health & wellness

WIC: What is it? Who’s it for? Surprising facts.

Posted 30 August 2022 at 2:00 pm

By Angela Shoemaker, WIC Program Coordinator, Oak Orchard Health

From healthy essential foods to breastfeeding support to tasty recipes and tips for keeping kids healthy and active, WIC offers a whole lot more than you may realize. And there is a lot we can do to help you take good care of your growing family. The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program is designed to help women who are either pregnant, breastfeeding, postpartum, or have kids up to five years old. It provides food and other kinds of support families need to live healthy lives. But you might wonder if WIC is right for you—or if you even qualify.

WIC is available to lots of people.

Many families in New York State work hard but still struggle sometimes to get by. You do not have to be unemployed to qualify for WIC. For instance, a family of four with $51,338 in annual income or less can qualify for WIC, whether that income is from one or two working parents. And if you already receive SNAP or TANF benefits or you’re on Medicaid, you automatically qualify for WIC.

In fact, if you receive SNAP—also known as Food Stamps—WIC can be even more helpful because it helps pay for some of the basic nutrition your family needs to help your SNAP benefits go further.

Your eWIC card makes grocery shopping easy and convenient.

When you sign up for WIC benefits, you’ll receive an eWIC payment card. It looks just like a credit card, it automatically pays for qualified groceries in your shopping cart, and it’s automatically reloaded each month. Your eWIC card is a hassle-free way to take advantage of your benefits.

Enjoy the bounty of your local Farmer’s Market.

There’s nothing like fresh, local produce in the summertime. And our program supports local Farmer’s Markets by providing you with funds you can spend on delicious local fruits and vegetables. Each participant over the age of 6 months gets $25 —and it is on top of your regular monthly benefits.

WIC can help with breastfeeding and so much more.

If you are pregnant or have a newborn, our expert staff can help prepare you on ways to feed your baby.  Our staff is trained to promote breastfeeding and provide the needed support new mothers and infants need for success. Additionally, WIC’s breastfeeding program offers Breastfeeding Peer Counselors who have breastfed their babies and are eager to help you do the same. WIC even offers free breast pumps if you need one, as well as an increased food package to keep you well-nourished while you are breastfeeding. We are here to support you through your breastfeeding journey.

We also offer great nutrition advice, including tasty recipes you can make the foods you qualify for with WIC. And if you have other health care needs beyond our ability to help, we will connect you with someone who can—from dentistry to housing and many things in between.

It is easy to get started. Just give us a call.

If WIC sounds like it might be right for you and your family, call (585) 344-2203 and we will walk you through it. For details about the WIC program, visit oakorchardhealth.org/health-services/wic.

Service of Remembrance will return at Orleans Community Health

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 29 August 2022 at 9:52 am

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Randi Ingersoll, social worker at Orleans Community Health, and Scott Robinson, director of marketing, communication and outreach at Community Partners, discuss plans to bring back a Service of Remembrance, after an absence of seven years.

MEDINA – A service honoring loved ones who died at Orleans Community Health or had been dialysis patients at one of the hospital’s two dialysis units, is being reinstated, after an absence of seven years.

A Service of Remembrance had been a tradition at the hospital for 18 years, during which time it was organized by Debbie Cook. When Cook retired seven years ago, the service kind of retired with her, said Scott Robinson, director of marketing, communication and outreach at Community Partners.

A year ago, Randi Ingersoll was hired as social worker, and while going though files and records, she found information on the services of remembrance.

“I found minutes on the planning committees and news articles that had been written about the services, and it was intriguing to me,” Ingersoll said.

The information told about the services, held annually at a local church, with a keynote speaker and a memorial reading by Cook. Each family member who attended was given a candle which they could light as their loved one’s name was read. Then the family members were invited to stay for a reception after the service.

The service honored every person who had died at Medina Memorial Hospital or who had been a dialysis patient of Orleans Community Health.

“A couple of months ago, I reached out to Deb and asked if she minded if I brought the tradition back, and asked if she would help me,” Ingersoll said. “She said she would be happy to help.”

Ingersoll set up a committee, consisting of two members from the hospital, staff of Orleans Community Health and a private duty nurse. Cook will help when she’s available or by phone.

“A lot of community members remember when we had the service or had a relative who was remembered,” Ingersoll said

The service is scheduled for 3 p.m. May 7, 2023 at Oak Orchard Assembly of God on Ridge Road. Although it’s nine months away, Ingersoll wants to get the word out.

“I want the service to be just like it was before, to show the community we remember their loved ones who passed away,” she said. “Deb was amazed I even knew what the service was and that I wanted to bring it back. I think Day of Remembrance is Deb’s legacy. She spent 18 years of her life honoring patients of the hospital who were lost.”

