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PRICELESS

BFOHEALTH.COM

JUNE 2019 • ISSUE 56

Robotic Surgeries Colorectal surgeon Jeffrey J. Visco discusses the advantage of using the Da Vinci robot for colon surgeries

Great Summer Food P. 13

When to Choose a Medical Spa Spa and medical spa: what’s the difference? And what to consider when selecting a medical spa

November Project Buffalo: Workout Group Turns 2

Do Doctors Give Better Care in the Morning?

The Long-Term Care Benefit Many Veterans Are Missing Out On

P. 23

Meet the Fantastic Friends of WNY Story on p.10

­

Can medical marijuana help kids with autism? Story on p. 8


CALENDAR of

2019 Hotshots Girls Lacrosse Camp WNY’s Premier Teaching Camp Years of First Class Instruction

Instruction for All Ages & Experiential Levels July 15-18 • Amherst High School Westmoreland Drive, Amherst Ages 4-7 • 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m Ages 8-17 • 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Call: Janet Battaglia (Director) at 866-6144 www.hotshotslaxcamp.com

Summer Day Camp 2019

June 5

HEALTH EVENTS

Program offers ways on treating diabetic wounds Catholic Health is sponsoring, “Diabetic Wound Prevention and Treatment” from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 5, at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, 6461 Transit Road, Depew. Join wound care specialist, physician Jill Eysaman-Walker, for dinner and a presentation on diabetic ulcers. She and a panel of wound experts, featuring physicians Lee Ruotsi, and William Lagaly, and nurse practitioner Mary Ellen Fadel, will provide information on diabetic wound care, including prevention techniques, early warning signs and various treatment options, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The event is open to the public. Guests are invited to attend one free Catholic Health community program per calendar year. After that, the cost is $20 and includes a meal. Space is limited and reservations are required. For more information, call 716-4476205 or visit chsbuffalo.org/events.

June 13-14

WNY Walks! summit to feature walkability experts

June 24-August 30 children grades K-10 To learn more, call Director Michael Garcia: 204-2078. campcenterland.org

Amherst

2640 North Forest Road behind the JCC Benderson Family Building Page 2

The Wellness Institute’s annual Walkability Summit will take place June 13 and 14 at the Buffalo Grand Hotel (formerly Adam’s Mark) in downtown Buffalo. The two-day summit will explore the challenges addressing rural, urban and suburban neighborhoods in the Buffalo region and to develop action plans to address these challenges. This event offers citizens and stakeholders strategic opportunities for networking and taking action in promoting walking and walkability to improve health. Feature keynote speakers are physician Ian Thomas of America Walks, who will speak June 13 and Amanda O’Rourke, CEO of 8-80 Cities and Buffalo’s WINTERMISSION, who will speak June 14. Thomas is the state and local program director with America Walks, where he develops and delivers education programs about the benefits of walkable communities and strategies to create them. For over a decade he served as the founding executive director of the PedNet Coalition of Colombia, Mo., where he developed one of the largest walking school bus programs in the country, advocated for the adoption of the first “complete streets” policy in Missouri, and worked in reducing neighborhood speed limits to promote walkability. O’Rourke works with 8-80 Cities, Toronto-based organization that promotes livable cities for all ages through program planning, policy changes, and engaging community members to build environmental, economic, and social capital. O’Rourke is also leading 8-80 Cities’ national WINTERMISSION; Buffalo is one of three cities participating in this initiative, which will include program implementation and the

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • June 2019

improvement of sidewalk safety and clearance to promote walkability and livability in winter cities. For more information, call 716-851-4052 or email BeActive@ City-Buffalo.org.

June 16

Vegan society to host author Meg Hurley The public is invited to attend the June meeting of the Rochester Area Vegan Society to hear Meg Hurley read from her new book, “The Dog Who Ate the Vegetable Garden & Helped Save the Planet.”  The book connects eating animals and humans’ treatment of them with environmental destruction, human illness, racism, sexism and other isms/phobias. Sweet, funny, sad, maddening, the book is a cross-genre work narrated by a real vegan dog that mixes wit, science, memoir and fiction, according to a news release. The book is published by Guernica Editions, Canada’s oldest independent press. The event will take place at 7 p.m., June 16, at Brighton Town Park Lodge, 777 Westfall Road, Rochester. A vegan dinner will be served prior to the program at 5 p.m. Dinner is a vegan potluck (no meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products or honey). Please bring a dish with enough to serve a crowd, and a serving utensil; also bring a place setting for your own dinner. We can help non-vegetarians or others uncertain about how to make or bring a vegan dish; please call 234-8750 for help.  Free to RAVS members; $3 guest fee for non-members, plus bring a vegan dish.  For more information visit rochesterveg.org.  

June 20-23

Hearing loss national convention held in Rochester The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) will celebrate its 40th anniversary at the HLAA2019 Convention. Presented by CapTel Captioned Telephone, the convention will take place Jun 20-23 at the Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center in Rochester. It will offer participants the opportunity to meet other people with hearing loss and learn in the most communication accessible environment. For more information, visit hearinglossrochester.org or call 585 266 7890.

Got an event to share with our readers? Send us an email by the 10th of each month.

editor@bfohealth.com


TAKE CHARGE Get Informed More than 60 million Americans have some form of heart disease. Heart disease is hereditary in some cases. But in many cases, making healthy lifestyle choices may help reduce the risk of getting heart disease. If you have more questions, you should talk to your provider.

Partner with Your Provider To determine whether you have a heart condition, your health care provider will do diagnostic tests and procedures. If you have heart disease or have had a stroke, members of your family may also be at higher risk of having the disease. It’s very important to make healthy choices now to lower risk.

Be Heart Smart A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons in the fight against heart disease. Here are healthy tips that help protect your cardiovascular system. ♥Get Active ♥Eat Better ♥Lose Weight ♥Control Cholesterol ♥Manage Blood Pressure

New to Medicare? Let WellCare help you live healthier. Jason Hollister, Sales Manager 1-716-846-7900 www.WellCareNow.com

Always talk with your doctor(s) about the care that is right for you. This material does not replace your doctor’s advice. Source: www.Heart.org.

65505

WellCare (HMO) is a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in WellCare (HMO) depends on contract renewal. A sales person will be present with information and applications. For accommodation of persons with special needs at sales meetings, call 1-877-699-3552 (TTY 711). There is no obligation to enroll. Please contact WellCare for details. WellCare complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. ATTENTION: If you speak a language other than English, language assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-877-374-4056 (TTY: 711) ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-877-374-4056 (TTY: 711). 注意:如果您使用繁體中文,您可以免費獲得語言援助服務 。請致電 1-877-374-4056 (TTY: 711) 。 Y0070_NA029115_WCM_FLY_ENG CMS Accepted 05242015

June 2019 •

©WellCare 2015 NA_03_15_WC IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • Page 3


You’re Invited...

The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) invites you to the HLAA2019 Convention where you will learn, meet others just like yourself, make new friends and have some fun in a communication accessible environment!

• Opening Session with keynote address by Rebecca Alexander, author of Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found.

• Exhibit Hall is free and open to the public! • Research Symposium, The Latest on Genetics and Hearing Loss Just $30! • Educational Workshops are fully accessible with hearing loops and CART/captioning. • FUN! It’s not “all work and no play” at this convention with special events including Cheers to 40 Years! HLAA Anniversary Celebration and Awards Gala, the Roaring Hollywood-themed Get Acquainted Party, and the Night at the Museum trip to the George Eastman Museum. Complimentary registration for veterans with hearing loss attending for the first time! For more information and to register go to

hearingloss.org/convention

Rochester Riverside Convention Center 301.657.2248 | hearingloss.org @HearingLossAssociation

@HLAA

@HearingLossAssociation

Do Doctors Give Better Care in the Morning? M any people do their best work in the morning, and new research suggests the same may hold true for doctors. The study, of nearly 53,000 primary care patients, found that doctors were more likely to order cancer screenings for patients seen early in the day, versus late afternoon. During 8 a.m. appointments, doctors ordered breast cancer screenings for 64% of women who were eligible for them. That figure declined over the next few hours, rebounded around lunchtime, then fell again as the afternoon wore on. During 5 p.m. appointments, doctors ordered screening for just under 48% of eligible patients. A similar pattern was seen with colon cancer screening. About 36% of patients with 8 a.m. appointments received a screening order, versus only 23% of those with 5 p.m. appointments. What’s going on? Senior researcher Mitesh Patel, a physician, speculated on one explanation: As the day goes on, doctors often fall behind schedule, and may run out of time for cancer screening discussions. There’s “a lot to get done” during a standard appointment, Patel noted — from routine health checks, to flu shots, to whatever concerns the patient is bringing up. “So the doctor might think, ‘I have limited time. I’ll talk about this [screening test] the next time,’” said Patel, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. It’s also possible “decision fatigue” is a factor, he said. If a doctor has spent much of the day talking to patients about cancer screening — and often hearing “no” — he or she might let it slide by day’s end. “This is a reminder that doctors are human, too,” said physician Jeffrey Linder, a professor of medicine at Northwestern University FeinPage 4

berg School of Medicine in Chicago. “They’re laboring under the same psychological and fatigue constraints as everyone else.” Linder wrote an editorial accompanying the study, published May 10 in the journal JAMA Network Open. “Not everyone can get an 8 a.m. appointment,” Linder pointed out. But, he said, it’s good for doctors and patients to be aware that time of day might affect their care. The study is not the first to suggest doctors practice differently as the day wears on. In an earlier study, Patel’s team found the pattern held true with flu shots: Patients seen late in the day were less likely to get them. Other researchers have found that toward the end of the day, pri-

mary care doctors are more likely to inappropriately prescribe antibiotics or opioid painkillers. It’s possible, Patel said, that patients are also in a rush toward day’s end, or dealing with their own decision fatigue. “At the end of a workday,” he said, “you might not want to have a conversation about cancer screening.” The findings are based on records from patients in the University of Pennsylvania health system who had primary care appointments between 2014 and 2016. Over 19,000 were eligible for breast cancer screening, while over 33,000 were eligible for colon cancer screening. Patel and his team looked at whether patients received a screen-

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • June 2019

ing order at their first appointment during the study period and whether they actually went for screening over the next year. They found that patients with late-day appointments were substantially less likely to be screened: One-third of women with an 8 a.m. appointment underwent breast cancer screening in the next year, versus 18% of those with 5 p.m. appointments. The figures for colon cancer screening were 28% and 18%, respectively. What to do? Patel said there’s a “great opportunity” for technology to help. Patients’ electronic health records could be cued to remind doctors to order cancer screenings, for example.


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IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 5


Meet

Your Doctor

By Chris Motola

Jeffrey J. Visco, M.D. About 1 in 1,000 Babies Born ‘Intersex’

C

ases in which a newborn’s genitals make it unclear whether the child is a boy or girl may be more common than once believed, researchers say. One example of what’s known as ambiguous genitalia is a baby girl with an enlarged clitoris that looks more like a small penis, the study authors explained. In some cases, infants have external sex organs that don’t match their internal reproductive organs. For example, a female infant can have external sex organs that resemble male genitals but have typical internal female organs — ovaries and a uterus. In these so-called “intersex” cases, treatment may be delayed until puberty or adulthood so that patients and doctors can make shared decisions, according to the study’s first author, Banu Kucukemre Aydin, a researcher at Istanbul University in Turkey, and her colleagues. For their study, the researchers analyzed data on nearly 14,200 newborns. Of those, 18 had ambiguous genitalia. That’s a rate of 1.3 in 1,000 births, much higher than the rate of one in 4,500 to 5,500 reported in previous studies, Aydin said in a news release from The Endocrine Society. Fifteen of the newborns were diagnosed with 46, XY DSD, a condition in which a male infant can’t use testosterone properly or testicles don’t develop properly. Babies with the condition had lower birth weights, the investigators found. In addition, preeclampsia — a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure — was common in those pregnancies. “These findings support the hypothesis that early placental dysfunction and androgen deficiency might be important in the etiology of male genital anomalies,” Aydin said. The findings were recently published online in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

