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April 28, 2022 - 12:48pm
posted by Press Release in health, health department, news.

Press release:

According to the 2022 County Health Rankings, released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI) Genesee and Orleans Counties rank 38th and 54th respectively in overall Health Outcomes.  The Rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

“As Chief Health Strategists, we use the County Health Rankings to help us identify factors that are important for residents to live long and healthy lives and understand how we compare to other counties in the state.  With this knowledge, we work collaboratively with our partners to improve the health of our community,” stated Paul Pettit, Director of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).  “The county with the lowest score (best health) gets a rank of #1 for that state and the county with the highest score (worst health) is assigned a rank corresponding to the number of total counties ranked in each state.  New York State has 62 counties.”

The rankings are broken into to two main categories, Health Outcomes, which include the length of life and quality of life, and Health Factors which include health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. 

The 2022 County Health Rankings findings are:

  • Genesee County ranked 38 in Health Outcomes and 16 in Health Factors in 2022 as compared to 43 out of 62 counties for Health Outcomes in 2021, a decrease in rank as compared to 2022 and 28 in Health Factors a decrease from 2021. 
  • Orleans County ranked 54 in Health Outcomes and 55 in Health Factors in 2022 as compared to 60 in Health Outcomes in 2021, a decrease in rank as compared to 2022 and 53 in Health Factors an increase in rank from 2021. 

 “The County Health Rankings show us that where people live plays a key role in how long and how well they live,” stated Pettit. “The Rankings allow local leaders to clearly see and prioritize the challenges they face — whether it’s rising premature death rates or the growing drug overdose epidemic — so they can bring community leaders and residents together to find solutions.”

According to the 2022 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in New York State starting with most healthy are Putnam, followed by Tompkins, Saratoga, Nassau, and New York. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy are Bronx, Sullivan, Cattaraugus, Montgomery, and Chemung.   

“The County Health Rankings show how Genesee and Orleans Counties rank on factors that influence its overall health ranking,” said Pettit. “For example, Genesee County had a decrease in preventable hospital stays from 4,748 in 2021 to 3,354 in 2022. Genesee County also had a decrease in adults smoking from 23% in 2021 to 19% in 2022.   Orleans County had a decrease in the percentage of adults who smoked from 25% in 2021 to 21% in 2022. Additionally, Orleans County had a decrease in the percentage of adult obesity from 37% to 32%.”

Even with the above mentioned positive trends, both counties continue to have challenge areas and are still struggling with health factors specifically with obesity (Genesee – 33% / Orleans – 32%), adult smoking (Genesee – 19% / Orleans – 21%), and local access to clinical care for primary care physicians, dentists and mental health providers.  Although the numbers for adult smoking did decrease for both counties, we are still above the top U.S Performers at 15% and New York State at 13%. 

The Rankings have become an important tool for communities that want to improve health for all.  Working collaboratively with community partners in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties (GOW), Genesee and Orleans counties are currently working on the GOW 2022-2024 Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan to determine the New York State Prevention Agenda priorities to focus on over the next three years.  We analyze the Rankings along with New York State data and community input from the Community Health Assessment survey and Community Conversations with various community groups and county residents.  If you have not completed a survey you can access the English survey online here or the Spanish survey online here.

For information on Health Department services contact,

  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580 ext. 5555 or visit their website at www.GOHealthNY.org.  Visit Facebook and Twitter at GOHealthNY for both.
  • Orleans County Health Department at: 589-3278 or check out their website at:  www.GOHealthNY.org.  Visit Facebook and Twitter at GOHealthNY for both.
January 10, 2022 - 11:59pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, COVID-19, health department, Paul Pettit.
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If you have been confused or concerned by the flurry of shifting, revised, questioned and debated pieces of information out there for dealing with COVID-19, one solution is pointing straight at you.

Do your research, talk to your own healthcare provider and self-report when diagnosed with the virus, says Paul Pettit, director of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. 

“Any time you have conflicting messages out there it does create confusion … who should they be listening to and why. We want people to be informed. It’s ok for people to question things, we want them to get the most factual information and make a decision based on that. Ultimately, everybody’s individual health care should be discussed with their doctor,” Pettit said during a livestream interview Monday with The Batavian.

Pettit suggests that people check out the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and their own state and county health departments to make informed decisions. He’s not forcing any one answer on people, but asking that they acquire factual knowledge before making decisions about how to deal with COVID-19. 

