holds accreditation for its digital mammography services.

H ealth News Presbyterian Home receives $100,000 grant The Mele Family Fund, a donor-advised fund of The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc., has awarded Presbyterian Home for Central New York with a grant for $100,000. The funds are dedicated to Presbyterian Home’s Parkinson Renovation Project that is designed to help those with Parkinson’s disease live more independently and improve their quality of life through advancements in motion and voice technology. Phase one of the project is under way and consists of necessary infrastructure updates such as a sprinkler system, new nursing call system, heating ventilation system a new roof and modifications to some resident rooms. “The Presbyterian Homes Foundation is incredibly thankful to the Mele Family for their interest in our project. Their contribution is the second largest donation in history that our foundation has ever received. They trust what we are doing for people in our community with Parkinson’s disease and I think that speaks volumes. They want to help, they want to be a part of the solution and for that we are grateful,” said Lenora D’Apice, director of development at Presbyterian Home in New Hartford.

FSLH makes staff announcements Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica recently made the following medical staff announcements: • Julie Wells-Tsiatsos has been named nurse manager of maternal child services for Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare. She is responsible for maternity, nursery, pediatric services and the Obstetrical Care Center. Prior to her new position, Wells-Tsiatsos was the assistant nurse manager of maternal child Wells-Tsiatsos services. Before joining FSLH, she was a nursing and clinical instructor at local healthcare facilities and also has more than 20 years of experience as a registered nurse in obstetrics and pediatrics at FSLH and other area hospitals. Wells-Tsiatsos received her associate’s degree in nursing from St. Elizabeth’s School of Nursing and her bachelor’s degree in nursing from SUNYIT Utica-Rome. She also earned her master’s degree in nursing from Graceland University in Independence, Mo. She is a member of Professional Nurses of Central New York, the Sigma Theta Tau-Iota Delta Chapter of the Honor Society of Nursing, the National League of Nursing, the Mohawk Valley Perinatal Network and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.

• Jennifer Pekola has been named assistant nurse manager of maternal child services for Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare. She is responsible for maternity, nursery, pediatric services and the Obstetrical Care Center. Pekola joined FSLH as a staff RN and was promoted to assistant nurse manager of AC first floor in 2007. She has also served as the coordinator of the bariatric surgery program since October 2009. Pekola Pekola graduated from Mohawk Valley Community College and has bachelor’s degrees in nursing from Keuka College and cytotechnology from SUNY Upstate Medical University. She is a certified bariatric nurse and a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and the Central New York Organization of Nurse Executives.

LFH welcomes new board members Little Falls Hospital recently welcomed two new members to its board of directors: Justin R. Hummel and Kevin Crosley. Hummel is the chief executive officer at Hummel’s Office Plus, the largest independent office supply dealer in Upstate New York. A graduate of Little Fall Central Schools and Herkimer County Community College, Hummel also serves on the boards of the Salvation Army, the Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce, and the Ronald McDonald House. A recipient of the 40 Under 40 Award, Hummel enjoys playing golf, tennis, and basketball, as well as camping and spending time with his family. Crosley is the president and CEO of the Herkimer ARC, an organization serving over 700 people with disabilities each day, employing over 400 staff and operating 38 different locations throughout Herkimer County. Crosley received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bloomsburg University in Bloomsbury, Pa., and a Master of Arts degree from Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Crosley has received numerous honors including the 2009 Herkimer Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year and the 2010 Business Journal Executive of the Year.

All aboard The Arc in the Mohawk Valley The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter, NYSARC recently announced it is the first Age.Net site serving primarily people with developmental disabilities in the Mohawk Valley. The system will be available at the Arnold Avenue site, 40 Arnold Ave., Utica. Arnold Avenue is one of six sites across two counties that have this sys-

tem to help the senior population gain valuable health-related education and information. Age.Net is a senior health and wellness digital delivery system through the Oneida County Office for Aging and Continuing Care and created by the company VIZIONetx., LLC. The network provides senior outreach information, health-related information, a calendar of events and streaming news about The Arc and local community. For more information, call 2721532. The Arc, Oneida-Lewis chapter, NYSARC is a nonprofit human services agency which provides advocacy and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Oneida and Lewis counties.

