health & wellness

Treasure Island fundraiser raises $36,000 for Orleans Community Health

Provided photos: Laurel Carney looks over baskets and bids from her phone during the Treasure Island fundraiser on Nov. 6. 

Posted 16 November 2021 at 11:14 am

Press Release, Orleans Community Health Foundation

MEDINA – After two years, Treasure Island was brought back on November 6th at a new location with a new bidding format.

With the introduction of a mobile bidding app, bidders could participate not only at the event at Shelby Fire Hall, but they could also do so from the comfort of their home. Anyone from anywhere could be bidding on the donated items during the auction.

Heather Smith, OCH Foundation Executive Director and Kimberly Gray, OCH CNO and Director of Surgical Services, enjoyed the fundraising event.

Although some missed the silent auction bidding sheets, it was evident that this new format brought a different element of bidder excitement and in the end it helped them exceed their goal.

This year’s event was a part of the 2021 “Together We Are Stronger” Fundraising Campaign that was built to benefit several different departments all across the Orleans Community Health system.

Treasure Island was specifically dedicated to raising funds for the purchase of a new stress test system in the Cardiac Services Department and the purchase of new patient lifts for our patient care area on the second floor of Medina Memorial Hospital.

There was an assortment of over 170 gift baskets and certificates that were donated by community members, hospital departments, local businesses, and also by several businesses located from the Finger Lakes to Buffalo. Some of the featured items were a trip to Myrtle Beach, overnight stay to local & regional hotels that included dinner, museum memberships, area golf course memberships, sporting goods & events, Coach purses, an assortment of furniture, a high-end bourbon tasting and local winery tasting parties.

Nearly 150 guests were on site to enjoy a wonderful buffet dinner provided by Zambistro’s Catering. In-person guests were also able to exclusively participate in the live auction, the Lucky Cork wine pull, door prizes and a 50/50. The event also boasted a small cash raffle with five different cash prizes.

During the event we heard from OCH Foundation Executive Director Heather Smith and guest auctioneer Wes Pickreign who both kept everyone up to date on how the bidding was going through the night. They were excited to close out the evening by announcing that they had met the goal of $35,000! Additional cash donations came in over the next few days that pushed the event past the goal and helped raise just over $36,000.

A highlight of the evening was hearing from the events honorary chairperson, Kimberly Gray, Orleans Community Health’s Chief Nursing Officer and Director of Surgical Services. During Kim’s speech she addressed the community as a whole, “Whether you are clinical practitioners, executive directors, administrators, health care workers, state/federal employees, social workers, work in academics, or community members supporting our local hospital – Thank you for the work that you do in serving our community. We need leaders and hard workers like you in all sectors working together to improve and maintain our local rural hospital.”

Kimberly was selected by the Treasure Island Steering Committee for her dedication to providing compassionate care to every patient we serve and her love of this community.

The Treasure Island Committee would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of this year’s sponsors, volunteers, participants and donors.  It is because of all of your generosity that this event was a success and we are grateful for your continued dedication to the services we provide here at Orleans Community Health.

A special thank you to Shelby Fire Hall for donating the hall and to our corporate supporters: Baxter Healthcare, Cooper Funeral Home, Generations Bank, Jr. Wilson’s Sportsman Club, Lake Country Pennysaver, OCH Medical Staff, Takeform, Visiting Nurses Association of WNY and WNY Energy.

This group enjoys the Treasure Island event. From left include Ken and Carol Baker, Gloria Brent, Michael Snyder, Brianna Pasnik and Angel Wolf.

Orleans has highest Covid positivity rate in state

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2021 at 6:55 pm

Active cases climb in Genesee to all-time high of 326; Orleans sees slight dip after hitting record on Friday

Orleans County currently has the highest Covid positivity rate in the state with a 7-day average of 11.9 percent. That is well above the state’s 7-day rate of 3.30 percent.

