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health & wellness

Kendall students take a stand against tobacco

Posted 1 February 2017 at 11:43 am

Provided photo: Kendall students last week gave a presentation on tobacco marketing and teen smoking.

Press Release, Tobacco-Free Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming

ALBION – At the Orleans United Drug Free Communities Coalition meeting on Jan. 26, Reality Check youth from Kendall Junior Senior High School presented research and evidence on the tobacco industry and their retail store marketing and advertising. The group’s single most important message was clear: “We’ve Seen Enough!”

After the presentation was complete, the student advocates answered questions and led a discussion on potential ways the community can take action in protecting children, as well as teens like them, from hard-hitting tobacco marketing that causes youth smoking.

“(I didn’t realize how) kids are targeted before they even walk in the store, with bright, colorful promotions on windows and walls,” said Reality Check member and Kendall student, Dillion Morgott. “Tobacco products are also placed alongside ads for snacks, candy and ice cream that kids know and love.”

In New York State, the average age of a new smoker is 13 years old, and 90 percent of adult smokers say they first tried smoking by age 18. The U.S. Surgeon General calls smoking a “pediatric epidemic” and says, “Advertising and promotional activities by tobacco companies have been shown to cause the onset and continuation of smoking among adolescents and young adults.”  Even with all of this data, research shows stores popular among adolescents contain almost three times more tobacco marketing materials compared to other stores in the same community.

Shelly Wolanske, youth engagement coordinator of Tobacco-Free Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming Counties (TF-GLOW) and Reality Check leader, lauds her advocates’ efforts in educating lawmakers and community members about tobacco marketing and standing up for a healthier Orleans County.

“Their efforts, along with partner support from the Drug Free Communities Coalition members, we can continue to build awareness, promote action and create change that will have a positive impact for the children of our community,” she said.

For more information about TF-GLOW programs or Reality Check, contact Shelly Wolanske at 585-343-5997 or

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Churches want to help with opioid crisis

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 January 2017 at 12:04 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Russ Peters, pastor of the Alabama Full Gospel Fellowship Church in Shelby, speaks during Friday’s Legislative Luncheon at Tillman’s Village Inn.

GAINES – As the community, state and country grapple with how to respond to an opioid crisis resulting in numerous overdose deaths, local churches in Orleans County are willing to help.

Russ Peters, pastor of the Alabama Full Gospel Fellowship in Shelby, said he has led several funeral services for people who have suffered fatal overdoses.

Drug addictions are plaguing the community, Peters said during Friday’s Legislative Luncheon attended by about 100 people. That event at the Village Inn was organized by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce and offered a forum to discuss issues.

Peters said several church leaders have formed Pastors Aligned for Community Transformation (PACT). Last week, PACT had prayer sessions at 6 p.m. from Monday through Friday at different churches. The opioid crisis is among the leading concerns for churches, Peters said.

PACT last year led discussions about addictions, the opioid crisis and overcoming barriers that keep people in poverty. Debbie Davis is founder of the faith-based “One Voice,” a non-profit organization that works with people fighting addictions in West Virginia. She met with the PACT leaders and the community last June to discuss how churches in her community reached out to people struggling with addictions and feelings of hopelessness.

Sheriff Randy Bower said the Sheriff’s Office has strengthened a partnership with 77 churches in the county.

“We will be reaching out,” Bower said during the Legislative Luncheon.

The Sheriff’s Office last year started a program in the county jail to help people with addictions.

“It’s near and dear to my heart,” Bower said. “We want to help these people.”

Bower said assisting people with addictions will reduce crimes, because many larcenies and burglaries are committed by people trying to fuel drug cravings.

Bower noted the governor’s budget includes $200 million more in the fight against opioid addictions.

The state earlier this month announced it would fund a methadone clinic in Batavia, open to people in Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming counties, helping them to fight opioid addictions.

“It’s a very serious issue,” State Assemblyman Steve Hawley said. “It touches every strata.”

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Health Department director says bed bugs are growing concern countywide

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 January 2017 at 6:56 pm
Photo from New York State Department of Health: Bed bugs are small, flat wingless insects that are reddish-brown in color and approximately one-quarter inch long. They don’t fly but can crawl rapidly.

Photo from New York State Department of Health: Bed bugs are small, flat wingless insects that are reddish-brown in color and approximately one-quarter inch long. They don’t fly but can crawl rapidly.