Omicron, the latest — and apparently greatest variant in terms of infectious ability — may account for 85 to 90 percent of all positive cases in rural areas, Pettit said. There have been some 500 cases diagnosed locally just this past weekend alone, he said. Due to the quickly climbing numbers, the health department is changing the way it has handled contact tracing; it will be more of an individual responsibility for those 19 to 64 years of age, he said.

“It has to do with the extreme spread across the state. We just cannot keep up with the isolation and quarantine,” he said. “We’re trying to triage a response. We can’t get to all these contacts, we’re trying to use our resources the best we can.”

As of Monday, the system will depend on people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who already tested positive, to self-report online. Go to www.GOHealthNY.org and choose the red COVID-19 Isolation & Quarantine Information button to be directed to the isolation and quarantine documents. For those who have tested positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by NYS via email or text. Once you are notified of your positive results by the lab or NYS, immediately self-isolate and notify your close contacts of their potential exposure. For those that test positive in the 19-64 age group, follow the general directions that NYS provides for isolation and quarantine and contact your healthcare provider for medical advice.

For those in schools or congregate settings who are under the age of 18 and over the age of 64, contact tracing will continue as capacity allows, he said. 

Although the omicron variant is highly infectious and has caused breakthrough cases for a lot of vaccinated people, there is an upside, Pettit said. 
“The good news is that it’s not as severe,” he said. 

More cases and less severe does not mean ignoring a diagnosis. People should still heed the five-day isolation rule when their lab result is positive, he said. He has heard from many people that they have symptoms resembling a cold or mild flu, and are also known to the omicron variant: coughing, fatigue, a scratchy throat. He tells them all the same thing.

“The only way to verify (that it’s COVID-19) is to have a test,” he said. “Don’t go to work that day, don’t send your kids to school.”

Genesee County is just under 60 percent for those fully vaccinated, which is “pretty close to our counterparts in the rural region,” he said. The health department is fully stocked with vaccines and booster shots, and people just have to call and make the appointment. A much lower rate of Genesee County residents — 28 percent — have gotten their boosters, which have been shown to be “very effective” at preventing illness and slowing down the potential severity of the virus, he said. 

Interviewer Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian, shared his own experience after receiving the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine and, a six months afterward, the booster. He had direct exposure to someone who later that day was symptomatic and then diagnosed with COVID-19. Owens quarantined for five days and tested negative with no symptoms. He believes that’s a testament to the protection of the vaccines, he said. 

It’s that kind of personal responsibility that the health department is urging.

“We’re going with more of an honor system. We want people to be responsible, make those decisions and do their part to eliminate Covid within their communities,” Pettit said. “Our data is clearly showing that it prevents severity. With spread so high, we can all do our part. If out in public, put the mask on … more of the well-fitting masks. We’re encouraging people to go out and get their booster shots. Stay home, especially if you’re symptomatic. Hopefully, we’re going to start to see those numbers come down.”

To reiterate Pettit's press release issued last week, if you test positive for COVID-19:

  • Isolate for 5 days, where day 0 is the day of symptom onset or (if asymptomatic) the day of collection of the first positive specimen.
  • If asymptomatic at the end of 5 days or if symptoms are resolving, isolation ends and the individual should wear a well-fitting mask while around others for an additional 5 days.
  • Individuals who are moderately-severely immunocompromised should continue to follow standard (i.e., not shortened) Isolation Guidance.
  • Individuals who are unable to wear a well-fitting mask for 5 days after a 5-day isolation should also follow standard isolation guidance (i.e., 10 days, not shortened)
  • Quarantine (for those who have had close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19)
  • Quarantine as follows, where day 0 is the last date of exposure:
  • If not fully vaccinated or fully vaccinated and eligible for a booster but not yet boosted, quarantine for 5 days and wear a well-fitting mask while around others for an additional 5 days.
  • If fully vaccinated and boosted (with the booster at least 2 weeks before the first date of exposure) or not yet eligible for a booster, no quarantine is required but these individuals should wear a well-fitting mask while around others for 10 days after the last date of exposure.
  • If possible, test at day 5 with either a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT, e.g., PCR) or antigen test.
  • If symptoms appear, quarantine and seek testing. In this situation, quarantine would end when the test is negative. If testing is not done, isolate according to the guidance above.
  • Quarantine orders and releases are also included on the GOHealthNY.org website for you to complete and provide to your employer/school.

For COVID-19 data please visit the NYS site: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-data-new-york.


December 3, 2021 - 4:45pm
posted by Press Release in genesee county, Orleans County, news, health, health department.

