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Why You May Need to See an ENT




Otolaryngologist Shaun Baker talks about what ENT is and why you need to see one if you have a problem related to ears, nose and throat



n How to help when cancer strikes a loved one n Breast cancer survivor: A profile n Mammography: What you need to know n Organizations help patients during cancer journey n Mammography for men? You bet n A novel approach to treating incurable cancers

things you can do to keep your heart strong, according to the chief of cardiology at University at Buffalo

Coming Soon: ‘Pot Breathalyzer’?

P. 16

University of Pittsburgh scientists are working to develop a THC breathalyzer for marijuana


Buffalo Among Most Stressed Cities in U.S.

Running Red Lights a Deadly Practice

Queen City included on list along with Syracuse, Rochester

There were 939 people killed in red light-running crashes in 2017, a 10-year high and a 28% increase since 2012


Medical Schools & Minority Students Minorities underrepresented in medical schools: Study

Chia Seeds Why should we eat more chia seeds? See SmartBites column. P. 11


Marijuana Use Highest rate in 35 years among college students. P. 9

Coming Soon: ‘Pot Breathalyzer’?


riving while high on marijuana can be as dangerous and illegal as driving drunk, but unlike alcohol, there’s no way to detect pot on your breath. That could change, however, as University of Pittsburgh scientists are working to develop a breathalyzer that can measure the psychoactive ingredient in pot. Although the technology may work, many questions must be answered before police start checking drivers. “We envision that this sensor can be produced as a breathalyzer like an alcohol breathalyzer,” said lead researcher Alexander Star, a professor of chemistry and bioengineering. As more states legalize pot, it’s likely more drivers will get behind the wheel stoned.

Since Washington state legalized marijuana in 2012, the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana rose from 8% in 2013 to 17% in 2014, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Since current testing relies on blood, urine or hair samples, it can’t be done in the field when a driver suspected of being high is pulled over. Using carbon nanotubes, however, Star’s team has found a way of detecting tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient in marijuana that creates a high, in a user’s breath. These hollow nanotubes are 100,000 times thinner than a human hair. The electrical components of molecules in the breath bind to the tubes. Since different molecules

bind at different speeds, the type of substance, including THC, can be detected. Star said these sensors can detect THC with the same accuracy as mass spectrometry, the gold standard for detecting it. So far, the device, which resembles a breathalyzer used to test for alcohol, has only been tested in the lab, using breath samples that also contained carbon dioxide, water, ethanol, methanol and acetone. Before the device can be made available for use by police, it will have to be tested on hundreds, if not thousands, of people, Star said. Right now, unlike alcohol, no standard for THC intoxication exists or is written in any state driving laws. Setting a standard for how much THC is too much is a job for

More than just a meal.

medical professionals, not chemical engineers, Star said. So don’t expect to have your breath tested for pot anytime soon. Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, which advocates for the legalization of marijuana, said establishing a standard for THC intoxication is no simple task. “There is zero scientific data addressing the question of correlating the detection of THC or its metabolites in breath with psychomotor impairment, nor am I aware of any serious scientific investigations that have sought to do so,” he said. Experts, such as AAA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), oppose imposition of such a per se limit, Armentano said. “Some researchers and the NHTSA have observed that using a measure of THC as evidence of a driver’s impairment is not supported by scientific evidence to date,” he said. Moreover, studies haven’t been able to consistently correlate THC levels with levels of impairment, Armentano said. “Ultimately, if law enforcement’s priority is to better identify drivers who may be under the influence of cannabis, then the appropriate response is to identify and incorporate specific performance measures that accurately distinguish those cannabis-influenced drivers from those who are not, and to prioritize greater officer training in the field of drug recognition evaluators,” he said. The report was published in August in the journal ACS Sensors. Star is its editor-in-chief.

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


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October 2019 •

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Senior Living Community Stimulating Social, Educational and recreational activities Medication management Access to 24-hour personal care assistance Affordable memory care


Oct. 1

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Serving Western New York A monthly newspaper published by Local News, Inc. Distribution: 32,500 copies throughout more than 1,500 high traffic locations in the region 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 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, Daniel Meyer, Jana Eisenberg, Julie Halm Advertising: Anne Westcott, Amy Gagliano, Karen Weaver Layout & Design: Dylon Clew-Thomas • Office Manager: Nancy Niet No material may be reproduced in whole or in part from this publication without the express written permission of the publisher. The information in this publication is intended to complement—not to take the place of—the recommendations of your health provider. Consult your physician before making major changes in your lifestyle or health care regimen.

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Embrace Seasons Past... Begin Life Anew!

‘Dining Out For Life’ to help people with HIV For the 17th consecutive year, Western New Yorkers can help raise funds to assist individuals and families who are affected by HIV simply by enjoying a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner Tuesday, Oct. 1, as part of Dining Out For Life, a national fundraising event held annually in more than 60 participating cities. This year, 79 participating restaurants in Erie, Niagara, Orleans and Chautauqua counties will donate 25% (or more) of their proceeds on Oct. 1 during Western New York’s largest annual HIV fundraiser. All money raised through the event (approximately $1.3 million to date) remains in Western New York and supports the HIV treatment and prevention services offered by Evergreen Health, a nonprofit organization providing HIV services since 1983. Restaurants participating this year for the first time include the following Erie County restaurants: The Little Club; Giacobbi’s Cucina Citta; Las Puertas; Breezy Burrito Co @ Expo, Misuta Chows and Cantina 62. KeyBank is the presenting sponsor. For more information, visit www.DiningOutForLife.com/WNY. To learn more about Evergreen Health, visit www.evergreenhs.org.

Oct. 1, 2

Two-day event to feature ‘Food and Sustainable Living’ World on Your Plate, a coalition of groups and individuals that work together to restore the earth by promoting sustainability for farmers, farm workers and consumers, is organizing its 16th annual conference focusing on food, nutrition, the environment, farming and politics. Titled “Food and Sustainable Living,” the event will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct 1 and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 2 at Wick Student Center, Daemen College, 4380 Main St., Amherst. Two guest speakers are on the schedule: John DeGraaf, a nationally acclaimed author, filmmaker, speaker and activist with more than 40 documentaries including”Affluenza,” will speak on “Beauty for All and the Green New Deal.” Walter Simpson, energy professional and environmental educator at SUNY Buffalo, founder and director of the UB Green Office and UB’s environmental sustainability office will speak on climate change. Cost of the tickets is $35 pre-event or $40 at the door. For students who pre-register, admission is free. For more information and registration go to www.worldonyourplate.org.

Got a health-related event to share? Email it to editor@buffalohealthnews.com Deadline: the 10th of the month preceding the event.

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

Oct. 4

Foundations of Faith Community Nursing course held Parish Nurse Ministries of New York, Inc. and Catholic Health Faith Community Nurse Program will offer the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing course, scheduled to begin Oct. 4. This is an educational course open to all registered professional nurses of every denomination or faith. The Catholic Health Faith is located at 144 Genesee St., fifth floor in Buffalo. For more information contact Lois Tripp, a registered nurse with Faith Community Nurse at 716-8344465 or via email pnmny179@gmail. com.

Oct. 18

Eye doctors to perform free cataract surgeries From 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, the Eyes On America Foundation will donate cataract surgeries for low income, non-insured, veterans, refugees and recent immigrants. This will take place at Atwal Eye Care at 3095 Harlem Road, Cheektowaga. In the past 10 years the Eyes On America Foundation has donated more 300 cataract surgeries for those in need. The Eyes on America Foundation was founded by ophthalmologist Kenneth D. Anthone in 2009 as a way to give back to the Western New York community. The foundation annually sponsors “Mission Cataract Day,” where ophthalmologists Kenneth Anthone, Amar Atwal and Ephraim Atwal donate free cataract surgeries for those in need. The organization has been recognized on CNN and in USA Today newspaper for its generous, humanitarian works. Those seeking the donation of cataract surgeries should contact foundation executive director Karen Anthone at 716-529-0670 or view information at eyesonamerica.care.

Nov. 30

Muscular Disorder Foundation holds event Friends & Families Muscular Disorders Foundation will host a “Holiday Art, Crafts & More Sale” event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30, at RIT Inn & Conversation Center, 5257 W. Henrietta Road in Henrietta (minutes from exit 46 on I-90). The muscular dystrophies are a group of diseases that cause weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles, according to Muscular Dystrophy Association. Examples include ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), cerebral palsy, multiple scleroris and over 200 disorders. The group doesn’t receive any government funding. For more information, call or text 585-519-1917 or send an email to friendsnfamiliesmdf@gmail.com.

Medical Schools Still Short on Minority Students


espite calls for more diversity among doctors in the United States, a new study shows that minorities remain underrepresented in medical schools. Researchers found that between 2002 and 2017, the actual number of minority students in medical schools increased, but the rate of increase was slower than that of age-matched members of those minorities in the U.S. population. By 2017, Hispanic medical school enrollees were underrepresented by nearly 70%, and the rates of under-representation were 60% for black males and 40% for black females. “Recent studies have shown a steady increase in the enrollment of nonwhite medical students over the past decade. While those numbers are promising, they don’t tell the full story,” said co-senior author, physician Jaya Aysola, assistant dean of the Office of Inclusion and Diversity at the University of Pennsylvania and executive director of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Equity Advancement.

“We still have a long way to go before our physician workforce mirrors the population of patients who they serve,” Aysola added in a university news release. There’s been a decade-long effort to increase diversity in U.S. medicine so that it better reflects the patient population, Aysola noted. The study was published Sept. 4 in the journal JAMA Network Open. “Past research has shown that the medical workforce has indeed become more diverse, but it doesn’t account for how much the country is diversifying as a whole,” said study lead author Lanair Amaad Lett, an associate fellow at Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. “The efforts to increase diversity in medical education have clearly not been sufficient,” Lett said in the release. “In light of the evidence that physicians from underrepresented backgrounds are more likely to serve populations with significant health disparities, and that a diverse physician workforce improves health care for all, the need for representation is an evidence-based imperative.”

pocketbook when insurers begin to base their payments to providers on their patient outcomes. So, being 100% frank with your provider is critical to a successful partnership.  

sometimes people do die there. He thinks hospitals and physicians need to be better at transitioning patients from acute to comfort or palliative care. Patients and family often feel their physician or hospital abandoned them at the end. The book is highly recommended as most of us are ill-prepared for the end.

Healthcare in a Minute By George W. Chapman

Minimal Waiting is Among What Consumers Want


What We Lie About

Medical Economics magazine surveyed hundreds of consumers to find out how forthcoming they were with their physician. It turns out about 25% actually admitted they are not. Forty-six percent of them have lied about smoking; 43% about exercise; 37% about alcohol consumption; and 29% have lied about their sexual partners. Why would people lie if they are seeking help? Seventy-five percent of the respondents who lied admitted they were embarrassed. Thirty-one percent lied to avoid discrimination and 22% lied believing their physician wouldn’t take them seriously if they were truthful. While lying only hurts the patient, it will eventually hurt their physician’s

Palliative care physician B.J. Miller advocates making end of life care more “human” and less “medicalized.” His 2015 TED talk, “What Really Matters at the End of Life,” has been viewed over 9 million times. He recently co-authored the book “A Beginners Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death.” The book is targeted at the dying, their family and caregivers and their providers. Miller argues hospitals are a terrible place to die. Dying is not an emergency and there’s not much that can be done anymore; so, it is unfair to expect much from a hospital that is designed and staffed for acute care. But

everal surveys have revealed what consumers are expecting from their healthcare providers. In no particular order, the most common expectations are: online appointments; virtual appointments; streamlined paperwork; minimal waiting; answers within 24 hours; updated waiting rooms with amenities like Wi-Fi, water, coffee;

transparent pricing; and extended hours. Interestingly, one of the biggest pet peeves of those surveyed was the excessive amount of “threatening” notices plastered all over the waiting area and reception. Retail providers have been quicker to deploy these expectations and have made inroads on the market share of traditional private providers.

AMA’s Position on Healthcare

insurance have risen twice as fast as wages and three times as fast as inflation. Last year, an average family of four spent $4,700 on premiums ($392/mo.) and about $3,000 on deductibles and copays ($250/mo.) That’s $7,700 a year or $642 a month which is a 67% increase from 2009. Wages increased 31% and inflation was 21% over the same 10 years.

So where does the American Medical Association stand when it comes to healthcare reform? The AMA is now basically opposed to “Medicare for all,” but it recently decided to drop out of the industry group “Partnership for America’s Healthcare Future” (PAHF) which is vehemently opposed to “Medicare for all.” Rather than start from scratch, the AMA’s position is to strengthen and build upon the existing Affordable Care Act, which it believes can be a vehicle for universal coverage. The PAHF members include hospital, insurance and manufacturing trade associations. The Affordable Care Act was developed with the input of all the major stakeholders (physicians, hospitals, insurers, manufacturers) to provide and fund care for the medically uninsured and under insured. At its peak, it covered over 20 million people.  

Out-of-Pocket Costs Increase Dramatically

Over the last 10 years, out of pocket costs for employer-sponsored

Physician Burnout

Considering the rapid-fire industry changes and continued confusion in Washington, it is no surprise that many physicians suffer from some form of burnout. Medical Economics magazine surveyed over 1,200 physicians: 92% admitted to feeling burned out at some point in their career while 68% answered they were currently feeling burned out. The most common reasons for burnout are: excessive paperwork, poor life balance; time consuming electronic medical records; and loss of control. Seventy-three percent of respondents said they have seriously considered quitting; 80% admitted they have not sought counseling. Coping mechanisms include family, exercising and hobbies. Physicians say they are increasingly powerless as medicine becomes corporatized and dictated by government and profit-oriented special interest groups.   