Holley Central School isn’t alone in battling bed bugs. The district has been in the news today after discovering bed bugs in two elementary school classrooms.

The district brought in an exterminator to treat the classroom, as well as the hallway and neighboring classrooms.

Bed bugs have a growing problem throughout Orleans County, said Paul Pettit, public health director.

“It’s definitely on the increase,” Pettit said today. “Year by year we’re getting more calls and complaints.”

The bed bugs don’t carry disease but they are a nuisance, and difficult to get rid of, Pettit said.

They are “hitch hikers” attaching themselves to clothing, backpacks, coats, sofas and suitcases.

When they are in a house, they often hide in cracks and crevices in couches, or behind beds. They feed on blood and some people may wake up with bite marks. That’s a sign they should look closer to see if there are bed bugs in their home, Pettit said.

People are transient, going to movie theaters, hotels and other public places. It ‘s no surprise the bed bug complaints are on the rise, Pettit said.

He advised people to get rid of clutter, and try to keep a clean house, regularly washing bed sheets and pillow cases.

He urged people not to pick up discarded furniture by the curb. That furniture might be infested.

“This is an issue people need to be aware of,” Pettit said. “Anybody can get them.”

The New York State Department of Health issued these recommendations to avoid bringing bed bugs into your home:

• When staying in a hotel, place your bag on a suitcase stand rather than on the bed or floor. Keep the rack away from walls or furniture. When returning home, wash the clothes from your trip and put them in a hot dryer.

• Inspect new and used furniture before bringing it inside. Look in seams, tufts and under cushions.

If you have bed bugs, the Health Department recommends these actions:

• Clean and get rid of clutter, especially in your bedroom.

• Move your bed away from walls or furniture.

• Vacuum molding, windows and floors every day. Vacuum sides and seams of mattresses, box springs and furniture. Empty the vacuum or the bag immediately and dispose of outside in a sealed container or bag.

• Wash sheets, pillow cases, blankets and bed skirts and put them in a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes. Consider using mattress and box spring covers –the kind used for dust mite control–and put duct tape over the zippers.

• Seal cracks and crevices and any openings where pipes or wires come into the home.

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Hospice appoints former Arc director to be new leader

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 January 2017 at 3:06 pm
Kellie Spychalski

Kellie Spychalski

ALBION – The former leader of the Arc of Orleans County has been picked to be the new leader of Hospice of Orleans. Kellie Spychalski will lead Hospice following the retirement of Mary Anne Fischer, who worked with Hospice since 1992, leading the organization since its infancy in Orleans County.

Spychalski was director of the Arc of Orleans before taking the director’s job for the Arc’s counterpart in Niagara County, Opportunities Unlimited. She worked 21 years for the Arc of Orleans, including two years as executive director.

The Hospice position gives Spychalski the chance to work much closer to her home in Holley.

Hospice announced Spychalski’s hiring today.

“I am honored and excited to have been selected to serve as the CEO for the Hospice of Orleans County,” Spychalski said in a statement. “I wholeheartedly believe that people should be empowered to make their own health care decisions including end of life care. Hospice of Orleans is a wonderful organization which provides outstanding care and support to people faced with life-limiting illness and their loved ones.

“My family and several of our close friends have seen first-hand the impact that Hospice has on families during some of the most challenging times in their lives. I look forward to working with the Board of Directors, staff, donors, community partners and the many caring and dedicated volunteers who make Hospice such a great organization and true asset to our community.”

The Hospice Board of Directors selected Spychalski after review of her education and experience which includes a MS in Health Care Administration, BS in Organizational Management from Roberts Wesleyan College, an AAS in Human Services from GCC, as well as a 30-year career in the field of human services in roles ranging from direct hands-on care to Corporate Compliance to Executive Director, most recently working with The Arc of Orleans County and Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara.

Spychalski also serves in the community through the Holley Board of Education in Holley as well as Orleans Community Health board of directors.

She lives in Holley with her husband Ron and is mother to 2 grown sons.

“I am excited about working together to continue to meet the needs of Orleans County residents and expand services and opportunities which enhance people’s quality of life,” she said. “Together we will build on the many successes Hospice has experienced over the past 25 years.”

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GCASA will establish new methadone clinic to help people with opioid addictions

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 January 2017 at 3:21 pm

BATAVIA – The state announced today it is giving $820,000 to establish a methadone clinic in Batavia that will be open to people fighting opioid addictions in Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming counties.

