health & wellness

Dr. Misiti to be honored at gala to benefit Orleans Community Health

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 12 March 2024 at 9:00 am

Dr. Joseph Misiti (left), Orleans Community Health medical director and General Surgeon, will be the inaugural recipient of the Bowen Award named for George Bowen (right), who was influential in establishing Medina Memorial Hospital.

MEDINA – Orleans Community Health Foundation is extremely excited about its second annual gala, which this year will celebrate multiple events.

Megan Johnson, director of the foundation, has announced this year’s gala, Eclipse, will not only take place on the weekend of the rare eclipse, but will honor Dr. Joseph Misiti, a longtime surgeon in the Medina community.

The gala is scheduled at 6 p.m. April 6 at Bent’s Opera House.

“The night promises to be a captivating experience for attendees, featuring a live performance by Something Else Rock Band from Rochester,” according to Johnson. “Their energetic beats are sure to get everyone on their feet.”

The opulent affair will be complemented by appetizers, an open bar and an exclusive silent auction.

A highlight of the event will be the inaugural presentation of the Bowen Award, named for George Bowen who worked tirelessly for 15 years to raise funds and led the effort to bring a fully functioning modern hospital to Medina.

Spearheaded by Bowen, dozens of clubs and organizations held fundraisers to finance the hospital, which was built from 1924 to 1925. Bowen served as president of the board of directors of the hospital until his death in 1945, and was such a familiar figure visiting patients, doctors and even the operating room, so much so that he was fondly referred to as “doctor.”

This new award is a prestigious recognition established to honor outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to Orleans Community Health, Johnson said.

This year, the Bowen Award will be bestowed upon Dr. Joseph Misiti, a home-grown Medina native, who has dedicated his entire career to serving his community as a general surgeon at Orleans Community Health since 1982.

Dr. Misiti received his doctorate at the University of Buffalo and completed his residency at Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo. He is also serving as medical director at Orleans Community Health. His exceptional commitment to the hospital and his generous donation of his surgical practice in January 2021 exemplify the spirit of the Bowen Award, Johnson said.

“We are thrilled to host the second annual Orleans Community Health Gala – Eclipse, bringing together our community for an unforgettable evening of celebration and appreciation,” Johnson said. “This year’s event holds particular significance as we introduce the prestigious Bowen Award and proudly present it to Dr. Joseph Misiti, a pillar of our healthcare community.”

Tickets for the gala are now available for purchase and all proceeds will support the continued growth and enhancement of Orleans Community Health services.

For ticket information, sponsorship opportunities and event details, click here.

Orleans Community Health Foundation’s mission is to raise funds to support the quality healthcare services provided by Orleans Community Health to the communities it serves. They strive to engage the community in a unified commitment to Orleans Community Health and facilitate financial support to ensure friends and family have quality healthcare close to home, now and long into the future.

OCH celebrates International Women’s Day with display in hospital lobby

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Kristen Grose, left, human resource manager at Orleans Community Health, and Andrea Weibel, patient accounting representative, are spearheading an effort to recognize women during International Women’s Day today. The hospital is encouraging employees to write down the name of a woman who has inspired them and post it in the hospital lobby.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 8 March 2024 at 5:14 pm

MEDINA – Orleans Community Health has created a display in the lobby of Medina Memorial Hospital to honor women who have made a difference in someone’s life during observance of International Women’s Day today.

It was proposed that the display showcase inspirational women, and hospital employees and the public are invited to write down the name of a woman they admire and have it included on the display in the hospital lobby. Coordinating the effort in the hospital are Kristen Grose, human resource manager, and Andrea Weibel, patient accounting representative, who have distributed colored slips of paper throughout the hospital on which names may be written.

The idea sprung from last year’s recognition of the number of women in managerial roles at Orleans Community Health, said Scott Robinson, director of Marketing at Community Partners.

The hospital will accept submissions through the end of March, Grose said.

Anyone who wants to recognize a woman and can’t get into the hospital may e-mail the name to and they will put the name on a slip of paper, Robinson said.

“This is a great way to highlight those who have had an impact on our lives,” Robinson added.