Press Release from Genesee and Orleans County Health Department:

The smell of the evergreen trees, the taste of warm hot cocoa, and the cheerful Christmas songs are some lovely things that bring family and friends together during this festive season. With cold weather moving people indoors, there is also an increased risk of the spread of illnesses such as the flu , also known as influenza. However, there are ways to lower your risk of getting sick with the flu. National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is December 5-11, 2021. NIVW is an annual observance in December to remind everyone that there is still time to get vaccinated against the flu to be protected during the upcoming winter and holiday months. “You can protect you and your family members by getting vaccinated against the flu each year,” said Paul Pettit, Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. “The vaccine lowers the chance of getting you and those around you sick with the flu. We also encourage those that have not received the COVID-19 vaccine, to get vaccinated as soon as possible ahead of the Holidays.” The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. Experts say that flu viruses are spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. The runny nose, sore throat and slow development of symptoms which are common for a cold, are not as common for the flu which tends to appear suddenly and includes a fever, body aches, chills, fatigue, chest discomfort and cough. Although a cold can be a bother, you usually feel much worse with the flu and sometimes influenza’s complications could be deadly.

Everyone 6 months or older should get a flu vaccine every year. It's best to get the flu vaccine early in flu season, ideally by the end of October. That way, the body develops antibodies in two weeks’ time which provides protection from the influenza virus. You might wonder, is it too late to get vaccinated? The simple answer is no. “Getting the vaccine later is better than not getting it at all,” said Mr. Pettit. “Once you have the flu vaccine, research shows that the vaccination reduces the risk of severe illness if you do get the flu.”

Below are the number of reported flu cases for Genesee and Orleans Counties since 2018 according to the New York State Department of Health. You will notice that there was limited flu in 2020-2021 because people were practicing public health precautions such as frequent hand washing, social distancing, limiting social gatherings, wearing face coverings, and staying home when ill. In addition, less germs were spread because people were staying home and limiting their contact with people outside of their household as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Flu seasons are unpredictable every year, so there is a new flu vaccine developed to potentially provide protection for the viruses that are considered to have the most potential to cause serious illness. As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination should continue throughout the flu season in order to protect as many people as possible. If you have not received your annual flu vaccine this year, now is the time! It generally takes 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine for your body to develop immunity.

Talk with your primary care provider or visit your local pharmacy to get the flu vaccine. To make an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the GO Health website: https://gohealthny.org/covid-19-vaccine-information/.

If you want to see weekly flu updates, you can use the NYS Flu Tracker:

https://nyshc.health.ny.gov/web/nyapd/new-york-state-flu-tracker. For more information about Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments, visit www.gohealthny.org. You can also visit Facebook at: Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments, Twitter, and Instagram: @GoHealthNY


September 9, 2021 - 11:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in health department, news.

Press release:

The Community Health Assessment (CHA) is a document required by public health law that identifies the key health needs and issues of the community through systematic, comprehensive data collection; community conversations; and analysis. The current CHA includes Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties (GOW) and covers three years (2019-2021). All three health departments along with our community partners will be starting the process of developing the new CHA that will encompass the years 2022-2024. 

The Community Health Assessment is developed using a collaborative process of many partners throughout the GOW region. Local hospitals including Rochester Regional Health at United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC), Orleans Community Health (OCH), and Wyoming County Community Health System (WCCHS) along with the Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming (GOW) County Departments of Public Health work collaboratively with county residents and community based organizations of the GOW Counties to develop the assessment. 

“The Community Health Assessment provides us with comprehensive information about the health status, needs and issues that are facing the residents living in our communities,” stated Paul Pettit, Director of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “The information in this assessment helps us develop our Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) and helps direct where our resources should be allocated to best meet the needs of our communities.” 

We are seeking feedback on our current Community Health Assessment to help inform the next version of the CHA and welcome any comments and suggestions from community residents and our partners. Here is the link to the current CHA (https://gohealthny.org/go-health-news/) and the feedback survey can be found at the gohealthny.org website or https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GOWCHAFeedbackSurvey.  

August 19, 2021 - 8:16am
posted by Press Release in anti-rabies clinic, health department, news.

Press release:

Rabies is a deadly but 100% preventable viral disease of mammals that is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. 

Each year, the vast majority of rabies cases are reported occurring in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. “It is very important to get your pets vaccinated and not to touch or handle any stray or wild animals including baby animals and bats,” stated Paul Pettit, Director of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).  “Remember not to touch animals out in public as they may be scared and bite or scratch out of fear.”

