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GO Health reminds public about diabetes prevention

By Press Release

Press Release:

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

People with prediabetes — higher-than-normal blood glucose (sugar) levels — are 5 to 15 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with normal blood glucose levels. In fact, many people with prediabetes can be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within 5 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Genesee County Health Department has reviewed feedback from a recent survey and will be hosting the Lifestyle Change Program starting Wednesday, June 12 from 5 - 6 p.m. at the Town of Oakfield Community and Government Center, 3219 Drake Street Rd., Oakfield. 

If your healthcare provider told you, you have prediabetes or are at risk of prediabetes; if you have been told you are overweight; if you have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes; if you had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or given birth to a baby who weighed over 9 pounds; this program may be for you.

The Lifestyle Change Program group meets for a year — weekly for the first 6 months, then once a month for the second 6 months to maintain healthy lifestyle changes. The program’s group setting provides a supportive environment with people who are facing similar challenges and trying to make the same changes. Together participants celebrate their successes and find ways to overcome obstacles.

“One in three American adults has prediabetes, so the need for prevention has never been greater,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “The Lifestyle Change program offers a proven approach to preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes through modest lifestyle changes made with the support of a coach and one’s peers.”

Participants learn how to eat healthy, add physical activity to their routine, manage stress, stay motivated, and solve problems that can get in the way of healthy changes.

Now is your time to take control of your health and lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Register for the class now to claim your seat for better health: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GeneseeNDPP2024 , e-mail sherri.bensley@geneseeny.gov, or call 585-344-2580 x5528.

For more information on GO Health programs and services, visit GOHealthNY.org or call your respective health department at: 

  • Genesee County: 585-344-2580 ext. 5555
  • Orleans County: 585-589-3278

Follow GO Health on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at GOHealthNY. 

Resources:

Healthy Neighborhoods program to be going door to door in Batavia

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Health Department receives funding from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) to carry out the Healthy Neighborhoods Program (HNP). Residents in the Town and City of Batavia are eligible to participate. 

The program offers free home evaluations for asthma triggers, indoor air quality, lead-based paint hazards, fire risks, and other health hazards. At the home evaluations, residents are educated on asthma management, childhood lead poisoning prevention, carbon monoxide poisoning, radon gas, fire safety and prevention, and other home safety issues. Safety and cleaning supplies are also available to eligible participants.

Staff from the program are going door to door in the City of Batavia to raise awareness about the program and look for participants. At the homes we visit, we leave a door hanger or flyer with contact information for the Health Department.

During the spring we are focusing on Ward 1 (north of East Main Street from Vine Street to the eastern edge of the City) and Ward 6 (south of East Main Street from Liberty Street to the eastern edge of the City). We will be covering other areas of the City later in the year.

Information on the streets we are visiting each week will be posted on the Health Department’s Facebook and Instagram account under GOHealthNY.

Go to https://bit.ly/HealthyNeighbors to request a home visit from the Healthy Neighborhoods Program for yourself or to refer someone to the program. Once the Health Department receives the request, a staff member will reach out to schedule a home evaluation. 

For more information, call Healthy Neighborhoods Program staff at 585-344-2580 ext. 5555 or visit www.GOHealthNY.org.

Quality and Quantity: UConnectCare celebrates expansion of services, honors Friends, scholars

By Mike Pettinella
UConnectCare friends
UCONNECTCARE ‘FRIENDS’: Receiving “Friends of UConnectCare” awards for 2024 are, seated from left, Dr. Davina Moss, Erin Martin, Pam Gefell, Gordon Luthart; standing, GO Health staff members Paul Pettit, Sherri Bensley, Emily Penrose and Meghan Sheridan, and Riverview Pharmacy representatives Tammy Kublas and Noah Carpenter. Submitted photos.

Wednesday afternoon’s annual meeting at Terry Hills Restaurant in Batavia may have been the first under the name UConnectCare, but it served as a celebration of the many ways the agency formerly known as Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse is having a positive impact on community health.

Chief Executive Officer John Bennett, speaking to 73 employees, board members and award recipients, outlined a long list of recently added programs that, in his words, “are building access to essential services for those in need.”

“As far as quality of care, I look at two things – our staff and board members who go above and beyond each and every day, and the expansion of our service over the past seven years,” Bennett said.

The agency changed its name to UConnectCare Behavioral Health Services last fall to reflect its work toward implementing programs to reach a wide spectrum of people in the areas of prevention, treatment, recovery, detoxification, supportive living and residential.

In 2023, Bennett said, the agency received three significant grants:

-- A federal Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome II grant for $498,848 from the Health Services and Resource Administration to provide the Healthy Moms/Healthy Babies program to pregnant and postpartum women.

-- A federal Targeted Capacity Expansion Special Projects grant in the amount of $375,000 to provide harm reduction services in the community.

-- A Statewide Health Care Facility System Transformation grant for $985,250 from the NYS Department of Health to improve building capacity in the integrated outpatient treatment program in Batavia.

UConnectCare’s reach, as indicated by the 2023 numbers, is expanding as well, Bennett said, noting that more than 35,000 people were served by the agency’s Prevention department and more than 39,000 counseling visits were provided.

