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Twigs need more volunteers so the organization can keep serving Medina hospital

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 8 May 2019 at 11:24 am

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Sandy Vaughn and Sharon Keirn receive service awards from Twig president Jeanne Crane at their annual banquet Monday at Zambistro’s. Vaughn received a 100-hour bar, while Keirn was presented with a 2,000-hour bar.

MEDINA – Medina Memorial Hospital’s Association of Twigs held their annual dinner meeting Monday at Zambistro’s Restaurant in Medina.

President Jeanne Crane welcomed guests and stressed the need for more volunteers for the Greeter Desk and Reception Desk.

The Twigs which once numbered more than 300 members now has 65, who are determined to keep the group going.

From left, Sandy Vaughn and Peggy Silkowski receive recognition at the Twig banquet from Carol Shafer, head of the Greeter Desk at Medina Memorial Hospital.

During their decades of supporting the hospital, they have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars for hospital renovations and equipment. The majority of their money was earned from their Twig-run gift shop, which had to be closed two years ago because of lack of volunteers.

That lack of volunteers was reiterated by Carol Shafer, who heads the Greeter Desk, and Janet Blount, who heads the Reception Desk.

The Greeter Desk registers visitors to the hospital, while the Reception Desk signs in patients coming in for tests and blood work.

Currently, the Greeter Desk has 14 volunteers on the list, but three are either sick or haven’t returned from the South, Shafer said. And one has asked to be removed from the schedule.

“With only 10 active volunteers, it is almost impossible to maintain a schedule of 10 shifts (two a day for five days a week),” Shafer said.

Shafer recognized Sandra Vaughn and Peggy Silkowski for their volunteer hours.

Janet Blount, who heads the Reception Desk, echoed the need for volunteers.

“This year has been a real struggle,” Blount said. “We’ve only had three consistent workers.”

She said she doesn’t know what she would have done without Diane Kujawa, Anne Ortwein and Susan Weese. Kujawa volunteered 625 hours last year; Ortwein, 310; and Weese, 184.

“There has to be someone willing to step up and give Carol Shafer and myself someone to call upon,” Blount said.

She welcomed a new volunteer, Rosemary Eden, who joined in January.

“We are already calling on her, above and beyond,” Blount said.

Of the original 11 branches of Twig, only two continue to meet. Laurel is the only one with monthly meetings six times a year. Honeysuckle meets several times a year for dinner out.

Laurel Twig makes and fills about 60 Christmas stockings each year for patients and long-term care residents.

Honeysuckle has been donating a champagne brunch and fiesta party to be auctioned off at the hospital Foundation’s Treasure Island in November. Their funds are earned by selling popcorn in the hospital lobby each Friday. They also help several other organizations at the Billy Martin Circus in January, which this year earned them $1,700.

Dona Masters reports to Twig members at their annual banquet on Honeysuckle Twig’s successful projects during the year, selling popcorn in the hospital lobby and helping with the Billy Martin Circus.

Mary Williams, a 47-year employee of the hospital and vice president of human resources at Orleans Community Health, gave an update on the hospital. They will be celebrating Hospital Week with various activities each day. Williams also reported on the closing of the Gift Shop, which had been open occasionally by Rosenkrans Pharmacy. When asked what the hospital was going to do with the space, she said with security becoming such an important issue, it could be used for a security office.

Several Twig members were recognized for their hours of volunteerism. Diane Kujawa and Sharon Keirn received a 2,000-hour bar, Tish McAdoo and JoAnne Sellers earned a 1,000-hour bar and Sandra Vaughn got her 100-hour bar.

Crane ended the evening by urging everyone to think of a new volunteer.

“It really is so rewarding,” she said.

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Medina native who fought breast cancer at 28 will headline For Women Only

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 1 May 2019 at 7:46 am

23rd annual event on May 15 is sold out

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Tammi Pritchard, left, an employee at Medina Memorial Hospital, and Cindy Perry, director of Outreach, Education and Wellness for Community Partners, are planning the 23rd annual For Women Only May 15 at White Birch in Lyndonville. Pritchard holds one of the many baskets which will be raffled off, while Perry has two of the tickets for the event, which always is sold out.

LYNDONVILLE – The 23rd annual For Women Only to benefit cancer services is already shaping up to be one of the most exciting. The event is already sold out.

