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January 19, 2023 - 2:43pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, GOW opioid task force, GO Health.

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Attitudes toward substance use disorder and words that reflect those attitudes can have a tremendous effect on the recovery process of those struggling with addiction.

“Stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace and that (disgrace) is a pretty powerful word,” said Diana Padilla, a longtime behavioral health specialist who was in Genesee County on Wednesday to present a training seminar for social workers and providers at the Alexander Recreation & Banquet Facility.

Padilla, in her 90-minute “Reducing Stigma in Our Communities” presentation, provided tools for counselors to counteract the negative connotations associated with substance use and mental illness.

A research project manager at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, Division of Substance Use Disorders, Columbia University Medical Center, Padilla communicated that stigma against people with substance use disorders can create barriers to treatment, such as an increase in shame and isolation from family, friends and community, and treating those with addiction as criminals.

She bemoaned the fact that the healthcare and judicial systems have not fully recognized that substance use disorder is an illness, and that recovery is possible.

“Stigma can lead to more substance use disorder and people can lose hope,” she said. “It really becomes a vicious cycle.”

Padilla said she has seen how health insurance companies and the law continue to view substance use disorder as a “result of a moral weakness and flawed character.”

She noted that some providers blame the individual for causing the problem and will reject treatment coverage, which can lead to substandard, non-science-based care.

When it comes to mental health treatment, Padilla said statistics show that stigma prevents 40 percent of people with anxiety or depression from seeking medical help, and affects people in treatment even when their mental health problem is a distant memory.

To combat stigma, she encouraged counselors to utilize “people-first language” in their interactions with their clients:

  • Speak or write the person first, then the disability, i.e., Sam is a “person with a disability,” or “Sheila is visually impaired…”
  • Emphasize abilities or accomplishments, not limitations.
  • When communicating about a group, “individuals with disabilities.”
  • Allow and expect that individuals with disabilities will speak for themselves.
  • Be careful not to idealize people who have disabilities as being brave simply because they have a disability.

In recent years, there has been a shift toward supportive and affirming language used by public health professionals, she said.

“By using the term, substance use disorder (instead of substance abuse or addiction), it meets a diagnostic criterion,” she said.

Padilla promoted “trauma-informed care” as a key component to successfully reaching someone with substance use disorder and/or mental illness.

She referred to the Adverse Childhood Experience study that reveals a direct link between traumatic experiences at an early age to subsequent alcohol and drug problems. According to the ACE study, 64 percent of adults have faced one adverse childhood experience (emotional, physical or sexual abuse) and 40 percent have faced two or more adverse childhood experiences.

“A person with four or more ACEs is five times more likely to develop substance use disorder,” she pointed out.

It is important for counselors to understand the impact of traumatic events upon their clients’ lives, Padilla said, and to adhere to the guiding principles of trauma-informed care – safety, transparency, peer support, collaboration, empowerment and cultural, historical and gender issues.

“Empowerment, giving the client a voice and a choice, can make a huge difference,” she said. “We should support those choices even when we don’t totally agree.”

In closing, Padilla shared that people are more likely to get treatment and recover when their families, friends, providers, and communities support them without judging them.

“We can choose supportive, respectful, and nonjudgmental words that treat people with respect and compassion,” she said.

The training seminar was hosted by the GOW Opioid Task Force and Genesee County Health Department and supported by the HEALing Communities initiative.

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for GCASA.

Submitted photo: The Genesee County Health Department and GOW Opioid Task Force sponsored a "Reducing Stigma in Our Communities" training on Wednesday. From left are presenter Diana Padilla, Emily Penrose and Paul Pettit of the health department, Christen Foley of the task force and Jennifer Rowan of the health department.

January 9, 2023 - 4:07pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, GOW opioid task force, GO Health.

Press release:

padilla_2.jpgDiana Padilla, research project manager at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, Division of Substance Use Disorders, Columbia University Medical Center, will be the keynote speaker at a “Reducing Stigma in Our Communities” training in the Village of Alexander.

The session is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Alexander Recreation & Banquet Facility on Route 98.

Hosted by the GOW Opioid Task Force and Genesee County Health Department, the training is designed to help healthcare and social services professionals, as well as members of the general public, learn how to identify and address stigma surrounding opioid use disorder and improve access to services in the Genesee Region.

Padilla, photo at right, has worked in the field of behavioral health for more than 24 years. Her experience includes service provision to communities with substance use, HIV/HCV, trauma and stress, and other psychosocial conditions.