The Arc announces new staff additions The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter, NYSARC recently announced two new staff positions. Rosemary Spriggs has been named vice president of policy and planning. Spriggs’ focus will be in the areas of strategic planning, organizational development, and legislative affairs and public policy. She will be providing recommendations from analysis of various concerns impacting The Arc, with the goal of enhancing supSpriggs ports and services to the community. Spriggs received her bachelor’s from SUNY Utica-Rome and master’s degree from New School for Social Research in health service management. She has several years of management experience within the NYS Office of Mental Health and has experience in areas of program development, strategic planning, fiscal and support services and clinical service administration. Spriggs resides in Rome. Aida Mariani has been named as director of communications and development. Mariani will be responsible for fund development, public relations, internal and external communications, media relations and fundraising activities. Mariani received her bachelor’s degree in public relations /journalism and Mariani political science from Utica College of Syracuse University. She has worked at Utica College as an adjunct professor, for the Observer Dispatch as a reporter, and most recently, spent 11 years as the media relations/communications specialist at

January 2012 •

Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica. Mariani’s experience includes writing, developing and implementing marketing plans, public relations, design, and special event coordination. Mariani resides in Clinton. The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter, NYSARC is a nonprofit human services agency which provides advocacy and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Oneida and Lewis counties.

American Heart Association fills key staff position The Utica division of the American Heart Association recently announced that Kelly Karram has been named as the director of the heart walk for America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk. Karram brings 20 years of key development and marketing experience and has received multiple awards for her consistently high performance. “I am excited Karram to fill a role where I can have a positive impact on the health of our community,” says Karram. “The work of the American Heart Association helps support life-saving research, training and advocacy right here in Utica.” America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk is on March 3 at Utica College. Visit to start a fundraising team.

CABVI announces promotions, hirings President and CEO Rudy D’Amico of the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Utica has announced the following promotions and hirings: • Tony Talerico is CABVI’s new vice president of marketing and business development. He joined the agency in June 2003 as sales and purchasing manager. Talerico is responsible for developing relationships with CABVI’s customers and suppliers. He guides Talerico the group charged with developing new manufacturing or packaging opportunities for CABVI’s workforce. He also oversees the agency’s customer service team. Talerico is a 1971 graduate of Utica College of Syracuse University. He’s been married to Diane Talerico for 40 years. They have three children and

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

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H ealth News Continued from Page 17 three grandchildren. • CABVI promoted Jessica Watson to the position of business development and marketing manager. Watson, who is a 2003 graduate of SUNY Oneonta and has her MBA from Kaplan University, also completed National Industries for the Blind’s Business Development Agency Program in 2010. Her new responsibilities Watson include new product development for CABVI. She will also have a hand in sales. Watson is an active member of her local Girl Scout Troop and she enjoys reading, traveling and singing. She lives in Frankfort with her daughter Braelyn, 4. • Ryan Eddy started at CABVI in 2001 as the contact center manager. A 2003 graduate of SUNY Oneonta, he earned his master’s degree in literacy from Walden University in 2007. In his new position, Eddy oversees and supports the contact center Eddy staff and clients. His duties include training new customer service representatives, handling carrier escalations, monthly reporting of quality stats and call volume to the U.S. Department of Transportation. His favorite pastimes include traveling, golf and billiards. He lives in Frankfort with his dog Ulysses. • Pamela DelMedico, a 2004 graduate of SUNY Fredonia, joined CABVI as the outreach and development coordinator. She will be working with both the vision rehabilitation department and the agency’s development department. Some of her duties include community outreach, increasing DelMedico service referrals and graphic design. She will also be assisting with event planning and various marketing initiatives. DelMedico has worked in public relations/development for several years in the Mohawk Valley. Formerly the public relations coordinator for The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter, she serves on the boards of directors for Leadership Mohawk Valley and the Mohawk Page 18

Valley Advertising Club.