“Furthermore, we had 2,400 visitors at The Recovery Station (on Clinton Street Road), served 339 people in community residence or detox settings, served 1,538 patients in integrated outpatient services and provided 380 childcare sessions,” he said.

FRIENDS OF UCONNECT CARE’ HONORED

Four individuals, a public health agency and a Buffalo pharmacy received “Friends of UConnectCare” awards at the luncheon.

Honorees are as follows:

-- Erin Martin, case manager at Genesee Justice. Nominated by the Batavia clinic, Martin was recognized for her continued service to the agency by helping clients face their legal consequences and by encouraging them to make positive steps toward improving their lives.

-- Gordon Luthart, health teacher at Medina Junior-Senior High School. Nominated by Orleans County Prevention, Luthart, a Marine Corps veteran, was awarded for working with UConnectCare over the past decade to provide prevention education in the classroom.

-- Pam Gefell, mental health therapist for Orleans County Mental Health. Nominated by Orleans County Treatment, Gefell, a former UConnectCare counselor, provides evaluation and counseling services on a weekly basis in Albion for those who have co-occurring (substance use disorder and mental health issues) disorders.

-- Dr. Davina Moss, founder of Positive Direction & Associates, Inc., of Buffalo and creator of The Positive Direction Model. Nominated by Recovery Services, she is instrumental in starting and sustaining the agency’s Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program. Dr. Moss said she shares the award with Jessica Budzinack, coordinator of UConnectCare’s program to help the pregnant and post-natal population.

-- Genesee/Orleans Department of Health (GO Health). Nominated by Genesee Prevention, GO Health partners with UConnectCare on the GOW Opioid Task Force and joined forces with UConnectCare on the HEALing Genesee group over the past 18 months. Both agencies have worked to implement new programs focusing on Naloxone and fentanyl education and medications for opioid use disorder, including the launching of the task force’s Text for Naloxone Line.

-- Riverview Pharmacy, Buffalo. Nominated by Residential/Detox Services, the pharmacy was acknowledged for its reliable and dependable service to those on medication and its communication with UConnectCare’s nursing staff.

UConnectCare scholars
UCONNECTCARE SCHOLARS: UConnectCare Foundation scholars for 2024 are, seated from left, Brianne Amico and Megan Gates; standing, Kenna MacKenzie and Chloe Crossett.

FOUR RECEIVE FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIPS

Three graduating seniors and a Genesee Community College graduate each will be receiving $1,000 scholarships, courtesy of the UConnectCare Foundation.

They are:

-- Kenna MacKenzie, Le Roy High School, who will be attending SUNY Geneseo to major in Psychology.

-- Megan Gates, Kendall High School, who will be attending SUNY Brockport in the Nursing program.

-- Chloe Crossett, Kendall High School, who will be attending SUNY Brockport in pursuit of a degree in Social Work.

-- Brianne Amico, who earned an associate’s degree in human services from GCC before enrolling at SUNY Plattsburgh. She plans to work toward a master’s degree in social work at SUNY Binghamton.

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for UConnectCare.

GO Health encourages public to get homes tested for radon

By Press Release

Press Release:

You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. But breathing in high levels of radon can increase your risk of lung cancer even if you don’t smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and it is estimated to cause over 21,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is the reason it is so important to get your home tested for radon. 

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that seeps into your home through cracks in the foundation, walls, and joints. It can be found in well water and dirt floors. Whether your home has a basement, sits on a slab, is brand-new or old, radon can build up and go undetected.

“Testing your home for radon is one of the easiest preventative health measures a homeowner can take,” stated Darren Brodie, Environmental Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “If your radon levels are low, we suggest you test every couple of years. If your radon levels are high, we can give you information about how to mitigate the radon. Either way, you have made an important step to keep your family safe.”

Testing your home with a short-term radon test kit is a quick and easy way to determine if there are high levels of radon in your home. Short-term test kits can be purchased at your local hardware store or through the New York State Department of Health website.  

For more information on radon or Health Department programs and services, visit GOHealthNY.org or call your respective health department at: 

  • Genesee County: 585-344-2580 ext. 5555 
  • Orleans County: 585-589-3278

GO Health reminds public of responsible contact with wildlife and strays

By Press Release

Press Release:

With the arrival of spring, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) are encouraging residents not to touch wildlife – including baby animals. 

Touching wildlife disrupts their natural behavior as well as poses risks to both human safety and animal welfare. During the spring months, many baby animals are born, and it can be common to encounter these animals. 

However, it is important to remember that wild animals should be left alone. Baby animals, while cute and seemingly harmless, can carry diseases such as rabies. 

Rabies, a viral infection, is spread by direct contact with saliva through cuts on the skin or mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, or eyes. Rabies is mostly seen in wildlife, including raccoons, bats, and skunks. It is essential to remember to keep a safe distance and admire wildlife and stray animals from afar.

In 2023, Genesee County investigated 191 animal bite and rabies incidents, and Orleans County investigated 137. Genesee County submitted 31 animal specimens, and 1 tested positive for rabies. Orleans County submitted 20 specimens, and 1 tested positive for rabies. Both positive tests were raccoons.

