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health & wellness

Medina hospital welcomes new high-tech medicine camera

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 December 2016 at 3:59 pm


Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Orleans County Legislator Ken DeRoller, left, and Nicole Cummings, a nuclear medicine technologist, look over a new nuclear medicine camera for radiology this afternoon at Medina Memorial Hospital.

The hospital spent about $300,000 to acquire the new equipment that replaces one that was 16 years old. The new nuclear medicine camera does quicker scans, with half the radiation dosage. The scans are also more accurate, said Jennifer Maynard, the director of imaging and cardia services for the hospital.


The hospital celebrated the new equipment with a ribbon-cutting today. Pictured from left include: Cindy Perry, director of Outreach, Education and Marketing for Community Partners; Dr. Dale Sponaugle, radiologist; Nicole Cummings, a nuclear medicine technologist; Jennifer Maynard, director of imaging and cardiac services for the hospital; and Sean Mulligan, CT and Molecular Imaging Product Sales Specialist at GE Healthcare.


Local officials look over the new equipment. Paul Pettit, public health director in Orleans County, is at far right. He congratulated the hospital and its parent organization, Orleans Community Health, for the upgrade.

“I applaud Orleans Community health for the continued investment in bringing new technology to Orleans County residents,” Pettit said.


Jennifer Maynard holds up a cake to celebrate the new nuclear medicine camera. The equipment can be used to check for cancer, thyroid problems, heart conditions and other health issues.

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Teddy Bears get patched up at hospital

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 December 2016 at 11:50 am


Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Otis, a toy dog owned by Garrison Foote, gets bandaged by registered nurse Mary Dunham at Medina Memorial Hospital this morning. The hospital welcomed kindergartners from Albion on Wednesday and this morning. They were all urged to bring in a stuffed animal that could be bandaged with pretend injuries.

The children and their toy animals also went in the X-Ray room.


Mary Dunham gives a Teddy Bear some medical attention as part of today’s Teddy Bear clinic. Medina Memorial brought back the clinic last year after it had stopped for a few years. The hospital hopes the Teddy Bear Clinic helps children to feel more comfortable if they ever need to go to the hospital.


Sasi, the official “spokesbear” for the Orleans County Health Department, tells students about the importance of washing their hands with soap and water for about 20 seconds. Sasi’s handler is Nola Goodrich-Kresse, public health educator for the Orleans County Health Department. Sasi has been the Health Department’s ambassador for about 20 years.

Brenna Podesta (next to Goodrich-Kresse) is an intern with the Health Department. She read a story, “Leo the Little Lion learns how to get ahead of lead.”

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Hospice of Orleans leader announces retirement

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 November 2016 at 7:41 am

Mary Anne Fischer has led the organization since 1992

Mary Anne Fischer

Mary Anne Fischer

ALBION – The chief executive officer of Hospice of Orleans since 1992 has announced her retirement.

Mary Anne Fischer has the the organization in its push to expand programs for people battling advanced illnesses and to offer support for their families and loved ones.

“Through her guidance and dedication, Mary Anne has developed Hospice of Orleans through its infancy to the highly regarded state that it is today,” Hospice said in a news release. “Her involvement was vital in providing the community of Orleans County the level of care that has become a high quality standard and was the shepherd in conceptually constructing and opening the doors of the Martin-Linsin Residence in 2012, which has served so many patients and families.”

The Martin-Linsin Residence opened behind Hospice’s administrative building on Route 31 after a $2.3 million capital campaign. The 8,500-square-foot hospice home has rooms for eight residents. There is 24-hour-a-day nursing care.

File photo by Tom Rivers: Mary Anne Fischer is pictured with Cora Goyette, who served as Hospice’s development director during the campaign to build the Martin-Linsin Residence.

File photo by Tom Rivers: Mary Anne Fischer is pictured with Cora Goyette, who served as Hospice’s development director during the campaign to build the Martin-Linsin Residence.

Hospice serves about 130 patients a year, with most receiving care in their homes.

