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THE NEWTOWN BEE, FRIDAY, MAY 17, 2019
Lung Association Report Card Shows ‘State Of The Air’ Putting Health, Lives At Risk By Shannon Hicks The American Lung Association’s (ALA) 2019 “State of the Air” report found Fairfield County suffers from the highest level of ozone in the New York City metroarea, which was ranked number ten on the most ozone polluted list. Released on April 24, the annual air quality “report card” tracks Americans’ exposure to unhealthful levels of ozone or particle pollution, both of which can be deadly. The Hartford-East Hartford metro area was ranked the 23rd most polluted city in the nation for ozone. “State of the Air” annually provides a report card on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone pollution (also known as smog) and particle pollution (aka soot). The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: through average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes in particle pollution. Ozone and particle pollution are both dangerous to public health and can increase the risk of premature death and other serious health effects such as lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm. Ruth Canovi, the director of advocacy/public policy for ALA-Connecticut, said residents of this state should be aware that “we’re breathing unhealthy air, driven by emissions from power plants and extreme heat as a result of climate change, placing our health and lives at risk. “In addition to challenges here in Connecticut, the 20th anniversary ‘State of the Air’ report highlights that more than four in ten Americans are living with unhealthy air, and we must do more to protect public health,” she added via press release issued concurrent with the report card. Ms Canovi said that nearly every resident of the state is exposed to unhealthy levels of ozone air pollution. Across the board, all eight of Connecticut’s counties received grades of F this year for its High Ozone Days. According to ALA data, nearly 950,000 people called Fairfield County home as of the 2016 US Census. Of that figure, 27,711 had pediatric asthma, and another 79,093 had adult asthma. Pediatric asthma estimates are for those age 17 and under, while those age 18 and over were considered in the adult asthma range. In addition, 42,044 Fairfield County residents suffered from COPD, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema; 71,130 had been diagnosed with diabetes; and 549 residents had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Having diabetes increases the risk of harm from particle pollution, according to ALA. Economic Factors Matter In addition, 82,428 Fairfield County residents live under the poverty level. Evidence shows people who
Dr John Chronakos —photo courtesy Western Connecticut Health Network have low incomes may face higher risk from air pollution, also according to the association. “Ozone especially harms children, older adults and those with asthma and other lung diseases,” said Ms Canovi. “When older adults or children with asthma breathe ozone-polluted air, too often they end up in the doctor’s office, the hospital or the emergency room. Ozone can even shorten life itself.” Jeff Seyler, chief division officer of the ALA, offered additional bad news upon the release of this year’s report. “The 2018 ‘State of the Air’ report finds that unhealthful levels of ozone found throughout Connecticut puts our residents at risk for premature death and other serious health effects, such as asthma attacks and greater difficulty breathing for those living with a lung disease like COPD,” he said. “The Northeast suffers because much of the country’s air pollution ends up settling here, earning the moniker ‘the tailpipe of the nation.’”
‘State Of The Air’ Report Card ABCs & 123s 4+ in 10… number of Americans living with unhealthy air; Nearly 133.9 million… number of Americans living in unhealthy air;
Across the country, he pointed out, the 2019 report found continued improvement in air quality. Nevertheless, “more than four in ten Americans — 133.9 million — live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution, where their health is at risk,” he said.
Nearly 950,000… number of people living in Fairfield County;
More Patients Affected Dr John Chronakos, a pulmonologist with Western Connecticut Health Network, said he and his colleagues are seeing an uptick in patients with breathing issues brought on by the local less-than-stellar air quality. “Particularly this year, we have a lot of people with underlying lung disease that are having issues that are attributed to the air quality and the particulate matters,” Dr Chronakos said May 9. “We definitely see this all the time.” The 2019 “State of the Air” covers the most recent quality-assured data available collected by states, cities, counties, tribes, and federal agencies in 2015–17. Notably, those three years were the hottest recorded in global history. Dr Chronakos suggests using alerts made available through weather websites to be aware of days when the air quality index or pollen levels are expected to reach unhealthy levels. “Being aware of those, and heeding those if you have underlying lung disease, is the most reasonable thing to do,” Dr Chronakos said. “If people heeded that, they’d be better off with their breathing.” Lung issues, he said, can lead to people having trouble breathing. Simple tasks become very challenging, he added. “They can be short of breath or have difficulty breathing, to the point of having trouble showering, walking to the mailbox, or preparing meals,” he said. “Coughing is a big concern,” he added, “especially with phlegm production. That can be difficult to cough up and clear, especially because of its stickiness.”
549… number of Fairfield County residents diagnosed with lung cancer;
Nearly 83,000… number of Fairfield County children with asthma; 296,000+…. number of Fairfield County adults with asthma; 167,000+… number of Fairfield County adults with COPD; 71,130… number of Fairfield County residents with diabetes; 82,428… number of Fairfield County residents living at or below poverty level; F… ALA’s Ozone grade for Fairfield County this year; A… ALA’s Particle Pollution 24-hour grade for Fairfield County this year; Pass… ALA’s overall Particle Pollution Annual Grade for Fairfield County this year. —compiled from American Lung Association data
Ozone Pollution Compared to the 2018 report, Fairfield, New Haven, New London, and Windham counties experienced more unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report, with Fairfield alone reporting a total of 69 Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Populations) and Red (Unhealthy) bad air days. Windham County’s increased bad air days — from seven in the 2018 report to ten in the 2019 report — caused its grade to drop from a D to an F. While other counties, including Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, and Tolland, experienced fewer bad ozone days than reported in 2018, the reduction was not enough to improve their failing grades. “Ozone particulates in the Connecticut area is something for people to monitor,” Dr Chronakos said.
