Wny igh 13 nov15

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in good November 2015 • Issue 13

The Martian Could ‘The Martian’ Scientist Survive on Potatoes Alone?

Expert Alert: Are CT Scans Safe? Mayo Clinic radiation safety expert writes a paper with clear answers to potential patients’ fear of CT scans

‘Tennis Elbow’ Bothering You? Read what the experts say about it



Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Alzheimer’s Tsunami Coming How bad is the problem? Pretty bad, experts say. Just consider this: The number of people affected will nearly triple in a few decades.

PLUS: 10 Early Signs You May Have Alzheimer’s Inside

Fun for a Good Cause The World’s Largest Disco has raised more than $4 million to help families and children hit by cancer. Find out more about its founder and how it has become one of Buffalo’s hottest events.

US Surgeon General Launches Call to Action on Walking Why you should eat more leeks

Read the SmartBites column


Meet Your Doctor Nephrologist Luis Alfredo Bent-Shaw: ‘You might not know you have kidney disease until it’s too late.” Find ways to prevent problems November 2015 •

Blueberry Extract Could Help Fight Gum Disease, Reduce Antibiotic Use

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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In Good Health is published 12 times a year by Local News, Inc. © 2015 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 Publisher: Jamie Sandidge • Associate Editor: Lou Sorendo • Writers: Deborah J. Sergeant, Jim Miller, Gwenn Voelckers, Anne Palumbo, Chris Motola, George W. Chapman, Tim Fenster, Patrick Broadwater, Catherine Miller, Daniel Meyer • Advertising: Donna Kimbrell • Layout & Design: Chris Crocker • Officer Manager: Alice Davis 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.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2015

A Conversation with County Legislator Patrick Burke Legislator talks about microbeads, clean water By Catherine Miller


n 1971 Erie County fronted efforts to ban the sale of phosphorous in detergents, eventually leading to a federal ban on such products. Once again Erie County lawmakers are leading the way to protect the Great Lakes — this time through banning the sale of health and beauty products containing microbeads in Erie County. A similar bill has stalled in the state legislature. Erie County Legislator Patrick B. Burke sponsored the recently passed bill. I sat down with Legislator Burke to discuss the motivation behind this new law that is expected to have a positive impact on our waterways and overall health of our region. Q. What first called the microbead issue to your attention? A. Reading reports and staying on top of key issues that affect our region, it came to our attention

that microbeads were producing environmental issues in our nearby waterways. Water quality is a key quality of life issue. We investigated further and read information from SUNY professor, Dr. Sharri Mason, on the significant concern to the environment and to human health that are posed by the microbeads. I attempted to get the state to take immediate action to ban the microplastics but they would not. That’s when we decided it was time for our office to begin efforts to ban products containing the microbeads. Q. How are microbeads having an impact on our waterways? A. There is evidence that the microbeads are making their way into our ecosystem. They are being consumed by fish and getting embedded into the fishes’ gills, and then they are making their way up the food chain.

Q. What health and environmental impacts do microbeads present on land? A. Living in an interconnected world, this is not just about aquatic animals. Getting the microbeads out of the water supply is really paramount for the health of all living things. Once in the water, these microplastics have been found to absorb other pollutants as well, making them highly concentrated “super toxin.” They can be ingested by fish, birds, and other wildlife and are eventually make their way up the food chain and are being consumed by humans. They cause severe health issues and there is some evidence that the plastics are making their way back into the water supply. Q. Are there presently any other legislative efforts underway? A. Since Erie County has spearheaded the legislation to ban microbeads, the state of California, city of New York and other New York state counties have begun efforts to

What Are Microbeads? Smaller than a grain of sand, microbeads are in personal care products we use every day like facial cleansers and tooth paste. They are small pieces of plastics, often the byproducts of larger plastics. Environmentalists say that when we wash those products down the drain microbeads can end up in the water supply.

ban microbeads in their regions as well. These other regions are drafting their proposed laws using language taken directly from our legislation with the intention of enacting what Erie County has accomplished. Burke We are pleased to see this as our microbeads legislation is very comprehensive and provides for strict time periods to enact the new law. Q. What effect will your recent ban of the sale of microbead products have in Western New York? A. The quality of the area’s waterways will definitely improve, and that improves the health of all living things. In addition, it’s not just about microbeads anymore. Buffalo and WNY are in the midst of resurgence and our leading the way with this type of legislation evidences that we, in Western New York, are not just about recreating our area structurally and economically. This law demonstrates that Buffalo and Erie County have vision and concepts that are leading the way to a better future.


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IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Consent’ Program

Sexual assault prevention at Buffalo State College making a difference By Tim Fenster


or years, university officials across America have been looking for ways to prevent incidents of sexual assault against their students. They require incoming freshmen to attend sexual assault prevention programs during orientation, they support awareness initiatives like Take Back The Night, they install emergency phones across campus. And yet the problem persists. Today, one in every five women is the victim of a completed or attempted sexual assault while attending an institute of higher education in America, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Now, many colleges are implementing new and innovative programs to stress the importance of clear, affirmative consent prior to — and during — sexual activity, as well as support the survivors of sexual assault. Locally, one of the most groundbreaking new initiatives is the I Love Consent program at Buffalo State College. The program brings together students and faculty members for hour-long workshops where they have frank, in-depth discussions

about sex and consent. For most of the students who attend, it’s the first time that they have had this kind of conversation in a classroom — if ever. “This is like a new language for them,’ said Paula Madrigal, assistant director of Prevention & Health Promotion at Buff State, who co-hosts most of the workshops. “We want to make sure they are asking the right questions, as difficult as they are, so that we can have this conversation.” The topics they cover mostly pertain to consent — that it must be affirmative and enthusiastic, that it is active (meaning it can be withdrawn at any time), and that it is best simply to ask what one’s partner likes and doesn’t like. In one workshop that was featured on an NPR program titled “Birds & Bees” last May, students discussed their anxieties about the idea of active consent. “‘It’s a continuous process of checking up, or checking in, either/ or. What does that mean?’” Madigral asks. “‘You keep asking her?’” asks one student. “‘That’s weird.’” “‘That kind of messes up the

mood,’” says another. Madrigal later uses an example of one partner deciding to have rougher intercourse or bringing in a third party. If the other partner is not comfortable with that, she explains, they can withdraw their consent, and the other person must stop. “Our workshops go into the real nitty-gritty details,” she said. Buffalo State is not alone in trying to have these in-depth, real-world conversations about sex and consent with their students. What makes the I Love Consent program unique is that each workshop features both a female and a male presenter — most often Madrigal and Jason Parker,


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Daniel J. Patterson D.O., F.A.C.O.S.

diversity program coordinator at Buff State. Parker founded the program last year in coordination with a graduate intern, Kerrie Findlay. He was inspired by similar discussion workshops that he had attended at the Colorado State University. When they began holding the workshops at Buff State, Madrigal and Parker soon found that students — particularly the boys — were most comfortable when both a male and female faculty member were present. “It’s not something we planned on; it just worked so well,” Parker said. Often, Madrigal says, when a female alone moderates such a discussion about sex, male students can feel defensive or as though they are being “preached to.” But with Parker, they can relate to his perspective, and he can use himself as an example. It also helps students break down the misconception that males are always the perpetrators in sex crimes and can’t be victims. “It’s a message coming from the horse’s mouth,” Madrigal said. “They think about the context a little more in depth.” Currently, all student athletes and leaders of campus organizations are required to attend at least one I Love Consent workshop. Madrigal believes this is a good starting point for the program, as student leaders can teach what they learned to club members, and so on. But she would like to see the day when all students at Buff State and other colleges have these kinds of conversations about consent in real-world scenarios. “I would love to see all students go through it. But you have got to start somewhere,” Madrigal said. In addition to the workshops, I Love Consent volunteers maintain a vigorous public awareness campaign that includes YouTube videos and theatre performances that explain consent and the importance of bystander intervention. “From what we have learned and what we have seen, we believe it is going to be very effective,” Madigral said.

Expert Alert: Are CT Scans Safe?

‘Tennis Elbow’ Usually Heals Without Therapy, Study Finds For most people, pain is gone within a year


ost people with tennis elbow recover without physical therapy and steroid injections, according to a study by researchers in Norway. “I’m not surprised because that’s really been the classic teaching,” said Joshua Dines, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. “The number that’s often cited is that 90 percent of tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, will get better by the end of the year no matter what you do.” Study first author Morten Olaussen, a specialist in family medicine at the University of Oslo, agreed that the finding was expected. But, he added, “it is interesting to note that after one year, as much as one-third of the patients still reported considerable discomfort.” What was surprising, said Olaussen, was that physical therapy was not effective. “It has been shown to be effective in earlier research but then on more chronic conditions,” he said. In their study, published recently in “BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders,” Olaussen and his colleagues looked at outcomes for 177 Norwegian patients with a recent onset of

tennis elbow pain. Symptoms of tennis elbow include a weak grip and pain from damage to tendons in the forearm. Often, this happens from repetitive use, such as with tennis, golf or carpentry. The patients in this study had experienced their symptoms for up to three months. Each was randomly assigned to one of three groups: either no treatment except for drugs such as naproxen (Aleve); physical therapy for 12 sessions along with two corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation; or 12 sessions of physical therapy and two placebo injections. Patients underwent the therapies for six weeks, and they were tracked for one year. At the end of that time, 157 people had completed the study. Overall, improvement with physical therapy plus placebo injection or steroid injection was about the same as with no treatment at all. For three-fourths of the patients, the elbow pain had disappeared at one year, regardless of which group they were in. But at least one-quarter still had symptoms at one year.