Dealing with Death

October 2019 •

Home Care Worker Shortage Worsening

Anyone who has had to deal with homecare for themselves or a family member is well aware of the acute shortage of home care workers. The shortage is fueled by a rapidly aging population and advanced technology which makes home care a more viable and preferable option versus nursing homes. By 2050, 19 million of us will be over 85. The president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice says some agencies are seeing 100% turnover in a year and 50% is now considered “good.” The good news-bad news is there will be 1.2 million new jobs available by 2026 which is a 40% increase from the number of jobs in 2016. Home care is often a thankless job and it doesn’t pay well. Eighty-seven percent of home care workers are women; 60% are of color; 52% have a high school diploma or less; half receive public assistance like Medicaid or food stamps.

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

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Autism Rates Increasing Fastest Among Black and Hispanic Children


Your Doctor

By Chris Motola

Shaun Baker, D.O.

After mid-2000s plateau, prevalence among white Otolaryngologist talks about what ENT is and children is also rising why you need to see one if you have a problem


utism rates among racial minorities in the United States have increased by double digits in recent years, with black rates now exceeding those of whites in most states and Hispanic rates growing faster than any other group, according to new University of Colorado Boulder research. The study, published in August in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, also found that prevalence of autism among white youth is ticking up again, after flattening in the mid2000s. While some of the increase is due to more awareness and greater detection of the disorder among minority populations, other environmental factors are likely at play, the authors conclude. “We found that rates among blacks and Hispanics are not only catching up to those of whites — which have historically been higher — but surpassing them,” said lead author Cynthia Nevison, an atmospheric research scientist with the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. “These results suggest that additional factors beyond just catch-up may be involved.” For the study, Nevison teamed up with co-author Walter Zahorodny, an autism researcher and associate professor of pediatrics at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, to analyze the most recent data available from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. IDEA tracks prevalence, including information on race, among 3-to 5-year-olds across all 50 states annually. ADDM tracks prevalence among 8-year-olds in 11 states every two years. The new study found that between birth year 2007 and 2013, autism rates among Hispanics aged 3-5 rose 73%, while rates among blacks that age rose 44% and rates among whites rose 25%. In 30 states, prevalence among blacks was higher than among whites by 2012. In states with “high prevalence,” one in 79 whites, one in 68 blacks and one in 83 Hispanics born in 2013 have been diagnosed with autism by age 3-5. “There is no doubt that autism prevalence has increased significantly over the past 10 to 20 years, and based on what we have seen from this larger, more recent dataset it will continue to increase among all race and ethnicity groups in the coming years,” said Zahorodny.

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related to ears, nose and throat Q: When would a patient come to see an ears, nose and throat (ENT) physician as opposed to their primary care physician? A: The typical way is the patient visits primary care physicians and they’ll do a patient evaluation and see what they can or cannot manage. Not every patient necessarily needs a referral to see an ENT. For example, we have a lot of patients with hearing problems. They know they have an issue and some of the limitations of going to primary care, and they’ll come directly to us to get a hearing evaluation, bypassing the primary care physician. Q: Does your practice tend to focus on any particular conditions? A: I try to stay as general as I can. That’s part of why I went into ENT and what I like about it. I enjoy performing a lot of sinus surgery and nasal surgery. I’ve expanded to include surgery for patients who have hearing loss. With some of my head and neck patients, it’s been endocrine surgery, which includes things like the thyroid and parathyroid. We take care of some salivary gland problems here as well. For our pediatric patients, we see a lot of kids with enlarged tonsils or chronic ear infections, whether it needs surgical management or not. Q: What led you to practice at Buffalo Medical Group? A: I did my residency training out in Philadelphia and had been working in private practice there for a few years. My wife and I have three children, so we wanted to be closer to family in the Buffalo area. We also just love the area. So, we were kind of

drawn back here. I had known some of the ENT doctors here, and we had some long conversations about what they had to offer. One of the biggest draws to BMG is it allows me to be a clinician first and foremost. When you’re in a private group like I was before, your time is allocated toward the administrative side of things and it can take away from your ability to practice as much as you want. Here, we have a strong administrative structure in place where I can solely focus on seeing patients and put my effort into growing my practice. Also, the staffing here is terrific. And a lot of the people here have been here a long time. It’s rare these days to find people who have been at one position more than a couple years, but at Buffalo Medical Group we’re finding people who have been here 10, 15, 20 years. It tells me that there’s some good stuff in place here. Q: You mentioned surgery earlier. What kinds of issues can be treated with ENT surgery that patients may not be aware of? A: You get a lot of patients who come in with another complaint and things will emerge during the evaluation. I might ask them how well they breathe through their nose and they’ll say, “Not well at all.” But many times, they haven’t really thought about it or had it mentioned to them before. And that’s just nasal structures. We see that all the time. Patients who have sleep issues, snoring issues, just have a hard time breathing through their nose. These are usually easily correctable problems, like a deviated septum, which

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

a short procedure can fix. I see patients with hearing loss who have seen an outside audiologist, maybe even have a hearing aid, but there are types of hearing loss that are correctable with surgery. But they don’t always get directed in that fashion. Q: Aside from being in the same general area of the body, how are the ears, nose, and throat connected, and how do they affect each other? A: Really, all the systems connect through the back of the pharynx. As an example, if you go back along the nose, you get to the pharynx through the nasal cavity. Your ears connect to the pharynx through the eustachian tube. It’s all connected through the same tube. So, problems that affect the pharynx tend to cause problems with the ear and the nose and throat. The pharynx is the main connection. Q: When you’re meeting patients as a specialist, how do you develop a rapport with patients knowing that you won’t necessarily be seeing them regularly. A: For me, I think I enjoy the conversations almost a little too much. But I like making it a good experience for them and ask them a variety of questions, if they’re looking for that kind of relationship as well. I try to make notations for myself, have an idea of what they’re struggling with, because all of that can have an impact on their health and what they’re feeling about it. Q: Are there issues that are more prevalent in the Buffalo area? A: With the Buffalo area, you see a lot of issues with allergies and sinuses. We also have pretty major shifts in barometric pressure. Having four seasons can wreak a bit of havoc on the sinuses. We have a good relationship here at BMG with our allergist and our primary care doctors to help manage these patients. What we’ve found with allergic rhinitis are topical steroid treatments that are anti-inflammatory. They can be more effective even than the oral antihistamines.


Name: Shaun Baker, D.O. Position: Otolaryngologist at Buffalo Medical Group, PC (BMG) Hometown: Williamsville Education: Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine; University at Buffalo Areas of interest: General ear, nose and throat disorders; sinus and skull base surgery; thyroid/parathyroid disease; chronic ear disease and pediatrics. Affiliations: Sisters of Charity Hospital; Oishei Children’s Hospital; Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital Organizations: The American Academy of OtolaryngologyHead and Neck Surgery; American Osteopathic College of Ophthalmology & Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery; American Osteopathic Association; Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association Family: Married (Holly), three children Hobbies: Golfing, boating


Things You Need to Do to Keep Your Heart Strong By Ernst Lamothe Jr


eart disease describes a range of conditions that affect your heart, which includes blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems and congenital heart defects. However, it is the variety of unhealthy behaviors we exhibit that can increase the probability of these symptoms. “While your heart is one of the most essential organs in your body, it is important to follow many steps to keeping your heart healthy,” said physician Vijay Iyer, chief of the division of cardiology at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. “Doing only one of these recommendations may still lead to heart issues and we want to make sure to keep the arteries strong and prevent clots.” Iyer, who practices at Buffalo General Medical Center and Gates Vascular Institute, offers five tips to better heart health.


Family History

Iyer believes that fully understanding your family history is one of the key steps needed to stay ahead of your heart health. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a few steps when it comes to finding out more information about your family history. Write down the names of your close relatives from both sides of the family: parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Talk to these family members about what conditions they have or had, and at what age the conditions were first diagnosed. You might think you know about all of the conditions in your parents or siblings, but you might find out more information if you ask. “As physicians we can better help you when we know all the information,” said Iyer. “When we know your full family history it creates a road map to provide the best care for you. You can never know too much about your family history.”



Keeping your heart healthy by making healthier food choices isn’t as hard as it sounds. Some of the standard tips health professionals suggest include choosing healthy fats such as avocados as well as omega-3 fatty acids found in nuts, seeds, tuna and salmon. In addition, whole-grain breads or pastas are higher in fiber and complex carbohydrates. Choose them instead of white breads or regular pastas for sandwiches and meals. Doctors recommend a more plant-based diet while reducing the amount of red meats such as pork and beef. Medical experts believe in good fats such as avocados and low fat yogurt. A poor diet leads to an increase of diabetes along with arthritis and musculoskeletal risk. “Staying away from food that have high excess of fat as well as staying away from a steady diet of red meat can improve your health,” said Iyer. “You should also be aware of moderation in any food you eat.”



Being overweight continues to be a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Many vascular issues where there are blockages leads to heart diseases. While not all of them are preventable, medical experts say lack of a good diet mixed with little exercises lead to a mixture of problems. Something as simple as walking regularly let alone going to the gym can make a world of difference. “Something as simple as 30 minutes of walking four times a week will help your heart and your overall health,” said Iyer.


Know your numbers

Iyer said it’s essential to understand your health numbers from blood pressure to cholesterol. To understand high blood cholesterol, it helps to learn about cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy,

fat-like substance that’s found in all cells of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D and substances that help you digest foods. However, we also put food in our bodies that elevate our cholesterol. In addition, LDL cholesterol — which stands for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, commonly referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol— is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Lipoproteins, which are combinations of fats and proteins, are the form in which lipids are transported in the blood. Iyer recommends that your blood pressure be below 130/80. “High cholesterol and high blood pressure remain an incredible combination for many health ailments including heart issues,” said Iyer.


BMI and Hypertension

Iyer also suggested that people also know their overall body mass index — or BMI. To calculate that, people should get their weight in kilograms and divide it by the square of height in meters. A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fatness. BMI can be used to screen for

Physician Vijay Iyer, chief of the division of cardiology at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. He practices at Buffalo General Medical Center and Gates Vascular Institute. weight categories that may lead to health problems but it is not diagnostic of the body fatness or health of an individual. A BMI over 30 is considered obese. Also called high blood pressure, it is a condition where blood flows through the blood vessels with a force greater than normal. Hypertension can strain the heart, damage blood vessels, and increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, kidney problems, and death.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Live Alone & Thrive

By Gwenn Voelckers

Practical tips, advice and hope for those who live alone

October: The Perfect Time to Turn Over a New Leaf


all is my favorite time of year. For me, it means all good things: relaxing in front of a cozy fire, making soup on Sunday afternoons, donning my well-worn leather jacket for long walks and turning my attention to all those inside projects I neglected over the summer. The brilliant colors, autumn aromas and industriousness that arrive with the falling leaves really appeal to me. But this hasn’t always been the case. After my divorce, the month of October left me feeling rather melancholy. I missed sharing the beauty of the season with a special someone. And I missed the sunshine as the daylight waned. Nostalgia and wistfulness would creep in, and I just wanted to retreat into myself. For those who live alone, the month of October has its unique challenges. Not one to wallow in a “poor is me” state of mind, I began to develop and employ some strategies to rekindle my love of the fall season. It can be a great time to mix it up, get busy and expand your horizons. Below are elements of my annual fall “game plan.” Take a look and see if one or more of these suggestions might not add a little color to your

life pallet this fall: • Tackle indoor projects. Fall is a great time to accomplish all those nagging indoor projects on your to-do list. I have a long list and I keep it right in front of me — a daily reminder that I have plenty of fun and interesting projects to tackle. Too much idle time is not a friend at any time of year, but it can become downright unfriendly when the weather turns cold. Now is the time to get busy: organize your storage space, do some touch-up painting, update your wardrobe or clean the garage. There’s nothing like being productive to beat the October blahs. Don’t I know it? I just finished coating my flat-roof porch with a sticky tar sealant. Confession: it was messier than it was fun. But, still . . . I’m proud of my accomplishment. • Get up and get going. Staying active when there’s a chill in the air can be difficult. I can remember many a cold morning when all I wanted to do was hit the snooze button, pull up the covers and stay in bed. As nice as sleeping in can be from time to time, I don’t recommend it as a steady diet. In my experience, there’s no better way to start your day than to

wake early and start your day. In the early morning peace and quiet, there is glorious time to reflect and feel gratitude. I use this important “me time” to read, write, and plan my day. As the morning brightens, my energy grows, as does my appreciation for the precious day ahead me. • Enjoy the great outdoors. Fresh air and sunlight are invigorating if you’ve been cooped up all day. I’m grateful every day for Scout, my adorable springer spaniel, who needs to be walked twice a day. Do I feel like walking her all the time? No. Do I feel better after taking her out? Yes, without fail. Whether you have a dog to walk or not, make an effort to leave your house and enjoy the great outdoors. It can help relieve feelings of loneliness and the lure of isolation as the days grow short and get colder. • Learn something new. Going back to school and fall go hand-in-hand. Who among us isn’t reminded of the nervous excitement associated with returning to school in the fall? It’s a great time to expand your intellectual horizons. Each fall I identify a new skill or subject to learn. Last year, I researched how to divide and relocate perennials (my irises and peonies); this year, I’m learning about and practicing meditation. Continuing education opportunities are abundant in this community. Check out colleges and universities, community centers, arts and cultural institutions, your local library, and workshop listings online and in the newspaper for class and workshop offerings. • Invite people in. Over the years, I’ve discovered a few simple and manageable ways to bring people into my world and into my home. One way is to organize a gathering around a TV

show or series — yes, around the TV, as odd as that might sound. For years, I invited my single friends over to watch “Downton Abbey” with me on Sunday nights. I provided the soup and salad; they provided the good company, laughs, and kick-start to my week. And theirs. So, what’s your pleasure? Whether it’s football, a favorite weekly sitcom, or “Dancing With the Stars” — all of these and other TV shows can become reasons to bring friends and family together. The benefits? You’ll hone your cooking skills (boy, do I now have some great soup recipes!) and you’ll connect with people you care about. What better way to enjoy a nice fall evening. There are so many wonderful and meaningful strategies to enjoy the fall season and to ward off the blues that can sometimes emerge during this changing time of year. But these strategies require effort — conscious, creative effort. If you are feeling sluggish, lonely or isolated, try a few of the strategies above. They have stood me in good stead and have reinvigorated my love for the fall season. If you, too, are ready to turn over a new leaf, October is the perfect time!

chronic ear pain, complaining of noises they can’t identify, and struggling to keep up in school. “Often parents and teachers overlook the fact that a child’s behavior may be a sign of hearing loss,” Christensen said. “If parents suspect an issue, they should have their child evaluated by an audiologist. Audiologists have the tools and training to identify hearing loss, degrees of hearing loss, and can

recommend solutions,” she said. About two to three of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears, according to the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. However, many cases go undiagnosed, and the total number of U.S. children with some type of hearing loss is unknown.

