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health & wellness

Cuomo says big cuts for nursing homes if Trump healthcare plan passes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 March 2017 at 6:47 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: Orchard Manor, a 160-bed nursing home in Medina, would face $1.4 million annually in reduced funding if the Affordable Care Act is repealed with a Trump healthcare plan, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s data.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has continued to speak out against the push to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a plan backed by President Trump and Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House. (That vote was scheduled for today but pushed back until Friday to give Ryan and Trump more time to secure Republican votes.)

Cuomo detailed said the repeal and replacement would have devastating cuts to nursing homes. An analysis from the State Department of Health counted $35.7 million in cuts to nursing homes in the 27th Congressional District represented by Chris Collins, a vocal advocate for the new health care plan.

There are two nursing homes in Orleans County and combined would see about $2.5 million in reduced funding with the Trump health care plan, according to Cuomo.

Those cuts include $1,421,129 to the 160-bed Orchard Manor Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Medina, and $1,151,265 to the 120-bed Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center in Albion.

Cuomo said the funding reductions would jeopardize nursing homes’ ability to provide critical services for seniors, hurting New York’s most vulnerable citizens and jeopardizing hundreds of jobs across the district.

“This reckless legislation slashes funding from nursing homes and facilities that provide care to seniors, jeopardizing the lives of our most vulnerable New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “These devastating cuts will cripple health care services in communities across New York, with $35.7 million in cuts to nursing homes in the 27th District alone. I urge New Yorkers to call their member of Congress and demand that they vote ‘no’ on this unconscionable legislation.”

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Orleans Community Health will increase colorectal screenings

Posted 13 March 2017 at 1:34 pm

Provided photo: Wendy Jacobson (left), CEO and president of Orleans Community Health, and Joanna Miller, administrator of the OCH healthcare site in Albion, are pictured with a pledge to increase colorectal screenings in Orleans County.

Press Release, Orleans Community Health

Orleans Community Health is joining forces with over 500 local and national organizations to increase colorectal cancer screenings rates across the country.

The “80% by 2018” is a shared goal to have 80 percent of adults aged 50 and older regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.

Colorectal cancer screening has been proven to save lives.  Orleans Community Health today announced that it has made the pledge to help increase colorectal cancer screening rates by supporting the 80% by 2018 initiative, led by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (an organization co-founded by ACS and CDC).

Colorectal cancer is the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths. However, it is one of only a few cancers that can be prevented. Through proper colorectal cancer screening, doctors can find and remove hidden growths (called “polyps”) in the colon, before they become cancerous. Removing polyps can prevent cancer altogether.

“80% by 2018” is a National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) initiative in which over 500 organizations have committed to substantially reducing colorectal cancer as a major public health problem and are working toward the shared goal of 80% of adults aged 50 and older being regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.

“Colorectal cancer is a major public health problem, and adults age 50 and older should be regularly screened for it, but we have found that many people aren’t getting tested because they don’t believe they are at risk, don’t understand that there are testing options or don’t think they can afford it,” said Dr. Mary Rykert-Wolf of the Albion Health Center.  “The truth is that the vast majority of cases of colorectal cancer occur in people age 50 and older. Colorectal cancer in its early stages usually has no symptoms, so everyone 50 and older should get tested.”

There are several screening options – even take home options – available. Plus, many public and private insurance plans cover colorectal cancer screening and there may be local resources available to help those that are uninsured.

“Getting screened is much easier and more affordable than getting treated,” Rykert-Wolf said. “Only 25% of those diagnosed with colon cancer have a family history, the rest just appear. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

While colorectal cancer incidence rates have dropped 30 percent in the U.S. over the last 10 years among adults 50 and older, it is still the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S, despite being highly preventable, detectable and treatable. In fact, in 2015 in the U.S., 132,700 cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed.

Part of the 80% by 2018 goal is to leverage the energy of multiple and diverse partners to empower communities, patients, providers to increase screening rates. The 80% by 2018 initiative consists of health care providers, health systems, communities, businesses, community health centers, government, non-profit organizations and patient advocacy groups who are committed to getting more people screened for colorectal cancer to prevent more cancers and save lives.

“We are thrilled to join the cause to improve colorectal cancer screening rates,” said Wendy Jacobson, CEO/Orleans Community Health.  “We are asking all members of our community to come together and help us by getting screened and talking to your friends and family who are over 50 years of age about getting screened. Together, we can help to eliminate colorectal cancer as a major public health problem.”

For more information or to learn about resources in your area, visit: or call the Cancer Services Program of Genesee and Orleans Counties at 585-344-5497.

