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NY urges vaccinations for horses against West Nile virus

Posted 19 September 2018 at 8:19 am

Cases confirmed in Steuben, Suffolk, Cattaraugus and Livingston counties

Press Release, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets

Photo by Tom Rivers: 4-H riders and their horses are lined up in the show arena in Knowlesville in this photo from July 28, 2015 at the Orleans County 4-H Fair.

New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball is encouraging horse owners in New York State to vaccinate their horses to reduce the risk of West Nile virus.

There have been four confirmed equine cases of the mosquito-borne infection in the state this year. Samples tested by Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine confirmed that horses in Steuben, Suffolk, Cattaraugus and Livingston counties were infected.

“This is the time of year when the risk of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases goes up significantly,” Ball said. “Taking simple, proactive steps to protect yourself and your animals can be extremely effective in reducing the chance of getting ill.”

Infected mosquitoes can pass West Nile virus to humans, horses and other animals, but infected horses cannot spread the disease to other animals or people.

Symptoms can resemble the flu, with horses appearing mildly anorexic and depressed. Horses can also experience fine and coarse muscle and skin twitching, fever, hypersensitivity to touch and sound, and mental changes. Other signs can include drowsiness, weakness on one side, an unsteady gait, an inability to rise and a loss of control of body movements.

Horses exhibiting signs of West Nile virus should be immediately examined by a veterinarian and reported to the State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the local health department. Horse owners should also consult their veterinarians about vaccinations against West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, as well as other easily prevented horse diseases. If the horse travels to warmer parts of the country, the Department’s veterinarians recommend that horse owners discuss whether their animals may need two vaccinations a year to provide ample coverage.

Horse owners should also remove stagnant water sources to reduce mosquito populations and breeding areas. If possible, animals should be kept inside early in the morning and evening, when mosquitoes feed.

Twelve cases of West Nile virus have been reported in humans this year. Most people do not experience signs or symptoms but some develop flu-like symptoms, swollen glands and a rash. Less than 1 in 150 experience serious symptoms, which are usually sudden and can include a high fever, stiff neck, altered mental status, convulsions, tremors, paralysis, inflammation of the brain or membranes of the brain and spinal cord or coma.

There is no vaccine for humans. People can take precautions by using repellants and larvicides, eliminating standing water, installing window and door screens, removing debris and vegetation near ponds and keeping pools and hot tubs clean and chlorinated.

“The most effective way to reduce the spread of West Nile Virus in our state is for all New Yorkers to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their animals from mosquito bites,” said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker. “Earlier this summer, the Governor directed the Department of Health to launch an aggressive mosquito-borne disease plan, and we continue to work with our local partners to reduce public health risks.”

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Health Department urges people to have a plan in case of natural disaster

Posted 18 September 2018 at 4:53 pm

Press Release, Orleans County Health Department

Fierce winds whipped across Orleans County and Western New York in this photo from Nov. 24, 2014, which shows the Orleans County Courthouse and County Clerks Building.

There are many reasons to prepare for an emergency, such as a natural disaster, a power outage or another crisis.

Most Americans do not have supplies set aside or plans in place to protect their own or their family’s health and safety. National Preparedness Month, recognized each September, provides an opportunity to remind us that we all must prepare ourselves and our families now and throughout the year.

Albert Cheverie, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator of Genesee and Orleans Counties, encourages all residents to take the time to prepare for an emergency now. “Disasters can strike at any time,” Cheverie said. “One of the most important tools every individual and family can have to protect themselves in possible emergencies is a plan of action.”

Make and Practice Your Plan

Having a family emergency plan will save time and make real situations less stressful. As you plan ahead about what to do during an emergency, be sure to take into account any members of your family with special needs, specific preparations for children, and what you will do with your pets.

Here are a few simple things you can do to start your Emergency Action Plan:

Create a Communication Plan

Make a plan as a family for communicating in the event that you are separated during an emergency. Use a sheet or card with all the phone numbers and information every individual in the family may need, and make sure every member of the family has a copy of the communication plan. Make sure to regularly review and update the contact list as needed.