Health Department urges people to check vaccination status for measles

Posted 8 March 2024 at 11:25 am

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

With traveling increasing for Spring Break, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) are encouraging residents to check their measles vaccination status.

If you are not up-to-date on the measles vaccine, contact your healthcare provider and get vaccinated. Cases of measles are increasing worldwide and in the United States.

Measles is typically brought to the United States by unvaccinated people who contract the virus by traveling to other countries. However, measles outbreaks are occurring more regularly in the United States. In 2024, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported measles cases in 16 states including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases and is easily spread through the air when an infected person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. The virus can stay in the air and on surfaces for many hours, even after the infected person has left the area. Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before through four days after the rash appears.

Measles symptoms typically include:

  • High fever (may spike to more than 104°)
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Rash (3-5 days after symptoms begin)

“Getting the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine series is the best way to prevent measles,” stated Brenden Bedard, Director of Community Health Services for GO Health. “As many families are planning to travel in the upcoming weeks, it is important to know your vaccination status. The MMR vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect you and your family from measles.”

GO Health advises residents to check their vaccination status with their healthcare provider. Children, adolescents and adults should have two doses of the MMR vaccine, at least 28 days apart. Unvaccinated individuals should contact their healthcare provider to see if the measles vaccine is right for them.

If you haven’t completed the MMR vaccine series and are traveling soon, there is still time to receive a vaccination to protect yourself and your loved ones against the virus. One dose of the MMR vaccine is about 93% effective and two doses are about 97% effective at preventing measles.

GO Health offers the vaccine to individuals that are underinsured and uninsured and you can call your respective health department to schedule an appointment. For more information on measles, visit the CDC.

Medina woman leading petition drive for right to donate blood

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 6 March 2024 at 8:51 am

Nicole Tuohey denied because she needs help answering questions from medical personnel

Nicole Tuohey

MEDINA – Nicole Tuohey is hoping a petition to the FDA will convince them to allow her to give blood. Because she cannot sit alone with medical personnel and answer questions about her health, she has been denied her the right to give blood.

From the day she was born, Nicole has had to fight to be like other people.

Born with Triple X Syndrome, the daughter of David and Mary Lou Tuohey, doctors told her parents she would never walk, talk, go to school, ride a bike or do any of the things other kids do.

She has proven them wrong, and now she is out to win another fight – the right to save lives.

Nicole, 33, helps her mother in the store with fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association and National Disabilities Month She makes links out of construction paper and then joins them together as they are sold.

She makes bracelets to sell as a fundraiser, and now she wants to give blood, but has been turned down. Every week, she points to her arm and looks at her mother, who repeatedly has to tell her, “Not yet.”

“It doesn’t make sense when so many people need blood and here you have a healthy young lady who is begging to give and they won’t let her,” her mother said.

Mary Lou has written a petition to the FDA requesting they allow her to sign for Nicole, so she can give blood. Mary Lou has legal authority to sign for Nicole in all facets of her life.

“It is heartbreaking,” Mary Lou said. “I’ve signed for her heart surgery and her brain surgery, but they won’t let me sign for something as simple as this.”

Mary Lou is asking the public to stop in at Case-Nic Cookies at 439 Main St and sign her petition.

“It will mean the world to Nicole,” Mary Lou said.

 The petition will be available there until the end of March.

During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, GO Health urges early screenings

Posted 4 March 2024 at 8:40 am

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

Colon cancer occurs when cells in the colon or rectum grow uncontrollably. Abnormal growths, known as polyps, can occasionally develop and certain polyps may eventually develop into cancer. Polyps can be found by screening tests and be removed before they become cancerous. Colon cancer is preventable, with the proper screening and education.

Some of the risk factors for colorectal cancer include:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps
  • Lifestyle factors that include overweight and obesity; not being physically active; certain types of diets such as a diet low in fruit and vegetables, a low-fiber and high-fat diet, and a diet high in processed meats; tobacco use; and alcohol use

Colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms right away and some people have no symptoms. Some of the symptoms may include:

  • A change in bowel habits
  • Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement)
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty all the way
  • Discomfort in the stomach area such as cramps, gas, or pain that do not go away
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Weakness and fatigue

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 90% of people whose colorectal cancers are found early, diagnosed and treated appropriately are still alive five years later.