ith questions lingering about the safety of medical imaging and the radiation that is used in some of those tests, Mayo Clinic radiation safety expert Cynthia McCollough wrote a paper that provides clear answers that she hopes will allay patients’ fears. McCollough wrote “Answers to Common Questions About the Use and Safety of CT Scans,” which was published Oct. 1 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings as a Q&A in an effort to provide credible, balanced information about how much radiation a CT scan delivers and what levels are considered safe. So, are CT scans safe? Yes, says McCollough. Patients can get a prescribed CT scan without worrying, McCollough says. “Radiation has a bad rap. The Incredible Hulk and Spider Man were mutants created from some radiation exposure; that’s science fic-

tion. The truth is we are all exposed to radiation every day of our lives, with no evidence that those low doses cause any long-term harm.” Areas that have higher background radiation levels (from the sun and radon in the ground, for example) have lower cancer rates. If there is a cause and effect, it’s simply too small to measure. And, because of increased research and updates in technology, less radiation also is used these days in medical imaging. “Over the past decade, the radiation doses used in CT have been cut by almost a factor of two,” McCollough says. “The current dose levels are not dangerous, but if we can use less, we will. I can take two Tylenol for a headache and not worry about it being dangerous. But, if one Tylenol will get rid of my headache, it is prudent medicine to take a lower dose — and that is what we want with radiation.” In addition, radiologists are keenly aware that radiation doses will vary based on patient size, so children are given a child-size dose instead of the amount an adult would receive. “What we have done over the past decade is, as a community, launched national and international campaigns to make sure that CT providers understand that they need to right-size the dose and dial down for the little ones,” McCollough says.

Healthcare in a Minute By George W. Chapman

Career opportunity

Researchers predict a shortfall of 130,000 nurses by 2025. There are about 2.8 million active nurses right now. The good news is, while 40 percent of RNs are over 50, the average age (recently peaked at 44) is declining as older nurses leave and younger nurses enter the workforce. The bad news is the surge in nursing school enrollment in the 2000s has leveled off. Nursing, then, is still a pathway to a steady and good paying job. Nursing jobs at hospitals remain the most competitive, but hospitals typically hold out for experienced nurses as the acuity level of inpatients continues to rise.

Geriatricians needed

As the U.S. population continues to age, there will be an increasing need for these specialists who handle the complex medical problems of seniors. According to an article in Kaiser Health News, we will need 30,000 geriatricians by 2030. Right now, there are only 7,000 of these board certified specialists. The two keys to successfully turning out more geriatricians are medical students electing the specialty and hospitals converting existing residency slots to geriatrics. In any event, all physicians (except pediatricians, of course) will have to make adjustments in their modus operandi as their patients age.

Your doctor bill

As of Oct. 1, 2015, physicians are required to include much more diagnostic information and detail when submitting their bill to your insurance company for payment. The old diagnostic coding system was called ICD9 or International Classification of Diseases version 9. The latest version is ICD10. The number of diagnostic codes jumps from 14,000 under the old system to 69,000-plus under the new. Understandably, there will be some confusion, delays and honest mistakes made as physicians and insurers get used to the incredible amount of extra data required in claims processing. Consequently, you will need to be patient with both your doctor and insurance company as they become acclimated to ICD10. According to Forbes magazine, it is estimated that 25 percent of physicians are not prepared for the transition.

Health Republic Insurance shut down

New York state’s only co-op type healthcare insurer was ordered to cease operations by the NYS Department of Financial Services. Existing policies will be honored but not renewed. Last year Health Republic lost $77.5 million. It is projected to lose over $100 million this year. Health Republic had a good start with a $241 million low-interest loan

from the feds and 200,000 members. However, as discussed here previously, no matter how many members enrolled, the relatively low/unrealistic premiums were unsustainable. Claims surpassed premiums by tens of millions. Inexplicably, the NYS Department of Financial Services, which reviews premiums on behalf of consumers, approved Health Republic premiums that were 30 percent below what other carriers on the exchange were offering. Many thought Health Republic was doomed from the start.

Uninsured decreasing

The Affordable Care Act provided two avenues for previously uninsured or under-insured Americans to purchase healthcare insurance. First, it expanded Medicaid eligibility from 100 percent of federal poverty guidelines to 133 percent. Despite the fact that the federal government pays the bulk of the additional cost, some states opted out. (New York is in.) Second, it set up healthcare exchanges so individuals could purchase insurance from private commercial carriers. As a result, in the last two years, the national percentage of uninsured has decreased from 17.3 percent to 11.7 percent. Massachusetts and Rhode Island have the lowest percentage of uninsured at less than 3 percent. New York is at 8.3 percent. The states with the most uninsured

November 2015 •

tend to be those that opted out of the expanded Medicaid program such as Texas at 20.8 percent and Wyoming at 18.2 percent.

Consumer satisfaction

A study based on 27,000 surveys, published in the American Journal of Medical Quality, found that patient satisfaction was somewhat correlated to the site of service. Physician care and concern had the biggest impact on patient satisfaction in outpatient or office based pediatrics. Nursing care was most important to patient satisfaction in hospital care. Overall personal care, or attention paid to the patient by all staff, had the biggest impact in emergency rooms. Not surprisingly, patient satisfaction dropped precipitously the longer the patient waited for care. The research found that team-based care is the key to higher patient satisfaction.

George W. Chapman is a health consultant who operates GW Chapman Consulting in Upstate New York. To reach him, email gwc@gwchapmanconsulting.com.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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‘Drugged Driving’ on the Rise in U.S.


ore Americans are under the influence of drugs while they drive, even as drunk driving rates decline, new research shows. In the report, 38 percent of drivers killed in accidents who were then tested had drugs in their systems, while about 42 percent of those tested for alcohol had positive results. And the number of drunk driving deaths has been sliced in half since 1980, government statistics shows. Over one-third of the drugs identified in the tests were marijuana in some form, followed by amphetamines, at almost 10 percent, the researchers found. “Every state must take steps to reduce drug-impaired driving, regardless of the legal status of marijuana,” Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), said in an association news release. Marijuana is now legal for medical use in 23 states and the District of Columbia, and it is approved for recreational use in four states and in Washington, D.C., the report authors noted. Meanwhile, prescription drug abuse in the United States has quadrupled since 1999. The most recent roadside survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found 22 percent of drivers tested positive for some type of illegal drug or medication when pulled over, the report added.

Walking Around the Office


cross the country, many employees are seated at desks for the majority of an eight-hour workday. As technology creates an increase in sedentary lifestyles, the impact of sitting on vascular health is a rising concern. Now, researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine have found that when a person sits for six straight hours, vascular function is impaired — but by walking for just 10 minutes after a prolonged period of sitting, vascular health can be restored.

Your Doctor

By Chris Motola

Luis Alfredo BentShaw, M.D. Nephrologist: ‘You might not know you have kidney disease symptoms until it’s too late and you need dialysis or a transplant’ Q: Give us a sense of your specialty. A: We are nephrologists, so we see patients with kidney disease. Many of them have kidney disease related to high blood pressure and diabetes, who we’ll see at one of our continuity clinics located in Buffalo. We’ll do follow-ups for patients with diabetes and high blood pressure. We’ll also see patients with ulcerative colitis, which is a systemic disease that can affect the kidneys. We also see patients, as consultants, in the hospitals when they have acute kidney failure and need dialysis, as well as any types abnormalities related to fluids and electrolyte imbalances. Q: What are the most common conditions that you treat? A: I would say diabetes and hypertension are the number one and number two causes of kidney disease that we treat. Q: How does diabetes affect the kidneys? A: Many things can happen, but essentially high blood sugars can affect the small arteries that feed into the kidneys, and

that leads to a lot of complicated issues. Over time, the kidneys have to work extra hard, and the patient may lose kidney mass and function. There’ll be protein in the urine. A lot of those patients also have blood pressure that isn’t well controlled. So the combination of the two can lead to problems in the small arteries of the kidneys. Diet pills can also cause kidney damage. Q: How and why do kidney stones form? A: They’re essentially crystals that pass through the kidneys. Patients who develop kidney stones may develop them because they have a predisposition toward kidney stones. They might form because you’re not drinking enough water, or they might have an abnormal metabolism that predisposes them toward forming calcium stones in the kidneys. Typically, the most common type is the calcium oxalate stone, which can form either because their bodies are more prone to excrete oxalate or their diet leads to the excretion of more oxalate. Some other patients have stones that

Gay and Bisexual Men & Tanning


ay and bisexual men were up to six times more likely than heterosexual men to take part in indoor tanning, and twice as likely to report a history of skin cancer, including nonmelanoma and melanoma, according to a study led by University of California at C San Francisco researchers.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2015

are related to urinary tract infections due to the infection changing the environment to be conducive to forming stones. There are also genetically based stones that can form because the patient certain factors and that can puts them at risk. So it really depends on the type of stone you have and then you’ll get an idea of what the underlying problem is. Q: Are your patients all adults? A: We treat mainly adult patients. Occasionally we may see an older teenager, depending on the problem. What can happen is that there may not be a pediatric nephrologist available in the area, so we might take that first look or follow-up. So they’re usually over 18, but we might see a 16 or 17-year-old depending on the circumstances. Q: As far as your practice goes, how did you become interested in nephrology? What constitutes good self care? A: For the most part, most nephrologists are generalists. We see a little bit everything. We get to see a lot of patients who come in with all kinds of cancers and malignancies that are affecting their kidneys. That’s a part of the practice that I enjoy, and it’s an emerging niche in nephrology, so I think that’s where my interest lies currently. So I like seeing the diverse groups of patients. We get to see a lot of those patients at Roswell. We get to see patients there as consults and then get to do follow-ups, so we get the opportunity to develop longer relationships with patients once they leave the hospital. Q: What can people do to take care of their kidneys? A: You might not know you have kidney disease symptoms until it’s too late and you need dialysis or a transplant, so you’ll want to get good routine medical care so that you can identify problems before they arise. You’ll also want to keep your blood pressure under control. So follow-up with your doctor regularly and get the necessary blood tests on a regular basis so that you’ll know what’s wrong in advance. If you know you have high blood pressure, take the medication prescribed by your doctor, watch your diet and sodium intake. That’ll help prevent problems down the line.