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Colorectal surgeon excited with his new affiliation with General Physician PC and UBMD; discusses the advantage of using da Vinci robot for colon surgeries Q: What’s your relationship with General Physician PC and UBMD? A: I joined General Physician, PC in partnership with UBMD on April 1st. I’d been with Buffalo MedicalGroup for about 14 years. I joined basically because of the excitement in the surgery world centered around Kaleida and some of the advances there. I’ve been around medicine in Buffalo my whole life and this is one of the most exciting times I’ve lived through here. My dad’s been a cardiologist at Buffalo General for about 42 years, probably more than that. Q: What attracted you to the group? A: My work is as a colorectal surgeon, exclusively. One of the things that attracted me to the new group is that they’re a little more progressive. My prime focus in terms of colon surgery is robotic. I believe we do the highest volume of da Vinci robotic colon surgeries west of New York City within the state. That’s kind of the future of colon surgery. The advantages are tremendous. It took me a long time to adopt it, but over the past few years, we’ve seen huge advances in robotic colon surgery. And what it means for patients is enormous. Q: What are some of the advantages? A. I grew up at a time when it was about half-open, half-laparoscopic. Laparoscopic was obviously a huge advance in colon surgery in that your recovery time is about half of what it is for open. There are fewer complications and you’re back to

doing your normal activities in a much shorter period of time. Robotic surgery has done the same thing for laparoscopy that laparoscopy did for open surgery. A patient with typical colon I did with a laparoscopic approach probably five or six years ago stayed in the hospital three to four days. With robotic surgery that’s down to 24 to 36 hours for major colon surgeries and you’re back to work in three to four weeks instead of four to six weeks. It’s kind of exciting to see the progression. Practicing in a partnership with General Physician, PC and UBMD has allowed me more opportunities than you would typically get in private practice. You get to interact with the residents and fellows and keep your skill set up. Q: Why is the recovery time shorter? A: There’s a lot less trauma to the tissues. With laparoscopy, you’re still kind of affecting the belly wall; you’re looking at it two-dimensionally as a surgeon. Whereas here there’s a fixed point in the belly wall where the [da Vinci’s] EndoWrist instruments are working inside as opposed to torquing things from the outside and putting pressure on the abdominal wall. As the surgeon, you’re getting a three dimensional view of what you’re looking at as opposed to two dimensional. Small incisions, less pain, shorter stays, faster recovery. Q: Are there trade-offs in terms of how you spend your time? Do you plan your approach more methodically or spend time programming the machine’s approach? A: In terms of operating room time, it’s a little longer, yeah, in terms of setting up the robot. An hour or two-hour laparoscopic approach might take three hours if you do it robotically instead. But the benefits are worth every single second for the reasons I mentioned.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • June 2019

Q: What percentage of colorectal surgeries can be done robotically? A: Similar to what we can with laparoscopy, so everything but extremely complex surgery or if you’ve had like seven surgeries on your belly. I’d say at least 95 percent of my surgeries are robotic for standard cases. We can also start off robotically,

and if it’s not working, we can finish it laparoscopically. Q: Do both robotic and laparoscopic surgeries use a similar approach, like with catheters? A: They’re similar, but the da Vinci ones are designed specifically for the robot. The visual, three-dimensional aspect of what we see is a lot different. Q: Colon cancer screenings have become a much bigger part of patients’ medical lives. What impact have they had on your end? A: It’s a huge issue these days. You may have heard that there’s a higher incidence [of colon cancer] in people who aren’t currently being screened, between the ages of 40 and 50. Insurance companies aren’t quite up to speed with this. Unless you have a family history or risk factors, the recommended age to start screening has been 50. We don’t know the reasons, but we’re seeing it earlier and a lot of them, because they aren’t being screened, end up pretty advanced by the time we see them. But I do participate in screenings; I probably do 10 to 14 colonoscopies per day. It’s a very preventable, slow-growing tumor that, if you catch it in the early stages, is extremely survivable. Q: How effective is surgery for this type of cancer? A: It’s one of the more treatable cancers if you get it at stage I — even stage II and III; it’s not like pancreatic cancer. It’s still a treatable disease. It’s just best to get to it earlier. Q: Does the da Vinci robot have applications for more mundane procedures? A: I also do things like hemorrhoids and fissures, but there’s not too much excitement going on there in comparison, but we can actually do lower tumors trans-anally. So, believe it or not, we do dock a $2 million robot to the end of the rectum, which would usually require an abdominal approach. These people are going home the same day. There are some newer robots coming out for endoscopic surgery which are a little different than da Vinci robot, as well as new versions of da Vinci. So being able to endoscopically remove something without a belly incision at all is something we’re going to see in the not-too-distant future.

Lifelines

Name: Jeffrey John Visco, M.D. Employed by General Physician PC, UBMD Position: Site director of surgery at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital Hometown: Buffalo Education: Medical degree, State University of New York at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; residency in general surgery, State University of New York at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; fellowship in colon and rectal surgery, State University of New York at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Affiliations: Kaleida Health Organizations: American Society of Colorectal Surgeons Family: Wife (Lisa), stepchildren (Andrew, Gabriela) Hobbies: Hockey, traveling, foodie


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Healthcare in a Minute By George W. Chapman

Medicare For All... T hanks in large part to Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, “Medicare For All” — or universal healthcare — has become a hotly debated topic for the 2020 campaign. Detractors and skeptics have focused primarily on its impact on taxes. But here’s some food for thought as the debate rages on. U.S. taxes on wages and income are relatively low when compared to countries that have their own versions of Medicare for all. Our system of taxation is a “progressive” system whereby wealthiest pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than middleand lower-class taxpayers. Unlike workers in England, France, Germany, Sweden, Finland and Canada, who are covered by universal care, American workers have health insurance contributions/ responsibilities deducted directly from their paychecks. Out-of-pocket

Healthcare Drug Fraud

The DOJ recently convicted Phillip Esformes, a Florida skilled nursing facility owner, of over $1.3 billion in fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid. Patients were referred to his shabby facilities where they received inadequate or unnecessary treatment. He bribed both physicians and regulators in order to defraud. He was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, kickbacks, money laundering and obstruction of justice. This is the largest healthcare fraud scheme to date. In another fraud case, drug manufacturer Questor, recently acquired by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, is accused of bribing physicians to unnecessarily prescribe “H.P. Acthar

expenses like deductibles and copays are in addition to what is deducted from pay. So, unlike taxes on wages, healthcare premiums are not progressive. The lowest and middle wage earners pay the same per month as the highest wage earners. Consequently, the lower your wage or income, the higher your healthcare premium as a percentage of income. For example, a U.S. worker earning $43,000 a year pays an average of 37% in both taxes and health premiums. In high tax Finland, at the same earnings, a worker pays 23% in taxes which includes healthcare. Moving toward a universal system would make healthcare costs more “progressive” for most Americans. No matter where you stand in this debate, healthcare “premiums” must be considered as a “tax” already being paid by the American worker.

Gel,” which treats infant seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The price per vial went from $40 in 2000 to $39,000 today. If you’re doing the math, that’s a 97,000% increase. Medicare alone has spent $2 billion on the gel over the last several years. This was a whistleblower case. The “fraud police” only get involved in these cases when they are fairly certain of success. If convicted, Mallinckrodt would have to pay back what was deceitfully billed plus another $5,500 to $11,000 per false claim.  

Primary Care Spending Low

A basic tenet of healthcare is that primary care management improves overall health outcomes and lowers

costs. Researchers at the RAND Corporation studied 16 million Medicare claims and found that primary care accounts for less than 5% of total Medicare spending on physicians, hospitals/facilities, supplies and drugs. For the study, “primary care” included family practitioners, internists, gynecologists, geriatricians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Clearly, there is plenty of room for more investment in primary care. One way is to pay providers more for primary care services which would encourage more medical students to specialize in primary care.  

Rural ERs Busier

Despite the fact that many rural hospitals are in danger of closing, visits to rural emergency departments are up over 50% in recent years, according to a study published in the Journal of the AMA. Visits to urban/suburban emergency departments for the same time are up just 5%. Non-Hispanic white patients 18-64, Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured lead the charge. Rural hospitals are increasingly becoming the safety net providers in their markets. Increased ER visits, especially in rural areas, can somewhat be attributed to the shortage of primary care physicians that is much more endemic to rural areas. With limited primary care options, rural residents are forced to use emergency rooms.

Chronic Diseases Costly

The annual cost of chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s is staggering. According to a report by Fitch Solutions, it is $3.8 trillion a year in direct and indirect costs. That is almost 20% of our GDP. And the cost could double in the next 30 years as baby boomers age and live longer. Indirect costs include lost productivity, early retirement and premature mortality.

June 2019 •

Telehealth Trending Up

Two of the necessary three factors for acceptance by physicians are in place and pushing the use of telemedicine. The first factor is the physician shortage. Telehealth gives overwhelmed physicians another tool to handle their heavy patient loads as not everyone has to be seen in the office. The second factor is consumer preference, especially among younger patients who are very comfortable using technology. The third factor for overall acceptance of telehealth by physicians is insurance payments. They are getting better, but not quite there yet. While the majority of specialties are just beginning to feel comfortable with telehealth, it has been incorporated into radiology, dermatology, psychiatry and cardiology for years. Medicare (CMS) is planning to boost telehealth benefits next year. Typically, commercial carriers follow suit. In the meantime, Humana is about to roll out a virtual primary care model called “On Hand” through the telehealth company “Doctor on Demand.” The plan offers members access to a dedicated primary care physician, urgent care and behavioral health through video visits, all at a relatively low monthly payment. Interested employers see this as a way to save money and reduce employee absences. There is no co-pay for the virtual visits.

George W. Chapman is a healthcare business consultant who works exclusively with physicians, hospitals and healthcare organizations. He operates GW Chapman Consulting based in Syracuse. Email him at gwc@gwchapmanconsulting.com.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 7


Live Alone & Thrive

By Gwenn Voelckers

Practical tips, advice and hope for those who live alone

Summer and Spirituality:

Uplifting Those Who Live Alone

T

he anticipation of warm summer evenings. New growth. Budding possibilities. What better time to seize the moment and make vital changes — especially those healthy transformations we vowed to undertake six months ago on Jan. 1. Did you make New Year’s resolutions? Did you write them down?

I know I did, but they now appear on the horizon as a distant memory. If you agree with me that June just might be the month to begin your self-improvement quest, I have a suggestion for your summer “to do” list: Renew your spirit. I say this because, almost without exception, the women and men I’ve met who have successfully found their way after a divorce or the death of a spouse have been bolstered by a

healthy spiritual life. They regularly attend worship services, find comfort in prayer and hymns, and faithfully observe religious holidays. Others march to a different drummer and nourish their spiritual life in private moments, listening to music, communing with nature, reading or writing or just sitting in quiet meditation. However it’s expressed, my observations tell me that those who nurture their spiritual life fare better when challenged by life’s transitions. I consider them fortunate because they take time to renew their spirit, and in doing so, find the inner strength to navigate uncharted waters and to help others along the way. Even when their own sense of self-worth is fragile or failing, I’ve

seen devout divorcees and widows reach out to others with encouragement and prayer. Spiritually grounded, their empathy runs deep and their desire to support others is steadfast. Last month, I heard from a woman whose husband abruptly left her and their two teenage children after 27 years of marriage. She was in shock and consumed with pain. She shared with me how comforting it would have been to hear from her minister and church friends, but they didn’t know her situation. She had stopped going to church. It had been years, and that spiritual touch-point had fallen by the wayside. Similarly, a neighbor of mine confided that he stopped going to temple after he lost his “bride” to lung cancer. Mad at the injustice of it all, he couldn’t bring himself to attend services without her. This led to years of isolation, during which he was overcome with loneliness. I wasn’t surprised when he talked of numbing his pain with alcohol. My message to both was simple: Renew your spiritual connections. It’s easy to imagine how difficult it might be to contact a minister, priest, rabbi or other spiritual adviser and ask for support after being absent from services for many years. But any religious congregation worthy of its mission will respond with open arms. A warm embrace is waiting for those who walk through the doors.

Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of “Alone & Content” empowerment boot camps for women held throughout the year in Mendon. She is the author of “Alone and Content: Inspiring, empowering essays to help divorced and widowed women feel whole and complete on their own.” For information about her boot camp, to purchase her book, or invite her to speak call 585-624-7887, email gvoelckers@rochester.rr.com, or visit www.aloneandcontent.com

break in the middle. Kids taking a cannabis extract improved 49% and 53% on two scales in which doctors and parents measure autism symptoms and disruptive behavior. That compared to 21% and 44% improvement, respectively, in kids on the placebo. The children treated with marijuana also showed 50% improvement on a scale that tracks core autism symptoms, compared with 22% for kids taking the placebo. However, children treated with marijuana were more likely to suffer from decreased appetite, sleepiness and disturbed sleep. Simon Baron-Cohen is presi-

dent of the International Society for Autism Research, and reviewed the study. “From the brief information, we must advise those considering this as a form of treatment to use caution, given the report of significant rates of unwanted side effects,” he said. Researchers plan a follow-up clinical trial that will include more children from different countries, Aran said. He cautioned against becoming too excited about this potential therapy. “It’s not a miracle treatment,” Aran said. “It might be another tool in our toolbox.”