Scheduled May 15 at the White Birch Golf Course with the theme “Stories Behind the Mask,” the event this year will feature a Medina native as guest speaker.

Mercedes Wilson

“We are excited about having Mercedes, because she’s local,” said Cindy Perry, director of Outreach, Education and Wellness at Community Partners, speaking about Mercedes Holloway Wilson.

At 28, Wilson, the mother of four children, was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.

Wilson said she has always had the desire to help women reach their full potential, but after her cancer diagnosis she seized the opportunity to educate women about her story and help them become advocates for their own health and wellness. She is the founder and executive director of “For Our Daughters.”

This year’s featured cancer survivor will be another local woman, Leslie Allen.

For Women Only features hors ‘d oeuvres, desserts, raffles and entertainment by the Kendall Lawnchair Ladies.

Many big-ticket items have been donated for the raffles, including a kayak package, overnight stay and play at Batavia Downs, a bike and helmet, wine tasting for 10, season’s passes to the White Birch and luggage. Donations of items and baskets are still welcome.

There will also be a jewelry vendor, chocolate tasting, a free hot/cold mask for everyone, a massage therapist and financial advice for women by Julianna Duda.

One thing about this event, said Perry, is that all the money stays in the area to help people with cancer and provide mammograms to uninsured or under-insured individuals.

Local health departments promote National Infant Immunization Week

Posted 30 April 2019 at 2:28 pm

‘Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death,’ – Paul Pettit, Public Health director for Genesee and Orleans counties

Press Release, Public Health Departments in Orleans and Genesee

National Infant Immunization Week ((April 27 to May 4) is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the United States. This year marks the 25th anniversary of this significant observance! Paul Pettit, Public Health Director of Genesee and Orleans counties, proclaims the many benefits and accomplishments vaccines have on our communities.

“Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death,” he said. “When you get vaccinated, you not only protect yourself but you also help protect the people around you who might be too young or too sick to get vaccinated themselves. This is called ‘community immunity’ or ‘herd immunity.’ If enough people stop getting vaccinated, more outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, will occur.”

Most parents choose the safe, proven protection of vaccines. Giving babies the recommended vaccinations by age two is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, like whooping cough and measles. These diseases can be especially serious for infants and young children. Parents are encouraged to talk to their child’s doctor to ensure that their baby is up-to-date on vaccinations. It is important to follow the recommended immunization schedule to protect infants and children by providing immunity early in life, before they encounter potentially life-threatening diseases.

The recent outbreak of measles in our country has reached the highest number of cases since the disease was eliminated in 2000.  Most recent data shows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 695 cases of measles from 22 states. The return of the disease occurs when an unvaccinated traveler visits a country where there is widespread measles transmission, gets infected with measles, and returns to the United States and exposes people in a community who are not vaccinated. Once measles enters an under-vaccinated community, it becomes difficult to control the spread of the disease. When measles enters a highly vaccinated community, outbreaks either don’t happen or are usually small. This is why taking proper precautions and receiving the vaccine is so important to the health of our community.

Below is a summary of the vaccines children should receive by 2 years of age:

  1. The Varicella vaccine protects against chickenpox. Symptoms of chickenpox include rash, tiredness, headache, and fever. Complications of the disease include infected blisters, bleeding disorders, encephalitis (brain swelling), and pneumonia (infection in the lungs). Children need 2 doses of chickenpox vaccine. CDC recommends children receive the first dose between 12–15 months and the second between 4–6 years.
  2. The DTaP vaccine combines protection against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. Symptoms of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis include sore throat, mild fever, weakness, and swollen glands in neck. Complications of these diseases include swelling of the heart muscle, heart failure, coma, paralysis, death. Children need 5 doses of DTaP vaccine. CDC recommends infants receive the first dose at 2 months, the second at 4 months, the third at 6 months, the fourth between 15–18 months, and the fifth between 4–6 years.
  3. The Hib vaccine protects against Haemophilus influenzae disease. Symptoms of Haemophilus influenzae include fever and chills, headache, nausea, excessive tiredness, and altered mental status. Complications of these infections may include loss of limbs, brain damage, or hearing loss. Children need 3-4 doses of the Hib vaccine. CDC recommends infants receive the first dose at 2 months, the second at 4 months, the third at 6 months (if needed), and the last shot between 12–15 months.
  4. The Hepatitis A vaccine protects against the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Symptoms of HAV typically do not appear until 4 weeks after exposure or may not occur at all. Symptoms that may appear include fever, dark urine, abdominal pain, nausea, and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin). Complications of the disease include liver failure, arthralgia (joint pain), kidney, pancreatic, and blood disorders. Children need two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine. CDC recommends babies receive the first dose when the child turns 1 and the second should be given 6-12 months later.
  5. The Hepatitis B vaccine protects against a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Symptoms of HBV are fever, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, and jaundice. Complications of HBV can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death. Children need 3-4 doses of the HBV vaccine. CDC recommends infants receive the first dose at birth, the second dose is given at 1-2 months, the third at 4 months (if needed), and the last is given at 6-18 months.
  6. The Influenza (Flu) vaccine protects against flu virus. Symptoms of flu include fevers, chills, coughing, runny nose, fatigue, sore throat, and muscle or body aches. Complications of flu may include sinus and ear infections, pneumonia, inflammation of the heart, brain or muscles, organ failure, and even death. The influenza vaccine is started at 6 months and is needed every fall or winter for the rest of your life. CDC recommends children 6 months and older receive the vaccine once a year.
  7. The MMR vaccine combines protection against measles, mumps, and rubella. Symptoms of these diseases may include fever, headache, rashes, and eye irritation. Complications of measles, mumps, and rubella include deafness, brain damage, swelling of the spinal cord, infection of the lungs, and death. Children need 2 doses of the MMR vaccine. CDC recommends the first dose should be given between 12-15 months and the second dose between 4-6 years.
  8. The Polio vaccine protects against the infectious polio disease. Symptoms of the disease may include muscle and joint weakness and pain, sleep-related breathing disorders (such as sleep apnea), general fatigue (tiredness) and exhaustion with minimal activity, and muscle atrophy (muscle loss). Complications can include paresthesia (feelings of pins and needles in the legs), meningitis, paralysis, and death. Children need 4 doses of polio vaccine. CDC recommends the first dose should be given at 2 months, the second at 4 months, the third between 6-18 months, and the fourth between 4-6 years.
  9. The Prevnar vaccine protects against pneumococcal disease. Symptoms include coughing, fevers and chills, difficulty breathing, and chest pains. Complications of this disease include brain damage, hearing loss, blood infection, and even death. Children need 4 doses of Prevnar. CDC recommends the first dose should be given at 2 months, the second at 4 months, the third at 6 months, and the fourth between 12-15 months.
  10. The Rotavirus vaccine protects against the contagious rotavirus. Symptoms of rotavirus include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Complications of the disease include severe diarrhea and dehydration which can lead to death. Children need 2-3 doses of rotavirus vaccine. CDC recommends the first dose is given at 2 months, the second is given at 4 months, and the third is given at 6 months (if needed).

Protecting your baby from vaccine-preventable diseases begins even before your baby is born. Brenden Bedard, Director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans Counties, educates on what vaccines mothers should get when they are pregnant.

“All pregnant women are recommended to receive the Tdap and influenza (flu) vaccine during each pregnancy,” he said. “The recommended time to get the Tdap shot is during the 27th through 36th week of pregnancy and the influenza shot can be given at any time during flu season, typically October through May. Pregnant women who receive these vaccines are also helping to protect their babies from diseases for the first several months after their birth, when they are too young to get vaccinated.”

In addition to mothers, it is also important for immediate family, such as spouses, grandparents, and anyone who will be in close contact with a new baby to receive the Tdap vaccine and the influenza vaccine during flu season.

While babies may experience some discomfort immediately after receiving vaccinations, it’s important to remember the pain is temporary, while the protection is long term. You work hard to help keep your baby safe and healthy!

For more information on infant immunizations, click here.

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments participate in the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. This federally-funded program will assist families who are uninsured or underinsured receive childhood vaccines at no cost. For more information, please contact your local health department.

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Health officials praise collaboration in Orleans County

Photos by Tom Rivers: Mark O’Brien, director of the Orleans County Mental Health Department, speaks with the Leadership Orleans class on Thursday on GCASA in Albion. The day’s focus was on health services and needs in Orleans County.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 April 2019 at 5:44 pm

ALBION – Orleans County health care providers are working together to expand services to residents, the Leadership Orleans class was told on Thursday.