In her capacity as a research project manager, she develops curriculum and is a senior staff trainer for the Northeast & Caribbean Addiction/Prevention Technology Transfer Centers.

Using a cultural and recovery oriented perspective, Ms. Padilla instructs on how to enhance strategies and interventions to best engage and meet the needs of substance using communities, LGBTQ+ people, diverse and other traditionally underserved populations.

Her areas of expertise include culturally and linguistically responsive services, trauma informed care, community disparities, racial stigma, social determinants of health, and affirming and inclusive best practices with clinical, non-clinical and peer support professionals.

Registration deadline for the free training is Jan. 12. Lunch will be provided.

To register, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/reducing-stigma-in-our-communities-training-tickets-500138155687

December 21, 2022 - 10:25am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, PAARI, GO Health, GOW opioid task force.

Deaths from drug overdoses, many of them involving fentanyl, are on the rise, and all neighborhoods – urban and rural – are at risk.

Officials of public safety agencies and the health department in Genesee County say they are united in their effort to provide the support needed to those struggling with substance use disorder through the Public Safety Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative.

“The City of Batavia Police Department is determined to do our part in the fight against the opioid epidemic in our city and region,” Chief Shawn Heubusch said. “To that end we continue to partner with the GOW Opioid Task Force to support programs such as PAARI, where anyone suffering from addiction can come to our department, any time day or night, and get connected to a professional for assistance.”

The Genesee County sheriff, Le Roy Police chief, City of Batavia fire chief and Genesee County public health director echoed Heubusch’s sentiments – with each official affirming their agency’s participation in PAARI.

PAARI is a valuable partnership between local public safety agencies, Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and the Genesee County Health Department. This resource is available so that residents who are suffering from substance use and want to seek help, can access a safe place in the community at all hours, without judgment or legal implications.

“The PAARI program provides residents with the support that they need when they are ready to seek help and treatment,” Public Health Director Paul Pettit said. “Our partners are trustworthy, compassionate people who want to get our residents that are struggling the help that they need and connect them to the resources available.

“We know that the holidays can be a difficult time for some, but know that you are not alone. There are people in the community that care about you and want to help you.”

Pettit said that 15 Genesee County residents died from an overdose in 2020, and in almost all of those cases fentanyl was involved.

“Since then, at least 17 additional community residents have died from an opioid overdose,” he added.

Sheriff William Sheron Jr. said his office “stands ready to assist in any way possible those individuals and families who are combatting addiction.”

“Addiction can affect anyone, anytime.  We are available; our doors are always open, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Please do not hesitate to reach out and together we can work to overcome addiction within our communities,” he said.

Batavia Fire Chief Josh Graham said his department will continue to partner with the other agencies in PAARI to provide a safe place where anyone suffering from addiction can come to help.

“When I first learned about the PAARI program within the City of Batavia Fire Department, I was immediately impressed with the idea,” he mentioned. “Doing everything we can to aid in the fight against opioids is imperative.”

Peer advocates at GCASA are available at all hours to assist those who utilize the PAARI program, said Melissa Vinyard, a certified peer recovery coach and someone in recovery.

“My fellow peers and I get the opportunity to go reach out and offer a hand to help those who suffer with SUD,” she said. “For that, I truly believe we are responsible. It is my privilege to give back to our community what was so freely given to me.”

Residents seeking treatment or prevention services can also access the GOW Linkage to Care App. The free app is available for download on the App Store and Google Play by searching “GOW Opioid Linkage to Care.”

The Genesee County PAARI locations are as follows:

  • City of Batavia Fire Department, 18 Evans St., Batavia, (585) 345-6375.
  • City of Batavia Police, 10 West Main St., Batavia, (585) 345-6350.
  • Genesee County Sheriff, 165 Park Rd., Batavia, (585) 345-3000.
  • Le Roy Police, 3 West Main St., Le Roy, (585) 768-2527

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist at GCASA.

November 7, 2022 - 9:11pm
posted by Press Release in Lung Cancer Awareness Month, health, GO Health, news.

Press release:

November is designated as Lung Cancer Awareness Month, a global effort to reduce stigma for a disease that affects both smokers and non‐smokers and takes more lives annually than breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers – combined.

Smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer, but lung cancer can occur in people that have never smoked. Other risk factors include being exposed to secondhand smoke, having a family history of lung cancer, exposure to asbestos, and exposure to radon gas. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an estimated of 21,000 Americans die from radon-related lung cancer every year.