SDMG names director of IT services Charles “Chuck” Spinelli has been named director of information technology services at Slocum-Dickson Medical Group, New Hartford. Spinelli joined the group with over 16 years of experience in the information technology field, including several years at the director level. Additionally, he has prior experience managing technology in a medical setting. Spinelli earned his bachelor’s degree from Utica College of Syracuse Spinelli University. He continued his education at Utica College and received his master’s degree in economic crime management. His academic performance earned him a membership in the criminal justice honor society, Beta Zeta. He is also a member of the High Technology Crime Investigation Association, the Computer Security Institute, and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Spinelli has acquired a vast knowledge of various hardware and software applications and has previous experience managing the technology department of a medical facility.

Compeer of the Mohawk Valley holds several raffles Compeer of the Mohawk Valley, Inc. recently announced its 2011 fundraising raffles. Through the generosity of businesses and friends of Compeer, several raffles are taking place to raise muchneeded funds to provide programming services. One raffle is for four tickets to the Feb. 8 Syracuse versus Georgetown men’s college basketball game, roundtrip luxury limousine travel from Utica, and snacks on the trip. Tickets are $10 each, three for $25, or eight tickets for $50. The winning ticket will be drawn on Jan. 23. The second raffle is for two tickets to the Feb. 11 Syracuse vs. University of Connecticut men’s college basketball game. This package includes a pre-game dinner for two at a restaurant near the Carrier Dome. Tickets are $10 each, three for $25, or eight tickets for $50. This drawing will take place on Jan. 30. To get into one of the drawings, stop by the Compeer office at 209 Elizabeth St., Utica, or you can mail a check to the office and the staff will mail out tickets. You may also visit to purchase tickets online. Compeer is a nonprofit agency that provides trained, caring volunteers

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

from the community to be mentors to local youth and supportive friends for adults who are coping with the loneliness and isolation of mental illness. Recently, Compeer launched its Vet2Vet program, which seeks to match veterans in need to other veterans. To get involved with Compeer, call 315-735-1066 or visit its website at

Youth group presents outreach center with check The Mohawk Valley DeMolay Masonic Youth Group held a car wash recently at the Quick Change on Commercial Drive in Yorkville. All proceeds from the event were presented to the Central New York Veterans Outreach Center. The funds will be used to operate the CNYVOC van which transports disabled veterans to and from medical appointments. DeMolay is an organization dedicated to developing civic awareness, personal responsibility and leadership skills among young men. The CNYVOC conducts charitable, educational, social and housing services for veterans in need. For additional information, contact Terésa Fava-Schram at 315-765-0975 ext. 2.

United Way makes healthy investment United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area board of directors has approved funding allocations for the 2011 fall community empowerment grants, investing more than $33,000 in seven agencies and programs servicing both Herkimer and Oneida County residents. These one-time grant awards of up to $5,000 are being distributed to qualified agencies or programs making a positive impact to any of the health, education and/or financial self-sufficiency indicators from the Herkimer and Oneida County indicators study These grant requests are for program-specific costs, capacity building or capital expenses. Agencies receiving grants include: Family Nurturing Center, Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare Foundation, Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, The Country Manor, The Peacemaker Program, Upstate Cerebral Palsy, and village of Herkimer. This round of grants supports a wide range of causes, including a new stove and refrigerator for a Meals on Wheels program to additional financial support for dental health screenings and outreach. The community empowerment grants are awarded in addition to the $1.4 million to support 53 programs and initiatives in the Mohawk Valley announced earlier this year.

