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Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments

October 19, 2020 - 10:40am

Press release:

The GOW Opioid Task Force, in conjunction with the Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments, has released a new “Linkage to Care” online application to help citizens connect with support centers for opioid rehabilitation and training in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

“We are pleased to be a part of the development of this valuable application,” said Paul Pettit, director of the Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “Our region has been working collaboratively over the last several years to provide resources and access to services for those who are struggling with substance use issues.”

Pettit said the app provides locations and contact information for the GOW Opioid Task Force region’s programs and local services that are available in a user-friendly platform to access anytime on a person’s smart phone.

Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services for GO Health, encouraged those who are having issues with drug use and addiction and/or their family members to utilize the services provided on the informational app.

“This is a much-needed tool to find services, but, of course, if there is a life-threatening emergency or crisis, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department for assistance,” he advised.

GOW Opioid Task Force coordinator Christen Ferraro said the group is “committed to finding new ways to make it easier for our residents to tap into community resources.”

Ferraro said the app includes a variety of services in the tri-county area, which can all be found in one place with just one click.

“This truly is a simple way to find help for those that may be struggling,” she said.

The app provides links to 24-hour assistance call lines, detox services, the PAARI (Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative) Program, Naloxone (Narcan) training, self-help meetings, medication and sharps drop box locations, as well as inpatient and outpatient services in the three counties.

Ferraro noted that the app is now live and free to download, and can be found at both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. To access and download it, search “GOW Opioid Linkage to Care App.”

October 16, 2020 - 5:13pm

New York State’s allocation of 400,000 COVID-19 testing kits provides a much-awaited boost to municipalities, but still doesn’t answer the question of who will be responsible for administering these tests to students and others in need of rapid coronavirus laboratory analysis.

A pair of executive directors of state organizations issued a joint statement to that effect earlier this week, and their thoughts were supported today by Paul Pettit, director of the Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments.

Sarah Ravenhall, executive director of the New York State Association of County Health Officials, and Stephen J. Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, applauded the distribution of the testing kits, calling it “a welcome step toward the goal of implementing a robust and successful school testing program in counties implementing the state’s Cluster Action Initiative.”

But the availability of these materials isn’t enough, they said, posing the unresolved question: “Who will provide the staff and resources necessary to administer the tests?”

Their statement asserted that many county health departments have numerous school districts in their jurisdictions and not enough licensed and trained staff to handle the workload.

“Test kits are just one part of a much larger array of essential resources that must be deployed to make this work,” they said. “Additionally, we have significant concerns about the capacity of our communities to implement this plan. Local health departments have been working in concert with community-based organizations since the pandemic began, and many of these organizations are at, or even beyond, full capacity.”

Pettit said he agrees with “the essence of the press release … as we are encouraged by the long overdue movement to provide rapid testing in our counties. As we have been sharing since the beginning of COVID in our communities, we have lacked adequate and affordable/free testing for our residents.”

The provision of these machines and kits solves part of the problem, Pettit said, “but leaves many unanswered questions around the capacity and ancillary support to provide them.”

“We again find ourselves with new testing requirements pushed upon us (20 percent of the school population testing if in a 'yellow zone’) without a full understanding of the details of the new requirements and a lack of support and capacity to meet them,” he said. “We have reached out to our community partners and health care providers to discuss the best approach to receiving and implementing a county testing program that will provide the free access points that we’ve been seeking.”

Pettit added that his agency is talking with school officials about coronavirus testing requirements.

“Ultimately, our goal is to have this free rapid testing available from many locations for county residents who need testing for any variety of reasons, including school-based symptom screening, state required testing to visit long-term care facilities, and symptomatic individuals.”

Ravenhall and Acquario are calling upon the state to provide financial support to carry out its directive.

“We cannot rely on local partnerships alone to meet our needs,” they stated. “Any plan to implement robust testing in our schools must include adequate state resources -- and withholding funds from localities will only make this monumental task even more difficult.”

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that schools in the state’s precautionary “yellow zones” will receive the rapid testing kits, with the 400,000 kits being the first batch.

Starting today, “yellow zone” schools must test a fifth of the student population, staff members and teachers on weekly basis. Schools in “orange” and “red” zones are required to teach students through remote learning only. Currently, none of the schools in Genesee and Orleans counties are in any of the aforementioned zones, Pettit said.