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THE NEWTOWN BEE, FRIDAY, MAY 17, 2019
Two Familiar Doctors Join Waterbury Health Group In Southbury By andrEw goroSko SOUTHBURY — Although they may be working in new physical surroundings at Southbury Village, two doctors who recently joined Waterbury Health at its 690 Main Street South location are familiar faces to many local patients. Mary Lizabeth Aquavia, MD, specializes in internal medicine and primary care for women, providing healthcare for patients age 18 through adulthood, and into their senior years. While Marianne Bette, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician, cares for pediatric, adolescent, adult, and geriatric patients. Dr Bette also provides minor in-office medical procedures.
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Dr Mary Lizabeth Aquavia Dr Aquavia has practiced medicine in Greater Waterbury since 1987, joining Waterbury Health on April 1. The physician told The Newtown Bee that she seeks to educate her patients on medical topics, providing them with helpful websites where they can find useful information. Conditions she often treats include hypertension, diabetes and obesity, as well as heart, lung and urological disorders, plus cancer and other health problems. Dr Aquavia, who has practiced medicine in Southbury since 2006, said, “I love Southbury. It’s a great community.” The doctor, who has treated people from age 25 to 103, noted that about 80 percent of her patients are women. “I try to make a unique connection with every patient,” she said. “I counsel patients all the time,” she added, explaining to them how they can improve their lifestyles toward the goal of healthier living. Things as basic as having a healthy diet and getting sufficient exercise are important, she said. It is important to stay active as one ages, she added. Beneficial activity during aging can include exercise, volunteer work, participation in the arts, and enjoying a hobby, she commented. “It’s all tailored to the patient’s needs,” she said of her individualistic approach to treat-
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By candicE choi NEW YORK (AP) — As recent illnesses tied to raw turkey, ground beef, cut melon, and romaine lettuce suggest, US food poisoning cases don’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
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ment. Dr Aquavia said she finds the most challenging and fulfilling aspect of medicine to be diagnosing a patient who has many and various symptoms. Knowing a person’s medical history greatly aids a doctor in making diagnoses, she said. Dr Aquavia received her medical degree from St George’s University School of Medicine. She completed her internship and residency in internal medicine. In her work as a doctor, she has developed women-centered primary care, focusing on prevention, education, and health maintenance. The doctor’s community involvement has included the United Way of Greater Waterbury,
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its most recent report on the subject that the frequency of several types of food poisoning infections climbed last year, but that the increases could be the result of new diagnostic tools that help identify more cases. Overall, the agency believes food poisoning rates have remained largely unchanged. Dr Robert Tauxe, director of the agency’s foodborne illness division, said the figures show more needs to be done to make food safer. He noted the two most common causes of infection have been longtime problems. One of the two, salmonella, can come from an array of foods including vegetables, chicken, eggs, beef, and pork. The other germ, campylobacter, is commonly tied to chicken. People may not hear as much about it because health officials often
can’t group cases into outbreaks. Both bacteria are spread through animal feces. “For some reason, campylobacter is making people sick with lots of different fingerprints,” Dr Tauxe said. The report is based on monitoring in ten states but is seen as an indicator of national trends. It highlights the difficulty in understanding food poisoning when so many cases go unreported, diagnostic methods are inconsistent, and production practices and eating habits are constantly changing. With chicken, for instance, companies have brought down salmonella rates in raw whole carcasses since the government began publishing test results of individual plants. But the US Department of Agriculture only recently began posting similar data for raw chicken parts like breasts and legs, which Americans have gravitated toward
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Dr Marianne Bette Of her work in family medicine, Dr Bette said, “It’s great having all the generations, three or four generations.” She treats the newborn to those beyond age 100, she said. At times, she will be treating multiple generations of the same family. Some illnesses run through a family, she noted, adding that health problems may spread from one related person to another. “The emphasis is on the whole person,” Dr Bette said of her approach to medicine. Her “family practice” style of medicine
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amounts to what formerly was known as “general practice” medicine, she said, In her work, she will frequently treat all the members of a given family, she added. “I do a lot of office therapy,” providing counseling for emotional disorders, she said. “I think diet and exercise are the keys to anyone’s health,” Dr Bette noted. The doctor said that she treats many anxious teenagers, both boys and girls, whose emotional situations stem from the use of social media and cellphones. Dr Bette remarked that she was born and raised in Southbury and had a 20-year solo medical practice in Southbury before joining Waterbury Health six months ago. “I’m happy that I can still see my patients; I have had a wonderful career,” Dr Bette said. “I am never bored. It’s a partnership. It’s a trust,” she added. The doctor said she derives satisfaction from making people feel better. She said she strives to provide some perspective for her patients on their particular situations. Dr Bette has a daughter who has become a doctor. Dr Bette said of her career, “It’s a lot of fun. It’s very rewarding. It’s been great.” Dr Bette completed her medical schooling at the University of Southern California. She practiced medicine for 18 years in California before returning to Southbury in 1998. The doctor is a clinical professor at the medical schools of the University of Connecticut, Quinnipiac University, and the University of Vermont. An author, Dr Bette has written a book entitled, Living With a Dead Man: A Story Of Love. It was published in 2018 by Emerald Lake Books. The volume is a tribute to the life and death of her husband, Thom Waner, and the lessons which the doctor drew from her experience. In April 2018, Southbury Medical Associates, LLP joined Alliance Medical Group, an affiliate of Waterbury Health. Learn more at wtbyhosp. org, or to make an appointment, call 203-2646503.