Make an Evacuation Plan

As a family, discuss where you will go in the event of an emergency. Discuss where your children will go if they are in school or daycare at the time of the emergency, and make sure they understand where you will be. Your plan should also include how to safely shut off all utilities.

Practice Your Plan

Set up practice drills at least twice a year for your family to ensure everyone knows what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency. Update your plan according to any issues that arise. Make sure everyone knows where the plan is located.

Learn Life Saving Skills

If something happens where people are injured, act quickly and with a purpose. Remember to call 911 as soon as possible. Move the injured away from any remaining danger and do anything within your ability to keep the person alive. This may include: applying pressure to stop bleeding, repositioning the injured person to help them breath, or by simply talking to them and providing comfort if they are conscious.

Check Your Coverage

Your home and personal belongings are meaningful and valuable assets. If a disaster strikes, having insurance for your home is the best way to ensure you will have the necessary financial resources to help you repair, rebuild, or replace whatever is damaged. Yet, more than half of all homeowners in the United States do not carry adequate homeowners insurance to replace their home and its contents should a catastrophic loss occur. Now, before a disaster strikes, take the time to:

1. Document Your Property: Store paper copies in a waterproof and fireproof box, safe, or bank deposit box. Leave copies with trusted relatives or friends. Secure electronic copies with strong passwords and save them on a flash or external hard drive in your waterproof box or safe.

2. Understand Your Options for Coverage: An insurance professional can help you customize your home insurance policy based on your particular needs.

3. Ensure You Have Appropriate Insurance for Relevant Hazards: Most homeowner insurance policies do not cover damage from earthquakes and floods. Talk with your insurance professional if you reside in a flood zone or are at risk for flooding or mudflows.

Save For an Emergency

Americans at all income levels have experienced the challenges of rebuilding their lives after a disaster or other emergency. In these stressful circumstances, having access to personal financial, insurance, medical, and other records is crucial for starting the process of recovery quickly and efficiently. Taking the time now to collect and secure these critical records will give you peace of mind and, in the event of an emergency, will ensure that you have the documentation needed to start the recovery process without delay.

In addition to financially saving for an emergency, it is also important to stock up on essential items you may need, but might not have access to in the event of an emergency. A large-scale disaster or unexpected emergency can limit your access to food, safe water, and medical supplies for days or weeks.

The Department of Homeland Security recommends you have a basic emergency supply kit that includes enough food and water for each of your family members for at least 72 hours — that’s 1 gallon of water per day per person and canned (nonperishable) food for three days. Other supplies on their list includes flashlights, extra batteries, a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, a basic first-aid kit, trash bags for safe sanitary waste disposal, a week supply of prescription medications, pet supplies (if needed), as well as entertainment such as books, magazines, playing cards, and coloring books with crayons. It is also important to keep your emergency kit up to date, replacing water and perishables periodically.

Though National Preparedness Month concludes at the end of September, the conversation about emergency preparedness should not. Cheverie encourages residents to take action now by enrolling in a skills class such as CPR or Stop the Bleed, participating in community exercises, and volunteering to support local first responders.

“The good news is that it is never too late to prepare for a public health emergency,” he said. “You can create plans, make healthy choices, and download free resources, such as the Ready Genesee and Orleans Aware Mobile Apps to stay informed and up-to-date on what is happening in your local community.”

The Ready Genesee and Orleans Aware Mobile Apps are free and available to everyone using an iOS or an Android device. The apps can be downloaded directly from the App Store or Google Play.

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Rotary clubs donate clothing, toiletries to Medina Memorial

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 September 2018 at 5:52 pm

Items will be given to sexual assault victims

Photo by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – The Medina and Albion Rotary clubs today donated toiletries and new clothing to Medina Memorial Hospital with the items to be given to sexual assault victims. Those victims often have their clothing taken to be used as evidence.

The Rotary clubs are given new shirts, sweatpants and underwear to the hospital, which sees about 50 sexual assault victims each year at the emergency room. Rotary is also giving 100 bags with toiletries for showers.