The Martin-Linsin Residence provides “a home away from home” for residents with complex medical issues, Fischer has said.

The eight residential suites were designed to accommodate visitors and allow family members to stay overnight. The site includes a family kitchen, lounge and dining room, spa area with therapy tub, family meeting room, a chapel and an indoor courtyard.

Fischer was praised by Hospice officials for her “tireless efforts” for nearly a quarter of a century.

Joel Allen, Hospice’s director of finance and facilities management, will assume the duties of chief operating officer. The board of directors for Hospice will soon begin a search for a new chief executive officer.

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250 turn out for walk at Watt’s to raise funds for local cancer services

Photo by Tom Rivers: This group from Albion Central School posed for a group photo before today’s “Orchard Walk for the Cure” at Watt Farms. Several Albion teachers and staff are cancer survivors and they were part of the walk today that raised about $7,000 for The Cancer Services Program of Genesee and Orleans County.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 October 2016 at 4:18 pm
Peggy Lemcke, a teacher’s aide at Albion Central School, is applauded before the walk for being a cancer survivor for 16 years now.

Peggy Lemcke, a teacher’s aide at Albion Central School, is applauded before the walk for being a cancer survivor for 16 years now.

ALBION – About 250 participants today raised more than $7,000 to pay for cancer screenings and to support people battling cancer in Orleans and Genesee counties.

Watt Farms for 11 years was a host for the making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. Several hundred people attended that walk each year and raised $350,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Karen Watt, a 12-year breast cancer survivor, wanted to shift the walk this year so the funds would stay in Orleans and Genesee counties. She also wanted the proceeds to benefit people battling all types of cancers.

Today’s funds will go to Cancer Services of Genesee and Orleans, which funds mammograms, colonoscopies and other services to people underinsured or without insurance. The group contracts with Community Partners at Orleans Community Health in Medina for those services in Orleans County.


Lisa Franclemont, coordinator of Cancer Services of Genesee and Orleans, welcomes the participants for the walk at Watt’s.


Karen Watt and her grandson Evan lead the group in the walk, which was either 1 kilometer or 5 kilometers.


This group in front is from Holley Fire Department. Holley firefighters have been regulars the past five years at Watt’s for the walk. Karen Meiers, wife of past fire chief Ron Meiers, has been a breast cancer survivor for five years.


Joe and Maegen Suhr of Lyndonville are pictured with their daughter Ella, who turns 1 on Wednesday. Ella completed chemo treatments on Oct. 3. She also had two surgeries after doctors found a brain tumor. Many of the participants in the walk today wore shirts that said “Suhr Strong.” Ella’s parents are both teachers. Joe teachers high school history at Lyndonville and Maegan is a high school special education teacher at Batavia. They said Ella had a clear scan for cancer two weeks ago.


Emily Blanchard is pictured with Karen Watt after the walk today. Emily was the top individual fund-raiser at $3,450. Emily, 17, has been raising money for the walk the past nine years and estimated she has secured nearly $30,000 in donations by sending letters, emails and asking people in person.

Emily raises the money in memory of her grandmother, Patricia Blanchard, who was a kindergarten teacher at Lyndonville. She also ran a nursery school.

“She was the kind of person that everyone loved in Lyndonville,” Emily said.


This group mostly includes students from Syracuse University, who joined their classmate Joyce LaLonde who walked in memory of her mother, Kathy LaLonde, who died from breast cancer at age 54 on Oct. 6, 2013. Joyce and her father Steve are fifth and sixth from left in front row. Many of Kathy’s friends and family from Albion also walked at Watt’s today in her honor.


Lisa Franclement, left, introduces cancer survivors before the walk today. They include, from left: Karen Meiers of Holley, 5 years; Marge Walls of Elba, 29 years; Karen Watt of Albion, 12 years; Peggy Lemke of Albion, 16 years; Dawn Arnold of Albion, 2 years; and Kelly Wadhams of Albion, 5 years.