Lifelines Name: Luis Alfredo Bent-Shaw, M.D. Position: Nephrologist and clinical assistant professor at University of Buffalo. Provider with UBMD Internal Medicine Hometown: Panama City, Panama Education: Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Bronx) Affiliations: Buffalo General, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Erie County Medical Center Organizations: American Society of Nephrology Family: Not married Hobbies: Travel, tennis, snowboarding, visiting family

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t’s not just about the miles. The value of the Girls on the Run program goes beyond the physical aspect of the sport. It also reflects the curriculum and training methods that aim to build self-confidence and empower girls during their pre-adolescent years in grades 3-8. “We love it when a girl can come out of her shell a little bit, feel more confident or feel better about herself,” said Katie Joyce, who co-founded the Buffalo chapter of the national organization in 2010 with her childhood friend, Meghan Cavanaugh. “People leave our programs happy. To me, that’s the best thing that can happen.” At its core, Girls on the Run is a 10-week training program for elementary and middle school students that culminates in a 5K race. Interactive, non-competitive workouts are held twice a week after school at approximately 100 satellite locations in the eight counties of Western New York. Each 90-minute session also includes curriculum-based discussions about relevant life skills, such as friendship, bullying and acceptance. The idea is to help girls become stronger versions of themselves in every way. “By making it non-competitive, it’s fun. And when it’s fun, they want to do it,” Joyce said. “So many of our kids have continued to run. They may go on to run another 5K, they may do our program again, or they may lead a little more. There are really a lot of benefits they can take away.” The program has exploded in popularity locally. The first session

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began with 43 girls at three schools, and since, more than 7,000 girls have participated. Part of the allure to parents, Joyce said, comes from the fact that the program supports both competitive and non-competitive students. There are no tryouts or cuts. The program features an environment that encourages girls to embrace their own individuality and potential while showing compassion for others and contributing to their community. “They’re an individual, but they’re also part of a team,” Joyce said. “They’re connecting with their peers, but still on their own.” The 10-week Girls on the Run program is offered twice per year, fall and spring. The cost to participate is $150 and includes a T-shirt, entry fee for the season-ending 5K run, a finisher’s medal and access to the post-race party. Financial aid is available and Joyce said about 40 percent of participating students receive some aid. “We try to make it affordable for any family,” Joyce said. “We’ve never turned a family away.” Approximately $100,000 in aid is awarded per year, some of which is raised through the program’s spring 5K, which is held at the University at Buffalo and is open to the public. The fall season runs from mid-September to mid-November. The spring season is expected to begin at the end of March and extend through early June. Students or parents interested in learning more about participating or activating a program at their school should visit the program website, www.gotrbuffalo.org.

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Live Alone & Thrive

By Gwenn Voelckers

Practical tips, advice and hope for those who live alone

Say ‘No thank you’ this Thanksgiving!


n addition to counting your many blessings this Thanksgiving, I encourage all my readers who live alone (as well as those who don’t) to say “No thank you” to those things that get in the way of your personal growth and happiness. Say “No thank you” to feeling sorry for yourself. Feeling sorry for yourself only perpetuates a cycle of self-pity that can make you feel sad and needy. Chances are, you’ve survived a lot this year and have gained new self-knowledge and growth. Feel good about that. Say “No thank you” to self-imposed isolation. We humans aren’t meant to be alone. We’re social creatures and need each other for companionship, stimulation and inspiration. Pick up the phone. Schedule an outing. Invite someone over. Say “No thank you” to an unmade bed, kitchen clutter and any other depressing signs of discontent at home that make you feel lousy about yourself, conjure up bad or sad memories or zap your energy. Clean up and create a pleasing, harmonious

home. Say “No thank you” to languishing on the couch. The more you move your body, the healthier it gets and the better you can feel, physically and emotionally. The good news? Studies show that it doesn’t take an enormous amount of physical exercise to achieve health-enhancing results. About 30 minutes a day of walking, swimming, running or biking can have positive health effects. Say “No thank you” to over-spending and to credit card debt. Think twice before you make that purchase: Do you really need it? And, can you really afford it? Since most everyone spends more on credit cards, you just might want to leave home without it. Increased financial security, peace of mind and a sense of empowerment are the rewards for those who spend within their means. Say “No thank you” to jumping into a relationship to avoid feeling lonely. It can be risky. When you are lonely and desperate, it shows, which can make you vulnerable

to the advances of someone with less-than-honorable intentions. Use the gift of time alone for some soul searching, problem solving and future planning. A content and confident person is more likely to attract a quality companion. Say “No thank you” to having a bowl of cereal for dinner, while standing at the sink. As the saying goes, “You’re worth more than that.” When it comes to eating alone at home, treat yourself as you would treat a good friend you are having over for dinner. Creating a pleasant “table for one” is a great opportunity to focus on yourself and to nourish your body and spirit at the same time. Say “No thank you” to negative thinking. Negative self-talk (e.g., “I’ll never meet anyone” or “I hate my body”) unwittingly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Become aware of negativity, stop it in its tracks and replace it with a positive thought. Say “No thank you” to friends who complain all the time and bring you down. Instead of helping themselves or the world, complainers spread gloom and doom. Who needs it? Hang out with people who make you smile, lift you up, support you in

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your efforts to overcome challenges and generally make you feel good to be alive. Say “No thank you” to “letting yourself go.” How you look says a lot about you and how you value yourself. Leave the house disheveled and you are likely to be ignored. Spend a few minutes on your appearance, put on a pleasant expression, and watch the world open up. When you care about yourself and your appearance, you radiate vitality. It’s intriguing. And it can draw people and compliments to you. Say “No thank you” to feelings of helplessness. Babies are helpless, most adults are not. Learning to master things around the house — from making minor repairs to hiring a painting contractor, from changing the furnace filter to winterizing your car — can be a real source of satisfaction and self-pride. It can also make you an even more interesting, secure, and well-rounded person. Say “No thank you” to that second helping this Thanksgiving. As tempting as that second piece of pumpkin pie might be, you will feel better the day after if you pass it up. You’ll feel proud of your self-discipline, enjoy more energy, and have more room for leftovers. Happy “No-thanks” giving! Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Live Alone and Thrive, empowerment workshops for women held throughout the year in Mendon, New York. For information about her upcoming workshops or to invite Gwenn to speak, call 585-624-7887 or email her at gvoelckers@rochester.rr.com.


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Could ‘The Martian’ Scientist Survive on Potatoes Alone?


n the movie “The Martian,” the main character, astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon), is stranded on Mars and must rely on his own super-science knowledge to survive. Because the crew had packed some potatoes for a Thanksgiving celebration, Watney creates a lab “garden” and is able to survive off the potatoes — after calculating how many calories he would need to survive until a rescue mission could arrive. According to plant scientists from the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), growing potatoes in a lab situation was a very good idea, but bringing along just a few ounces of bean seeds — called Pulses — on

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the mission would be a better plan to start any emergency garden. “Pulses” is the broad category of edible beans that are a great source of protein and essential minerals. Pinto beans, chickpeas and peas are all examples of Pulses. “Nutritional diversity is key for survival,” says Roch Gaussoin, a professor at University of Nebraska. Watney calculates he may need to live for four years before rescue. “Spuds are great for calories but it’s hard to beat Pulses for nutritional quality,” says Gaussoin. “Both plants would be easy to carry into space and would require minimal space to grow when compared to many other crops. They are also adaptable to

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2015

controlled environment production, versus being in the field.” Gaussoin is the current president of CSSA. “Pinto beans would be the perfect nutritional partner with the movie’s potatoes,” says Janice Rueda, a scientist with ADM Edible Bean Specialties. “They’re high in both protein and fiber, as well as many important nutrients like potassium, magnesium and iron.” In addition, “pinto beans would also have a positive impact on the agricultural production in a challenging environment like Mars. Like all Pulse crops, beans fix nitrogen into the soil and require very little water to grow — especially when compared to other protein sources.”