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Health Department urges HPV vaccine for pre-teens

Posted 6 March 2017 at 10:21 am

By Nola Goodrich-Kresse, Public Health Educator/Public Information Officer for Orleans County Public Health

When it comes to their kids, parents are always planning.  Healthy dinners. Safe activities.

One plan that’s easy to make could have a tremendous benefit, even saving a life. That’s planning to have pre-teens vaccinated against human papillomavirus or HPV, the leading cause of cervical and anal cancers.

“There are about 12,000 new cervical cancer cases each year in the United States,” said Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services. “Cervical cancer causes about 4,000 deaths in U.S. women each year. But vaccinating boys and girls against HPV greatly reduces the chances that today’s girls will ever have to face this devastating disease.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the HPV vaccine for 11- and 12-year-old girls and boys, as well as for ages 13 through 26 who have not yet been vaccinated. It is important to note that the vaccine can be received as young as age 9.

There are over 100 types of HPV – many times the virus will go away on its own and doesn’t cause any health problems but there are approximately 40 types of HPV that are cause for concern. When HPV does not go away, it causes genital warts and/or cancer which the vaccine protects against most of these pervasive types.

HPV can cause other cancers too including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (called oropharyngeal cancer).

Prior to October 2016, the HPV vaccine was given in three doses (shots) over six months. Now the CDC and the Advisory Panel on Immunization Practices recommends only two doses of the vaccine for 9- to 14-year-olds given 6 to12 months apart.

This recommendation was made after a thorough review of data from clinical trials showing two doses of HPV vaccine in younger adolescents (aged 9-14 years) produced an immune response similar or higher than the response in young adults (aged 15-26 years) who received three doses.

Teens and young adults who start the series later, at ages 15 through 26 years, will continue to need three doses of HPV vaccine to protect against cancer-causing HPV infection. Three doses are also still recommended for people with certain immunocompromising conditions regardless of age.

“Completing the appropriate dosage is very important to ensure protection against HPV-related disease,” Bedard said. “In addition, the vaccine still has benefits if you have been diagnosed with HPV as it will protect you from additional pervasive types you may not have been exposed to.”

Other vaccines recommended specifically for pre-teens include meningococcal conjugate, which protects against bacterial meningitis, and Tdap, which boosts immunity against pertussis (whooping cough). In addition, everyone age six months and older should also get an annual flu (influenza) vaccine.

To learn more, visit or call 800-CDC-INFO

For information about Health Department services contact the Orleans County Health Department at: 589-3278 or check out our website at  Visit Facebook and Twitter: the user name for both is OrleansCoHealth.

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Cuomo says health insurers in NY now required to provide 3-D mammograms

Posted 28 February 2017 at 12:16 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that health insurers are required under New York Insurance Law to provide medically necessary coverage for 3-D mammograms without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles.

3-D mammography screening, or tomosynthesis, can be more effective at detecting cancer in dense breast tissue, which is more common in women of color. This action builds on actions the Governor took earlier this year to support the health and reproductive rights of New York women, and legislation he signed last year to enhance access to breast cancer screenings.

“We are undertaking the most aggressive action in the nation to expand access to breast cancer screenings, because early detection is the best possible treatment,” Cuomo said. “By expanding access to cutting-edge, life-saving breast cancer screening options, like 3D mammograms, we are taking our efforts to protect our mothers, sisters and daughters another step further. We will continue working to further remove barriers to breast cancer detection and treatment to create a stronger, healthier New York for all.”

Tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography, uses X-rays to collect multiple images of the breast from several angles that a computer synthesizes to create a 3-D image of the breast. Studies have shown that breast density is one of the strongest predictors of risk for breast cancer and that the risk of cancer for women with dense breast tissue, many of whom are women of color, is much greater.

In particular, Black women tend to have denser breast tissue, which limits the sensitivity of a screening mammography, thus requiring improved screening technologies such as early detection and screening by appropriate methods. Studies have shown that 3-D mammography appears to be more effective at detecting lesions in dense breast tissue than 2-D mammography.

Even though screening mammography rates for Black and White women are about the same, Black women’s cancers are detected later, in part due to access issues such as affordability, and they are more likely to die from breast cancer than White women. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among Black women and the second leading cause of death for Black women.

Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, said, “I thank Governor Cuomo for his work in ensuring that all women, regardless of race or income, have unrestricted access to the care they need to live long, healthy lives. It is a bold step for a state to require insurers to cover 3-D mammography with no cost-sharing.  The fact that Black women now have access to 3-D mammography means there is a much greater chance they will get their difficult-to-detect cancers detected much earlier.”