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

s d i K Corner

If a Child’s Schoolwork Slips, Don’t Rule Out Hearing Loss


alling school grades could be a sign of hearing loss in children, according to the American Academy of Audiology. “A child with just minor hearing loss can be missing a significant amount of the classroom discussion,” said academy president Lisa Christensen. “There are children who have been diagnosed with a learning disability when really what they need are hearing aids,” Christensen added in an academy news release. She works at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Along with struggles in the classroom, hearing problems can lead to behavioral issues, lack of focus and even depression in children. Many children with hearing loss don’t recognize that they have a Page 8

problem, and parents may not recognize the signs. • Look for difficulty following through with assignments and often seeming unable to understand the task. Other tipoffs include not understanding questions and either not responding or not responding appropriately. • Children with hearing problems may struggle to pronounce simple words or repeat a phrase. They may also have articulation problems or language delays. • Does your child often ask you to repeat things, watch your face intently in order to understand what you’re saying or have difficulty hearing on the phone? Those could be signs of hearing loss, too. • Some other red flags: speaking loudly when not warranted, having

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

Be the Lunchtime Hero When packing lunch for youngsters, be sure to make sure food is safe — just keep FAT TOM in minds By Catherine Miller


ust like that, summer is over. We are back to packing lunches, checking to see what clothes were outgrown, and making it to the school bus on time. Hectic, yes, but a little pre-planning on the lunch front can get your kids off to the right start this school year. When it comes to keeping foods fresher longer, it helps to think about FAT TOM. Nope. Not the guy in the lunchroom dishing out goulash. “FAT TOM is an acronym used in the culinary industry that keeps you mindful of the elements that hasten the growth of pathogens on food,” explained chef John Matwijkow, assistant professor of culinary arts at Niagara County Community College. “Becoming familiar with the basics of FAT TOM will help you keep your food fresh and be worry-free.” FAT TOM reminds one of the following items that hasten the spoilage of food: • Food: Pathogens need a source of food. Proteins and carbohydrates are especially susceptible. Keep this in mind as you pack proteins and carbs and seek out ways to inhibit bacterial growth. • Acidity: Food-borne bacteria prefer foods in the mildly acidity range. The range goes from 0-14 with water at a 7 (neutral) and lemon juice and vinegars between 2-3. Lower ranges can aid in keeping bacteria to a minimum. Adding an acidic-marinated dressing to foods will help stunt the spoilage of the food.

• Temperature: Most of us are aware that the “danger zone” for food is 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a thermos for hot items and freezer pack for cold items help keep your foods away from that danger range as long as possible. • Time: A standard of two hours in the danger zone and your food is likely to begin its downward decent, but this time frame could be as much as four hours depending on the type of food and how it was stored. • Oxygen: Bacteria need oxygen to grow. Take away the oxygen and you lessen the ability for pathogens to set in. Wrap your food in plastic or use airtight containers. There are plenty of airtight packaging devices available at stores and online. • Moisture: Moisture aids in bacterial growth. Just as sailors of yesteryear would cure their meats and dry beans to remove moisture from their foods, sending low-moisture foods to school allow the lunch to last quite a while without worry. Think beef jerky, cereals and dried fruits.

Pack the right stuff

Gone are the days when a peanut butter and jelly sandwich could be thrown into a brown paper bag with a juice box and you could shuffle your child out the door. The increase in peanut allergies make us take a second look at each food item we send to school, and with school days lasting longer due to afterschool activities, the sustenance needs to be substantive.

U.S. College Students’ Marijuana Use Highest in 35 Years: Study


ollege students’ use of marijuana in 2018 was at the highest level seen in the past three-and-a-half decades, according to the University of Michigan’s annual national Monitoring the Future Panel study. In addition, vaping of marijuana and of nicotine each doubled for college students between 2017 and 2018. Researchers collected information from about 1,400 respondents, aged 19 to 22, and found that about 43% of full-time college students said they used some form of marijuana at least once in the past year, up from 38% in 2017, and previous month use rose to 25% from 21%, the Associated Press reported Thursday. The 2018 rates are the highest found in the annual University of Michigan survey since 1983. About 6% of college students said they used marijuana 20 or more times in the past month, compared with 11% of respondents the same age who weren’t in college,

the AP reported. “It’s the frequent use we’re most worried about” because it’s associated with poor school performance and can harm mental health, researcher John Schulenberg said. In the United States, marijuana use is greater among college-age adults than any other age group, the AP reported. Thirty-day prevalence of vaping marijuana also increased for college students from 5.2% in 2017 to 10.9% in 2018, a significant 5.7 percentage point increase. Among noncollege respondents, 30-day prevalence was level at 8% in 2017 and 2018. “This doubling in vaping marijuana among college students is one of the greatest one-year proportional increases we have seen among the multitude of substances we measure since the study began over 40 years ago,” said John Schulenberg, principal investigator of the Monitoring the Future Panel Study.

The trick is pre-prepping and lots of variety. “I’ll be the first to admit that my kids aren’t always eating as healthy as they could, but I try the best I can,” says Shannon Krug, teacher and busy mother of three young boys. “One thing that I always try to do is have fruits and vegetable cut, washed and ready to go. The kids are always snacking and the better I prep, the better they eat. Finger foods are always what they go to, so strawberries, watermelon, cucumber slices, almonds, cheese sticks, baby carrots and apples are usually staples in our house.” Other great ideas are pita bread with hummus, chunked pineapple with muffins, tortilla roll ups packed with chopped veggies, turkey and cheese, and dried fruits and trail mixes. Read the ingredients on mixed snacking items as many do contain nuts, which may cause an allergy concern. When it comes to nut allergies, check with your school to see if there are nut restrictions in the classroom this school year. If there are, adhere to them closely. There are nuts in more items than you may think. “We need to be careful during lunch and at snack time,” states Krug. “Even the granola bars that kids love may still contain nuts. Depending on

the school rules and severity of allergies, we will omit nut items from a full room or just certain tables at lunch. This becomes even more difficult at snack time when the students may roam during their down time.” Pack enough items for your student to enjoy at lunch as well as a midday snack. With longer days due to busing and post-school events, energy levels need to be kept up.

Get kids in kitchen

Krug makes a habit of getting her sons involved in food choices. “When packing lunches or bringing a snack for school, I give the boys options and have them choose the night before so there are no surprises or meltdowns in the morning,” she states. Allowing your student to help with meal prep teaches them the basics of good eating, portion control, and makes it more likely they’ll eat what they bring. Try experimenting with fruit smoothies with your kids and then pack them in airtight bags and put them in the freezer. They can double as a freezer pack and lunchtime treat. A little pre-planning goes a long way to making lunch the best part of your child’s day. And a smiley face on a napkin is always a nice touch..

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Careers in Healthcare

Lab Techs: Behind the

Scenes Yet Vital to Healthcare

Workers in this field receive an annual mean starting wage of $58,840 in the Buffalo area By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


f you like science, health and technology, working as a lab tech might be right for you. The path to employment in this career is much shorter than you might think. While many medical careers necessitate lengthy education, the clinical laboratory technician and clinical laboratory technologist require only two and four years’ worth of schooling, respectively.

Workers in this field receive an annual mean starting wage of $58,840 in the Buffalo area, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which combined both titles into its salary figure. Technologists make significantly more than technicians. After successful completion of their education, candidates for lab tech positions must pass a certification exam, which licenses them

to work nationwide and take 12 continuing education credit hours annually thereafter. Few people seem to be aware of what lab techs do. “Visibility is our biggest problem in the profession,” said Richard W. Browne, Ph.D, associate professor in the department of biotechnical and clinical laboratory sciences with Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at UB. The name of these positions has also changed, which adds to the confusion. The Bureau of Labor uses “clinical laboratory technologists” and “clinical laboratory technicians” but the degree plan at UB is “B.S. medical technology.” The school does not offer a two-year degree to become a laboratory technician; however, Erie Community College does. Browne said students who complete the two-year degree can transfer to UB and take two additional years’ training to complete the BS medical technology degree. Browne added that these roles usually attract people who like helping others through the medical field, but not necessarily as nurses or doctors at that point in their lives. “You have to have very strong science skills and good math abilities,” he said. “This is a very rigorous program.” Lab techs who work outside of a medical setting, such as in research, a veterinary clinic, food research and development, may not be required to have a license, but these positions don’t pay as well and aren’t as readily available. Browne said that the shortage of lab techs in the medical field has led to UB’s 100% placement rate. “Vacancies are as high as 17 to 20% in Western New York,” Browne said. “UB students are recruited while still in school. It’s a slam dunk.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics

projects 11% job growth, considered “much faster than average” compared to all other careers. Erika Paul manages of the core lab at Rochester General Hospital. She considers lab techs part of the care team. “We do everything from helping diagnose to managing patients to monitoring patients for their whole life,” Paul said. “It’s a very integral part of what draws people into it.” Lab techs can do far more than handle samples. Their analysis plays a major role in physician diagnoses. In fact, about 70% of decisions made in hospitals rely upon the lab. Lab techs have room to advance as well. “There are a number of different opportunities for a lab tech,” said Courtney Ferrell, who works in HR/ recruiting for ACM Laboratories, part of Rochester Regional Health. She listed team leader, manager, supervisor or director as in-house positions to which lab techs may advance. “A lot of medical technologists have ended up in our medical trials as project management, sales support as science subject experts, IT and other areas,” Ferrell added. Browne said that some students in the laboratory technologist program go on to become physicians. “If you want to be a doctor and want to go to medical school, the degree is perfect because if you don’t get into medical school, you can make a living,” he said. “You won’t have to go back to school.” For those who do make it into medical school, Browne said that the education in medical diagnostics only augments working as a physician. “We send our top grads to medical school pretty much every single year,” Browne said. “They generally become pathologists.”

Suicide: The New Number to Call: 988 FCC suggests new suicide prevention hotline


rising from the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018, the Federal Communications Commission in August proposed a national threedigit hotline — 988 — for people contemplating suicide. The government studied the feasibility of a three-digit number to mimic the 911 general emergency number and replace the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255. Struggling to remember the long number during a mental health crisis may be limiting some people from calling it. The proposal has been approved but no time table for implementation has been set. Jessica Pirro, CEO of Crisis Services in Buffalo., said that a dedicated short number for suicide can facilitate better care. “It’s important to understand that this is specific to suicide prevention response and intervention,” Pirro said. “We want to differentiate what’s appropriate for a 911 call and a support call through a three-digit Page 10

number that replaces the current suicide hotline number.” Pirro likes that the proposed number would add yet another way for those suffering to obtain professional assistance, in addition to the longer number. “The counselors are just there to support callers and guide them to options, and provide education and counsel on options they haven’t considered,” Pirro said. “They’re also talking with people who were specially trained and can evaluate someone’s risk for suicide. They help people feel heard during that suicidal crisis. Hotlines are a critical service for individuals who are in crisis.” A new number could help deal with the recent increased volume of calls to 911 call centers. The National Center for Health Statistics states that from 2000 to 2016, the rates of suicides increased by 50% among females and 21% among males. Although she approves opening greater access to call centers, Pirro expressed concern that crisis centers lack the resources to respond at a sufficient level once calls increase.

“If there’s no support for these centers, we won’t see the effect we want,” she said. “We have to look at the continuum. We can increase access, but then what? It’s a stressed system. There’s high utilization.” She fears callers having to wait on hold, which is obviously a barrier to receiving urgently needed help.