Paul Pettit, Public Health director in Genesee and Orleans counties, said Orleans continues to struggle with high rates of smoking and obesity.

The class of 26 members each month focuses on an aspect of the county. This month the group is taking a close look at healthcare in the county.

Paul Pettit, director of public health in Orleans and Genesee, went over the county’s latest standings in the annual County Health Rankings, which puts Orleans at 52nd out of 62 counties in the state for health outcomes. Orleans was 54th in health factors.

The county has a high rate of adult smoking (22 percent), adult obesity (36 percent) and a low access to clinical care for primary care physicians, dentists and mental health providers, according to the report. (Click here for more on the report)

Healthcare agencies have been working together to improve access to care. For example, the county’s Mental Health Department has gone from providing mental health services at its office behind the County Administration Building to 15 sites in the county, including at the local school districts and the county jail. Mental Health also has a new partnership with Oak Orchard Health, where mental health staff work out of the Oak Orchard site in Albion.

“There’s synergy,” O’Brien told  Leadership Orleans. Human services “is 90 percent about relationships,” he said.

In rural counties, those relationships are even more critical, he said.

John Bennett, executive director of GCASA, speaks to Leadership Orleans. He said addiction is a very difficult illness to overcome.

O’Brien praised the County Legislature, county administrator and Community Services Board for embracing “very progressive” partnerships among the healthcare providers.

O’Brien is president of an eight-county consortium that received a $3.3 million grant to improve services.

O’Brien responded to questions from the Leadership Orleans class. He said there remains a stigma with mental health, where many people are reluctant to seek help. That remains a big barrier to care.

The county is fortunate to have an active Suicide Prevention Coalition, he said. Suicide hits white males, ages 45 and older, at the highest rate.

He also shared about the prevalence of sexual abuse, where 1 in 3 women have been sexually abused or exposed to it, while 1 in 7 men have been sexually abused. A mental health therapist can help people work through the trauma.

“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed,” O’Brien said, citing a famous quote. “It means it no longer controls my life.

John Bennett of GCASA leads an agency that has expanded in Orleans County, adding residential services.

Bennett, responding to a question, said addiction is a powerful disease that is difficult to overcome, even when a person has been clean for a year.

Mark O’Brien of Mental Health said the county agency now has Mental Health staff working out of 15 sites in the county.

Anxiety, fear and depression often kick in, leading to a relapse.

“The nature of the illness is when you relapse you are full blown into it,” Bennett said. “It is an illness unlike any other.”

Bennett said is concerned about the possibility of legalizing recreational marijuana in the state. He cited problems in Colorado, where dispensaries are making marijuana products that look like candy.

There are reports of increased motor vehicles accidents and emergency room trips since recreational marijuana was legalized, he said.

Bennett understands the social justice push for legalizing recreational marijuana, where people don’t tend to fight, resist arrest or be abusive, especially compared to people who use alcohol.

Pettit, the public health director, said public health officials are concerned about misinformation, especially with an anti-vaccine movement that is allowing some illnesses and diseases to spread.

“People should go to agencies and organizations for information that is based in science,” he said.

The local Public Health Department attends many community events, and keeps an active Facebook and Twitter presence, trying to get accurate information out to the community, Pettit said.

More residents also are self-diagnosing on WebMD rather than going to the doctor, which is a concern, Pettit said.

The Leadership Orleans class also was trained on Narcan, which can help stop an overdose. The class also learned how to “Stop the Bleed” and apply a tourniquet if someone is bleeding.

The class heard from other healthcare leaders in Medina, with a focus on healthcare collaborations.

Those panelists included Dan Ireland, president of United Memorial Medical Center; Mark Cye, CEO of Orleans Community Health; and Mary Ann Pettibon, CEO of Oak Orchard Health.

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Health officials urge people to get tested for STDs

Posted 15 April 2019 at 9:51 am

Many people with an STD don’t realize it because they often don’t have signs or symptoms

Press Release, Public Health departments in Orleans and Genesee counties

April is STD Awareness Month, which is a great time to GYT- get yourself tested! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 20 million new STDs occur every year in this country. In fact, one in two sexually active young people in the U.S. will contract an STD by the time they’re 25 — and most won’t know it. This is why it is important to GYT at least once a year, and more often if you or your partner(s) participate in risky behaviors.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections transmitted from one person to another through sexual activity. These include chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis and HIV. Many people who have an STD don’t know it because they often don’t have signs or symptoms. Even without symptoms, STDs can still be harmful and passed on during sex.