“If you come in contact with animals, including baby animals and strays, avoid touching them and call animal control. If you handle a wild or a stray animal or are bitten by one, immediately call the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments,” stated Darren Brodie, Environmental Health Director for GO Health. 

“In the event that you are bitten by an animal, you should clean the wound with soap and water and get medical help right away.”

GO Health recommends the following guidance when encountering wildlife or stray animals:

  • Observe from a distance and avoid contact: Love your own, leave the rest alone. Observing wildlife from a distance decreases the risk of disease transmission. By avoiding physical contact, you are keeping yourself, your family, and your pets safe.
  • Report concerns: If you come in contact with a wild or stray animal, touch a wild or stray animal, or are bitten by a wild or stray animal, immediately seek medical attention and contact the Genesee or Orleans County Health Departments. If you encounter distressed wildlife, or wildlife is showing signs of rabies, immediately contact your local animal control agency. Signs of rabies in an animal may include aggression, excessive drool or saliva, confusion, hair loss, and loss of movement or function. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow GO Health on Facebook, Instagram, and X at GOHealthNY.

GO Health highlights infant immunization week

By Press Release

Press Release:

April 22-29 is National Infant Immunization Week. National Infant Immunization Week is a yearly observation that highlights the importance of protecting infants from birth to two years of age from serious childhood diseases.

Vaccines, a successful public health tool, have greatly reduced infant deaths and disability caused by 14 preventable diseases like measles, mumps, whooping cough, chickenpox, and polio.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on-time vaccinations throughout childhood help provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases. Delaying vaccines leaves children unprotected during the time when they need vaccine protection the most.

“Children who may have missed or skipped vaccinations may be at an increased risk of diseases, which can be serious,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).

“It is important to stay on track with well-child visits and recommended vaccination schedules. Please check with your healthcare provider to make sure your children are up to date on their routine vaccinations.”

For more information about vaccines and the diseases they prevent, visit these resources:

For more information on GO Health’s Immunization Clinics or to set up an appointment, visit GOHealthNY.org. You can also contact your respective health department:

Follow GO Health on Facebook, Instagram and X at GOHealthNY.

GO Health raises awareness on sexually transmitted infections

By Press Release

Press Release:

April 14-20 is Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Awareness Week. This provides an opportunity to raise awareness about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and how they impact our lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sexually transmitted infections, commonly referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are very common. STIs spread through anal, oral, and vaginal sex, and are caused by a virus, bacteria, fungus, or parasite. Sometimes, STIs only create minor symptoms, or they don't cause any symptoms at all. As a result, it is easy to get infected without realizing it. For this reason, if you are having sex, it is important that you get tested for STIs.

Locally, according to the New York State Communicable Disease Electronic Surveillance System (CDESS), in 2023, Genesee County had an increased number of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis cases, compared to 2022 and Orleans County experienced an increase in gonorrhea during this same time period.

A variety of symptoms, including none at all, may occur with STIs. As a result, STIs can be spread unknowingly and this is why it is important to get tested. Delayed treatment can cause serious health effects. STI symptoms could be: 

  • Sores or pimples in the oral or rectal cavity, as well as on the genitalia
  • Painful urination
  • Unusual or smelly discharge
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Discomfort during intercourse
  • Aches in the lower abdomen
  • High temperature
  • Rash on the hands, feet, or trunk

Taking the time to learn about STIs, safe-sex practices, and how to make educated decisions is important in prevention. Here are some ways to prevent STIs:

  • The best defense against STI infection is to avoid all forms of sex (oral, vaginal, and anal).
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about getting vaccinated against Hepatitis B and HPV. Receiving both vaccines can prevent several kinds of cancer. HPV is the most common STI in the country, affecting over 79 million people.
  • Limit sexual partners. The more sexual partners a person has the more at risk of getting an STI.
  • Discuss your partner(s)’ STI status.
  • Use condoms and or other forms of protection.

“As indicated or needed, make sure you routinely test for STIs,” stated Brenden Bedard, Director of Community Health Services for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “Untreated STIs can have effects such as infection, miscarriage, infertility, and an increased risk of cancer. By engaging in preventative measures, you are protecting yourself and your sexual partners.” 

Learn how to prevent STIs for both you and your partner(s). Get help today.

If you are interested in STI testing or want more information:

  • Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Sexually Transmitted Diseases - Information from CDC.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about testing and how to further prevent STIs.
  • If diagnosed with an STI, do not have sex until you and your partner(s) have completed treatment, otherwise, reinfection will occur.
  • If diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis, talk to your provider about Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT). EPT gives providers the option to treat your sexual partners without requiring an examination.

For more information about GO Health programs and services, visit GOHealthNY.org or contact your local health department at:

  • Genesee County: 585-344-2580 ext. 5555 
  • Orleans County: 585-589-3278

Follow GO Health on Facebook, Instagram, and X at GOHealthNY.

Health Department seeking information on dog that bit person in Centennial Park

By Press Release

Press release:

The Genesee County Health Department is seeking information about the location of a dog and its owner following a dog bite incident on Monday, April 1. The incident occurred at Centennial Park (151 State Street) in Batavia, NY. 