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over the years. Last year, the agency said 22 percent of production plants did not meet its standard for limiting salmonella in chicken parts. The USDA said in a statement that it’s working to improve its approach to fighting bacteria, including with the publication of such data. Despite such efforts, salmonella and campylobacter are allowed in raw poultry sold in supermarkets, noted Tony Corbo of Food and Water Watch, an advocacy group that supports stricter food safety regulations. It’s why health experts advise people to properly handle and cook poultry. “There is very little the USDA
can do besides posting the report card on salmonella,” he said. The National Chicken Council says the industry has been working to bring down contamination rates, including through germ-killing solutions sprayed on raw chicken during processing, improved sanitation, and increased use of vaccines. But the group says the bacteria are endemic in chickens and that eliminating them is difficult. The CDC report also notes produce is a major source of food poisoning, citing recent E. coli outbreaks tied to romaine lettuce. It said outbreaks tied to produce also contributed to a
big jump in infections from a parasite called cyclospora. The Food and Drug Administration, which oversees fruits and vegetables, said in a statement that a recently developed test is helping it detect the parasite in produce. The agency is also implementing new regulations for produce, though food safety experts note the inherent risk with fruits and vegetables that are grown in open fields and eaten raw. The CDC said is still working to confirm how much increases in food poisoning cases can be chalked up to new diagnostic methods. It noted some results of a newer, faster test could be false positives.
CVS Moves Into Dental Care With Teeth Straightening Service By toM MUrPhy WOONSOCKET, RI — (AP) CVS Health is venturing into dental care with plans to offer a relatively new teeth-straightening service. The drugstore chain said Thursday that it will add SmileDirectClub locations to hundreds of its stores, where customers can get started on getting their teeth straightened without an in-person visit with a dentist or orthodontist. That lack of an office visit has drawn criticism from orthodontists. CVS Health and other drugstores have been pushing in recent years to add more services to their store locations, in part to help their customers stay healthy. The company is also trying to attract customers for profitable beauty products and stave off competition like the online retail giant amazon.com, which provides same-day delivery for many of the products that drugstores sell outside their pharmacies. Under the CVS plan, customers get a 3D image of their mouth made by a SmileDirect employee at one of the drugstore locations. The image is sent to a dentist or orthodontist who approves the patient’s treatment plan. Patients are shipped clear, removable aligners designed to straighten their teeth. They check in remotely with a dentist or orthodontist, often by smartphone. The service costs $1,850 before insurance. The American Association of Orthodontists has criticized the service, warning that inperson visits are important in this type of care. Dentists can spot gum disease during
these visits, and X-rays can detect bone loss not seen in a photo, the group’s lawyer Sean Murphy said. “Our concern is patient health and safety,” Mr Murphy added. CVS Pharmacy President Kevin Hourican said he has no concerns about safety with SmileDirect, which he said provides a “high quality” product and limits care to patients who don’t have complex dental needs. SmileDirect spokeswoman Carrie Moore said the company, which started in 2014, has served more than half a million people. She said in an email that it is common for “traditional industry representatives to balk” when a new business model gains acceptance. CVS Health also will add SmileDirect service as a covered option in the dental care network of its recently acquired Aetna health insurance business. Another insurer, UnitedHealthcare, announced a similar coverage expansion Thursday. The SmileDirect locations will appear in only a small percentage of CVS Health’s 9,800 retail locations nationally. But company officials say they may eventually expand to more than a thousand locations. The company started testing the approach in a few stores last fall. CVS Health found in its pilot that the SmileDirect locations attracted younger, new customers. “People want to improve their smile, and they feel better about themselves,” Mr Hourican said.
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THE NEWTOWN BEE, FRIDAY, MAY 17, 2019
Food Allergies — An Immune System Response Affecting More Americans Every Year
By Eliza Hallabeck The month of May is when we see loads of flowers blooming and feel the effects of pollen haunting allergy sufferers. But May is also is also Food Allergy Awareness Month. Food Allergy Awareness Week was recognized May 12 to 18 this year, and the effort to bring attention to this concerning and occasionally deadly affectation continues throughout the month. According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT), foodallergyawareness.org, food allergies affect approximately 15 million Americans. “A food allergy is an immune system response to a food the body mistakenly believes is harmful,” according to the group’s website. Multiple sources say food allergies are on the rise. FAACT says food allergies appear to be increasing among children under the age of 18. When there is an anaphylactic reaction, 911 must always be called, according to FAACT. Dr Kara Fitzgerald, a physician clinic director in Sandy Hook, said food allergies “are on the rise in adults and in kids; allergies of all kinds are actually, but food allergies are in particular.” Dr Fitzgerald’s clinic works one-on-one with patients with food allergies, according to Nutrition Programs Director Romily Hodges. There are a number of things that seem to increase a person’s vulnerability to food allergies, like taking a lot of antibiotics and acid blocking therapies, Dr Fitzgerald explained. “Our micro-biome play a role in balancing our immune system,” she explained. When the micro-biome is thrown off by things like antibiotics, a person’s vulnerability to food allergies can increase. Creating Immunity Balance There are also ways to help balance a person’s immune system, like taking recommended vitamins if needed, eating probiotics or fermented foods, and trying not to eat the same foods every day, according to Dr Fitzgerald. She said people should try to vary their diet and include lots of vegetables and fruits. In the spring, seasonal allergies may “kick up” food allergies. People with seasonal