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Schools are waiting on test results for lead in water

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 October 2016 at 5:21 pm

Four of the five school districts in Orleans County are waiting for the results to see if there are elevated lead levels in the water outlets.

New York State on Sept. 6 passed a new law requiring water in schools be tested for lead. The state gave the school until Oct. 31 to get the tests done.

Albion, Holley, Lyndonville and Medina have all been tested, but they are waiting for the results.

Medina tested drinking fountains and water outlets in the spring and the results showed no spots had elevated levels, said Mark Kruzynski, the district’s business administrator. Medina did that before the state law was enacted.

However, the state’s new mandate required expansive testing, including any source of water, Kruzynski said.

“Now we have to test all every possible place where water comes out,” Kruzynski said today.

The schools hired contractors to do the tests. Only Kendall has the results back and Kendall’s showed one classroom sink in the Jr./Sr. Science wing is above acceptable levels for lead. The affected sink will be posted as unacceptable for drinking, but is safe for hand washing, Julie Christensen, the school district superintendent, said last week.

In the Kendall Elementary School, six outlets located in low-use classrooms/restrooms tested above the acceptable threshold for lead. Christensen said of those six, four are located in limited-use office areas. She said signs in those areas indicate sinks should only be used for hand washing and three affected water fountains will be shut off until they are replaced.

In Buffalo, 18 city schools have tested positive for elevated levels of lead, The Buffalo News reported today.

Before the new law was approved on Sept. 6, schools in New York were not required to test their drinking water for lead, or notify parents or government officials of results.

“These rigorous new protections for New York’s children include the toughest lead contamination testing standards in the nation, and provide clear guidance to schools on when and how they should test their water,” Governor Cuomo said on Sept. 6. “As children begin another school year, I’m proud to sign this legislation, which marks a major step forward in protecting the public health and ensuring the future growth and success of students across the state.”

(Includes reporting by correspondent Kristina Gabalski.)

GCASA, schools push anti-drug message during Red Ribbon Week

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 October 2016 at 10:19 pm


ALBION – Many red ribbons are tied on branches, railings and signs at the Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse at 249 East Ave., Albion.

This week is Red Ribbon Week and GCASA staff are visiting local schools to push an anti-drug message.


The National Family Partnership started the Red Ribbon Week in 1985 in response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena. His death angered parents and youth across the country and many began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America.

Locally, GCASA spreads that message throughout the year. This week GCASA has a big show of support for Red Ribbon Week.


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Brown’s race/walk set a new high in raising funds for Hospice

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 October 2016 at 2:04 pm


Brian Krieger, executive director of the Albion Running Club, and Margy Brown (center) present a check for $5,708.83 to Hospice of Orleans Development Coordinator Brittany Dix.

Brian Krieger, executive director of the Albion Running Club, and Margy Brown (center) present a check for $5,708.83 to Hospice of Orleans Development Coordinator Brittany Dix.

Provided photos

ALBION – The 20th anniversary Brown’s Berry Patch race on Oct. 8 raised a record $5,708.83 for Hospice of Orleans. That brings the total since 1996 to more than $45,000.

The top picture shows runners and walkers at the beginning of the 5-kilometer course.

This year’s 5K run and Memory Walk was in memory of Libby Jurs, a beloved school nurse at Kendall who died last Dec. 12 after a long battle with ovarian cancer and, more recently, leukemia.

The race was organized by the Albion Running Club and the Brown family. About 130 runners and walkers completed the course.

The race proceeds saw a big increase due to generous sponsors whose names are on the race/walk T-shirts.

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Health Departments urge community to prevent lead poisoning

Posted 24 October 2016 at 12:41 pm


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

This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. The Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County Health Departments encourage you to learn about lead, lead poisoning, and the importance of preventative testing in order to make our community a healthier one.

Lead is a metal found in the earth and it is a poison. For years, lead was used in paint, gas, plumbing and many other items. Since the late-1970’s lead paint was banned in the United States, however other countries may not have regulations regarding the use of lead products.

