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health & wellness

State approves $3.7 million grant for healthcare ‘transformation’ in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 July 2017 at 11:35 am

File photos by Tom Rivers: The County Administration Building on Route 31, behind The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center, will have an addition to make room for relocated county offices, including the Public Health Department.

ALBION – Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that Orleans County would receive a $3,682,748 grant to “protect and transform” healthcare in Orleans County.

The funding would support primary care staff from Oak Orchard Health to work out of the county mental health department. The bulk of the funding would go towards an addition on the County Administration Building for the Health Department.

The Health Department currently is housed in a site owned Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC. Comprehensive acquired that building as part of the $7.8 million acquisition on Jan.1, 2015 of the former county nursing home.

County officials pay an annual six-figure rent to Comprehensive for use of the space for the Health Department, said Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer.

The entire addition could be $8 million. The state funding “makes the numbers work,” Nesbitt said.

This rendering from Wendel shows a proposed 22,000-square-foot addition to the County Administration Building.

The county can use the lease payments it currently pays Comprehensive to offset some of the local cost for the addition. The county may also relocate the Department of Social Services to the addition, which would bring additional state reimbursement.

County officials initially eyed the addition for the County Legislature and its staff, including a meeting room. That wouldn’t bring state funding.

The county could instead renovate space that would be vacated for the Legislature, Nesbitt said.

The nearly $3.7 million will allow the county to move forward with the project.

“It really is a big deal,” Nesbitt said. “It’s full speed ahead.”

The Public Health Department leases space next to the former Orleans County Nursing Home on Route 31 in Albion.

The state funding is part of  $491 million announced statewide for healthcare projects in the “Health Care Facility Transformation Program.”

The funding will improve patient care through the development of high-quality medical facilities and programs serving the inpatient, primary care, mental health, substance use disorder and long-term care needs of communities throughout New York State, Cuomo said.

“Now, more than ever, we need to protect health care in New York and ensure the system in place is meeting the needs of current and future generations of New Yorkers,” Cuomo said in a statement. “While others seek to decimate our hospitals and reduce access to quality healthcare, we are investing to help ensure a stronger, healthier New York for all.”

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Foodlink’s Curbside Market adds Holley to help ease void of losing grocery store

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 July 2017 at 10:33 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Foodlink’s Curbside Market, a food truck with fruits and vegetables, made its first stop in Holley today.

The Curbside Market has been making stops in Albion and Medina. Foodlink decided to include Holley to help fill the void in the community from the closing of its only grocery store, Save-A-Lot, last Sept. 17.

The Curbside Market sells fruits and vegetables at discounts. It is open to everyone, and accepts cash, Debit, EBT and FMNP.

Carol Miller (right), the curbside operator for Foodlink, and Shaunita Foster Smith, a Foodlink employee, are pictured inside the truck today.

The market stops every other Wednesday in Orleans County. The schedule the next three months includes the second and fourth Wednesdays each month. The Medina stop is from 10:15 to 11 a.m. at Ricky’s Place: Maple Ridge Estates; outside the Main Street Store on Main Street in Albion from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.; and at the Public Square in Holley from 12:45 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Foodlink started the Curbside Market in 2013 and has three trucks on the road in the Rochester region.

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Public urged to take precautions against ticks

Posted 16 June 2017 at 4:47 pm

By Nola Goodrich-Kresse and Kristine Voos, Genesee-Orleans Public Health Education Team

Ticks can spread disease. Not all ticks can cause disease and not all bites will make you sick, but as these diseases become more common it’s important to learn how to prevent a bite, how to remove a tick and what to do if you think you could have a tick- borne disease.

“Lyme is endemic (widespread) throughout New York State,” states Brenden Bedard, Director of Community Health Services for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

“Lyme disease is also the most common disease spread by ticks in New York but there are other serious diseases they spread including Anaplasmosis, Erhichioisis, Babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. There are many different species of ticks but locally the most common is the Deer Tick. The Deer Tick is a vector (carrier) for several diseases (Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis) and received the name because of its habit of living and feeding on white-tailed deer, however ticks acquire Lyme disease by feeding on infected mice and other small rodents.”

Ticks may be found in many types of settings such as woodlands, tree stumps, lawns and gardens, around stone walls, nature trails, outdoor summer camps, and playing fields. Ticks do not jump or fly, they attach to their host when a human or animal makes contact with something that a tick is on, like tall grass, shrubs, or an animal.

“Although Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties have had less than 15 reported cases of Lyme disease annually in 2016, ticks are here locally and you can’t tell which are infected by disease or not,” stated Paul Pettit, Genesee and Orleans Public Health Director.