According to Advanced Specialty Care, P.C., the incidence of peanut allergy nearly tripled from 1997 to 2007. —Bee Photo, Hallabeck allergies may notice a stronger reaction to food allergies, as the immune system is on alert. Warmer winters also lead to more intense spring allergies. “Everything in Newtown is budding away,” said Dr Fitzgerald on a particularly sprouting day near the start of May. Ms Hodges explained for “food sensitization to occur, there must be a barrier breakdown — typically, the increased ‘leakiness’ of the intestinal lining brought on by pro-inflammatory foods, food additives/chemicals, or the wrong type of gut bugs. However, scientists are now recognizing that ‘leaky skin’ can be another route for food allergy sensitization.” Proper digestion, Ms Hodges explained in a recent e-mail, is vital for the immune system to understand the difference between harmful and benign compounds. “When we don’t have a healthy gut microbiome, our immune system can malfunc-
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tion. This means that eating a prebiotic-rich diet that nourishes our microbiome is critically important,” Ms Hodges said. “Plant foods that are especially rich in polyphenols such as quercetin and luteolin are especially good for calming the immune system and healing a leaky gut. Onions, dark leafy greens, broccoli, and apples are high in quercetin. Luteolin is found in celery, thyme, bell peppers, and chamomile tea.” Gut Health Recipes Ms Hodges also provided
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links to recipes posted on drkarafitzgerald.com that support the immune system through stabilizing mast cells, healing the gut barrier, and modulating an overactive immune response. Visit these informative links to learn more about: *An anti-allergy salad (drkarafitzgerald.com/recipe/ recipe-anti-allergy-salad); *An anti-allergy tea (drkarafitzgerald.com/recipe/ anti-allergy-tea); *Golden turmeric milk (drkarafitzgerald.com/recipe/ golden-turmeric-milk); *A leaky gut bone broth (drkarafitzgerald.com/recipe/ leaky-gut-bone-broth); and *A mineral rich nettles pesto recipe (drkarafitzgerald.com/ recipe/mineral-rich-nettlespesto). According to Advanced Specialty Care P.C., which has offices throughout the state, food allergies affect almost 15 million people in the country, and nearly eight percent of school age children have a history of food allergy. One desensitization approach to food allergies described by the group’s website, ascdocs.com, includes cautiously eating food to which one is allergic, while being monitored in a medical facility. Dr Fitzgerald said approaches to handling food allergies should always be done with a doctor. Old advice for new parents was to avoid giving babies food the child may be allergic too, but there is a new movement to reintroduce foods under the guidance of a doctor, according to Dr Fitzgerald. There has been a lot of new research around food allergies, and Dr Fitzgerald expressed excitement over new studies. While allergies seem to be increasing “through the roof,” she said research may provide more guidance in the future.
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Leon A. Baczeski, Jr. MD • Rachel R. Rothschild, MD David B. Gropper, MD • Jamie L. Alon, MD • Bruce W. Cohen, MD Leah A. Sterry, DO • Aaron M. Slaiby, DO Jose F. Arraiano, P.A.-C. • Andrea M.Galella, P.A.-C Anne-Marie Vogt, APRN, FNP-C, CLC
Caring for the Children of Danbury and Surrounding Towns for Over 50 Years! Hours: Monday–Friday 9am–5pm
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SERVING THE TOWNS OF Bethel • Brookfeld • Danbury • Newtown • Redding Ridgefeld • Southbury • New Fairfeld PROVIDING THESE QUALITY HOME CARE SERVICES • Skilled Nursing Service • Home Health Aides • Social Work • Homemakers • Physical, Occupational, Speech Therapy
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to better protect consumers. “It is alarming and appalling that sunscreen makers have been allowed for years to make misleading claims about the protection they offer, and I applaud the FDA for finally taking action to stop this abuse…” Senator Blumenthal said. “Consumers rely on labels to make critical decisions about how they protect themselves and their families, and this information must be accurate.” Prior to this push for clearer and more consistent information, sunscreen companies could make a variety of misleading claims in their marketing. The updated regulation called for changes, including that the term “broad spectrum” protection meant the sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays; that products with SPF below 15 must have a warning label stating it has not been shown to help prevent early skin aging or skin cancer; the terms “sunblock,” “sweatproof,” and “waterproof ” must be removed from labels; and companies claiming to provide sun protection for more than two hours must have test results to prove it.
By Alissa Silber You might be saying to yourself, “What’s the harm in leaving the house without putting on sunscreen? I do it all the time.” Well, without it, you are leaving your skin, the body’s largest external organ, susceptible to damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays that can put you at a higher risk of developing forms of skin cancer, like Melanoma — the deadliest type. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and is diagnosed more than all other cancers combined. Even though May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, people of all races need to be vigilant year-round and take measures every day to protect their skin, whether out running just a few errands or spending a long summer day at the beach. While wearing long brimmed hats and clothing that covers the majority of your skin is helpful, properly applying sunscreen evenly on exposed skin reduces the likelihood of the sun’s UV rays burning the epidermis. It is also important to keep in mind that the sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm and can be harmful even on cloudy days, according to the American Cancer Society.