VHS welcomes new social worker Lynne Wiliczka recently accepted the position of social worker at Valley Health Services in Herkimer. She is a native of Little Falls who

earned her associate’s degree from Cayuga County Community College and a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Empire College. Wiliczka most recently worked as a family court mediator for Herkimer County Catholic Charities. Her job responsibilities include interWiliczka viewing new residents for the facility’s short-term rehabilitation program and long-term care program. She will also be working with staff and registrants of Valley Health Services’ two adult day health care programs. Speaking of her short tenure at VHS, Lynne comments, “I am looking forward to working with the residents and adult day health care registrants and their families while becoming a part of the team at VHS.” Wiliczka resides in Herkimer with her husband, Peter, and daughter, Lauren.

RMH names corporate compliance officer Lynn Owens is the new corporate compliance officer and privacy officer at Rome Memorial Hospital. Providing daily oversight for the hospital’s overall compliance and privacy programs, Owens works with the hospital’s trustees, employees and medical staff to ensure that the hospital’s business and privacy practices adhere to state and federal regulations. “Rome Memorial Hospital is committed to Owens enforcing the highest standards of ethics, efficiency and business conduct through its corporate compliance program,” Owens said. “A formal corporate compliance program empowers employees and medical staff to identify potential issues and provides a means to address them.” “This proactive approach demonstrates the hospital’s commitment to integrity and protects the hospital from inadvertent system errors that could be interpreted as fraudulent,” Owens said. Rome Memorial Hospital’s commitment to high standards will be the benchmark for Owens in maintaining corporate compliance within the hospital. Owens earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in health services management at SUNY IT in Marcy. Previously, she served as vice president of compliance review/ compliance officer at Upstate Cerebral Palsy in Utica.

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Health in good

H ealth News Continued from Page 18

Rome Surgical Specialists welcomes new doctor General surgeon Shuban K. Moza is merging his practice with Rome Surgical Specialists, announced Rome Memorial Hospital President/Chief Executive Officer Basil J. Ariglio. He will join surgeons Beth Bulawa, David Kulick, and Kevin Harrison at 1617 N. James St., Suite 700A, Rome. Moza has been serving residents of Rome and the surrounding area since he joined Rome Memorial Hospital’s medical staff in 1975. Moza will continue to follow his patients, who have consistently ranked him in the top 1 percent of physicians nationwide for patient satisfaction. “His many years of experience in private practice and his focus on clinical quality and patient satisfaction will help Rome Surgical Specialists fine tune its operations as we grow the practice,” Ariglio said. Moza completed his surgical residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, and his fellowship in trauma surgery and critical care medicine at Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla. He is a senior fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, and a clinical assistant professor at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse.

Quite fashionable to support UCP Upstate Cerebral Palsy held its American Girl Fashion Show recently at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona. The 14th annual event raised more than $62,000 to benefit children’s programs at Upstate Cerebral Palsy. Both shows were sold out with more than 1,400 in attendance. The special day included a doll hair salon, a photo opportunity, prizes and raffles.

Wingate by Windham Hotel honored Wingate by Windham Hotel in Rome was recently honored as a regional winner at the National Disability Employment Awareness award ceremony, which was held at the Dorothy Smith Center for Advocacy in Utica. The NDEAM awards were sponsored by the Workforce Investment Board, the New York State Department of Labor, and the office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services– Vocational Rehabilitation. Wingate was nominated by Upstate Employment Associates, a division of Upstate Cerebral Palsy, for its commitment to hiring individuals with disabilities. “The hotel is committed to providing a safe, clean, and welcoming environment for their guests, and practices a positive approach to train their employees to create that environment. Wingate actively recruits individuals with disabilities, recognizing the contributions that they are able to make based on their abilities rather than focusing on their limitations,” a UCP spokesperson said. The theme of the award ceremony was “Return on investment means hir-

ing the right talent. Profit by investing in workers with disabilities.”