“Getting screened plays a big role in savings lives by preventing cancer and slowing its progression when it is found,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).

“In recent decades, screening rates among older adults has significantly increased which is great news,” stated Laura Paolucci, Public Health Administrator for the Wyoming County Health Department. “However, current data indicates that individuals lacking health insurance or a primary care provider are undergoing screening procedures less frequently.”

For eligible men and women, the Cancer Services Program offers free screenings for breast, cervical, and colon cancer. To learn more, call 716-278-4898. If you live in New York State and need health insurance, you can contact the New York State of Health Official Health Plan Marketplace by phone at 1-855-355-5777 or online.

The most effective way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is to get screened for colorectal cancer routinely, beginning at age 45. Residents are also encouraged to increase their physical activity, keep a healthy weight, limit alcohol consumption, and avoid tobacco.

Although more research is needed to understand why, the incidence of colorectal cancer is growing among people younger than 50. If you have concerns about this, speak with your healthcare provider.

Making healthcare easier with technology

Posted 28 February 2024 at 2:00 am

By Shaw-Ree Chen, Ph.D., Chief Quality and Patient Experience Officer, Oak Orchard Health

To keep you healthy and make sure we’re addressing any barriers to good health, your providers need information. We ask parents about what their kids are doing or not doing at different ages, we ask if you’ve been feeling depressed or unhappy. We ask for insurance information so that your bills don’t go to you and cause stress, we need to know if you have trouble getting transportation to the health center so we can arrange it for you We even ask all our patients to provide us with their approximate annual income so we can receive federal dollars to support our patients in need.

Information is vital to providing care – but paper isn’t! When we use paper forms, we create paper waste, and then we use our staff’s valuable time to enter your information into our medical records. Time that could be spent answering your calls or taking care of patients in the waiting room. Our goal is to maximize the time we spend doing things that are directly beneficial to our patients. And of course, technology is helping us along the way.


Tired of writing down your address every year in your health record even though you’ve lived in the same place since you were born? Self-check-in gives you the ability to review and approve existing demographic information. If you have a cell phone, you will receive a check-in link a few days before your appointment. With this link, you can confirm your appointment, and review your address, phone number, and insurance, even your medical history. When you arrive at the health center you can walk up to the receptionist when called and simply tell them that you filled out the self-check-in information. There still may be a few documents that need to be signed and payment may need to be received, but all the basic information about you and your loved ones will have already been done.

Keep in mind that self-check-in will come from a phone number that your phone may not recognize. We all have to be careful about clicking links from unknown numbers. The way you’ll know this is a legitimate text is that it will include your name and an accurate appointment date. Then you can safely click on the link to review your information.

In the future, self-check-in will become more complete allowing you to confirm other medical and personal information in the comfort of your home.

Kiosks at our health centers

Do not have a cell phone or forgot to do self-check-in? No problem. The Alexander, Pembroke, and Batavia offices now have kiosks in the waiting area. Soon all our health centers will have them.

What is a kiosk? It’s a free-standing machine (think ATM) and it’s super easy to use. Start by signing in with your name and birth date then begin to confirm or add information. Make sure your address and phone are correct. The kiosk also allows you to identify the person(s) you want to share your health information with should you need to do so. You can also review your medical history, just like in self-check-in.

You will still need to step up to the registration desk when it is your turn to let them know you are here to sign a few documents and review payment, but kiosks help us to reduce wait times by giving people different options to check-in.

Why is Oak Orchard Health getting rid of paper?

We always have our eye on patient experience, safe and high-quality care, and cost of care. In addition to the benefits to staff time mentioned before, the cost of printing and safely destroying documents is high and there’s always a risk that a piece of paper with your information on it is given to the wrong person or dropped where it shouldn’t be. The less paper we use, the more cost-effective we can be and the less risk there is of having your information in the wrong hands.