Bats can occasionally find their way into houses, which most often occurs during the summer nights. What should you do when you find a bat in your home? It is extremely important to safely capture the suspected animal if it has or may have been in contact with people, pets or livestock so it can be tested for rabies. If the bat cannot be captured, you should call the health department for advice and next steps. If you are certain that the bat did not come in contact with a person or pet, close the room and closet doors, open the windows and watch the bat until it leaves your house.

In some situations, it is possible that a bat bite could go undetected. For example, when a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person or a bat is found next to an unattended young child. 

“If the bat is available for testing and the test results are negative, post-exposure treatment will not be needed,” stated Pettit. Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis is recommended for all persons with a bite, scratch or mucus membrane exposure to a bat, unless the bat is available for testing and is negative for evidence of rabies. 

To safely capture a bat:

·       Turn on room lights and close all the windows.

·       Close the room and closet doors.

·       Wait for the bat to land.

·       While wearing thick leather-like gloves, place a coffee can, pail or similar container over the bat (Never handle a bat with your bare hands).

·       Slide a piece of cardboard under the container to trap the bat. 

·       Firmly hold the cardboard in place against the top of the container, turn it right side up and tape the cardboard tightly to the container. 

By avoiding contact with stray or wild animals, saving the bat or animal that may have had contact with humans or domestic animals, and reporting an incident to your local Health Department, we may be able to avoid unnecessary medical treatment that averages over $3,000.00 per person. As a pet owner, if you see your pet bite someone or know that your pet bit someone, please report it to the health department so we can get rabies verification. This will help avoid unnecessary medical treatment for the victim.  

Please take note of our upcoming FREE drive-thru anti-rabies immunization clinics for dogs, cats, and ferrets in Genesee and Orleans Counties. 

Orleans County: Orleans County Fairgrounds (12690 RT. 31, Albion, NY)

·      October 2, 2021, from 9:00-11:30 a.m.

Genesee County: Genesee County Fairgrounds (5056 East Main Street, Batavia, NY)

·      September 16, 2021, from 4:00-7:00 p.m.

·       October 14, 2021, from 4:00-7:00 p.m.

August 15, 2020 - 2:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in anti-rabies clinic, health department, video, pets.
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At one point Thursday, cars lined up for free rabies shots for their pets were backed up on Route 5 and a deputy was dispatched to assist with traffic control.

Sarah Balduf, environmental health director for Genesee County, said it was a larger than normal turnout for the rabies clinic and that cars started lining up at 2:30.

Staff members started processing paperwork and vaccinating pets as soon as they were set up, ahead of the 4 p.m. start time, which helped workers keep up with the stream of cars coming through the fairgrounds.

August 3, 2020 - 4:26pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GOW opioid task force, health department.

Press release:

COVID-19 may have temporarily put a stop to large gatherings, but the coronavirus pandemic is no match for the GOW Opioid Task Force’s commitment to informing the public of the dangers of opioid drug use and ways to prevent potentially deadly overdoses.

“Our Overdose Awareness Day is not able to be held this summer due to social distancing guidelines and restrictions on the use of parks, so we will be transitioning to an online event,” said Christen Ferraro, task force coordinator. “All the information that would have been shared at Austin Park in Batavia will be put on our Facebook page.”

Ferraro added that the task force plans to post – on a regular basis throughout August -- articles, videos, local data and stories from individuals that have been affected by an overdose.

Genesee/Orleans Public Health Director Paul Pettit, a member of the task force, said he is well aware of the widespread impact of the opioid epidemic.

“Any loss of life is devastating to a community,” he said. “The effect is far-reaching as it devastates the family system – economically as a number of financially productive years are lost and emotionally as no dollar amounts can equal the loss of a life due to addiction.”

Pettit said that setting aside a period of time, be it a month or a day, to remind people of the various issues surrounding opioid use is important.

“There are so many services available for those experiencing addictive behaviors or are experimenting with various substances, and we encourage people to use those services before it is too late,” he said.

Ferraro also advised that another virtual opioid overdose prevention and Narcan training is scheduled for Aug. 26, with sessions at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The training will cover the disease of addiction, a brief history of the opioid crisis, signs and symptoms of opioid use and overdose, the overdose reversal drug Narcan and the administration of Narcan.

Attendance is required at just one of the sessions for the participant to receive credit for the course.

“Those completing the training will learn more about how to prevent an opioid overdose and will receive a free Narcan nasal spray kit,” Ferraro said. “It is important to bring awareness to this day and the impact an overdose can have on an individual, their families and the community.”