The leading cause of lung cancer amongst non-smokers is radon exposure. Radon is a clear, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that is naturally found in the Earth. Radon dissolves in groundwater and forms pockets under homes and buildings. The primary method of radon exposure is through cracks in home foundations, new or old. In fact, one-fifth of all houses in the United States have dangerous levels of radon. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if you smoke and live in a home with high radon levels, your risk for developing lung cancer significantly increases. 

Homes with a radon level over 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/l) need to be evaluated by a Certified Radon Mitigator to determine the type of radon reduction system that may need to be installed.  “By knowing your home's radon level and reducing it if necessary, you can protect yourself and your family,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).

Testing for radon is fast and inexpensive and is the only way to determine the radon levels in your home. GO Health encourages residents to test for radon when buying a home, doing a major renovation, every 2 years if there is a mitigation system installed or every 5 years otherwise. When purchasing a new house, make sure the seller completes a radon test kit and has the results available.  If you are building a new home, make sure to have radon-resistant construction features installed and tested prior to moving in.

You can purchase a short-term radon test kit from your local hardware store or through a radon-testing laboratory. For more information about radon visit, https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/radiological/radon/radon.htm. For more information about radon or other GO Health programs and services, visit www.GOHealthNY.org.

October 28, 2022 - 8:08am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, GO Health, genesee county, health department.

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There was no tin or aluminum present when Genesee and Orleans County officials celebrated a decade-old relationship, but it might have been proper, given the description of the two-county health system.

Gifts have been tin or aluminum for such 10-year bonds, as the metals traditionally symbolize strength and resilience. 

A proclamation to commemorate the occasion did include a gold seal and description that aptly translated to those two character traits. It states that residents of both counties have “benefited fiscally and operationally,” and that staff of both health departments “worked cohesively to fill workforce gaps, provide natural redundancy, drive efficiencies and look at innovative ways to advance collaborations” since an agreement was signed on Oct. 1, 2012.

Working as integrated departments, both were able to manage the needs, surges, tests and vaccinations, plus provide updated information to the public, during those crucial times of the pandemic, it states.

Perhaps most importantly, the proclamation — signed by Genesee County Legislature Chairwoman Rochelle Stein and Orleans Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson — calls on their respective citizens to celebrate by “helping our families, friends, neighbors, co-workers and leaders better understand the value of public health, and integrated services.”

In doing so, there would also be an understanding of how this connection supports "great opportunities" as officials acknowledge  "GO Health's accomplishments over these last 10 years and into the future."

The event was conducted in Genesee County’s chambers as members of Orleans County participated via Zoom.

Being able to count on such a merged relationship has meant a lot to Genesee County, Stein said.

“It is absolutely an incredible service to this community,” she said.

Photo of Genesee County Legislature and GO Health members courtesy of Steven Falitico.

May 28, 2021 - 4:51pm

Press release:

GO Health Departments will be on the road with Pop-up Clinics. The Pfizer vaccine is approved to vaccinate anyone 12 years old and older against coronavirus. All clinics are now available for walk-in and registration.  

“The Pop-up Clinics are a great way for our residents to conveniently get vaccinated," said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for GO Health. "The clinics have been running very smoothly and residents seem happy that they don’t have to travel very far to get their vaccination.”

Pfizer, J & J and Moderna clinics offer walk-in opportunities; however, we encourage you to register via the links below and choose the vaccine that best works for you to guarantee your dose, better space your appointment time, and make your check-in process easier. 

For those who do not have internet they can call the GO Health Vaccine Registration Help Lines:  

  • Genesee:  (585) 815-7168
  • Orleans:  (585) 589-3170

These lines are ONLY to make vaccine appointments, are not able to answer COVID-related questions, and are not associated with either Health Department.  

“This is a great opportunity for more people to get vaccinated and will help us enjoy activities this summer with fewer restrictions,” Pettit said. “There continue to be plenty of options to get any of the three vaccines offered.”

If you are a business/church/organization that is interested in hosting a vaccination clinic at your location, please fill out the survey:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GOHealthPopUpVaccineClinicOne of our staff members will be in contact with you.

For those who are seeking testing, both health departments provide limited free rapid testing for those without symptoms at the respective Health Departments.

For Genesee County, a free rapid test drive-through clinic is scheduled for Thursday, June 3rd from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. at County Building #2, 3837 W. Main St. Road, Batavia. To register for testing for the Genesee Test Clinic: http://bit.ly/GeneseeTests.