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

“You don’t want people waiting to have their call answered for 20 minutes,” she said. Missy Stolfi is area director for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Western New York and Central New York, which covers 27 counties in Upstate New York. She believes that with the 988 number, “we can accommodate the volume and have the most appropriate intervention. A mental health crisis needs to be handled differently than a physical health crisis. The 911 system is already strained as a resource.” Stolfi views the new number as a way to open access to help. The new number would replace the longer number. It would not require replacing call center employees, but like Pirro, Stolfi hopes for adequate funding to centers as the volume of calls would likely continue to increase. She wants the old number to forward people directly to operators at call centers. “We wouldn’t want anyone to call the old number and get a pre-recorded message that this number has been disconnected,” Stolfi said.

Buffalo Among Most Stressed Cities in U.S. Queen City included on list along with Syracuse, Rochester By Aaron Gifford


pstate New York’s three largest cities are among the most stressed places in the nation, a recent study indicates. The list of the most and least stressed small, medium and large U.S. cities, compiled by the Hey Tutor organization using recent data from the U.S. Census, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and a recent Gallop Poll, recognizes Syracuse as the fourth most stressed small city, while Rochester and Buffalo were identified in the medium-sized most stressed cities list at No. 2 and No. 5, respectively. The rankings are based on a stress index ratings that factors in economic inequality, poverty, unemployment, housing affordability, mental health conditions, commute times, sleep habits, and the share of single-parent households. “With the exception of poverty and unemployment, which are at historic lows,” the report says, “most of the factors in the score are largely getting worse, which is creating a more stressed out society as a whole.” The stress index rating for Syracuse was 62.9. For Rochester, it was 68.5, and for Buffalo, it was 61.5. For the overall ranking of stressed cities, which does not factor in population, Rochester was fifth on the list,

followed by Syracuse at No. 10, and Buffalo at No. 14. Specifically, the report listed Rochester’s poverty rate at 32.3% of the city’s population, with an unemployment rate of 9.6%. Nearly 42% of residents in the Flower City (population 210.565) spend more than 30% of their income on housing, and single parents account for 73.7 of households. Persons with significant mental health problems account for 15.9% of the population, and 39.7% of resident sleep less than seven hours per night. The average commute time for Rochester residents is 20 minutes. In Buffalo, the poverty rate was listed at 6.7%, with an unemployment rate of 4.3%. Twenty-six percent of the residents in the Queen City (population 261,310), spend more than 30% of their income on housing, and single parents account for 20.2% of households. Persons with poor mental health make up 11.9% of the population, and 35.3% of the population gets less than seven hours of sleep per night. The average commute time for Buffalo residents is 28.4 minutes. And for Syracuse, the poverty rate was listed in the report at 15%, with an unemployment rate of 4.6%. More than 32% of the residents in the Salt City (population 145,170)

spend more than 30% of their income on housing, and single parents tallied 32.4% of households. Thirteen percent of the city’s population was reported to be in poor mental health, and 36% of residents get less than seven hours of sleep per night. The average commute time to work for Syracuse residents is 24.7 minutes.

Detroit, Newark among top stressed cities The most stressed city on the large city list was Detroit (82.1 rating). Newark, New Jersey, topped the medium cities list (77.7), and Hartford, Connecticut, led the small cities (71.6). By contrast, the least stressed large city was Seattle, Washington (30.7), while Cary, North Carolina (14.8), topped the medium-sized cities list in that category, and Olathe, Kansas (10.2) led the small cities. Cities in the northeast dominated the stressed cities list, while cities in western and southern parts of the nation accounted for the majority of places on the least cities stressed list. Not surprisingly, blue-collar cities like Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Syracuse and Allentown, Pennsylvania were tallied on the stressed lists, while vacation destinations like

The CDC report indicated the following information by city for adult populations (persons over 18):

BUFFALO Annual medical check-ups

High blood pressure

Binge drinkers(alcohol)

Currently smoke

Physically inactive







High blood pressure

Binge drinkers(alcohol)

Currently smoke

Physically inactive







High blood pressure

Binge drinkers(alcohol)

Currently smoke

Physically inactive







High blood pressure

Binge drinkers(alcohol)

Currently smoke

Physically inactive







SYRACUSE Annual medical check-ups

ROCHESTER Annual medical check-ups


Annual medical check-ups

October 2019 •

Virginia Beach, Chandler (Arizona), and Centennial, Colorado were on the least stressed lists. New York City is No. 7 on the most stressed cities with an index score of 59.0. Most of the country’s other largest cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta and Phoenix, are not on either top 10 list. According to a recent Gallup poll, the United States is highly stressed, with 79% of Americans feeling stressed regularly. Higher levels of stress correlate with increased health risks and can exacerbate existing medical conditions. People who have chronic stress can experience changes in appetite, increased risks of heart disease, and higher levels of anxiety and depression. Among the leading causes of stress are work, money, health, and the economy. Despite this, many cities in the U.S. are actually quite conducive to reducing stress, the report says. These cities boast more equitable economies and affordable housing. In addition, their residents report strong mental health, sufficient sleep, and a higher proportion of parents remain together. In a related report, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identified chronic disease risk factors, health outcomes, and clinical preventive service use for the largest 500 cities in the United States. These small area estimates will allow cities and local health departments to better understand the burden and geographic distribution of health-related variables in their jurisdictions, and assist them in planning public health interventions.

Resources In the absence of community outreach efforts to help stressed communities, there are plenty of free resources available online. The Mayo Clinic, for example provides guides for managing stress and emotional wellness: “Once you’ve identified your stress triggers, think about strategies for dealing with them. Identifying what you can control is a good starting point,” the Mayo Clinic advises. “For example, if stress keeps you up at night, the solution may be as easy as removing the TV and computer from your bedroom and letting your mind wind down before bed. Don’t feel like you have to figure it out on your own. Seek help and support from family and friends, whether you need someone to listen to you, help with child care or a ride to work when your car’s in the shop. Many people benefit from practices such as deep breathing, tai chi, yoga, meditation or being in nature. Set aside time for yourself. Get a massage, soak in a bubble bath, dance, and listen to music, watch a comedy— whatever helps you relax. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help you manage stress. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. Make a conscious effort to spend less time in front of a screen — television, tablet, computer and phone — and more time relaxing. Stress won’t disappear from your life. And stress management needs to be ongoing. But by paying attention to what causes your stress and practicing ways to relax, you can counter some of the bad effects of stress and increase your ability to cope with challenges,” Mayo experts advise. .

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Headquarter of ConnectLife at 4444 Bryant and Stratton Way, Williamsville. The organization was known as UNYTS until it changed its name over the summer. Photo courtesy of ConnectLife.

ConnectLife: New Name, Same Commitment to Save Lives Blood and organ donation nonprofit changes name to better reflect mission. ‘Service to others is the founding tenet of ConnectLife,’ says official By Jana Eisenberg


ou may have heard of UNYTS and known that it had something to do with blood drives and blood donations, but been unaware of all the other services and elements that are involved in the nonprofit’s work. If so, you wouldn’t be alone. After two years of research into that very topic, the leadership at UNYTS —or Upstate New York Transplant Services — came to the realization that it needed to better define and explain itself to continue its literally life-saving work. The new name, ConnectLife, introduced this summer, is meant to simply and clearly convey what they do: in a nutshell the organization “helps people help others.” In addition to being a federally designated organ, eye, and tissue procurement agency, ConnectLife is Western New York’s only community blood center. That means that rather than being shipped out of the area, all of the blood collected by ConnectLife stays local. This helps most area hospitals in Western New York’s eight counties, both in terms of maintaining inventory and in savings on out-of-state sourcing costs. Every pint of donated blood can help up to three people. ConnectLife’s new vision statement is a good starting place for describing how the organization works, and the things it does: “ConnectLife envisions a future where blood is available for all in need, we decrease the number of deaths of those waiting for a transplant, innovative tissues enhance the quality of life and advance cutting-edge research, every donor and donor family is honored, and employees are empowered and motivated to realize their highest potential in service of our mission.” In other words, ConnectLife’s Page 12

most important goals are the combination of collecting blood donations and securing eye, tissue, and organ donors, and then making sure that the people who need those things, get them, all done respectfully and with efficiency, clear communication and gratitude. The act of donating one person’s organs can help save up to eight lives, and one tissue donor can help up to 75 people. In Western New York, according to ConnectLife, there are close to 1,000 people of all ages waiting for an organ transplant. Nationally, it’s estimated that more than 20 people die every day waiting for an organ. So, the need is great. “Service to others is the founding tenet of ConnectLife,” said Sarah R. Diina, the director of marketing and community development. “We work to make the blood donation process as personal and painless as possible. And, during very emotional times, we strive to help the families of organ, eye, and tissue donors honor the wishes of their loved ones.” ConnectLife works closely with those families, often with very compelling results. “Eye, organ and tissue donation is a very personal decision,” Diina continued. “And our incredible donor families usually end up becoming advocates for donation as well. They’re so happy to give back — after the experience of losing a loved one, in one of the worst moments of their lives, they have the knowledge that their loved one was able to go on and help others live. Especially those who lose a child — to know that their daughter’s heart, or their son’s lungs are helping someone else breathe and live…It can help them get through the horrible trauma. The families stay connected with us for years; they attend our events, speak with new donors, and continue

to make those connections.” These connections, so intimate and profound, reflect and support ConnectLife’s conviction that Western New Yorkers — even more than most Americans — have the inherent desire to do good. “The percentage of consent to donating among the WNY community is close to 80%; that’s higher than the rest of the country. People here are so giving, and want to help their neighbors,” said Diina. Education is also an important element. ConnectLife works closely with schools to create the next generation of donors, giving them the information they need to make lifesaving decisions. “We have an incredible program that runs throughout the school year that works with close to 80 area schools,” said Diina. “The club teaches students about both the clinical end — like blood, organ eye and blood donation — and also about healthcare careers. Through their club activities, like organizing year-end school or community blood drives and campaigns to register organ donors, they gain leadership skills. Kids can be more open to discussing things like organ and blood donation; many of them become blood donors for life. They also become amazing advocates.” “We also spend time educating the general public and our clinical partners about how to talk about organ and tissue donation,” added Diina. “It’s important to understand the breadth of the decision and the process. Fear can be a factor in taking that step to register as a donor. We help potential donors to talk with their families as well.” If there is an objection on religious grounds, ConnectLife has advocates from a wide range of faiths to talk with families; most faiths,

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

ConnectLife blood donor at a One Buffalo Blood Drive, Buffalo. Photo courtesy of ConnectLife. said Diina, see donation as an act of charity, and none specifically forbid it. “We’ve come up against this in the hospital; if someone has registered as a donor but a family might be pushing back,” she said. “We have a great group of clergy who help navigate these situations, and we can usually come to some sort of understanding to both honor the wishes of donors while making sure the family is comfortable.” Tissue donation is another important area. It’s used both immediately, in a wide variety of surgical applications, like burn victims. It’s also vital for research. “We’re part of the National Disease Research Interchange,” said Diina. “When families consent, donated tissue has been used for things like autism or HIV research, and at Roswell on specific projects related to cancer.” ConnectLife also endeavors to dispel the many myths and misconceptions that surround organ, eye and tissue donation. Updated, positive and respectful language has been approved by the Donor Family Council of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, and is also supported by the American Society of Transplantation and American Society of Transplant Surgeons. The approved language replaces old-fashioned or ghoulish phrases, i.e. old: “harvesting” organs vs. new: “recovery” or “donation” of organs; old: “cadaver” vs. new: “deceased donor,” etc. “When someone who has registered as a donor is in the hospital, nearing their end of life, the hospital and staff are all working as hard as they can to save that person’s life,” explained Diina. “The hospital personnel do not know if the person is a donor; they don’t have access to the registry. Only after a person is pronounced deceased are we called in.” “ConnectLife is an amazing place to work and be a part of,” said Diina. “We are saving and enhancing lives; we hear positive stories from donors, donor families, organ and blood recipients — we’re having an impact on people’s lives now, and also impacting lives that will be saved through eye, organ, blood and tissue donation.” For more information about the organization, visit www.connectlife. org or call 716-529-4300.

“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.