Orleans on Friday had the second-highest Covid positivity rate in the state, behind Cattaraugus. Orleans was at 11.1 percent and Cattaraugus was at 11.5 percent.

The rate in Orleans has continued to climb since then, while Cattaraugus is down to 11.0 percent, the fourth highest 7-day average today. Washington County is at 11.4 percent, with Montgomery at 11.2 percent and Fulton at 10.7 percent.

Genesee is also well above the state average at 9.0 percent for its 7-day average.

The number of active Covid cases in Genesee and Orleans counties is at 581 today, up by two from Friday when the two counties together set a new pandemic high of 579 cases in the two counties.

Genesee is driving the increase from Friday, going from 298 active cases to 326 today, a new record high for Genesee during the pandemic since March 2020.

Orleans is down from its record high of 281 active cases on Friday to 255 today, according to the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

Orleans has 83 new positive cases since Friday, and 109 more recoveries or previously positive individuals who completed their 10-day isolation and been removed from mandatory isolation.

There are currently 4 from Orleans hospitalized due to Covid.

Genesee is reporting 166 new positive cases in the past three days, and 127 recoveries.

There are currently 22 Genesee residents who are hospitalized due to Covid.

Genesee has also had six residents die from Covid in the past three weeks, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments reported. That includes five people over age 65, and one under age 65.

“We do not provide any further information to protect the privacy of the individuals and their families,” the Health Departments said in a news briefing. “Our deepest condolences are extended to the family and friends of these individuals.”

Active Covid cases at new record high for Orleans, Genesee

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 November 2021 at 9:01 pm

2 counties pass 500 active cases for first time during pandemic; Orleans goes past 5,000 cases total since March 2020

Orleans and Genesee counties combined have passed 500 active Covid cases today for the first time since the pandemic.

Each county also has set a new record high for active cases. Orleans is at 281. It previously peaked at 279 on Jan. 7, 2021.

Genesee is at 298 today, past its previous high of 269 on Dec. 7, 2020.

The 579 active cases in the two counties is up from 481 on Monday, the last update from the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments and the previous high for active cases.

Both Genesee and Orleans have Covid positivity rates well above the state average of 3.0 percent over the past seven days. Orleans is at 11.1 percent over the seven days, the second highest percentage in the state, only behind the 11.5 percent at Cattaraugus County. Genesee, at 8.9 percent, is at nearly three times the state positivity rate.

Orleans has 177 new positive cases since Monday, and now is at 5,006 positive cases since March 2020.

The county currently has three people hospitalized due to Covid, and is reporting 125 more of the previous positive individuals have completed their 10-day isolation and been removed from mandatory isolation.

Orleans has also had three people die due to Covid since Nov. 4, going from 90 deaths to 93.

Genesee is reporting 118 new positive Covid cases since Monday, and 62 more recoveries. The county currently has 22 residents hospitalized due to Covid, and also has had three people die from Covid since Nov. 4, bringing the total deaths from 135 to 138 during the pandemic.

Tri-county group highlights resources for survivors of suicide loss

Posted 9 November 2021 at 7:52 pm

Press Release provided by the GOW Pathway to Hope Steering Committee and Orleans County Suicide Prevention Coalition Member, Meredith Minier

“My name is Meredith Minier and I am a suicide survivor.  That was so hard – impossible – to say and write for a long time, but it is true.

Many people think it refers to a person who has survived a suicide attempt.  Not true.  It means we lost someone we loved dearly – and still love – to suicide. Some days it seems like it was a long time ago, and sometimes is seems like my husband, Lee, died just last week.  If you know me or anyone who has lost someone to suicide, you are a suicide survivor – in fact, I can almost say everyone who is reading this is a suicide survivor. Perhaps it was a cousin, a work associate, your best friend’s mother, the neighbor down the road, or your spouse or child.