Dietitian says people can still eat healthy while budgets being strained

Posted 25 August 2022 at 2:16 pm

By Anna O’Keefe, RD, CDN – Clinical Dietitian at Orleans Community Health

Anna O’Keefe

MEDINA – Inflation has hit American households hard with the increasing prices of housing, gasoline, and just about everything in between.

This includes one of, if not the most essential goods for your home, FOOD! For most of us, our largest bill outside of our housing expenses is our grocery bill. Despite it being such a high cost, it is also the one we can have the most control over.

It can be stressful seeing our food costs go up each and every week and feeling powerless. Utilizing coupons, shopping the sales, buying in bulk are all great places to start on saving, but the most impactful savings can begin right inside of the home without inconveniencing our already busy lives!

Plan and Prep

The terms ‘meal planning’ and ‘meal prepping’ can seem daunting to people that are new to this concept. Meal planning is simply deciding what you are going to eat in a designated time frame. Going to the grocery store with a plan of attack will ensure you know exactly what your household needs. It will also decrease food waste on items you have good intentions on using but instead might sit there, completely forgotten in the back of your fridge.

Meal prepping is the act of getting the food of that meal ready for a later time frame (ex. cutting produce ahead of time, marinating meat, rinsing rice). Working ahead of schedule and having some of the ingredients ready for the meal make it easier to execute the meal at a later time. Another benefit from meal prepping is it makes meal execution less daunting. When some of the work is already done, it is harder to say, “Let’s just get takeout!” after the long, hectic days that so many of us live. When you go to cook your meals, you will be so thankful for your past self.

Cook Once, Eat Twice

Repeat after me: Leftovers are your friend. The whole process of putting food on the table (shop, cook, clean, repeat) can be exhausting. Putting emphasis on always having a plan for leftovers can reduce the burden of cooking while also saving cash. Whether you like to save leftovers for lunch the next day, have leftovers for dinner, or store leftovers in the freezer for a meal long down the road; these are all great options!

You can save food in your refrigerator for about 3 days, and food in the freezer for up to 6 months! If this seems boring to you, repurpose your leftovers! Get creative and find ways to liven them up. Look at your leftovers as separate ingredients, what could you do with that cooked chicken? Add it as a pizza topping, put it in a wrap, put it on top of leafy greens for a salad. If you are having trouble, try to look at the meal you made as separate ingredients instead of one single entity. Turn your leftovers into a new and exciting adventure for your taste buds, you will waste less food and your wallet will thank you.

The freezer is your friend

Freezers are magic. No, really! They are the only thing that can freeze time. Freezers tend to be underrated and underutilized and they create an abundance of additional ways to save money! Storing food items that may be close to expiration (produce, proteins, grains) is a great way to ensure you are not wasting your already-paid-for food.

Another option is to buy foods already frozen (ie. fruits, vegetables, meats) to make a longer shelf life and therefore decrease food waste. Whole foods that are frozen have comparable if not healthier nutrients than their shelf counterparts. Fresh produce is picked, packed, and transported and can lose nutrients while frozen produce is flash frozen and can retain the majority of their nutrition. Buying things like frozen fruits and vegetables are a great way to always have produce on hand and lower that bill at the checkout. I said it before and I will say it again, freezers are magical!

Complete Inventory Often

Do you have a fridge, freezer, and/or pantry? Probably! In that case, an inventory should be done often to ensure you are rotating through what needs to be eaten and only buying things you actually need. A great way to reduce your grocery bill is to use items that you already have.

So many of us forget to check these areas and use a “start fresh” approach to meal planning when we likely have some things to use at home. Use those canned beans, that frozen meat, the lettuce that’s a day away from wilting. If you always keep a running inventory in your head it will force you to use the food items you have, save space, and cut your grocery bill costs. Maybe even get you more creative in the kitchen! Buy what you need, not what you already have.

Reduce your discretionary purchases

Discretionary purchases when it comes to food can be viewed through the lens of the ‘fun’ food. Things like snacks, desserts, convenience items, and specialty items all fall in this category. These purchases are definitely pleasurable, but likely NOT worth it for the wallet or the health. There is a time and a place for these purchases, of course! But they should not take up a good sum of the grocery bill. Try limiting these food items as much as possible to ensure you are not overindulging on things that do not particularly fit in your budget or add to the lifestyle you are trying to lead.

Food is one of the top categories of our budget and thankfully one we can impact the most. As an essential good of everyday life, get creative and take back control of your grocery bill. Taking these suggestions into account and reevaluating how you currently manage your meals can expand your budget, amplify your time, and ultimately improve your quality of life in this tight economic market we are living in today. Start those grocery savings today, your wallet will thank you!

