health & wellness

Orleans County Vaping Summit set for Oct. 17 at Albion school

Posted 3 October 2023 at 2:21 pm

Panel of experts will discuss the health effects of vaping and suggest resources for quitting

Press Release, Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments

ALBION – Are you a parent that is concerned about your child who is vaping? Are you a community member that wants to know more about vaping?

If so, you are invited to attend the Orleans County Vaping Summit at the Albion Middle School Auditorium on Tuesday, Oct. 17, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. A panel of experts will discuss the health effects of vaping, provide data on youth vaping in Orleans County and discuss resources for quitting. Following the event, experts will be available for questions and will have resources and information available.

“One of the priority areas of the 2022-2024 Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming (GOW) Counties Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is to prevent tobacco use and vaping among youth,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “Vaping is a serious public health issue facing the youth in our community. We look forward to providing community members with information on vaping as well as an opportunity for attendees to ask questions of experts in the field.”

GO Health appreciates the support of our partners for this event including the Wilmot Cancer Institute, University of Rochester Medical Center, UConnectCare (formally GCASA), and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Institute.

UConnectCare names project director of WNY Prevention Resource Center

Posted 3 October 2023 at 9:24 am

By Mike Pettinella, UConnectCare Publicist

Christen Foley

BATAVIA – UConnectCare (formerly Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse) has promoted Christen Foley to the position of project director of the Western New York Prevention Resource Center.

The Batavia resident will oversee the implementation of training programs and technical assistance to community drug and alcohol prevention coalitions in the eight-county region. Foley, with the support of two community development specialists, is responsible for collaborating with the prevention providers, coalitions and community groups that make up the WNYPRC.

One of six prevention resource centers in New York State, the WNYPRC is based at UConnectCare’s offices on Clinton Street Road in Batavia and is an initiative of the state Office of Addiction Services and Supports.

Its focus is on engaging community stakeholders in the development of new coalitions and supporting established community coalitions as they work to reduce the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Additionally, the center provides technical assistance, training and support to communities and coalition partners.

“The WNYPRC encourages the use of the Strategic Prevention Framework, which is a public health, outcome-based prevention approach,” Foley said. “This seven-phase approach helps coalitions assess the community’s needs and address them accordingly. The key is to respond appropriately by utilizing the data that reveals each community’s specific needs.”

Foley was hired by UConnectCare in 2019 to lead the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force. Her efforts helped expand the task force to various segments of the community and resulted in it receiving the 2020 Community Star from the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health. The award is given annual to only one rural entity in New York State.

Shannon Ford, services director of Communications and Development and director of Prevention at UConnectCare, said Foley is “a natural fit” for the project director role.

“Christen was able to refine her community engagement skills with the GOW Opioid Task Force and will now be able to help community coalitions across the region,” Ford said. “Most people don’t understand the science behind substance use disorder prevention and coalition activities. Christen and her team will help community coalitions effectively reduce underage substance use using evidence-based approaches.”

Foley has been attending trainings and workshops since her appointment to the new position in June, including the Foundation in Prevention Ethics Training and the CADCA Mid-Year Training Institute, the latter a four-day conference in Dallas.

“As a result, I will now be certified to host and facilitate the six-hour, in-person Foundations in Prevention Ethics course for our prevention providers, coalitions and community partners,” she said, adding that she also is working towards becoming a certified Substance Abuse Prevention Skill Training Trainer.

She said she plans to host an ethics training next year and will be working on establishing coalitions in Genesee and Orleans counties.

Genesee offering radon training to contractors and code officers

Posted 29 September 2023 at 2:45 pm

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

BATAVIA – Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Health have identified Genesee County as having a high average indoor radon screening level greater than 4 pCi/L (pico curies per liter).

Radon can build up to dangerous levels in your home, which can occur in new homes or older homes.

“Radon can enter your home through cracks in the foundation, cracks in basement walls, holes, joints, dirt floors, sump pump holes, suspended floors and in the well-water supply,” stated Darren Brodie, Environmental Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “Any house that has contact to the ground has the potential for radon to enter the home. That is why training contractors and code enforcement officers about the risk of radon is important.”

On Wednesday, Nov. 15, from 1 to 4 p.m., the Genesee County Health Department will be hosting George Schambach, the Vice President of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologies, Inc., and President/Owner of Professional Home Inspection Service to implement a training for all contractors and code enforcement officers. This training will be held at the Genesee County Emergency Management Office on 7690 State Street Road, Batavia, NY 14020.