We ‘suicide survivors’ are a unique group of grievers with unique challenges; one of the most challenging is fighting the stigma associated with suicide. Many of us feel frozen, in so much pain we don’t know how to move forward. It is not something our loved ones would want for us. I felt that way for a long time until I finally took action to turn my pain into something positive and help those in my community find the help and resources they need to heal and be productive and honor the one they loved and lost.”

To help the process of healing, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention ( has sponsored the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. AFSP sponsors this special day the Saturday before Thanksgiving of each November. The GOW Pathway to Hope Steering Committee and the Orleans County Suicide Prevention Coalition have planned a week of special online activities preceding the 20th for all the residents of Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming County communities to come together and reach out a hand to those grieving following the loss of a loved one to suicide.

Please go to the following Facebook pages Orleans County (, Wyoming County ( or the GOW Pathway to Hope page ( for positive thoughts, ideas and activities for positive action during the Week of November 15th.

International Survivors of Suicide Loss day is observed worldwide as a way of showing support to survivors who are struggling.  Please light a candle on Nov. 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. to bring these survivors out of the darkness and into the light with your support.

If you are on Facebook, please take a picture and post it on your page and tag it #LightAPathway2Hope2021 so we can share it on our social media platforms. For those who are not on Facebook but would like to share a remembrance of a loved one or share words of encouragement for those who are grieving, you can send an anonymous message via survey monkey and we will share them as we are able:

“Suicide survivor’s put a face to suicide…by sharing their personal stories, they are able to turn their grief into action and communicate the urgent need to take concrete steps to prevent more deaths by suicide.  Their openness also sends a message of hope that there is always a tomorrow after suicide.” – Author unknown

If you are struggling with depression, anxiety and/or thoughts of suicide it is important to reach out for help.  The Care + Crisis Helpline is a free, confidential helpline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  You can call 585-283-5200 or text ‘Hope’ to 741741 and they will help connect you with appropriate assistance.

For the Genesee County Mental Health, call 585-344-1421.  The Orleans County Mental Health Department can be reached at 585-589-7066.  In Wyoming County you can reach out to Spectrum Health at 585-786-0220 or Clarity Wellness at 585-786-0790.  For veterans, please call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. If you are having a mental health emergency, please call 9-1-1 for assistance.

You are not alone, there are people who want to help.

Orleans has second highest Covid positivity rate in state

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 November 2021 at 11:25 pm

Genesee and Orleans report 217 more Covid cases since Thursday

Orleans County currently has the second highest percentage of positive Covid tests over seven days in the state at 9.8 percent.

The state-wide positivity rate is 2.6 percent, putting Orleans at nearly four times the state average. Only Allegany County has a higher positivity rate than Orleans at 11.1 percent. Genesee is at 7.9 percent.

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments reported the number of Covid cases in the two counties since Thursday, with Orleans having 105 more and Genesee another 112.

The number of active cases in the two counties is now up to 481, a pandemic high. It was at 472 on Thursday. Orleans is at 232 and Genesee at 249 today.

Orleans is reporting 105 new positive cases since Thursday and 114 additional recoveries, or people who have completed the 10-day quarantine and been released from mandatory isolation. Genesee has 112 new cases since Thursday, and 87 more recoveries.

Orleans currently has seven residents hospitalized due to Covid, and Genesee has 15 in the hospital from Covid.

Orleans County also had another resident die from Covid, bringing that total to 91 since March 2020. The individual who most recently passed away was over 65 years old.

“Our deepest condolences are extended to the family and friends of this individual,” the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments stated in a news briefing.

Genesee, Orleans report 204 more Covid cases since Monday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 November 2021 at 8:46 pm

2 counties among highest positivity rates in state

Orleans and Genesee counties together have 204 more Covid cases since Monday, and the two counties have a positivity rate more than three times the state average.

Orleans has had 118 more cases of Covid since Monday, and Genesee has 86 more. There are now 472 active cases in the two counties, with Orleans up from 200 to 243 active cases in the past three days. Genesee has a decline in active cases, from 271 to 229 since Monday.