The methadone clinic will have room for 150 people at the outpatient clinic. It will be located at 430 East Main St. and includes an 1,100-square-foot addition.

The site will work with patients who are chronically addicted and haven’t had success using Suboxone to fight heroin and prescription drug addictions, said John Bennett, executive director of Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

GCASA took the lead on the project after seeing a rise in opioid addictions locally, including many fatal overdoses. Many local patients have been driving to Rochester or Buffalo daily to receive treatment at methadone clinics.

Bennett said the clinic in Batavia will take 12-14 months to get ready, which includes new construction and developing the program. He expects the site will begin seeing patients in February-March 2018.

It will help people battling addictions, and should also reduce crime in the community because many people with opioid addictions will commit burglaries and larcenies trying to feed their drug addictions.

“These are people already in our community struggling with drug addiction, heroin or prescription medication,” Bennett said today.

The methadone clinic will provide medicine and counseling for patients, as well as structured activities, Bennett said.

The $820,000 for GCASA is part of $8.2 million announced today by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for eight addiction treatment providers, serving 600 people total.

“This administration continues the fight against opioid and heroin addiction and this funding will help ensure more New Yorkers will get the help they need to get on the road to recovery,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “These new beds will help change lives and save lives, and bring us one step closer to a stronger and healthier New York for all.”

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Repealing ‘Obamacare’ would cost state $595 million, and Orleans County nearly $700K annually

Staff Reports Posted 4 January 2017 at 4:22 pm

If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, an estimated 2.7 million New Yorkers would lose coverage, including 4,522 in Orleans County, according to data from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” – would also cost the state $595 million in lost federal revenue with Orleans County seeing a loss of $667,917 to the county government, according to Cuomo.

“The cost of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, to state and local budgets and to the New Yorkers who depend on its health care coverage, is simply too high to justify,” Governor Cuomo said. “Since its implementation, the Affordable Care Act has become a powerful tool to lower the cost of health insurance for local governments and New Yorkers, and it is essential that the federal government does not jeopardize the health and livelihoods of millions of working families.”

The NY State of Health exchange has cut the percentage of uninsured New Yorkers in half, from 10 percent to 5 percent. It has also significantly expanded eligibility and access to health coverage, allowing hundreds of thousands of previously uninsured New Yorkers to achieve economic and healthcare security, Cuomo said.

George Gresham, President, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, said, “New York’s healthcare workers see the positive impact of the Affordable Care Act every day. Our patients are able to access preventative care instead of coming to emergency rooms in states of advanced illness. Our employers have reduced losses from uncompensated care. Our friends and relatives are relieved of the fear that getting sick equals financial ruin. Repealing the Affordable Care Act without an adequate replacement would have immediate and devastating consequences for millions of our fellow New Yorkers and for state and local budgets. We applaud Governor Cuomo’s leadership in educating New Yorkers about costs and are proud to stand with him to advocate for the health all New Yorkers,”

Bea Grause, President of the Healthcare Association of New York, said, “In addition to providing care to those in need, hospitals are major employers in communities all across the state. Repeal of the ACA could have tremendous consequences for the delivery of healthcare and also in terms of jobs and economic activity. It’s imperative that Congress be mindful of this reality. I’m pleased to join the Governor in this important effort to protect New Yorkers.”

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Crisis hotline adds Orleans County

Posted 2 January 2017 at 8:55 pm

Press Release, YWCA of Genesee County

BATAVIA – Just two years after launching the Care+Crisis Helpline throughout Genesee County, YWCA will be adding another component of the GLOW region to its list of customers as of Jan. 1, 2017.

Helpline staff has surpassed initial goals by thousands, with more than 14,780 calls and Live Chats taken in 2016. The addition of Orleans, a county bordering the northern section of Bergen west to Alabama, will mean the potential for thousands more calls fielded by trained Helpline specialists 24 hours a day.

This is a tremendous opportunity to offer Orleans County residents the same life-saving services and support that has been provided to Genesee County since Jan. 1, 2015, Helpline Program Manager Holly Baxter said.

“This includes working to prevent the suicide of those who are actively suicidal and to offer hope and caring to people in crisis,” Baxter said. “Every person in Orleans County who is going through a crisis can now find the help, support and encouragement that they need to solve their problems and have hope for tomorrow 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

YWCA is not the first agency to join forces with Orleans County – it has happened with Community Action and Mental Health Association to name two – and this partnership will only enhance the human services already available there, Executive Director Jeanne Walton said.