Likewise, if other doors beckon – if nature or poetry or yoga feed your soul — go forth and embrace those opportunities. My spiritual battery gets recharged when I take time out from my busy schedule to be still and mindful. My quiet time in an inspirational setting allows me to contemplate my most deeply held beliefs. I emerge grounded and motivated. The power of a spiritual life is mighty. When you pursue your spiritual goals and teachings, life can be more manageable and your ability to cope with loss, loneliness and everyday struggles is strengthened. No matter how you pursue a spiritual connection, I encourage you to make that connection or re-connection now. Today. An idea bigger than yourself, a set of convictions, and the company of people who share your beliefs can lead to a richer, more meaningful and peaceful existence. You do not have to go through life alone. And that is a godsend.

s d i K Corner

Can Medical Marijuana Help Kids With Autism?

M

edical marijuana extracts appear to help children with autism, reducing their disruptive behavior while improving their social responsiveness, a new Israeli clinical trial reports. Kids treated with either a wholeplant cannabis extract or a pure combination of cannabidiol (CBD) and THC experienced a significant improvement in their symptoms, compared with a control group given a placebo, researchers said. But parents of kids with autism should still wait for more data before trying to treat them with medical marijuana, warned lead researcher Adi Aran, director of the pediatric neurology unit at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. “Thousands of parents already are treating their kids with cannabis based on rumors of this study,” the physician said. “I don’t want it to be even more.” For the study, 150 children with autism were put in one of three groups. One group received a placebo, another was treated with a whole-plant extract of marijuana, and the third received a pure blend of Page 8

CBD and THC at a 20-to-1 ratio. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound that produces intoxication when one uses marijuana. CBD is a compound in marijuana that does not produce intoxication, but does appear to interact with cannabinoid receptors in the brain. One CBD-based product, Epidiolex, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in treating epilepsy. CBD has been shown to help anxiety in several studies, so researchers thought it might aid in treating behavioral problems in kids with autism, Aran said. These include acting out and violence towards others. The THC was included in the pure blend because “we believe the THC might be important for improving the social deficits as well,” Aran said. “THC is known to impact the social area.” The whole-plant extract included not only CBD and THC, but many other compounds also found in cannabis, Aran said. The kids were treated for two four-week periods, with a four-week

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • June 2019


Meet Your Provider

Eye Doctor George Kornfeld Focuses on Low Vision with conventional glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery, remains insufficient to do what the patient wants to do. Kornfeld considers low vision starting at 20/40 and worse when one can’t see well enough to do the tasks one wants to do even with the best glasses (contacts or refractive surgery). That is sufficient reason to seek the help of a low vision specialist.

George Kornfeld, a low vision optometrist, received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Yeshiva University and graduated from The Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1971. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a member of its low vision section. He is also a member of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists (IALVS), a group striving to enable low vision patients to access the optical and digital technology that will transform their lives. Kornfeld is passionate about low vision care and making a difference for his patients. He sees patients in Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Elmira, Watertown, and Scranton Pa. Kornfeld trained with William Feinbloom, a founder of modern day low vision and the inventor of many of the low vision telescopes and microscopes used today.

Medical conditions causing low vision are age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) both wet and dry, inoperable cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Genetic conditions causing low vision are retinitis pigmentosa, albinism, Stargardt’s disease (a juvenile form of macular degeneration), and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Traumatic causes of low vision are stroke and traumatic brain injury.

What is Low Vision?

What is a low vision evaluation?

Low vision is caused by eye disease, genetics, trauma or other events, where fully corrected vision

What causes low vision?

Kornfeld determines what the eye condition is and how the patient uses his eyes. The idea is to help the

person achieve their goals. Kornfeld demonstrates how patients can see with the use of telescopes, microscopes, special reading glasses and other low vision aids.

Can a person with low vision drive? A person with low vision and visual acuity between 20/40 and 20/70 with a 140 degree field of George Kornfeld, a low vision has the potential for driving. And vision between 20/70 and vision optometrist in 20/100 with a 140 degree field Buffalo. while looking straight ahead and also 20/40 while looking through a patients’ vision and help them gain superiorly placed telescope mounted confidence in themselves, do the in the glasses also has the potential for activities they want to do, and to help receiving a telescopic driver’s license. them maintain their independence. This can help a person maintain his Kornfeld strives to make patients’ or her independence. A low vision vision better, not perfect. evaluation may help to determine if it “Working in the field of low is a possibility. vision has made my professional life most rewarding as I watch Goals my patients who have poor and compromised eyesight begin to read Some of the most important goals again, walk around more confidently, of low vision patients are to read, drive cars and trucks, and in general watch television, recognize faces, play get a new lease on life,” says cards, play music and drive a vehicle. Kornfeld. One of Kornfeld’s goals is to enhance

866-446-2050 • | www.KornfeldLowVision.com Career in Healthcare

Medical Billing Career: Great Entry-Level Job By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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fter patients see a medical provider and before they receive a statement or bill from their health insurance company, the financial aspects of the visit go through a few different processes. One step along the way is the desk of a medical biller. If you have good math, customer service and analytical skills, you may be well suited to work as a medical biller. “Healthcare is hot,” said Cindy Glinski, specialist in workforce development at Erie BOCES. “There’s always work in medical billing.” She said that many times, people get into billing because they have a background in the medical field as a nurse or CNA, but were injured and can no longer perform the physical aspects of the work. People with experience in customer service also find a smooth transition into billing. People with entry level experience in accounting or banking may get in a medical billing office; however, health care billing knowledge is helpful. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage of billers working in a hospital setting is $38,530; for those in a physician’s

office, it’s $37,690; and for those in a lab, it’s $37,730. Most people who work in medical billing take courses at a vocational school or college; however, not all billing positions require a degree. The Erie BOCES program, which costs $6,000 in tuition, is comprised of 500 hours of classroom time and 100 hours of an unpaid internship. Medical billing is complex. Each care provider, such as the hospital, diagnostic lab, X-ray technician and more, are billed separately. “With medical billing, there are so many different job duties,” Glinski said. Medical billing can involve customer service, when patients’ insurance companies refuse to cover services or they have questions about how their coverage works. Those working in medical billing also receive continuing education, provided by insurance companies and through the Health Care Financial Managers Association. Usually, employers pay for the latter. Some people assume that the advent of electronic medical records (EMRs) has reduced the need for medical billers, as if the care providers’ input automatically generates

billing. Glinksi said that while EMRs have made the billing process more efficient and accurate, the health care industry still very much needs billers to verify information and provide customer service. “You are never bored as a medical biller,” Glinski said. “There’s always something to learn as you change with the insurance companies.” Billers also have patient interaction over the phone as they help resolve claim issues. Some medical billers perform coding work, especially in smaller offices; however, larger medical facilities have billers, coders and others handling the various aspects of medical finances. Because of the necessity of knowing about things like anatomy, physiology and medical terms, many area hospitals won’t hire coders lacking an associate’s degree and credentialing. Trocaire College offers an associate’s degree in medical office systems

June 2019 •

and procedures that includes medical billing and coding. The two-year program costs about $8,400 per semester and most graduates go on to perform medical coding work, according to Deborah Shelvay, director of health information management. The average starting salary for a coder is $43,000. Shelvay said that people who are detail-oriented, enjoy science and like solving problems tend to do well in billing and coding. Her program’s graduate placement rate is between 67% to 75% within six months of graduation, she said. Despite the fact that computer assisted coding is common to many hospitals, “coders are still in demand,” Shelvay said. “Only about 50% of the codes are accurate. “You still need someone to quality-assure the coding based on documentation.” She said that many times, medical coders go on to become auditors, which pays even more.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Fantastic Friends of WNY Depew-based nonprofit offers place for those with special needs By Daniel Meyer

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ebbie Cordone had a dream. Armed with the knowledge that individuals with developmental disabilities are overlooked and often ignored, the mother of a severely autistic teenager was determined to provide anyone of any age with special needs a unique setting that offers educational and entertaining activities. Cordone’s advocacy for her son and other individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities evolved into the establishment of Fantastic Friends of WNY, a nonprofit entity that serves unique men and women who range in age from 4 to 84. “I believe that parents of children who have some type of disability all have something in common and that is why I was so passionate about getting this group going to offer all of us the opportunity to have access to a network of support,” said Cordone. “There’s a huge need for this. We’re still getting the word out about who we are and what we can offer these individuals and the family members who love them and want to support them.” After spending the first year-anda-half providing remote programming and services at various places throughout the area, the organization took a major step earlier this year when it opened its first brick-andmortar location. Located at 1284 French Road in Depew, the center hosts a plethora of interactive opportunities, casual gatherings and special events that include movie nights, dance parties and holiday-themed celebrations. Regularly scheduled activities include martial arts instruction, musical performances, arts and crafts and certified programming created by the D’Youville College occupational therapy department. “We have some great partnerships and the overall support from the community has been encouraging and I hope we see it continue to grow,” said Cordone. “Some people have visited us and leave saying ‘that’s incredible’ because this is the type of place that can offer their son or daughter unlimited access to things that cater to him or her.” Open to all The first few months of Fantastic Friends of WNY’s existence involved gatherings of about 12 Page 10

Expansion on horizon

Participants of the “Once Upon A Time” prom from Fantastic Friends of WNY enjoyed an evening of dancing and other activities that could be enjoyed by people with various levels of developmental disabilities. autistic children. It has since grown to approximately 400 participants. The center on French Road opened in January, providing approximately 1,600 square feet that has different rooms that cater to the specific needs of those who visit. Their disabilities can include different levels of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and traumatic brain injuries. The dedicated space in Depew offers a warm and welcoming facility that participants and their parents quickly embrace. “Fantastic Friends gives me peace of mind because I know my child will be taken care of and treated fairly and with respect,” said Jody Kotowski, whose 19-year-old daughter Francesca regularly attends activities and special events at the center. “Incredible things are happening there every single day and I can’t say enough about Debbie and the other outstanding volunteers who make the place a special destination for us.” A common area inside the center provides space for social, educational and therapeutic programming. There also is a sensory room that was specifically designed to develop an individual’s senses by using dimmed lights in different colors, welcoming music and sensory specific objects. Time spent in that particular room allows anyone with a sensory process-

ing disorder to be able to sit down in a chair, remain calm and relax in a safe and fun environment. Parents are welcome to stay or they can find comfort among other parents in a break room that provides coffee and other beverages and a chance to network. “I enjoy being able to talk to other parents,” said Lori Kubicki, whose 13-year-old daughter Cheyenne is a familiar face at the center. “Parents of children with developmental disabilities understand what other parents are going through so it’s great to be able to sit and talk and learn about what obstacles they have overcome and we all learn from each other. It is a network of support that I am so appreciative of and I know other parents feel the same way.” The center also hosts private birthday parties and other family gatherings that provide attendees arts and crafts supplies, interactive games and access to movies. Group homes and classes of special needs students can also reserve the center for specific events. “We like to be creative and different and I want everyone to understand this is for people of any age with any need,” said Cordone. “We’re here to provide a safe and comfortable environment in a place of acceptance where no one will be judged.”

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • June 2019

Cordone says the future is bright and she knows as the number of participants increases that more space will be needed to service interested individuals with disabilities. “We do hope to expand sometime soon because we are growing and things are going very well now that more people know where we are and what we have to offer,” said Cordone. “I’m not exactly sure if that means additional locations or establishing new partnerships. We’ll work it all out as we move forward because there is a huge need for this in our community.” Parents appreciate the dedicated space and “no judgment” philosophy embraced by the volunteers who oversee the activities and events that take place there. “I like that we aren’t judged or stared at and that my daughter really looks forward to going to martial arts and dances and that I have the ability to sit back and relax,” said Kubicki. “So many people benefit from this and it’s inspiring to see some of the boys and girls who may be really shy or aren’t very confident fully embrace the social opportunities that are provided,” said Kotowski. “Socialization is important and my daughter and so many others get regular chances to interact and it’s just a really special place.” Operating costs are covered using money raised from benefits and auctions. Last year’s inaugural “Rock the Runway” fashion show also provided additional funds and plans are already under way for the second annual fashion show that will take place in November. “Males and females aged 13 to adults are our primary focus but as I said anyone is welcome to come and see what we are all about,” said Cordone. “These socialization options will continue to grow as we welcome new participants because we all are learning from one another and that is crucial,” she added. “I hear from parents who believe they are truly blessed to be part of such an amazing organization at a place where they belong and are important.” n For more information, call 716-6086234, visit www.fantasticfriendswny.org or go to the organization’s Facebook page.


The Surprising Benefits of Weekend Workouts

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ou know the value of exercise for maintaining good health and managing chronic conditions like arthritis, but you also know how hard it is to fit daily workouts into a busy schedule to meet weekly minimums. As an alternative, many people try to cram in a week’s worth of fitness on the weekends. While this approach has been met with skepticism (along with worry about injuries), new research shows that you can get exercise’s health benefits this way. A British study published in JAMA Internal Medicine says there’s no reason to abandon exercise completely if you can’t do it during the work week. Packing exercise into

your weekend is actually a viable option. Based on surveys from 63,000 people, any exercise is better than none. Researchers found that people who exercise at a high rate on weekends — getting in the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity — had about 30% lower risk of early death than people who don’t exercise at all. Another interesting finding: People who exercise more often but for shorter blocks of time can also lower their risk for chronic conditions — yes, even if they fail to total 150 minutes a week. The bottom line? Get up and move whenever you can.