Genesee has had more recoveries in the three days, with 123 more previously positive individuals completing their 10-day isolation and being removed from mandatory isolation.

Orleans had 73 more recoveries since Monday, but added 118 new cases.

Genesee currently has 15 people hospitalized due to Covid and Orleans has seven residents in the hospital from Covid.

Orleans also is reporting a resident over age 65 has passed away from Covid. This is the 90th death from Covid of an Orleans resident during the pandemic since March 2020. Genesee has had 135 people pass away due to Covid during the pandemic.

In New York, the state-wide percentage of Covid tests that have been positive in the past seven days is 2.30 percent.

That positivity rate is much higher locally. Orleans is at 8.5 percent, and Genesee is at 7.8 percent.

Only three counties have a higher rate than Orleans: Hamilton, 9.6 percent; Allegany, 9.2 percent; and Cattaraugus, 8.9 percent.

Medina Memorial nurse recognized with ‘Caring Heart Award’

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 3 November 2021 at 3:25 pm

Photo contributed by Medina Memorial Hospital: Barbara J. Newton, a registered nurse at Medina Memorial Hospital’s North Wing, is shown with hospital CEO/CIO Marc Shurtz after she was honored by the New York State Health Facilities Association and the New York State Center for Assisted Living (Western Region Buffalo).

MEDINA – For the second time in three years, a nurse at Medina Memorial Hospital has been honored with the Caring Heart Award by the New York State Health Facilities Association and new York State Center for Assisted Living (Western Region Buffalo).

The latest recipient is Barbara J. Newton, a registered nurse in the North Wing at the hospital. She follows in the footsteps of Pamela Heideman, certified nursing assistant, who received the award in 2018 at a banquet at Salvatore’s in Buffalo.

As there was no banquet this year, Newton was presented with her award last week at a hospital lunch to celebrate the hospital’s zero deficiencies survey.

Each year, the New York State Health Facilities Association and New York State Center for Assisted Living (Western Region Buffalo) honor local skilled nursing facilities for service and dedication to the health care field, according to Jessica Capurso, director of Outreach, Education and Marketing at Community Partners.

Newton has been a registered nurse in Medina hospital’s skilled nursing facility for three years.

According to her supervisors, “Barbara J. Newton, RN, embodies patience, perseverance, intelligence and wisdom. In her three years with Orleans Community Health, she has led by her excellent example of hard work, compassion and kindness. We have seen her take the time to sooth an agitated resident and ‘feed’ stuffed animals so their human owners would be inspired to eat. During the past year, she has continually showed strength in the face of adversity. As we felt the crush of the COVID-19 pandemic, she continued to show up to work each day, doing whatever it took to keep residents safe and content. In as much as healthcare is a team sport, it is our desire to recognize a great leader among us.”

The Caring Heart Award is presented to one who lends a hand in times of need, puts others needs before their own, makes a positive impact in the community, brings warmth to everyday activities, takes the time to listen, creates energetic team spirit, rallies around a cause and reaches out to make a difference.

Active Covid cases continue rise in Genesee, Orleans to 471

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 November 2021 at 6:13 pm

The number of active Covid cases in Genesee and Orleans counties is at 471, up from 382 on Thursday, according to data from the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

Orleans is at 200 active cases today, up from 190 on Thursday, while Genesee’s active cases increased from 192 to 271 in the four days.

The 271 is a new pandemic record for Genesee. Its previous high was 269 on Dec. 7, 2020. Orleans peaked at 279 on Jan. 7, 2021.

Orleans is reporting 92 new positive cases since Thursday with the cases in the age groups of 0-19, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

Six residents from Orleans are currently hospitalized due to Covid.

The county is reporting 82 more of the previous positive individuals have completed their 10-day isolation and been removed from mandatory isolation.

In Genesee, there are 153 new cases since Thursday. The individuals are in the age groups of 0-19, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

Genesee has 17 residents hospitalized due to Covid.