The registration deadline is Aug. 24. To register, contact Ferraro at [email protected]

For more information and to see the event flyer, go to Facebook.com/gowopioidtaskforce.

March 3, 2020 - 5:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in food safety, business, health department, notify.

The county Board of Health may soon adopt a new policy that will require establishments and events offering prepared foods to have at least one supervisor or server on hand who has completed a certified food safety course. The aim is to better protect the public from the transmission of disease during food handling.

The 60- to 90-minute course costs from $10 to $15 and will provide the person taking the course with information on the safe preparation, storage and handling of food.

"The goal, really, is to make sure Genesee County residents are as safe as they can be, so they don't have to worry when they go out and eat in restaurants or establishments that serve food," said Paul Pettit, director of the Health Department. "We want to make sure they're providing the safest meals possible. It's about protection and prevention."

The new food safety requirement will apply both to established restaurants and temporary food stands, such as you find at community events, fundraisers, carnivals and the fair.

Businesses and groups serving food will not be required to ensure every cook and server take the course, only that at least one person working during any period where food is being served to the public, or during preparation, have a certificate of completion for the course. 

While some online courses set an expiration date on the certification, the county's rules will honor any certificate proving a person has taken a course, even if it is printed with an expiration date.

The Board of Health is appointed by the Genesee County Legislature and is the policy-making body for food safety rules in the county. The board has been discussing the proposed rule at recent meetings, Pettit said, and he expects the board to approve the policy change.

Businesses and community organizations will have at least a year to comply.

The policy will apply to any food service that is required to have a Health Department permit to serve food.

The course covers such things as the temperatures necessary for properly storing food, hot or cold, how hot to cook food, especially meats, and properly handling food.

"If they don't cook the chicken until it's falling off the bone, or 165 degrees, which is the correct temperature, we may have a problem," Pettit said.

One of the biggest worries in food safety is the transmission of hepatitis A, which can happen when people serving food handle it with their bare hands (hepatitis A is transmitted from fecal matter). There have been incidents of hepatitis A outbreaks as recently as last year in Erie County. That's why even a community event where pizza is served by untrained volunteers is a concern, Pettit said.

Pettit said the same policy has been in place in Orleans County for 10 years and hasn't proven onerous for businesses nor community groups. It has also been implemented in several other Upstate counties. It's also a requirement of federal food regulations and New York is one of the last states not to adopt those standards in its own statewide regulations. That is something Pettit said is likely to change very soon.

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October 9, 2019 - 11:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in child lead poisoning, health department, news, batavia.

County health officials are still waiting on details from the federal government on a $1.3 million grant awarded to Genesee County and Orleans County for lead-hazard abatement and reduction in older homes.

At a meeting of the Human Services Committee last week, Paul Pettit, director of the health departments in both counties, said the first he learned that the counties had received the grant was by reading about it in The Batavian.

Since then, he's received a phone call confirming the grant but formal guidelines have not yet been delivered to his office.

"This is a significant amount of funding to come into Genesee County and to Orleans County and it would really help us to help those who don't have the means and the funds potentially to fix the problem," Pettit said in an interview last week.

Pettit's office applied for the grant over the summer.

The grant will enable the health departments to identify housing stock with potential lead hazards and make available grant money to the property owners to remediate the hazard.

"This funding is very important because what it does is, it allows, number one, a potential partnership with the homeowners or rental landlords to be able to fix a problem before a child gets poisoned and have funding available to remediate those homes prior to the poisoning occurring," Pettit said. "So when you look at it from a primary prevention standpoint, that's what we want to do. We want to try to prevent a child from getting poisoned in the first place."

The grants will be available to both homeowners and landlords of residences built prior to 1978 in three of the four census tracks in the City of Batavia and one census track in Albion.

Until the guidelines are in place, Pettit said it's not possible to provide details on how properties will be identified, inspected and what the criteria will be for providing assistance to property owners.

"We're gonna have to stand this program up fairly quickly when we get the formal announcement of the funding," Pettit said.

Health department staff has recently been through training for lead risk-assessment certification, Pettit told the Human Services Committee.

He also told the committee there is legislation pending in Albany that would require landlords with housing built prior to 1978 to receive annual lead-safe certification for their units, unless they made the property lead free, which would mean doing likes like removing trim, replacing windows, installing siding on the outside of the building.

"We do not want to see any child poisoned from lead exposure," Pettit said. "It can lead to developmental delays and other health impacts that could affect them over their entire lives. It's very important to identify and find these hazards early and then protect the children so they're not getting lead poisoning."