Most Americans Hit Hard by Medical Bills

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early six in 10 Americans say they have suffered financial hardship due to health care costs, a new study finds. Researchers from the American Cancer Society looked at three different types of problems: difficulty paying medical bills, worrying about bills and delaying or doing without care. “With increasing prevalence of multiple chronic conditions, higher patient cost-sharing, and higher costs of health care, the risk of hardship will likely increase in the future,” wrote researchers led by senior scientific director Robin Yabroff. In the study, they analyzed data from the 2015-2017 National Health Interview Survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and found that 56% of adults (more than 137 million) reported at least

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In Good Health is published 12 times a year by Local News, Inc. © 2019 by Local News, Inc. All rights reserved. 3380 Sheridan Dr., # 251 • P.O. Box 550, Amherst NY 14226 Phone: 716-332-0640 • Fax: 716-332-0779 • Email: editor@bfohealth.com

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Editor & Publisher: Wagner Dotto • Associate Editor: Lou Sorendo • Writers: Deborah J. Sergeant, Jim Miller, Gwenn Voelckers, Anne Palumbo, Chris Motola, George W. Chapman, Jenna Schifferle, Nancy Cardillo, Daniel Meyer, Julie Halm, Jana Eisenberg, Kimberly Blaker • Advertising: Anne Westcott, Amy Gagliano, Karen Weaver Layout & Design: Dylon Clew-Thomas • Office Manager: Nancy Niet

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one of the three types of medical financial hardship. Compared with those 65 and older, adults aged 18 to 64 were more likely to say they had difficulty paying medical bills (29% vs. 15%), worried about paying bills (47% vs. 28%) and delayed or went without care (21% vs. 13%). Among adults aged 18 to 64, those with more health problems and lower levels of education were more likely to have greater levels of hardship. Multiple types of hardship were more likely to be reported by women than men, and by uninsured people (53%) than those with some public (26.5%) and private insurance (23%). The study was published online May 2 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 11


Erie Niagara AHEC: Connecting the Dots From career counseling to community forums, agency is helping to strengthen health care in Western New York By Jana Eisenberg

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lobally and nationally, the news continues to be rife with stories about the dire shortage of people going into the healthcare field, both currently and predicted for the foreseeable future. The problem is particularly alarming in areas that are already underserved, such as rural counties, and certain urban communities. This shortage was identified as early as the 1970s, motivating Congress to create a program called Area Health Education Centers (AHEC). At first directed specifically at a shortage of primary care physicians, the overall mission has broadened to include all levels and job types within the healthcare field. And since the ‘70s, a network of AHECs — which in a nutshell work to connect students to careers, professionals to communities and communities to better health — has sprung up nationwide. They work individually and collectively to educate, expose and advocate for a stronger healthcare workforce as well as an understanding of what individuals and communities can to do improve their own health and healthcare. The Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center was founded in 2003, as part of the New York State AHEC system. It serves urban, suburban and rural communities in Erie and Niagara counties, offering outreach and educational programs to high school and college students, as well as conducting training for working professionals and advocacy with the public, to diversify and strengthen the health workforce in the region. “We especially need people from underrepresented communities to go into health professions,” said EN AHEC Executive Director Danise Wilson. “Our programs include mentoring high school students through the collegiate process, because stu-

dents from underrepresented communities are more likely to drop out. We connect them to resources, and ultimately, encourage them to stay, treating and serving the communities where they’re from—one of our beliefs is that communities should ‘grow their own.’” One way for EN AHEC to reach the kids is through high school guidance counselors. The organization also partners with UB to offer annual summer camps, where high school students can learn about public health topics and participate in conducting research to get an idea of what a public health career path entails. Through an Emerging Health Scholars’ program, young students are provided with the opportunity to participate in college tours, prep classes and go on field trips to see professionals at work, for example at Roswell Park or SUNY Stonybrook. With the college-aged population, the goals are slightly different, since not every local college student is from the area. Community-based education becomes the methodology to connect with young people in health care majors, hoping to entice them to stay here after their education is completed. They are invited to tour community health centers, where they can do an internship, work a shift, or shadow a professional. “There are plenty of jobs for health care professionals in our region,” said Wilson. “Especially in dental, primary care, pharmacy, social work and nursing — we’re working with those public health students to stay here when they graduate.” EN AHEC also actively connects with those already working in the community, performing outreach and forums to teach professionals how to work better with communities in need, and also how to identify any

Danise Wilson is the executive director of the Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center biases in their own practice. “We talk with professionals about how to recognize social determinants of health, and how to possibly work with their patients to address any barriers, such as housing, access to transportation and food,” said Wilson. The organization has larger goals too, like helping individuals become more literate about their health, and more culturally competent. “It’s a top down-bottom up approach,” added Wilson. “We go out into the community, teach people how to advocate for themselves and also to understand their own social determinants. Many feel isolated if they are struggling with housing or getting fresh food; they need to know that they are not the only ones. In high-need patient communities, we teach about preventive care, with the

goal of having people spend less time in emergency rooms. We provide some community programs through places like churches and community centers.” The multi-pronged belief is that, when there are enough providers, both here as home-grown professionals and those choosing to move here, and when all of those providers and the community are learning to communicate and recognize what the needs are, it will be a win-win-winwin. How to Contact EN AHEC To contact Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center about any of their programs, visit them on Facebook, at their website, erieniagaraahec.org, or call 716-835-9358.

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SmartBites

By Anne Palumbo

The skinny on healthy eating

Great Summer Food

WATERMELON

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lthough National Watermelon Day falls on Aug. 3, we’re featuring watermelon today because warm weather, picnics, the Fourth of July, and all things summery are but weeks away. And what’s more summery than a cool, refreshing slice of watermelon? Despite the popular belief that watermelon is just water and sugar, this delicious fruit is actually soaked with nutrients. Each juicy bite has significant amounts of vitamins A and C, modest amounts of potassium and fiber and varying levels of many more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Not so surprisingly, however, watermelon’s most abundant nutrient is water: 92%. An essential nutrient to overall good health, water does so much more than just quench our thirst. Even though it provides no calories or organic nutrients, our body uses water in all its cells, organs and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. In addition, because we lose water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods — like watermelon — that brim with water. Water also helps our body remove waste through perspiration, urination and defecation. Ever experience unusually dark urine? Stools as hard as marbles? Most likely, you’re not getting enough water, which helps the kidneys, liver and intestines flush out waste. And while there is no evidence to prove that upping your fluid intake will cure constipation, consuming adequate water does help prevent constipation by keeping stools soft and moving

things along at a steady clip. Drinking fluids and eating foods like watermelon — during or after a meal — actually aids digestion. Water is needed in our mouth for saliva, which begins the digestive process, and further needed in our stomach to assist enzymes that help break down food so our body can absorb the nutrients. This all-important nutrient is also essential for digesting soluble fiber — the type of fiber that slows digestion and nutrient absorption. So, whether we eat watermelon during or after a meal, we’re giving our digestive system a healthy boost! But the claim-to-fame nutrient that has recently elevated watermelon to “super fruit” status — the nutrient that seems to be all over the news lately for its purported health perks — is lycopene, a plant-produced phytonutrient. A powerful antioxidant that gives watermelon its characteristic red hue, lycopene, like all phytonutrients, appears to be beneficial to human health and help prevent certain diseases. Furthermore, according to the Watermelon Board, watermelon contains more lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable. Why the limelight on lycopene? In a nutshell, current research indicates a strong association between high intake of lycopene-rich foods, such as watermelon, and reduced risk of certain cancers (most notably prostate cancer according to the National Cancer Institute), heart disease, chronic inflammation and stroke. In a report just published in the journal “Neurology,” Finnish researchers suggested that lycopene, in addition to its ability to attack cancer-causing free radicals, may also reduce inflammation and cholesterol,

Avocado Toast with Watermelon — Take a break from traditional breakfast fare and try this tasty, nutritious alternative. It’s both creamy and crunchy and packed with flavor, along with nutrients, such as calcium and iron.

improve immune function, and prevent blood from clotting. All of these benefits, they emphasized, may help reduce ischemic strokes, the most common kind, that are caused by blockages in blood flow to the brain. Does eating a slice of watermelon a day keep sunburn at bay? Many studies say yes, thanks (again!) to its lycopene, which has been shown to offer some protection against UV-induced sunburn. While scientists caution that the level of protection in no way replaces sunscreen, they do note that since most sun exposures occur during activities when our skin is totally unprotected — such as walking to and from our car — dietary factors with sun-protecting properties might have a considerable beneficial effect. Watermelon’s antioxidant properties are further bolstered by impressive concentrations of two important vitamins: A and C. Both gobble up harmful free radicals associated with a host of age-related diseases and also boost the immune system’s defenses against infections and diseases. Individually, vitamin A is essential for growth and healthy vision, while vitamin C is a tissue-builder and wound-healer. What’s more, this quintessential summer snack is a dieter’s dream food, delivering a mere 40 calories per diced cup. It’s filling, too, thanks to its high water content. Worried about cholesterol, fat or sodium? Watermelon happily scores a big goose egg in those departments. Watermelon’s sweet flavor suggests it’s loaded with sugar and carbs. It’s not. As a comparison, a cup of watermelon has around 9 grams of sugar — about the same as a small fresh fruit, half banana or one cup of berries — and only 11 grams of carbs. Like other fruits, watermelon has a mix of carbohydrates: natural fruit sugar (fructose, a simple carb) and fiber (a different kind of

carb). While refined foods, like many breads, pastries and sweets, also have simple carbs, their carbs are not healthy because they’ve been stripped of nearly all their fiber, vitamins and minerals. This “refinement” causes the carbs to be digested quickly and have a high glycemic index, which then leads to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. Eating refined foods that are high on the glycemic index has been linked to drastically increased risk of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. Watermelon has a high glycemic index, but because it’s low in carbs and boasts some fiber, it does not have the same affect on blood sugar, as, say, eating a doughnut. However, it’s still important for people with diabetes to be aware of the sugar and carb content of any fruit and to avoid eating excessive amounts of it. According to the American Diabetic Association, watermelon is safe for diabetics to eat in small amounts and is best eaten alongside foods that contain plenty of healthful fats, fiber, and protein.

Anne Palumbo is a lifestyle colum-

nist, food guru, and seasoned cook, who has perfected the art of preparing nutritious, calorie-conscious dishes. She is hungry for your questions and comments about SmartBites, so be in touch with Anne at avpalumbo@aol.com.

Steel-Cut Oats with Watermelon — Watermelon and Bulgur Wheat Salad — A light main or Steel-cut oats are one of the most nuhearty side dish, watermelon adds a sweet complement to tritious grains, rich in the soluble fiber the chewy bulgur and peppery arugula. called beta glucan that helps keep blood fats and sugar in healthy ranges. For recipes, visit www.watermelon.org. Photos by Watermelon Board. June 2019 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 13


Summer Care

Fun in the Sun WNY packed with exciting, fun things for youngsters to do this summer By Nancy Cardillo

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ick tock, parents. That’s right, in just a matter of days, your precious little bundles will step off that school bus for the last time this school year, leaving you with approximately 65 days of having to repeatedly hear, “Mommmmm, I’m BORED. There’s nothing to DOOOOO!” Are you ready? Have you thought through how you will keep your kids occupied this summer? If you’re a planner and think ahead, you’ve likely already signed up your kids for one of the many summer camps around Western New York, whether it’s an every-day camp such as at Camp Centerland or the nearby YMCA or a specialty camp, such as an arts, sports, academic, sailing or nature camp. Good for you! There certainly are many options in and around Western New York to indulge your child’s favorite pastimes. It may not be too late to sign up your kid. Visit www.buffalosummercamps.org for a complete list of camp options. However, if your little darlings won’t be packing off to camp every day or at all, then you’re going to need options, lots of options. Maybe you need activities that appeal to various ages. Maybe you’d like to engage your child’s brain to keep the learning skills sharp over summer, or want to keep your child physically active. And don’t forget backup options for dreary, rainy days or excessively hot days. No ideas? Don’t panic! Take a yoga breath and keep reading. Lazy summer days Below are some creative ideas to help pass those lazy, hazy days of summer. • Play dates are always a good idea. Reach out to the parents of your kids’ friends and set up a regular schedule, alternating houses. Everybody wins. • How about using the summer to research your family’s history with your kids? Call up Grandma or an aunt or uncle. Use online resources. Locate and ID old family photos. Then fill in the gaps, organize the information and create a book. Not only will your kids learn about their roots, they’ll have that information long after you’re gone and can add to it someday with their kids. • Another great way to learn about history is to take a walk or a tour through a local cemetery. Learn about local history and famous Buffalonians, especially those for whom our streets are named. Learn what the various symbols on tombstones actually mean. Learn about flora and fauna. and, speaking of tours, there Page 14

are plenty of guided tour options in and around Buffalo. Start here: www. explorebuffalo.org. Or make a point to explore your city, town or village. Each day, pick a different spot to visit and learn about. Stop by the library to learn about local history. Visit several ice cream shops or pizza places and see which ones you’d rate “the best.”