The risk of human infection with Lyme is greatest in late spring and summer, but ticks can be active any time the temperature is above freezing. “We know the ticks that cause Lyme disease are in Western New York, that is why it is so important to make sure you do regular checks for ticks while outdoors and when you first get home,” said Pettit.

Lyme can only be transmitted after being bit by an infected tick- seeing an attached tick or a tick bite does not necessarily mean Lyme has been transmitted. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) it takes 36 to 48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted once the tick has attached to the host (human or animal). If a tick is removed quickly (within 24 hours), it will greatly reduce the chance of spreading Lyme disease to the host.

It generally takes between three days to one month after a tick bite for Lyme disease symptoms to develop. In 60-80 percent of Lyme cases a “bulls-eye” circular rash or solid red patch develops at or near the site of the tick bite first and steadily gets larger or spreads out. You can also get several patches of rash on your body.

Early on in the disease (days to weeks post-tick bite) you may develop symptoms such as fever, chills, headaches, joint pain and/or swelling, fatigue, or facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy), sometimes these can be very mild. As Lyme disease progresses more severe symptoms like arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling may develop months-to-years post tick bite in 60% of persons who are not given antibiotic treatment.

It is important to keep in mind that getting Lyme disease once does not provide protection against getting Lyme in the future, if you are bitten again at a different time you can get Lyme disease again. If you develop any of these symptoms you should call your doctor right away to inquire about getting tested and treated.

Courtesy of

To prevent tick-borne illness exposure while outdoors you and your family can do the following:

• Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.

• Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.

• Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently while outdoors.

• Use insect repellent with 20-30% DEET.

• Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Avoid dense woods and busy areas.

• Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls.

• Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.

• Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be on you.

• Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day (also check children and pets), and remove ticks

promptly. (Courtesy of

Additional prevention tips for homeowners to create a tick-free zone in your backyard to keep you, your family and pets safe from tick exposure:

• Keep grass mowed, along with clearing tall grasses and brush.

• Remove brush and leave around stonewalls and wood piles.

• Keep wood piles and bird feeders away from your home.

• Keep family dogs and cats out of wooded areas to reduce ticks brought into your home.

• Place swing sets, sand boxes, decks and patios in a sunny spot away from yard edges and trees.

• Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play equipment.(3)

What you can do if you find a tick attached to you, a family member, or a pet:

• You should use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the ticks by its mouth parts, as close to the surface of the skin as you can. Carefully pull the tick straight up without twisting. Do not touch the tick. Do not squeeze the body of the tick (it may increase your risk of infection). Clean your hands and the areas on your skin where the tick was. Watch the site of the bite for rash (3-30 days after bite). Removing a tick within 36 hours of attachment to the skin can lower the risk of contracting Lyme disease.

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Kendall students help celebrate ‘World No Tobacco Day’

Provided photos: Kendall students place 1,300 pinwheels in the ground to represent the 1,300 people who die daily from tobacco-related causes in the United States.

Posted 7 June 2017 at 2:57 pm

Press Release, Reality Check

KENDALL – Last week on May 31 we celebrated World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) as a way to raise awareness and envision a life without tobacco. While the general public understands the threat tobacco imposes on individuals, the World Health Association (WHO) focused on tobacco as a threat to development around the globe.

A Reality Check group from Kendall Central School participated in an all-day event to protect health and promote development in the community.

The outreach event, which involved both the school and community audiences, was designed to visually grasp the volume of people affected by secondhand smoke in an extreme way. Cigarette smoke is responsible for 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, more than 41,000 deaths of which come from secondhand smoke exposure. That’s about one in five deaths annually or 1,300 deaths every day. The Reality Check group decided to use 1,300 pinwheels to represent the 1,300 innocent individuals who suffer due to tobacco’s role in society and the environment.

Shelby Kurger, a student involved with the Kendall Reality Check group, felt strongly about WNTD. “I’m a part of Reality Check to make sure we can be the first tobacco-free generation. For every one person that quits or dies from smoking, two youth become a replacement. Don’t be a number.”

To reinforce that messaging, the youth built a WNTD sign with their pinwheel display. Instead of viewing the 1,300 as a statistic and feeling desensitized about the deaths occurring, they wanted to put into perspective what an impact tobacco has in the United States alone on a daily basis.