UR team promotes healthy lifestyles at Holley Center

Posted 27 February 2024 at 8:51 am

Provided photos: Some of the services offered at the Holley Center include nutrition education with a food demonstration and tasting.

Press Release, Center for Community Health & Prevention at the University of Rochester Medical Center

HOLLEY – Have you heard of the Holley Center? A staple for many of the residents of Eastern Orleans County, the Center provides a vast array of free health and human services.

From free lunch Monday through Friday, to a medical loan closet complete with wheelchairs and walkers, to furniture and appliances and a free clothing boutique, the small space houses it all. Most of all, the primarily volunteer-run organization overflows with heart.

Katie Bauer, regional program coordinator for Promote HEALTH, brought the free eight-week healthy lifestyle program to the Holley Center in the spring of 2023. She knew from the first class that it was going to be a long-lasting relationship.

Promote HEALTH participants, village residents and volunteers got to know Katie and a bond was formed instantly.

“Class participants continue to share their small healthy lifestyle changes with one another, and with me,” Bauer said. “Whether they’ve added a new food to their eating pattern that they never tried before, or if they saw a new recipe, they’re open to making changes and continue to be excited about it all. The people are so special. They want the best for their community and it shows. The Holley Center is my favorite place to be.”

After 40 years of smoking, program participant Rachael has been smoke-free since June 2023. With Katie’s encouragement and support from Wilmot Cancer Institute’s Text to Quit program, Rachael was able to quit smoking before having hip surgery in the winter of last year.

“The program and Katie have really saved my life,” shared Rachael, who has also worked at the Center for 14 years. “The support you get while participating in Promote HEALTH, and beyond, keeps you going.”

Promote HEALTH is provided in partnership between the Center for Community Health & Prevention and Wilmot Cancer Institute’s Community Outreach and Engagement program.

Katie returns monthly to provide nutrition education with a food demonstration and tasting, like apple nachos, and has helped connect Deb, Center coordinator, and Rachael with area resources, like smoking cessation, for their clients.

The UR Medicine Mobile Mammography Van was in Holley on Monday and will be back on Friday.

One of the latest connections is with the UR Medicine Mobile Mammography Van. The Mobile Mammo will be making a stop a few blocks from the Holley Center (at 1 Wright St.)  Friday, March 1 to provide breast cancer screenings to women 40 and older. Are you due for a mammogram? Call 844-870-0002 or email to schedule an appointment. Spaces are limited.

The Center for Community Health & Prevention looks forward to continuing our partnership with the Holley Center and appreciate all they, and Katie, do for their community! If you would like more information on the Promote HEALTH program, smoking cessation programs or other services mentioned in this story, please contact Katie at

Understanding the importance of Subacute Rehab: Bridging the gap in recovery

Posted 27 February 2024 at 8:00 am

Randi Ingersoll

By Randi Ingersoll, social worker at Orleans Community Health

Subacute rehabilitation plays a crucial role in the continuum of care for individuals recovering from surgery or injury. This specialized form of rehabilitation serves as a vital bridge between acute care and a return to normal daily activities. We’re often asked to define sub-acute rehab and explain its importance.

What is Subacute Rehab?

Subacute rehab is a level of care that falls between acute hospital care and traditional outpatient rehabilitation. It is designed for patients who no longer require intensive medical monitoring but still need comprehensive rehabilitation services to regain optimal functioning. These rehab units may occasionally have specific names, such as Medina Memorial Hospital’s Transitional Care Unit (TCU) is where subacute rehab patients can take this step toward getting back on their feet.

Here is some additional information that is helpful to know about subacute rehab:

• It consists of inpatient care that lasts for 1-3 weeks and can include several therapies throughout the day (occupational, physical and/or speech therapy).

• Skilled nursing services such as long term IV antibiotic administration is considered subacute rehab.

• Some subacute rehab locations offer benefits to patients like private rooms and 24-hour RN coverage for nursing care

• Subacute rehab can occur in hospital settings (such as Medina Memorial Hospital) or locations outside of a

hospital setting.

• Overall, the goal is to get the patient back to the physical function they were at prior to the injury, illness or surgery that led them to needing subacute rehab.