Topics will include:

  • Radon Measurement
  • Radon Mitigation
  • Radon Abatement and
  • Health Risks of Radon to Construction Personnel

This training is free of charge and open to Genesee County and those outside the county as well. Any contractor or code enforcement officer interested in attending can contact Allysa Pascoe at 585-344-2580 x5508 to register. For more information on radon or other GO Health programs and services, visit

Oak Orchard Health celebrates 50th anniversary

Posted 27 September 2023 at 5:35 pm

Dr. James Goetz, retiring pediatrician, praised for 45 years of service to OOH patients

Photos courtesy of Oak orchard Health: (Left) Karen Kinter, CEO of Oak Orchard Health, celebrates at the 50th anniversary celebration at Maison Albion on Friday. (Right) Dr. James Goetz and his wife celebrate at the dinner on Friday.

Press Release, Oak Orchard Health

ALBION – What a night! After 50 years there was a lot to celebrate. Oak Orchard Health was founded in 1973 and Dr. James Goetz joined us in 1978 as a pediatrician. As he said, “There must be something special at Oak Orchard Health for me to stay that long!”

Oak Orchard Health celebrated the milestone anniversary with a gala on Friday at Maison Albion with its staff, board members and elected officials.

Karen Kinter, the Oak Orchard Health CEO, presented the State of the Organization to cheers and applause. She also brought Dr. Goetz up to the podium to thank him for his years of service and presented him with original artwork signed by Oak Orchard staff.

“We wanted to do something special for Dr. Goetz and this artwork depicting our agricultural workers seemed appropriate,” Kinter said. “He has always been dedicated to ensuring our health services are available to everyone, particularly farmworkers. We were honored to have Dr. Goetz with us for 45 years.”

This group include Dr. Danielle Renodin-Mead, pediatrician and chief medical officer; OOH board president Renee Biedlingmaier; and Dr. Rachel Nozzi, chief dental officer.

On Saturday, October 14, Oak Orchard Health will host a community open house for Dr. Goetz from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Brockport office. All are welcome to come by for fun, friendship, and refreshments. We’d love to see you there.

Representatives from the offices of Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Senator George Borello, and Senator Robert Ortt attended the Friday event and presented Oak Orchard Health with proclamations. OOH also received a 50th Anniversary Proclamation from Congressman Joe Morelle.

Our current and past board members were present and recognized for their dedication to Oak Orchard. Three retired board members Kathy Williams (served 11 years), Rita Wagner (19 years), and David Jewell (18 years) joined us.

Karen Kinter is shown with OOH board president Renee Biedlingmaier, and vice president Randy Dumas.

Current board members that attended were Renee Biedlingmaier (Board Chair), Randy Dumas (Vice Chair), Nyla Gaylord (Treasurer), Lorienda Smith (Secretary), Rene Cibrian, George Sokolsky, Cynda Watroba, and Leda Pacelli-Szabo.

Each member of the Senior Executive Team donated a themed basket that we later gave to the lucky team member.

The dinner and dessert were fabulous. Thank you to everyone who helped us make this a special evening.

The 50th Anniversary celebration would not be complete without the support of our sponsors which include Labella, The Bonadio Group, Henry Schein, Pullano & Farrow, PLLC, Crane Dental Laboratory, Maison Albion, Wolf Martial Arts, and Pro Squared Janitorial Services. We also received donations from many local businesses.

Oak Orchard Health

Founded in 1973, Oak Orchard has grown from a migrant health project into an integrated health center with multiple locations providing health care services for everyone located in the communities we serve. Currently serving over 30,000 patients at eleven locations in the towns of Albion, Alexander, Batavia, Brockport, Corfu, Hornell, Medina, and Warsaw.

This group enjoying the celebration includes Rita Wagner, Karen Kinter, Kathy Williams and David Jewell.

Lead hazard control grant expanded to all 4 GLOW counties, including Orleans

Posted 25 September 2023 at 9:25 am

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

Lead is a metal that is toxic to our bodies. Young children under 6 years old are most at risk for lead poisoning because their bodies are rapidly developing. A child with lead poisoning can experience learning difficulties, lower IQ, difficulty paying attention, organ damage and anemia. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal.

“Lead poisoning is preventable,” stated Gabrielle Lanich, Lead Program Coordinator of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “It is important to stop children from coming in contact with lead hazards before poisoning occurs.”

The Genesee County Health Department has expanded their Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Grant, funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to include Livingston and Wyoming Counties. The grant now includes Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties.

The Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (HUD) Grant addresses lead-based paint hazards, as well as certain health concerns, in homes and apartments in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming (GLOW) counties. In order to be eligible for these funds, homeowners and property owners must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Tenants or homeowners who are income eligible (limited funds for vacant units, call for more information)
  • Building was built prior to 1978
  • At least one child under the age of 6 living in the home, or visiting 8 or more hours a week, or a pregnant female
  • Lead-based paint hazards in the home
  • Current on tax and mortgage payments
  • Other requirements determined on a case by case basis

Rental property owners are also required to match 10% of the total project costs. For example, a rental property owner would be required to pay $2,000 for a $20,000 project. Rental properties must have 4 units or less. All recipients are required to maintain ownership of the residence for 5 years after the project is completed.

Applications can be obtained by contacting our lead program staff or found on the GO Health website (click here).

Possible contracted work may include:

  • Painting
  • Window replacement
  • Entry door replacement
  • Porch repair or replacement
  • Bare soil treatment/landscaping
  • Other general repairs

All work is completed by pre-approved local contractors trained and EPA-certified in lead-safe work practices. If you would like to be added to our list of contractors, please contact the Genesee County Health Department.

Our GLOW Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) team collaborates with HUD to offer education on preventing lead poisoning and how to renovate safely. If you have any lead related questions, contact the GLOW CLPPP team.

For more information, help determining eligibility, or to be added to our list of contractors, contact the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580 ext. 5555 or  You can also visit for an application.

Oak Orchard Health strives to make healthcare easier

Posted 19 September 2023 at 5:00 pm

By Estela Sanchez Cacique, Patient Engagement Services Manager, Oak Orchard Health

Getting health care services isn’t always easy. At Oak Orchard Health (OOH), we focus on breaking down barriers to care for our patients.  At OOH, we understand that at times it can be difficult to get the care you need. That is why we will work to help you navigate through any barriers to care by providing support services that are free of charge to our patients. Offering these services is what makes a community health center different from other healthcare options in the region. Our Community Health Workers are here to help provide services directly to our patients or refer them to local community agencies.

Need transportation for medical or dental visits?

Oak Orchard Health has eight vans stationed at our health centers that can provide transportation services to and from your appointments at no charge. Please give us at least three days’ notice so that we can plan to accommodate your trip. Unfortunately, our vans are not handicap accessible but folding wheelchairs are the exception if the patient is mobile and can get themselves in and out of the van without any assistance. If you require assistance getting in and out of our vans, we recommend that you bring someone along who can help you.

We provide medication delivery services if there are no copays on any of the prescriptions. Or we can take patients to the pharmacy to pick up their medications, whether that is on the way home from their appointment or another day.

Oak Orchard Health provides transportation services for specialty care visits, or any type of testing or lab services not offered at OOH, even if it is in Rochester.  We also provide transportation to the local food pantry, if a patient is home-bound but needs a food basket delivered. OOH is also available to meet that need by delivering it directly to the patient’s home.

Have you seen our Mobile Medical Unit?

We have a state-of-the-art Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) which is out in the community at libraries, community events, and other partnering agencies. The MMU is where you can get same-day appointments, physicals, and referrals to other community agencies. We look forward to working collaboratively with our local County Health Departments, partnering agencies like Head Start programs, and organizations for the homeless to bring the Mobile Medical Unit closer to those in need.

English isn’t your first language? No problem.

At Oak Orchard, we have Bilingual (English and Spanish) Community Health Workers on staff along with a Bilingual medical provider who speaks Spanish at our Batavia location. We also use interpretation services for other languages that are not available in-house. For patients with ASL needs, Oak Orchard Health uses an in-person ASL interpretation service.

Open enrollment for health insurance started June 1, 2023!

If you have not already recertified for your health insurance through the New York State of Health, now is the time to do it. During the pandemic, you did not need to recertify but that has now changed. If you receive health insurance through the New York State of Health, you need to reach out to a facilitated enroller to ensure there is no gap in your coverage. Some of our Oak Orchard Health locations also have facilitated enrollers working out of their health centers. For more information, please contact your local Oak Orchard Health Center or the marketplace website:

Sliding Fee Scale Program or health insurance?

If you are uninsured or have a high deductible plan, we offer a sliding fee scale program that can help offset the cost of some of your medical costs here at Oak Orchard Health. This program offers patients discounts on services based on family size and annual income. Patients approved for the Sliding Fee Program must also pay their co-pay at the time of the visit.