Kids ages 4 and older — of all ability levels — can enjoy the ultimate tennis experience at Miller Tennis Club through its many junior programs. Photo courtesy of Miller Tennis Club.

Prepare a meal If you’re raising a budding chef, make it about cooking and food. Pour through recipes and plan meals, and shop together for the ingredients. By the way, grocery stores are a great place to teach kids about nutrition, budgeting, label reading and telling the good ingredients from the bad. Then come home and cook the meals together. Bake bread for an elderly neighbor or a cake for someone’s birthday. What kid wouldn’t want to make ice cream on a hot summer day? • How about planting a butterfly, native perennials or herb-vegetable garden? Let your kids be involved in choosing what to plant and in helping to maintain the garden. Then, when harvest time comes, find some new recipes to make with your bounty. Not that ambitious? Take your kids to the farmer’s market and try a new veggie or herb each week or spend the day picking whatever fruit is in season. • Are your kids artsy? How about a driveway chalk mural competition, or have them design and create the family holiday card. Grab an old table or chair and let them paint it however they’d like for their room. Check out more ideas here: www.artprojectsforkids.org. • For sports enthusiasts, the possibilities are endless. Sign them up for tennis lessons, or if you’re good at a sport, teach your kids and their friends. Organize a water balloon baseball game. Or just turn on the hose or sprinkler and let them get wet! The town pool is a great way to cool off, too. • Here are a couple no-brainer rainy or hot sultry day options: Go to the movies, visit a museum or stay home and complete a puzzle or do a craft project, such as building kites, milk carton boats or pipe cleaner creatures. • Got a pile of old clothes waiting to be donated? Let your kids play dress up or put on a play. They can even write the play, compose the music and design the “sets.” Or, give them the family video camera or phone and let them make a video. That’ll keep ‘em busy and help them learn plenty of new skills. • Science experiments are always fun. All you need is a large bottle of Coke and some Mentos, or buy a dozen eggs and have the kids

Wegmans Food Markets offers many opportunities for kids to learn about foods and nutrition, including its popular hands-on “Cooking With Kids” classes. Photo courtesy of Wegmans Food Markets.

The Buffalo Museum of Science offers opportunities for kids to explore, discover, wonder, reason, reflect, observe and, most importantly, question through its many exhibits, events, workshops and classes. Photo courtesy of Buffalo Museum of Science. figure out ways to secure and protect the eggs so they don’t break when dropped from a window. Check out www.noguiltmom. com/very-simple-science-experiments/ for some simple science experiments the kids will enjoy. • Want to keep it simple? Take a walk, hike or bike ride with your kids. Pack a picnic lunch and head to the park or the back yard. Pick a topic and have a real conversation or

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • June 2019

debate. • Check out these websites for more ideas for fun things to do this summer: www.buffalo.kidsoutandabout.com; www.wnyfamilymagazine.com or www.visitbuffaloniagara.com Before you know it, it’ll be time to shop for school clothes and get into “back to school” mode. And you’ll wonder just where the summer went!


Summer Care

Should You Be Worried About Blood-Hungry ‘Kissing Bugs’? I t sounds like something out of a horror film: A blood-hungry insect feeds on its prey’s face while they sleep, leaving behind a parasite that can cause stroke and heart disease. The triatomine, or so-called “kissing bug,” is all too real and found regularly in Latin America, but also has been found in several areas of the United States, as far north as Illinois and Delaware. And while it often targets faces, the insect will settle for any patch of exposed skin. With summer barbecue season on the horizon, how worried should people be? It’s important to keep things in perspective, said physician Caryn Bern, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California School of Medicine. After an acute flu-like period that lasts from weeks to months, most people who test positive for Chagas disease show no symptoms. “The estimate is that 20%to 30% of people with Chagas disease will eventually develop heart or gastrointestinal disease, although heart disease is much more common,” Bern said. “That’s over a lifetime, and it usually doesn’t show up until years

after the infection occurred.” It’s not the bug that causes Chagas disease, but rather a parasite that lives in its poop. When a person inadvertently rubs the bug’s feces into the bug wound, their eye or another mucous membrane, the parasite sometimes makes itself at home. Chagas disease also can be transmitted from mother to fetus; from contaminated blood transfusions; via an infected organ donor; or in rare cases, through food or drink. While about 300,000 people in the United States have Chagas disease, most of them contracted it while living in Mexico, Central America and South America, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates up to 6 million to 8 million have been infected. All told, the disease causes more than 10,000 deaths a year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. But it’s important to keep in mind that since 1955, there have been fewer than 50 documented

cases of people who have acquired the parasite from exposure to the triatomine in the U.S., said physicians Susan Montgomery, who leads an epidemiology team in the Parasitic Diseases Branch of CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria. “The parasite has to get into a human’s body or an animal’s body by contaminating the wound,” Montgomery said. “It’s pretty complicated.” But there is cause for concern, said Paula Stigler Granados, an assistant professor at Texas State University who leads the Texas Chagas Taskforce. Granados and her team work to raise awareness about Chagas in a state where more than 60 percent of triatomines test positive for the parasite

that causes the disease. “The more we look, the more we find,” Granados said, noting that since the American Red Cross started screening new blood donors for Chagas disease, they have identified many people infected with the disease. “Although the blood donation tests are extremely sensitive and sometimes have false positives, that’s an indicator that it could be a bigger problem we should be monitoring.” There is a treatment for people who have Chagas disease. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration approved benznidazole, a 60-day medication regimen for people aged 2 to 12. Once Chagas disease becomes chronic, the medication may not cure it but could slow the progression in younger people. For older people who are affected, experts recommend doctors and patients weigh the individual benefits with the possible side effects of the medication, which can include rash, abdominal discomfort, and numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.

Stay Away from Insect Borne Illness Tick-borne disease cases reported in NYS has more than doubled between 2004 and 2016. WNY residents urged to be on the lookout By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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ou have plenty of reasons to keep bugs from bugging you this summer. Some, such as mosquitoes and ticks, can spread illnesses such as Lyme disease. The New York State Department of Health states that Erie and Niagara counties in 2017 had fewer than 62.9 cases of Lyme disease reported per 100,000 in population (the most recent data available). The counties have some of the lowest rates statewide. That at first seems like good news; however, reports of tick-borne disease cases reported has more than doubled statewide between 2004 and 2016, with increased rates heading westward across New York. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that the number of actual cases of Lyme disease in general is 10 times the number reported. “We’re seeing over the years that in the United States and in Erie County, an increasing trend in cases of Lyme disease,” said physician Gale Burstein, commissioner of health at the Erie County Department of Health. “These are surveillance data. We follow only trends. There are a lot of clinicians that diagnose

Lyme disease empirically. They don’t do the testing so it never gets reported but is treated. Those numbers are low.” Lyme spreads as black deer ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria bite humans. Black deer ticks also spread less common diseases, babesiosis, human granulocytic, anaplasmosis and deer tick virus. “About half the people in Erie that have reported Lyme that we’ve investigated deny travel history so that means they were infected in Erie County,” Burstein said. Other types of ticks also spread diseases by biting humans, but it’s rarer than Lyme disease. These include the American dog tick (Rocky Mountain spotted fever), Lone Star tick (human monocytic ehrlichiosis), and woodchuck/groundhog tick (powassan/encephalitis virus). Only about half of adult deer ticks and one-third of nymphs carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, named for Old Lyme, the Connecticut town where the disease was first identified in the 1970s. The ticks typically travel by waiting on tall grass for a passing host. Ticks can hitch a ride on wildlife to residential areas. Hikers, hunters, birders and campers are at greater risk because they spend

time in wooded areas. Burstein said that if a tick has been stuck to a person for more than 36 hours, the person should contact a health care provider to see if he or she qualifies for a prophylactic antibiotic to treat Lyme disease. The site of the bite shows a bull’s-eye patterned rash in about half the cases. To remove a tick, use narrow tweezers to grasp its head and pull it out, taking care to remove it. Don’t use a matchstick, petroleum jelly or other ineffective home remedies. Lyme disease symptoms include severe headache, fever, joint pain, facial droop, muscle pain, and sometimes, muscle weakness. As for mosquito-borne illnesses, Burstein said that they’re more rare. While most otherwise healthy people recover fine from many of these diseases, it’s not the case for all. The very young, the very old and those of any age who are immuno-compromised tend to experience more complications. West Nile Virus has no vaccine or treatment; however, only one-fifth of those infected develop any illness and of those, only 1% develop serious issues. Most experience a fever and flu-like symptoms. Sharon Bachman, agriculture and

June 2019 •

natural resources educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County, said that many of the steps for preventing tick bites are the same for mosquito bites, including wearing long sleeves and pants, tucking in shirts and tucking pants into socks while outside. “Use approved pesticide products containing DEET,” she said. Repellent should contain 25% DEET. You can also purchase clothing treated with permethrin or treat your footwear and clothing with the tick-killing chemical. Bachman said that permethrin lasts for six washings or, on shoes, about three months. Bachman also recommends wearing light colored clothing if you’re going in a tick habitat. “Tuck your pant legs into your socks,” she added. “The tick will have to crawl higher up on you. It gives you more time to see them.” Extra precautions for ticks include staying on the center of hiking trails, to avoid brushing against foliage. Don’t sit directly on the ground or surfaces like stone walls. Shower after outdoor activities like hiking or gardening and wash the clothing worn as well. Family members can check each other for ticks in the hard-to-see areas. But keep in mind that ticks like dark, warm areas, like the armpits.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Risks Vs. Rewards: A Parent’s Choice Not to Vaccinate By Julie Halm

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ayla Smith of Buffalo has a son who is just older than a year and a half and she is part of a growingly vocal number of parents who are electing not to vaccinate their children. Smith, who asked this writer not to use her real name, said that among the key factors leading her to the decision not to vaccinate were pieces of information she read in vaccine package inserts and stories of parents who say their children suffered injury or harm as a result of receiving a vaccine. “I factored in the benefits and risks of getting vaccines and the risks were too high for me, so I decided against them all together,” she said. Within circles of individuals who have chosen not to vaccinate their children, vaccine inserts are often pointed to as a part of the reasoning behind the choice. The inserts are printed by the producer of the vaccine and are equivalent to the tightly-folded pieces of paper found in prescription bags and over-thecounter medication boxes. Package inserts for vaccines can be found on the Food and Drug Administration’s website, as the documents are regulated and reviewed by that organization. They are typically lengthy documents including information ranging from the recommended vaccination schedule, contraindications (scenarios in which a vaccine might not be safe for a particular individual), warnings, potential adverse reactions, and proper dosing and administration. Smith worries about the potential side effects, some of which can be found listed in these inserts. “There aren’t specific families “Writer on the Run” is a monthly column written by Jenna Schifferle of Cheektowaga. She chronicles her experience training for the Chicago Marathon in October.

that made me choose not to vaccinate, it was just all of the injuries as a whole,” said Smith. “The injuries some kids have suffered are horrible, the lucky ones survive but so many children died from reactions to the vaccines.” While stories circulate about these events, particularly on social media sites, the World Health Organization disagrees with that assertion. “Most vaccine adverse events are minor and temporary, such as a sore arm or fever,” reads an article titled “Six common misconceptions about immunization” posted to the WHO’s website which was edited from information given by the CDC of Atlanta. “More serious adverse events occur rarely (on the order of one per thousands to one per millions of doses), and some are so rare that the risk cannot be accurately assessed. As for vaccines causing death, again, so few deaths can plausibly be attributed to vaccines that it is hard to assess the risk statistically.” For the large percentage of the population of parents who does vaccinate their children, it can be difficult to understand why a parent would put their child at an increased risk of contracting something like polio or measles. For Smith, she says she does worry about her child contracting something harmful, but on the balance, she doesn’t feel vaccines are worth it. “Of course it worries me that there are diseases out there that could potentially hurt or kill my child,” she said. “There is mass hysteria in the media right now recommending people go for their MMR [measles,

mumps, rubella] shot but the media fails to release the statistics on mortality rates. People die of measles when they are vitamin A deficient or if they catch pneumonia as well, not from the disease itself.” She also went on to say, “You will never reach 100 percent immunity…I would not risk a vaccine injury when there is a possibility my child could contract the disease anyway. I am however more afraid of things we don’t have vaccines for, like leprosy, AIDS, etc.” According to the World Health Organization, most measles-related deaths are, in fact, caused by complications such as encephalitis, an infection which causes brain swelling, however, victims are exposed to those complications because their systems have been weakened by measles in the first place. Without having contracted measles, an individual would be less susceptible to such secondary infections and infections such as pneumonia would also pose a lesser health risk to an otherwise healthy person. While parents like Smith fear the ramifications of vaccines more than the diseases they are clinically shown to protect against, the CDC is warning that not vaccinating children is having very serious national health

implications. According to a recently-posted article on the CDC’s website, there were 555 individual cases of measles confirmed in 20 states between Jan. 1 and April 11. That is the second greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000. Notably, in six of the nine years between 2010 and 2018, that number was less than 200 cases by this date. According to physician Gale R. Burstein, commissioner of health for Erie County, those choosing not to vaccinate are putting other groups at risk, such as babies who are too young for vaccinations, pregnant women who cannot receive particular vaccinations and those who are immune-compromised, such as people receiving chemotherapy. While Smith is part of a seemingly growing movement, Erie County overall does not seem to be following that trend. According to Burstein, there have been no reported measles cases in the county since Jan. 1, and every school district within the county reports that 95 percent or greater of the student body has received their immunizations. For Smith, however, she feels her child is safer being part of the other 5 percent.