Genesee also has 74 more of the previous positive individuals have completed their 10-day isolation and been removed from mandatory isolation.

204 new Covid cases in Genesee, Orleans in past 4 days

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 October 2021 at 5:25 pm

Both counties each reporting a death due to Covid

Genesee and Orleans counties are reporting 204 new Covid cases since Thursday. Each county also is reporting another death due to Covid. Both of the people who passed away from Covid are under age 65, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments reported.

In Orleans County, there are 67 new cases, and also 76 more recoveries, or people who have completed their 10-day isolation and have been removed from mandatory isolation.

In Orleans, there are currently four people hospitalized due to Covid.

In Genesee, there are 137 new positive cases, which pushes Genesee past 7,000 cases during the pandemic since March 2020. There have now been 7,028 confirmed cases in Genesee and 4,427 in Orleans.

Genesee also is reporting 86 more recoveries. The county also has 20 people hospitalized due to Covid.

Orleans Community Health urges breast cancer screenings for women 40 and older

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 25 October 2021 at 9:11 am

MEDINA – Orleans Community Health is urging women aged 40 and older to talk with their doctors during National Cancer Awareness Month in October about screening for breast cancer, OCH announced in a press release.

Women who can’t afford mammograms may be eligible for a free screening through the Cancer Services Program of New York State.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Localized breast cancer has a 99% survival rate if detected early. Breast cancer screenings are critical for women older than 50. OCH reports the newest technology on the market has the lowest dose of radiation and is designed for women by women for a more comfortable experience. Orleans Community Health has made these advanced 3D mammograms accessible right here in the Medina community.

In this small community, there are on average 30 women diagnosed with breast cancer and four deaths annually. But when breast cancer is detected early, the five-year survival rate is well about 90 percent.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the year, Orleans Community Health offers high quality women’s health care, including breast care services. They have the latest technology, touting the Senographe Pristina, which is the ONLY FDA-approved 3D mammography that delivers at the same low dose as 2D, the lowest patient dose of all FDA approved systems.

Anyone who is a woman 40 or older is asked not to skip their mammogram, but to call (585) 798-8054 or visit to schedule an appointment now.

G-O Health says childhood lead exposure significant issue locally due to older homes

Posted 25 October 2021 at 8:58 am

$1.3 million grant will help address lead paint hazards in 2 counties

Press Release, Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments

This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, which is a call to bring together individuals, organizations, industry, and government to increase lead poisoning prevention awareness in an effort to reduce childhood exposure to lead.

About 3.3 million American households, including 2.1 million low-income households that have children under six years of age, live in homes containing lead exposure hazards. According to the 2015-2019 American Community Survey, there are approximately 33,000 housing units in Genesee and Orleans Counties that were built before 1978 and may have lead exposure hazards.

“Childhood lead exposure is a significant issue in Genesee and Orleans Counties because of the large number of older homes that may contain lead-based paint, which is the main source of exposure in children,” stated Paul Pettit, Director of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “Lead is a toxic element that can cause damage to the brain and nervous system when it is absorbed into the body.”

Lead poisoning is preventable. The key is to stop children from coming into contact with lead hazards before poisoning occurs. Children can be exposed to lead by swallowing or breathing in lead dust created by old paint that has cracked and chipped, eating paint chips, or chewing on surfaces coated with lead-based paint such as window sills. Lead exposure in children can cause learning and behavior problems, slow growth and development, and

cause hearing and speech problems. These effects may be permanent and can continue into adulthood.

New York State requires health care providers to obtain a blood lead test for all children at age 1 and again at age 2. Health care providers are also required to assess all children ages 6 months to 6 years for risk of lead exposure. Below is a table that shows local screening rates among children in Genesee and Orleans Counties from 2020.