Writer on the Run By Jenna Schifferle


Chicago Marathon, Here I Come…


he Bank of America Chicago Marathon recently released a video of the race course featuring a red line that zigzags through the city multiple times before wrapping back to its original point at Grant Park. The clip takes only minutes to paint the picture; in real life, that path will take hours. I’m just weeks away from race day, and I would be misleading you if I said I wasn’t a little — um, a lot — afraid. Questions circulate in my head as to why I’m doing this, as do fears about not finishing. Somedays, a voice in my head tells me I’m not strong enough or that I’m foolish for trying. After all, my training has been far from perfect. While battling a month-long, nagging injury, I had to resort to countless bike-a-thons and spin classes. I went to physical therapy and worked closely with a running specialist to rehab my injury, and finally, I started running again … slow, short miles at first, then right back to distance. My pace has suffered greatly, and those last miles can feel unbearable. Yet somehow through the achy muscles, fatigue and uncertainty, there’s a little pride. Despite it all, I keep showing up. I’m putting in

the work, and I’m trying. Maybe it’s foolish to keep moving forward when I have every reason not to do so. But then again, maybe life’s greatest adventures come from being a bit foolhardy. After all, the very definition of the word is “recklessly bold or rash.” While nothing about this decision has been “rash,” I embrace the designation of “recklessly bold.” A close friend and running mentor recently told me that leading up to Chicago, I should focus on getting in the right head space. Marathons require a fierce relentlessness honed by unwavering mental discipline. As part of my bid for resilience, I’ve set forth several goals for myself for race day: Run until it hurts — then keep going. I know it’s going to be painful, but my hope is that when the pain comes, I can lean in and embrace it. Walk when necessary. While I plan to minimize walk breaks, I aim to accept them when I need them as opposed to getting upset or frustrated. Crawl if I must. If my body does happen to give out — and let’s be honest, it might — I will do whatever I can to get across the




finish line. Practice gratitude. I haven’t had a long running career; I’ve been in this game for only five years. During that time, I’ve experienced two injuries that kept me sidelined for months. When the miles get tough, I hope I can remember how lucky I am to be running in the first place. To be healthy and able-bodied is a gift that should never be taken for granted. someone and hear their story. I can’t Count my blessings, every think of anything that would make mile. I intend to dedicate this adventure more worthwhile. every mile of my race to someone or something I’m grateful for in my life. There you have it: my seven goals. From the members of my family to You might have noticed that not a single my career, dreams and everything in one has to do with me finishing. Yes, finbetween — there is always, always a ishing the race is on the list, but it’s not reason to keep going. the goal. There’s more to this experience Be compassionate. No matter than a medal. What I hope to gain is a what happens at the finish stronger appreciation for myself and the line, be it embracing a medal or a journey. worst-case scenario, I intend to be So, cheers to the foolhardy. May our good to myself. That means I will recklessly bold hearts always lead us to forgive any shortcomings and accept new adventures. Talk to you all on the the outcome. flipside of the Chicago Marathon! Make one new friend along the way. I strongly believe n Thoughts, questions, and words of that as a community, we are stronencouragement are always welcome. ger together. As I traverse the 26.2 Please email the author at jenna. miles through Chicago, I hope that schifferle@gmail.com. somewhere along the way, I’ll meet BMG 23184 In Good Health Dr. Baker Ad | 4.79 in x 6.69 in CMYK





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BMG-23184-DrBaker-4.79x6.69-M.indd October 2019 • IN GOOD HEALTH –1 Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

9/16/19 11:07 AM • Page 13

Lexi Katz’s apartment in Buffalo. She has about 60 houseplants throughout her home. “Having houseplants is that reminder for me to take time. To remember that care is a necessary aspect of all elements of life,” she says

Let the Plants Grow, Indoors Indoor plants reportedly have host of health, mood benefits

A crossover study tracked the heart rate and blood pressure of 24 young male adults that were split into two groups: one whoworked on a computer task, and the other that transplanted a plant indoors. Then, each subject switched activities. The study concluded that plants relieve physiological stress and negative psychological symptoms, and contact with plants can help counteract an overactive sympathetic nervous system as a result of stressful situations like working on a computer task. When subjects did the computer task, their overall sympathetic nervous system activity increased over time, and while they transplanted a plant, it decreased. The study concluded that the diastolic blood pressure was significantly lower after the transplanting task, as well as promotion of comfortable, natural and soothing feelings. Lexi Katz, 26, is a caregiver and certified reiki practitioner whose plants bring her much joy and healthy energy to her home. Located in Buffalo, Katz has about 60 houseplants throughout her home, which was built in 1901 and is on the second floor of a corner store. Natural light streams through the windows much to her plants’ happiness.

By Katie Coleman


t’s reported that more than 85% of a person’s daily life is spent indoors, so the environment you create can have a significant impact on your mood and health. In addition to the beauty added to your home, interacting with indoor plants can improve mood, concentration and physical health due to plants’ purifying and humidifying benefits. Studies show that active interac-

Energy source tion with indoor plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress with suppression of the nervous system and diastolic blood pressure, as well as increased wellbeing and sense of comfort. One of these studies, published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology states, “Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults.”

Drop the Pop: Soda Tied to Higher Risk of Early Death


hether you call it soda, pop or a soft drink, a new study’s findings suggest it would be better for your health to drink water instead. The large European study found that people who have more than two sodas a day — with or without sugar — had a higher risk of dying over about 16 years than people who sipped the fizzy beverages less than once a month. “We found that higher soft drink intake was associated with a greater risk of death from any cause regardless of whether sugar-sweetened or Page 14

artificially sweetened drinks were consumed,” said study senior author Neil Murphy. He’s a scientist with the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France. “Our results for sugar-sweetened soft drinks provide further support to limit consumption and to replace them with healthier beverages, preferably water,” Murphy said. How might sodas raise your risk of dying? Sugar-sweetened beverages may lead to weight gain and obesity. They also may affect the way the hormone insulin is used in the body,

According to Katz, her abundance of houseplants provides her with energetic and emotional support and creates a healthier, more grounding space to live and heal in. “Having houseplants is that reminder for me to take time. To remember that care is a necessary aspect of all elements of life. We can get caught up in the daily routines we cling to but nature provides us with a way to view our own needs. which can lead to inflammation, Murphy noted. All of these things can lead to health conditions that may shorten life. He said more research is needed to understand how artificially sweetened soda might increase the risk of early death. While it found an association, the current study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between soda and a higher risk of early death. It’s possible that soda drinkers have other habits that could add to their odds, such as smoking or a less healthy diet. This study isn’t the first to find a connection between soda and bad health outcomes. Two recent studies — one from BMJ and the other in Circulation — linked drinking soda to cancer and deaths from heart disease. The current research included more than 451,000 people from 10 European countries. Their average age was 51. Researchers followed the participants’ health for an average of 16 years. In addition to a higher risk of dying from all causes for those who drank more than two sodas a day, more sodas were also linked to some specific causes of death. • People who had more than one soda daily — sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened — compared to fewer than one a month had a higher risk of dying from colon cancer and Parkinson’s disease. • People who had more than one sugar-sweetened soda a day com-

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

Plants can be shared with a trimming you take, maybe from a plant you’ve had for years, and gift it to a friend. Plants can be passed on through generations,” Katz said. From the street view, her windows are adorned with different species of plants hanging from the ceiling or grouped together on shelves: species like cacti, ferns, air plants, orchids and peace lilies. As you walk throughout the apartment, there are happy, healthy plants in every room, filling corners, windowsills, bookshelves and hanging from the ceiling. Many of Katz’s plants have come from local greenhouses or on store clearance. “Certain plants clean the air around us, help with sleep and can be utilized medicinally, such as aloe which I have in almost every room of my house,” Katz said. “Plants provide the space in your home with the life-giving force of nature and energy to optimize your personal health and the harmony of your home.” Some recommended indoor plants for their air-purifying capabilities are spider plants, safe for animals and children; English Ivy, which can be grown in shade to full sun; bamboo palm and peace lilies. Japanese medicine coined the term Shinrin-yoku for the preventive health and healing of walking or spending time in the forest, also known as “forest bathing.” This represents their firm belief in the forest’s ability to heal, keep someone healthy and prevent aging or disease. If you can get outside for a walk or hike, that’s even better, but the host of benefits that have been reported from indoor plant interaction are a great alternative, especially during the colder months of the year.

pared to fewer than one a month had a higher risk of dying from digestive diseases. • People who had more than one artificially sweetened soda a day compared to less than one a month had a higher risk of dying from circulatory diseases like heart disease. Murphy said researchers tried to account for factors such as body mass index (an estimate of body fat based on height and weight) and smoking, and still found an association between drinking more soda and a higher risk of dying. Representatives of the beverage and sweetener industries urged people not to overreact to the findings. Low-calorie and no-calorie sweeteners are “an important tool for weight management and those managing diabetes,” said Robert Rankin, president of the Calorie Control Council. The council’s medical adviser, Keri Peterson, added: “The safety of low- and no-calorie sweeteners has been reaffirmed time and time again by leading regulatory and governmental agencies around the world.” William Dermody Jr., a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, offered a similar view. “Soft drinks are safe to consume as part of a balanced diet and the authors of this study acknowledge their research does not indicate otherwise.”


By Anne Palumbo

The skinny on healthy eating

Helpful tips:

Why We Should Be Eating Chia Seeds


hen it comes to nutrition, itty-bitty chia seeds might take you by surprise. While widely recognized for their high fiber content and omega-3 fatty acids, this superfood boasts a bounty of nutrients that do a body good. But let’s begin first with fiber, its most abundant nutrient. Just one serving (about two tablespoons) knocks off close to 50% of our daily fiber needs. Fiber promotes regularity, helps manage blood sugar, and slows digestion to make you feel full longer. It may also prevent heart disease due to its ability to lower both blood pressure and cholesterol. What happens when we don’t eat enough fiber? We get backed up; we may gain weight because we tend to be hungrier and prone to snacking; and we may increase our risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Chia seeds are one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are unsaturated fats that

benefit the cardiovascular system. Although not quite as beneficial as the omega-3s found in fish, the ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) omega-3s found in chia seeds also help heart health by lowering cholesterol, decreasing inflammation, and regulating heart rhythms and blood pressure. Another reason to reach for this powerhouse food? Chia seeds brim with several nutrients that contribute to bone health: calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium. In a word, calcium builds bones and helps them stay strong, phosphorous maximizes calcium’s bone-strengthening benefits, and magnesium is essential for absorption and metabolism of calcium. A trifecta of goodness! These popular seeds are an excellent source of tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes good mood, good sleep, and a sense of calm. Tryptophan also helps the body make niacin, an important B vitamin that helps convert food to energy, boosts brain function, and may prevent heart disease due to its positive affect

on cholesterol levels: raises “good” HDL while lowering “bad” LDL. Rich in antioxidants and a good source of complete protein, wholegrain chia seeds are fairly low in calories (about 140 per two-tablespoon serving) and have no cholesterol or sodium.

Chia Seed Pudding Adapted from Chef Giada De Laurentiis: Serves 4

1 cup vanilla-flavored unsweetened almond milk 1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt 1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced blueberries for garnish

Chia seeds will last two to four years if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place: a pantry or refrigerator. Unlike flax seeds, which need to be ground to reap benefits, chia seeds are absorbed and digested well in their whole form. Dry chia seeds may be added whole (or ground) to smoothies and juices, mixed into yogurt or oatmeal, or sprinkled on top of a salad. Need an egg replacement for baking? One tablespoon of whole chia seeds mixed with three tablespoons water (let sit for 5 minutes) equals one egg. have settled. Cover and refrigerate overnight; or at least eight hours. Spoon the pudding into four bowls or glasses; top with strawberries and blueberries, adding more of each if desired.

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.

In a medium bowl, gently whisk almond milk, yogurt, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt until blended. Whisk in the chia seeds; let stand 30 minutes. Stir to distribute seeds if they

Much Fridge Food ‘Goes There to Die’ Get Smart

Food-waste study reveals trends behind discarded items


mericans throw out a lot more food than they expect they will, food waste that is likely driven in part by ambiguous date labels on packages, a new study has found. “People eat a lot less of their refrigerated food than they expect to, and they’re likely throwing out perfectly good food because they misunderstand labels,” said Brian Roe, the study’s senior author and a professor agricultural, environmental and development economics at The Ohio State University.  This is the first study to offer a data-driven glimpse into the refrigerators of American homes, and provides an important framework for efforts to decrease food waste, Roe said. It will appear in the November print issue of the journal Resources, Conservation & Recycling.  Survey participants expected to eat 97 percent of the meat in their refrigerators but really finished only about half. They thought they’d eat 94 percent of their vegetables, but consumed just 44 percent. They projected they’d eat about 71 percent of the fruit and 84 percent of the dairy, but finished off just 40 percent and 42 percent, respectively.  Top drivers of discarding food included concerns about food safety — odor, appearance and dates on the labels. “No one knows what ‘use by’ and ‘best by’ labels mean and people think they are a safety indicator

when they are generally a quality indicator,” Roe said, adding that there’s a proposal currently before Congress to prescribe date labeling rules in an effort to provide some clarity. Under the proposal, “Best if used by” would, as Roe puts it, translate to “Follow your nose,” and “Use by” would translate to “Toss it.” Other findings from the new study: • People who cleaned out their refrigerators more often wasted more food. • Those who check nutrition labels frequently waste less food. Roe speculated that those consumers may be more engaged in food and therefore less likely to waste what they buy. • Younger households were less likely to use up the items in their refrigerators while homes to those 65 and older were most likely to avoid waste.

Household food waste happens at the end of the line of a series of behaviors, said Megan Davenport, who led the study as a graduate student in Ohio State’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics.  “There’s the purchasing of food, the management of food within the home and the disposal, and these household routines ultimately increase or decrease waste. We wanted to better understand those relationships, and how individual products — including their labels — affect the amount of food waste in a home,” Davenport said. The web-based pilot study used data from the State of the American Refrigerator survey and included information about refrigerator contents and practices from 307 initial survey participants and 169 follow-up surveys.

October 2019 •

About Eggs


he word on eggs changes faster than you can say “sunny-side up.” One day their cholesterol isn’t a concern and the next day it is. After a 2018 study found an egg a day was fine for healthy people, a 2019 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that this amount could raise the risk for cardiovascular disease and early death. So what’s the answer? Moderation and balance. While eggs do have cholesterol, the cholesterol and saturated fat in meat is still likely to be more dangerous than eggs if you overdo it. Also, the JAMA study found no increased risk from eating eggs if kept at fewer than three a week. It’s important to keep in mind that egg yolks (where the cholesterol is found) do deliver a world of nutrition, including healthy fatty acids, and a wide array of vitamins and minerals, with only 70 calories apiece. The problem is when we indulge in egg dishes that contain a lot of gooey cheese, which adds hundreds of calories and, like meat, saturated fat. One answer is to pick Parmesan for recipes. It has a bolder flavor than many other cheeses, which allows you to use a lot less without sacrificing taste. Another step is adding fresh vegetables to boost the nutrition profile of egg dishes.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 15

Women’s Health


What You Need to Know


ammograms continue to be the best primary tool for breast cancer screening. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with some FDAapproved state agencies, certify facilities to perform mammography; and the FDA clears and approves new mammography devices for sale in the U.S. Congress enacted the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) in 1992 to ensure all women have access to quality mammography for the detection of breast cancer in its early, most treatable stages. Always look for the MQSA certificate at the mammography facility, which is required to be displayed, and indicates that the facility met the national baseline standards for mammography.