The owner was a middle-aged male with a reddish beard and black glasses. The dog involved in the incident was described as a black and tan German Shepard with a harness that was running loose in the park.   

The health department would like to locate the dog as soon as possible to confirm that it is healthy. This would indicate that the rabies virus would not have been transmitted at the time of the bite. 

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

GO Health seeks more information about dog bite in Byron

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Health Department is seeking information about the location of a dog and its owner following a dog bite incident on Sunday, March 31. The incident occurred at Crosby’s (6890 Byron Holley Road) in Byron.

The owner was a male with a medium build. He had two dogs on flex leashes. The dog involved in the incident was described as a mixed breed, mostly white, with long hair, and medium-sized on a retractable leash.

The health department is trying to avoid unnecessary medical treatment for the victim, so it is important to locate the dog. If the dog is identified, the health department will request that the owner confine the dog at their residence for a ten-day observation period to monitor for symptoms of rabies. 

If the dog remains healthy following the biting incident, it is then determined that there was no risk of rabies transmission through the saliva at the time of the bite incident. Post-exposure rabies vaccinations will not be
recommended for the victim. If the status of the dog cannot be identified, post-exposure rabies shots will be recommended to the victim.

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

GO Health warns of vaping dangers and effects

By Press Release

Press Release:

Have you ever wondered why someone vapes even after learning about the dangers and effects from it? 

There are hidden facts behind the range of colors and flavors associated with e-cigarettes. From addictive nicotine to harmful chemicals, the dangers of vaping are real. It is time to clear the air and learn about the risks of vaping.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, heat a liquid to create an aerosol, or mixture of tiny particles in the air.

There are many different names for e-cigarettes, including "electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)," "tank systems," "e-cigs," "e-hookahs," "mods" "vape pens," and "vapes."

The Public Health Law's Article 13-E, sometimes referred to as the Clean Indoor Air Act, has grown in New York State to ban smoking and vaping; and prohibit the sale or distribution of nicotine vapor products with unique flavors, such as e-cigarettes. 

However, the use of e-cigarettes by teenagers is on the rise, and the sale of these devices to teenagers is illegal.

According to the 2021 CLYDE Survey administered in schools in Genesee and Orleans Counties by UConnectCare (formally GCASA), it was reported that 19.7% of 11th graders reported vaping with nicotine in the previous 30 days, and 11.1% reported vaping with marijuana during the same time period.

Vaping is dangerous and can have unknown long-term impacts: 

  • Nicotine is in most e-cigarettes and is extremely addictive. Nicotine can damage adolescent brain development, which lasts into the early to mid-20s. 
  • Youth who use nicotine have a higher chance of developing a substance use disorder.
  • Young people might see vaping as a way to cope with stress or anxiety. Yet, an addiction to nicotine can lead to stress. 
  • Long-term e-cigarette use increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by severely harming the body's blood vessel function. 
  • According to the American Psychiatric Association, having symptoms of depression increases the likelihood of a teen using e-cigarettes. Using e-cigarettes is associated with worsening symptoms of depression.
  • Vaping devices may contain vitamin E acetate. According to research, inhaling vitamin E acetate may cause problems for normal lung function. 

“Unlike cigarettes, vaping is often easy to hide due to its discrete nature, stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “The devices used for vaping sometimes look like USB drives or pens. E-cigarettes also do not have a lingering odor, making it easier for individuals to vape without drawing attention. This causes challenges to parents, teachers, and other authorities to detect and stop vaping.”

Signs that your child or someone you know might be vaping include: 

  • Increased Thirst. Vaping is hydroscopic, which means that it dehydrates the skin of the throat and mouth. People who vape are left with a dry mouth as a result. The body naturally wants a drink to fight dehydration as a result. 
  • Among teenagers, JUULs, which are slim devices that look like USB flash drives, and vape pens that mimic regular pens, are the most popular e-cigarettes. If you come across an odd-looking pen or USB drive, it could possibly be an e-cigarette.
  • Mood swings. After inhaling nicotine, users may get a brief rush, but this feeling quickly wears off making their mood less consistent. 

Get Help Today

If you are interested in quitting, or someone you know needs help quitting, help is available:

Visit the New York State Smokers' Quitline for quit-smoking and quit-vaping programs, or call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487), to apply for a free starter kit of nicotine medications and to talk to a quit coach.

Talk to your healthcare provider about medications and counseling to help you manage cravings. Most health insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover services to help you quit.

For more information about GO Health programs and services, visit GOHealthNY.org or contact your local health department at:

  • Genesee County: 585-344-2580 ext. 5555 
  • Orleans County: 585-589-3278

Follow GO Health on Facebook, Instagram, and X at GOHealthNY.

GO Health urges public to know how to prevent lead poisoning

By Press Release

Press Release:

Did you know lead poisoning is 100% preventable? 

“Lead is a metal that is toxic to our bodies and can cause serious health issues for children who have been exposed,” stated Gabrielle Lanich, Lead Program Coordinator of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “Young children under 6 years old are most at risk for lead poisoning because their bodies are rapidly developing.” 