On Overdose Awareness Day, speaker says caring people make a difference for those struggling with addiction

Posted 25 August 2022 at 8:44 am

GOW Opioid Task Force seeks to reduce stigma of addiction

By Mike Pettinella, GCASA Publicist

Provided photos: Jarett LoCicero, who is in his fourth year of recovery, speaks at an Overdose Awareness Day observance at Austin Park on Wednesday. He is now a case manager for GCASA.

BATAVIA – “My name is Jarett LoCicero and you can find me at the GCASA recovery center, helping out with services for those looking to be themselves, feel better and maybe even live their dreams.”

That’s the way LoCicero, a Batavia resident, in his fourth year of recovery, ended his six-minute talk this afternoon at the annual Overdose Awareness Day hosted by the GOW Opioid Task Force at Austin Park. He was able to pack a powerful message into his speech – reflecting the event’s theme of reducing the stigma attached to addiction and letting people know that help is right around the corner.

Now a case manager at The Recovery Station operated by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, LoCicero shared that changing the perception of himself was key to his road to recovery.

“Today, we’re speaking vaguely from a person’s point of view that’s been afflicted with the disease of addiction, and their capacity to change that perspective,” he said. “Ultimately, what stops the person from this change? And, maybe when someone is scratching at the fronts of their eyes to see themselves follow through with the decision, a change or a commitment, they fall short again, and again, ultimately not feeling as if they could succeed despite the best and most pure of intentions?”

He talked about the agony felt by the person caught up in substance use and for their families. As a result, he said, that person “can die for this or die for change, a desire to feel different — the very nature of an overdose or instant gratification, and why many of us have gathered here today.”

Upon realization that someone has a problem, LoCicero said it then becomes a matter of perspective – and the change in that perspective can be accelerated by the encouragement from those who care.

“Once perspective may be supported by ‘I’ statements, such as I am, I can’t, I won’t, I come from this, I’m cut from that cloth, this is my culture, stay in your lane. This will never happen or workout for me,” he said. “But, despite all of that, a person will say to themselves if I just had X, Y and Z, I could do this. If the light could just shine down on me. I could do this and make a difference in my life.”

Rochester Regional Health staff attended the event.

Love and support are vital

“Because it’s my life. What X, Y and Z boil down to being mostly in every case is our common and essential needs – love and care support, personal needs that allow one the opportunity to self-actualize and become their dream.”

LoCicero said that once he saw his life through a different filter – “and put in some effort” – his perspective changed and his life changed “nearly instantly.”

He said his breakthrough to believing in himself has led to a desire to help others do the same thing.

“It’s what we can do for folks, (show that) we care about suffering with the disease of addiction, a disease of a lifestyle, and we can contribute to optimal conditions necessary for growth and opportunity by making folks aware of our want and commitment to help, most importantly, proving to them that it’s possible,” he said.

LoCicero said those in attendance representing human services and health agencies want nothing more but to reach out to those struggling with addiction and “have you join the community – your community – or at least to reduce your potential for harm.”

In closing, he shared a three-step approach that pulled him out of bondage.

“If you can put yourself in front of God, you will find a miracle. If you work hard enough and grind hard enough, you may find your cure. If you be yourself, that’s the only way you can find change and find happiness. If you do all three of these things, and if you ask for help, undoubtedly you will recover.”

Pettit: Preventing deaths are a priority

Paul Pettit, public health director in Genesee and Orleans counties, said 21 people died of overdoses in the two counties in 2020.

Paul Pettit, public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties, applauded the work of the GOW Opioid Task Force, the three-county partnership of agencies that has been is place for the past five years.

“Preventing opioid overdose deaths … is one of the priority goals of the GOW Community Health Improvement Plan,” Pettit said, mentioning that drug overdose is the leading cause of injury mortality in the United States. “The opioid epidemic is an urgent and serious public health and public safety issue.”

Nationally, more than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses last year, and worldwide, the number approached 600,000. And, after trending down in 2018 and 2019, the numbers are increasing once again, he said.

“In Genesee County, there were 15 fatal opioid overdoses in 2020 – 15 too many,” Pettit said, “with six in Orleans County and seven in Wyoming County.”

He cited the rise in fentanyl and synthetic opioids and in concurrent stimulant use, especially cocaine.

“The takeaway from this is that people are dying of fentanyl overdoses when they only mean to take cocaine or another stimulant, and might not know they are at risk of an overdose at all,” he said.

The Groove band played music at the park during the awareness day.

Bennett: Open access to treatment

GCASA Executive Director John Bennett shared that the Overdose Awareness Day initiative, which was started in Australia in 2001, now is celebrated internationally, with 367 events in the U.S. and around 600 outside of America’s borders.