Sunburned — Now What? Whether you accidentally missed applying sunscreen to an area or waited to reapply after more than two hours, overexposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays can cause a sunburn. The reddened skin may seem like a temporary irritation, the Skin Cancer Foundation says, but it can cause longterm damage and increase a person’s risk of developing skin cancer. Depending on the severity of the burn, the skin may begin to peel as the body rids itself of the damaged cells. When this happens, dermatologists agree that it is best to moisturize the area to resist the urge to peel the skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends moisturizing skin while it is damp by applying a lotion that is not petroleum or oil-based. “Aloe vera may also soothe mild burns and is generally considered safe. Wear loose, soft, breathable clothing to avoid further skin irritation, and stay out of the sun…” the Skin Cancer Foundation adds. “Your skin will heal, but real damage has been done.” Be sure to check the skin monthly with self-examinations to be aware if any changes, like new or suspicious spots, occur. Doing so can help in the early detection of skin cancer when it can be most treatable. To learn more about skin cancer prevention, contact a board-certified dermatologist or visit aad.org/public/spotskin-cancer.
How To Apply The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a water-resistant sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher and provides broadspectrum (UVA/UVB) coverage. “Apply sunscreen generously before going outdoors. It takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you,” the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends. “If you wait until you are in the sun to apply sunscreen, your skin is unprotected and can burn.” One ounce of sunscreen should be applied generously to arms and legs, as well as to the ears, face, neck, tops of feet, and exposed parts of the scalp. Lips can be protected by applying a lip balm with SPF. “To remain protected when outdoors, reapply sunscreen every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating,” the Academy advises. Many consumers still believe the myth that sunscreen can be “waterproof,” since labels for years promoted themselves as such without evidence. US Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) supported a recent initiative, along with dermatologists, urging the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to improve the accuracy of sunscreen labels
New DCF Leader Emphasizes ‘Safe Sleep’ Practices To Protect Babies
By Kathleen Megan @CTMirror ROCKY HILL — The social worker is visiting the mother on another issue, but skillfully turns the conversation to sleep safety for the infant in the mother’s arms. “So, would I be able to see where the baby sleeps?” the social workers asks. The conversation was part of a simulated training exercise that Vannessa Dorantes, the new commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, used recently to get the word out about safe sleeping for infants. “According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 3,500 infants die each year in the United States in unsafe sleep environments,” Dorantes said at a news conference on the grounds of the Department of Veterans Affairs. “For several years now, we explicitly require that our social workers talk to caretakers of infants and very young children about how they practice safe sleep every time they go to the home.” Faith Vos Winkel, the state’s Assistant Child Advocate, said Connecticut loses “on average a classroom size of children just to safe sleep issues” every year. She said that from 2013 to 2018, the state lost 123 infants to sleep-related deaths, noting that number does not include children who die of other causes. DCF is attempting to combat this problem, but Dorantes said the agency sometimes struggles to get the message across even when it has followed up with families. “It’s not as easy as just talking to a family about safe sleep and then the problem is solved,” Dorantes said. “We have seen unsafe sleep tragedies when the documentation is very clear that we spoke with the family multiple times.”
Vannessa Dorantes, the new commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, has stepped up an initiative to get the word out about safe sleeping for infants. Between 2013 and 2018, CTMirror reports that the state lost 123 infants to sleep-related deaths. —Kathleen Megan photo The quality of the discussion and engagement with the family is critical, Dorantes said, which is why the department’s simulation laboratory work is valuable. A nonprofit Wethersfield-based group called Favor Inc, which works to empower families as advocates for children, partners with DCF to do the training, providing staff who play the role of family members so DCF social workers can practice their interactions with clients on myriad topics. During an early April training, Maquena Deslandes played the role of
the mother, while Brenda Whittingham, who is a DCF social worker trainee, was the worker visiting Deslandes. In the enactment, the mom, Delsandes, agrees to show Whittingham the bedroom where her baby sleeps, and the social worker talks gently with her about safe sleeping rules, which the mom seems to know: a firm mattress, nothing in the crib but the baby, the baby on her back. But then Whittingham spots folded clothes in the crib. The mom says she only put them there for a short time,
but with the mom’s permission, Whittingham takes the clothes out of the crib and puts them elsewhere. “This is perfect,” the Whittingham tells the mom. “This is how the baby should be sleeping. I want to reiterate because we don’t want anything to happen to the baby.” Whittingham gets a strong review from the supervisors who analyze the simulation with her, noting that it was good that she actually removed the clothes from the crib. Dorantes said the Annie E. Casey Foundation recently found that Connecticut had the second lowest child death rate in the country. But still, she said, in 40 percent of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome cases, unsafe sleeping habits were a factor. The CDC found in a recent national survey that despite widespread warnings against it, about a fifth of survey respondents said they place their baby on the baby’s side or stomach. Further, 61 percent reported sharing a bed with their infant, and nearly two in five reported using soft bedding — most commonly bumper pads and thick blankets. “All of these practices are dangerous and can be deadly,” Dorantes said. Citing recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dorantes said the rules for creating a safe sleep environment for infants are: *Place the infants on their back to sleep. *Use a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress. This story originally appeared at ctmirror.org, the website of The Connecticut Mirror, an independent, nonprofit news organization covering government, politics, and public policy in the state.