ACL Injury Epidemic Number of injuries to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) nearly tripled in the last 25 years By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


as your child or a classmate experienced an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear? The New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS) database census states that “rate of ACL reconstruction per 100,000 population aged 3 to 20 years has been increasing steadily over the past 20 years, from 17.6 in 1990 to 50.9 in 2009.” Of those, the peak age for reconstruction was age 17, usually a teen’s junior or senior year of high school. “We’ve seen a definite increase, at least a 25 percent increase in the past two to five years,” said Joe Cassata, who holds a doctorate in physical therapy and practices at Buffalo Physical Therapy in Williamsville. Cassata added that some of the reason for more ACL injuries is that student athletes start at a younger age. Few ACL injuries occur before age 12; however, it’s unclear if that is because of a physical or developmental difference or because so few children under age 12 participate in sports at the level of junior high and high school students. Many teams participate in pre-season practices and scrimmages, travel to events and encourage off-season play as well. “I’m a firm believer in multiple sports,” Cassata said. “Kids can be



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too specific in what they do. If they are playing nine months out of the year, they need to mix it up.” Another factor in the puzzle is that more young women are playing sports and their favored sports tend to be the ones at higher risk for ACL injuries. “The biggest [category of] sports injury we see is high school female basketball and soccer,” Cassata said. “It’s not so much the danger of the sports. Most of these ACL injuries are non-contact injuries. It’s when they cut or pivot with a planted foot, not someone running into them.” Girls are especially prone to these injuries not only because of the sports they tend to favor, but because anatomical and functional differences between the genders. “Girls run with a more erect posture,” said Kristopher R. Schultz who holds a doctorate in physical therapy and is president and owner of Performance Sports Physical Therapy in West Seneca. “They don’t bend as much when they jump. They rely more on ligament support than muscular support system. Anatomic difference like where the ACL passes through the femur, smaller ACL and wider hips puts more stress on the knees.” Teens’ growth patterns can also

make a difference. While boys tend to steadily gain muscle mass, girls don’t as much, which means boys can more easily control joint movement. “Girls have looser ligaments,” Schultz said. They also have one leg that’s more dominant and have less core strength and stabilization.” Schultz believes that preventive training could help reduce the risk of ACL injury. “There are different training programs,” he said. He cited one available through Sportsmetrics of Cincinnati which includes pre-season and in-season training. Schultz plans to become certified by Sportsmetrics so he can educate school coaches on ACL injury prevention training. “In general, to decrease the risk, facilitate leg muscular strength and core strength,” Schultz said. “Proper instruction in jumping and landing help a lot, especially early on in the training. They don’t get that a training usually.” Many coaches don’t want to waste practice time to prevent an injury that may not even happen. Drew Jenk, physical therapist at Sports PT in Buffalo, agrees that prevention could help and “it could help raise awareness,” he said. He added that his organization

has tried to offer ACL injury prevention training at several schools, but “it’s a fairly hard task to get into programs because many coaches don’t want to cut back on practice time. Some may be unaware of what resources are available. Many [medical] people are willing to donate their time. “There’s definitely a benefit of knowing, and even a one-time lecture helps. No program is 100-percent, though.”

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Water Works Wonders Western New York Adaptive Water Sports promotes and advocates for those with disabilities By Daniel Meyer


here has been much attention and celebration over the past few years about the increase in access to Buffalo’s waterfront. Western New York residents and visitors to the region are joyful over the long-awaited destruction of what felt like an invisible barrier that limited area residents’ ability to enjoy Lake Erie. The birth and continued development of Canalside and other nearby stretches of lakefront property are regionally celebrated success stories. This is particularly true for those who enjoy recreational water sports and those who provide access to people of all abilities. This remains the sole focus of a local 501(c) (3) organization — Western New York Adaptive Water Sports. The volunteers who make up Western New York Adaptive Water Sports work tirelessly to provide numerous opportunities for disabled individuals to go fishing, sailing, scuba diving and water skiing. Members of the organization’s board of directors regularly lobby elected officials and other major stakeholders in the community for the individuals they represent. “We have an asset in Western New York being based on one of the Great Lakes that many areas of the country do not have and it is something that should be able to be enjoyed by all,” said Josh Brunner, a board member and active water skier. “The resurgence of downtown Buffalo and the region’s waterfront redevelopment is a great opportunity to ensure that access is provided to everyone,” Brunner said. “One of the goals of our organization is to get a permanent home and one that promotes water sports and water activities for all, meaning not only focused on serving those needing adaptation but a place where everyone is welcome.” The importance of providing easy and safe access to the waterfront

is a right that the organization is passionate about.

Future access promising

“People are living full lives with a variety of disabilities and to a much older age,” said Steve Spitz, a board member and active water skier. “As a father of four, I have spent much time near the water with my children. We have had and still have trouble finding accessible fishing spots and wheelchair access to beaches and swimming. I believe the future of access to the water for folks with disabilities is very promising. With the Americans with Disabilities Act and the advancements in community designs, every major city should have ample water access for anyone who wants to use it.” The long-term vision of Western New York Adaptive Water Sports includes regular access to facilities that will be able to run first-class programs for the disabled, including military veterans whose sacrifices made serving their country resulted in some type of disability. “Gaining a greater presence on the waterfront for people of all ages and abilities is important to us,” said Tony Anderson, a scuba instructor who along with Tom Nowak founded the organization in 2007. “We are making progress because we have been pushing for about 10 years now for the establishment of a space for everyone. As taxpayers, we all deserve to have access to our waterfront, no matter what type of physical limitations someone may have.” The organization is run completely on volunteer hours and donations and participants, their family members and friends are not charged for participating. Various individuals work behind the scenes fixing equipment, coordinating events and fundraising to ensure that the waterfront and water sports access is provided to all. Providing unique moments for people with disabilities to allow them to forget about their physical limita-

Everyone is smiling whenever WNY Adaptive Water Sports conducts a sailing expedition on Lake Erie. Page 10

Being able to view life from an underwater perspective is one of the numerous opportunities provided by WNY Adaptive Water Sports to people with disabilities. tions and enjoy a physical activity is what motivates the volunteers associated with Western New York Adaptive Water Sports. “I would say scuba has proven to be the most enjoyable and inclusive for those who can get medical clearance to do it,” said Anderson. “Once you are underwater, where gravity is not your enemy, your physical disability becomes secondary. Whether you are an amputee, paraplegic, quadriplegic or suffering from PTSD, being weightless with only bubbles

and your breathing provides a level of tranquility not available anywhere else for these individuals.” Western New York Adaptive Water Sports is always seeking volunteers to provide assistance with various tasks, including event planning, fundraising and boat maintenance. For more information, including how you can make a donation or to read its proposal to develop an accessible waterfront community center, either visit www.wnyadaptivewatersports. org or call 716-364-8219.

Josh Brunner waits his turn to water ski at a recent event coordinated by WNY Adaptive Water Sports.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2015


The skinny on healthy eating

Reach for Nutritious Leeks


nce dubbed “poor-man’s asparagus,” leeks are anything but poor when it comes to taste, tears and nutrition. They’re flavorful without being overpowering. They don’t produce tears with cutting. And — most importantly — they’re loaded with health benefits, much like their well-researched cousins: onions and garlic. A member of the Allium family of vegetables, leeks are a rich source of allicin, a sulfur-containing compound with multiple merits. Not only is it anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal, but allicin, upon digestion, produces sulfenic acid, a compound that, according to research, neutralizes cell-damaging free radicals faster than any other known compound. Ponce de Leon? Can you hear me now? Leeks love hearts. The above-mentioned allicin may reduce cholesterol formation, as well as promote blood vessel elasticity. In addition, leeks’ high concentration of kaempferol, a flavonoid that has

repeatedly been shown to help protect our blood vessel linings from damage, can only do a heart good. Leeks also love bones, with one cup providing a whopping 50 percent of our daily needs for vitamin K. Vitamin K, most well known for its important role in blood clotting, also promotes bone health by assisting in the transport of calcium throughout the body. With the threat of osteoporosis looming in my future, I’m always looking for foods that may reduce bone loss and decrease the risk of bone fractures. Consuming leeks is good for the peepers. They’re a super source of vitamin A, an essential vitamin that helps retinas function under low-light conditions; and, they serve up generous doses of two valuable nutrients — lutein and zeaxanthin — that may reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. More great reasons to reach for

Do you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Currently, there is no satisfactory medical treatment for IBS (abdominal pain with diarrhea and/or constipation), but research scientists at the University at Buffalo are hard at work to try and change that. Volunteers are needed to participate in an NIH funded research study to evaluate a scientifically backed, not drug treatment for IBS. Qualified participants must be between 18-70 years of age and will receive all study related care including doctor visits, assessment and study treatment at no cost. Eligible participants will be paid $250 for your time and travel expenses.

leeks: They’re low in fat, cholesterol, sodium and calories (about 50 per sliced cup). They rock with manganese (important for energy and bone health) and folate (essential for red blood cell production and fetal development). And, they boast a decent amount of immune-boosting vitamin C.

Helpful tips

Look for leeks that have as much white and light green as possible. Stalks should be firm and crisp; avoid those with wilted or yellowed tops. Select smaller leeks — those with a diameter of 1½ inches or less for better taste. Store unwashed leeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Healthy Potato-Leek Soup Adapted from Feastingathome. com Serves 4 3-4 medium leeks (white and light green parts) 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 small onion, diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 2 baking potatoes, diced 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried) 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper ½ cup light sour cream Frank’s hot sauce (optional) Garnish: fresh chives, freshly grated cheese, whole wheat croutons • Remove dark leek stems and cut

leeks in half lengthwise. Rinse to remove any dirt. Slice leeks into ¼-inch half rounds. • Heat oil in medium-sized soup pot over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté 3-4 minutes. Add onion and continue sautéing for five minutes until tender. Add garlic and sauté for two more minutes. (Note: Add a splash of water at any time if vegetables start to burn.) • Add potatoes, stock and thyme. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Add salt and pepper. Using a hand held blender, puree soup until smooth. (Use a potato masher versus a blender if more texture is desired.) • Stir in sour cream and hot sauce (if using). Top soup with garnish of choice. Anne Palumbo is a lifestyle columnist, 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.