Finding the Location that Best Fits You

“I knew I needed a knee replacement, actually both knees needed to be done.” – Phyllis MacKay of Middleport NY

Finding the location that best fits you is a critical piece of your recovery. Spending 1-3 weeks away from home may be burdensome, so finding a place that makes you comfortable is a priority. While you can wait until you receive recommendations from a discharge planner, you can also do personal research on subacute rehab facilities/units that you believe are good fits. Medina Memorial Hospital’s TCU and other locations offer tours that help make this decision.

Key Features to know about Subacute Rehab Care

Comprehensive Care Tailored to Individual Needs

One of the key features of subacute rehab is its individualized approach to care. Each patient receives a personalized treatment plan that addresses their specific medical condition, functional abilities, and rehabilitation goals. This tailored approach ensures that patients receive the right level of support to regain independence in activities of daily living.

Multidisciplinary Team Collaboration

Subacute rehab involves a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals working collaboratively to meet the diverse needs of patients. This team may include physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, nurses, and other specialists. The coordinated efforts of these professionals help address the physical, cognitive, and emotional aspects of recovery.

Intensive Rehabilitation Services

Patients in subacute rehab participate in intensive rehabilitation services that focus on improving mobility, strength, coordination, and overall function. Therapists employ techniques and exercises to enhance a patient’s ability to perform daily tasks independently. This may include mobility training, balance exercises, adaptive equipment training, and other interventions tailored to the patient’s condition.

Transitioning to Independence

The primary goal of subacute rehab is to prepare individuals for a successful return to their homes and communities. Through targeted therapy and support, patients gain the skills and confidence needed to manage their health independently. This transition to independence not only improves the quality of life for patients but also reduces the likelihood of re-hospitalization.

Monitoring and Managing Medical Conditions

While the acute phase of an illness or injury may have passed, individuals in subacute rehab may still have ongoing medical needs. The healthcare team in this setting is equipped to monitor and manage these conditions, ensuring a smooth recovery process. This comprehensive approach to care addresses not only rehabilitation but also the overall well-being of the patient.

Getting You Back on Your Feet

In conclusion, subacute rehab serves as a crucial step in the healing journey for individuals recovering from illness, surgery, or injury. Its individualized approach, intensive rehabilitation services, and focus on transitioning to independence contribute to improved outcomes and reduced healthcare costs. By understanding the importance of subacute rehab, we can appreciate its role in enhancing the overall quality of care and supporting individuals on their path to recovery.

Health Department says several residents getting treated for rabies

Posted 26 February 2024 at 2:06 pm

Warm winter results in more encounters with wildlife, stray animals

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) are warning residents to stay away from wild life and stray animals.

“Due to the mild winter and warmer temperatures, there has been a rise in the instances of people encountering wild animals and strays throughout Genesee and Orleans counties,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for GO Health. “In the past month, several residents have required rabies treatment following an animal encounter.”

Rabies is most often found in wildlife such as raccoons, bats, and skunks, but pets can be at risk of the virus too.

“If you see an animal in need, even if it is a baby animal, avoid touching it and contact animal control,” stated Darren Brodie, Environmental Health Director for GO Health. “It is also important to keep your pets up to date on their rabies vaccination.”

Rabies can be fatal if left untreated. It can be transmitted through direct contact with saliva through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth. If you are bitten by an animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water and seek medical attention. All bites should be reported to the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

To prevent the spread of rabies, the health department reminds residents to take the following precautions:

  • Keep your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations
  • Obey leash laws. Keep your pets under direct supervision and on a leash so they do not come in contact with wild or stray animals. If an animal bites your pet, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact the health department.
  • Avoid contact with wild or stray animals. Do not handle, feed, touch, or attract wildlife (raccoons, skunks, bats, bunnies, rabbits, and foxes) or stray dogs and cats.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters. If you find a bat in your home, safely capture it and call the health department. DO NOT release it! For a video on how to safety capture a bat, click here.
  • Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood or if you see an animal showing signs of rabies. Signs of rabies in animals may include aggression, excessive drool or saliva, confusion, hair loss, and loss of movement or function.