The actions announced today continue a series of actions led by Cuomo to support women’s health and reproductive rights, including increasing access to breast cancer screenings and health insurance coverage in groundbreaking legislation that went into effect January 1, 2017; ensuring that all medically necessary abortion services are covered by health insurance policies without cost sharing; and ensuring that all women are covered by health insurance policies for contraceptives in amounts up to 12 month’s supply at a time without cost-sharing.

Legislation signed by Governor Cuomo in 2016, and now in effect, increases access to breast cancer screenings and health insurance coverage and built upon $91 million in investments to increase awareness and screening for breast cancer, including a public awareness campaign, community outreach programs, patient navigators, and mobile mammography vans.

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GCC’s Medina campus will host Narcan training

Posted 17 February 2017 at 11:47 am

Press Release, GCC

MEDINA – Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, and opioid addiction is the driving force behind this issue.

Death rates from accidental overdoses have increased more than 600 percent in the last 10 years in the U.S. from prescription drugs and accidental overdose deaths have increased close to 500 percent in Erie County in one year.

If you were in the presence of an opioid-related emergency, would you know what to do? On Monday, March 20, Horizon Health Services will host free Narcan Training at the GCC Medina Campus Center from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

A child who ingests an adult opiate painkiller prescription, an elderly person who forgets and takes too much of their opiate painkiller medication and a loved one who struggles with opiate/heroin addiction are a few examples of situations that can lead to an accidental overdose. Attendees of the training will learn how to recognize and respond to an opiate overdose, who may be at risk, and how to administer Narcan, a prescription medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose.

Seats for the Narcan training will be limited and those interested in attending should call 585-798-1688 for reservations. Horizon Health Services Parent & Family Support Coordinator Colleen Babcock will lead the training.

Campus center also hosting exhibit from the Indian Arts Project

GCC Medina also has on display 20 photos/prints from the Indian Arts Project, which was recently housed at the Rosalie “Roz” Steiner Art Gallery at the GCC Batavia Campus Center.

Before his death in 1955, Rochester Museum Director Arthur C. Parker created the Indian Arts Project to help his Seneca relatives and friends with federal funds from the Works Progress Administration. The program employed people of Tonawanda and Cattaraugus Reservations to recreate the objects of their everyday lives, building a collection for the Museum.

The display, which will be shown through the end of March, includes work from Freeman C. Johnson, a former member of the Tonawanda Band of Senecas and Wahbee tribe. He was involved in numerous community activities before he was killed in an automobile accident in 1969, and frequently gave speeches and wrote letters about legislation concerning the Native American. Johnson was instrumental in preserving Gannagaro, an historic sixteenth century Seneca Village, located in what is now Victor, New York.

The Medina Campus Center is located at 11470 Maple Ridge Rd., Medina, NY 14103. For more information, contact the Medina Campus Center at (585) 798-1688.

Lyndonville Foundation gives $10K for Hospice supportive care program

Posted 13 February 2017 at 11:14 am

Press Release, Hospice of Orleans

ALBION – A $10,000 grant from the Lyndonville Area Foundation will be instrumental in growing an important program available to all Orleans County residents who are facing serious illness.

The Supportive Care program offered as part of Hospice of Orleans, Inc.’s continuum of care is open to all residents, and the service does not require a prognosis of 6 months or less.

“Community members aren’t always aware that Hospice of Orleans, Inc. offers assistance to people who do not want to give up curative treatments,” said Kellie Spychalski, CEO of Hospice of Orleans. “Our Supportive Care program provides patients assistance with options for pain management, case management, and support while facing illnesses and treatments that are so often confusing and overwhelming to those dealing with them. We are here to help during some of the most challenging times a family faces. The Lyndonville Area Foundation’s generous gift is a tremendous help to us as we continue to grow this important service.”

Hospice Supportive Care staff provide unparalleled levels of support to patients and the caregiver(s) within our community.  Along with regular RN and social work visits, patients and their caregivers have access to trained volunteers, spiritual support, education, and when appropriate, aide services.

Supportive Care services continue to grow, and some health insurance carriers provide coverage for this service, and for others, the services are provided at no cost to the patient and/or family members thanks to generous contributors like the Lyndonville Area Foundation.