Writer on the Run By Jenna Schifferle

jenna.schifferle@gmail.com

Running and My Mental Health

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ay marked an important event: Mental health awareness month. This national month has been observed since 1949 as a way to shed light on mental health issues facing our country and to promote overall wellbeing, according to Mental Health America, a nonprofit group. The broad umbrella of mental health issues can range from depression and anxiety to mood disorders and trauma. What’s more, mental health affects everything — from the way you feel to the way you interact with others and with life. While there has definitely been progress in this area over the years, one fact remains: A stigma still exists when it comes to talking about “it.” For as long as I can remember, I have always read too deeply into things, often to the point that it leaves me locked in anxiety. My brain likes to analyze everything at nauseating speeds, from 16 different angles. Couple that with an unrePage 16

lenting drive for perfectionism, add in a dash of insecurity, and it often results in days where I dread getting out of bed or where my body feels too heavy to do anything. Imagine being on a moving sidewalk that’s locked in high-speed, when all of the sudden, the bottom drops out. That’s what life feels like sometimes. It has taken me years to recognize that I’m not alone in this. There are people across cultures and continents who wrangle with their own mental health, often in ways much worse than I do. But I’ve come to know through my own story and the stories of those around me that there is power in the struggle for mental health. You develop a certain set of skills when you push past the depression or when you learn to focus through the fog of anxious thoughts. This makes us stronger, even on days when it feels like it might not get better. (It DOES get better, by the way). For me, running helps. After running for hours on end, I’m often

too tired to do anything more than shower and eat. I force my body to race as far as it can so that my mind can finally stop racing. And, with a few exceptions, it works. I come back to life after a run and find a sense of peace and present-mindedness that can often be impossible to find. During every race, I conquer my demons, and I am reminded of how strong and relentless I really am. Sure, there have been races where I’ve broken down and started sobbing, overwhelmed by the loss of my grandparents, and runs where I’ve stopped cold because I didn’t think I could do it anymore. But I keep showing up, and I keep going back to it. Moving forward matters. And sometimes? Well, it’s hard for depression to keep up. What works for me may not work for you. Everyone’s mental health is different and should be treated as such. But I encourage anyone who’s struggling to find something that makes them feel in-

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • June 2019

vincible. Maybe, like me, it’s running. Or maybe it’s art. Or dance. Or even reading a good book. Whatever it is, find what clears your head and do it. Then, do it again. You might just find that somewhere inside you, there’s a hero who’s waiting to catch you when the floor drops out. To contact the author, send an email to jenna.schifferle@gmail.com.


Medical Spas

Medical Spas Offer Professional Grade Services By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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pa and medical spa: what’s the difference? At many salons and spas, clients can receive facials, peels, microdermabrasion, massage, and care for skin, hair and nails. A medical spa may offer some of those services, but specializes in care not available at salons and spas, including more invasive and medically-based treatments overseen by a medical doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or registered nurse. That distinguishing factor makes a difference. A medical spa may include thread lifts, injected products, micro-needling, hydro-facial, skin resurfacing, skin rejuvenation, CoolSculpting, vein therapy, migraine therapy and more. Many medical spas augment the medical care provided by dermatologists or plastic surgeons. Any elective services they provide are generally not covered by health insurance. Physician Jack Bertolino described his office, Smooth Solutions Medical Aesthetics in Williamsville, as a medical office. “A medical spa offers certain services that a doctor, nurse practi-

tioner, physician assistant can do,” he said. “Those services can include non-invasive to minimally invasive to somewhat invasive.” In addition to the procedures, the products offered at a medical spa are medical grade in nature, with an emphasis on quality of life. The services include natural bio-identical hormone therapy for men and women; vaginal rejuvenation, treatment for erectile dysfunction; and high-definition body sculpting, along with and more common services like Botox, dermal fillers, fat transplantation and microdermabrasion. Bertolino is a board-certified family physician. His medical practice offers services that are anti-aging and regenerative in nature, such as intra articular joint injection, natural bio-identical hormone replacement, along with treatments that involve more esthetic approaches, such as Botox, platelet rich plasma injections and dermal fillers. “When you have a menopausal woman or andropausal man who can’t sleep and feels bad, they feel better and look at themselves differently when they receive these treatments,” Bertolino said. As with a typical medical prac-

Spas 101 When to Choose a Medical Spa

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edical spas have become more popular in recent years for men and women alike. Medical spas, also called medispas or med spas, are a kind of a hybrid between the traditional day spa and a medical clinic. Medical spas strive to blend the best of two worlds—a relaxing spa experience with the procedures and expertise typically only found at a doctor’s office. Wondering if a medical spa is the right place for you to get your treatments done? Here are answers to some common questions about medical spas.

Unlike day spas, medical spas must be affiliated with, overseen, or run by a medical doctor. While not every procedure is done by a doctor, they are performed under the supervision of the doctor, most often a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Medical spas themselves can vary widely, depending on where you go. Some are as posh as the day spa you visited during your last vacation; others are decidedly more clinical. While day spas focus on relaxation, most medical spas are driven by results.

How Medical Spas Differ From Traditional Day Spas

While the menu will vary depending on which medical spa you visit, in general, you can expect to find treatments for acne, aging skin, hair removal, and more. Like at a traditional day spa, luxurious treatments like massage, salt glows, seaweed wraps and facials can be had at a medical spa.

The biggest differences between a traditional day spa and a medical spa are the types of procedures that are offered. Medical procedures that can’t be done at the average day spa can be performed at the medical spa.

Treatments Offered

tice, patients receive counseling about their health and about the best ways to approach their issue. Many medical spas augment the medical care provided by dermatologists or plastic surgeons. Any elective services they provide are generally not covered by health insurance. “A medical spa is governed by the same rules and regulations as a medical practice,” said physician Vito Quatela, board-certified facial plastic surgeon at The Quatela Center for Plastic Surgery in Rochester. He said that each state has different requirements regarding what type of licensed professional can do what type of treatment in a medical spa. “Botox is considered a medical treatment, and most states recommend an RN or higher-level practitioner perform Botox or injectable procedures,” Quatela said as an example. “Microdermabrasion is a more superficial technique that is

often performed by estheticians.” In addition to the procedures, the products offered at a medical spa are medical grade. Abha Sharma, aesthetics consultant at BeautyQuest in Williamsville, calls her facility “the marriage of a spa and a medical facility.” Its offerings includes facials, microdermabrasion, skin rejuvenation, skin resurfacing and micro-needling, all services that require medical personnel, along with spa services like a manicure, pedicure, massage, makeup, eyebrow micro-blading, and tattooing of eyeliner and eyebrows. K.S. Bhangoo, board-certified plastic surgeon, oversees the office and performs the more invasive procedures like Botox injections and fillers. “Dr. Bhangoo does Botox and fillers on the premises,” Sharma said. “It’s a one-stop shop. You can find everything under one roof.”

But medical spas also offer more specialized treatments that are typically only found at a dermatology or plastic surgery clinic. Some of the more common offerings include light and laser treatments, injectables like Juvederm, Restalyne, and Botox, as well as chemical peels. As for acne treatment, you can find these at the medical spa too. Medical spas offer procedures to treat breakouts, lighten post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, reduce scarring, and improve the overall appearance of the skin.

Who Performs Treatments The person who actually does your treatment depends on the treatment itself. The physician that oversees the medical spa is in charge of all procedures that fall under the medical realm. Aesthetician handle the more routine day spa therapies. Expect that an aestheticians, also known as a skin care therapist, will do all non-medical procedures. An aesthetician will do all cosmetic procedures, like massage, body scrubs, wraps, and the like. Aestheticians can also do certain non-invasive treatments like acne treatment facials, microdermabrasion, and s​ uperficial chemical peels.

June 2019 •

Although each state has its own regulations concerning medical spas, in general, all medical procedures must be performed by a physician. This means all injectables, chemical peels that target deeper layers of the skin, and light and laser treatments will be done by the doctor. This article was written by Angela Palmer and originally published by www.verywellhealth.com, a site specialized in disseminating news related to health.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Medical Spas

How to Select a Medical Spa By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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f you want to seek a esthetic services above what a spa offers, turn to a medical spa. While some of your selection should be based upon the type of service you need, you may have several options. Here’s what the experts say you need to look for in a medical spa. • “Look for the right credentialing. Make sure there’s a board-certified plastic surgeon or a dermatologist that’s part of the medical spa. We have a board-certified plastic surgeon who monitors laser hair removal, resurfacing and those kinds of invasive things. • Make sure that those doing skin care are licensed aestheticians, not a cosmetology student. Those in cosmetology have fewer hours of skin care education, only 32 hours. Licensed aestheticians have 600 hours of education on skin care. • “We use lasers to do micro-needling. A lot of physicians and spas use a roller with needles. It draws blood. They say they’re opening the skin to let stuff get penetrated into it. That’s the wrong thing to do. You’re opening up to infections. It creates hyper-pigmentation. We use lasers to do micro-needling and fractional resurfacing. The skin is kept intact. You can otherwise cause more damage. • “Really look at the latest procedures available. We feel the

tried-and-true is the better way over fads. CoolSculpting has become big, but as our plastic surgeon has told me, it has downsides to it. The area you’re treating gets beautiful results, but you get swelling of the areas that haven’t been treated. Look at the lasers and long-term result. With our equipment, VelaShape laser, over time the results are a lot better. It flushes out the fat and has proven record that something out there that’s new doesn’t have.” Abha Sharma, aesthetics consultant, BeautyQuest, Williamsville. • “Things like liposuction have to be offered by medical personnel, not by someone who’s not a medical doctor. • “They should be competent. A lot of these things have been out there long enough that it’s not voodoo. • “We offer a free consultation. Not every procedure is for everybody. It may not be the right procedure to address the particular issue they have. Certain people may think I’m not for them and not every procedure is for each person. You have to look at people individually because you don’t want bad results.” Physician Jack Bertolino, Smooth Solutions Medical Aesthetics, Williamsville.

• “Experience, first and foremost. You need to ensure that you’re receiving med spa services from experienced and educated professionals. Personnel should undergo proper training and have plenty of experience. When you decide on a med spa, you should be confident that you’ll be receiving your treatments from someone with the right knowledge and experience. • “Quality — it is to your advantage to seek a medical spa that is run under the supervision of a board-certified plastic surgeon. Plastic surgeons are trained not only in surgical procedures but non-surgical procedures as well. You will be guided in

the best direction to achieve your goals. • “Results — make sure the medical spa offers clinically proven, results-based, comprehensive treatment options that can renew, revitalize your skin, hone your contours, smooth wrinkles and much more with minimal downtime and maximum benefits. You should also be able to see before and after photos of results from procedures performed at that facility with those providers.” Vito Quatela, board-certified facial plastic surgeon, The Quatela Center for Plastic Surgery, Rochester.

WNY’s Largest Floatation Therapy Spa Is Open

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estern New York’s newest and largest floatation therapy spa —Ascend Float Spa at 8825 Sheridan Drive, Clarence — recently held a grand opening. The facility has four unique float rooms, including three ‘wave rooms’ which feature ceilings over six feet high, one of which is handicapped accessible and a float pod. Each has private changing rooms and showers. Ascend was created by Katrena Avent, a registered nurse who sought to expand her study of healing into a more holistic direction. She was accompanied by business partners, Tamara Stephen and Karl Schmelz to help realize Ascend’s vision and potential. Floatation therapy incorporates sensory-depravation and high buoyancy Epsom Salt water. Over 1,000 lbs. of such salt is dissolved into each tank. A typical floatation time is 60 minutes. The combination gives the ‘floater’ the experience of weightlessness and encourages meditation, calm and absorption of magnesium, which helps combat high blood pressure and pain. “We supply nearly everything for our floaters need. Earplugs, Page 18

towels, combs…even CBD oil,” said Avent. “They might want to bring their favorite body lotion — that‘s about it,” she said. Floatation therapy was invented in the 1950’s by physician John Lilly. Floatation therapy is based on a scientific approach to deep relaxation called Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique or R.E.S.T. for short. The idea was developed in 1954 at NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) in Washington. Floating in a floatation tank triggers a deep relaxation response, much deeper than normal sleep. It enables users to drift into elusive Theta state, which is otherwise hard to achieve.