Residents are encouraged to take note of our upcoming drive-thru rabies vaccination clinics for dogs, cats, and ferrets in Genesee and Orleans Counties that are offered at no charge.

Genesee County Rabies Clinics at the Genesee County Fairgrounds (5056 East Main Street, Batavia, NY 14020)

  • Thursday, May 16, from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 8, from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 10, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Orleans County Rabies Clinics at the Orleans County Fairgrounds (12690 State Route 31, Albion, NY 14411)

  • Saturday, April 13, from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, June 5, from 4 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 10, from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, October 19, from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

For more information on GO Health’s programs and services, visit You can also contact your respective health department:

Health Department seeks info on dog that bit person on Riches Corners Road

Posted 23 February 2024 at 3:33 pm

Press Release, Genesee & Orleans Health Departments

ALBION – The Orleans County Health Department is seeking information about the location of a dog and its owner following a dog bite incident on Wednesday, February 21, around 8 p.m.

The incident occurred in a yard on Holley Road near Riches Corners Road. After the incident, the dog was seen heading south towards East County House Road.

The dog was medium-sized, similar in size to a Labrador, and had large patches of black and white on its fur.

The Health Department is trying to avoid unnecessary medical treatment for the victim, so it is important to locate the dog to determine whether or not it is current on its rabies vaccination. If the vaccination status of the dog cannot be identified, post-exposure rabies shots will be recommended to the victim.

If you have information about the location of the dog and its owner, please contact the Orleans County Health Department at 585-589-3278.

Orleans will start diabetes lifestyle change program in March

Posted 20 February 2024 at 2:46 pm

Press Release, Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments

MEDINA – Have you been feeling sluggish lately? Have you been told you are overweight? Has your healthcare provider told you that you have prediabetes or are at risk of prediabetes?

Do you have a parent, brother, or sister with Type 2 diabetes? Have you had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or given birth to a baby who weighed over 9 pounds?

Are an African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian, or Alaska Native person? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be at risk of, have prediabetes, or be at risk of type 2 diabetes (Type 2).

The Orleans County Health Department has reviewed feedback from a recent survey and will be hosting the Lifestyle Change Program starting March 20 from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, 620 West Ave. in Medina.

Register now to claim your seat for better health: Click here to register or e-mail or call (585) 589-3162.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 29.7 million people 18 and older with prediabetes,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. “Of the 38.4 million people who have diabetes, 8.7 million are undiagnosed. The Lifestyle Change Program helps those who are at risk or have been diagnosed with prediabetes to take charge over their lives.”

According to the New York State Department of Health Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System 2021 report, Genesee County has 13.4% of adults and Orleans County has 11.4% adults diagnosed with prediabetes, Pettit said.

Taking 26 hours over the span of a year will help individuals take control over their health. The group will meet weekly for 16 weeks and then the rest of the year will get together 1-2 times a month.

For many the program removes the risk of prediabetes, for some it delays the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Those who follow the program can lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 58% or 71% if over the age of 60, according to the CDC.

Now is your time to take control of your health and lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.  Register for the class now!  This is the first series of the lifestyle change course that will be offered. If you are unable to attend this series of classes, there will be classes offered throughout Genesee and Orleans Counties in the future.

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

Karen Watt receives national community health award for advocacy

Posted 16 February 2024 at 1:22 pm

Press Release, Oak Orchard Health

Provided photo: Karen Watt was recognized on Feb. 14 by The National Association of Community Health Centers.

ALBION – Oak Orchard Health is pleased to announce that The National Association of Community Health Centers has selected Karen Watt for its 2024 Elizabeth K. Cooke Advocacy MVP Award.

Karen Watt has served on the Board of Directors for Oak Orchard Health for more than 20 years including many years as chairwoman of the board.

The NACHC Elizabeth K. Cooke Advocacy MVP Award is named in honor of the late Elizabeth K. (Betsey) Cooke whose constant effort and unflagging persistence as an advocate for America’s health centers and patients set an example for all health center advocates to follow. Recipients are selected based on their leadership and tireless dedication to advocating on behalf of more than 31.5 million health center patients nationwide.