How Does a Mammogram Work? A mammogram is a series of lowdose X-ray pictures of the breasts. Getting a regular mammogram is the best way to find breast cancer early, because it can show growths in the breast or other signs of breast cancer when they are too small for you or your health care provider to feel them. Thermograms and nipple aspirate tests are not substitutes for mammograms. Regular screenings are important, and the risk of breast cancers varies from person to person, so it’s a good idea to ask your health care provider when and how often you should schedule a mammogram. To get a mammogram, you will need to take off your shirt and bra. While standing in front of the

machine, a technologist will position your breast on a small platform. A clear plastic plate will press down on your breast while the mammogram is acquired. This compression of the breast helps spread out the breast tissue so it doesn’t overlap, allowing for a clearer look at the breast tissue. If you’re worried about how the procedure feels, you should know that most women do not find it painful. Some women may find the pressure on the breast uncomfortable, but it lasts for only a few seconds. FDA regulations already require that facilities provide patients a summary, in easy-to-understand language, of their mammography results within 30 days after the mammogram, and that they make reasonable attempts to communicate the results as soon as possible if indications of potential cancer are found. Under the proposed rule, facilities would also have to provide you with information about whether your breast density is low or high. Dense breasts have a higher proportion of fibroglandular tissue compared to fatty tissue. This is important, because dense breast tissue can make cancers more difficult to find on a mammogram, and is also now known to be an independent risk factor for developing breast cancer. In addition, facilities would be required to advise you to talk to your health care provider about breast density, risks for breast cancer, and your individual situation. The idea is to provide information you can discuss with your provider in order to make better informed decisions, including if you need to take any next steps.

As a rule, you should also call your health care provider if you notice any change in either of your breasts. A lump, thickening or nipple leakage, or changes in how the nipple or skin looks can signal a potential problem.

Why Is Facility Certification Important? Under the MQSA, mammography facilities must be certified by FDA, or an FDA-approved state certifying agency, in order to provide mammography services. Certification is important because it indicates that a facility has met the MQSA requirements for practicing quality mammography. A high-quality mammogram can help detect breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages. Each mammography facility is inspected every year. During the inspection, an FDA- trained inspector checks the facility’s equipment, staff training qualifications, and quality control records. Each facility also undergoes an in-depth accreditation process every three years in order to be eligible for an MQSA certificate.  The certificate, which is required to be prominently displayed, shows that the facility has met the MQSA quality standards and may legally perform mammography. When you arrive for your mammogram, look

for the certificate and if you don’t see it ask where the certificate is in the facility.

What Is the Difference Between 3-D and 2-D Mammograms? New breast imaging equipment must receive FDA approval or clearance before being sold in the U.S. In recent years, FDA has approved advanced mammography devices that create cross-sectional (3-D) images of the breast from X-rays taken from multiple angles. These devices provide informative images of the breast tissue, and are particularly helpful in evaluating dense breast tissue. Before granting approval, FDA determined there was a reasonable assurance that the new 3-D devices were safe and effective for their intended use. This determination was based on a review of clinical studies involving multiple radiologists and hundreds of cases. FDA also sought input on the safety and effectiveness of the devices from a panel of nonFDA clinical and technical experts. Ask your doctor if 3-D mammography or additional imaging methods, such as ultrasound or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), are good options for you.’ Source: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Mammography for Men? You Bet Breast cancer screening found effective in men at high risk for the disease


en at high risk of developing breast cancer may benefit from mammography, or breast X-ray, screening for the disease, a new study shows. The study, published in the journal Radiology online Sept. 17, involved 1,869 men, aged 18 to 96, who had a mammogram at NYU Langone between 2005 and 2017. Some sought testing (diagnostic mammogram) because they felt a mass in their breast, while others had no symptoms and wanted to be screened because a family member had recently been diagnosed with the disease. In total, 41 men were found to have breast cancer, as confirmed by breast tissue biopsy. Among the 271 men who had screening exams, five had the disease. All with breast Page 16

cancer had surgery (mastectomy) to remove their tumor. Researchers at NYU School of Medicine and its Perlmutter Cancer Center conducted what they say is the largest review in the United States of the medical records of men who have had a screening mammogram. A key study finding was that mammography was more effective at detecting cancer in high-risk men than is the norm for women at average risk of breast cancer. For every 1,000 exams in these men, 18 had breast cancer. By contrast, the detection rate for women is roughly five for every 1,000 exams. Researchers attribute this result in part to the lower amount of breast tissue in men. More tissue can mask the detection of

small tumors. “Our findings show the potential of mammography in screening men at high risk for breast cancer and in detecting the disease well before it has spread to other parts of the body,” says study lead investigator and Perlmutter diagnostic radiologist Yiming Gao. Current national cancer care guidelines only recommend checking for breast cancer as part of annual physical exams, not using more sensitive imaging tests like a mammogram, for men age 35 and older with BRCA mutations, says Gao, an assistant professor in the Department of Radiology at NYU Langone Health. Among the study’s other main findings was that men who had

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

already had breast cancer were 84 times more likely to get it again than men who had no personal history of the disease. Men with an immediate relative who had breast cancer, such as a sister or mother, but not a cousin, were three times more likely to develop the disease. “Men at high risk of breast cancer often seek out testing because a female family member had the disease,” says study senior investigator and Perlmutter radiologist Samantha Heller, an associate professor of radiology at NYU Langone Health. “In general, men need to be more aware of their risk factors for breast cancer and that they, too, can develop the disease.”

Women’s Health

How to Help When Cancer Strikes a Loved One Four experts weigh in on what to do to help a loved one who just got a cancer diagnosis By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


f a friend or loved one receives a cancer diagnosis, it’s only natural to want to reach out in some meaningful way to show your care. Area experts provided a few ideas on what you can do to help. • “See if you can watch their children or grandchildren, if they regularly watch their grandchildren. • “Tell them to join a support group. The information can be so helpful. They can know more of what to expect and they can come here and talk about it. There’s always someone in the group with the same type of feelings or reaction to medication. When the meeting is over, they don’t just leave. They often stay and talk.” Sharon Clark, 40-year breast cancer survivor and board member with Breast Cancer Network of Western New York, Depew • “The best thing is educate themselves as to what this diagnosis

really means. Look into different support areas. Some people are better at those kinds of things than others. Other times people don’t want to sit around and talk about it. • “Be there for them. • “Offer to take them to whatever treatment they need go to. • “Cook them a meal of some sort. • “Get them out of the house and take them places. • “Take them to get their hair done or anything to help them look better or feel better.” Anne Kist, director, Natural Health Choices, Kenmore • “Offering to prepare meals or bringing over a meal is always welcome. Asking what the person may have a taste for is important, since appetite and sense of taste and smell can often be negatively affected by treatment. Perhaps offering finger food or small homemade snacks.

• “Sometimes people want the attention off the cancer altogether and would prefer to go out for a cup of tea or coffee. Mary Jo Parker, registered dietitian, Nutrition and Counseling Services, Buffalo • “Although there are lots of practical ways people can help like driving to appointments, we find that primary caregivers need to take an active approach to learning about their wife/mother/daughter/sister’s disease, and learn how to advocate for the patient. As the learning curve is steep with diseases like ovarian cancer, caregivers are best served by reaching out early to organizations like the Ovarian Cancer Project where they are provided this necessary education and can learn how to take care of themselves as well along the trajectory of this disease. Kathleen Kelly-Maxian, president, Ovarian Cancer Project, Buffalo

• “If you can, put a smile on someone’s face or give them a hug. • “It helped when people did want to bring food for me when I wasn’t feeling like cooking. • “Help them with things like laundry and housework and things like that. • “It also really helped to have people who just wanted to be there when I wasn’t feeling good. I really appreciated that. • “It’s great when friends and family can be supportive. That makes such a difference, just a call or them being there for you.” Doreen Fahey, breast cancer survivor and member of Hope Chest Buffalo, Getzville

Friends, Family Helped Woman Through Breast Cancer By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


or Doreen Fahey of Buffalo, the love and support of her family meant a significant difference while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Still working as the education/ event director for Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors, Inc. in Amherst at age 58, Fahey was diagnosed 11 years ago. She said that in one sense, she did not feel terribly surprised at her diagnosis. Her sister was also diagnosed with breast cancer at the same age and several other family members have experienced the illness. Fahey discovered the lump during a routine mammogram. Despite her family’s encounters with cancer, “I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I phoned a friend, but I didn’t know if I was supposed to go to a gynecologist.” Her immediate biopsy confirmed her fears: she had cancer, caught at stage 2. The American Joint Committee on Cancer has designated the stages of breast cancer as from stage 0 (low level) to stage 4 (highest level). The stages are based upon many factors, including size of any tumor present and whether or not the disease has spread to other areas of the body. Fahey received a lot of information right away about her options, but she found it difficult to focus right away. “You hear ‘cancer’ and you say, ‘What?’”

She chose lumpectomy, which she followed with eight standard chemotherapy treatments, five days of radiation, and, since she was found to be HER2 positive, a year of Fahey weekly chemotherapy infusion treatments. According to the Mayo Clinic, “HER2-positive breast cancer is a breast cancer that tests positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), which promotes the growth of cancer cells.” This makes the cancer more likely to be aggressive compared with other breast cancers. While Fahey is thankful for treatments that could effectively treat the disease, “support is the key to survival,” Fahey said. “I have six sisters. I was never alone for a chemo treatment.” She received a high intensity, targeted regimen of radiation for five days instead of the usual weeks of treatment. “It was pretty intense, but they told me to go this way and I went for it,” Fahey said. “I felt a little tired. I continued to work, even with the chemo. You have good days and bad days. And I’m thankful for the better

Doreen Fahey propelled off the side of the Seneca Niagara Casino as part of a fundraiser for Special Olympics in 2016. days.” She felt that keeping her daily routine as normal as possible and keeping busy helped her while undergoing treatments. She didn’t fall prone to stewing over her health that away. She also tried to remember that omeone else always has it worse,” she added. Overall, from surgery through the last treatment, it took her about a year and a half to become cancer-free. She joined Hope Chest Buffalo in Getzville seven years ago and enjoys

October 2019 •

the opportunities to exercise with other members paddling a dragon boat or kayaks and golfing. Fahey also enjoys spending time with her family any time she can. A dragon boat accommodates 20 rowers in a single line. “You have to,” she said. “Even if you didn’t have cancer, anything can happen at any given point. Be thankful and kind. Live every day. Do what you have to do to keep healthy. Follow up with your visits. Early detection is essential.”

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 17

Women’s Health Organizations Help Patients with Support, Guidance

Hope Chest Buffalo sponsors the dragon boat team that provides both fitness opportunities and camaraderie for members, usually canceer patients. Photo provided. By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


eceiving a cancer diagnosis is tough. Several area organizations seek to help those affected by providing support. A few of these organizations follow. Sharon Clark is on the board of directors at Breast Cancer Network of Western New York in Depew. She helps provide the support she only wishes she could have had when she was diagnosed in 1979. She was only 38 then and discovered a lump herself. Her doctor advised her to have a modified radical mastectomy because of her family health history of several first-degree relatives with cancer. Shortly after diagnosis, her marriage ended and she entered nursing school so she could eventually support herself and her three children. “I felt so alone,” Clark said. She had a lump in the other breast two years later and repeated the ordeal. Since then, she has remained in good health. Despite these difficulties, she feels grateful for her life and the positive outcomes. “My outlook on life and everything changed,” she said. “At the time I thought it was horrible but it was one of the best things to happen to me.” She found that joining Breast Cancer Network to help others has proven cathartic. The organization

offers support groups, educational meetings with guest speakers, restorative health classes, exercise classes and financial assistance. They also provide totes filled with information and handouts from organizations such as the American Cancer Society. Fundraisers, third-party fundraisers and private donations support Breast Cancer Network. Ovarian Cancer Project of Williamsville serves Western New York by raising awareness and education on ovarian cancer and providing support to people diagnosed with cancer. One sample of the latter is the organization’s signature Comfort & Hope Tote. “These totes have been lovingly developed by survivors who want to send a message of hope to women following in their footsteps,” said Kathleen Kelly-Maxian, president of the organization. The organization also organizes professionally facilitated patients support groups, caregiver support group, and the Woman to Woman Mentoring program, which pairs ovarian and gynecologic cancer patients with trained volunteers who have had their own gynecological cancer experience. “They can help you and your loved ones cope by providing