We encourage parents and community members to educate themselves about the dangers of lead exposure by reviewing the three key themes of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week:

  1. Get the Facts!
  • Any exposure to lead hazards can be serious, especially for children. The only safe blood lead level is zero!
  • The most common source of lead exposure in children is through eating dust particles or paint chips so small that they may not be visible to the naked eye.
  • The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes, faucets, and fixtures.
  • Other sources of lead could include metal toys, wooden toys or furniture painted with lead-based paint, metal jewelry, lead-glazed pottery or porcelain, some candles, spices, and even make-up.
  1. Get your Home Tested!
  • Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. If your home was built before 1978, you should get it tested for lead paint.
  • If you rent, ask your landlord to have your home or apartment tested.
  • Contact GO Health for more information on getting your home tested.
  1. Get your Child Tested!
  • Children’s blood lead levels tend to increase from 6 to 12 months of age and tend to peak at 18 to 24 months.
  • A simple blood test is the only way to find out if your child has been poisoned by exposure to lead.
  • Most children with detectable levels of lead in their blood have no obvious symptoms.
  • Blood lead tests are also recommended for pregnant women who think they may have been exposed to lead.

“Please contact your health care provider and make it a priority get your child tested for lead,” stated Pettit.  “Early detection is the key to preventing long-term health problems.”

In January 2019, the Genesee County Health Department received a $1.3 million federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to address lead-based paint hazards in homes and apartments in Genesee and Orleans counties.

“This funding can be used specifically for lead-based paint repair activities as well as other health-related home repairs,” stated Darren Brodie, Lead Program Coordinator for GO Health. “Eligible homeowners and landlords with qualified tenants may apply to receive these funds.” Contact the Genesee County Health Department for eligibility rules.

For more information on the HUD program, to obtain an application or to determine if your family and home fits the criteria, contact GO Health’s lead program staff at the Genesee County Health Department at 344-2580 ext.5555 or You can also visit the GO Health website at Program staff can quickly determine your initial eligibility, and will help to guide you through the application process.

To learn more about the New York State Lead Poisoning Prevention program, click here.

Active Covid cases down nearly 100 in past 7 days in Genesee, Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 October 2021 at 8:21 am

Recoveries outpacing new infections in 2 counties

The number of active Covid cases in Genesee and Orleans counties dropped by nearly 100 in the seven days from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21, according to the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

There were 432 active cases on Oct. 14 with 237 in Orleans and 195 in Genesee. Those cases were down to 339 seven days later with the active cases at 155 in Orleans and 184 in Genesee.

The counties still are seeing Covid community transmission with 68 new cases reported in Orleans and 95 in Genesee from Monday through Thursday.

However, the recoveries – people who have completed their 10-day isolation and have been removed from mandatory isolation – included 70 in Orleans and 135 in Genesee during the three days.

There are currently two Orleans County residents hospitalized due to Covid and 12 in Genesee.

A person passed away from Orleans County due to Covid in the past week. The county has has 87 residents die from Covid since March 2020. Genesee County is reporting 132 deaths from Covid during the pandemic.

Attorney General touts funds to help counties fight opioid crisis

Photo courtesy of New York Attorney General’s Office: Letitia James, the state’s attorney general, was in Batavia on Thursday as part of a statewide “HealNY” tour. She visited the Recovery Station in Batavia, a community restaurant and safe space for individuals going through recovery. Pictured include Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Genesee County Manager Matthew Landers, Genesee County Legislature Chair Shelley Stein, Genesee County Legislators Chad Klotzbach, Gordon Dibble, Gregg Torrey and John Deleo.

Staff Reports Posted 15 October 2021 at 11:21 am

ROCHESTER/BATAVIA – New York Attorney General Letitia James was Thursday visited Rochester and Batavia as part of her statewide “HealNY” tour of the state.

She is announced funding for the Finger Lakes as part of $1.5 billion in a settlement to combat the opioid crisis in counties across New York state.

The Finger Lakes counties are to receive $29.2 million to $53.1 million of those funds. The share for Orleans County is a minimum of $356,743 to a maximum of $615,993.