“I am so surprised to be chosen for this award from NACHC,” Watt said. “Supporting and advocating for community health centers has been a labor of love. This community counts on the superior health care services by Oak Orchard Health, and I have been honored to serve on their board for many years.”

Watt is a board member of the National Center for Farmworker Health, and HRSA National Advisory Council on Farmworker Health. She is also the co-owner of Watt Farms Country Market which began in 1980.

Oak Orchard has named its Albion healthcare center in her honor. The Karen D. Watt Center offers primary and pediatric care, and behavioral health, with a Wellness Center next door.

“We so appreciate the dedication and expertise that Karen Watt brings to Oak Orchard Health. Karen is an advocate for the Orleans County community,” said Karen Kinter, CEO of Oak Orchard Health. “She has helped our health centers expand their presence in the community so that we can care for more people. When we need help, Karen is always ready to support us.”

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.

UConnectCare expands harm reduction services, including a mobile unit for Genesee, Orleans

Posted 13 February 2024 at 4:28 pm

Press Release, UConnectCare

Provided photo: Johnny Vidal, outreach peer specialist, and Erin Phelps, Harm Reduction coordinator/case manager, stand next to UConnectCare’s mobile unit that travels to different locations in Genesee and Orleans counties to help those struggling with substance use disorder.

BATAVIA – A federal grant to provide harm reduction, treatment and/or recovery support services is empowering UConnectCare (formerly Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse) to meet those struggling with substance use disorder “where they’re at.”

The nonprofit agency has begun an Open Access program that will operate three days per week at The Recovery Station, 5256 Clinton St. Rd., Batavia, as well as a Harm Reduction Mobile Outreach unit that will travel to several locations in the two counties five days per week.

“Both programs reflect the agency’s goal of “meeting them where they’re at, without judgment,” said Erin Phelps, Harm Reduction coordinator/case manager. “Those seeking services will be greeted by a trained Peer Advocate to assist in developing a plan for the next steps and answer questions regarding recovery.”

Phelps and Amy Kabel, project director, emphasized that services will be available to residents, even if they’re not ready for agency intervention.

“Harm reduction is about keeping people alive and being ready to help them when they’re ready,” Phelps said, prompting Kabel to add, “or maybe they never are.”

Walk-ins are welcome to utilize Open Access. The program’s hours of service are 3-7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays at The Recovery Station.

The mobile unit will be set up in front of Genesee County Mental Health on the first and third Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and at Orleans County Mental Health on the second and fourth Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It also will go to Medina, Le Roy, Lyndonville and other venues in the Batavia area each month.

Johnny Vidal, outreach peer specialist, and Felicia Maybee, Open Access counselor, are part of the team that works on the mobile unit.

Phelps said harm reduction is a “compassionate approach to drug use,” focusing on positive change and safety without requiring that individuals stop using drugs as a precondition for support. Services include peer support, case management, transportation, naloxone training, fentanyl test strips, care/hygiene kits and parent/family support.

She added that a national harm reduction exchange event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 15 at a site to be determined.

Treatment evaluations will be available to provide referrals to the appropriate harm reduction support, recovery support and/or treatment, such as detox, inpatient or outpatient.

For more information about the program, opioid overdose prevention training and to see the mobile unit schedule, go to or the UConnectCare or The Recovery Station Facebook pages, or send an email to

North Wing at Medina Memorial recognized with five-star rating

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 10 February 2024 at 11:03 am

MEDINA – Orleans Community Health has announced its North Wing (long term care) has been recognized with the prestigious five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Out of 134 skilled nursing homes in the Western New York region, it is one of only five who received a five-star overall rating and a five-star staffing rating. The overall rating is based on three measures – health inspections, quality measures and staffing levels.

The skilled nursing home commonly referred to as the North Wing is located within Medina Memorial Hospital. Its 30 beds are always occupied, and its stellar reputation has resulted in a waiting list to get in, according to Scott Robinson, director of Marketing, Communication and Outreach at Orleans Community Health.