The health effects of lead poisoning are permanent and can affect a child into adulthood. Childhood lead poisoning can harm the brain and nervous system leading to learning difficulties, lower IQ, difficulty paying attention, organ damage, and at very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal. 

Lead poisoning can also be dangerous for pregnant women because lead can be passed to the baby during pregnancy.

Here are some easy ways to prevent lead poisoning: 

  • Take everyday steps to stay healthy. Eating a well-balanced diet, especially foods high in calcium, iron, and vitamin C can help reduce the body’s absorption of lead. Washing your hands and children’s hands with soap and water several times a day can help limit lead exposure. You should also wash children’s toys, bottles, and pacifiers regularly to avoid exposure to lead dust, and regularly clean your home with a damp cloth, sponge, or mop to minimize possible lead dust. 
  • Check your home for lead. If you live in a home built before 1978 you may consider having your home checked for lead. Our Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming (GLOW) Counties Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) may be able to help you with this. You may qualify for a home lead inspection if your home is in the GLOW area, was built before 1978, and a child under 6 lives there or spends more than 6 hours a week there.
  • Renovate lead safe. Homes built before 1978 are more likely to have lead-based paint that can be disturbed when renovating. If you are renovating, repairing, or painting a home built before 1978, use a Lead-Safe Certified contractor. If you are planning on doing your own work, use lead-safe work practices to protect both you and your family. For tips on how to be lead-safe when renovating visit https://www.epa.gov/lead/lead-safe-renovations-diyers. Also, our GLOW Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program may be able to renovate for you. Contact the Genesee County Health Department to see if you qualify.
  • Get your child tested. The only way to find out if there is lead in a child’s blood is to take them for a blood lead test. There are no obvious signs or symptoms of lead poisoning, that’s why it’s important to get them tested. Children should be tested at ages 1 and 2. Talk with your pediatrician to determine if your child should be tested further. GLOW CLPPP is able to offer transportation to lead testing at no cost for parents or guardians and children under 6 years old. Contact the Genesee County Health Department to determine if you are eligible for this service.

For more information or to learn more about our programs contact the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580 ext. 5555 or Health.GOlead@co.genesee.ny.us. You can also visit GOHealthNY.org.

GO Health’s goal is to protect, connect, thrive during National Public Health week

By Press Release

Press Release:

The goal of National Public Health Week (April 1-7) is to recognize the contributions of public health and its workforce as well as highlight issues that can improve the health and well-being of our communities. This year’s public health theme is Protecting, Connecting, and Thriving: We Are All Public Health.

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) take steps daily to protect our communities, connect with our partners, and help the citizens of our communities thrive. 

We support and implement programs and interventions that address emerging health issues and topics including but not limited to chronic diseases, suicides, substance use disorders, overdose deaths, communicable diseases, maternal and child health, a safe environment, and social determinants of health. 

We build strong and effective working relationships with community and healthcare partners and strive to make our communities as healthy as they can be. 

“We are proud to serve the residents of Genesee and Orleans Counties,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for GO Health. “To mark National Public Health Week, we would like to thank our dedicated team at GO Health and our partners for their contributions to enhancing the well-being and quality of life of our residents.”

As individuals, families, communities, and public health workers, we are all interconnected and when we come together, we can achieve the goals of a healthy and thriving community. 

GO Health invites residents of Genesee and Orleans Counties to celebrate National Public Health Week by participating in activities that promote personal well-being and foster a healthier, safer community. 

Some suggestions include:

  • Try to eat more fruits and vegetables. Drink more water. 
  • Be active. Find a new activity that you enjoy doing.
  • Commit to getting enough sleep. Adults should get at least 7 hours a night of sleep.
  • Quit smoking and vaping. Call the New York State (NYS) Quitline at 1-866-697-8487 for more information.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make sure you are up-to-date on routine screenings for colorectal (colon) cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer.
  • Make sure you and your children stay up-to-date on routine immunizations.
  • Stay away from wildlife, including injured animals and pets that are not yours, to reduce your risk of rabies. Love your own, leave the rest alone.
  • Keep your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccination.
  • Get your children tested for lead at ages 1 and 2. The only way to find out if your children have been exposed to lead is through a blood test.
  • Ensure your children visit their pediatrician regularly for well-child visits to track their growth and development.
  • Create a family emergency plan and build an emergency supply kit.
  • Learn how to administer Naloxone (Narcan), a nasal spray that can be used to reverse an opioid overdose. Narcan is available for free from the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force by texting “Kit” to 1-877-535-2461.
  • To support your mental health, connect with others. Make time for the important relationships in your life. If you need help, reach out to the Care & Crisis Line at 585-283-5200.
  • Focus on self-care. Practice mindfulness, meditate, or try yoga to help relieve stress.

For more information on GO Health programs and services, visit GOHealthNY.org or call your health department at:

  • Genesee County: 585-344-2580 ext. 5555
  • Orleans County: 585-589-3278

Follow GO Health on Facebook, Instagram, and X at GOHealthNY.

Go Health reminds public about the importance of testing for radon

By Press Release

Press Release:

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year and approximately 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. 

“Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that seeps into your home through cracks in the foundation, walls, and joints. It can be found in well water and in dirt floors. Whether your home has a basement, sits on a slab, is brand-new or old, radon can build up and go undetected. Testing your home can prevent serious health risks” stated Darren Brodie, Environmental Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).

According to the Lung Association’s State of Lung Cancer Report, an estimated 13.9% of New York radon test results equal or exceed the EPA Action level of 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). 

Nationally, 21.8% of homes are at or above the action level. Through New York State testing, Genesee County has been identified as having a high average indoor radon screening level greater than 4 pCi/L.

New York State does not require homes to undergo radon testing prior to being sold and awareness about the importance of radon testing among potential homeowners may be limited. 

As a result, it falls on the buyer to ask about the property’s radon test results as part of the sales contract or to request that a radon test be conducted if it has not been completed within the past two years.

Here are some things to consider when negotiating a home sales contract: 

  • Who will conduct the radon test? 
  • What type of test should be done?
  • How will the results be shared?
  • If mitigation is necessary, due to an elevated result, who will pay?

If the home has been tested for radon, find out from the seller, who conducted the test, where in the home the test was taken, and when the test was completed. 

If the home has a radon reduction system already installed, make sure you get all the information about the system from the seller before the final sale.

If you are building a home, be sure to discuss radon-resistant features and costs with your contractor. Your contractor has the opportunity to construct a radon-resistant home easily and economically. 

It is more cost-effective to install radon-resistant features while building a home than to install a radon-reduction system in an existing home.

For more information about radon, contact the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580 x5555 or Health@co.genesee.ny.us.

Resources:

ILGR to host Transition Planning Workshop for students with disabilities

By Press Release

Press Release:

Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR), working with the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) and the New York State Department of Special Education is hosting a workshop “Transition Planning: Life After High School”.  

Designed for the young people living in Genesee or Orleans County between the ages of 13 and 21 with a disability or special health care need and their parents, it will take place from 9 - 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 30 at the ILGR office, 319 West Main Street at the Crickler Executive Business Center in Batavia.

Attendees will gain information on how to plan for life after high school. Learn what questions to ask, ideas for Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), options, supports, and services that are available for them. A light breakfast will be provided.

Seating is limited and pre-registration is required by calling April Fearby, Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) Program Specialist at 585-815-8501, extension 401, or emailing her at afearby@wnyil.org.

“This event is funded by the New York State Department of Health using federal Health Resources and Services Administration Title V funding. The opinions, results, findings, and/or interpretations of content contained therein are the responsibility of the Contractor and do not necessarily represent the opinions, interpretations, or policy of the State or Federal funding agency.”

Go Health reminds public about checking measles vaccination status

By Press Release

Press Release:

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

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

Measles is typically brought to the United States by unvaccinated people who contract the virus by traveling to other countries. However, measles outbreaks are occurring more regularly in the United States. 

In 2024, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported measles cases in 16 states including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. 

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases and is easily spread through the air when an infected person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. The virus can stay in the air and on surfaces for many hours, even after the infected person has left the area. 

Infected people can spread measles to others from 4 days before through 4 days after the rash appears.

Measles symptoms typically include: 

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

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

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

If you haven’t completed the MMR vaccine series and are traveling soon, there is still time to receive a vaccination to protect yourself and your loved ones against the virus. 

One dose of the MMR vaccine is about 93% effective and two doses are about 97% effective at preventing measles.

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

For more information on GO Health programs and services, visit GOHealthNY.org or call your health department at: 

  • Genesee County: 585-344-2580 ext. 5555
  • Orleans County: 585-589-3278

Follow GO Health on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at GOHealthNY.

GO Health provides information during Colorectal Cancer Awareness month

By Press Release

Press Release: 

Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Colon cancer occurs when cells in the colon or rectum grow uncontrollably. 

Abnormal growths, known as polyps, can occasionally develop, and certain polyps may eventually develop into cancer. Polyps can be found by screening tests and be removed before they become cancerous. Colon cancer is preventable, with the proper screening and education.

Some of the risk factors for colorectal cancer include: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The most effective way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is to get screened for colorectal cancer routinely, beginning at age 45. Residents are also encouraged to increase their physical activity, keep a healthy weight, limit alcohol consumption, and avoid tobacco. Although more research is needed to understand why, the incidence of colorectal cancer is growing among people younger than 50. If you have concerns about this, speak with your healthcare provider.

For more information on Health Department programs and services call Genesee County Health Department at 585-344- 2580 ext. 5555 or visit their website at GOHealthNY.org. Follow GO Health on Facebook, Instagram, and X (formally Twitter) at GOHealthNY.

With half of $1.6M grant spent, GO Health needs extended deadline to expend what's left

By Joanne Beck
Paul Pettit

Public Health Director Paul Pettit has an unusual problem, given the perception of a spend-happy climate of many municipal entities these days.

He has only gone through about half of a $1.6 million COVID-19 grant issued to the department for purchases to prevent and deal with COVID-related illnesses. 

Pettit just received another in a line of grant amendments from New York State to be able to spend down the remaining funds on needed items, he said. The last extension was given until Dec. 31, 2023. 