If you are sexually active, getting tested for STDs is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. Make sure you have an open and honest conversation about your sexual history and STD testing with your doctor and ask whether you should be tested for STDs.

It is important for sexually active men and women to get tested at least once a year. You should get tested every 3 to 6 months if you do not use protection (latex or synthetic male/female condoms, dental dams, and finger cots) having multiple sexual partners and/or sharing needles/drug paraphernalia. Testing will not only protect your health now, but will protect the future of your health as well.

Brenden Bedard, Deputy Public Health Director/Director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans counties, mentions the serious health outcomes that STDs may have if left untreated.

“Some of the consequences of not receiving timely testing and treatment can include infertility (cannot become pregnant), loss of pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease (inflammation of the female reproductive organs), epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymis tub in the testicle), weakened immune system, damage to organs, and various cancers,” he said.

Luckily Bedard also explained that many STDs can be treated or even cured.

“Some STDs, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, can be cured by taking antibiotics prescribed by a healthcare provider,” Bedard said. “Although some STDs cannot be cured, such as genital herpes, genital warts, and HIV/AIDS, taking medication can treat and manage the symptoms of these diseases.”

According to the CDCs latest report, in 2017 there were 2 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis diagnosed in the United States. In 2018, STD rates in Genesee County confirmed 159 cases of chlamydia, 41 cases of Gonorrhea, 5 cases of Syphilis, 6 cases of Hepatitis B. In Orleans County there were 165 cases of chlamydia, 23 cases of Gonorrhea, 2 cases of Syphilis, and 4 cases of Hepatitis B.

There are several ways to prevent STDs. The most reliable way is to not have sex (vaginal, oral, or anal), but there are many other tried-and-true options:

• Get Vaccinated: Vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended ways to prevent Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV vaccines for males and females can protect against certain types of HPV that can lead to cancer or genital warts. The HPV vaccine is given in a series of 3 shots for people ages 15-45. For people ages 9-14, only 2 doses (shots) are needed. You should also get vaccinated for Hepatitis B if you were not vaccinated when you were younger.

• Reduce Number of Sexual Partners: Reducing your number of sex partners can decrease your risk for STDs. It is still important that you and your partner get tested, and that you share your test results with one another.

• Mutual Monogamy: Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STDs. But you must both be certain you are not infected with STDs. It is important to have an open and honest conversation with your partner.

• Use Condoms: Correct and consistent use of a condom is highly effective in reducing STD transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex. If you have latex allergies, synthetic non-latex condoms can be used. It is important to note that these condoms have higher breakage rates than latex condoms. Natural membrane condoms are not recommended for STD prevention. Contact your local Health Department (Genesee: 344-2580 x 5555 / Orleans 589-3278) about access to free condoms.

• Sterile Needles and Syringes: Persons who inject drugs can substantially reduce their risk of getting and transmitting HIV, viral hepatitis and other blood borne infections by using a sterile needle and syringe for every injection.

For more information on where you can get tested, click here.

Public Health Law requires that testing and treatment for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis be made available for everyone regardless of if they do not have health insurance or if their health insurance does not cover such services. For those without health insurance or who are underinsured the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments contract with the following agencies for respective residents:

Orleans County – Planned Parenthood, 222 West Main Street, Batavia.

Genesee County  – Batavia Primary Care, 16 Bank Street, Batavia; WorkFit Medical, 178 Washington Ave, Batavia.

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Public Health director supports raising legal age for buying tobacco products

Posted 8 April 2019 at 3:51 pm

Press Release, Public Health departments in Genesee, Orleans counties

ALBANY – Paul Pettit, the public health director for Orleans and Genesee counties, has issued a statement in support of raising the legal age to buy tobacco to age 21. Pettit is also president of NYSACHO, the New York State Association of County Health Officials.

“The Senate’s recent passage of Tobacco 21 legislation is another critical and historic step in our fight to prevent millions of New Yorkers from developing tobacco-related illnesses,” Pettit said.