The Rev. Vern Saile, pastor of Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia, offers an invocation.

“It’s an honor for us to be able to present this to our community,” he said. “As I go to the different booths here today, I am hearing people having good conversations with community members. It’s all about reducing the stigma of people with addiction. It’s about giving people who’ve lost loved ones a place to talk about– without stigma, without shame and without guilt — in a really kind, positive and friendly zone.”

Bennett pointed the agency’s recently-opened Detox Center on East Main Street as a place “that is already saving lives.”

“We offer open access; you can just walk in and we’ll see you. Just last Thursday, I think we have seven admissions,” he said. “Doing events like this in the community brings awareness. So, my advice is if you need help, there’s open access centers all around Western New York. Go to one of them, and they’ll get you where you need to be. Or call me. My number is 585-815-1850 and I’ll find you a place.”

Other speakers were Christopher Budzinack, a residential counselor at GCASA’s Atwater Community Residence, who spoke about his recovery from addiction and jail time, and Niki Lang, who read a letter and poem written by her son, Jason, who died in 2017 due to substance use disorder.

More than a dozen agencies had booths at the event, including Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans counties, Genesee County Office for the Aging, Batavia Community Schools, Genesee County Mental Health, Genesee Justice, National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence, Job Corps, Rochester Regional Health, CORE, Restore, Genesee County Health Department, Oak Orchard Health, Suicide Prevention Coalition, Care-A-Van Ministries, Horizon, Fidelis Care, Molina Healthcare and WNY Heroes (for veterans).

Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 24 will offers ‘hope and help’

Posted 19 August 2022 at 4:03 pm

Press Release, GCASA

BATAVIA – Christopher Budzinack has a straightforward reason for agreeing to speak at next Wednesday’s Overdose Awareness Day: To show those affected by substance use disorder that there is hope and there is help.

“As a person in long-term recovery, I know first-hand how important these services are and I want to help promote them as much as possible,” said Budzinack, a residential counselor at the Atwater Community Residence operated by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

“It is my hope that someone will leave this event feeling encouraged and inspired to make a change for the better and for the ones who have lost someone to addiction, my hope for them is that they will know they are not alone and there is help for them as well.”

Budzinack, who also serves as a case manager for GCASA’s supportive living program, is one of several people signed up to speak at the annual event, which is set for 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 24 at Austin Park in Batavia.

Designed to raise awareness of the opioid epidemic and remember the lives that have been lost due to an overdose, the event is being hosted by the GOW Opioid Task Force.

Task Force Coordinator Christen Foley said attendees are invited to take part in the family-friendly activities – which include face painting and live music – and enjoy free pizza, refreshments and ice cream. A Narcan training also is on the agenda and local agencies will have informational tables.

Participants also will be offered the opportunity to leave a note on the task force’s memory board for a deceased loved one.

Other speakers include Paul Pettit, public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties; John Bennett, GCASA chief executive officer; the Rev. Vern Saile, pastor of Northgate Free Methodist Church, and Jarett LoCicero, case manager at GCASA.

Health clinic in Albion has new administrator as site nears 10th anniversary

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 17 August 2022 at 8:37 am

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Alana Palone, right, chats with staff of Orleans Community Health’s walk-in clinic in Albion. From left are Jorgie Lang, clinical technician; Ciarra Silversmith, clinical supervisor; and Techelle Stephens, clinical technician.

ALBION – Orleans Community Health’s walk-in clinic on Butts Road has a new administrator, effective Aug. 6.

Medina native Alana Palone took over the duties after Nicole Helsdon left to accept another position.

Palone, the former Alana Schuner, graduated in 2000 from Medina High School and studied two years at Niagara Community College. She then attended Brockport State College, where she received a degree in health care administration with a minor in business.

She previously worked for Dr. Eileen Kosieracki on Long Bridge Road and Dr. John Thompson in the former Arnold Gregory Hospital building. She also worked for nearly 10 years for Rochester Regional Health, all at urban practices.

She and her husband reside in Brockport, and accepting the job in Albion gives them a perfect reason to move back home, she said. She is also looking forward to the opportunity to serve her local community. As clinic administrator, Palone said she hopes to implement process changes and encourage more people to utilize the services offered there.

The walk-in clinic offers health care by two nurse practitioners, Liz Gurnsey and Blessing Ibezin, with Dr. Syed Raza available part-time. Services offered include lab work, X-ray, occupational and physical therapy, walk-in care services and primary care.

Other staff includes clinical supervisor, Ciarra Silversmith and clinical technicians Jorgie Lang and Techelle Stephens.

The clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Scott Robinson, director of Marketing, Communications and Outreach at Community Partners, said the Albion clinic will celebrate its 10th anniversary in November with several special events.

GCASA’s ‘open access’ offers fast help for those needing detoxification services

Posted 15 August 2022 at 4:17 pm

No appointment needed to access services and begin path to wellness

Provided photo: The GCASA Detox Center is attached to rear of Atwater Community Residence in Batavia.

By Mike Pettinella, GCASA Publicist

BATAVIA – In an ongoing effort to meet people right where they’re at, the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse staff is offering an “open access” first step to substance use disorder recovery.

“We’re pleased to announce that men and women seeking detoxification are able to come to our Detox Center (attached to the Atwater Community Residence at 424 East Main St.) without appointment from Monday through Friday at 9 a.m. to begin their path to wellness,” said Allison Parry-Gurak, GCASA’s director of Residential Services.

Upon arrival at the recently opened Detox Center, which provides 16 beds for short-term (usually three to seven days) detoxification treatment and services, the person in need will be screened by a medical professional and, if appropriate, will be assigned to a bed the same day, Parry-Gurak advised.

The facility enlists the services of medial and technical staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week and counseling services 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Our Detox Center employees are specially trained and certified to assist people who require these short-term services – those showing mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms and suffering from mild, moderate or severe substance use disorder stemming from alcohol, opioid or benzodiazepine addiction.”

Parry-Gurak said the Detox Center – along with GCASA’s supportive living residences – have beds available.

“We encourage people not to try and detox at home,” she said. “Here, we will provide the care and treatment they need – meeting with a counselor every day, participating in individual and group therapy sessions and supported by peer advocates – before guiding them to medically-assisted treatment.”

The Detox Center is, in many cases, the initial phase in the road to recovery provided by GCASA.

After detoxification, patients can transition to the Atwater Community Residence, a 17-bed facility for men and women that provides counseling and treatment services for up to a six-month stay.

“The criteria (for admission) is a bit different,” Parry-Gurak said. “People have to have at least 10 days since their last (substance) use, but it is open to those struggling to an expanded area of substance use disorder.

GCASA’s supportive living program features 24 beds in Genesee and Orleans counties.

Parry-Gurak said supportive living works well for adults who have been in recovery for some time and are ready for independent care.

“It’s apartment-style living, with openings for men and women,” she said, adding that appointments are required for entry into Atwater and the supportive living homes (by calling 585-813-6508).

As far as the Detox Center’s benefits, she said having the facility in Batavia makes it much easier for Genesee area residents to get immediate help.

“In the past, we would have to send people to Erie County Medical Center, Strong Memorial (in Rochester) to Warsaw (Wyoming County Community Hospital),” she said. “With our center now open and having all insurance approvals in place, we’re providing that immediate care for those still actively using.”

For more information about the Detox Center, call 585-815-1860.

Lyndonville Area Foundation makes $25K donation towards new medical pumps at OCH

Posted 11 August 2022 at 4:08 pm

Provided photo: Pictured from left include Marc Shurtz, Orleans Community Health CEO; Russ Martino of the Lyndonville Area Foundation; Heather Smith, Orleans Community Health Foundation director; Rita Wolfe, president of the Lyndonville Area Foundation; and Jeanne Crane, Orleans Community Health Foundation president.

MEDINA – Orleans Community Health Foundation is proud to announce a donation of $25,000 from the Lyndonville Area Foundation toward the ongoing campaign to replace and upgrade IV infusion pumps throughout Orleans Community Health.

“The Lyndonville Area Foundation has supported the hospital throughout the years.  We feel it is an important asset to the community,” said Rita Wolfe, President of the Lyndonville Area Foundation.

Each IV Infusion pump costs around $2,945, which includes the battery packs and service agreements. The campaign goal is to replace 60 pumps currently in use throughout Orleans Community Health. The patients at both MMH and our dialysis centers will benefit the most from these new pumps and we look forward to working with the upgraded technology that they will provide.

The current pumps were generously donated by Sigma back in 2011. At any given time, up to 50 pumps could be in use with the remainder being serviced or sterilized. These pumps are used in both dialysis locations, the emergency department, operating and recovery rooms, for infusion treatments, in radiology, throughout the long-term care center (North wing) and on the patient care floor.

At times a patient may use only one, but sometimes they could be using multiple pumps at a once. They are always in need and provide vital medical care to our patients who either need them for hydration, lifesaving medications, antibiotics, or infusions. Having new pumps means having new technology that will provide easier and simpler programming, which always leads to improved quality of care.

“The Lyndonville Area Foundation has a long history of supporting Medina Memorial Hospital and Orleans Community Health,” said Jeanne Crane, president of the Orleans Community Health Foundation. “There’s no question they are a strong ally to our community.”