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Golden Years Alzheimer’s Tsunami is Coming Number of patients, financial resources to treat the disease about to skyrocket, experts say By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


rom 2015 to 2050 the cost for caring for Alzheimer’s patients will increase from $226 billion to more than $1.1 trillion, according to the Lewin Group, a healthcare policy research and management consulting firm in Falls Church, Va. In additional to the financial resources needed, experts believe there won’t be enough human resources to provide the care patients will need. The increase in Alzheimer’s patients is mainly due to the number of baby boomers aging into Alzheimer’s disease and the longer lifespan expectancy of modern times. Though not a normal part of aging, older age is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. A recent report presented by the Alzheimer’s Association titled ““Changing the Trajectory of Alzheimer’s Disease,” states that 5.1 million people 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s disease currently. By 2050, it’s estimated that 13.5 million will live with the disease. Area health care companies, including The McGuire Group, have

been preparing for the coming flood of Alzheimer’s patients. Dawn M. Harsch, McGuire’s communications director, said that the Buffalo-based company opened its first memory care service as unit at Harris Hill Nursing Facility in Williamsville in 1992. Since then, The McGuirre group has added additional units at other long-term care facilities. “Education and staff training continue to be key factors in caring for individuals with memory loss,” Harsch said. “Currently, The McGuire Group facilities offer eighthour, dementia-specific training classes to ensure that our staff is properly trained to care for individuals with memory loss. This also includes ongoing education and training through local seminars and symposiums.” Partnerships with organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association and locally-based support groups has allowed The McGuire Group to offer the community educational opportunities.

“To help the medical community meet the need, we always make available professional resources online, in person, and face to face,” said Leilani Joven Pelletier, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Western New York Chapter in Williamsville. “We offer training for nurses, first responders, and anyone in need of or wanting training on this disease. We’ll respond in one way or another.” The organization hopes that more Alzheimer’s patients receive an early diagnosis. Although early treatment cannot give any hope for a cure, it can buy time for the patient and family to prepare. It can also spare patients from related problems. For example, a patient with impaired memory may neglect to take vital medication. An Alzheimer’s patient may live alone longer than is safe to do so and make poor judgments about handling finances. Or one with balance issues may fall without the needed grab bars and other home modifications. Pelletier said that more phy-

sicians are becoming aware of the need to screen high-risk patients for Alzheimer’s. But as margins are stretched thin from lower reimbursements, and more patients with medical coverage have flooded the system, adding yet another item to an already crammed visit may not be easy. “It’s very hard to diagnose if you don’t have a lot of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” Pelletier said. “It’s time consuming, costly and challenging. The person with dementia may or may not complain about the symptoms. It doesn’t show up on an X-ray, blood test or anything simple.” The Alzheimer’s Association has awarded more than $340 million through its International Research Grant Program. The Alzheimer’s Association is the single greatest private funder of Alzheimer’s research in the world, and when comparing both government and private entities, only the US and Chinese governments surpass the organization. With all of this effort, only four drugs are available that can potentially help slow—but not stop—the progression of the disease, that affects memory, balance, and ability to make sound choices.

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s


emory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms. Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees. If you notice any of them, see a doctor.


Memory loss that disrupts daily life One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own. What’s a typical age-related change? Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.


Challenges in planning or solving problems Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than Page 12

they did before. What’s a typical age-related change? Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

What’s a typical age-related change? Vision changes related to cataracts.





Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game. What’s a typical age-related change? Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show. Confusion with time or place People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there. What’s a typical age-related change? Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.


Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

New problems with words in speaking or writing People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”). What’s a typical age-related change? Sometimes having trouble finding the right word. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time. What’s a typical age-related change? Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.


Decreased or poor judgment People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2015

when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean. What’s a typical age-related change? Making a bad decision once in a while.


Withdrawal from work or social activities A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced. What’s a typical age-related change? Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.


Changes in mood and personality The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone. What’s a typical age-related change? Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted. Source: Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org)

Golden Years Many Factors Contribute to Fractures

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But experts say older adults can help prevent them by keeping bone strength By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


study published in the journal Nature indicates that genetics may contribute to the development of osteoporosis. The discovery by Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research may someday help physicians treat individuals using custom approaches to better treat osteoporosis. People with the condition bear a greater risk of breaking bones, especially as they age and bone mass decreases. In the meantime, seniors can do plenty to reduce their risk of a bone fracture. Although the body lays down much of its bone density when young, older adults can still maintain their bone strength. Eating calcium-rich foods and taking calcium and vitamin D supplements can help. It’s important to seek a physician’s recomSurdej mendation for supplements to avoid reactions with medication. In many instances, falling causes broken bones in senior adults. “Some older adults may have an unsteady gait or balance issues that put them at higher risk for falls,” said Kristin Surdej, geriatric care manager, licensed New York state social worker and owner of Laping, Surdej Associates, LLC in Buffalo. “Side effects from medications and other health issues, including problems with memory, may compromise one’s ability to make good quick decisions when it comes to safety issues.” If she assesses a senior who appears to have a higher risk for falling, she recommends the client ask the primary care physician to approve an evaluation from a certified home healthcare agency. They can determine if the client could benefit from mobility devices, such as a cane or walker, and can suggest home modifications that can reduce the client’s fall risk. Many home modifications are simple and easy to afford. Keeping the home well-lit with bright light bulbs and using nightlights at night reduces the chances of falling. Because the bathroom and kitchen usually have slick floors, many

people fall in these rooms. Grab bars near the toilet and tub can help improve safety. A non-skid tread in the tub may prevent a fall as well. In the kitchen, using tippy stepstools can cause a fall. “Don’t take unnecessary risks, like standing on chairs or even using ladders,” Surdej said. “Ask for help with tasks that are out of reach. Make your safety and health a priority or an investment if you have to hire help.” Storing items in lower cupboards eliminates the need to climb. Christian Reitler, program officer and expert in fall prevention for Health Foundation for Western & Central New York recommends getting rid of or fastening down throw rugs. “They tend to be a huge tripping hazard,” he said. Eliminating cords that cross pathways and clutter can reduce tripping hazards. “If you have a cat or dog, they could get caught up in your feet,” Reitler said. “Perhaps put a bell on the collar.” Anyone in the market for a new pet could consider an older, more sedate animal in a lighter coat color that’s easier to see in dim lighting. Safer stairways have secure handrails and non-skid, lighter-colored treads for both better gripping and visibility. Anyone who feels dizzy or lightheaded should talk with a doctor about the symptoms, which may be side effects of medication. “See which ones may be switched, if possible,” Reitler said. “You may be able to take them at a different time of day.” In addition, treating vision and inner-ear problems can improve balance. Anyone not exercising should ask the doctor about safe activities. Reitler recommended holding a secure structure while alternately lifting and lowering each knee. “Standing up and sitting down a few times is also good for strengthening,” Reitler said. “There are lots of exercise programs you can do at your own pace, like tai chi or seated yoga.” Senior center or community centers also offer exercise programs for seniors that increase balance and reduce fall risk and some physical therapy offices provide gym membership-style access to their facilities.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

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Golden Years Surprise, Surprise: Binge Drinking More Common with Middle-Aged than Young Adults People with annual household income of over $75,000 more likely to binge drink, says CDC By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


he latest age group of heavy drinkers may surprise you. It’s not 20-somethings emptying kegs at raucous fraternity parties. It’s people 55 and older. It’s the stressed out “Sandwich Generation” person juggling the demands of his children and elderly parents. It’s the lonesome empty nester. It’s the career person approaching retirement imbibing with coworkers. “For some, binge drinking sort of ‘snuck up’ on them,” said Corrin Matthews, certified master clinical hypnotherapist and owner of Extraordinary Change Hypnosis in Buffalo. “Drinking excessively in social settings has become socially acceptable behavior. When done in a group regularly, no one thinks that there is a problem whatsoever, up until, someone gets hurt. And even then, only some will recognize that there is a Calabrese problem.” Matthews often sees clients about addiction. Apparently, the problem affects many middle-aged adults. The Centers for Disease Control states that 76 percent of people who die from alcohol poisoning in the United States are aged 35 to 64. “Although college students commonly binge drink, 70 percent of binge drinking episodes involve adults aged 26 years and older,” the organization also states. Page 14

It’s not just poor people who turn to the bottle. The CDC states that it’s more common among people with an annual household income of $75,000 or more than those making less. The centers also stated that in the US, binge drinking is the most common pattern of drinking too much. Binge drinking involves regularly, about four times a month, bringing the blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. For women, that’s about four or more servings of alcohol; for men, it’s five or more in a time frame of two hours, on average. The amounts and time span varies based upon individual size, metabolism, medication, illicit drug use and other factors. Many people who binge drink would not consider themselves alcoholics by definition, but their alcohol intake surpasses the maximum one drink per day for women or two drinks per day per men. The amount of alcohol contained in their drinks often exceeds bingers’ perception. Now they can buy the “top shelf” alcohol they couldn’t afford in their collegiate days. Their bodies have also changed a lot since their 20s. “People are losing the ability to keep up the pace earlier in life,” Matthews said. “They are losing the ability to cope with life, without a chemically based solution. Alcohol is the highly accessible, legal, quick, cheap and easy fix.”