The bottom line is that we are here to help you get the healthcare services you need. Call Oak Orchard Health at (585) 637-3905 to discuss any of these support services if you need them.

GCASA changing name to ‘UConnectCare’

This is the new logo for UConnectCare Behavioral Health Services.

Posted 18 September 2023 at 9:21 am
Press Release, UConnectCare Behavioral Health Services (formerly GCASA)

BATAVIA – As the result of a remarkable expansion of services over the years, the leadership at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has decided to give the nonprofit agency a new name that reflects its mission of “person-centered care.”

Effective Sept. 18, GCASA will be known as UConnectCare Behavioral Health Services – a title, according to Chief Executive Officer John Bennett, “that captures the full scope of what we do and who we are, providing a full spectrum of substance use disorder services, while also supporting the mental and physical health needs of the people we serve.”

“Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse is a mouthful to say, and it’s old and uses outdated and stigmatizing language,” Bennett said. “While the acronym GCASA is well known and has served us well, we are long overdue for a rebrand.”

Serving both counties for 48 years, GCASA – now UConnectCare – offers a continuum of care, including prevention, treatment, recovery, residential and detox services as well as an in-house employee assistance program. The staff has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years to more than 150.

“We believe UConnectCare will be a brand that can grow with us and will embody our philosophy that the path to recovery begins with U,” Bennett added.

Oak Orchard Health promotes Michelle Okonieczny of Medina

Posted 13 September 2023 at 2:09 pm

Press Release, Oak Orchard Health

Michelle Okonieczny

MEDINA — Oak Orchard Health is pleased to announce the appointment of Michelle Okonieczny, DNP, from the Medina office as its new Director of Advanced Practice Providers.

“She has proven herself to be an exceptional leader with unwavering dedication to our organization and the field of family medicine,” said Dr. Danielle Renodin-Mead, Oak Orchard’s chief medical officer. “Michelle brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this role, having recently achieved her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).”

Okonieczny’s dedication to expanding the capabilities of our advanced practice providers (APP) which includes Family Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Practitioners, and her deep understanding of family medicine, make her the perfect choice. In her new position, Okonieczny will be responsible for overseeing and guiding the growth of our APPs, providing mentorship, and ensuring all APPs have the resources they need to excel in their roles. Michelle will be under the leadership of our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Mead.

“Michelle has a deep commitment to our mission and values and will continue to see patients in the Medina office in addition to her new responsibilities,” Dr. Mead said. “We look forward to the positive impact she will undoubtedly bring to our team and the communities we serve. Together, we are committed to providing the highest quality of care and making a difference in the lives of our patients.”

About Oak Orchard Health

Originally founded in 1973, Oak Orchard has grown from a migrant health project into an integrated health center with multiple locations providing health care services for everyone located in the communities we serve. Oak Orchard currently serves over 30,000 patients at eleven locations in the towns of Albion, Alexander, Batavia, Brockport, Corfu, Hornell, Medina and Warsaw.

Kids will Be Back to School Before You Know it!

By Orleans Hub Posted 29 August 2023 at 3:00 pm

By Lauren Rogers, PA, Oak Orchard Health in our Albion and Batavia Health Centers.

Hard to believe that the summer is fast coming to a close. The first indication of that is parents thinking about preparing their kids (and themselves) for going back to school. In this article, I want to give you a few tips on making those early weeks more successful and throughout the school year.

Kids do get sick more, especially during the first few months.

It’s true, kids do get sick more in the first few months of school. How do you prevent it? Be sure they wash their hands often, have them get enough sleep, and try not to send them to school if they are sick – unfortunately, that’s how germs get spread.

Often kids have runny noses, sneeze, and get chills. How do you know if it’s allergies or a cold, or something else? The symptoms can be very similar.  Children experience congestion, itchy eyes, and a runny nose with allergies, but he/she generally feels all right. Cold symptoms include fever, chills, and achiness all over. If your child has a fever for more than 24 hours or you have any concerns about them, contact your pediatrician.

And if you think it could be Covid-19, over-the-counter tests are readily available at your local store. Take an at-home test and if positive, then contact your provider. It’s probably a good idea to have some of those tests at home.

The school physical

Often schools require that children get a physical so please make an appointment now if you haven’t. Here’s your opportunity to be sure kids are up to date on immunizations. It’s also a great time to discuss health conditions that can hinder school performance such as vision and hearing screens.

During a physical, we also screen for anxiety, depression, and behavior issues. These are important topics that need to be addressed and we need to develop a course of action.