Just a few days before the Kendall event, on May 26, the Reality Check group from Holley School sponsored a cigarette butt pick up and scan in Holley Village Park. According to WHO, up to 10 billion cigarettes are disposed of in the environment every day. Since tobacco waste contains over 7,000 toxic chemicals, the environmental influence alone is astounding and part of the development issue that WHO based their WNTD theme on.

Reality Check and students from St. Joe’s School in Batavia were also involved in a Chalk the Walk program, utilizing parking lots and church walkways. They also put up signage outside of school. Reality Check is a teen-led, adult run program that seeks to prevent and decrease tobacco use around New York State.

For more information about Reality Check, click here.

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Orleans County Mental Health director honored for efforts to expand services

Photo by Tom Rivers: Mark O’Brien has been director of mental health and community services at Orleans County Department of Mental Health the past four years.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 May 2017 at 12:24 pm

ALBION – The director of the Orleans County Department of Mental Health was honored last week for his efforts to work with other agencies and expand mental health services in Orleans County.

Mark O’Brien, the county’s Mental Health director since April 2013, received the Constance Miller Award from the Mental Health Association of Genesee & Orleans. The award is named in honor of the founder of the MHA in 1993.

“We want to recognize people working promote mental wellness in the community,” said Scott Wilson, vice president of the MHA board of directors.

Wilson is also the Orleans County Jail superintendent. He has seen O’Brien work with many local agencies in the community to expand mental health services, including at the jail.

The Mental Health Department has two clinicians working at the jail, which has reduced psychotropic medication and suicide attempts, Wilson said.

O’Brien also has worked with all five Orleans County school districts to establish satellite clinics in the schools where county mental health therapists work with students.

He also is pursuing partnerships with the Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Orleans Community Health and Oak Orchard Health to have mental health staff at their sites.

O’Brien said the Mental Health Department could expand to 15 satellite locations if all the partnerships move forward.

With the school districts, O’Brien said he heard of two other counties that had success with therapists in schools. He presented the option to local school superintendents, and all five have supported the service, including summer hours when school is out of session. O’Brien said having mental health staff in schools reduces the transportation barrier and is less disruptive to a student’s school day because they only have to walk down the hall for an appointment, rather than travelling to Albion for an appointment at the Mental Health Department.

He also supports having mental health staff at GCASA, and the healthcare facilities.

“It’s making mental health services more accessible to the community and reducing the stigma because they are not going to a classified mental health building,” he said.

He also has worked to make county mental health building more accessible to the public by having open access where people don’t need an appointment to be served during regular business hours.

O’Brien also has been influential with the Mental Health Association, helping the agencies in Orleans and Genesee to merge, and the newly merged group to open an office in Albion at the Arnold Gregory Office Complex, 243 South Main St.

“He’s done a lot for the MHA,” said Scott Wilson, the board vice president.

O’Brien said the MHA is a “great partner” for the Mental Health Department. His agency provides treatment, while the MHA provides important peer support and a drop-in center.

He thanked the County Legislature for supporting the efforts for the agencies to work together and expand mental health services for the community.

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275 attend For Women Only event, raising $5K for Orleans County cancer patients

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 May 2017 at 11:02 am

Provided photos

LYNDONVILLE – The 21st annual For Women Only event last week attracted a crowd of 275 people and raised $5,000 to support cancer patients in Orleans County.

The top photo shows Jessica Salamone, a certified genetic counselor from Elizabeth Wende Breast Clinic.

Salamone worked at the University of Rochester Medical Center for 10 years, providing genetic counseling to patients in a variety of settings including reproductive, pediatric and cancer genetics. She is an adjunct faculty member at Rochester Institute of Technology, teaching medical genetics and introductory genetic counseling.

Amy Murray, an ovarian cancer survivor, shared her story and related to women to “listen to their bodies.” If something doesn’t seem right, Murray urged the women to have it checked out. She just had a check-up the day before the event and is cancer free.

Cancer survivors were recognized at the event for their strength, courage, hope and inspiration.

The event included vendors and a Chinese Auction. The money raised from For Women Only goes to Orleans Community Health for the cancer services program, which assists women who are unable to afford screening due to insufficient or no insurance.

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Health director warns of health risks from flooding

Posted 3 May 2017 at 11:21 pm

Mold growth, bacterial contamination among the threats to public health

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

Because of the recent rainstorms and high water levels of Lake Ontario and surrounding creeks and rivers, Paul Pettit, Director of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments, advises residents of the steps they can take to prevent health risks linked with home flooding.

“Flooded homes and basements can present a number of health risks if not addressed adequately,” Pettit said. “Problems connected with home flooding include bacterial and viral contamination from sewage backup and mold growth from left over moisture. These problems can lead to human infection and illnesses.”