“The Orleans Community Health Foundation will continue efforts to apply for grants and have two more events to host this year,” said Heather Smith, executive director of the Orleans Community Health Foundation. “We’re confident that we’re going to meet our goals, and we won’t stop until we do.”

To learn more about this campaign and the Orleans Community Health Foundation, click here.

Local Covid cases hold steady with no summer surge

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 August 2022 at 6:39 pm

There hasn’t been a summer surge in Covid cases locally. Data from the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments show there hasn’t been a spike in cases this summer.

The data from the past week, Aug. 3-9, shows 34 cases in Orleans, compared to 38 the week before. In Genesee, the cases are up about 20 percent from 52 to 62.

Looking at the past six weeks, there hasn’t been a big jump or decline in either county. Both counties are considered low for community spread by the federal CDC.

The confirmed cases in Orleans the past six weeks include 26 from June 29 to July 5, 28 from July 6-12, 36 from July 13-19, 32 to July 20-26, 38 from July 27 to Aug. 2, and 34 from Aug. 3-9

Genesee’s confirmed cases the past six weeks included 21 from June 29 to July 5, 53 from July 6-12, 50 from July 13-19, 67 to July 20-26, 52 from July 27 to Aug. 2, and 62 from Aug. 3-9.

The local health department today reported there was another Covid-related death in Genesee County in the past week. Genesee has now had 198 Covid-related deaths since the pandemic started in March 2020, while Orleans has had 120 deaths due to Covid.

Statewide the positivity rate for the past 7 days is at 7.98 percent. Orleans is in the Finger Lakes Region where the 7-day positivity is at 7.57 percent. Western New York is at the highest in the state at 10.83 percent while New York City is the lowest at 7.29 percent.

Local health department leader named to national board for health officials

Posted 10 August 2022 at 6:15 pm

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

Paul Pettit, the director of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments, has been newly elected to the National Association of County and City Health Officials’ Board of Directors for a three-year term as a Director for Region 2, representing local health departments in NJ, NY, PR, and the USVI.

Paul Pettit

NACCHO is the voice of the country’s nearly 3,000 local health departments. Pettit’s term began on July 1, 2022.

“Being elected to serve on the NACCHO board is a very humbling and exciting opportunity,” Pettit said. “I’ve had the privilege to serve as a local public health director for over 14 years in the communities where I live.

Pettit has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester in Environmental Health, a Master of Science degree in Strategic Leadership from Roberts Wesleyan College and a certificate in Public Health from the University at Albany.

He has worked in public health for over 23 years, starting as an environmental health technician and advancing to the public health director role for Orleans County in January 2008. In 2012, he also became the public health director for Genesee County through a collaborative cross-jurisdictional sharing arrangement between the two counties. This unique CJS partnership was supported and developed with assistance from the Center for Sharing Public Health Services.

“Local public health is where we see the true impact of our work and have the direct interaction with our residents,” Pettit said. “Serving on the board will allow me to represent my colleagues in Region 2 and work collaboratively with my fellow board members and the staff of NACCHO to continue the advocacy work for funding and services that will directly impact and improve the lives of those in our communities.”

In addition to serving on many local, regional and state Board of Directors, Pettit is a past president of the New York State Association of County Health Officials. He was recently appointed to the New York State Rural Health Council, and he is very active in statewide public health and policy advocacy. He is also an adjunct professor, teaching various public health classes at both SUNY Brockport and the University at Buffalo.

“I am very pleased that Paul Pettit’s colleagues around the country have voted to have him join our board,” said NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Lori Tremmel Freeman. “He is a past president of the New York State Association of County Health Officials and is especially active in public health policy and advocacy. We greatly appreciate the experience and insight he will bring to our organization’s leadership.”

NACCHO is governed by a 20-member board consisting of local and tribal health officials who are elected by their peers, as well as one ex-officio member representing partner organizations.

As the governing body, NACCHO’s Board of Directors establishes the association’s strategic direction and initiatives, sets the annual legislative agenda, approves official policy statements, ensures that annual goals are met, and provides financial oversight.

The Board is NACCHO’s public face and represents members in matters of policy, public health practice, and collaboration with health partners in the public and private sectors.

For more information about NACCHO, please visit www.naccho.org.

Health Department schedules anti-rabies clinics in Genesee, Orleans

Posted 5 August 2022 at 9:00 am

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

The Genesee County Health Department will be hosting a free drive-thru anti-rabies immunization clinic on Thursday, Aug. 11, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Genesee County Fairgrounds (5056 East Main Street, Batavia).