To be successful at school, nutrition, sleep patterns, exercise, and screen time all play a role. Ending screen time an hour or more before bedtime will help them get better sleep.

Of course, we capture height and weight and discuss nutrition. According to the Centers for Disease Control, children and adolescents aged 2-19 in 2017-2020, obesity affected 14.7 million nationwide.


Another great way to keep kids healthy is to give them healthy foods and snacks. Easier said than done, right? It’s always best to eat something rather than skip a meal. Also, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day for kids. If they don’t eat nutritious foods or skip breakfast, they’re likely to be less attentive in school and that will affect how successful they are. Some good options for kids are eggs (even hard-boiled), cheese sticks, bananas with peanut butter, toast with nut butter, and yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt, are healthier choices. Try to avoid foods that come out of a package. Cereal is always easy but unfortunately, your child will be hungry an hour or two later.

Car Seat Safety

Back to school often means more drop-offs and pick-ups. Car seat safety is extremely important because motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for children 4 years and older (according to the American Academy of Pediatrics).

Car seat safety can be a complex topic but it’s so important. Be sure to read your specific car seat manual. Keep in mind that straps need to be as close as possible to the body of the child. Big puffy coats and Halloween costumes can often get in the way. Think about strapping your child in and then adding the coat or keeping a blanket in the car.

Did you know that New York State law requires that:

•all children under the age of 2 must ride in a rear-facing car seat.

•all children under the age of 4 ride in child safety seats.

•all children ride in child restraint systems until their 8th birthday.

If you have any questions on these topics, please call your medical provider or pediatrician. Oak Orchard is always here to help.

Detecting Early Stages of Lung Cancer Might Come Down to this Test

Posted 28 August 2023 at 3:00 pm

By Erica Chutko

Did you know breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States? As a result, the American Cancer Society recommends women over the age of 40 should at least consider getting yearly mammograms. Mammograms can help prevent breast cancer, which can be credited with one of the reasons that the 5 – year survival rate is can be as high as 90% plus. It’s all about early detection. Did you also know that not only is lung cancer the 2nd most common form of cancer in the United States, but it’s also the leading cause of cancer related deaths? Knowing this, is there an imaging test that can help detect lung cancer? Thankfully, the answer is yes – a CT scan.

What is a CT scan?

Commonly referred to as a CAT scan or computed tomography scan, CT scans produce a number of detailed and efficient computerized x-rays of the body. If contrast dye is ordered by the physician, the technologist with use a small needle to place an intravenous line into the arm. For those not familiar with the test, patients lie down and enter through what looks like a tunnel, sometimes even doughnut-shaped. Even though the machine is large and makes humming noises, it will not touch your body during the scan. A radiology technologist will operate the scanner. During the test, a low dose of radiation is used to take images that are then sent to a computer for a more detailed look at different portions of the body.  The computer puts the images together to make a 3 dimensional (3D) image. The dose of radiation is low and safe as possible, but still gives the best quality for the images.

What can a CT scan detect?

The minimally invasive test can diagnose, detect, and evaluate a host of diseases and injuries. A CT scan is often used to investigate head injuries or acute neurological symptoms, evaluate chronic sinus symptoms or hearing loss. It can diagnose appendicitis and evaluate masses.  Your doctor may request a CT scan to obtain specific diagnostic information that is not provided by or is complementary to other imaging technologies. Those include x-ray, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Whether your doctor is looking for muscle disorders, broken bones, internal injury, bleeding, or for the purpose of this discussion the location of tumors, including cancer.

What are some general guidelines to follow when having a CT scan?

1. Notify the radiology department of any illness such as cold, cough, fever, diarrhea, or vomiting. They may need to reschedule your appointment if you are an outpatient.

2. Notify the radiology technologist about all allergies or any previous drug reaction that may keep you from receiving contrast if needed.

3. Notify the radiology technologist if you have severe kidney disease or are on kidney dialysis due to risks from the contrast.

4. Dress in comfortable clothing with no metal snaps, belt buckles, or zippers. In the case of CT scans of the head, metal hair clips and jewelry must be removed.

Prevention is the key.

How well do you know your body? Only you will know when chest pain is different, wheezing or a cough is more than allergies, and other symptoms just won’t subside. These symptoms and others are why it’s so important to have a good relationship with your primary care provider. An annual physical will allow you the opportunity to continue a dialogue and bring up concerns or simply questions you might have. If these symptoms develop throughout the year, even if you’ve already had your annual physical, you should contact your primary care provider immediately. Early detection is crucial, and it’s one of the reasons the 5 – year survival rate for lung cancer is so low, because detection is typically not found until the later stages.