Pictured from left include Medina Rotary President Carl Tuohey, Albion Rotary President Karen Sawicz, Medina Memorial ER director Kaitlyn Miller, and Medina Rotarian Edee Hoffmeister. They are pictured at Fitzgibbons Public House in Medina, where the Rotary Club held its lunch meeting today.

Miller, the ER director at Medina Memorial, said the donations will help females and males who have been victims of sexual assault. Sometimes the hospital has to give them gowns or surgical scrubs because they aren’t other clothes available.

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State announces $25 million to fight opioid crisis, including $650K for GCASA

Posted 6 September 2018 at 2:58 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the distribution of $25.2 million dollars in federal funding through the Opioid State Targeted Response Grant, which will expand critical initiatives to combat the opioid crisis. In the second year New York State has been awarded this grant, 19 additional counties have been selected to receive funding. Funding will be distributed to programs that offer prevention, treatment, and recovery services in high-need areas across the state to increase access to treatment, and reduce unmet need and overdose-related deaths.

“This opioid crisis devastates families and entire communities and we must do everything in our power to fight back against this very real threat to New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “It’s critical that we continue to lead the nation in implementing new, effective solutions to save lives, and this funding will provide the expanded services and treatment that those suffering from addiction so desperately need.”

Funding for the Opioid State Targeted Response Grant is administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Last year, 16 counties were recipients of the grant funding. This year, 19 additional counties have been identified as having high needs, for a total of 35 counties being supported through the second year of the grant. New counties to receive funding were designated as having high needs based on the number of opioid overdose deaths, hospitalizations involving opioids and residents leaving the county to access addiction treatment services.

The 19 counties awarded funding through the second year of the grant are: Suffolk, Broome, Oneida, Orange, Bronx, Cortland, Schenectady, Monroe, Richmond, Genesee, Nassau, Columbia, Kings, Herkimer, New York, Otsego, Dutchess, Queens, and Wayne. These counties will share more than $15 million to increase access to treatment through initiatives that include expanded mobile treatment, telepractice and peer services.

The Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc. has been approved for $650,000.

In addition, these high-need counties will share more than $1.3 million to expand medication-assisted treatment and treatment transition for patients in local correctional facilities and state parole violator facilities.

Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has instituted an aggressive, multi-pronged approach to addressing the opioid epidemic by expanding access to traditional services, such as treatment programs, and recommending new, non-traditional services, including recovery centers and 24/7 open access centers. The governor has also worked to increase the availability of naloxone, resulting in more than 300,000 individuals in New York State receiving training to administer the opioid overdose reversal medication.

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the state’s toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369).

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Gillibrand says unfair trade policies from Canada hurt U.S. dairies

Posted 5 September 2018 at 2:50 pm

Press Release, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

WASHINGTON, DC – As NAFTA renegotiations resume with Canada this week, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, on Tuesday urged the Trump Administration to reject any trade agreement unless it protects New York dairy farmers.

Unfair Canadian trade policies limit American dairy producers’ access to the Canadian market, and Gillibrand called on the Administration to end these practices in any new trade negotiation. In addition, with the Administration’s trade war and historically low dairy prices continuing to harm dairy farmers, Gillibrand also called on the Trump Administration to immediately distribute authorized emergency relief payments to help support dairy producers.

“New York’s dairy farmers are struggling right now,” said Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “Milk prices are too low, our dairy insurance programs aren’t working, and the trade wars that President Trump started are hurting our dairy industry. As the Trump Administration renegotiates NAFTA, I am calling on the Trump Administration to guarantee that any final deal with Canada protects our dairy farmers. In addition, I am calling on the Secretary of Agriculture to immediately release the emergency relief payments that have been authorized for dairy farmers to help them bear the burden of the Trump Administration’s trade war. I will always fight for New York’s dairy industry in the Senate, and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that any new trade deals protect our dairy farmers.”

Gillibrand wrote to the United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to ensure that any new trade agreement creates opportunities for dairy farmers. Under NAFTA, American dairy producers have not benefited from fair trade or unrestricted access to the Canadian market for their products. Instead, Canadian dairy subsidies and discriminatory trade quotas restrict New York dairy producers from selling their products to the nearest trade market. Gillibrand called for any final agreement with Canada to prioritize the well-being of dairy farmers, end discriminatory practices, and establish fair trade opportunities.

