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Opioid outreach effort recognized as top public service announcement

Staff Reports Posted 16 November 2018 at 12:33 pm

The New York State Association of Counties and the NYS Association of County Coroners & Medical Examiners created a public service announcement about the opioid crisis.

An public service campaign has been recognized with a marketing and communication award. The New York State Association of Counties and the New York State County Coroners and Medical Examiners Association teamed for the effort.

They were recognized on Wednesday at the 2018 Capital Region MARCOM Awards competition in Schenectady. This annual event recognizes excellence in marketing and communications through outstanding work in several categories.

The See the Signs, Save a Life campaign received a MARCOM Award in the video category. Four other video campaigns were finalists in this category.

After years of seeing opioid abuse devastate families and their communities, NYSAC and the NYSCCME came together in the spring of 2018 with a common goal: educating the public about the signs of opioid abuse, and getting help to those who need it before it’s too late. The associations sought to do this through a powerful video public service advertisement that didn’t shy away from the reality of the situation: opioid addiction leads to death. (View the video and related resources at

The public service campaign, created in partnership with Trellis Marketing, ran on television stations throughout New York State, on social media channels, and was shared on local government and association websites. The campaign was also shared with residents directly by local leaders.

NYSAC and its member counties have been battling the opioid epidemic for years, through several agencies, including county social services, health departments, law enforcement, jails, 9-1-1 dispatch, district attorneys, public defenders, probation, coroners, and medical examiners.

NYSAC and NYSCCME are both currently led by Orleans County officials. Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer, is president of NYSAC. Scott Schmidt, the county’s chief coroner, has been president of NYSCCME the past nine years.

“On behalf of the Association of Counties, I want to express our sincere appreciation to the MARCOM Award committee,” Nesbitt said. “This video public service announcement was designed to better inform our residents of the signs that could lead to saving a life. We’re grateful for this recognition and hope the effort to educate the public continues.”

“The far-reaching effects of a drug overdose death are devastating,” Schmidt said. “NYSCCME felt that by showing the after-effects of using these lethal substances with an ‘in-your-face’ approach, we might be able to save at least one life. We are very proud of the resulting campaign and our partnership with NYSAC and Trellis. Thank you to the MARCOM awards for this recognition. We hope that this video is seen far and wide.”

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Karen Watt is recognized for her service to community health center

Posted 8 November 2018 at 2:30 pm

Press Release, Orleans Community Health

File photos by Tom Rivers: Karen Watt, chairwoman of Oak Orchard Health, is pictured inside the center’s Albion facility on Route 31.

ALBION – Karen Watt, chairwoman of the board of directors for Oak Orchard Health, has been honored by the Community Health Care Association of New York State.

During that group’s annual conference on Oct. 21, Watt was presented with the Rosemarie Forstner Award. Each year, CHCANYS honors its trailblazers and those who are working today to ensure access to high quality health care for all. The Rosemarie Forstner Award honors exemplary health center staff or board members who show a distinctive level of excellence and consistent participation in the center’s operations for at least three years.

Oak Orchard Health nominated Watt because of her inspiring passion and understanding of the issues facing health centers, and most importantly, their patients. A member of the Board of Directors for 19 years, she is a true advocate and champion for the mission of community health centers, especially Oak Orchard. Karen is very well versed in how a good community health center operates in order to take the best possible care of its patients.

She is deeply committed to the health care of the migrant farmworker population – the very people Oak Orchard was created to serve. She embodies their core values of excellence, collaboration, compassion and innovation and is a true supporter of the mission, which is to cultivate health and wellness by providing engaged and innovative medical, dental, and vision care for our community.

Karen Watt and her grandson Evan lead a walk to raise funding for local cancer patients at Watt Farms on Oct. 29, 2016. The farm for 11 years hosted a walk that raised about $350,000.

Watt is the co-owner of Watt Farms in Albion. She has served as president of the Orleans County Farm Bureau and as a director on the New York Farm Bureau board of directors, advocating for the fruit industry and direct markets.

In addition to her advocacy for migrant farm worker health as a board member of Oak Orchard Health, she has served on the National Advisory Council on Migrant Health, including a year as its chairwoman. She is currently Vice Chair of the board of the National Center of Farm-Worker Health and received the 2013 Outstanding Migrant Health Center Board Member Award from NACHC, the National Association of Community Health Centers.