one-on-one emotional support and information,” Kelly-Maxian said. “Our mentors give hope and special insights that can only come from someone who has been on the same journey.” In addition, the group offers patient advocacy on treatment options, community education and a speakers’ bureau to offer motivational speakers on women’s health issues. Kelly-Maxian said that it’s important for more people to know about ovarian cancer, as it is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death. The organization welcomes volunteers to help with events and as health educators. Hope Chest Buffalo promotes good health for women who have survived breast cancer. “We’re positive about what we’re doing, improving our health and fitness level, and our nutrition classes help us learn how to maintain a healthy diet,” said Anne Kist, director. She also coaches the organization’s dragon boat team that provides both fitness opportunities and camaraderie for members. Not all of the 200-plus members are on the team. Hope Chest also provides other exercise programs six days a week that include weights, Pilates, aerobic

workouts and stretching. Periodic fundraisers and third-party fundraisers provide most of Hope Chest’s support, with help from donors and grants. Hope Chest appreciates donations of bottled water and, for refurbishing the boats, painting and sanding supplies. Snacks and office supplies also come in handy. Volunteers are welcomed to help with events. “I see when survivors come in,” Kist said. “They are intimidated, not sure of themselves. This is a whole new world for them. They’ve finished treatment and they’re out on their own. They come very timid and shy. Within a few weeks, they’ve turned their lives around and see what other survivors are doing. They can have a better life. We want to not just survive but thrive.” Kaely Kwitek founded Kaely’s Kindness Foundation in Orchard Park to “provide acts of kindness to teens girls touched by cancer by assisting them with their emotional, physical, and practical needs,” Kwitek. Kwitek was diagnosed at age 16 and had stage 4 cancer. Now 23, she hopes that her support can help other teen girls with cancer. “Being able to support them brings them hope,” Kwitek said. “Having a role model in someone who’s past that gives them hope.” The group meets every other week for activities like a spa day, health educational classes, seasonal parties and outings like back-toschool shopping. Practical help may include aiding the family with car payments, lawn care, furnace repair, or other expenses that can help the family focus on the girl’s health, both now and for the after effects of their cancer treatment. Fundraisers and grants keep Kaely’s Kindness going, along with donations. Practical donations could include items for the “chemo bags” Kaely’s Kindness gives out, such as blankets, hand sanitizer, gift cards for the restaurants in the hospital, books and colored pencils and adult coloring books. For meetings, items like movies and snacks are helpful. Anyone wishing to volunteer could offer help during events. “It makes it more impactful for the girls to see someone like me who’s been there,” Kwitek said. “It’s so rewarding to make a difference in someone’s life. Some can’t afford much because of what the treatments have done to their family. Giving them $200 to do back-to-school shopping brings them such joy.”

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My Turn

By Eva Briggs

Five Questions with Breast Care Surgeon Dr. Meeghan Lautner

A Novel Approach to Treating Incurable Cancers Using enough chemotherapy to shrink tumors by only 50%


recently read an article describing a novel approach to treating incurable cancers. It’s based on principles of evolution. Here’s a brief review of how evolution works. In any population of organisms, there is genetic variability and mutations. So there are differences, often subtle, between individuals. Any particular variation or mutation is not inherently good or bad. It depends on the environment surrounding the organism. The classic example is the finches studied by Darwin. No single beak shape is necessarily superior to another beak shape. It depends on the seeds found on the island where a finch lives. A bird whose beak shape is best for opening the available seeds will tend to produce more offspring. The baby birds’ beak shape will resemble the parents. Over time, the finches with the beak shape best adapted to that particular island’s food source will outcompete other individuals. Gradually the species evolves a particular beak shape best for that island. The same concept works with cancer cells. Cancer arises when a mutation alters the genetics of a particular cell. I remember being taught that cancer cell mutations cause cells to grow unchecked. Eventually the rampant growth produces both localized tumors and metastatic spread. But that’s only partly true. The environment also affects cancer cells. They must outcompete healthy cells for available nutrients and oxygen in order to run amok. That’s one reason cancer is more common as people grow older. Age-associated changes reduce the normal cells’ ability to outcompete cancer cells. Even within a tumor, individual cells have genetic differences. When cancer is treated with chemotherapy, resistant cells survive. Those survivors grow, producing a tumor composed of mostly resistant cells. It’s similar to what happens with overuse of pesticides. Sensitive insects are killed. Resistant insects thrive and reproduce. Eventually the population of insects is resistant to the pesticide. Farmers have learned that practices that alter the environment to make the plants stronger enable them to better resist pests. Lower levels of pesticide are needed, preventing or delaying the emergence of pesticide resistance. The goal becomes control and not eradication.

Practices to promote a healthier environment to enable our cells to outcompete cancer include a healthy diet, exercise and not smoking. That’s not foolproof. Some scientists thinking about cancer treatment realized there’s a similarity between the evolution of organisms and the evolution of cancer cells treated with chemotherapy. The goal of cancer treatment is typically to eradicate every last cancer cell and eliminate the cancer. However, when this fails, and a patient’s cancer becomes incurable, a change in strategy might be needed. Once the cancer can’t be cured, such as prostate cancer that has metastasized to bone, high-dose chemotherapy not only has lots of side effects, but also can cause chemotherapy-resistant tumors. So they tried an alternative approach. The goal was not to kill every cancer cell, because the patients were known to have cancer not curable by current treatments. Instead, like the farmers using less pesticide, they (doctors) used only enough chemotherapy to shrink tumors by 50%. The new goal was to keep the cancer in check, and delay spread or metastasis, while using the lowest amount of chemotherapy. The protocol was successful. In their study population, men with metastatic prostate cancer treated by conventional chemotherapy had an average survival time of 13 months. Men treated with the lower dose protocol had an average survival time of 34 months and fewer adverse effects. This approach is still experimental. Even though it appears to work in prostate cancer, it does not mean it will necessarily work in other types of cancer. And it might be difficult to convince patients, even those with incurable disease, that the best approach might be to kill as few cancer cells as necessary rather than as many as possible. Eva Briggs is a medical doctor who works at two urgent care centers in the Syracuse region.

Dr. Meeghan Lautner is a Breast surgeon with General Physician, PC Breast Care. Dr. Lautner is also an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. In conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we asked her to share her insights into some of the most common questions women have when it comes to Breast Care.

How often should I have a mammogram?

What are my options if I am diagnosed?

There are variables when considering what age to begin getting screened, but generally speaking, we advise patients to get an annual screening beginning at age 40.

Like most cancers, breast cancer has stages. Early detection is so important. Advances in medical care have greatly increased the survival rate for breast cancer patients when it is caught early. Your options will depend on the type and stage of cancer, among other factors. We work with every patient to develop a personal plan to treat their cancer.

Are there risk factors that increase the chance of developing breast cancer? The biggest risk factor in developing breast cancer is being a woman. Men are diagnosed, but it is very rare. Other factors include age (the risk rises after age 50), family history, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol.

My mom died of breast cancer. Does that mean I’ll get breast cancer too? No, but it may mean you face a greater risk. You should definitely discuss this with your doctor to determine if your risk is increased.

What one thing can I do today to reduce my risk of developing breast cancer? Minimizing poor lifestyle choices can have an immediate impact. Quitting smoking, stopping drinking regularly, exercising daily, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and getting plenty of sleep will all lower your risk of many diseases, including breast cancer.

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IGH_Breast October 2019 • INcare_Oct2019_FINAL_4-79x13-75.indd GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo 1& WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

9/20/19 10:50 19 AM • Page

Women’s Health

Why Women Don’t Exercise Enough Less than half of women exercise enough, says CDC By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


nly 49.3% of women over age 18 meet the federal physical activity guidelines for 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity during leisure per week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Health Interview Survey of 2018. The CDC figures do not include activity while working. Why are so few meeting the guidelines? “They have so many things going on,” said Vincent Mangione owner of Kenmore Barbell & Fitness in Buffalo. “It could be moms who are too busy to make times for themselves or look after others before themselves.” Many women perform the lion’s share of housework while still taking care of the children and working full time. Some also care for elderly

parents or disabled family members. That doesn’t leave much time for workouts. Most women may safely engage in moderate exercise during pregnancy under their physician’s advice, especially if they had been exercising before pregnancy; however, some are advised to go on bed rest, which can sideline their fitness efforts. For some women, their type of exercise isn’t advisable during pregnancy, such as activities that may cause falls or blows to the abdomen. Unless that activity is replaced with something suitable, those women may remain inactive throughout their pregnancy and beyond. Phil Haberstro, executive director of Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo, believes that several factors can contribute to inactivity among

Baby Steps

Retired Oishei pediatric nurse starts her Baby’s Joyful Journey, a business that offers education, support, empowerment to moms-to-be and moms By Julie Halm


or a growing family, bringing a child home is a joyful experience, but also one that can be filled with questions, struggles, insecurities and doubts. Mary Marzinek has 30 years of experience caring for the world’s youngest citizens, and recently retired from her career as a pediatric registered nurse at Oishei Children’s Hospital. In addition to her lengthy resume, Marzinek is also an international board-certified lactation consultant. Her retirement was not reflective of a desire to cease helping young families just yet. Marzinek founded her own business, Baby’s Joyful Journey, offering a full range of educational and supportive services from prenatal education to postpartum doula services. “My main goal is to educate and empower,” said Marzinek, who resides in Orchard Park. In order to do that, she offers all of her services in a one-on-one setting, with the addition of the mother’s partner or support-givers as well. The ratio is no coincidence, and it is part of what prompted Marzinek to found her business. “I have done home care in the past,” she said. “I know I enjoyed that one-on-one relationship and I know that I can make a difference in Page 20

that environment.” In her time working as a pediatric nurse, Marzinek said she often saw new parents struggle with some basics that were simply unfamiliar to them, such as changing diapers or even burping a newborn. Her experience in the field has helped to craft the prenatal newborn care class which runs approximately two hours in the client’s home and includes lots of information that can head off unnecessary challenges once the baby arrives. The class includes information on what to expect in the hospital and as well as about the transition home. It also teaches basic points of newborn care, newborn safety tips and how to spot illnesses. It also offers information about feeding options. For moms who choose to breastfeed and want to get a head start on learning about the process, Marzinek also offers a prenatal breastfeeding class that includes information ranging from learning about proper latch and positioning to learning about pumping. Postpartum services offered by Baby’s Joyful Journey include newborn care, lactation consultation and postpartum doula services. Caring for the newborn Newborn care is offered in eight-

women. One example is the social pressure that may deter women from some fitness pursuits. “A lot of women won’t go to a gym because they’re conscious of their appearance,” Haberstro said. “That can be a deterrent. That has placed an extraordinary burden on women.” Walking can provide an easier way for some women to obtain some physical activity, as it’s free, easy for most people to do, and may be done with children and across one’s lifespan; however, for women, a safe place to walk may not be available. Since women are perceived as an easier target for crime, “access to safe parks is especially important for women,” Haberstro said. Some communities also lack hour increments and is completely customizable but can include Marzinek offering respite care or just working alongside the family for a bit during what can often be a hectic transition period after families return home. While breastfeeding is a natural process, it too can come with serious challenges, like severe pain, engorgement, difficulty getting a child to latch and concerns about milk output. Lactation consults are also customizable, but include an assessment of both the mother and child. Marzinek works with the mom through a feeding, offering a lactation care plan and a report to the mom’s physician if needed. Perhaps the most important part of lactation consults, like the rest of the services Marzinek provides, is that she offers the mom an opportunity to talk about what’s going on and be supported and educated. “We as women question ourselves and we doubt ourselves and I feel like if I’m there during this time, I can help make a difference in their confidence as a parent,” she said. Postpartum doula services are the most comprehensive offered, and are customized to the need of each family and can last from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. In some cases, she will be in-home eight hours a day, three days a week, and for some families, shorter stints on more days prove to be more helpful. Whatever the schedule, Marzinek’s goal is to mother the mother. “During this time, mom is really healing and recovering from birth and I’m there to help her with whatever she may need,” she said. That could include assistance with newborn care, help with breastfeeding, light housework, helping to care for siblings, or simply being there to be an emotional support. Marzinek said she does not have many counterparts in the area doing what she does, as this kind of postnatal care is just becoming more popular. While mothering may not have

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

sidewalks accessible to jogging stroller or lack sidewalks in many areas altogether. That can make it tough for young moms to get moving. It may not be hours at a gym, but women can get more movement in their week. Engaging in an activity the children can join in may make it easier for women to get fit, whether it’s playing football in the yard or working out at a gym that welcomes children. Gina Martino Trubits, a Lancaster resident, has tried many fitness activities, including walking, spinning, yoga, CrossFit, running and, most recently, power lifting. “Sometimes women don’t realize how much stuff is out there,” she said. “Find something you’ll stick with. There are so many fun things.” She encourages women to try a free class or a different gym until they find something that fits. Larger gyms may have greater availability of classes to try, but she prefers a smaller, more close-knit gym for the camaraderie. “There’s something out there for everyone,” she said. “If nothing else, go for a walk. There are so many walking trails.”

Mary Marzinek has 30 years of experience caring for the world’s youngest citizens. changed much over the decades, the new business owner noted that families don’t tend to stay in the same area as they did years ago, being able to offer support to a new mom. Additionally, there are fewer moms and matriarchs in general who are home full-time, putting more pressure on new mothers and making for more strained support systems. While there are many reasons why a growing family might come to Marzinek, she said she hopes that in each instance, she is able to provide support, education and confidence to each individual with whom she works. For more information, visit www. babysjoyfuljourney.com or Facebook at www.facebook.com/babysjoyfuljourney.