“Both houses have now passed the bill and the governor has announced that he plans to sign it into law.

“We enthusiastically await his action and thank him for his support of this lifesaving measure. We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Diane Savino and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who sponsored this legislation in their respective houses, and who worked tirelessly to ensure its passage.

“NYSACHO and our members will continue to provide expertise and support to help lawmakers craft policy that protects and improves public health, and we look forward to more public health victories in the remainder of the legislative session.”

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April begins with National Public Health Week

Posted 1 April 2019 at 2:20 pm

Health Education Team for Genesee & Orleans Counties

The first week of April is National Public Health Week, a week set aside showing us how we can choose healthier living.  National Public Health Week started in April of 1995 by the American Public Health Association with a focus on Public Health prevention topics. This years’ theme is, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: For science. For action. For Health.”

The topics for each day are:

• Monday, April 1st – Healthy Communities: People’s health, longevity and well-being are connected to their communities. Americans face many issues in their community such as being exposed to air pollution, lead, and even unsafe places to walk. Working with transportation planners to create safe walking and biking paths and organizing clinics for vaccines such as flu shots are all steps that can be taken to benefit people in the community and prevent preventable deaths. By making health a priority in policymaking we can help make a difference in communities.

• Tuesday, April 2nd – Violence Prevention: Violence is a significant public health problem in the United States, whether it is gun-related, rape, domestic abuse, suicide, or even child abuse. As public health professionals, it is part of our job to prevent acts of violence. This can be done through urging policy makers to inforce stricter gun laws, working with local colleges to help victims of sexual violence, and enforcing home-visits to prevent child maltreatment. It is important to advocate community-driven solutions that target the source of where the violence is coming from that do not punish the community as a whole.

• Wednesday, April 3rd – Rural Health: Americans who live in rural communities have an increased risk of death from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory disease. There has also been a higher rate of suicide and opioid overdoses shown in rural communities. To improve rural community’s health it is important that we focus on social determinants that negatively impact health. By offering telemedicine, increasing job training opportunities and helping children achieve success academically; we can help improve the health of those living in rural populations.

• Thursday, April 4th – Technology and Public Health: Technology can be a powerful public health tool. It can be used to help educate and advocate communities, can help practitioners swap their best practices, can be used for GIS mapping, and can even be used as a text line to find out information about certain health topics. It is important that public health funding levels continue to be supported to allow workers to have access to the latest technology.

• Friday, April 5th – Climate Change: Climate change is seen as one of the greatest threats to public health. It can lead to natural disasters, impact food security, water and air quality, and even increase the risk of vector-borne diseases. Climate change is a real issue that has already begun to occur. Supporting policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, carpooling, and steering toward renewable, clean energies instead of fossil fuels can help make a difference in climate change and our health.

• Saturday and Sunday, April 6th & 7th – Global Health: America’s health and the world’s health are fundamentally connected. Consider that during the H1N1 flu pandemic, the virus quickly traveled around the world and a global effort was required to track its movements and eventually contain the disease. Across the world, communities still struggle with preventable and often-neglected diseases. The World Health Organization’s top 10 threats to global health include: pandemic flu, cholera, violent conflict, malaria, malnutrition and natural disasters.

Public Health covers a wide variety of topic areas. According to the WHO, public health refers to all organized measures (whether public or private) to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole. Its activities aim to provide conditions in which people can be healthy and focus on entire populations, not on individual patients or diseases. It is important to remember that most of public health is prevention!

“As you can see, public health isn’t just about being physically healthy,” stated Paul Pettit, Genesee and Orleans County Public Health Director. “It includes the health of the whole body and mind, as well as community resiliency, and the safety of the environment we live, work and play in.  The Health Departments’ are moving into the role of Chief Health Strategists, we want to embrace and encourage our communities to work with us to create new and innovative ways to improve health, so please reach out.”

The benefits of prevention are undeniable. For example, public health is credited with adding 25 years to life expectancy of people in the United States. “Promoting public health in community development, local businesses and through community events will help us move toward being the healthiest counties in New York State,” stated Dr. Gregory Collins, Commissioner of Wyoming County Public Health.

What can you do throughout the year to encourage better health in your home, neighborhood, work place and county?