The allotments for Finger Lakes counties include:

  • Genesee County: $614,045 to $1,060,280
  • Livingston County: $586,539 to $1,012,784
  • Monroe County: $11,143,437 to $19,509,989
  • Ontario County: $1,131,905 to $1,954,475
  • Orleans County: $356,743 to $615,993
  • Seneca County: $334,269 to $577,187
  • Wayne County: $858,979 to $1,483,210
  • Wyoming County: $355,707 to $614,204
  • Yates County: $214,215 to $369,887

“For more than two decades, the Finger Lakes Region has been ravaged by the opioid crisis, but, today, we are finally starting to heal New York by announcing that we will be delivering up to $53 million to the area to invest in the prevention, treatment, and recovery programs,” James said. “No amount of money will ever make up for all the addictions, all the deaths, and all the communities devastated by opioids, but these funds will be essential in helping the Finger Lakes Region turn the tide on this epidemic.”

Every region in the state will receive millions of dollars for prevention, treatment, and recovery programs to combat the opioid crisis.

The AG filed a lawsuit in 2019 that her office said was, at the time, the nation’s most extensive lawsuit against the various manufacturers and distributors of opioids. These manufacturers and distributors were responsible for heavily marketing opioids to doctors, hospitals, health care systems, and others, which led to the over prescription of the drugs across New York and the rest of the nation over the last two decades, James said.

The manufacturers named in Attorney General James’ complaint included Purdue Pharma and its affiliates, as well as members of the Sackler Family (owners of Purdue) and trusts they control; Janssen Pharmaceuticals and its affiliates (including its parent company Johnson & Johnson); Mallinckrodt LLC and its affiliates; Endo Health Solutions and its affiliates; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and its affiliates; and Allergan Finance, LLC and its affiliates. The distributors named in the complaint were McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation, and Rochester Drug Cooperative Inc.

Last month, a settlement with Endo was announced that has already delivered $50 million to New York state and Nassau and Suffolk counties to combat the opioid crisis and remove the opioid manufacturer from New York’s ongoing opioid trial.

Also, last month, a settlement that secured more than $4.5 billion – at least $200 million of which will be earmarked for New York – from the Sackler family and foundations that they control, ends the Sacklers’ ability to manufacture opioids ever again, and will shut down Purdue Pharma was announced.

In July, a settlement with McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Bergen that will deliver up to $1 billion to New York state to combat the opioid epidemic was announced.

In June, a settlement that ended Johnson & Johnson’s sale of opioids nationwide and that will deliver $230 million to New York alone was announced. The deals with Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Bergen have a global value of approximately $26 billion.

The cases against Mallinckrodt and Rochester Drug Cooperative are now moving separately through U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The trial against the two remaining defendants – Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and Allergan Finance – is currently underway and continues in state court.

Active Covid cases continue rise in Orleans, nearing all-time high

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 October 2021 at 11:04 am

The number of active Covid cases in Orleans County continues to trend up and is getting close to passing the high during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Orleans was at 237 active cases on Thursday, up from 212 on Tuesday. The county’s record high was 279 cases on Jan. 7, 2021.

Orleans reported 72 new positive cases from Tuesday through Thursday, and 47 more recoveries, or people who completed their 10-day isolation and have been removed from mandatory isolation.

Orleans currently has three people hospitalized due to Covid, according to the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

In Genesee, the active cases dropped from 249 on Tuesday to 195 on Thursday. Genesee reported 99 new cases in the two days, and 152 more recoveries. Genesee currently has 12 people hospitalized with Covid.

Mental Health Association honors staff and RTS for collaboration and dedication

Posted 14 October 2021 at 4:05 pm

Press Release, Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans Counties

Photos courtesy of Marsha Rivers: RTS representatives, from left, include John Arneth, Denise Klos and Ken Boasi.