SEMC Foundation establishes legacy fund The St. Elizabeth Medical Center Foundation has established the Sister Rose Vincent Legacy Fund in memory of the former president/CEO of the medical center who passed away recently. “Sister Rose Vincent was a pillar of St. Elizabeth, a cherished friend and a prominent member of our community,” a St. E’s spokesperson said. To honor her, several lead gifts from donors in the community have been made to begin the Sister Rose Vincent Legacy Fund to ensure that her legacy lives on forever at the medical center. The foundation invites the community to join in making contributions to honor Sister Rose Vincent, and to recognize the ways in which she has made a lasting impression on so many people. The intent is for the endowment fund to grow over time, to support projects, programs and services that will allow the medical center to continue her work of advocating for those in need. Gifts may be made in a number of ways including cash, stocks and securities, through a charitable bequest, life insurance policy, or by including the medical center in a will. For more information on making a donation to the Sister Rose Vincent Legacy Fund, contact Andrea LaGatta at the SEMC Foundation at 315-7344440, or visit

Support group starts new chapter

In order to provide support group services for families in the Herkimer County area, the Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley is starting a new chapter location in Little Falls. The CFMV, which became chartered on June 28, 2010, is an organization dedicated to providing a safe environment to actively help families work toward the positive resolution of their grief following the death of a child. CFMV’s new chapter location is Enea’s Italian Feast, 40 W. Main St., Little Falls. Dave Roberts, chapter leader and adjunct professor of psychology at Utica College, said he is thrilled that CFMV has expanded its range of support to Herkimer County. “Since we started having support group meetings in Stittville just over a year ago, we have had approximately 20-25 families come through our doors,” said Roberts. “We are excited that this new location will allow us to increase our support by offering assistance to families in Herkimer County.” For any questions about the CFMV, visit or call 315-736-8684.

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As the region’s only Level-One Trauma Center, we are a fastpaced academic medical center with modern technology and up-to-date interventions in caring for the critically ill or injured. Serving 17 counties, we support a population transported by ground or air from throughout the central New York region. We currently have part-time, full-time and per diem positions available in our Operating Room and Emergency Department for: RNs and Nursing Assistants. Shadowing opportunities are available. • Tuition Assistance • Membership in the NYS Employees' Retirement System • Excellent Wages and Benefits

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Upstate University Hospital Upstate University Hospital at Community General Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital I Syracuse I State University of New York January 2012 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Mohawk Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 19

Cancer Care Close to Home.

Why travel outside the area? Exceptional care is right here, close to home and family. As the Mohawk Valley’s only nationally accredited cancer center, our team of physicians and clinical staff at The Regional Cancer Center of Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare provides the highest quality of cancer treatment, care and support with personal attention for each patient and family. Like accredited cancer centers across the nation, our program meets the high standards outlined by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

John Vakios, MD, has joined our team of board cer-

Gilbert Lawrence, MD, DMRT, FRCR, has been

tified radiation oncologists. He is past chairman of

providing state-of-the-art cancer care at The Regional

Radiation Oncology at the Guthrie Clinic at Robert

Cancer Center for the past eleven years. In 2007, he

Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pennsylvania, an Ameri-

was elected by his peers to serve as president of the

can College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer

Upstate New York Society of Therapeutic Radiolo-

approved cancer program. He has also served as a

gists and Oncologists and continues to serve in that

radiation oncologist at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York as well

capacity. Dr. Lawrence is published in numerous national and international

as the Greater Pittsburgh Cancer Center in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania.

journals in the fields of radiation oncology, breast and prostate cancers.

MAKE AN APPOINTMENT If you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer, learn about treatment options available at our cancer center. Please call (315) 624-5300 to make an appointment with Dr. Vakios or Dr. Lawrence to discuss your condition and plan of care.

The Regional Cancer Center is a program of Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare, 21st Century Oncology and St. Elizabeth Medical Center.

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

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