What should you be looking for? You’ve probably guessed it already and can assume many of the early symptoms of concern center around your chest and throat. Chest pain, shortness of breath, a worsening cough, and even a hoarse voice might be signs that you need to call your doctor.

In fact, the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends annual lung cancer screening for people those at high risk. These would be individuals who smoked 1 pack per day for 20 years and still smoke or who quit in the last 15 years and are age 50 – 80. The annual surveillance has demonstrated some success in catching lung cancer very early. This early detection can lead to higher survival rate.

Now that you know a CT scan can help detect lung cancer, you should also know how to avoid it in the first place. By now you’ve probably seen an ad that discusses smoking and its dangers. That’s because smoking tobacco products causes 8 to 9 out of 10 cases of lung cancer. While radon, a family history of lung cancer, and asbestos are said to be some of the other causes, so is secondhand smoke. If you want to be serious about avoiding lung cancer, you have to be serious about avoiding tobacco products altogether.

Erica Chutko is the director of radiology and cardiac services at Medina Memorial Hospital. Community Health Resource is a monthly informational feature by healthcare providers at Orleans Community Health – MMH.

Take precautions and protect yourself from disease-carrying ticks

Posted 23 August 2023 at 8:57 pm

Press Release, Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments

Provided photo: A Health Department official uses tick dragging to try to collect of host-seeking ticks

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) encourage residents to protect themselves, their children and their pets from tick-borne diseases.

Not all ticks can cause disease and not all bites will make you sick, but as ticks become more widespread, there is a higher risk the ticks will carry disease. It is important to learn how to prevent a bite, how to check for ticks, how to remove a tick and what to do if you think you could have a tick-borne disease.

“Lyme disease is endemic (widespread) throughout New York State,” said Brenden Bedard, Director of Community Health Services for GO Health.

“Lyme disease is also the most common disease spread by ticks in New York, but there are other serious diseases ticks spread including Anaplasmosis, Erhichioisis, Babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever,” Bedard said. “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.”

According to the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Communicable Disease Control, Genesee and Orleans counties have had 36 local cases of Lyme disease between 2018-2020, said Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for GO Health.

“Ticks are here locally and you can’t tell which are infected by disease or not,” he said.

Ticks are 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.

The risk of human infection with Lyme disease 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,” Pettit said. “It is also important to check pets for ticks after they spend time outdoors.”

GO Health started conducting local tick surveillance in both counties this month. Tick dragging is a widely used technique for active collection of host-seeking ticks and is done by dragging a cloth over the top of vegetation and regularly checking it for the presence of ticks. The collected ticks are sent to the laboratory and tested for the presence of tick-borne diseases. Over the next few months, health department staff will continue tick dragging in local parks and public places.

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. Follow use instructions.
  • 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.

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

  • Keep grass mowed, along with clearing tall grasses and brush.
  • Remove brush and leaves around stonewalls and woodpiles.
  • Keep woodpiles 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-foot wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play equipment.

Removing a Tick

To properly remove a tick, you should use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the ticks by its mouthparts, 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. You can view a video to learn more about what you can do if you find a tick attached to you. (Click here to see it.)

To learn more about ticks, Lyme disease and other diseases ticks can spread visit the New York State Department of Health, click here.

For more information on Health Department programs and services, visit or call your respective health department at:

  • Orleans County: 585-589-3278
  • Genesee County: 585-344-2580 ext. 5555

For Women Only returns on Oct. 5 with Mercedes Wilson the keynote speaker

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 17 August 2023 at 7:50 am

Wilson, a Medina native and television host for Channel 7 in Buffalo, is a breast cancer survivor

Provided photo: Mercedes Wilson, author, host of 7Life with WKBW Channel 7 and breast cancer survivor, will be the guest speaker at Orleans Community Health’s For Women Only, scheduled Oct. 5 at White Birch in Lyndonville.

MEDINA – Orleans Community Health is excited to announce the return of For Women Only, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 5 at White Birch in Lyndonville.

For Women Only was an annual event which always sold out until Covid forced its cancellation in 2020, according to Scott Robinson, director of marketing, communications and outreach for Orleans Community Health.

In addition to raising funds, the event also provided educational information to attendees and entertainment.

“Everyone knows someone who has had their lives affected by cancer,” Robinson said. “Bringing back For Women Only allows us to bring survivors, fighters and supporters together for an evening of stories, information and uplifting times.”