April 24, 2020 - 12:55pm

From the Genesee & Orleans County Health Departmenta:

Deer ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They will cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs, usually no more than 18-24 inches off the ground. They also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods and around old stone walls.

Deer ticks cannot jump or fly, and do not drop onto passing people or animals. They get on humans and animals only by direct contact. Once a tick gets on the skin, it generally climbs upward until it reaches a protected area.

“It’s important for you and your family to learn how to prevent a bite, how to remove a tick, and what to do if you think you could have a tick-borne disease,” said Sarah Balduf, Environmental director for the Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments.

In tick-infested areas, your best protection is to avoid contact with soil, leaf litter and vegetation.

“As we continue to balance the implications of COVID-19 and working to enjoy outdoor activities, remember to follow Governor Cuomo’s 10-point New York State on PAUSE Plan, including that individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact and avoid activities where they come in close contact with other people,” said Paul Pettit, director for the Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments.

For more information about the New York State on PAUSE Plan click here.

However, if you garden, hike, camp, hunt, work, or otherwise spend time in the outdoors and maintain appropriate social distancing, you can still protect yourself:

  • Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.
  • Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
  • Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors.
  • Consider using insect repellent.
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
  • Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls.
  • Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be on you.
  • Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day (also check children and pets), and remove ticks promptly.

What About Insect Repellent?

Consider using insect repellents registered with the Environmental Protection Agency:

  • DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) can be applied to exposed skin. Products that contain 20 percent or more DEET can provide protection that lasts up to several hours. Use the lowest concentration of DEET that you will need for the length of time you will be outdoors.
  • Picaridin is a colorless, nearly odorless ingredient that can be applied to exposed skin in a range of 5 to 20 percent of the active ingredient.
  • Permethrin: Clothes, shoes and camping gear can be treated or purchased pretreated with permethrin. Its protection can last through many washes.Neverapply permethrin to skin. The New York State Health Department recommends taking these precautions when using repellents that contain these active ingredients:
  • Store out of the reach of children and read all instructions on the label before applying.
  • Do NOT allow children to apply repellents themselves.

What Can I Do To Reduce Ticks In My Yard?

  • Keep lawns mowed and edges trimmed.
  • Clear brush, leaf litter and tall grass around the house, and at the edges of gardens and stone walls.
  • Stack woodpiles neatly away from the house and preferably off the ground.
  • In the fall, clear all leaf and garden litter, where ticks can live in the winter, out of your yard.
  • Keep the ground under bird feeders clean so as not to attract small animals that can carry ticks into your yard.
  • Locate children’s swing sets and other play equipment in sunny, dry areas of the yard, away from the woods where ticks can be abundant. For more information on Lyme disease, contact your local health department or refer to the NYS Department of Health website.

Also Consider These Important Facts:

  • If you tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants, be aware that ticks will climb upward to hidden areas of the head and neck, so spot-check clothes frequently.
  • Clothes can be sprayed with DEET or treated with permethrin. Follow label instructions carefully.
  • Upon returning home, clothes can be put in a high temperature dryer for 20 minutes to kill any unseen ticks.
  • Any contact with vegetation, even playing in the yard, can result in exposure to ticks. Frequent tick checks should be followed by a whole-body examination and tick removal each night. This is the single most effective method for prevention of Lyme disease.

How Can I Safely Remove a Tick?

If you DO find a tick attached to your skin, do not panic. Not all ticks are infected, and your risk of Lyme disease is greatly reduced if the tick is removed within the first 36 hours. To remove a tick:

  • Use a pair of pointed tweezers to grasp the tick by the head or mouth parts right where they enter the skin. DO NOT grasp the tick by the body.
  • Pull firmly and steadily outward. DO NOT jerk or twist the tick.
  • Place the tick in a small container of rubbing alcohol to kill it.
  • Clean the bite wound with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Monitor the site of the bite for the next 30 days for the appearance of a rash. If you develop a rash or flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately. Although not routinely recommended, taking antibiotics within three days after a tick bite may be beneficial for some persons. This would apply to deer tick bites that occurred in areas where Lyme disease is common and there is evidence that the tick fed for more than one day. In cases like this you should discuss the possibilities with your doctor or health care provider.

For information on Health Department services in Genesee County contact:

  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website.
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