For Orleans County, a free rapid test clinic is scheduled for Wednesday, June 2nd from 10 to 10:30 a.m. at the Orleans County Health Department at 14016 Route 31 West, Albion. To register for the Orleans Test Clinic: https://bit.ly/OCHDRapidTest.

Tuesday, June 1 

1-5 p.m.

Six Flags Darien Lake / Human Resources -- 1501 Sumner Road, Corfu

J&J: Walk-ins & Appointment

http://bit.ly/JanssenDarienLake

Wednesday, June 2

1-4:30 p.m.

Genesee County Health Department -- 3837 W. Main Street Road, Batavia

Moderna: Walk-ins & Appointment

http://bit.ly/Moderna1Genesee

J&J: Walk-ins & Appointment

http://bit.ly/JanssenGenesee

Thursday, June 3

4-6 p.m.

Orleans County YMCA -- 306 Pearl St., Medina

Pfizer: Walk-ins and Appointment

http://bit.ly/OrleansYMCAPfizer

J&J: Walk-ins 

Saturday, June 5 

12-1 p.m.

Genesee County Health Department, 3837 W. Main Street Road, Batavia

Pfizer: Walk-ins and Appointment

http://bit.ly/Pfizer1Genesee

May 26, 2021 - 11:06am
posted by Press Release in news, GO Health, COVID-19, joint website launch.

Press release:

In collaboration with Newbird, Buffalo and funding from The Kresge Foundation, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) are pleased to announce the launch of the new joint GO Health website.

“As chief health strategists for Genesee and Orleans Counties, GO Health has been building our cross-jurisdictional relationship to become consistent in our messaging and reflect our joint working relationship through our social media platforms and now through the branding of the GO Health logo and our new website,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for GO Health.

“This effort has been in the works for almost a year and a half in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe having a joint website will not only save time and resources, but be easier for our residents to access our forms, data and timely updates.”

There are two ways to access the new website:  www.GOHealthNY.org or by going to the respective county websites and choosing Public Health.

May 3, 2021 - 11:00am
posted by Press Release in COVID-19, covid-19 vaccine, immunization clinic, news, GO Health, GCC.

Press release:

This week the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) have "One & Done" single dose Johnson & Johnson Janssen (J&J) vaccination clinics with appointments and walk-ins available targeting those who are 18 and older and open for any New York State individuals, who reside, work or study in the state.

“With proms, graduations, weddings, fairs, etc., getting the J&J vaccine now means that two weeks after the date of your shot you are considered fully vaccinated,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for GO Health.

“It takes more planning to get the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as they are two doses and it will take two weeks following the second dose to be fully vaccinated, which would be 5-6 more weeks before you can participate in large events without the time and expense of testing.

"To learn more about the safety of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine please visit the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). We encourage everyone to talk with their primary care provider if they have concerns about any of the vaccines. With the options we currently have we continue to encourage everyone who is able to get vaccinated with the vaccine they are comfortable receiving.”

All clinics offer walk-in opportunities; however, we encourage you to register via the vaccination webpage or use the vaccine registration help lines below, and choose the appropriate J&J link.

  • The GCC clinic is scheduled for Wednesday, May 5th from 9 – 11 a.m.  
  • Special Clinic -- Genesee County Office for the Aging, Downtown Batavia is scheduled for Wednesday, May 5th from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. 
  • The Ridgeway Fire Hall clinic is scheduled for Thursday, May 6th from 9 – 11 a.m. 
  • Special Clinic -- Orleans County Health Department is scheduled for Friday, May 7th from 10 a.m. – noon.

For those who do not have internet, they can call the GO Health Vaccine Registration Help Lines:  

  • Genesee:  (585) 815-7168
  • Orleans:  (585) 589-3170

These lines are ONLY to make vaccine appointments, are not able to answer COVID-19-related questions, and are not associated with either health department.  

“We continue to see positive cases in unvaccinated individuals and it will continue as we work toward getting more of our population vaccinated,” Pettit said. “There are plenty of options to get any of the three vaccines offered. For your health and the health of others we encourage everyone who is able to be vaccinated to get vaccinated now.”

If you are interested in making an appointment to get your COVID-19 vaccination, now is the time to do it locally!  

If you are a business/church/organization that is interested in hosting a vaccination clinic at your location, please fill out the surveyOne of our staff members will be in contact with you.