Lead can be found in the soil, deteriorated paint, household dust, contaminated drinking water from old plumbing, lead-glazed pottery, some metal jewelry, and at some jobsites (typically construction, manufacturing and mining).

Lead poisoning is preventable but when ingested, even a small amount can cause severe and lasting harm. Exposure to lead can happen from breathing air or dust, eating contaminated foods, or drinking contaminated water. All houses built prior to 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint.  According to the CDC, approximately 24 million housing units have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust.

Lead dust, fumes and paint chips can cause serious health problems. Too much lead in the human body can cause serious damage to the brain, nervous system and red blood cells. Everyone, young and old, can be affected if exposed, but children and pregnant women are considered at highest risk.

Young children between 6 months and 6 years old are more likely to suffer health problems from lead exposure. Lead poisoning can slow a child’s physical growth and mental development and may cause behavior problems, intellectual disability, kidney and liver damage, blindness and even death.

“New York State Department of Health requires health care providers to obtain a blood lead test for all children at age 1 and again at age 2,” said Brenden Bedard, Director of Community Health Services for Genesee and Orleans Counties. “Up to age 6, your doctor or nurse should ask you about ways your child may have had contact with lead. Pregnant women are at high risk because lead can pass from mother to her unborn baby, as well as be responsible for high blood pressure and miscarriage. Also, be concerned if you or someone in your home has a hobby or job that brings them in contact with lead.”

Prevention is the key! Protect yourself and your family from possible lead exposure by talking to your Primary Care Provider about lead testing. There are also many precautions that can be taken to protect yourself and your family. Here are a few: Prior to consuming food, make sure hands are washed; clean your home weekly; do not allow your child to chew on something that is dirty; avoid wearing shoes in the house; and hire a qualified professional if you suspect there is lead in your home that you want removed.

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Oak Orchard Health buys OTB site, 2 other properties on Route 31

Photo by Tom Rivers: The former Off-Track Betting parlor at 317 West Ave. in Albion, as well as the green house at left, were acquired by Oak Orchard Health, which runs a healthcare site next door.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 October 2016 at 11:20 am

ALBION – Oak Orchard Health is looking to expand healthcare services in Orleans County, including dental and possibly vision and behavioral health, after acquiring three sites on Route 31 in Albion.

Oak Orchard purchased the former Off-Track Betting Corp. site at 317 West Avenue, as well as a next-door house, and a vacant parcel. The sites are next to Oak Orchard’s existing Albion health care site.

“We know there is a great need in Orleans County for health services and we look forward to filling some of that need,” said Jim Cummings, chief executive officer for Oak Orchard.

Oak Orchard, a Federally Qualified Health Center, will work on securing financing for a new site on the newly acquired properties. The current site is cramped. A bigger new building would allow Oak Orchard to add medical professionals and will become the main healthcare site for Oak Orchard in Albion, Cummings said.

The existing site may become the site for vision, dental and behavioral health services, Cummings said. Oak Orchard will work with the Orleans County Health Department and State Department of Health to assess services that could be provided by Oak Orchard.

The green house by the OTB will be torn down, Cummings said. The OTB parlor, which is set back from the road, may stay and be used for storage and for Oak Orchard’s maintenance staff. The new building might go in front of the OTB building.

Oak Orchard will work with an architect for the new building. If the financing, and state and local approvals fall into place, Cummings said the new site could be ready in about two years.

“We’re moving on our plan for more medical space,” he said. “That is our broad-based goal because the needs in Orleans are significant for health and dental.”

Oak Orchard is marking its 50th anniversary in the community this year. Oak Orchard was originally founded by the University of Rochester in 1966 to provide health care for migrant farmworkers. Oak Orchard has expanded to an integrated health center with services for all community members. Oak Orchard has sites in Albion, Lyndonville, Brockport, Warsaw and Hornell, as well as a mobile dental unit.

Oak Orchard Health recently received a perfect score during an operational site visit by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health and Services Administration’s Bureau of Primary Health Care.