BATAVIA – The Regional Transit Service (RTS), longtime Mental Health Association employee Alan Moore, and scholarship winner Ava Flores were honored at the annual meeting of the MHA of Genesee and Orleans Counties. The event took place on Oct. 7 at Terry Hills Golf Course.

MHAGO Executive Director Tom Christensen credited the dedication of the staff for keeping the agency open through the pandemic, noting that as an essential business, MHAGO has remained open to in-person services, with no staff layoffs or reduction of hours.

“The Covid-19 crisis highlighted for us how important everyday mental health and wellness practices are to managing social isolation, anxiety, and stress,” Christensen said. “We believe our services contributed to the emotional resilience of both our participants and our community during these uncertain times.”

RTS also contributed to the community’s well-being, according to MHAGO, by providing free rides to and from medical appointments – including visits essential for mental health – for the two counties’ residents.

John Arneth, RTS’ Regional Manager for Genesee & Orleans, accepted the Constance E. Miller Award of Excellence on behalf of the organization. Constance E. Miller, along with a small group of dedicated volunteers, founded the Mental Health Association in 1993. This award honors her commitment to excellence by recognizing individuals and organizations who work to promote mental wellness, instill hope, and improve the quality of life for people living in Genesee and Orleans counties.

“We had some rigorous protocols to follow in order to keep everyone safe, but we were really happy to be able to continue to provide medical transport services during a time that created a lot of anxiety and fear for people,” Arneth said.

Alan Moore, 25-year employee of MHAGO, was recognized for his commitment to the agency.

MHA recognized Alan Moore as a 25-year staff member. Colleagues described Moore as a mild-mannered, versatile, reliable team member who “quietly supports and encourages (MHAGO) participants.”

It was also noted that he models self-care by walking regularly and “getting his steps in” each day.

MHAGO awarded the Board of Directors’ Educational Scholarship to Ava Flores, 2021 graduate of both Oakfield-Alabama High School and Genesee Community College. Flores is now studying psychology at Roberts Wesleyan College. The scholarship program provides financial support to individuals pursuing higher education in the fields of human or social services. Flores received $500 toward her studies.

Kylee Criscione, a mental health program specialist from the state Office of Mental Health – WNY Field Office, gave a presentation via Zoom. She noted, aptly, that telehealth visits represent one of several ways MHAGO has stepped up to address the challenges of meeting community needs.

In the annual report distributed at the meeting, Christensen noted that MHAGO Medicaid Managed Care HCBS services increased in 2020 to become the largest local provider of Mental Health HCBS, with 267 combined in-person and telehealth visits across 271 hours of service. “We look forward to further expansion of managed care services through the State’s newly proposed CORE (Community Oriented Empowerment Services) model,” he wrote.

Other noteworthy 2020 stats:

  • A total of 256 persons were served by MHAGO programs, including 186 in the Recovery Center, 147 in the Social Club, and 50 in the Drop-In Center.
  • MHAGO’s Recovery Center provided 5,009 combined in-person and telehealth visits across 3,028 hours of service.
  • Social Club: 3,397 combined in-person and telehealth visits
  • Drop-In Center: 1,726 combined in-person and telehealth visits
  • Warmline: 2,852 outreach messages and 5,879 completed calls
  • The agency also provided 1,014 one-way trips. All transportation staff also provided outreach telehealth calls and wellness checks during office hours.

Ava Flores

MHAGO reported $576,030 total support and revenue, with $618,689 in total expenses. The agency ended 2020 with $129,358 cash on hand. The 2020 Financial Statement and Auditors’ Report were prepared by EFPR Group, CPAs, PLLC. Copies of the Audit and Form 990 may be obtained by request from the Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans Counties, 25 Liberty Street, Batavia, NY 14020.

“Even in good times,” Christensen said, “a lack of social engagement has been a leading predictor of poor health outcomes, poor quality of life, and shortened lifespans. With Covid bringing out the worst of these troubles, our staff really stepped up and made a big difference. I’m very pleased with our team.”