THE NEWTOWN BEE, FRIDAY, MAY 17, 2019
Eye Care Of Danbury—
Newtown Ophthalmologist Relocates Close To Home, Expands Practice
By John Voket Whether you are visiting for an elective cosmetic or medically necessary procedure, the physicians at the newly relocated and expanded Eye Care of Danbury promise a pleasantly eye-opening patient-centered experience. Newtown resident and Ophthalmologist Sarah Baroody recently relocated her practice to bright, spacious new offices at 164 Mount Pleasant Road — in the medical suite above DaVita Housatonic Dialysis. And she has welcomed new partner Hindola Konrad, MD, to the practice. Dr Konrad comes to the practice with a wealth of experience as a Board-Certified Ophthalmologist and a Fellow of the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. According to her bio, she received her Medical Degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She completed Residency in Ophthalmology at Harkness Eye Institute, Columbia University and a Fellowship in Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the world-renowned Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, United Kingdom. Dr Konrad is an Attending Physician at the New YorkPresbyterian Hospital. She has a private practice in Cosmetic and Reconstructive Oculoplastic Surgery in New York and Connecticut, with staff privileges including Columbia University Medical Center and Western Connecticut Health Network (Nuvance). Dr Baroody specializes in cataract surgery and also treats the spectrum of common medical eye conditions. She has been board-certified in comprehensive Ophthalmology since 2005. Having grown up in the Albany, New York area, she attended Siena College, graduating in 1995 before heading to SUNY Upstate Medical University at Syracuse where she earned her MD in 1999. From there, Dr Baroody headed to Saint Louis University for her Medical School Residency in Ophthalmology in 2003, before opening her solo practice in Danbury, where she has practiced since 2004. Visiting The Practice She and Dr Konrad had been up and running at their new location on Newtown’s so called “Medical Mile” for just a few weeks when they invited The Newtown Bee in for a visit. During a brief interview, both physicians were upbeat, and it appeared obvious they were good friends as well as professional colleagues, with a keen interest in ensuring each established patient visiting the new offices felt as welcome as newcomers. Dr Baroody said that for anyone requiring cataract care, the practice offers premium intraocular multifocals and toric lens implants and treats a wide range of optic issues, including glaucoma, macular degeneration, dry eye, blepharitis, strabismus, amblyopia, and refractive error. Dr Konrad added that they also treat patients with diabetes, lupus, arthritis, chalazion (stye), common eye injuries, infections, individuals who have experienced stroke/tia, and those who are prescribed high-risk medication. “Aside from our surgical specialty, we both practice com-
Ophthalmologist Hindola Konrad, left, recently joined the practice of Dr Sarah Baroody’s Eye Care of Danbury, which has just relocated to 164 Mount Pleasant Road. —Bee Photo, Voket prehensive ophthalmology,” Dr Baroody said. “General medical eye care for adults, children, and the entire family.” “From birth to 99, literally,” Dr Konrad said. As she explains it, after maintaining a practice in Manhattan and being part of a larger group in Danbury for 20 years, she became acquainted with Dr Baroody and invited the local physician for lunch. “I was solo and looking to move into a lager space, and to share that space,” Dr Baroody said. “And I learned Dr Konrad had recently left an association. We quickly discovered we were of like mind and temperament, and we both strive to maintain an excellent standard of care, so it was a good match.” Dr Baroody said the Newtown location offers convenience for her Newtown and Danbury patients. “Since I provide a lot of services for elderly patients with cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, this location is also close to a large concentration of facilities and communities that are home to those patients,” Dr Baroody said. “I have a smattering of patients throughout the greater Danbury area, but I’d like to expand my patient base here in Newtown.” Dr Konrad said she has amassed a patient following in excess of 11,000 and is in the process of informing them all about her new office location in the Hawleyville neighborhood. “A lot of them are from this area and are super happy because this practice is actually closer to home,” Dr Konrad said. Unique Areas Of Expertise As far as unique aspects of their practice, Dr Konrad said both she and Dr Baroody are equally willing and able to tackle all aspects of comprehensive eye care. But their individual surgical expertise is different. “I do plastic surgery that could entail cosmetic and reconstructive eyelid surgery,” Dr Konrad said. “So I fix problems due to things like skin cancer, thyroid, tumors, and more commonly, I do eyelid surgery where the skin on the eyelid as you age begins inter-
fering with vision or creates eye irritation.” She said about 70 percent of her patients are seeking cosmetic expertise versus procedures that are medically required. Most of Dr Konrad’s surgeries are done at an ambulatory surgical center in Danbury, with the balance of procedures being done at the new office. Her mainstay work typically involves treating four conditions, correcting drooping upper eyelid tissue, eyelid muscle repair, and repairing the turning in of the lower eyelid or the turning out or outer rotation of the upper eyelid. In many cases, Dr Konrad is performing more than one related repair or correction concurrently, and often treats both patient’s eyes during the same procedure. “Oftentimes during certain repairs, we can incorporate some cosmetic correction as well,” she said. Dr Baroody has become expert at performing cataract surgery, which she said is among or the leading eye issue among aging populations. “It’s extremely common for those over age 65,” she said, adding that she also does some limited laser glaucoma surgery. Dr Baroody performs the bulk of her surgeries at New Milford Hospital’s outpatient surgery center. “It’s a small setting and very comfortable with great customer care,” she said of the facility. “Patients tell me they love it. I have operated at a number of other facilities as well, including one in Ridgefield that has since closed.” For patients receiving cataract surgery, Dr Baroody uses a modern standard technique involving a “very small incision with no stitch, which offers a very rapid recovery.” She said patients can choose a bifocal lens implant or one that corrects astigmatism. As far as younger patients, she provides relief from styes and treats a variety of work and sports-related eye injuries.
frequency skin tightening of the neck, and laser resurfacing of the face. As the new practice becomes established and Dr Konrad settles in, the physicians say they will continually look to
Additional Services Offered Dr Konrad additionally offers cosmetic rejuvenation as an in-office service, including Botox and fillers, radio-
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upgrade technology, testing equipment for detecting glaucoma and macular degeneration, and they are open to possibly bringing in other physicians and specialties. “I’d like those in the area to know we are really nice people to deal with for their eye and cosmetic needs,” Dr Konrad said. “We’re not in a hurry, and we don’t prescribe to cookiecutter techniques — we take our time with our patients and get to know people.” “I think we’re quite unique in terms of services we offer,” Dr Baroody said. “Patient care is very important to us, and we’re very personable.” Dr Konrad said the current work she is doing with radio frequency surgery is “just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we could offer in the future.” “The things they are doing now with skin tightening and subcutaneous fat reduction using heating versus cool sculpting is amazing,” she said. “So I’ll be looking at that as the technology gets better.” Dr Baroody is anticipating an improved bifocal lens implant to become available soon, and she is always looking for new technology for cataract diagnosis and correction. To schedule an appointment with Dr Baroody or Dr Konrad, call 203-790-8866 or learn more at eyecareofdanbury.com.