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County opposes push to legalize recreational marijuana

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 March 2019 at 9:32 am

‘We don’t need more intoxicants in society.’ – Dr. Tom Madejski, president of the Medical Society of the State of New York

Photo by Tom Rivers: Dr. Tom Madejski of Albion (left), who is president of the Medical Society of the State of New York, joins Paul Pettit, the Public Health director for the Health Departments in Genesee and Orleans counties, and sharing their concerns about legalizing recreational marijuana in the state. Pettit is also president of the New York State Association of County Health Officials. The two are speaking at Wednesday’s meeting of the Orleans County Legislature.

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature went on the record Wednesday in asking the state to hold off on legalizing recreational marijuana, saying there are many negative impacts to society, as well as financial hits to local governments if marijuana gets the state’s blessing.

Two local health officials, who lead state-wide organizations, also said there are too many unknowns for New York to allow legalized recreational marijuana.

There will be impacts with more impaired drivers, likely leading to more serious motor vehicle accidents, Orleans County legislators were told on Wednesday by Dr. Tom Madejski and Paul Pettit. Madejski of Albion is president of the Medical Society of the State of New York. Pettit is the Public Health director for the Health Departments in Genesee and Orleans counties. He also leads the NYS Association of County Health Officials.

They said legalizing marijuana will likely lead to more use among teen-agers and young adults, and that use at a young age makes them far more likely to develop drug addictions, the two said.

“If this goes badly we’ll damage another segment of society,” Madejski told county legislators.

He has helped lead the Medical Society of the State of New York’s response to the opioid epidemic, which Madejski said started about 20 years ago when opioids were pushed for pain relief, only to become highly addictive for many people.

He said legalizing recreational marijuana is “bad social policy.”

“We don’t need more intoxicants in society,” he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature have been debating legalizing recreational marijuana.

County Legislator Don Allport, R-Gaines, said the push for legalization is a money grab by the state, which wants to tax marijuana sales.

Proponents of legalizing recreational marijuana say it will take marijuana out of the black market. However, Madejski and Pettit said the black maret will continue to thrive because marijuana will be available without a big tax likely to be imposed by the state, making it more expensive.

Pettit said the state needs to fund a public education plan about the dangers of marijuana use, if it is legalized for recreational use. He worries that children will be exposed through second-hand smoke or through edible marijuana that may be left around a house and appear to be candy or cookies.

Pettit said today’s marijuana is highly potent. “These aren’t your grandma’s brownies,” he said.

Several organizations are opposing recreational marijuana in New York include the Medical Society of New York, NYS Parent Teachers Association, NYS Sheriffs’ Association, NYS Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers, Association of School Business Officials, and Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

Pettit presented a slide show to county legislators on Wednesday. He shared the following:

• Some of the ways of using marijuana include combusted products (joints, pipes, bongs, bowls, blunts and splits); vaporizers (electronic vaping devices); edibles (brownies, cookies and candies); drinks (elixirs, syrups and hot chocolates); and dabbing (using concentrates and waxes).

• The use of e-cigarettes among youth and young adults increased 900 percent from 2011 to 2015 among high school students, Pettit said, citing the surgeon general. E-cigarettes grew 78 percent from 2017 to 2018 among high schoolers. There are currently 3.6 million youth in the US using e-cigarettes.

• Pettit said evidence shows long-term use of marijuana can lead to addiction. There is recognition of cannabis withdrawal syndrome, which makes cessation difficult and contributes to relapse.

Adolescents are particularly susceptible, compared to people who start using cannabis as adults. Those who begin using marijuana in adolescence are 2 to 4 times as likely to have cannabis dependence within two years after first use.

• The use of cannabis in adolescence could influence multiple addictive behavior in adulthood, he said.

District Attorney Joe Cardone was at Wednesday’s meeting and he shared concerns about marijuana becoming more accepted, even legal.

“Certainly not everyone who uses marijuana goes on to use more serious drugs,” Cardone said. But everyone who uses serious drugs has used marijuana.”

• Weekly or more frequent cannabis use by adolescents and young adults is associated with impaired learning, memory, math and reading achievement, even 28 days after last use, Pettit said.

Marijuana use is strongly associated with failure to graduate from both high school and/or college, he said.

• County legislators, in stating their opposition to legalizing recreational marijuana, said more research is needed on the long- term health outcomes of marijuana use.