“So this is the COVID funding. They basically have extended it through July 31 of this year from when it was supposed to expire on December 31. So, you know, currently, we're not spending much of it. Obviously, we are still purchasing some test kits, and we're getting requests for PPE, emergency preparedness supplies and wastewater supplies, which we've been spending the money on, but we believe this will be the last extension. We have about $800,000 left in the grant, I guess it's the last tranche,” Pettit said during Monday’s Human Services meeting. 

“I mean, they've kicked it a few times now to this point. Obviously, you know, the CDC changes recommendations were made, and I think the state will probably be adopting those here sometime this week. So you know, I think it's time to move on. I mean, it's helpful to purchase certain supplies with (the money) for sure. This kind of boom bust cycle we see a lot of times with emergency preparedness dollars, you get an event, you get a lot of money, you buy these things and they sit on a shelf and expire, unfortunately, before you need them again," he said. "So, you know, we're trying to balance, obviously, what we can buy that's not potentially going to expire, and expendables, so that we can be prepared for potentially what may come.”

New York State doled out various grants in the thick of the pandemic and beyond to enhance COVID-19 prevention and response measures, including this funding that went to GO Health for purchases of personal protective equipment, testing kits and other resources that, as Pettit said, do not have a short expiration date that would render the items useless in quick time. 

The federal government pulled $2.6 trillion from its wallet in response to COVID-19 and spent $1.6 trillion in fiscal year 2020. In July 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul freed up $387 million for COVID relief efforts statewide for everything from encouraging New Yorkers to test early and often, getting them vaccinated and boosted, and readying stockpiles of PPE and 20 million tests ready to deploy.

Legislator Brooks Hawley wanted to know how the county health department was spreading the word about such resources being available locally.

“How do you get this out to the community? I went to Rite Aid, and they’re still selling test kits for $30 at a time,” Hawley said.

Test kits are available in the front of County Building #2 on Route 5 in the town of Batavia, Pettit said. They do have expiration dates, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to stockpile those types of supplies, he said. 

“We’ve done different press releases on them before that they're available. We'll get referrals and calls back, you know, people will call, we try to get out as best we can. The demand has started to drop off. Obviously, as we're getting into the spring, our case numbers are down as far as prevalence in the community. So I think it's kind of running its course,” Pettit said. “Unfortunately, a lot of those have expiration dates, so it's kind of a hard one, you don't want to stock up on a bunch of them, because they're gonna expire anyway. But, I mean, if people are looking for them, they're right up front at County Building 2 and at different locations throughout the winter for people to pick up.”

The remaining COVID-19 enhanced detection grant funds of $1,601,284 now have until July 31 to be spent. 

GO Health warns of increased encounters with wildlife

By Press Release

Press Release:

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

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

Rabies is most often found in wildlife such as raccoons, bats, and skunks, but pets can be at risk of the virus too. “If you see an animal in need, even if it is a baby animal, avoid touching it and contact animal control, stated Darren Brodie, Environmental Health Director for GO Health. “It is also important to keep your pets up to date on their rabies vaccination.”

Rabies can be fatal if left untreated. It can be transmitted through direct contact with saliva through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth. 

If you are bitten by an animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water and seek medical attention. All bites should be reported to the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. 

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

  • Keep your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations
  • Obey leash laws. Keep your pets under direct supervision and on a leash so they do not come in contact with wild or stray animals. If an animal bites your pet, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact the health department.
  • Avoid contact with wild or stray animals. Do not handle, feed, touch, or attract wildlife (raccoons, skunks, bats, bunnies, rabbits, and foxes) or stray dogs and cats.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. 
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters. If you find a bat in your home, safely capture it and call the health department. DO NOT release it! For a video on how to safety capture a bat, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puP8qbATPKg
  • Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood or if you see an animal showing signs of rabies. Signs of rabies in animals may include aggression, excessive drool or saliva, confusion, hair loss, and loss of movement or function.

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

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

  • Thursday, May 16, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 8, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 10, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

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

  • Saturday, April 13, from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, June 5, from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 10, from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, October 19, from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.

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

  • Genesee County- 585-344-2580 x5555 or Health@co.genesee.ny.us 
  • Orleans County- 585-589-3278 or OCPublicHealth@orleanscountyny.gov 

HUD awards $1.1M to GO Health with improved home safety in mind

By Joanne Beck

A federal Housing and Urban Development grant of more than $1.1 million for Genesee Orleans Health Department will put money right into the homes that need help to combat everything from infectious pests and noxious materials to fire hazards and ventilation obstructions, says Kaitlin Pettine, director of Health Promotion.

The grant of $1,182,681 was announced this week as part of a larger $39 million package for 15 states, including three recipients in New York counties of Albany, Madison and Genesee.

Families can own or rent a residence and would qualify by having some type of health and safety hazard, Pettine said. They would be assessed for radon, lead, mold, fire, trip, fall and fire hazards, ventilation and pest issues, asthma triggers, and “anything else that can reduce health and safety for residents,” she said.