New York State Public Health Law requires all dogs, cats and domestic ferrets to be vaccinated against rabies after they reach the age of 4 months. Animals must also remain up-to-date on rabies vaccinations and owners can be fined up to $200 if they fail to get their pets vaccinated and keep them up to date.

“Animal rabies continues to be a serious public health problem in Genesee County,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. “We remind all residents to make sure that their animals are immunized against rabies and that their vaccinations are kept up to date.”

Vaccinations are free for dogs, cats, and ferrets, but voluntary donations are accepted. Animals must be at least 3 months old. Each animal must be leashed or crated and accompanied by an adult who can control the animal. Limit 4 pets per car maximum.

To save you time, please click here to fill out your registration form in advance. Be sure to print out two copies for each pet to be vaccinated and bring them with you to the clinic. (The Genesee clinic is open to Orleans County pet owners and the Orleans clinics are open to Genesee pets.)

The next anti-rabies immunization clinics are as follows:

Genesee County Clinics at the Genesee County Fairgrounds on Sept. 15 from 4 to 7 p.m. and on Oct. 13 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Orleans County clinics are at the Orleans County Fairgrounds (12690 Rt. 31, Albion, NY)

Saturday, Aug. 13, from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

Saturday, Oct. 15, from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

For more information on Health Department services, visit GOHealthNY.org or call 589-3278 for Orleans County or 585-344-2580 ext. 5555 for Genesee County.

Health Department seeks info on dog bite in Batavia

Posted 4 August 2022 at 3:57 pm

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

BATAVIA – The Genesee County Health Department is seeking information about the location of a dog and its owner(s) following a dog bite incident on Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. The incident occurred on Jerome Place near East Main Street in the city of Batavia.

The dog approached a person on Jerome Place and bit the individuals arm. After the incident, the dog ran across Main Street in the westerly direction and was almost struck by a car.

The dog was described as a solid, dark gray dog with a bright blue collar. The dog resembled a pit bull or bulldog.

It is important to locate the dog to determine whether or not it is current on its rabies shot. If the health status is not identified, post-exposure rabies shots will be offered to the victim.

If you have information about the location of the dogs and its owner(s), please contact the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580 ext. 5555.

Covid cases down slightly in Orleans, up in Genesee

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 August 2022 at 2:24 pm

Chart courtesy of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

The latest weekly report from the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments shows an increase in confirmed Covid cases in Genesee while there has been a slight decrease in Orleans.

Genesee reported 67 cases from July 20-26, which was up from 50 the previous week. In Orleans, the cases went down from 36 to 32.

The combined cases in the two counties has increased from 81 from July 6 to July 12, to 86 the following week to 99 from July 20-26. An updated reported will come out on Wednesday.

Statewide the 7-day positivity rate, ending on Sunday, was at 8.69 percent. Orleans and Genesee are part of the nine-county Finger Lakes Region which is at a 7.73 percent positivity rate, which is the lowest in the state among the 10 regions. Western New York currently has the highest positivity rate at 11.37 percent.

Gov. Kathy Hochul continues to encourage people to get vaccinated and boosted from Covid.

“As we continue to monitor new variants and prepare for potential surges in the fall, be sure to use the tools that help protect against and treat Covid-19,” she said in a statement today. “The vaccine and booster are the best tools we have to prevent serious hospitalization from Covid-19, and I encourage those who are not up to date on their vaccine and booster doses to get caught up immediately. Take a test if you feel unwell and if you do test positive, talk to your doctor about potential treatment.”

Hochul declares monkeypox an emergency, seeks more vaccination resources

Posted 30 July 2022 at 8:21 am

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday issued an Executive Order declaring a State Disaster Emergency in response to the ongoing monkeypox outbreak.

The Executive Order enables the state to respond more swiftly to the outbreak and allows health care professionals to take additional steps that will help get more New Yorkers vaccinated.

“After reviewing the latest data on the monkeypox outbreak in New York State, I am declaring a State Disaster Emergency to strengthen our aggressive ongoing efforts to confront this outbreak,” Governor Hochul said. “More than one in four monkeypox cases in this country are in New York State, and we need to utilize every tool in our arsenal as we respond.”

The Executive Order specifically extends the pool of eligible individuals who can administer monkeypox vaccines, including EMS personnel, pharmacists and midwives; allows physicians and certified nurse practitioners to issue non patient specific standing orders for vaccines; and requires providers to send vaccine data to the New York State Department of Health.

The announcement builds on New York State’s ongoing response efforts on monkeypox, including efforts to secure more vaccines, expand testing capacity, and distribute the latest information and resources to New Yorkers.