“Care+Crisis Helpline staff is continuously trained and updated on all forms of crisis, from substance abuse and terminal illness to domestic violence and mental health issues,” Walton said. “We are grateful to Orleans County officials for allowing us the opportunity to share this expertise in a compassionate way through the Helpline.”

There are several reasons why this move makes sense, said Mark O’Brien, director of Mental Health and Community Services at Orleans County. First and foremost, the Helpline has a “strong record” of successfully working with Genesee County.

“We do a lot of shared services and coordination with Genesee County Mental Health. We share constituents and consumers between our agencies,” he said. “The Helpline has an ability to handle a greater volume of calls and make referrals as needed. It supports our efforts to be more community-based and accessible.”

Orleans County Mental Health has made great strides in offering access to the public, including a satellite office at each of the five county school districts. His agency has Mobile Mental Health Crisis teams that serve children and adults, and ongoing cooperative efforts with county law enforcement.

“The Care+Crisis Helpline will be a primary way to triage and activate them,” O’Brien said. “This combines it all into one place.”

The Helpline is available 24/7 for any type of crisis and is free and confidential for callers. For more information, call toll-free at (844) 345-4400 or (585) 344-4400 or go to and click on the Live Chat box that appears.

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Medina Memorial announces closing of ICU, staffing reductions

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 December 2016 at 3:46 pm

MEDINA – Medina Memorial Hospital will close its 4-bed Intensive Care Unit and eliminate 10 full-time equivalent positions on Jan. 31, 2017.

The ICU is no longer a six-figure deficit, but it continued to operate at a loss this year, Wendy M. Jacobson, President/CEO of Medina Memorial Hospital/Orleans Community Health, said in a statement this afternoon.

The staff in the positions being eliminated will be able to apply for other jobs with Orleans Community Health.

Here is the full statement from Jacobson:

“Related to the change in designation in 2015 to a Critical Access Hospital and the decrease in patient volume that the majority of hospitals saw in 2016, Orleans Community Health is conducting some reductions and re-assignment of staff.

“In 2016, staffing was modified in the ICU to make up for a six-figure loss in 2015. Unfortunately, though not as high as in 2015, the losses continued for 2016. The 4 bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU) will therefore close due to consistent low patient volume and patients not meeting required acuity levels for reimbursement. There are eighteen CAHs in NYS and only three have the patient volume and acuity level to support an ICU. The NYS Department of health has been notified and a Limited Review CON submitted.

“Approximately 2% (approximately 10 FTEs) of the employees including staff from Nursing and Rehabilitation are affected by the necessary reductions system wide.  OCH expects to minimize the actual number of reductions by offering impacted associates the opportunity to apply for other vacant positions within the health system. The layoffs will take effect 1/31/17.

“Additionally, Outpatient Rehabilitation services will be consolidated and all outpatient rehabilitation services will be located in Albion at the Health Center on Rt 31 and Butts Road.

“The reductions and reassignments also come at a time when area health providers are facing increasing pressure to find operational efficiencies amid continued state and federal cutbacks in healthcare reimbursement and an overall weak economy. Operational efficiencies are imperative for designated Critical Access Hospitals and those efficiencies are closely monitored by State and Federal regulatory bodies.

“OCH will continue to meet your needs as a community hospital and we will continue to offer Medical Surgical, Surgical, and Emergency Department Services, as well as Imaging, Cardiac, and Laboratory services, Comprehensive Medical Rehabilitation onsite.

“We still offer Renal Dialysis in Batavia and Medina and Primary, Urgent, Laboratory, Imaging and Rehabilitation Services in Albion. We also hope to be adding new outpatient and long term services to better meet the community’s needs in 2017 and 2018 as a result of grant funding.”

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Dialysis site in Medina reopens after renovations

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 December 2016 at 10:05 am
Photos by Tom Rivers: Sherri Parker of Akron sits at a dialysis station on Wednesday in Medina. Lake Plains Dialysis reopened on Monday at 11020 W. Center Street after 8 months of renovations.

Photos by Tom Rivers: Sherri Parker of Akron sits at a dialysis station on Wednesday in Medina. Lake Plains Dialysis reopened on Monday at 11020 W. Center Street after 8 months of renovations.