Watt is also an advocate for breast cancer research and organized the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Orchard Walk at Watt Farms each fall from 2005-2017. For 11 years, the event raised over $350,000 for the American Cancer Society and in 2016-17 raised money for the local Genesee-Orleans Cancer Services Program.

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Hospice of Orleans celebrates November’s National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

Posted 7 November 2018 at 4:01 pm

Press Release, Hospice of Orleans

ALBION – Throughout the month of November, Hospice of Orleans will be joining organizations across the nation hosting activities that will help the community understand how important hospice and palliative care can be.

Hospice on Thursday, Nov. 8, will show a free screening of Frontline’s Being Mortal, hosted by the Medina Theatre. That event begins at 6:30 p.m.

Hospice is not a place but is high-quality care that enables patients and families to focus on living as fully as possible despite a life-limiting illness. Palliative care brings this holistic model of care to people earlier in the course of a serious illness.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month and hospice and palliative care programs across the country are reaching out to help people understand all that hospice and palliative care offer.

In recent months, a number of notable Americans have died. They include Senator John McCain, the queen of soul Aretha Franklin, and former first lady Barbara Bush. In many media reports, they were described as having “given up” on curative care late in their lives. Ms. Franklin opted for hospice care; Mrs. Bush received what was described as “comfort care.”

It is essential that people understand that hospice and palliative care is not giving up, it is not the abandonment of care, it is not reserved for the imminently dying,” said Edo Banach, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. “Hospice is a successful model of person-centered care that brings hope, dignity and compassion when they are most needed. This is one reason that the national My Hospice Campaign was launched this year.

Every year, nearly 1.5 million Medicare beneficiaries receive care from hospices in this country, reports NHPCO. Hospice and palliative care programs provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their family caregivers when a cure is not possible.

As Flo Surdi, a volunteer at Hospice of Orleans noted, “Someone asked why I spend time volunteering for hospice. It’s because hospice was there for my family at the most difficult time in our lives, and because hospice staff provide the best care possible when you need it most. It’s not about dying, it’s about living life! “

More information about hospice, palliative care, and advance care planning is available from Hospice of Orleans (585) 589-0809, or from NHPCO’s Follow Hospice of Orleans on Facebook to learn more and join the organization.

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County pushing to have mass casualty kits for first responders

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 November 2018 at 12:08 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Justin Niederhofer shows two of the mass casualty kits that are going to ambulances, fire departments, Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicles and other first responders.

ALBION – New kits with tourniquets, gauze and other supplies will be available for each fire department, Sheriff’s Office road patrol vehicle and ambulance provider in the county, helping first responders to “stop the bleed.”

The Orleans County Emergency Management Office has received state funding to purchase the mass casualty kits. Right now there are 33 kits in the field with about 30 more coming. Those 63 kits have 400 tourniquets.

The smaller kits have four tourniquets and the larger ones have eight. The kits also have bandages, gauze and an instruction sheet.

The EMO pushed to have the kits after a mass casualty training exercise in September 2017. First responders realized the fire departments and Orleans County Sheriff’s Office road patrol vehicles weren’t equipped with tourniquets and other supplies to stop multiple people from bleeding out.

A person can bleed out with 3 to 10 minutes if the wound isn’t stopped, said Justin Niederhofer, assistant Carlton fire chief.

He also is an EMT for COVA ambulance, the lead medic for the county’s SWAT team and Carlton’s representative on the county’s EMS Council. He has been coordinating the effort to get the kits in the county

State funding for about $40,000 is paying for the kits and training.

“It was brought up at the County EMS Council that we weren’t that well prepared supply wise,” said Dale Banker, the county’s EMO coordinator. “Hopefully all those medical supplies never have to be used.”

If there was a mass shooting or an accident with multiple victims, the kits could be critical to stopping the bleed.

Each fire department is getting two of the kits. Medina Fire Department will get four of the bigger for each of its ambulances, and COVA will have three.

The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office will have one in all 12 road vehicles, and the three investigators which each have one. The fire coordinators and lead medics also will carry the kits.

First responders are being trained on how to use the kits. Banker and Niederhofer want to expand the number of kits to local schools as well.

There will be training for using the kits for first responders in eastern, central and western Orleans, Banker said.

He urged everyone to familiarize themselves with how to use a tourniquet to help someone having a massive bleed.

“Just some basic training in using a tourniquet and you could save someone’s life,” he said.

The kits include gauze, tourniquets and other supplies to try to prevent a person from bleeding out.