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By Kendra Bobowick Southbury resident and St Rose of Lima parishioner Michael Guido learned that his dad, Ronald Guido, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease eight years ago at age 62. News of that diagnosis prompted Michael to “get more involved,” and start a support group in Newtown. Through a website and support group meetings at St Rose Church, Michael Guido conveys his message: “Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and Dementia requires strength, compassion, patience, and selfless love.” This message and more information is stated on dontforgettolaughalz.com. The message continues, “I have learned a lot about the disease through my father’s eyes and also understand that every patient’s experience with the disease is different. These learnings have driven me to get more involved... Welcome to my page.” Learn more at Don’t Forget To Laugh ALZ on Facebook. His father’s illness is “Something I have wrestled with for a couple of years,” Michael Guido said. “When my father was diagnosed, it was difficult for the family, and I was trying to find way to cope and handle it.” He had started volunteering with Alzheimer’s Association “and was helping a bigger cause” that supported research and funding, he said. “But I felt it was too disconnected” from his “feet on the ground dealing with the disease.” About a year ago at St Rose, while sharing stories, he said, “People felt there was value in sharing — helping yourself and helping others,” which was the impetus to his website and meetings. Close to 25 people, either caregivers or those supporting care-
givers, attended the first meeting in April, held at the parish in the Holy Innocents building on Church Hill Road. “So, I walked out of that meeting with a lot of energy,” he said. He learned that participants were “refreshed that I was someone dealing with the disease,” rather than a medical professional coordinating the group. He said, “What I can do is bring people together and facilitate a good dialogue.” A second meeting early in May saw roughly 17 attendees, after which Michael Guido decided to expand groups to twice a month. Meetings will be held on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 6 pm at Holy Innocents. Regarding the start of a support group, he said, “I feel good. I have already made connections through Facebook and the website with those in similar situations and also made connections to services and support in the community.” Caregiver Challenges Despite his advancing symptoms, Ronald is still able to live at home with his wife and main caregiver, Sharon, at their home in nearby Brookfield. “He was not one to talk about his medical situation,” Michael Guido said. But the Alzheimer’s “was mental, and he never admitted it outwardly, and still hasn’t, but was receptive to my mother asking him to go to the doctor.” He and his father have “never talked about having Alzheimer’s. It made things very difficult; it didn’t make it easy for my mother handling it.” He said, “My mother has done a fair amount of reading,” and so has Michael and his siblings “to learn ways to help the individual who is suffering.” The family is facing questions, such
Michael Guido, right, a St Rose parishioner, has started a twice-a-month support group for caregivers and supporters of people with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. His father, Ronald, left, was diagnosed with Early-onset Alzheimer’s several years ago. —photo courtesy Michael Guido as, “How do you get [the person with Alzheimer’s] out of acting and behaving in ways that are disruptive to everyday life?” Describing his father’s changed behavior, Michael Guido said, “In the early days [of the disease], he liked to go find things in the closet or garage and find creative uses for hair spray or hair dye. You have to find someplace to put those things,” he said. “One day, he scuffed his shoes, so he spray-painted them and tracked paint into the house. He was using things in applications they shouldn’t be used.” He said, “My mother thought about getting a fish tank for him, but it turned into overfeeding or putting weird things in the tank, so it was shortlived.”