“Too many people fall through the cracks,” said Brittany Dix, Development Manager for Hospice of Orleans. “Some folks are facing very serious circumstances but aren’t yet able to receive the benefits of Hospice because of a prognosis that is longer than 6 months. However, these people still need great care, and their caregivers still need to be able to be supported while providing it. That is what Supportive Care is all about, and we are thrilled that the Lyndonville Area Foundation recognizes the significance of a program like this to so many in our community. We are excited for the opportunity to serve any and all of our neighbors that would benefit from Supportive Care. We are confident that the relief that this program provides will continue to be seen by those that need it most.”

For further information and access to Supportive Care Services or any of the many services Hospice of Orleans, Inc. offers, please call (585) 589-0809.

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Orleans-Genesee partnership with public health highlighted at NYSAC conference

Posted 8 February 2017 at 11:30 am

Press Release, Nola Goodrich-Kresse, public health educator for the Orleans County Health Department

Delegates from all 57 counties and the City of New York recently convened in Albany at the Legislative Conference of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC).

Hundreds of county officials attended meetings, educational forums, keynote addresses and state budget presentations over the course of the three-day conference on Jan. 30 to Feb. 1.

At several breakout sessions during the conference, Orleans and Genesee County representatives had the opportunity to showcase their innovative public health shared service model to attendees. Dave Callard (chairman of the Orleans County Legislature), Paul Pettit (public health director, Genesee and Orleans County) and Matt Landers (assistant county manager, Genesee County) all participated in panel discussions highlighting the project over the past four years.

Dave Callard commented that “Counties across New York State continue to face unprecedented fiscal pressures under the tax cap without significant mandate relief. These burdens are continually pushing Counties to cut services and be creative in how to deliver the remaining essential services in a cost effective manner.”

In response to the current environment, Genesee and Orleans County began a strategic Cross Jurisdictional Services (CJS) PILOT project in October of 2012 to study and assess the merits of sharing Public Health Services.

“This project started as a shared senior administration model that immediately allowed both counties to experience financial savings while enhancing service delivery. This initiative and integrated relationship was the first and still the only of its kind in New York State,” stated Paul Pettit.

In four and half years, Genesee and Orleans Counties can attribute a return on investment of over $1,000,000 in combined savings from their CJS efforts.

The cross jurisdictional project in public health services has both regulatory and logistical complexities and the success is the result of significant hard work, flexibility and forward thinking of both counties administration, boards of health and health department staff.

The counties continue to proactively respond to the difficult fiscal environment being faced by working through differences and understanding that working together, within and across county lines, results in fiscal savings and enhanced services for their residents.

“Both Orleans and Genesee Counties are very proud of the results from the project and couldn’t be more pleased to share our success story with the other counties across the state so that they may benefit from what we have learned,” added Callard.

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Albion’s Urgent Care will change to Rural Health Clinic

Photos by Tom Rivers: Orleans Community Health opened this healthcare site in Albion in November 2012. The site became an “Urgent Care” location on June 2, 2014. Urgent Care services will continue, but the site is transitioning to a walk-in clinic.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 February 2017 at 10:02 am

Site will have extended hours, focus on preventive care

ALBION – Orleans Community Health’s Urgent Care site in Albion will transition to a federally designated rural health clinic, with extended hours and a focus on preventive care, said Joanna Miller, the site’s administrator.

Orleans Community Health opened the site at the corner of Butts Road and Route 31 in November 2012. It became an Urgent Care facility on June 2, 2014, providing non life-threatening care such as X-rays, stitches, lab services for blood and urine, bandages and some other treatments, including care for strep throat and lacerations. Urgent Care services will continue, but the site is transitioning to a walk-in clinic.

Joanna Miller (right), administrator of the healthcare site in Albion, is pictured with Dr. Mary Rykert-Wolf, who recently joined Orleans Community Health with 16 years as a family practitioner, working most recently for Lakeshore Family Medicine, which has sites in Derby, North Collins and Irving.

The official change to a federally designated rural health clinic is expected within a few months. Orleans Community Health needs the final OK from the state Department of Health.

The new designation will result in higher Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates for services, helping the bottom line for Orleans Community Health.

Once it gets the final approval, the Urgent Care sign will come down and be replaced with signage noting the site is a walk-in clinic.

“There will be an emphasis on quality of care and community care,” Miller said.

The staff will focus on preventive care, with diagnostics and education, she said.

Orleans Community Health, for example, is starting a diabetes prevention program this month, with free blood pressure screenings on Tuesday and Thursday during February.

The Urgent Care services will continue at the site, as will primary care, occupational health, and other existing services.

The site is currently open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The hours will be extended as part of the shift to becoming a rural health clinic, and Miller said specialists for physical therapy will also be on site more often.

“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people to get healthcare,” she said.