• There will also be an impact on law enforcement agencies, which will need approximately 650 more drug recognition experts to determine if drivers are impaired by marijuana.

• Legalizing regulated marijuana also will necessitate retiring a large majority of police K-9 dogs that are trained to detect marijuana, as their detection capabilities would no longer be admissible in court and the replacement of these K-9 officers could easily take 5-7 years at great cost to taxpayers, legislators said.

Legislator John DeFilipps, R-Clarendon, said the push by the state is contrary to decades of messages about the dangers of using drugs.

Legislator Allport said the state shouldn’t legalize marijuana.

“It’s ludicrous, it’s hypocritical,” he said. “They’re putting money above the health and welfare of residents.”

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Oak Orchard Health achieves Diabetes Education accreditation

Posted 20 March 2019 at 1:38 pm

Press Release, Oak Orchard Health

BrOCKPORT – Oak Orchard Health has achieved accreditation for Oak Orchard as a Diabetes Education Accreditation Program.

Oak Orchard Health provides a model of care that integrates patient-centered primary care, behavioral health, dental, vision services and health education – treating the whole patient and focusing on wellness and prevention.

OOH believes that we need to treat patients holistically and educate them on what they need to do to maintain good health. This accreditation comes from the only organization dedicated solely to diabetes education, the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment and allows OOH to provide diabetes self-management education, which removes barriers to care,” said Dr. Nancy Ciavarri, OOH’s chief medical officer.

Remarked Mary Ann Pettibon, CEO, “Removing barriers to care for our patients is of paramount importance to us at OOH, and we are so delighted that this accreditation will assist us to do just that.”

Erin Goodrich, MS, RD, CDN, CDE, Oak Orchard’s Registered Dietician will oversee the education program.  Ms. Goodrich, a native of Albion, received her undergrad degree at Daemen College and then pursued her master’s degree in dietetics at D’Youville College in Buffalo.

“Passionate about bringing more healthcare opportunities to Albion,” said Ms. Goodrich who has been working at OOH for over a year-and-a-half, and received her certification as a Diabetes Educator, which is an interdisciplinary specialty in diabetes education.

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TeleMedicine may be coming to local school districts

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 March 2019 at 9:12 pm

HOLLEY – The Orleans County Health Department wants to facilitate TeleMedicine for local school districts, where sick students and possibly even staff could have access to a doctor or nurse practitioner. They would diagnose a health problem and prescribe medication. The diagnosis likely would be sent to a child’s primary care doctor.

Frontier Middle School in Hamburg is the first school in the state to offer the program. Frontier started working with Mobile Health Partners in October. Now, Orleans County health officials want to bring the program to local school districts.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Paul Pettit, the county’s Public Health director. “We’ll be one of the first places in the state to try it.”

Pettit said the county’s access to primary care physicians is one of the worst ratios in the state. In Orleans it’s one primary care doctor for every 13,780 residents. That compares to the state average of 1 primary care doctor for every 1,200 people, and a national average of 1 to 1,326 people.

“We want to improve access to care,” Pettit said. “Right now we have one of the worst accesses to health providers.”

Many parents struggle to get students to doctor’s appointments due to work commitments or transportation issues, he said.

With TeleMedicine, students would go the nurse’s office, where the nurse would check pulse and blood pressure. The nurse would direct a robot that can “see” in ears and in throats. Those images could be seen offsite by a doctor, nurse practitioner or nurse’s assistant.

Holley schools officials discussed the program during the Board of Education meeting on Monday. The district likes the idea. The access to health professionals could help prevent illnesses or limit sicknesses to the early stages. That would improve attendance.

“Ultimately our goal would be to have them not be so ill so they can be in school and learning,” Brian Bartalo, the Holley superintendent, told the Board of Education on Monday.

The program would be grant funded for the start-up costs and the first year, with the services also being billed to insurance companies or Medicaid, Pettit said.

Bartalo said parent permissions would be needed for any student to participate in the program.

Pettit said the permissions or parent consent forms could be sent out during the beginning of next school year.

The Health Department has already met with Holley school leaders about the program, and will be having a meeting with officials from all five school districts in the county. The company and the robot would be available for demonstrations to show schools how it works.

Pettit would like to have the program start in Orleans this fall.

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