“Funding from the program will be used to hire contractors and purchase supplies to remediate hazards found in the home,” she said to The Batavian Wednesday. “Many of these families disproportionately face disease and injuries in the home because of housing-related health hazards but are unable to remediate the hazards themselves. The ability to fix these health and safety hazards will help families, especially children, older adults, and people with disabilities, to live healthier, safer, and more independently in the home.” 

For example, radon can negatively affect one’s health, and GLOW counties have a high average indoor radon level, she said. This program may help to mitigate that substance in those eligible homes. 

Once a household qualifies, staff would then complete a “Healthy Homes” inspection, and if problems are detected, staff would complete a scope of work and coordinate with contractors to finish the project. Owner-occupied residents and landlords with eligible tenants are able to apply for the program.

“Another example would be if a ramp is needed for a resident to safely get up porch steps,” she said. “The grant may be able to help pay to get a ramp installed to prevent fall hazards.”

Pettine expects the local program to begin in mid-April for the GLOW region, as it is open to Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming county families that meet low-income eligibility of at or below 80 percent of the area median income level. It will run for 42 months, and GO Health staff is hoping to renew the grant for another term after this one ends, she said. 

“We are pleased so many local and non-profit leaders are interested in participating in this grant program in order to make the homes of low-income people safer and healthier,” HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said in a press release. “Our partners are acting to intentionally address home health and safety hazards, and HUD is proud to support them.” 

Officials said that these investments will protect low-income families and children by eliminating significant health and safety hazards in more than 2,400 homes nationwide, including 55 families in the GLOW region, provide resources to build capacity for healthy home interventions and support the development of local workforces to hire housing renovation contractors and healthy housing practitioners to complete critical healthy homes work.  

For more about GO Health's community health services, go to www.GOHealthNY.org.

Lead, wastewater analysis and grant programs all part of GO Health annual report

By Joanne Beck

Public Health Director Paul Pettit took a deep breath before launching into his annual report for Human Services Committee members Monday, covering everything from lead and radon poisoning to drug and virus wastewater analysis, skyrocketing preschool transportation costs, and some good news for Genesee and Orleans counties’ accreditation progress.

The  GLOW-based health department will be working from a $1.3 million grant for the next five years to detect homes with radon, mold and lead and remediate them for safer, healthier places for families — children in particular — to live. 

That program adds to a heavy advertising initiative to educate folks about the potential presence and dangers of lead in older homes. The department uses technology that can evaluate paint layer by layer — even six and seven layers deep — to sense if there is lead present, Pettit said. 

“Do you get a lot of calls to do this?” Legislator John Deleo said.

“We do,” Pettit said, underscoring that by telling the group there were 31 cases of children this past year with elevated blood levels of lead. 

The warning level has been a five, which the Centers for Disease Control just lowered to 3.5, he said. New York State has yet to catch up with that rating.

“New York State has not adopted that yet. But that is under discussion and consideration. If it does, that will increase the potential action in need, you know, for kiddos that may be poisoned, and we’ll need to go in and do more work within the homes,” he said. “So basically, if it's above five, we provide education information, but we don't really get involved from the action level on the environmental, the home side.”

Other funding measures have included a $10,000 grant for radon education, homeowners were reimbursed $145,857 through 2023 for a septic repair program, and a $250,000 grant will go toward a GLOW region interactive healthy neighborhoods program that runs through 2028.

The department also received a federal HUD lead educational and remediation grant of $2,455,000 to be used through 2028, and $248,266 from the Centers for Disease Control for lead education and assistance to homeowners, to be used through 2026; a $95,514 annual Healthy Neighborhoods grant for the city and town of Batavia through 2027; and $131,738 from the CDC for infrastructure, namely for staff retention and development. 

The department has been collecting data from wastewater for analysis about the types and amounts of opioids and various drugs used here and has been doing the same for viruses of COVID, flu, and RSV. The public can actually go online to the health department’s website and see the results of the virus collection to see a resident county's current status. 

When it comes to finances for the department, preschool transportation is taking much of the heat. The bill was $862,000 to bus those kids this past year, and “we will probably be pushing $1 million for busing preschool” this year, he said. Costs for transportation and center programs have been on the rise as an "underfunded mandate," he said.

“One of the drivers that’s really expensive is that more kids get referred.  You probably saw on the governor's proposal, she's proposing a 5 percent rate increase across the board. And then there's a 4 percent rider for rural counties, which we would fall under that bucket. So that'd be a 9 percent rate increase for early intervention,” he said. “And this is one of those programs that, again, we don't have a lot of control over the services that are provided … we do sit at those meetings, we send someone to all the meetings to have a voice, but ultimately it's a full committee decision on what services are provided, and then we are the payer. That's the way the system is set up in New York. You don't get full decision, but we pay the bill locally.” 

He shared enthusiasm for this year’s push to get the department nationally accredited with the Public Health Accreditation Board. (See also GO Health pursues national accreditation.) 

“So it's national standards. We haven't been accredited. We have not. We had about 93 percent of all of our measures fully and partially met in the initial push last fall. So they just want a little bit more,” he said. “We're close. Staff, I think, wants to get there. I want to get there. It's been a long ride. COVID slowed us down. And we're close, I think we'll get there pretty soon.” 

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