Miller has been the site administrator the past two years. She is pleased with the recent hire of Dr. Mary Rykert-Wolf, who joined Orleans Community Health with 16 years as a family practitioner, working most recently for Lakeshore Family Medicine. Rykert-Wolf started in Albion in November and has been adding about 15-20 new patients each month since then.

Orleans Community Health has 14 full-time workers and two part-timers at Albion.

For more on rural health clinics, click here.

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Orchard Manor staff ‘Go Red’ to promote heart health

Posted 3 February 2017 at 4:20 pm

Provided photos

MEDINA – Staff at the Orchard Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Medina joined the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women national movement today to help raise awareness and to save more lives.

The top photo includes, front row, from left: Laura Lechner, Nellie Garcia, Carrie Ryan, Amy Martin and RoseAnn Velesko. Back row: Jamie Murphy, Michele Clor, Laurie Seager, Luann Thompson, Judy May, Tabitha Miller, Jaime Tucker, Patty DiNardo, Lisa Giattino and Debbie Feltz.

More women than men die every year from heart disease and stroke. Go Red For Women advocates for more research and swifter action for women’s heart health. The movement harnesses the energy, passion, and power women have to band together and collectively wipe out heart disease and stroke.

Staff members made donations and wore red today to support the event.

Pictured, front row, from left: Cassidy Oliver, Desiree Braham, Elizabeth Schyve, Mary Luckman and Brenda Cherry. Back row: Richard Pizzuto and Jordon Snowdon.

Some members of the Orleans County Office for the Aging staff also wore red today. They include, from left: Melissa Blanar (director), Tammy Graham, Samantha, Koons, Amanda Edick, Michele Sargent (in back), Leanne Donovan, Susie Miller, Becky Karls and Chris Hermann.

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One man’s goal: make sure no children go hungry over weekend

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 February 2017 at 1:54 pm

Wayne Litchfield

ALBION – A Medina resident has an ambitious goal: to make sure every school-aged child in Orleans County doesn’t go hungry over the weekend.

Wayne Litchfield, a retired county dispatcher who now heads the VALOR Medical Reserve Corps for the county, wants to start a backpack program, where children would have six meals in backpacks to take home for the weekend.

He is in the early stages of trying to put together a program with VALOR partnering with Foodlink, and local churches, organizations and school districts.

“We are looking for stakeholders,’ Litchfield told the Albion Rotary Club on Thursday. “It will need to be community driven.”

Litchfield is also a volunteer with the Hands 4 Hope ministry, which distributes some food  on Saturday mornings, visiting Albion twice, and Medina and Holley once each month. Hands 4 Hope also takes prayer requests from people who stop by.

The experience has been an eye-opener for Litchfield, who sees a lot of desperate families with very little food to eat. Hands 4 Hope gives away a “share” which is about $20 worth of food for each family.

Litchfield would like to start “Pack 4 Hope” for kids in school to bring home meals for the weekend. Foodlink could provide six meals per child at $2.50 per kid, Litchfield said.

His ultimate goal would be to have food for each child eligible for free or reduced lunch. The breakdown per school district for children eligible for free or reduced lunch includes 777 in Albion, 402 in Holley, 348 in Kendall, 302 in Lyndonville, and 548 in Medina. The total is 2,377 in the county, Litchfield said.

Medina’s PTSA already runs a backpack program serving 60 children. That is what the group can financially afford, he said.

To feed all of the kids on free and reduced lunch over the weekends would cost over $475,000, Litchfield said.

Foundations locally and regionally, businesses, USDA programs and other funding sources will likely be pursued, he said.

He wants to try a less daunting beginning. He is looking at a pilot project with Lyndonville, the district with the fewest number of kids eligible for free or reduced lunches with 302. Lyndonville also is considered by the federal government to be a “food desert” because there isn’t a grocery store in the village.

Jason Smith, the Lyndonville Central School superintendent, said the district would like to partner with Litchfield and VALOR.

“We support an opportunity to provide meals for some of our neediest families,” Smith said today.

The number of children eligible for free and reduced lunches may need to be a starting point for looking who could be served by such a program, Smith said. If the funding isn’t there for all children on free and reduced lunch, Smith said a backpack program serving fewer children could be a possibility.

Litchfield said a backpack program could be run through VALOR, which is a non-profit with a 501c3.

He wants to pack nutritious meals for kids – fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains and protein.

With better meals over the weekend, students would see improved attendance at school, and a better ability to concentrate, especially earlier in the school week, leading to higher grades, Litchfield said.

For more information, Litchfield can be reached at the Health Department, or at (585) 589-2869.

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