Flooding may cause wastewater to back up into homes that have private septic systems. Once the water recedes, a high water table may still prevent these systems from working properly for some time.

Residents with municipal sewer systems may also experience sewage back-up. Sewage back-up can be caused by surging floodwater overwhelming older systems or power outages during a storm surge.  Sewage contains bacteria, viruses, and other germs that can cause disease.

The most common signs and symptoms after exposure to raw sewage are stomach and bowel distress (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea) and skin problems such as rashes and sores. Individuals who experience nausea, diarrhea or vomiting after exposure to sewage should contact their primary care providers.

“Wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup if sewage has backed up into your home,” advises Sarah Balduf, Environmental Director of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.  “Remove and discard contaminated household goods such as wall coverings, rugs, cloth and drywall that cannot be disinfected,” Balduf said. “Be sure to thoroughly disinfect all contaminated surfaces that come in contact with food and children’s play areas. Disinfect non-porous surfaces with a solution of three tablespoons of bleach to one gallon of water (or one cup bleach to five gallons water). Never mix bleach with ammonia cleaners.”

Individuals with open cuts or sores should try to avoid contact with sewage-contaminated floodwater. If accidentally exposed, keep skin (especially any cuts or sores) as clean as possible by washing with soap and clean water. Apply antibiotic ointment and cover with a sterile bandage to reduce the risk of infection.

If you have deep cuts and/or puncture wounds and have not had a tetanus vaccination within the past 10 years, or are unsure of the date of the last tetanus shot, get a tetanus booster.

For additional information on managing sewage back-ups, click here.

Mold will grow in flooded homes and buildings that do not dry out quickly. People living or working in buildings with wet carpets, walls, mattresses or furniture may develop health problems such as allergies, asthma and sneezing.

Persons at highest risk are those with allergies, asthma, chronic respiratory diseases, infants, pregnant women and individuals with compromised immune systems.  For information on preventing and managing mold, click here.

For information on drinking and food guidance after a flood, click here.

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5 locations open for drug take-back day on Saturday

Posted 25 April 2017 at 7:20 am

Press Release, Sheriff Randall Bower

The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office will once again participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative.

Sheriff Randall Bower is pleased to announce that the Sheriff’s Office will again participate in this nationwide undertaking, which takes place on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

This is a collaborative effort with the U.S. Department of Justice – Drug Enforcement Administration, the Orleans County Health Department, and the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism & Substance Abuse (GCASA).

This initiative will allow the public to safely dispose of unused prescription medication, sharps and pet medications. The goal of this event is to provide a safe disposal method that will prevent the contamination of the water supply and most importantly decrease the likelihood of theft and abuse of prescription medications.

Upon completion of this event all collected medication will be destroyed in the presence of law enforcement officers at a designated incineration facility.

This is a great opportunity for the public to surrender unwanted and/or expired medications for safe and proper disposal. Events such as these have dramatically reduced the risk of prescription drug diversion and abuse, as well as increasing awareness of this critical public health issue.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Jail Superintendent Scott Wilson at 585-589-4310.

Collection locations on Saturday include:

• Orleans County Public Safety Building, 13925 State Route 31, Albion

• Holley Fire Department, 7 Thomas Street, Holley

• Kendall Fire Department, 1879 Kendall Rd., Kendall

• Lyndonville Fire Department, 148 N. Main Street, Lyndonville

• Medina Fire Department, 600 Main Street, Medina

Special thanks to the Holley, Medina, Lyndonville and Kendall fire departments for providing space in their facilities for this event.

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‘Run for Wayne’ honors memory of Albion music teacher

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 April 2017 at 5:12 pm

Wayne Burlison continues to inspire community

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Lisa Burlison, wife of the late Wayne Burlison, welcomes runners and other participants in the third annual Run for Wayne today. She is joined by the couple’s son, Adam, and family friend Marsha Rivers and the Rev. Randy LeBaron, pastor of the Albion Free Methodist Church.

Rivers encouraged Burlison to sign up for his first race. He went on the run marathons and help start the Albion Running Club.

Burlison died at age 36 from colon cancer on March 26, 2014.

Adam Burlison gets ready to cut the string holding the balloons. Mark Moore, the race director, is at right.

The race started at 12:01 p.m. on Clarendon Road by the Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School, where Mr. Burlison was a band teacher.

“Run for Wayne” started at 12:01 in recognition of Hebrews 12:1 as one of Burlison’s favorite Bible verses. The verse states: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

There where about 75 runners and walkers in the race today. Proceeds are being used towards a second memorial scholarship in Burlison’s memory, as well as to help develop a running/walking trail at Bullard Park.