“The persistent staffing hurdles confronting healthcare institutions continue to exist,” said Thomas Bloomer, vice president of Human Resources at Orleans Community Health. “Ensuring sufficient staffing to deliver essential care to our most vulnerable is no small feat. This recognition for our five-star staffing levels is a source of immense pride, and we extend our heartfelt gratitude to our entire caregiving team in the North Wing.”

Rebecca Mannella, a longtime nurse at Medina Memorial Hospital, is the director of nursing for the North Wing.

Marc Shurtz, chief executive officer at Orleans Community Health, expressed his pride in the North Wing and its award.

“Building and maintaining a high-functioning team to care for our most vulnerable is our daily mission,” Shurtz said. “We are extremely proud of the North Wing team for what they have accomplished and for the care and compassion they provide to our residents each and every day.”

2 medical professionals join Albion Healthcare Center

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 7 February 2024 at 5:27 pm

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Family nurse practitioner Liz Gurnsey, center, is joined by two medical personnel at the Albion Healthcare Center. At left is Pamela Eaton, adult nurse practitioner, and at right is Marlo Castelo, physician assistant.

ALBION – The Albion Healthcare Center was established in 2012 with the aim of offering prompt medical assistance to the community.

Since then, it has evolved into a convenient hub, offering an expanding array of services, according to Scott Robinson, director of Marketing, Communication and Outreach at Orleans Community Health.

The site added two more medical professionals to meet increasing demand.

Joining Dr. Syed Raza, physician assistant Cheryl Kast and family nurse practitioner Liz Gurnsey are Marlo Castelo, physician assistant certified, and Pamela Eaton, adult nurse practitioner.

Castelo was born and raised in Puerto Rico, coming to Bethesda, Md. with her parents at the age of 12. She comes to Albion from Bethal, Alaska, a small town 400 miles west of Anchorage with a population of 500 people. She was their sole provider, she said. She treated new babies to 98-year-olds.

“It didn’t matter if they had a broken bone or chest pain, I took care of them,” she said. “It’s the same here. I’ll do whatever needs to be done. We had very little resources in Alaska. We had to improvise and do with what we had. We once made a cast out of bubble wrap.”

Castelo earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and later completed her physician assistant degree at Nova Southeastern University. She recently concluded a fellowship in psychiatry at the University of California at Irvine, maintaining her NCCPA certification since graduation from physician assistant’s school in 2010.

With a diverse medical background, Castelo concentrated on family medicine, geriatric care, women’s health and psychiatry, encompassing areas such as substance abuse, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety during her tenure in Florida.

She spent three years in Alaska before deciding she wanted a change. Influencing her decision to settle in Western New York is the fact her brother plays viola with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. She visited him and liked the area.

“I put out my resume and a recruiter for Orleans Community Health reached out to me,” Castelo said.

She is currently living in Brockport until she can find a place closer to Albion.

Pamela Eaton joined the staff on Jan. 15. Eaton grew up in Middleport and obtained her master of science in nursing with a post master’s in adult and geriatric nurse practitioner. She has 22 years of experience serving the community, eight with Dr. Tom Madejski’s office.

A board-certified nurse practitioner, certified advanced aesthetic nurse practitioner and certified wellness and medical weight loss practitioner, Eaton has practiced in geriatric and adult internal medicine and has also worked for three years in hematology and oncology.

She brings a passion for healthcare, wellness and promoting a sense of well-being to her patients. As the owner of Hometown Wellness Center and Sii Bello Beauty Bar in Medina, she is also an advocate for health and wellness through events in the community.

“I love doing things for my community, and this was another opportunity to do that,” Eaton said.

Because of the influx of patients, the Albion clinic has pulled back on accepting walk-ins. The addition of two new providers will help alleviate that problem.

“We’re excited that we’ll be able to begin expanding walk-in services again,” Robinson said. “While walk-in services for patients who are ill won’t be every day, they can now call (585) 589-2273 to check on availability. This should only continue to improve. Walk-in services are still available for laboratory (blood draws) and X-ray, which do not require any calling ahead.”