Hochul on Thursday announced that the federal government had secured an additional 110,000 vaccine doses, resulting in a total of 170,000 doses to New Yorkers to date. Governor Hochul and the Department of Health are continuing their ongoing coordination with White House, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Administration for Strategic Preparedness & Response (ASPR) to ensure that New York continues to receive its fair share of vaccine supply as soon they are available, especially for those New Yorkers in communities with high transmission rates.

Recently, New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Mary T. Bassett declared monkeypox an Imminent Threat to Public Health (ITPH) in New York State. Earlier this month, NYSDOH launched a new SMS-text notification effort to deliver the latest monkeypox information directly to New Yorkers. New Yorkers can sign up for text messages—which will include alerts about cases, symptoms, spread, and resources for testing and vaccination—by texting “MONKEYPOX” to 81336 or “MONKEYPOXESP” for texts in Spanish. By providing a zip code, New Yorkers can also opt-in for location-based messages.

In addition to public outreach, the New York State Department of Health continues to focus on distributing vaccines to communities. Local county health departments that have received supply are administering the vaccine directly and establishing their own appointment processes. Working in partnership with counties, New Yorkers who sign-up for location-based alerts may receive alerts on vaccine availability, clinic locations, scheduling, and other monkeypox-related updates specific to their area.

For more information about monkeypox, including case counts by county, treatment, and care, visit: health.ny.gov/monkeypox.

Editor’s Note: There haven’t been any reported cases yet in Orleans or the GLOW counties, but there have been 4 in Monroe, 4 in Erie and 1 in Niagara, according to the state.

What you may not know about Community Health Centers

Posted 26 July 2022 at 2:00 pm

By Mary Ann Pettibon, CEO, Oak Orchard Health

What better time than during National Health Center Week (August 7-13) to take the time to tell you more about Oak Orchard Health so you can make the best health choices for yourself and your loved ones.

Why should you get your health care from a community health center like Oak Orchard Health? There are many reasons, but here are three to think about:

1. We are here for you.

Oak Orchard Health has been a trusted provider for decades starting in 1973. We serve local families and farm workers. We have twelve locations that are conveniently located in your communities to serve you and your needs.

We just opened a health center in Medina New York and will soon be opening a dental center in Albion later this year.

We support the community’s needs when needed. During the pandemic, we provided over 30,000 COVID-19 tests in our parking lots and have been giving out over 7500 vaccines since they first became available. Currently, we have added COVID-19 vaccine events for children ages 6 months through 5 years.

We provide care to everyone, from all walks of life whether you have insurance or not. If you do not have insurance, we offer a sliding fee scale to make our services more affordable. Also, we can help you apply for health insurance, we know it can be challenging and we have specialists on staff who can assist.

2. Quality care.
We are often asked: “Do you have real doctors caring for patients?” Of course, we do! In fact, Dr. Danielle Renodin-Mead is a pediatrician and our Chief Medical Officer. As a mother of four, she understands the challenges as well as the joyous moments associated with raising a family. She is also co-founder of the new Mommy and Me program with Robin Govanlu, Director of Behavioral Health. This program helps new moms with postpartum depression and links them to the support services that can help.

Need dental services? Our Chief Dental Officer is Dr. Rachel Nozzi who has been with us since 2015. She is a Rochester native and provides dental care at several of our health centers. We also have many dental hygienists on staff. We pride ourselves on giving dental care to all ages including young children who should see the dentist starting at age 1.

We are culturally aware and work hard to meet the unique needs of everyone who lives and works in our community. Our providers understand the health and safety needs of our patients.

3. Many health services to choose from.

We understand that it is often difficult to get healthcare while you work and care for your loved ones. At Oak Orchard Health we treat the entire family, of all ages from birth. We have primary care, pediatrics, dental, behavioral health, and vision care. This comprehensive care helps us meet most of our patient’s needs. As one of our patients, you are part of a care team. Complete care takes a team effort and therefore coordination. Our Care Teams coordinate care across our health center and the health system, from specialty care to hospitals to home health care and community services.

OOH is part of a larger network.
As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), Oak Orchard Health is part of a larger primary care network. There are 1,400 FQHCs in the United States with 17,900 locations serving 1 in 11 people (according to HRSA). In the last 12 months at OOH, we served 30,000 people including over 9,600 children from birth to age 18, 6,000 over age 60, and 1,200 agricultural workers and their dependents.

Is everyone without insurance? No. 53% of our patients are enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare. We accept Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, MVP, Excellus, Fidelis, and many more that are listed on our website.

We give back to our community.
Oak Orchard Health contributes to the economies of Monroe, Orleans, Genesee, Steuben, and Wyoming Counties. We hire people from these communities as well. As of this year, we have over three hundred employees, both full- and part-time. So, if you want to support a non-profit organization that supports you and your community, become a patient, and stay healthy.