Mary Martin, left, finishes the race with her friend Sarah Meister. Martin, 21, was one of Burlison’s students.

“He taught me how to play the jazz drums and got me into running,” Martin said.

Ed Russell, 75, of East Amherst is close to the finish line. Russell ran a 5K in the morning in Williamsville, “Run Forest Run!”

Last year Russell ran 185 races. He wants to run at least 100 this year.

Evan Steier of Albion had the fastest time overall in the Run for Wayne at 19:12. Lindon Morici of Albion was the fastest woman at 20:17 for the 3.17-mile course, which is slightly longer than a 5K. The 3.17-mile course represents the 3 months and 17 days that Burlison lived his diagnosis of Stage 4 colon cancer.

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Orleans drops in latest county health rankings

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 April 2017 at 9:44 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: Some kids shoot baskets on a warm March 24, 2015 at the basketball courts in Lyndonville.

Orleans County ranks 48th in overall health outcomes out of 62 counties in New York.

The county had been gradually moving up in the county rankings, from 52nd in 2013, to 49th in 2014, to 47th in 2015 and then 44th last year.

The report for “Health Outcomes” measures rates of premature death, low-birthweight babies and days of poor physical and mental health, as well as percentages of residents considered in poor or fair health (14 percent in Orleans, which is better than state average of 16 percent).

However, Orleans ranks 58th worst overall for premature death. It is 42nd for quality of life, the two factors that make up the ranking for health outcomes.

Saratoga County was the top-ranked county for health outcomes with the Bronx rated 62nd, the worst.

The County Health Rankings are compiled by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The County Health Rankings are a snapshot of the health of each county. The rankings for New York State are out of the 62 counties. There are five main categories and the factors that make up each category are measured and ranked.

Health Outcomes measures “Today’s Health” and includes length of life, premature death, sickness, mental health and low birth weight.

• “Health Factors” looks at tomorrow’s health and includes health behaviors: adult smoking, adult obesity, food environment index, physical inactivity, access to exercise opportunities, excessive drinking, alcohol-impaired driving deaths, sexually transmitted disease and teen births.

Orleans ranked 55th in Health Factors and exceeded state averages for adult smoking (18 percent vs. 15 percent), adult obesity (29 percent vs. 25 percent), excessive drinking (19 percent vs. 18 percent), and teen births (29 per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19, compared to 21 in NY).

• “Clinical Care” considers uninsured, primary care physicians, dentists, mental health providers, preventable hospital stays, diabetic monitoring, and mammography screening.

Orleans rated 60th in this category, nearly the worst in the state despite having a better rate on uninsured, 9 percent, versus 10 percent state-wide. Orleans does poorly in the report with 1 primary physician for every 10,500 people, compared to 1,200:1 statewide, and one dentist for every 4,620 people, compared to 1,270:1 in the state.

Orleans also has 1 mental health provider for every 2,190 people, compared to a 420:1 ratio in the state.

• “Social and Economic Factors” includes high school graduation, some college, unemployment, children in poverty, social associations, children in single-parent households, violent crime and injury deaths.

Orleans ranked 51st. Its unemployment rate, 6.5 percent, topped the state average of 5.3 percent. The county has 23 percent of children in poverty, above the 22 percent rate statewide. There are 39 percent of children in single-family households in Orleans, which tops the 35 percent average statewide.

• Orleans does its best in the category measuring “Physical Environment.” That includes air pollution, drinking water violations, severe housing problems, driving alone to work, and long commute – driving alone.

Orleans is ranked 22nd overall for this category. It didn’t have any drinking water violations and its percentage of residents facing severe housig problems, 15 percent, is better than the state average of 24 percent.

The county exceeds the state average for percentage of people driving alone to work, 83 percent compared to 53 percent statewide.

This year’s Rankings also introduce a new measure focused on young people, those 16 to 24, who are not in school or working. About 4.9 million young people in the U.S. — 1 out of 8 — fall into this category. Rates of youth disconnection are higher in rural counties (21.6 percent), particularly those in the South and West, than in urban ones (13.7 percent).

“Young adults who are not in school or working represent untapped potential in our communities and our nation that we can’t afford to waste,” said Paul Pettit. “Communities addressing issues such as poverty, unemployment, and education can make a difference creating opportunities for all youth and young adults. The County Health Rankings are an important springboard for conversations on how to do just that.”

To see the report on Orleans, click here.

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