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With older housing stock in Orleans, residents urged to be wary of lead paint

Posted 30 October 2018 at 8:47 pm

By Mari Hamilton, Public Health Educator in Genesee and Orleans counties

Lead in gasoline and paint has been banned in the United States since the 1970s, yet lead exposure and poisoning is still a problem in too many households.

Did you know that today, exposure and poisoning from this toxic metal still affects millions of people? While lead is harmful for everyone, it is even more dangerous to children and can cause lifelong and life-threatening health problems.

In an effort to combat this ongoing problem, the last week in October is recognized as National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.

Paul Pettit, Public Health Director of Genesee and Orleans Counties, wants to remind our community that knowledge is power.

“Lead poisoning can be prevented,” he said. “The key is to keep children from coming in contact with lead. Take time this week to learn about ways to reduce your child’s exposure to lead in their environment and prevent its serious health effects.”

Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing in lead dust. The most common sources of lead can be found in the soil, chipping paint, household dust, contaminated drinking water from old plumbing, lead-glazed pottery, some metal jewelry, and at some jobsites – typically construction, manufacturing and mining.

“Although the use of lead was banned from products such as paint since 1978, many homes in our communities still have remnants of old lead paint in them,” said Sarah Balduf, Environmental Health Director of Genesee and Orleans counties. “Old chipping paint, particularly around window sills, door frames, banisters, and porches, can cause a serious problem, especially in young children who tend to spend most of their time crawling or playing on the floor.”

Local data shows the majority of the homes in our communities were built before 1978, indicating lead may still be present even under fresh layers of paint. According to the 2016 American Community Survey 5-year Estimates there are approximately 25,657 total housing structures in Genesee County; 76.3% were built in 1979 or earlier with 39.6% built in 1939 or earlier. In Orleans County there are approximately 18,509 total housing structures; 76.2% were built in 1979 or earlier with 45.1% built in 1939 or earlier.

The chipping paint that Balduf described can produce a dust that is easily ingested by young children who often put their hands in their mouths. This is just one example of how lead can enter their bodies and harm their health by disrupting their growth and development, increasing behavioral problems, and lowering the child’s IQ. Many organs in the body are affected by lead, including the liver, kidneys, lungs, brain, spleen, muscles and heart.

There are typically no signs or symptoms to help you know if your child has lead poisoning. A person with lead poisoning usually does not look or feel sick. The best way to find out if your child has lead poisoning is by testing. The most common test is a quick blood test. It measures how much lead is in the bloodstream.

According to the New York State Department of Health, it is required that children are tested for lead at age 1 and again at age 2. Children will continue to be monitored for lead at well-child visits until they reach age 6. Pediatricians will explain what the child’s blood level means and if their levels are within a healthy range. Pregnant women should also be tested as they can pass lead to their unborn baby. High levels of lead during pregnancy can cause miscarriage and stillbirth. Other pregnancy problems may include low birth weight, poor growth and premature delivery.

Lead testing rates in Genesee County from 2016 reveal that 56.8% of children were being tested for lead at age one and 54.2% of children were being tested for lead at age 2. Lead testing rates in Orleans County from 2017 reveal that 57.9% of children were being tested for lead at age one and 51.9% of children were being tested for lead at age 2.

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week increases awareness for a year-round problem. Educating yourself about the dangers of lead poisoning and ways to lessen lead exposure will benefit the health and wellbeing of your family. Take action today by reviewing these simple steps to reduce lead exposure in your home.

• Keep a clean and dust free home.

• Use a damp cloth and a damp mop to reduce the spread of dust.

• Teach good handwashing habits.

• Consume a diet with foods that are rich in nutrients such as calcium, iron, and vitamin C.

• Good nutrition and regular meals can help prevent lead poisoning since there are many good nutrients being absorbed in the body. An empty stomach has the ability to absorb more lead and store it in the bones. Supporting strong bones and a healthy body will help minimize the amount of lead absorbed in the body.

• Be mindful to not bring lead home on clothes from jobsites or working on hobbies.

• Let cold water run for 1 minute before drinking it, especially if it has not been used for a few hours.

• Fix and repair peeling paint safely. Contact your local health department for more information on how to do so.

Take time to talk with your doctor or health department staff to learn more about your risk of lead poisoning or visit the New York State Health Department by clicking here.

For information about Health Department services in Orleans County, call (585) 589-3278 or click here for the website.