Talking about his father’s lucidity, Michael Guido said, “It’s not as though he is out of it and unable to communicate, but he is in a loop.” His father “won’t sit and have conversation, but he will watch the news and repeat back things in the news — not to point out something interesting, he is just hearing and repeating.” He said, “The disease really brings him back to a toddler-ish mind frame. He gets something in mind that he wants, and he will ask my mother for it repeatedly, and won’t stop, he needs more of that thing.” His father “is able to be by himself for stretches of time, but he will call my mother incessantly,” he said. “She will be somewhere for an hour or two and come out and find 75
missed calls.” About his family’s experience, he said, “I feel I’m complaining about trivial stuff, but it wears on you.” The sentiment brings to his mind one of his dad’s expressions — “You’re being pecked to death by a duck.” He said, “That’s kind of what this is like.” “Stuff grates on you. It’s up to my siblings and I to keep my mother on an even keel. We have to take our turns.” With his father still living at home, Mr Guido said, “We are trying to make that happen as long as we can; daily living and taking care of himself is still happening.” As the disease progresses, he said the family may have to explore other alternatives. “You don’t realize how it’s progressing until you look back a few years,” Michael Guido said. “It is like almost night and day. I long for times he would tell a total nonsense story about things that never happened. He does not do that anymore.” His father “is in a loop,” he said again. “He will refer to me as the ‘smartest, strongest, best looking Guido in the galaxy.’ He does express gratitude to my mother for the care she gives him. It’s nice. But what he says to me, he says similar things to my brother and sister.” Certain triggers could include his father seeing someone with a tan, Michael Guido said, or he’ll talk about being Italian. “Or he will comment on somebody’s ‘great beard.’” For a time, his dad would acknowledge “that someone has a nice head of hair but say that his hair ‘fell in and it clogged his brain.’” But if the family told him he had Alzheimer’s “he would be adamant that it was false.” Support Meetings “Caregivers have it hardest,” he said. “The reason I set the
group up is for my mother. There is a lot she can bring in talking with others. She is part of the support group and welcomes talking about it.” He said, “For her situation, as with many, you feel like you’re on an island. My mother is afraid to reach out, and others are afraid to bother her, so she is left with nobody to talk to. I keep telling her there is no harm in reaching out, but impetus is on caregiver to ask for help.” He “absolutely hopes this will be a support for many people and I encourage people to reach out,” Michael Guido said. His mother’s reaction after the first session “was positive, she was energetic, but that fades.” For this reason, he chose to begin meeting twice a month. “Having Alzheimer’s at the age [his father] was diagnosed is different than someone who had 20 years of retirement before the diagnosis. She feels robbed of twilight years.” Dontforgettolaughalz.com states, “This page is dedicated to providing education, support, and guidance to caregivers for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia.” In the introduction, Mr Guido writes, “I facilitate a support group for caregivers and family members at my parish in Newtown.” He offers an invitation, “If you are interested in participating, please do not hesitate to contact me (email@example.com ). He then clarifies, “I am not a medical professional and am not educated or trained to provide counseling services.” Support group meetings are held on the first and third Wednesday of the month at 6 pm in the Holy Innocents Hall at St Rose of Lima Church in Newtown.
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Newtown Bridge Club is holding its third annual Longest Day fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association on Wednesday, June 19. There will be Duplicate and Social bridge games and Scrabble tournaments and casual play. The agenda includes morning, afternoon, and evening events with complimentary breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided by local establishments. The Longest Day will take place at Edmond Town Hall, beginning at 9 am with a light breakfast fare of pastries, coffee, and tea, followed by the morning games at 10 am. Lunch is at 1 pm, with the afternoon games at 2 pm. After a 5 pm dinner featuring live jazz music, the evening games start at 6 pm. Players are invited to play in one, two, or all three events. Bridge fees are $15 per Dupli-
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cate session and $10 per Social session. Standby bridge partners will be available, so players can come with a partner or alone. The Scrabble tournaments and casual play are $10 per session (three rounds). There are both newcomer and NASPA-rated tournaments, plus Scrabblers may play non-tournament games for fun. Any bridge or Scrabble player who brings in at least $100 in donations to the Alzheimer’s Association will play free all day. Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.8 million Americans are now living with this disease, and it is estimated that by the year 2050, this number will rise to 14 million. The Alzheimer’s Association
supports both those suffering from the disease and their caregivers. More than 16 million caregivers provide “unpaid” care estimated at a value of 18.5 billion hours and a cost of $234 billion a year, to people with dementia. Many of our bridge players have either been caregivers themselves or have been affected by a close relative or friend suffering from dementia. Two women who are caregivers of their husbands shared their Alzheimer’s experiences with us; both said “it creeps up on you.” In the early stages, one husband was in a state of denial and unable to even say the word Alzheimer’s. The other showed signs of it for three and a half years before it was finally diagnosed. He was always engaged with people, very independent, well-read, and intelligent. All of that changed
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during those early years. Newtown Bridge Club prides itself on being a friendly place for bridge, and this June, we are hoping many bridge and Scrabble players will come to this event in support of research and funding for Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. To register for the Scrabble Tournaments, go to cross-tables.com and scroll down to June 19 and click “Newtown, CT” to open a downloadable flyer. For more information, contact tournament director Cornelia Guest at corneliasguest@gmail. com or 914-772-6535. Casual players may be seated as space allows. No pre-registration is necessary for the bridge games. Information is available at newtownbridge.org, or contact Club Manager Susan Fronapfel at 203-733-8525.
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71 South Main Street #3, Newtown | www.mynewtowndoctor.com
General Medical Eye Care and Cataract Surgery
General Medical and Cosmetic Eye Care for Children & Adults
Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery Eyelid surgery Cosmetic procedures Botox Fillers Radiofrequency skin tightening for the neck
Macular Degeneration Glaucoma Cataracts Pediatric Exams
For Gentle and Effective Care call 203-304-9037
“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” ~Mark Twain
Western Connecticut Health Network Affiliate Home Care Elite Top Agency Western ConnecticutAccredited Health Network Affiliate The Joint Commission Home Care Elite Top Agency Medicare & Medicaid Certified The Joint Commission Accredited Connecticut State Licensed Medicare & Medicaid Certified Connecticut State Licensed
For more information please call our office Monday – Friday For more information 8:30call amour – 5:00 please officepm Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Skilled Nursing Physical, Occupational & Speech Therapy Skilled Nursing Physical, Speech Therapy Medical Social Work Occupational Home Health&Aide Services Medical Social Work Home Health Aide Services
Disease Care and Management Medication Reconciliation Disease CareCare and Management Medication Post-surgical Maternal Reconciliation Child Health Post-surgical Care Maternal Child Rehabilitation Therapy Wound Care Health Rehabilitation Therapy Wound CareCare Infusion Therapy Palliative Infusion Therapy Palliative Care Call Prevention Assessment Telehealth Call Prevention Assessment Telehealth Joint & Spine Post-Surgical Therapy Joint & Spine Post-Surgical Therapy Joint & Spine Post-Surgical Therapy
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