When Covid forced a change in plans in 2020, several tickets and sponsorships were sold, Robinson said. These will all be honored in October. Anyone who believes they had already purchased tickets should contact Lori Condo at (585) 798-8422 and she will confirm the purchase and reservation. Contact with Condo is necessary to confirm the reservation.

Tickets for a new reservation are $30 and can be purchased by contacting Lori Condo.

Guest speaker for the evening will be Mercedes Wilson, mother of four, an author, advocate, host of 7Life with WKBW Channel 7 and entrepreneur. She also is a 2000 Medina High School graduate.

She will share her story of being diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, which changed everything, she said. From that battle she formed For Our Daughters, a non-profit geared at teaching youth how to advocate for their health and wellness. The organization served young women across Western New York.

 Wilson is the host of a new digital platform for Channel 7 called “7Life,” which highlights all of the great people and places in the area. While doing a segment for AM Buffalo, she discovered a dish that her late grandmother used to make called “Cha-Cha.” Her family and friends loved it so much that she kept making it and it is now sold in more than 100 grocery stores across Upstate New York.

In addition to Wilson, other speakers will share information about services available in Orleans County and some will share their personal experiences.

“While we’re using the October date to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want to stress that this is an event for all,” Robinson said. “In addition to basket raffles and other returning highlights, we’re also adding an opportunity to have loved ones included in a slide show that honors those we’ve lost, current fighters and survivors. As always, funds raised during this event will go toward cancer services in Orleans.”

Anyone interested in participating in the event or donating a basket should contact Robinson at

Health Department says vaping, despite popularity, poses unknown long-term effects

Posted 15 August 2023 at 5:02 pm

Press Release, Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments

What is a vape?

Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes), better known as vapes, have become a widely used product for teens and young adults. Vaping is the action of inhaling vapor created by an E-Cigarette device.

The devices can look like flash drives and come in many different flavors, sizes, and brands. The vape device works by heating an oily liquid until it becomes vapor. The liquid in the device, also known as vape juice, contains chemicals and can contain marijuana distillate or oil.

The liquid also contains some mix of flavorings, aromatic additives that could smell and taste fruity or minty, depending on the flavor of the device.

Is vaping bad for you?

“There are still many unknowns about vaping and its long term effects, including the vape liquid contents,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “Although vapes have been advertised as a way to quit smoking regular cigarettes, vapes still contain nicotine, the same addictive chemical in cigarettes. They also contain chemicals that have the potential to damage the lungs and there are no real regulations on how much nicotine and other chemicals are added.”

Vaping associated risks

Our lungs are not built to take in chemicals and oils over time. According to John Hopkins Medicine, the oily liquid from vape devices could have the ability to coat the lungs and cause chronic lung diseases such as lipoid pneumonia, a form of lung inflammation.

A National Library of Medicine research review article discussed that nicotine can lead to brain development risks and may cause anxiety. Nicotine also raises blood pressure and spikes adrenaline. Heart rate then increases, increasing the risk for heart attack.

The risk of becoming a regular cigarette smoker and or developing other addictions is high. Reasons for quitting not only involve the health risks, it is also financially expensive and sports performance can dwindle as vaping may lead to lung irritation.

Tips on quitting

  • Pick a day on a calendar when you plan on quitting, let friends or family know.
  • Download an app that helps you track your sober days, build new healthier habits, and provides motivation – visit for free apps to download.
  • Get rid of all vaping devices.
  • Understand what the withdrawal symptoms are such as headaches, hunger, trouble sleeping, and concentrating are just a few.

Feeling the urge to vape? Try these instead:

  • Chewing gum or drinking water
  • Exercise
  • Yoga or meditation
  • Keeping your hands busy

The sooner one quits, the quicker the body rebounds and repairs itself. For more help or information, contact your healthcare provider. You can also text, chat or call the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or visit the New York State Department of Health website.

For more information on GO Health programs and services, visit or call your respective health department at:

  • Orleans County: 585-589-3278
  • Genesee County: 585-344-2580 ext. 5555

Oak Orchard Health celebrates opening dental clinic in Albion

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Karen Kinter, left, CEO of Oak Orchard Health, and Dr. Rachel Nozzi, chief dental officer, cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening of their dental clinic at 362 South Main St., Albion.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 11 August 2023 at 6:38 pm

ALBION – Oak Orchard Health has added a new facility to their program, with the dedication Thursday of a new dental clinic at 362 South Main St. in Albion.