Ribbon-cutting event in May marked the opening of Ascend Float Spa in Clarence. Photo on the left is one of the our float rooms at the spa.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • June 2019


up a plethora of great ideas; you can even customize your gift if Dad is gluten free or allergic to a particular food. If your Dad enjoys creating delicious dinner dishes, gift him with a cookbook full of healthy-food recipes. Or treat him to cooking lessons geared toward, say, plant-based or gluten-free recipes. (Hint: check Groupon for some great local deals). For the weekend warrior grill master Dad, consider investing in a well-made stainless steel basket or rack so Dad can grill healthy vegetables or seafood — and maybe throw in a pair of BBQ mitts or grilling gloves for his safety and a grill thermometer to ensure the food is cooked to the proper temperature.

Fathers Day

Ditch the Tie, Give Dad a Healthful Gift Father’s Day gift ideas Dad will appreciate By Nancy Cardillo

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ach June, the third Sunday is set aside to honor our beloved Dads. Father’s Day was first celebrated in the United States in 1910, but it wasn’t until 1972 that President Richard Nixon made it a federal holiday (58 years after Mother’s Day became an official holiday). Today, there are about 70 million Dads in the United States, and we spend an estimated $12 billion each year honoring them. That’s a lot of ties! This year, why not give the man who gave you the greatest gift of all — life — a gift that will show much

you love him and care about his health and well being? Here are a variety of “healthful” gift ideas for the Dad in your life. (Hint: they also apply to husbands, brothers and sons). Encourage Dad to enjoy a healthier diet. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so how about getting Dad a gift basket full of healthy food items, such as fruits, nuts, granola bars, nut butters or popcorn? A Google search brings

The Pill for Men

Men’s contraceptive may be available in the coming years. Will men take a daily pill? By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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ontraception has largely been dependent upon women — they are the ones who have to come up with barrier methods: spermicidal preparations or hormonal implants, patches, injections, vaginal rings or pills. But researchers want to change that. Men’s oral contraceptive — d i m e t h a n d ro l o n e u n d e c a n o a t e (DMAU) — may be available in the coming years. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism recently published research indicating that initial tests involving a small population — 100 men ages 18 to 50 — indicate no serious adverse events and the medication was “well-tolerated.” Eighty-two of the men completed the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, which lasted 28 days. DMAU suppresses testosterone in men’s testicles so their sperm do not

develop. That impedes their ability to impregnate women. Beyond safety and efficacy, the successful use of DMAU also lies in compliance: will men take a daily pill that decreases testosterone, the main hormone that makes men masculine? Robert G. Fugitt, a urologist with Invision Health in Kenmore, sees a lot of male patients struggling with low testosterone. “If there’s a significant reduction secondary to this pill, men would be reluctant to take it,” Fugitt said. “It depends upon how much testosterone decreases.” Though women’s oral contraception has been known for decades to cause weight gain, increased risk of stroke (particularly to those over 35 and smokers), and other negative side effects, it’s still the most popular means of contraception. About 25% of women who use contraception of any kind use the pill. The next closest reversible contraception method is the

Give Dad a gift that shows you support his active lifestyle. No matter his age, Dad needs to get regular exercise. Does your Dad golf? Play tennis? Run marathons? If so, how about getting him new golf or tennis balls; protective eyewear; good running shoes or inserts; reflective running gear or clothes that protect against the elements. If he walks the dog every day, a good sturdy walking stick would be appreciated. Still trying to get Dad off the couch and into an exercise routine? A set of dumbbells or weighted armbands; resistance bands; a medicine ball; jump rope; balance ball or set of sliders are all easy ways to ease into exercise. Add to your gift by setting up designated times when you and Dad can work out together. (Hint: it’ll benefit both of you and strengthen your relationship.) A fitness tracker or activity monitor will help Dad stay motivated as he tracks his activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep. (Hint: be sure to choose one that matches your Dad’s techno-savvy abilities so he’s more likely to use it). Did you know there are now smart water bottles? They’ll track male condom (14.6%), followed by the intrauterine device (11.8%). Fugitt is not sure that contraception responsibility will readily shift from primarily women to men. “From a historical standpoint, contraception has been the female aspect with the pill and I think it’s so ingrained that it will take a lot of positive reinforcement before men will do it,” he said. Once an FDA-approved and effective male oral contraceptive is available, Fugitt said he could picture men choosing that over vasectomy if they want to preserve their paternity options, such as newlyweds wishing to delay starting their family. Without having to use condoms, men could experience greater sexual spontaneity and, if they dislike condoms, more enjoyment. Men taking medication like DMAU could relieve women from the risks of taking hormonal contraception. Not all women are good candidates for contraceptive medication or devices, and some couples don’t prefer spermicide or condoms. Men would also gain more control over their paternity, since they don’t have to rely on their partner’s ability to remember to take a pill, use spermicide correctly or keep her other contraceptive delivery method up-to-date. But will men remember to take a daily pill if skipping a dose bear sfewer consequences for them?

June 2019 •

Dad’s water intake and send notifications to make sure he stays properly hydrated each day. Make life a little more comfortable for Dad. Since most of us don’t brush our teeth long enough or properly, consider getting Dad a smart toothbrush that will make good dental hygiene easier and more productive. Does Dad spend a lot of time on his computer? How about getting him a pair of blue-blocking glasses that reduce eye fatigue from computer screen glare? A sleep-tracking pad and therapeutic pillow will help Dad get in his eight hours of shuteye, and if he travels for work, a cashmere and silk eye mask will help ensure a more restful night’s sleep in a strange bed. (Hint: add in a meditation app for his phone, too). The most priceless gift of all… One of the most precious gifts you can give your Dad is the gift of your time. Unlike something you can purchase, the time you spend with Dad is priceless. Set aside a day to go birding or take a stroll along the waterfront. Rent bikes and set out to see the sights. Take in a baseball game together or go on one of many local historic or architectural tours. Take (golf, piano, cooking or painting) classes together. Ask Dad questions about his childhood, military service, his courtship with your mom and his career, find some old photos and put together a beautiful life history book for him. Even though Dad surely considers you his greatest gift, these healthful options can help show Dad just how much you love him on Father’s Day…and every day!

“I know men who forget to take medication for significantly life-threatening things,” Fugitt said. “It’s human nature. You see women carrying around their packet of contraceptives in their purses. In 20 years, will men carry it around in their pockets?” He views the possibility of male oral contraceptives as a “medical and sociological phenomenon” and that likely, urologists would discuss and prescribe it to men once the medication is available. David Gordon, licensed clinical social worker with a practice in Amherst, focuses on working with couples on relationship issues, as well as anxiety and depression. He views the success of an effective male oral contraceptive as relying upon the relationship. “Trust, transparency and open communication are critical to solid relationships and often becomes a barrier when it comes to issues of sexuality and contraception,” Gordon said. Women have been mainly the ones responsible for contraception. Gordon added that transferring that to men represents a challenging cultural shift. But “shared responsibility could certainly strengthen relationships,” he added. “Men have long had to trust a woman’s word when it comes to her willingness to take this on, trust her commitment and honesty to avoid unplanned pregnancy.” Gordon said.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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ffordable medical coverage is something everyone wants, especially as people age. Luckily, our nation has safeguards for workers as they get older. Millions of people rely on Medicare, and it can be part of your health insurance plan when you retire. Medicare is available for people age 65 or older, as well as younger people who have received Social Security disability benefits for 24 months, and people with certain specific diseases. Two parts of Medicare are Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (Medicare insurance). You are eligible for premium-free Part A if you are age 65 or older and you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. Part B usually requires a monthly premium payment. You can apply online for Medicare even if you are not ready to retire. Use our online application to sign up. It takes less than 10 minutes. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if we need more information. Otherwise, you’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail. You can sign up for Medicare at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/ medicare. If you don’t sign up for Medi-

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Q: I applied for disability benefits, but was denied. I’d like to appeal. Can I do it online? A: Yes. In fact, the best way to file a Social Security appeal is online. Our online appeal process is convenient and secure. Just go to www. socialsecurity.gov/disability/appeal to appeal the decision. For people who don’t have access to the internet, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to schedule an appointment to visit your local Social Security office to file your appeal. Q: What is the purpose of Supplemental Security Income, or SSI? A: The purpose of SSI is to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little income and few resources to support themselves. It provides financial assistance to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. You can receive SSI even if you have not worked and paid into Social Security. SSI is a federal income supple-

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • June 2019

care during your initial enrollment window that begins three months before the birthday that you reach age 65 and ends three months after that birthday, you’ll face a 10 percent increase in your Part B premiums for every year-long period you’re eligible for coverage but don’t enroll. You may not have to pay the penalty if you qualify for a special enrollment period (SEP). If you are 65 or older and covered under a group health plan, either from your own or your spouse’s current employment, you may have a special enrollment period during which you can sign up for Medicare Part B. This means that you may delay enrolling in Part B without having to wait for a general enrollment period and without paying the lifetime penalty for late enrollment. Additional rules and limits apply, so if you think a special enrollment period may apply to you, read our Medicare publication at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/, and visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at Medicare.gov for more information. Health and drug costs not covered by Medicare can have a big impact on how much you spend each year. You can also estimate Medicare costs using an online tool at www. medicare.gov/oopc/. Keeping your healthcare costs down allows you to use your retirement income on other things that you can enjoy. Social Security is here to help you plan a long and happy retirement at www.socialsecurity.gov.

ment program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes). Find out more at www.socialsecurity. gov/ssi. Q: I worked the first half of the year, but plan to retire this month. Will Social Security count the amount I earn for this year when I retire? A: Yes. If you retire mid-year, we count your earnings for the entire year. We have a special “earnings test” rule we apply to annual earnings, usually in the first year of retirement. Under this rule, you get a full payment for any whole month we consider you retired regardless of your yearly earnings. We consider you retired during any month your earnings are below the monthly earnings limit, or if you have not performed substantial services in self-employment. We do not consider income earned, beginning with the month you reach full retirement age. Learn more about the earnings test rule at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/rule.htm.


Hearing Aids By Jim Miller

The Long-Term Care Benefit Many Veterans Are Missing Out On Dear Savvy Senior, I have heard that the VA has a benefit that can help veterans and spouses with long-term care costs. We recently had to move my 86-year-old father — who served in the army nearly 60 years ago — into an assisted living facility, and my mom isn’t far behind. Can the VA help?

Seeking Aid Dear Seeking, The Veterans Administration does indeed have a little-known, underutilized benefit that can help wartime veterans and their surviving spouses pay for a variety of longterm care costs. This benefit, called “Aid and Attendance,” is a special pension that’s paid in addition to a basic pension. It pays a maximum of $2,230 a month to married veterans; $1,881 a month to single veterans; or $1,209 a month to a surviving spouse. The money is tax free, and can be used to pay for in-home care, assisted living and nursing home care. Today, only around 230,000 veterans and survivors receiving Aid and Attendance, but millions more are eligible and either don’t know about it, or don’t think they can qualify for it. Eligibility Requirements To qualify, your dad must have served at least 90 days of active military service with at least one day of service during a period of war, and not have been discharged dishonorably. Single surviving spouses of wartime vets are eligible if their marriage ended due to death. In addition, your dad will also have to meet certain thresholds for medical and financial need to be eligible. To qualify medically he must be either disabled, or over the age of 65 and need help with basic everyday living tasks such as eating, dressing, bathing or going to the bathroom. Being blind or in a nursing home or assisted living facility due to mental disability also qualifies him. Single surviving spouses have no age restrictions, but they must require help with basic everyday living tasks to be eligible. To qualify financially, your parents must have limited assets, under $127,061, excluding their home, vehicle and personal belongings. And their annual income (minus medical and long-term care expenses) cannot exceed the