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How to Get Social Security Disability Benefits When You Can’t Work Dear Savvy Senior, What do I need to do to get Social Security disability benefits? I’m 60 years old and have some health problems that won’t allow me to work, but I’ve read that getting disability benefits is difficult.

Laid Up Lenny

Dear Lenny, Getting Social Security disability benefits when you’re unable to work can be challenging. Last year, more than 2 million people applied for Social Security disability benefits, but two-thirds of them were denied, because most applicants fail to prove that they’re disabled and can’t work. Here are some steps you can take that can help improve your odds. Get Informed The first thing you need to find out is if your health problem qualifies you for Social Security disability benefits. You generally will be eligible only if you have a health problem that is expected to prevent you from working in your current line of work (or any other line of work that you have been in over the past 15 years) for at least a year or result in death. There is no such thing as a partial disability benefit. If you’re fit enough to work part-time, your application will be denied. You also need not apply if you still are working with the intention of quitting if your application is approved, because if you’re working your application will be denied. Your skill set and age are factors too. Your application will be denied if your work history suggests that you have the skills to perform a less physically demanding job that your disability does not prevent you from doing. To help you determine if you are disabled, visit SSA.gov/planners/ disability/qualify.html and go through the five questions Social Security uses to determine disability.

Social Security office, or to set up an appointment for someone to take your claim over the phone. The whole process lasts about an hour. If you schedule an appointment, a “Disability Starter Kit” that will help you get ready for your interview will be mailed to you. If you apply online, the kit is available at SSA.gov/disability/ disability_starter_kits.htm. It takes three to five months from the initial application to receive either an award or denial of benefits. The only exception is if you have a chronic illness that qualifies you for a “compassionate allowance” (see SSA.gov/compassionateallowances), which fast tracks cases within weeks. If Social Security denies your initial application, you can appeal the decision, and you’ll be happy to know that roughly half of all cases that go through a round or two of appeals end with benefits being awarded. But the bad news is with backlog of around 800,000 people currently waiting for a hearing, it can take 12 to 24 months for you to get one. Get Help You can hire a representative to help you with your Social Security disability claim. By law, representatives can charge only 25 percent of past-due benefits up to a maximum of $6,000 if they win your case. It’s probably worth hiring someone at the start of the application process if your disability is something difficult to prove such as chronic pain. If, however, your disability is obvious, it might be worth initially working without a representative to avoid paying the fee. You can always hire a representative later if your initial application and first appeal are denied. To find a representative, check with the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR.org, 845682-1881) or National Association of Disability Representatives (NADR. org, 800-747-6131). Or, if you’re lowincome, contact the Legal Services Corporation (LSC.gov/find-legalaid) for free assistance.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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ocial Security and Medicare are both programs that are household names, but do you know the true difference? Both programs help safeguard millions of Americans as well as improve the quality of life for their family and friends. While Social Security offers retirement, disability and survivors benefits, Medicare provides health insurance. Medicare is our country’s health insurance program for people aged 65 or older and younger people receiving Social Security disability benefits. The program helps with the cost of health care, but it doesn’t cover all medical expenses or the cost of most long-term care. When you first enroll in Medicare and during certain times of the year, you can choose how you get your Medicare coverage. There are two main ways to get Medicare: Original Medicare

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Q: I applied for a replacement Social Security card last week but haven’t received it yet. When should I expect to receive my new card? A: You’ll usually receive your replacement card in about 10 to 14 days. We work hard to protect you, to prevent identity theft and to ensure the integrity of your Social Security number. To do that, we have to verify documents you present as proof of identity. In some cases, we must verify the documents before we can issue the card. For more information about your Social Security card and number, visit www.socialsecurity. gov/ssnumber. Q: How long do I need to work to become eligible for retirement benefits? A: Everyone born in 1929 or later needs 40 Social Security credits to be eligible for retirement benefits. You can earn up to four credits per year, so you will need at least 10 years of work to become eligible for retirement benefits. During your working years, earnings covered by Social Security are posted to your Social Security record. You earn credits based on those earnings. If you become disabled or die before age 62, the number of credits needed to qualify for Social Security benefits

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

ible and 20% coinsurance), you can also shop for and buy supplemental coverage. Examples include coverage from a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy, or from a former employer or union. Medicare Advantage (also known as Part C) Medicare Advantage is an “all in one” alternative to original Medicare. These “bundled” plans include Part A, Part B, and usually Part D. Part C plans may have lower out-of-pocket costs than original Medicare. They also may offer extra benefits that original Medicare doesn’t cover — like vision, hearing, dental and more. If you can’t afford to pay your Medicare premiums and other medical costs, you may be able to get help from your state. States offer programs for people eligible for or entitled to Medicare who have low income. Some programs may pay for Medicare premiums and some pay Medicare deductibles and coinsurance. To qualify, you must have limited income and resources. You can learn more about Medicare, including how to apply for Medicare and get a replacement Medicare card, at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/medicare.

depends on your age at the time you die or become disabled. A minimum of six credits is required to qualify for Social Security benefits regardless of your age. You can create a my Social Security account to check and periodically monitor how many credits you have. Just go to www.socialsecurity. gov/myaccount. Q: I heard that my disability must be expected to last at least one year to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Does this mean I have to wait until I’ve been disabled an entire year before applying for disability? A: No. If you believe your disability will last a year or longer, apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. Processing your application can take an average of three to five months. If your application is approved, we’ll pay your first Social Security disability benefits for the sixth full month after the date your disability began. For example, if your state agency decides your disability began on January 15, we’ll pay your first disability benefit for the month of July. We pay in the month following the month for which benefits apply, so you’ll receive your July benefit payment in August. For more information, refer to our publication, “Disability Benefits”, at www. socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

H ealth News Roswell Park’s CEO Named to Daemen Board of Trustees Candace S. Johnson, president and CEO of Roswell Park Compre hensive Cancer Center, has been appointed to the Daemen College board of trustees. “We are pleased to welcome a prestigious leader of Dr. Johnson’s caliber to our board and are Candace confident her expertise, skills and prominence in the Buffalo Niagara region will be invaluable to advancing Daemen,” said John Yurtchuk, chairman of the Daemen board of trustees. Johnson, who was a member of the Daemen community advisory board until her appointment as trustee, is the first woman to serve as CEO and president of Roswell Park, where she is also the Wallace Family Chairwoman in translational research and professor of oncology. She was previously deputy director and chairwoman of the department of pharmacology and therapeutics. Before joining Roswell Park, she was deputy director of basic research at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. Active in the Buffalo Niagara region, Johnson serves on the boards of the Catholic Health System and Buffalo Niagara Partnership, among others. She is also a member of the National Institutes of Health Reviewers Reserve and several professional and scientific societies. Johnson has received many accolades and honors throughout her career, including the Dr. Thomas B. Tomasi Hope Award. She was named to the New York Women Power 100 list. Author or co-author of nearly 200 journal publications, books chapters and abstracts, Johnson is senior editor of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, and associate editor of Molecular and Cellular Differentiation, Oncology, and Molecular Pharmacology. She is also a member of the editorial board of Oncology Reports and Molecular Pharmacology. Johnson earned a doctoral degree in immunology from Ohio State University, Columbus. In 2018, Johnson was the speaker for Daemen’s undergraduate commencement ceremony and President Gary Olson honored her with a doctoral degree in humane letters.

Roswell neurosurgeon honored by professional society A Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center neurosurgeon who specializes in treating disorders of the spine has been recognized by one major professional society and appointed to a leadership position with another. Andrew J. Fabiano, associate professor of neurosurgery and oncology and director of the Spinal Oncolo-

gy Center at Roswell Park, has been named a North American Spine Society (NASS) 20 Under 40 spine surgeon based on his professional accomplishments, community service and philosophy of care. He has also been named by the American Board of Neurological Faniano Surgery (ABNS) as a guest examiner. A Buffalo-area native, Fabiano has been on staff at Roswell Park since 2010, caring for patients with both benign and malignant brain tumors. He specializes in removal of spinal tumors and complex spinal reconstruction, and also has special training in minimally invasive techniques. He is a clinical associate professor of neurosurgery with the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. In his role as an ABNS guest examiner, Fabiano will help to conduct and evaluate oral exams for practicing neurosurgeons seeking certification. “We’re very fortunate to have Dr. Fabiano on our team,” says physician Robert Fenstermaker, chairman of neurosurgery at Roswell Park. “He’s got incredible clinical insight, great compassion for his patients and a facility with emerging technologies — a lot of great qualities you don’t often find in one physician.”

Medical Health Associates has new HR director The partners of Medical Health Associates of Western New York (MHA) announced that Nicole F. Hooper has joined the practice as its director of human resources. “With over 19 years of experience, Nicole has been involved with managing all aspects of human resources,” Hooper said physician Colleen Mattimore, MHA’s president. “We are very happy to have her experience and approach to overseeing the human resource services of Medical Health Associates,” Hooper received her Bachelor of Science and master’s in business degrees from Medaille College with concentration on human resource management and strategic planning. She is an adjunct instructor for Bryant and Stratton College in Buffalo. Her experience extends to all levels of human resources including recruitment, retention, compliance, compensation and benefit management. She is certified as a senior professional in human resources, project member professional and is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Project Management Institute. Medical Health Associates of Western New York is the largest pri-

mary care pediatric practice in Western New York with member practices: Williamsville Pediatric Center, Western New York Pediatric Associates, Suburban Pediatrics and Tonawanda Pediatrics. MHA operates with over 50 pediatric clinicians and 200 staff with seven offices throughout Western New York, including Amherst, Williamsville, Grand Island, Alden and Orchard Park.

The HomeCare Partners present scholarships The HomeCare Partners recently announced it has awarded five local students with $1,000 scholarships in recognition of their academic achievements and ability to make a difference in their communities. The organization presents two scholarships each year that are available to children of employees with The HomeCare Partners and its affiliated nonprofit partners, Niagara Hospice, Liberty Home Care and Kalos Health. “We are pleased to continue our tradition of providing scholarship funds to support the academic advancement of local college students whose parents work with our affiliated nonprofit organizations,” said John Lomeo, president and CEO of The HomeCare Partners. “We were very impressed with the achievements of this year’s five scholarship recipients, and we wish them lasting success as they work toward their degrees.” The Making a Difference Scholarship was awarded to Kari Lyn Claycomb, Sadie Klumpp, Matthew O’Donnell and Jenna Sylvester. This scholarship is presented to students who represent outstanding academic, technical or vocational potential and demonstrate dedicated community service and a high degree of personal accomplishment. The Hallet B. Addoms Engineering Scholarship, given in memory of Hallet B. Addoms, a chemical engineering graduate of Yale University, was awarded to John J. Carney, III. Addoms was a self-supporting student, dedicated to his goal of making a difference in the world. This award is given to students studying the field of engineering to encourage them to pursue careers in engineering.

Psychologist joins Our Lady of Peace D. John Lee, Ph.D., recently joined Our Lady of Peace clinical team in Lewiston. He provides behavior health support to the residents with a focus on improving quality of life while utilizing organic interventions. Lee is a licensed psychologist working for CHE Behavioral Health Services. CHE provides psychological services to residents of a variety of assisted-living and residential care facilities. Lee has served as senior psychologist and employee assistance program coordinator at New Mexico State University’s Aggie Health and Wellness Center, and the coordinator of the Multi-Ethnic Counseling Center Alliance (MECCA) at Michigan State University’s Counseling Center. Lee provided crisis intervention, individ-

October 2019 •

ual and group therapy, supervision, consultation, psychoeducation, outreach to marginalized populations. He also facilitated doctoral seminars on culturally competent and racially responsive assessment and treatment for the centers’ APA-approved internships in professional and integrated health service psychology. He has worked in private practice, outpatient clinics and university counseling centers for 22 years. Lee has degrees from the University of British Columbia, Western Washington University, and Kansas State University. He has edited five books and contributed several articles to professional and scholarly journals. Lee was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada and now lives in Buffalo. “Dr. Lee is the missing piece to our Behavioral Health Services,” said Jonathan Hart, executive director. “We are excited to have him join the Our Lady of Peace team. His experiences assisting seniors on their journey toward wellness and addressing multicultural concerns will benefit our community!”

ECMCC, NYS Nurses Association announce new contract The New York State Nurses Association and Erie County Medical Center Corporation (ECMCC) recently announced ratification of a new, fouryear contract between the union and ECMCC. The ratification vote took place Aug. 28-29 and the ECMCC board of directors unanimously approved the new contract Aug. 30. “This contract is a huge win for the patients of the Erie County Medical Center, and the nurses who work day and night to care for the community,” said Chiqkena Collins, a registered nurse and a member of NYSNA. “The agreement ensures fair wages and benefits as well as it gives the nurses a significant role in staffing decisions. We commend hospital management for their partnership in negotiating this contract.” ECMCC President and CEO Thomas J. Quatroche Jr., Ph.D. said, “Thanks to the leadership and advocacy of NYSNA representatives and the hard work of ECMCC’s negotiation team, this four-year contract provides our exceptional nurses with competitive wages and incentives that will enhance our ability to recruit in the marketplace, while continuing ECMCC’s financial stability and growth. Most importantly, both NYSNA and ECMCC focused throughout the negotiations on providing increased staffing, which will ultimately benefit our patients.” Some highlights of this contract include: • Four year contract with 3% wage increases each year. • Maintains current healthcare coverage with a 15% contribution. • Addition of 45 new nursing positions with a structure to give NYSNA input into staffing units throughout the hospital.

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