Oak Orchard successfully fulfilled all 19 program requirements – an accomplishment that places Oak Orchard Health among a very small number of community health centers nationally to achieve this score, Cummings said.

The health center was measured on clinical, quality, financial, and operational performance and practices during the in-depth review. The operational site visit results provide a comprehensive assessment of the health center’s compliance and performance status.

“An operational site visit that results with no negative findings is very rare and a testament to the dedication put forth each day at Oak Orchard Health,” Cummings said. “I am proud of our team and its successful efforts to deliver high quality health care to our community.”

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Medina ER says it is committed to high-quality care ‘as quickly as possible’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 October 2016 at 12:22 pm

Quick Questions with Dr. Richard Elman and Mackenzie Smith

Photos by Tom Rivers: Dr. Richard Elman serves as medical director of the Emergency Room at Medina Memorial Hospital. He is pictured with, from left: Amanda Luckman, secretary of the ER (sitting); MacKenzie Smith, nurse manager and stroke coordinator (in back); and Maria Piotrowski, a registered nurse.

Photos by Tom Rivers: Dr. Richard Elman serves as medical director of the Emergency Room at Medina Memorial Hospital. He is pictured with, from left: Amanda Luckman, secretary of the ER (sitting); MacKenzie Smith, nurse manager and stroke coordinator (in back); and Maria Piotrowski, a registered nurse.

MEDINA – Some of the new faces at Medina Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Room may look familiar to community members.

Dr. Richard Elman is the ER’s medical director. He worked for the hospital in the 1990s. He returned when the hospital in August partnered with TeamHealth, a physician services organization, to provide staffing for the ER, which serves about 10,000 patients annually.

TeamHealth started work in the Medina ER on Aug. 1. It has five full-time staff and six part-timers working at Medina. That includes physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. TeamHealth works with about 3,000 hospitals in the country.

The ER’s nursing staff is also managed by MacKenzie Smith. She grew up in Medina and was working at a large hospital in Rochester before returning to work in her hometown about 1 ½ years ago. Smith also is coordinator of the designated stroke center at the hospital.

Smith said the ER has been focused on improving care and providing it “as quickly as possible.”

She is pleased with that push for excellence. The ER also has updated equipment with computers mounted in the two trauma rooms, new nurses’ stations and cabinetry. Wireless scanners and redone floors are coming to the ER, which includes seven rooms, plus a triage room.

The two ER leaders were interviewed last week at the hospital.

Question for Dr. Elman: Why do you think so many hospitals are contracting with TeamHealth for ER services, rather than trying to do their own staffing?

Answer: There is a lot you can do when you are that large. They are a very well-oiled organization. They provide a lot of resources and support to all of their members. There is continuous education, best practices – how should this ER be running and what can we do more efficiently – that is offered to us and there are expectations that we implement these processes as we move forward.

Question: Have you already identified processes that could be improved in Medina?

Answer (Dr. Elman) : Oh we’ve already started making some changes since we’ve been here.

Answer (Smith) : Dr. Elman is also the chairman of emergency medicine for Catholic Health Services.

Answer (Dr. Elman) : I spent the last 13 years as chairman and facility medical director for South Buffalo Mercy Hospital. Over the last year and half I’ve been chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine for the Catholic Health System. (Medina and the Catholic Health System have an affiliation.)

Question: What are some of the things that are improved at the Medina ER?

Answer (Smith) : It’s fair to say things are improved. Dr. Elman is working on new policies and really bringing us up to speed for a lot of evidence-based practice and to provide the best care and treatment for our patients.

Answer (Dr. Elman) : I work about 10 shifts a month here on average so I’m actively involved not just in the administrative aspect but the clinical aspect. So I walk the walk. I work here and see what issues there are and what we can do to improve it. I work collaboratively with MacKenzie and the team we have down here – nurses, aides, PAs and our docs – to communicate the messages we need to get through, about how we want to change what we’re doing.