Since they maintain their social standing, and function in their dayto-day roles respectably well, they don’t see their drinking as a problem. The CDC states that they’re not “alcohol dependent.” But their drinking does harm themselves and others. Matthews listed long-term issues related to heavy drinking such as memory damage or decreasing overall brain and organ function; triggering alcoholism; destroying relationships, reputations, careers, and property. A binge drinker faced with an unexpected tragedy may more readily succumb to alcoholism because they already rely upon alcohol to improve a rough day or celebrate a fun time. For some people, binge drinking provides a stepping stone to full-blown alcohol dependency as it takes more and more alcohol to receive the desired effect. Kathleen Calabrese, and licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in Buffalo, encourages those who drink alcoholic drinks to frankly look at how much they’re drinking, keeping in mind the percent of alcohol in each, and also how often they drink. “The pattern of binge drinking sounds like the era of Mad Men,” Calabrese said. “Drinking and drugging is glorified on social media. There’s a tendency for people to want others to think of them as having this great,

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2015

fun life. It’s a party here all the time; we’re carefree. My life is fantastic because I have so much fun.” In reality, many of these people secretly cope with lonesomeness, anxiety and overwhelming experiences and feelings through binge drinking. Despite their ability to function daily at home and work, “I question whether or not their relationships are as healthy and honest as they could be if there’s a constant input of alcohol, which alters how the brain functions and what you notice in life,” said Calabrese. “It creates a fog, a veil over your eyes. It undermines your ability to be alert and what goes on around you, especially emotionally.” Shirley Conley, an associate with Al-Anon in Buffalo, urges people who binge drink to consider the progressive nature of alcoholism. Alcoholics tend to hurriedly consume alcohol for its effect, spend most of their free time with other habitual drinkers, hide how much they drink, lie frequently, and depend on alcohol to get through their day. “Families learn to hide it and accept it,” she said. Anyone concerned about his drinking habits or those of a family member should seek help from a mental health counselor or a group such as Al-Anon.

Golden Years

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any people think that patients who opt for hospice care are “giving up” since they no longer pursue medical treatment for their terminal disease. But the opposite is actually true. In fact, some patients may live longer once they switch to palliative care, according to a study released in August by the New England Journal of Medicine. The research included patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. On average, patients admitted to hospices survived nearly two months longer than comparable patients who continued receiving traditional treatment for their cancer. They may also transition to hospice care sooner. “With earlier referral to a hospice program, patients may receive care that results in better management of symptoms, leading to stabilization of their condition and prolonged survival,” wrote the authors of the study. A 2007 study printed in the Journal of Pain and Symptom found that on average, patients with either congestive heart failure or cancer of the breast, colon, lung, pancreas or prostate lived an average of 29 days longer than those not receiving hospice care. The studies correlate with a growing body of research indicating that hospice patients not only experience a better quality of life, but may actually live a little longer in some cases than those who continue to follow treatment. Hospice and palliative care work with patients and families to improve the patient’s comfort and enjoyment of life during a terminal illness. Barbara Johnson, director of the Journeys Palliative Care Program for The McGuire Group in Buffalo, said that the research doesn’t surprise her. She attributes the increased longevity to the increased quality of life and comfort patients receive. “I have found that to be true in many cases,” Johnson said. “Many folks...by not having all the taxing of the curative measures, have a better quality of life and are more at peace with their decisions. Sometimes they live longer and it’s a better quality.” The Journeys Palliative Care Program at McGuire Group differs from traditional hospice care in that patients can keep their Medicare A benefits unlike other end-of-life programs and they can continue to receive treatment for episodic health conditions. As with hospice care, patients receive comfort care to alleviate symptoms and the family also

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receives support through the final stages of life. Hospice care focuses more on comfort than on aggressively treating illness. Instead of “giving in to the disease” the patients who select hospice care embrace life and have the means to choose how they want to spend the time they have. “They continue to be in charge,” Johnson said. “Instead of giving up, they’re making the decisions to do what they want in hospice. Most of our residents know we’re not going to be curing them as maintaining a level of comfort.” Johnson added that many people think hospice is only for the last few hours of a patient’s life when actually patients may request hospice care months in advance. Medicare pays for hospice care when a doctor estimates the patient has six or fewer months to live. If the patient lives longer, Medicare covers additional time. Many believe that hospice care must occur in an institutional setting; however, the care may be provided to patients at an adult child’s home, hospital, nursing home, hospice facility or an assisted living facility. Many hospice services help patients enjoy any activity or hobby they would like — such as art, music or playing with pets — in order to improve their quality of life. Planning ahead for hospice care can help the patient and family take full advantage of the services offered. Christian Reitler, program officer with the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York, encourages people with serious illnesses to plan ahead. “It’s important to drive the care that you’ll be receiving and it’s also beneficial to the caregivers and children because those decisions are already made in advance. It takes some of the stress off the adult children.” Making the choices early also helps patients feel better in control of how they use their time.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 15

Golden Years Frailty barometer Software being developed to help assess seniors By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


eciding whether or not it’s safe to live independently as a senior challenges family members, medical personnel and, sometimes, the senior himself. That’s why Margaret Sayers, geriatric nurse practitioner from Clarence, and Steven Buslovich, geriatrician living in Buffalo, work to develop software to measure frailty and determine risk of bad outcomes. Still in development, the software asks questions such as the individual’s ability to walk with or without assistance, get out by himself, and medical symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and general mood. Other questions ask about support systems available, such as nearby family and friends, any agencies coming in the home and what they do, and financial planning and how secure they feel they are for their future. The software also covers the presence of any advance directives like healthcare proxy, power of attorney or living will. The software begins with 64 primary questions which branch off to subsequent questions with negative responses. “The bottom line for us is determining someone’s level of fitness, the opposite of frailty,” Sayers said. When a user completes the questions, he clicks on the “care plan” icon to receive information, a fitness score and an explanation about his general level of fitness and general risk for recovery. The fitness score is based upon something known by frailty experts as the frailty index. It measures the risk of vulnerability based on those domains. Steve Evans, a geriatrician working with clients from Buffalo to Syracuse with IPC Healthcare of New York, has previously collaborated with Sayers on frailty-related projects. He’s also familiar with the software. “Frailty remains still a relatively opaque subject for many who know it when they see it but don’t understand the opportunity to measure more precisely, as adverse outcomes are more likely as frailty worsens or improves even slightly,” Evans said. He said Sayers’ software helps contextualize frailty easily since it relies upon underlying, mathematical principles. “The problem, of course, is how to communicate just what it means, since as a math principle frailty is never binding or absolutely predictive in an individual,” Evans said. “Their software approach presents complex subjects that flummox many physicians even today in an unambiguous and non-threatening way Page 16

‘All Natural’ Alternatives for Erectile Dysfunction: A Risky Proposition


Margaret Sayers, geriatric nurse practitioner from Clarence, and Steven Buslovich, geriatrician of Buffalo. They have developed develop software to measure frailty and determine risk of bad outcomes. that goes further than anyone else to date in helping patients and their loved ones to understand the risks and benefits attendant in aging-related changes.”

Refining the package

While a graduate student, Buslovich began developing the software in 2011. While interning in Buffalo three years ago, he met Sayers who was working on a project with Mercy Hospital, studying the effect of frailty on older people. Sayers has worked as a private health care advocate, serving geriatric clients in Buffalo and Rochester. The two stayed in touch while Buslovich completed his education. “It was all very interesting to both of us,” Sayers said. “I gave him more boots-on-the-ground because I had cared for people for many decades as a clinician.” Sayers had also completed a study on frailty in Western New York. When Buslovich moved to Buffalo from Connecticut in 2014, he began working for IPC hospitalist group that provides care at long-term care facilities and hospitals. He immediately applied to Start-Up New York so he could move his business, Patient Pattern, to New York. Another business partner, Brett Kelgren, an IT specialist, works remotely from Chicago. Sayers and Buslovich have continued to add more material to the software and refine it. “We have been adding assessments to it so it is broader-based and it assesses more domains of importance about older people,” Sayers

said. The trio is working on a few versions of the software, including ones for consumers and others for clinicians. One is a pre-op evaluation to assess surgical patients’ preparedness; another is for post-acute care. Knowing the patient’s supports — such as nearby adult children or a live-in caretaker — can help plan for post-discharge, whether at home or as in-patient rehabilitation. The home environment is also important, such as stairs, wheelchair or walker accessibility, and the functionality of the bathroom and kitchen. Sayers said because a geriatrician and geriatric nurse practitioner are developing the software, it picks up on vulnerabilities that primary care doctors may miss. Since the software uses only questions, not physical tests, it works for the least fit patients. Sayers said that the software is very customizable, so she and her team can tailor it to any setting, such as home health care, where the least educated and trained employees see the patients most often. “If we can identify those symptoms when they appear and communicate them to the adult child, nurse, or patient’s doctor,” Sayers said. By noticing symptoms early, a home health aide may help prevent a hospitalization. “I feel very strongly that our health as older people is, in a large part, in our own hands and I want to keep it that way,” Sayers said. For more information, visit www. patientpattern.com.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2015

en, beware! Products falsely marketed as “dietary supplements” or “foods” that promise to enhance your sexual performance or increase sexual stimulation might contain hidden drug ingredients or other undisclosed ingredients — and can endanger your health. Thus far, FDA lab tests have found that nearly 300 of these products contain undisclosed drug ingredients. These can include the same active ingredients found in prescription drugs that are FDA-approved for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED), such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra. Not only do these products contain undisclosed drug ingredients, but they also sometimes may include combinations of undisclosed ingredients or excessively high doses, both potentially dangerous situations. Even a cautious consumer can’t tell that these products are, in fact, tainted with undisclosed drug ingredients, because their labels do not list the potentially hazardous ingredients, says M. Daniel Dos Santos, a pharmacist of FDA’s division of dietary supplement programs. Consumers may be misled to believe these products are safe because their labeling often suggests they are “all-natural” or “herbal” alternatives to FDA-approved prescription drugs for the treatment of ED. “We’re finding an alarming number of these products sold online and in retail stores. They’re often sold in single-serving sizes in gas stations or vending machines. We’ve seen pills, coffees, chewing gum and dissolvable oral strips that contain hidden drug ingredients or untested chemicals,” says Gary Coody, FDA’s national health fraud coordinator. “Consumers have no way of knowing which drugs or ingredients are actually in the product just by reading the ingredients on the label.”