The opening was celebrated at a ribbon cutting by CEO Karen Kinter, chief dental officer Rachel Nozzi and dental operations manager Mary Rich.

Attendees included retired pediatrician James Goetz, who spent 45 years with OOH, and staff of OOH, which included Cathy Hines, public relations officer; Ciera Baker, Ashley Johnson, Brandi Wilson, Karen Liese, Miranda Betandes and Jenna Rogge; and board members Nyla Gaylord, Lorienda Smith and Cynda Watroda.

Presenting proclamations and well wishes were Congressman Joseph Morelle, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, State Senator Rob Ortt and Orleans County Legislator Skip Draper.

Cathy Hines, public relations officer for OOH, said they purchased the former dental office a year ago, and after renovations and remodeling, moved into the facility in early January. Updates include new digital panorex technology.

Dentist Dr. Rachel Nozzi said she is very excited about this office.

“We always had a presence in Orleans County, but never a physical site for dentistry,” Hines said. “There is definitely a need for this in the community.”

The biggest challenge is getting enough dentists and other dental professionals, Nozzi said.

“We have space but not providers,” she said. “All dental practices are completely full.”

Congressman Joseph Morelle, Assemblyman Steve Hawley and State Senator Rob Ortt prepare to present proclamations to Karen Kinter, CEO of Oak Orchard Health, during dedication of their new dental clinic in Albion. Skip Draper, not pictured, presented a citation from the Orleans County Legislature.

Morelle said there is a lot of talk about challenges in health care.

“People underestimate how important dental care is to overall health,” he said. “We will do what we can to provide quality healthcare.”

“Access to quality health care is more important than ever,” Ortt said. “Transportation and distance are big issues. The challenge is if the dentist is 45 or 50 miles away, people won’t go. I have a large rural population in my district and I thank Oak Orchard Health for being a difference maker.”

Hawley reminded the audience this is National Health Week and commended Oak Orchard Health, saying the way they provide to those in need touches the heart.

Draper added that he was very happy to see OOH grow in the community.

Dr. Nozzi said Oak Orchard Dental was a great addition, along with the recent launch of their mobile dental unit.

With the opening of the Albion office, Oak Orchard Health now provides dental services in Brockport, Warsaw and Hornell, along with the mobile dental unit which travels throughout the area, including local school districts.

Other services include primary care in Albion, Brockport, Pembroke Batavia, Alexander, Warsaw and Hornell; pediatric care in Albion, Brockport, Batavia, Warsaw and Hornell; vision care in Brockport; and behavioral health in Albion, Brockport, Pembroke, Batavia, Warsaw and Hornell.

Oak Orchard Health’s dental clinic accepts most insurances and can be reached at (585) 589-5613, Ext. 2.

Staff of Oak Orchard Health who participated in a ribbon cutting at their new dental clinic on Thursday are, seated from left, Miranda Betandes, Jenna Rogge and Dr. Rachel Nozzi. Standing, from left, are Karen Kinter, CEO of OOH; Mary Rich, Ciera Baker, Ashley Johnson, Brandi Wilson and Karen Liese.

Health Department urges precautions during ‘bat season’

Posted 8 August 2023 at 4:18 pm

Press Release, Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments

It is early August and the height of summer, which often means the peak of “bat season” for local health departments and when people more commonly have encounters with bats.

Bats can occasionally find their way into houses, particularly in older homes that are not properly sealed. This most often occurs during the summer nights. When you find a bat in your home, it is extremely important to safely capture the animal if it is suspected to have been in contact with people, pets or livestock so that it can be tested for rabies. If the bat cannot be captured, you should call the health department for advice and next steps.

In some situations, it is possible that a bat bite could go undetected. For example, if you awaken and find a bat in your room, if you see a bat in the room of an unattended child, or if you see a bat near someone who is unable to speak or is under the influence of drugs/alcohol, it is important to seek medical advice and have the bat tested.

To safely capture a bat:

  • Turn on room lights and close all the windows.
  • Close the room and closet doors.
  • Wait for the bat to land.
  • While wearing thick leather-like gloves, place a coffee can, pail or similar container over the bat (Never handle a bat with your bare hands).
  • Slide a piece of cardboard under the container to trap the bat.
  • Firmly hold the cardboard in place against the top of the container, turn it right side up and tape the cardboard tightly to the container.
  • If you do not feel comfortable capturing the bat or cannot do it safely, contact your respective health department during regular business hours. If it is after regular business hours, contact your local county dispatch. For Orleans County, call (585) 589-5527. For Genesee County, call (585) 343-5000.