MacKenzie Smith and Dr. Richard Elman are pictured in one of the trauma rooms with a new mounted computer, which makes it quicker to enter and check medical data.

MacKenzie Smith and Dr. Richard Elman are pictured in one of the trauma rooms with a new mounted computer, which makes it quicker to enter and check medical data.

Question: If there is down time what does a doctor do here?

Answer (Dr. Elman) : I’m doing paperwork, or the schedule, chart review or working on policies. I do a lot of my administrative work in the down time.

Answer (Smith) : I do want to point out is that even though they are a national organization, TeamHealth is very involved with each individual hospital. The regional medical director is coming down in November for an EMS education night over at Medina Fire Department. They are very forthcoming with doing education.

Question: What do you think the community should know about the ER?

Answer (Dr. Elman) : We are focused on efficient quality care, reducing or improving turnaround times so patients aren’t spending hours in the ER when they don’t need to be here, to instilling best practices in medicine and in patient health.

Question: Are there statistics on that?

Answer: We’re in the process of bringing in a new electronic medical record. Once that process is completed we’ll have the ability to run reports. We look at door-to-provider time. That national goal is 30 minutes for the patient to see a provider within 30 minutes of arrival. We look at turnaround times for discharged patients, and percentage of patients who leave without being treated or against medical advice. There are national statistics or thresholds, and our goal is to be under them. Those will all be focuses of what we do.

Question: Does Medina have to submit an annual report?

Answer (Smith) : It’s a running report more for our measures of patient care and delivery, for chest-pain patients, for stroke patients, those are the metrics that we have to submit and are held accountable for. The turnaround time and the door-to-provider time is ongoing. There are some variances for that. There is some wiggle room. If your volume is very high or if your acuity is very high that makes up for the times that you are not.

Really the metrics that are reportable would be the stroke and chest pain, and the very patient-centered metrics. We are a stroke center so we have rigorous metrics we have to do for that.

We are very efficient at knowing what can be treated here and what we have to ship out. A lot of times we do have to ship out to the higher level of care facilities. But we are very efficient with our times for that. We also have a very close collaboration with Medina Fire in getting our patients out. They have a very quick time for getting patients out of here for transfers. It’s not always a common thing at other facilities. We’re fortunate to have Medina Fire.

Question: Do you have a sense of what percentage you’re able to handle here without sending to ECMC or another larger hospital?

Answer (Smith) : It all depends on what the patient is presenting for. If it’s a trauma patient they really need to go to a trauma center. Our job is to stabilize those critical patients. And that’s what we need to be excellent in: stabilization. Knowing when to get them out, we do that very quickly and efficiently.

Answer (Dr. Elman) : We can primary care. We don’t have a lot of specialists. Anybody with a complicated medical problem – a heart attack or a stroke or a trauma, or a lot of patients may be getting medical care at other tertiary care centers in Buffalo or Rochester – those patients we will probably have to transport. It’s what is best for the patient in each case.

Dr. Richard Elman enters data into the computer in the Emergency Room at Medina Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Richard Elman enters data into the computer in the Emergency Room at Medina Memorial Hospital.

Question: If there was no ER in Medina, what would happen for the community?

Answer (Dr. Elman) : They would have to go to Batavia, Lockport, Rochester or Buffalo on their own. We can treat a fair amount here and we can stabilize what we can’t treat.

Answer (Smith) : It would be detrimental for our community. Our ER is vital for the community. It is vital for businesses coming to the community.

If you are having a cardiac arrest or if you’re loved one is having a cardiac arrest or respirator distress, it’s a very long ride to the city.

Question: How many stroke patients do you have a year?

Answer (Smith) : Last year we were between 60 and 75.

Question: Do they then go by Mercy Flight after getting the clot-busting drugs?

Answer (Dr. Elman) : It depends on their condition and whether Mercy Flight is flying based on the weather outside.

Answer (Smith) : If not they would go by Medina Fire and that’s why I say our collaboration with Medina Fire is very important. We have a very close working relationship.

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