Maximum Allowable Pension Rate (MAPR), which in 2019 is $26,766 for a veteran and their spouse; $22,577 for a single veteran; and $14,509 for a surviving spouse. To calculate your parent’s income qualifications, add up their income over the past year (including Social Security, pensions, interest income from investments, annuities, etc.), minus any out-of-pocket medical expenses, prescription drugs, insurance premiums and long-term care costs over that same period of time. If the final tally is under the MAPR, and he meets the other requirements, he should be eligible for aid. How to Apply To learn more or to apply for Aid and Attendance, contact your regional VA benefit office (see Benefits.va.gov/benefits/offices.asp or call 800–827–1000) where you can apply in person. You can also apply by writing the Pension Management Center for your state (see Benefits. va.gov/pension/resources-contact. asp). You’ll need to include evidence, like VA Form 21-2680 (VA.gov/ vaforms) which your dad’s doctor can fill out that shows his need for Aid and Attendance. If you need some help, you can appoint a Veteran Service Officer (VSO), a VA-accredited attorney or claims agent to represent your dad. See www.ebenefits.va.gov/ ebenefits/vso-search to locate someone. If your dad is eligible, it will take between six and 12 months for his application to be processed, so be patient. You should also know that if your dad’s Aid and Attendance application is approved, the VA will send a lump sum retroactive payment covering the time from the day you filed the application until the day it was approved. Then your dad receives monthly payments going forward. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior. org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

They are coming to a drugstore near you soon

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

T

he Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act, signed by President Trump in 2017, has started the process toward hearing aids sold directly to consumers with self-identified mild to moderate hearing loss. The Food and Drug Administration has until 2020 to finalize the rules on guidelines as to what qualifies as an over-the-counter (OTC) product. Hearing amplification devices or systems, also called personal amplification sound products (PASPs), are considered the entry level devices by people like Ashley Eisen Graney, doctor of audiology with Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center in Buffalo. “PASPs are for normal hearing individuals to assist with things like hunting,” Graney said. “Those are for mild loss, if any.” Although some ads for PASPs state “These are not hearing aids,” the wording might be more for reducing stigma instead of providing clarity. Some PASPs’ ads don’t mention “hearing aids” but stress the devices are for recreation, such as hunting, birding, or watching television. Graney said that several studies in 2017 looked at PSAPs. “They tested the output and found many were incredibly weak or they were damaging to hearing,” she said. While PASPs do amplify sound, “there was a lot of variability between products,” Graney said. “The price didn’t correlate with quality. Because you don’t have an audiologist or dispenser who’s programming and verifying your device, you’re shooting in the dark.” She added that with a prescribed hearing aid, state law requires patients may try it 45 days. That may not be offered with OTC or PASPs. “What I typically see is an elderly patient who buys a PASP and they find that it amplifies all sounds, like plates clanking together and speech is no clearer,” Graney said. “If you were in a restaurant, you might hear people two tables away, but not your dinner partner.” Though they’re as cheap as $30 to $200, they may not help a person with hearing impairment better understand their soft-spoken granddaughter. Graney said that since OTC hearing aids don’t involve audiologist or hearing aid dispenser, the cost is lower, but that also removes the benefits of the skill of these professionals. “Getting a true hearing aid, you get counseling, continued

June 2019 •

care of the device and programming,” she said. “That’s what makes them more expensive. It takes a lot of adjustment to get it right. You won’t get that overthe-counter.” Carolynne M. Pouliot, audiologist with Hearing Aid Works Audiology, PLLC in Rochester, doesn’t view the emergence of OTCs as an entirely negative trend. “It will introduce people with mild hearing loss into the world of what hearing aids could do to help them and transition into care from an audiologist,” Pouliot said. She said that OTCs don’t have built-in compression. Hearing aids work pitch by pitch and compress loud sounds so the user doesn’t experience further hearing loss, traits an OTC doesn’t have. “It’s not going to be finely tuned and adjusted like from a digital prescription hearing aid,” Pouliot said. “They won’t address hearing loss issues without creating a whole bunch of feedback.” While OTCs might provide a steppingstone for some people with mild to moderate loss, which is the recommendation for these devices, Pouliot fears that some with more profound hearing loss may think that since an OTC device doesn’t help them, there’s no use in trying a prescribed hearing aid. Seeing an audiologist can also help a person discover what’s causing the problem, which may be as simple and remediable as built up wax, fluid behind the eardrum or other problem that’s hampering their hearing. “We might recommend an OTC for financial reasons after they have an evaluation to make sure nothing else is wrong,” Pouliot said. “There are a lot of health issues that can go with hearing issues. An OTC won’t help people with that.”

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H ealth News NOCO’s Jim Newman to chair Roswell foundation

James D. Newman has been named the new chairman of the Ros well Park Alliance Foundation. The foundation is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that raises funds and manages all donations made to Roswell Park Newman Comprehensive Cancer Center.  Newman is president and CEO of NOCO Incorporated, a family-owned energy distribution business headquartered in Tonawanda. He has been a member of the board of the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation since 2014. “My family has a tradition of supporting Roswell Park, and we are grateful for the exceptional care my father, Donald, received during his battle with cancer, so it’s especially meaningful to be taking on this position in honor of him,” Newman says. “We have long been familiar with the critical part Roswell Park plays in the

community and the global difference it makes as an institution at the forefront of cancer care. Donations are vital to so much of what we do here — vital to pushing the Roswell Park mission forward — and I look forward to a larger role with this incredible organization.” The previous foundation chairman, Lee Wortham, is stepping down after 10 years of service. He will continue on the foundation board as chairman emeritus and vice chairman of the finance committee. Wortham’s achievements during his tenure include the opening of the new Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center (2016) and the Katherine, Anne and Donna Gioia Pediatric Hematology Oncology Center (2017). In addition, under his oversight, donations to the Alliance Foundation drove critical studies of lifesaving new cancer treatments and supported the many quality-of-life programs that ease the cancer journey for patients and families. The Alliance Foundation’s transparency and fiscal management earned it Charity Navigator’s highest rating of 4 stars for the fourth year in a row in 2018. Only 14% of charities in the U.S. have received this rating for four consecutive years. Also new to the board this year are Nancy Boulden, executive director at Charlotte Geyer Founda-

More than 2,000 guests attended the Springfest Gala 2019, which took place May 11 at Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, Convention Center Plaza. The event raised more than $1.2 million, which will benefit ECMC.

tion; Eric Feldstein, head of business banking division at M&T Bank; and Michael Gacioch, president and CFO at National Property Management Associates. Additional foundation officers include Scott Bieler, president, West Herr Automotive Group, vice chairman; Melissa Garman Baumgart, president, R&P Oak Hill LLC, treasurer; and Anne Gioia, co-founder of the Roswell Park Alliance, secretary.

Roswell Park’s Rodney Haring honored by foundation Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center faculty researcher Rodney Haring has been recognized with a Research Into Action Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) New Connections initiative.  Presented in March at a capstone symposium in New Orleans, Haring the award symbolizes what

Haring has accomplished as a New Connections grantee with his contributions and success in the field. For example, he began a project in 2010 that looked at childhood obesity and oral health within Native American communities. “I was not all surprised to hear that Rodney would be recognized by such a prestigious organization,” says Christine Ambrosone, Roswell Park Alliance Foundation endowed chairwoman in cancer prevention at the cancer center and head of the department Haring works in. “He’s done so much to not only identify challenges and problems that get in the way of good health, but to find solutions that will help to address the issues he identifies.” New Connections was established by RWJF in 2005 to provide grants and additional opportunities for scholars from historically disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds. An enrolled member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, Haring focuses on research that reflects endemic health disparities. He credits the initiative as a foundation in his career as a scientist, researcher and community member. Haring holds doctoral and master’s degrees from the University at Buffalo.  

Honored for their distinguished service during Springfest 2019 are physician Thom R. Loree, (second from left); dentist Maureen Sullivan, (third from left); nurse Donna Oddo, (third from right); and Jim Kelly (second from right). Posing with the honorees are ECMC Corp. President & CEO Thomas J. Quatroche Jr., (left) and ECMC Corp. Board of Directors Chairman Jonathan A. Dandes (right). 

ECMC Gala Breaks Attendance Record

Three distinguished ECMC professionals among those honored during largest gala in WNY

E

rie County Medical Center (ECMC) Corporation and the ECMC Foundation ECMC presented the 30th Springfest Gala 2019, the largest nonprofit gala in Western New York, which drew more than 2,000 guests — the largest gathering in the event’s history. The event, raised the highest gross in its history – exceeding $1.2 million. It took place May 11 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, Convention

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Center Plaza. All proceeds from the evening will benefit the medical services of ECMC, Western New York’s only regional Level 1 adult trauma center, which is now being updated with a modern, state-of-the-art facility that will double the capacity of the existing facility. Presented by Pegula Sports and Entertainment, this year’s Springfest Gala honored the distinguished service of: Jim Kelly, Buffalo Bills Hall of

Fame Quarterback, founder of Kelly for Kids Foundation, and co-founder of Hunter’s Hope Foundation; physician Thom R. Loree, chairman of the department of head and neck surgery and plastic and reconstructive surgery for ECMC, and associate professor of surgery and otolaryngology at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, UB; dentist Maureen Sullivan, chief of the department of dentistry, division of oral oncology and maxillofacial

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • June 2019

prosthetics at ECMC, clinical assistant professor at the department of oral diagnostic sciences, School of Dental Medicine, UB, and clinical assistant professor, otolaryngology at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, UB; and nurse Donna Oddo, nursing care coordinator at the emergency department at ECMC.


Members of the Buffalo chapter of the November Project. They’re in front of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery during one of their Wednesday morning workouts.

Big Celebration in the Works November Project Buffalo will celebrate its two-year anniversary starting at 6 a.m. on June 5 at Sahlen Field. In addition, the group will begin its Sunrise Sundays in June, which are longer workouts from 8:30 to 10 a.m. for five consecutive Sundays. This will include a mix of running or bootcamp, followed by 45 to 60 minutes of yoga. There is no cost to attend any November Project event, and new members are always welcome. For more information, visit the November Project Buffalo website at https://november-project.com/ or follow the group on Facebook at www. facebook.com/NovemberProjectBuffalo

November Project Buffalo Marks Two Years of Outdoorphins Through sunshine, rain or snow, November Project members gather early on Wednesdays (6:10 a.m.) to work out at various locations in Buffalo By Jenna Schifferle

Y

ou may have heard of endorphins, those miracle hormones that boost your overall mood and wellbeing. But have you heard of outdoorphins? At November Project Buffalo, outdoorphins are exactly what you get on Wednesday mornings after sweating alongside a community of people at their free outdoor fitness class. On June 5, the nonprofit group will be celebrating its second anniversary as a weekly tradition in Buffalo. According to its website, November Project is a fitness movement that started in Boston. It now has 49 locations across the globe, including a chapter in Malaysia, with an average of 4,200 members per week. Steve Procknal, a yoga instructor at Power Yoga Buffalo, and Jason Jerome, director of athletic devel-

opment at IMPACT Sports Performance, decided in 2017 that it was time to bring a chapter to Western New York. “All we’re trying to do is help people get better … together,” Procknal said. While Jerome has since moved to Pittsburgh, the November Project is still going strong under the leadership of Procknal and Lauren Corigliano, a spin instructor at Revolution Buffalo. Workouts begin every Wednesday morning at 6:10 a.m. sharp at the staircase to the Albright Knox Art Gallery and other locations throughout Buffalo — through sunshine, rain or snow. Typical classes include elements of running and calisthenics or bodyweight training. This might include running, followed by planks, pushups and more. Each workout

can be modified to fit the needs of the people who show up, which includes everyone from kids to those in their 70s, Procknal said. “Honestly, you can always just dance and no one is going to say anything … we’re just happy people are there.” The workouts are more than just a way to sweat, Procknal added — they’re a space for “raw human connection.” Unlike most group fitness classes, exercises are done collaboratively with a partner, and Procknal estimates that anywhere between 20 and 250 people show up to each event, making it easy to build these connections. Together, members hold each other accountable for showing up, while enjoying the great outdoors. “You get to look around. You get to see the sunrise. You get to see the summer and the fall … and you get

June 2019 •

to breathe in the air. It adds a whole new element to the workout.” Jennifer Gress, an instructor at Power Yoga Buffalo, has been attending Wednesday morning workouts with November Project since a few short weeks after they first started. Initially, she started showing up to show support for Procknal. Then, she made it through the winter months, connected with other people in the group, and found that it sparked a passion for running that she never knew she had. Ever since, she’s been attending classes weekly, with few exceptions. “I never would have anticipated that it would become a habit,” she said. “I have a real respect and appreciation for it, and the community aspect is what keeps me coming back.” With inspiration from the group, she even decided to tackle her first-ever 13.1 mile race, the Queen City Half Marathon, in 2017. Then, in 2018, she signed up for another half marathon. Despite the second event being canceled, Gress rallied some of her running friends and held her very own “women’s half marathon” with a handful of her friends, where they covered the 13.1 miles together, supporting each other the whole way. And during those snowy, cold winter months? Well, Gress says that as counterintuitive as it may sound, those are some of the best and most memorable workouts. Procknal agrees. During those winter months, they go ice skating, snowshoeing, and even sledding at Shakespeare Hill. “The smiles on people’s faces are unforgettable. You can’t make it up,” Procknal said. He added that it brings out an “inner child” in so many people, especially when speeding downhill.

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