Beware of products that:

• Promise quick results (within 30 to 40 minutes) • Are advertised as alternatives to FDA-approved prescription drugs • Are sold in single servings • Advertise via spam or unsolicited emails • Have labels written primarily in a foreign language • Have directions and warnings that mimic FDA-approved products



By Jim Miller

How to Find a Better Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Dear Savvy Senior, I recently received a letter from my Medicare drug plan provider notifying me that they are increasing my co-pays next year. I’d like to look for a better plan but could use some guidance. What’s the easiest way to do this? Need a Change Dear Need, Cost increases and coverage changes are an annual event for many Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. Fortunately,

during the open enrollment period (which is Oct. 15 through Dec. 7), you have the ability to shop and compare plans and choose one that better fits your needs and budget. Your new plan will go into effect Jan.1, 2016. Here are some tips that can help with this process.

Shop Online

If you have Internet access and are comfortable using a computer, you can easily shop for and compare all Medicare drug plans in your area, and enroll in a new plan online. Just go to Medicare’s plan finder tool at medicare.gov/find-a-plan, and type in your ZIP code or your personal information, enter in how you currently receive your Medicare coverage, select the drugs you take and their dosages and choose the pharmacies you use. You’ll get a cost comparison breakdown for every plan available in your area so you can compare it to your current plan. This tool also provides a five-star rating system that evaluates each plan based on past customer service records, and suggests generics or older brand name drugs that can reduce your costs. It’s also important to keep in mind that when you’re comparing drug plans don’t judge a plan strictly by its monthly premium cost. Low-premium plans are often associated with higher prescription co-payments and may end up being more expensive. Look at the “estimated annual drug costs” that shows how much you can expect to pay over

a year in total out-of-pocket costs, including premiums, deductibles and co-pays. Also, be sure the plan you’re considering covers all of the drugs you take with no restrictions. Most drug plans today place the drugs they cover into price tiers. A drug placed in a higher tier may require you to get prior authorization or try another medication first before you can use it.

Need Help?

If you need some help choosing a new plan, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which provides free one-onone Medicare counseling in person or over the phone. They also conduct seminars during the open enrollment period at various locations throughout each state. To find the contact information for your local SHIP visit shiptacenter.org or call the eldercare locator at 800-677-1116.

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Shrinking Donut Hole

You also need to know that Medicare’s “doughnut-hole” — the coverage gap in which you must pay out-of-pocket for your drugs — continues to shrink. In 2016, you will get a 55 percent discount on brand-name drugs, and the federal subsidy for generic medications will rise to 42 percent. The 2016 coverage gap begins when your total drug cost exceeds $3,310 (that includes your share and the insurer’s share of the costs) and ends when your total out-of-pocket costs reach $4,850. After that, your Part D plan usually covers around 95 percent of your remaining drug costs for the year.

Low-Income Assistance

Also, be aware that if you’re income is under $17,655 or $23,895 for married couples living together, and your assets are below $13,640 or $27,250 for married couples not counting your home, car or life insurance policy, you may be eligible for the federal Low Income Subsidy known as “Extra Help” that pays Part D premiums, deductibles and copayments. For more information or to apply, call Social Security at 800-772-1213 or visit socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior. org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

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IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Page 17


H ealth News

The Social Security Office By Deborah Banikowski

Helping Veterans and Active Duty Military Members


n Veterans Day, the nation honors the men and women who risk their lives to protect our freedom. Social Security honors veterans and active duty members of the military every day by giving them the respect they deserve. A vital part of that is administering the Social Security disability program. For those who return home with injuries, Social Security is a resource they can turn to. If you know any wounded veterans, please let them know about Social Security’s Wounded Warriors website. You can find it at www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors. The Wounded Warriors website answers many commonly asked questions, and shares other useful information about disability benefits, including how veterans can receive expedited processing of disability claims. Benefits available through Social Security are different than those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application.


Q: I own a small business. How can I verify employees’ Social Security numbers? A: Employers can use our Social Security Number Verification Service to verify the names and Social Security numbers of current and former employees for wage reporting purposes. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/employer/ssnv.htm. Q: I can’t seem to find my Social Security card. Do I need to get a replacement? A: In most cases, knowing your Social Security number is enough. But, if you do apply for and receive a replacement card, don’t carry that card with you. Keep it with your important papers. For more information about your Social Security card and number, and for information about how to apply for a replacement, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber. If you believe you’re the victim of identity theft, read our publication “Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number,” at www.socialsecurity. gov/pubs. Q: What is substantial gainful activity? A: We use the term “substantial gainful activity,” or “SGA,” to describe a level of work activity and earnings. Work is “substantial” if it Page 18

The expedited process is used for military service members who become disabled while on active military service on or after Oct. 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs. Even active duty military who continue to receive pay while in a hospital or on medical leave should consider applying for disability benefits if they’re unable to work due to a disabling condition. Active duty status and receipt of military pay doesn’t necessarily prevent payment of Social Security disability benefits. Although a person can’t receive Social Security disability benefits while engaging in substantial work for pay or profit, receipt of military payments should never stop someone from applying for disability benefits from Social Security. Learn more by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors. Social Security is proud to support the veterans and active duty members of the military. Let these heroes know they can count on us when they need to take advantage of their earned benefits.

involves doing significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. If you earn more than a certain amount and are doing productive work, we generally consider that you are engaging in substantial gainful activity. For example, the monthly SGA amount for 2015 is $1,090. For statutorily blind individuals, that amount is $1,820. You would not be eligible for disability benefits. You can read more about substantial gainful activity and if your earnings qualify as substantial gainful activity at www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/ cola/sga.html. Q: What can Social Security do to help me plan for my retirement? A: Social Security has some great online financial planning tools you can use to make an informed decision about your retirement. Social Security’s online Retirement Planner and our online Retirement Estimator are both tools you can access at any time. These will let you compute estimates of your future Social Security retirement benefits. They also provide important information on factors affecting retirement benefits, such as military service, household earnings, and federal employment. You can access our Retirement Planne” at www.socialsecurity.gov/ retire2. And, you can use the Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

UBMD Physicians’ Group Expands Team Renee A. Filip, chief operating officer of UBMD Physicians’ Group, announces the addition of four new members to the UBMD team. • Michelle Fisher joins UBMD as the finance director. Prior to UBMD, Fisher served as a segment controller for partnership services at First Niagara Bank. Fisher, of Cheektowaga, has her MBA in accounting from Canisius College. A certified personal accountant and certified internal auditor, Fisher will Fisher work to reengineer the current processes, develop policies and procedures and create alignment among the 18 practice plans with an emphasis on transparent financial reporting processes. • As the new operations coordinator, Cara Grimes will be responsible for operationalizing the move of 12 practice plans into the downtown Conventus building, streamlining the credentialing system of the 18 UBMD practice plans and expanding the call center, among other duties. Previously, Grimes Grimes worked for the Catholic Health System for sevenand-a-half years in a variety of roles. Grimes, of Cheektowaga, has her bachelor’s degree in cultural studies and English, earning her Master of Arts degree in strategic leadership from St. Bonaventure University. • Jesse Lewandowski, the new senior accountant working with Fisher, brings her experience from Chiampou, Travis, Besaw & Kershner as a staff accountant to UBMD. Lewandowski, of Williamsville, earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration and MBA at Niagara Lewandowski University and is a certified public accountant. Lewandowski’s priorities at UBMD will be to develop strong policies and

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2015

procedures and maximize process efficiencies, leveraging the efforts of the 18 practice plans. • Megan Veirs joins UBMD as the business development and communications coordinator, previously working for UBMD internal medicine as the marketing coordinator. Veirs, of Depew, earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass communication and her Master of Arts degree Veirs in integrated marketing communications from St. Bonaventure University. Veirs’s priorities at UBMD will be to publicize the move to Conventus, ensure consistent branding among the practice plans, establish new patient referral opportunities, and promote UBMD as Western New York’s top choice for quality healthcare.

Christy Zell appointed at Women & Children’s Hospital Christy Zell has been appointed practice manager of the OB-GYN Centers at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. In this role, she will be responsible for managing the structure and daily operations of the hospital’s network of six neighborhood OB-GYN Centers. Prior to this appointment, Zell served as business manager of Pembroke Family Medicine where she was responsible for all operations of a 10- provider, multi-site family medicine practice. “Christy’s extensive experience in managing a multi-site medical practice makes her an ideal fit for Zell this position,” said Erin Klass-Hooge, director of ambulatory services and business development of maternal and infant health at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. “Supported by her interests in teambuilding and staff development, we’re confident that Christy will be an influential leader in creating positive change.” Zell received a Bachelor of Science drgree in health science degree from SUNY Brockport. Her interests are in practice teambuilding, leadership development, workplace culture and population health management.