For those who are seeking testing, both health departments provide limited free rapid testing for those without symptoms at the respective health departments. For Genesee County, a rapid test drive-through clinic is scheduled for May 6th at County Building #2, 3837 W. Main Street Road, Batavia. For Orleans County, a rapid test clinic is scheduled for May 5th at the Orleans County Health Department at 14016 Route 31 West, Albion.

To register for testing go to the GO Health testing page and choose your preferred clinic location.

April 26, 2021 - 4:36pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19 vaccine, GO Health, COVID-19, vaccination clinics, news.

Press release:

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) have first-dose Moderna vaccination clinics with appointments available targeting those who are 18 and older and open for any New York State individuals who reside, work or study in the state.

“We have first-dose Moderna vaccination clinics scheduled on Tuesday, April 27th at the Ridgeway Fire Hall, Route 104, Medina; and on Wednesday, April 28th at the Athletic Center at Genesee Communiyt College Batavia Campus Center,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for GO Health.

“These clinics are open to anyone who is 18 and older. We want to see all of these clinics filled up with those who can also commit to returning for the second dose of the Moderna vaccine 28 days later."

Walk-ins will be accepted at both clinics from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Currently in New York, being fully vaccinated will begin to offer opportunities that have been limited for the past year. Anyone who is fully vaccinated (two weeks after the J&J vaccine or the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna) will be able to participate in various activities without having to be tested for entry for events such as professional sports, weddings with more than 100 guests, proms, graduations and more.

Also, when fully vaccinated, the individual will not have to quarantine if they are exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Most importantly, you are protecting your health along with others you come in contact with.  

Visit the vaccination webpage at https://bit.ly/GOHealthVaccine. Choose either the GCC Moderna Clinic or the Orleans Moderna Clinic button and follow the directions. Keep the link handy, as there will be other clinics moving forward.

The buttons are live when we have that particular vaccine available. If the clinic is full or we do not have vaccine, it will show "No Appointments Available." Please share this information with family, friends, coworkers and social groups.

For those who do not have internet they can call the GO Health Vaccine Registration Help Lines:

Genesee: (585) 815-7168

Orleans: (585) 589-3170

These lines are ONLY to make vaccine appointments, are not able to answer COVID-19-related questions AND are not associated with either Health Department.

If you are interested in making an appointment to get your COVID-19 vaccination, now is the time to do it locally!

If you are a business/organization, have 50 or more people that is interested in hosting a vaccination clinic at your location, please fill out the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GOHealthPopUpVaccineClinic

For those who are seeking testing, both health departments provide limited free rapid testing for those without symptoms at the respective Health Departments. For Genesee County, rapid test drive-through clinics are scheduled for April 27th and 29th at County Building #2, 3837 W. Main Street Road, Batavia. For Orleans County, rapid test clinics are scheduled for April 28th and 30th at the Orleans County Health Department at 14016 Route 31 West, Albion.

To register for testing go to the GO Health testing page: https://orleanscountyny.org/covid19testing/ and choose your preferred clinic location. Follow the directions.

April 7, 2021 - 3:14pm
posted by Press Release in National Health Week, GO Health, COVID-19.

Press release:

This is National Public Health Week and this year’s theme is called “Building Bridges to Better Health. ”This is the time to recognize the contribution of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving the health of our community.

“Public health has been at the forefront this past year due to the highly visible response of COVID-19,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).

“However, public health has been promoting, protecting and preventing illness and disease in our communities along with our community partners for many years.” 

The GO Health team reminds everyone to take a moment to think about your health and the health of our community. Although COVID-19 has been the primary focus this past year, it is also important to remember to prioritize preventative health measures such as: 

  • Cancer screenings for breast, colorectal (colon), prostate and skin;
  • Regular well-being and well child visits;
  • Blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol tests.

It is also important to prioritize your own physical and mental health by: 

  • Eating a well-balanced diet;
  • Engaging in daily exercise (walking, running, dancing, taking the stairs, biking);
  • Avoiding tobacco/nicotine use and excessive alcohol use;
  • Getting at least eight hours of sleep each night;
  • Participating in activities you enjoy;
  • Connecting with others, even if we are physically apart.

GO Health hopes that with these reminders, we can work together to build a stronger, healthier community where even though we may be physically distant, we are working together to stay healthy and promoting the health of our community. 

“Since it is National Public Health Week, I would like to take the time to thank our GO Health team and community volunteers for their dedication and commitment to our community over the past year,” Pettit said. “We celebrate and recognize you for your perseverance and resilience during such a challenging time in public health.”

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