Gillibrand also called on the Trump Administration to immediately distribute emergency relief funding for dairy farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced $12 billion in assistance to farmers across America. Dairy is supposed to receive an estimated $127 million, but there has been no clear explanation for how or when these payments will be issued. As historically low dairy prices and the Administration’s trade war continue to force dairy farmers to shoulder increasing amounts of debt to continue operating their farms, Gillibrand called on the USDA to issue these payments immediately to help keep farmers out of bankruptcy.

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WNY health departments want state to insist on stringent environmental review of turbine projects

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 September 2018 at 8:11 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: This photo from Oct. 14, 2015 shows some of the 400-foot-high turbines in Sheldon, Wyoming County. Apex Clean Energy is proposing projects that would have taller turbines in Barre, and also the towns of Yates and Somerset.

The Western New York Public Health Alliance, which includes the public health departments in Orleans and seven other counties, is asking the state to make sure industrial wind turbines get a stringent environmental review that addresses local concerns.

The state, since it enacted the Article 10 process for siting large-scale wind energy project, has waived a thorough environmental review at the local level. By deeming the projects Type II actions a more detailed environmental review can be waived at the local level, The Western New York Public Health Alliance wrote in a letter to the Public Service Commission.

“Under the Article 10 legislation, our local boards of health home rule ability to take steps to safeguard the health and wellness of our residents and protect the environment within our counties has been put at risk,” according to a June 12 letter from the WNY Public Health Alliance.

The Alliance sent the letter to the Honorable Kathleen H. Burgess, secretary to the commissioner of the Public Service Commission. The Alliance today sent a press release to the media, drawing attention to the group’s stance on the issue.

“What is the State’s position and plan to ensure that our residents’ health is protected and the impacts on our local environment have been reviewed and vetted through the standard state assessments for projects of this magnitude?” the letter asks.

The Boards of Health for Niagara and Orleans have earlier sent a similar letter to the Public Service Commission, asking that environmental concerns over the projects be a high priority.

“Our membership believes that any project of this nature and magnitude only be considered following a complete and transparent process including all the standard environmental and health impact studies and local input,” the Alliance states in its letter. “The WNYPHA, lacking both the resource and expertise in this very broad matter, believe it is both reasonable and prudent to require a full SEQRA environmental review prior to any further consideration or action by the Article 10 Siting Board.”

The state has formed a seven-member Siting Board that includes two representatives from a local community where a project is proposed, as well as the chairman of the Department of Public Service, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, commissioner of the Department of Health, chairman of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the commissioner of Economic Development.

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2 new laws in NY will assist people with autism, other developmental disabilities

Staff Reports Posted 30 August 2018 at 9:08 am

State Sen Robert Ortt, chairman of the Senate’s Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee, is praising the passage of two laws that will assist people with autism and other developmental disabilities.

One of the new laws requires the state to establish new screening guidelines for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children under four years old. Screening is a way to detect a disorder, such as autism, before the onset of symptoms. Previously, there had been no standardized screening approach for the early identification of autism, Ortt said.

Recent studies indicate that early detection and treatment have proven to be highly beneficial for the well-being of children who are on the autism spectrum, and thanks to this legislation, established and consistent screening guidelines will now be in place, he said.

“This will make certain that all parents and children, regardless of where they are tested, receive the most effective and beneficial methods that medical providers have to offer,” Ortt said.

The second new law creates a new optional identification card to help improve communication with people who have developmental disabilities. The new optional identification cards can be given to law enforcement or other first responders in an emergency and convey important details, such as potential difficulties with interpersonal communication or physical contact, or an inability to respond verbally, as well as additional contact information.

“Creation of an official document with consistent language, appearance, and application standards will improve the ability of individuals with developmental disabilities across the state to effectively communicate important information about their diagnoses,” Ortt said.