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Orleans Recovery Hope provides a missing piece for recovering addicts

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Recovery coaches and advocates for Orleans Recovery Hope are shown at a benefit for the organization Saturday at the VFW in Medina. From left are Stephanie Higgs, Kathy Hodgins, Kim Lockwood, Tiffany Neroni, Mike Schroeder, Don Snyder and Wayne Litchfield.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 30 October 2018 at 9:09 am

12 have been trained as recovery coaches

Peer recovery coach Keith Greer chats with Tammy Ashton, Kim Lockwood and Tiffany Neroni, board members of Orleans Recovery Hope, during a fundraiser Saturday at the VFW in Medina.

MEDINA – There has always been a missing piece in the treatment of recovering drug addicts, said Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower.

Now, Bower thinks the county has found the answer.

Bower attended a fundraiser Saturday afternoon at the VFW in Medina for Orleans Recovery Hope, a peer organization which grew out of a group founded a year ago to work with recovering addicts.

“Often when an addict leaves the jail bed he goes to a rehab bed, but when he gets out of rehab, too many times he’s right back in the jail bed,” Bower said. “There was always a missing piece. Orleans Recovery Hope is that missing piece.”

Orleans Recovery Hope started with Kim Lockwood and several of her friends who had heard too many times about their friends losing loved ones to drug overdoses.

In 2017, they said, “This has to stop.”

Wayne Litchfield, retired dispatcher for the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department; Don Snyder, jail chaplain; and Tami Ashton, who lost her daughter to a drug overdose, had been meeting regularly at Dunkin’ Donuts to discuss what could be done about the opioid crisis in Orleans County. They learned Lockwood and her friends were having the same discussions.

They joined forces, and a year ago, they organized the first meeting of Orleans Hope at the former high school on Catherine Street in Medina. The community and law enforcement turned out in a big way.

Now 12 people have been trained as recovery coaches and the organization renamed Orleans Recovery Hope has become a 501c4.

Saturday’s fundraiser, organized by Lockwood, was to raise money to train more recovery coaches, to create programs to reach and help those fighting drugs, and to end the stigma and get the community talking about what’s going on with the opioid crisis.

“We want to do more community awareness events because people must begin to talk about this,” Lockwood said.

Douglas and Kristine Ames of Medina wear T-shirts with pictures of their daughter Erin, who died at age 32 of a drug overdose. The Ames are raising their two granddaughters, Callie, 4, left, and Keirra, 7. The family poses with a toy box Douglas made and donated for a raffle Saturday at the Medina VFW to benefit Orleans Recovery Hope.

Lockwood had a hard time fighting back tears as she viewed the people in the room wearing pictures on their T-shirts of a loved one lost to drugs, and of the array of baskets donated to support the event.

Two of those parents were Douglas and Kristine Ames of Medina, who lost their daughter Erin, 32, on June 2, 2017. The Ames are raising granddaughters Keirra, 7, and Callie, 4. Douglas made a wooden toy box and donated it for the raffle in memory of Erin.

Bower has been fighting the drug crisis even before he became Sheriff. He praised the efforts of those involved with Orleans Recovery Hope and talked about his program “Sheriff Cares,” which stands for Community Addiction Rehabilitation Education. It is his goal to be able to identify drug users and get them the help they need.

Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower shakes hands with Keith Greer, a peer recovery coach from Rochester.

“As the result of the energy of these guys who picked up the ball and ran with it, you can see how Orleans Recovery Hope is succeeding,” he said.

A special speaker at the afternoon event was Keith Greer, a peer recovery coach in Rochester and half of a team who trains recovery coaches there. He praised the efforts of Orleans Recovery Hope and said organizations like this are the answer to combating drug addiction.

“We can’t wait for government to come and fix the problem,” he said. “It’s not going to happen.”

Peer recovery coaches are relatively new, having only been around in Rochester for three years. It takes someone who has had some form of involvement with drugs – either personally, a friend or loved one – to become a peer coach, Greer said.

“You combine their experience with the passionate skills they already have, and you have created a lane in the middle for people dealing with addiction,” he said.

Greer said their goal is to get recovery coaches into emergency rooms.

“Drug addiction is the only disease where a person can show up with symptoms and be sent home,” he said.

There are multiple paths to recovery and a recovery coach is trained to look for the right path for each person.

Tiffany Neroni acknowledged The Hilltop Restaurant in Lockport for their support of Orleans Recovery Hope.