MEDINA – Sherri Parker of Akron is thankful the Lake Plains Dialysis site in Medina reopened this week after eight months of renovations.

Parker has been on dialysis for eight years. The Medina location at 11020 W. Center St. has been close by for her. When it closed for repairs, shifting most patients to a site in Batavia, it meant a much earlier start in the day and a longer commute for Parker and other patients.

Monday the site in Medina, which opened about 20 years ago, was back in business. Parker was there just before 6 in the morning.

“I love it,” Parker said. “It’s nicer and much warmer.”

The dialysis site was closed in April after water damage to the building. The nine dialysis stations were relocated to Lake Plains’ other site in Batavia at 587 East Main St. (Orleans Community Health provides the service for about 100 people at the two locations.)

The Medina site will be adding another station in early 2017. That will allow Lake Plains to serve four more patients who need dialysis. Medina currently has 37 patients and there is a waiting list for 30 patients at the two sites, said Laurie Joslyn, manager of Lake Plains Dialysis.

Laurie Joslyn is manager of the Lake Plains Dialysis Centers in Medina and Batavia. Both sites will be able to add patients in early 2017 after a grant paid for one more station in medina and two in Batavia.

Laurie Joslyn is manager of the Lake Plains Dialysis Centers in Medina and Batavia. Both sites will be able to add patients in early 2017 after a grant paid for one more station in Medina and two in Batavia.

A Rural Access Grant is allowing Lake Plains to add another station in Medina and two in Batavia.

When Medina was closed for eight months, Joslyn said 35 of the 37 patients took dialysis in Batavia while two others found other dialysis sites.

Parker and other Medina patients are thankful the site reopened in medina.

“This is a convenience for me,” Parker said on Wednesday, nearing the end of a four-hour dialysis session.

Parker and other patients receive dialysis three times a week. In Medina, there are two shifts while Batavia provides the service at three different times for people with failing kidneys.

With dialysis, blood is pumped through machines that remove extra water, wastes and chemicals from the blood stream.

Medina has a team of certified technicians, registered nurses and LPNs working with patients. There is also a social worker and dietician on staff to help patients.

Parker said she prefers the Medina site, which is less hectic than many other dialysis centers that typically have 20 to 30 stations.

“It’s quieter here with less interruptions,” she said.

The Medina site was once a roller-skating rink and then a manufacturing site. With the recent renovations the site has new flooring (a non-skid laminate replaced carpet), new drywall and wallboard, fresh paint and renovated lobby, as well as other improvements.

The Medina site is located in a former roller-skating rink on West Center Street.

The Medina site is located in a former roller-skating rink on West Center Street.

Joslyn, the dialysis manager, has worked for Lake Plains for 15 years, starting as a nurse. She said the dialysis sites are their own communities, with patients and staff getting to know each other.

The reopening of the Medina site will make the traveling easier for many of the patients, Joslyn said.

Parker said she was thrilled when Joslyn announced it would reopen on Monday.

“I was so excited I couldn’t sleep,” Parker said.

For more on Lake Plains Dialysis, click here.

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Orchard Manor LPN wins ‘Caring Hearts Award’

Staff Reports Posted 20 December 2016 at 11:44 am
Provided photo: Desiree Braham is pictured with Martin MacKenzie, Administrator at Orchard Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, after she won a “Caring Hearts Award” from the New York State Health Facilities Association.

Provided photo: Desiree Braham is pictured with Martin MacKenzie, Administrator at Orchard Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, after she won a “Caring Hearts Award” from the New York State Health Facilities Association.

Desiree Braham, an LPN at Orchard Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Medina, has received the New York State Health Facilities Association District 10 Caring Hearts Award.

She was nominated by Orchard Manor Family Council members as a “Caring Heart” because of her exemplary dedication, skills, and compassion towards residents.

Braham was honored in December at this year’s Holiday Awards Reception at Fox Valley Country Club in Lancaster. She has followed her mother, aunts and grandmother in becoming a nurse.

Braham worked for two years as a nurse at an assisted living facility in Williamsville prior to coming to Orchard Manor two years ago. She started at Orchard Manor as a Med Nurse and is now a Unit Manager.

“She likes helping others and the medical field interests her,” said Jamie Murphy, activities director and a spokeswoman for Orchard Manor. “From day one, she’s always been willing to pitch in and help her staff or anyone as needed—she’s not above any task.”

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