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16-week workshop can help prevent or delay diabetes

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 30 August 2018 at 8:57 am

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Jessica Downey, left, and Cindy Perry with Community Partners at Orleans Community Health display a poster board with information on prediabetes. Community Partners is offering classes in Medina and Albion on identifying those at risk and the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Orleans Community Health’s Community Partners is offering a free 16-week workshop that has proven to help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, according to Cindy Perry, director of outreach, education and marketing at Community Partners.

“Just making small changes in diet and exercise can be beneficial,” Perry said. “Exercise, which can just be cleaning house, can make a big difference.”

The Prevent T2 Lifestyle Change workshops will be offered at locations in Albion and Medina.

The Albion location will be at the Orleans County Health Department, with classes from 9 to 10 a.m., beginning Sept. 26.

In Medina, the classes are scheduled from 6 to 7 p.m. at Community Partners, 200 Ohio St. (Medina Memorial Hospital).

Trainers (or coaches) will be Perry and Jessica Downey.

“We are offering a night class to accommodate people who have careers during the day,” Downey said.

Individuals will learn skills to make lasting lifestyle changes, including healthy eating, adding physical activity to their lives, managing stress and staying motivated.

A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control showed that nine out of 10 people don’t know they have prediabetes, and those who took part in a structured lifestyle change program cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent (71 percent for people over 60).

The study was so successful, it was discontinued ahead of time, Perry said.

In a previous program sponsored by Community Partners, one participant lowered her A1c from 6.3 to 5.7, which is the very bottom of the pre-diabetes range. She also lost seven percent of her body weight.

“My goal was to prevent diabetes and lower my A1c,” said the woman, who asked to be identified only as Anna. “It is possible to achieve positive results. It does take dedication and isn’t always easy, but it is definitely worth it. The class really helped me to become healthier. I enjoyed the interaction from the other participants, and we helped each other to stay on track and remain motivated.”

The impact of taking this program can last for years to come, Perry said. After 10 years, people who complete the program are one-third less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

To register for the program, call 798-9541 or e-mail NDPP@orleanscountyny.gov.

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Governor says all SUNY campuses statewide will have food pantries by end of fall semester

Posted 29 August 2018 at 4:04 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 100 percent of all New York State public colleges at The State University of New York and The City University of New York will have a food pantry or stigma-free food access for students in need by the end of the fall semester.

The accomplishment will make New York the first state in the nation to have such a comprehensive program to combat student hunger. Currently, as classes begin, nearly 90 percent of SUNY and CUNY campuses offer these services as part of the Governor’s “No Student Goes Hungry Program.”

“Hunger should never be a barrier for those seeking to achieve their dreams of a higher education,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York is proud to be the first state in the nation to require every public campus to have a food pantry, ensuring that our students have all they need on the path to success.”

In his 2018 State of the State address, the Governor announced a five-point plan to combat hunger for students in kindergarten through college. The plan seeks to provide healthy, locally-sourced meals to the almost one million children in New York who do not have access to the adequate nutrition they need. As part of that plan, the Governor tasked SUNY and CUNY with the establishment of physical food pantries on campus or stigma-free access to free food.

“Food insecurity can affect anyone, including the students enrolled in our campuses,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “Under the Governor’s leadership and with incredible support from all 64 SUNY campuses and partnerships across the state, we are quickly changing not only the conversation about hunger on our campuses, but how we support our students in critical need. Together, we are providing needed nutrition, ending the stigma around food insecurity, and helping ensure no student is forced to drop out because of limited access to the healthy food they need.”

In 2018, directly following the Governor’s announcement, SUNY created a Food Insecurity Task Force, drawing members from a broad spectrum of constituencies, including students; staff; faculty; auxiliary food service providers; food bank associations; civic organizations; and community and philanthropic organizations, to study the issue of food insecurity on college campuses and recommend the necessary changes and best practices to alleviate this serious issue to date.

In addition to the expansion of and access to food pantries, the task force’s efforts have helped establish and grow innovative intervention programs on SUNY campuses, including mobile food trucks, local farm crop sharing, a subsidized on campus grocery store, and programming that allows students to “pay” a campus parking ticket in food donations to an on-campus pantry.

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