The Hilltop’s owner Tony Conrad prepared snacks for the event and wants to establish a scholarship for someone in recovery who wants to further their education. He lost a brother-in-law to a drug overdose.

Money raised by Orleans Recovery Hope has also paid for rack cards which Lockwood said they have distributed throughout the county.

“This is how change is going to happen in our community and every community,” Greer concluded.

These individuals who came forward during a fundraiser Saturday at the VFW in Medina for Orleans Recovery Hope are all wearing T-shirts of their loved one lost to a drug overdose. At right is Don Snyder, jail chaplain who is president of the board of Orleans Recovery Hope.

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3 sites in Orleans will collect unused prescription drugs on Saturday

Posted 24 October 2018 at 10:14 pm

Press Release, Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower

The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office will once again participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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

This is a great opportunity for the public to surrender unwanted and/or expired medications for safe and proper disposal. Events such as these have dramatically reduced the risk of prescription drug diversion and abuse, as well as increasing awareness of this critical public health issue. The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative has been very successful and has resulted in 4,800 pounds of unused medications being collected from the residents of Orleans County who have participated in this program.

The following are collection points:

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

• Holley Fire Department – 7 Thomas Street, Holley

• Medina Fire Department – 600 Main Street,  Medina

Special thanks to the Holley and Medina FDs for providing space within their facilities for this event.

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Local Rotary Clubs have helped in worldwide fight against polio

Photo from Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority: The Peace Bridge will be lit in purple this evening to honor Rotary’s long fight to eradicate Polio worldwide. After people are vaccinated in developing countries, their pinkie is dipped in purple to show that it was done.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 October 2018 at 11:19 am


Local service clubs take great pride in helping to boost their local communities, by helping put on festivals and many other family-friendly events. The local service clubs also raise money and give the bulk of that to local efforts, often supporting youth sports teams, families in crisis from an unexpected medical challenge, or they take the lead with a public arts project, just to name a few.

However, many of the service clubs are part of world-wide organizations, such as Rotary International or Lions Clubs International, and some of the annual dues and other fundraisers go to support humanitarian efforts around the globe.

Orleans County has three Rotary Clubs, and today Rotary International is celebrating  World Polio Day, which recognizes a 30-plus year effort by Rotary to eradicate polio. Rotary has spent $1.8 billion bringing the vaccine to 2.5 billion children in 122 countries around the world and is nearly complete in its fight. This year, there have been 16 new polio cases identified in Afghanistan and four in Pakistan.

When people in developing countries receive the vaccine, they dip their pinkies in purple to show they have been immunized.

Today at 7 p.m. the Peace Bridge will be lit up in purple to signify the success of Rotary’s polio campaign. The bridge over the Niagara River connects Buffalo to Fort Erie, Canada.

Rotarians in Albion, Holley and Medina can feel a sense of pride for helping in this effort. Polio, about two generations ago, was a scourge in the United States, often resulting in paralysis and death. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the former president, was diagnosed with polio when he was 39 and was paralyzed from the waist down.

Today it is worth taking a moment to reflect on the power of service organizations and the good they do when they unite in a common cause around the world. Rotary, the Lions Clubs and others are able to transcend politics, national boundaries, religious differences and other obstacles that can get in the way of important humanitarian work.

For more on World Polio Day, click here.

(Editor’s Note: Orleans Hub publisher Karen Sawicz and Hub editor Tom Rivers are both members of the Albion Rotary Club.)

Teal Pumpkins signify non-food treats for kids with allergies

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 October 2018 at 7:46 pm

Photo courtesy of Georgia Thomas

MEDINA – Georgia Thomas of Medina has a row of pumpkins on her porch in medina, including a teal pumpkin to signify she has treats available for kids with allergies.

The Teal Pumpkin Project started in 2012 as a nationwide effort to encourage people to also give out non-food treats on Halloween, which is next Wednesday, Oct. 31.

Food Allergy Research & Education, a non-profit advocacy group, took up the cause and first promoted the non-food treats in 2014.

The group says there are many treat options for people to give to children with food allergies:

• Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces; pencils, pens, crayons or markers; bubbles;

• Halloween erasers or pencil toppers; Mini Slinkies; whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers;

• Bouncy balls; finger puppets or novelty toys; coins; spider rings; vampire fangs; mini notepads; playing cards; bookmarks; stickers and stencils.

Food Allergy Research & Education would like to have a home on every block with a teal pumpkin and offer non-food treats.

For more on the Teal Pumpkin Project, click here.

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