Roswell researchers granted over $4 million Two faculty members were awarded more than $2 million each for their respective investigations into the origins of the disease and cancer cell genesis. Physician Katerina Gurova, assistant professor of oncology in the department of cell stress biology, received two awards from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that focus on tumor-initiating cells, or cancer stem cells. These types of tumor cells are to blame for cancer’s seemingly endless ability to produce new tumor cells, resulting in relapse after treatment and in metastatic disease. One grant is a five-year, $2.01 million award to explore how curaxins, a novel class of anticancer agents, kill cancer stem cells while not harming normal stem cells. Curaxins target a type of biochemical factor unexplored in cancer research, the histone chaperone FACT (facilitates chromatin transcription). This project aims to help define which patients would benefit most from curaxin therapy and how to assess its effects early in treatment. Gurova’s other grant, a two-year, $419,884 award, funds research that seeks a better understanding of the role of FACT in development of cancer. Using genetic tools to turn FACT on and off, she and her colleagues hope to determine whether targeting FACT can also eradicate cancer without harming normal stem cells. Another multimillion-dollar grant was awarded to physician Mikhail Nikiforov, professor of oncology in the department of cell stress biology, who received a fiveyear, $2.02 million award from the NCI for his investigation into the role of a recently discovered transcriptional factor, Kruppel-like factor 9 (KLF9), in melanoma genesis. KLF9 is a protein that induces oxidative stress. This project will explore how it’s involved in melanoma progression, and aims to identify new targets for treating metastatic melanoma, one of the most aggressive and poorly understood human cancers. Combined with grants to other researchers, Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) reports receiving more than $7.2 million in grant during the third quarter of 2015.

Mercy Hospital receives recognition for gynecologic surgery Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, a member of Catholic Health, has been named among the top 5 percent of 836 hospitals evaluated in the United States for providing outstanding performance in gynecologic surgery, as measured by Healthgrades, the nation’s leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. It is the fourth year in a row that the hospital was recognized with the Healthgrades Gynecologic Surgery Excellence award, 2012 – 2015. The hospital also achieved a top five-star quality rating for hysterectomy procedures. “We are extremely proud of this recognition that continues to demonstrate the commitment by our physicians, nurses, midwives and support

staff to sustain the highest quality gynecologic surgery services,” said Aimee Gomlak, vice president of women’s services for Catholic Health. “Through our WomenCare program, Catholic Health is dedicated to being the area’s leading source for high quality women’s health services and information, bringing together a skilled and caring healthcare team, modern and comfortable facilities, and the latest medical technology.” The Healthgrades Gynecologic Surgery Excellence award includes hysterectomy and surgery related to female reproductive organs. To help consumers evaluate and compare hospital performance in gynecologic surgery, Healthgrades analyzed patient outcome data for all patients (all-payer data) made available by 13 individual states for years 2011 through 2013. Healthgrades found that there is a significant variation in quality for gynecologic surgery. “This achievement is a testament of the hard work and dedication to excellence by our entire healthcare team who enable Mercy Hospital to receive this national recognition,” said C.J. Urlaub, hospital president & CEO. “These awards let our patients and community know that the gynecologic surgery services available at Mercy Hospital are among the best available.”

Lake Shore Behavioral, Medaille College open new counseling center The Medaille Family Counseling Center, a unique collaboration between Lake Shore Behavioral Health and Medaille College, has recently opened. The center, a fully licensed Lake Shore mental health outpatient treatment location, also serves as a counselor-in-training facility for students enrolled in three of Medaille College’s graduate programs, including the master’s in marriage and family therapy, master’s in mental health counseling and doctorate in psychology. It offers families and individuals evidenced-based mental health therapy as well as the opportunity to participate in enhanced treatment through the counselor in training program conducted under the direct supervision of highly experienced and fully licensed Lake Shore staff. “This state- of-the-art facility affords graduate level students in our mental health programs an in-depth, first- hand learning experience that is unparalleled in this community. More importantly, it allows us to truly enrich the educational experience of our students and ultimately, to provide the most highly trained counselors for the western New York community,” said Ken Macur, president of Medaille College. Said Howard K. Hitzel, president of Lake Shore Behavioral Health: “The Medaille Family Counseling Center will provide highly educated, well-trained graduates of Medaille’s clinical programs to the local behavioral health job market. Lake Shore and all of our sister organizations have a tremendous need for skilled clinicians who are experienced in the delivery of mental health services and have been supervised in the use of evidenced-based interventions.”

Amherst Senior Citizens Foundation Honors Three Area Advocates for Older Adults

The Amherst Senior Citizens Foundation (ASCF) honored three area advocates for older adults at its 22nd anniversary dinner. From left are Maureen Millane, ASCF dinner committee chairwoman with Sheila Jones, Toby F. Laping, Karen L. Nicolson and Lynn E. Casteel, ASCF vice chairwoman. Amherst Senior Citizens Foundation (ASCF) held its 22nd Anniversary Celebration Oct. 3, 2015 at Transit Valley Country Club, gathering over 110 guests. The event, held every year, recognizes individuals who have made significant contribution of their time and talents to positively affect the lives of area seniors, enabling them to age within our community. The ASCF this year honored Toby F. Laping, a Western New York pioneer and visionary in the field of geriatric care management with the Creative Advocate Award; Karen L. Nicolson, chief

executive officer of Legal Services for the Elderly, Disabled or Disadvantaged of Western New York, Inc. (LSED) with the Senior Leadership Award; and Sheila Jones with the Senior Citizens Volunteer Award. The Honorary chairpersons were Carl and Carol Montante and the program sponsor was Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York. All proceeds benefit the ASCF which is committed to promoting the welfare of senior citizens in the town of Amherst and to helping maintain and raise funds to support senior services and activities in our community.

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Page 19

World’s Largest Disco Having Fun for a Good Cause

Event, slated for Nov. 28, has raised more than $4 million to help families and children hit by cancer By Tim Fenster


very November on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, thousands dress in up in bell-bottoms, black leather jackets and outlandish wigs and descend on the Buffalo Convention Center for the city’s biggest dance party, the World’s Largest Disco. But beneath all the flamboyant outfits and slick, funk-infused dance grooves is a more important cause — helping area families and children affected by cancer. Each year since its re-inception in 1994, the event has donated all proceeds to Camp Good Days, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to putting a smile on the faces of children who are either fighting cancer or have recently lost a loved one to the disease. To date, the disco has raised approximately $4 million for Camp Good Days. “There is nothing that compares to the World’s Largest Disco funding,” said Lisa Booz, regional director of Camp Good Days. Interestingly, both events began the same year, in 1979, but it wasn’t until 15 years later that the disco began benefitting the charity. The World’s Largest Disco was initially a one-time dance party held at the then-newly opened Buffalo Convention Center. It came at the height of the disco craze, and with performances by Gloria Gaynor and The Trammps, it became a huge success. About 13,000 attended — enough that The Guinness Book of World Records actually confirmed it to be the world’s largest disco. Despite the success, no one planned to replicated it until one Thanksgiving weekend in 1993 when David Pietrowski had a group of friends together but no place in the city to go. Even the currently popular Chippewa Street neighborhood had Page 20

nothing but closed-down bars at the time. “I said, ‘all these people are home on the biggest bar night of the year,’” said Peitrowksi, who works as an insurance provider but also enjoys event planning in his spare time. He decided to resurrect the World’s Largest Disco by the next year, which was the 15th anniversary of the original event. Hoping to benefit charity at the same time, he decided on Camp Good Days when his then-girlfriend (and current wife) suggested it, as she had just lost her brother to cancer. That first year Pietrowski anticipated a crowd of about 600, and so had only booked a small downstairs ballroom of the convention center. Last minute, they were rescheduled to use the main room. It was a good move, as more than 1800 guests ended up arriving. “I’m glad we did [relocate] because we never would have fit that many people downstairs,” he said. Over the next few years, with the help of local radio DJ David Gillen, attendance at the disco skyrocketed. It reached fever pitch in 1997 when 11,000 attendees crowded the center, and another 3,000 lined up outside in the hopes of gaining entry. Ever since, attendance has been limited to 7,000. Part of the draw is the ‘70s music stars and celebrities that are featured every year. Previous guests include Henry Winkler (The Fonz), Cindy Williams (Laverne & Shirley), the disco/funk band Heatwave, Luci Martin and Norma Jean Wright of Chic and many others. This year’s period celebrities and musical guests won’t be announced until the day of the disco, set for Saturday, Nov. 28.

Unique Nonprofit

Camp Good Days was founded

Ccelebrities includes: Henry Winkler (the Fonz), Cindy Williams (Laverne & Shirley) and Lorenzo Lamas (Grease). All these pictures are from the 2014 World’s Largest Disco. by area father Gary Mervais, whose 9-year-old daughter was suffering from brain cancer in 1979. Even more disheartening than the disease was her daughter’s social life, which disintegrated following her diagnosis. “She lost all her friends because they were scared of what she was going through,” Booz said. Then one day Mervais read about a weekend getaway for children with cancer in Kalamazoo, Mich. That inspired him to start a camp for children going through cancer, and thus, the first Camp Good Days was born in Branchport, on the western shore of Keuka Lake. “We offer something that is completely unique,” Booz said. “It’s been duplicated time and time again across the country.” As the years went on, Camp Good Days’ directors decided to expand the program to include children and young adults who either have a loved one suffering from cancer or have recently lost somebody to cancer.

IN GOOD HEALTH – Buffalo & WNY’s Healthcare Newspaper • November 2015

Today, Camp Good Days offers activities from a rock-climbing wall to go-carts to a planetarium. The only difference from any other summer camp is that they are equipped to handle cancer treatment on-site. “Our infirmary can handle things from band-aids to chemotherapy,” Booz said. But the summer camp is not all that they do. Throughout the year, Camp Good Days takes their cancer-affected young people out on a range of fun activities, including Sabres games, concerts, theme parks, Lasertron, bowling, spa days and more—usually with front-row seats and a limousine for transport. “You name it,” Booz said.

Want to Attend?

For more information on Camp Good Days, visit www. campgooddays.org. For more information on the World’s Largest Disco, or to get your ticket, visit www.theworldslargestdisco.com.