March 5, 2019 - 5:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in health department, news, notify.


New York's proposed budget for the coming fiscal year includes several public health policy changes that health officials support, Paul Pettit, director of Health Services for Genesee County, told the Human Services Committee during a department review Monday.

But the changes don't necessarily come with flexible or increased funding to help pay for the programs.

This could create new unfunded mandates for the county.

Providers for the Early Intervention Program haven't received a raise in 20 years and the governor's budget includes a 5-percent increase in the reimbursement rate but the burden for the additional expense will fall largely on the county.

"Providers have been loaded with additional administrative responsibility without additional resources and funding resulting in a continued exodus of providers, creating waiting lists, especially in rural areas like Genesee County," Pettit said.

The state is also looking at changes in residential lead monitoring programs. Currently, pediatricians able to conduct blood test for lead poisoning rates -- though not all pediatricians provide this service and not all parents take advantage of the service -- and those results are reported to a state database. County officials are then able to identify children with higher levels of lead in their system. A five-part level leads to a health worker contacting the family to provide education and information on best practices to avoid lead poisoning.  

Action to remediate exposure to lead isn't required for the property owner -- whether the family is renting or owns the home -- unless a level of 15 mg/dL is detected.  

The state is proposing lowering the rate -- thereby prompting more costly intervention -- to 5 mg/dL. This would mean an additional 50 to 60 inspections each year for the county with no additional funds from the state to cover the costs.

The Preschool Supportive Health Program remains the department's most expensive locally supported program, Pettit said. The state has been slow to provide mandate relief. There is a shortage of providers and reimbursement rates set by the state are not competitive. 

"This shortage creates a waiting list for children who have been identified as needing our providers," Pettit said.

There needs to be changes in the program, Pettit said.

The state's county health directors continue to work with the governor's office on these and other issues, Pettit said, in an attempt to bridge the gap between mandates and funding.

December 8, 2018 - 2:08pm

Press release:

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Department’s Early Intervention Program will be hosting a meeting of the Local Early Intervention Coordinating Council (LEICC). The meeting is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 14, at 9:30 a.m. at 448 W. State St., Albion.

The LEICC is a group of community members, including parents, who are interested in what is happening locally regarding early intervention services for infants and toddlers, age birth to 3.

Early intervention has been going strong for more than 20 years. During this time, a vast amount of research has been done on brain development in children from birth through age 3. The research is showing how vital the early years are for development, as well as the importance of Early Intervention because these are the years that will affect a child’s later development.

The goal of the LEICC is to afford the opportunity for parents and other members to voice their thoughts and concerns on the strengths and weaknesses of the Genesee and Orleans County Early Intervention Program and to work together to improve the program.

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments are encouraging parents to attend and to offer input as to how we can best meet the needs of all infants and toddlers.

For more information, please contact Deborah Krenzer-Lewter, director of Children with Special Needs for Genesee and Orleans, at 585-344-2580, ext. 5572.

Please note, if Albion schools are closed for a snow day, the meeting will be rescheduled.

August 18, 2018 - 8:00am
posted by Billie Owens in immunizations, health department, news, Announcements.

From the Genesee County Health Department:

With the summer winding down, it’s time to get back in the swing of school and schedules. Whether it’s a baby starting at a new daycare, a toddler heading to preschool, a student going back to elementary, middle or high school – or even a college freshman – parents should check their child’s vaccine records.

“Getting children all of the vaccines recommended by CDC’s immunization schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to help protect their children’s health,” said Paul Pettit, Genesee & Orleans Public Health director.

August is recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month. Today’s vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including polio, measles, whooping cough, and chickenpox. Because of advances in medical science, your children and family can be protected against more diseases than ever before.

Diseases can quickly spread among groups of children who aren’t vaccinated.

“Vaccines are the safest and most effective way to prevent several diseases," Pettit said. "They not only protect vaccinated individuals but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.”

Childcare facilities, preschool programs, schools and colleges are prone to disease outbreaks. Children in these settings can easily spread illnesses to one another due to poor hand washing, not covering their coughs and sneezes and other factors related to interacting in crowded environments.

Babies and children are not the only ones who need protection against vaccine preventable diseases. Parents and caretakers need to be protected by vaccines as well to stay healthy for their family and community.

Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives based on age, lifestyle, occupation, travel destinations, medical conditions, and vaccines received in the past. For more information about the recommended vaccines for each age group visit: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/

Information on NYS Immunization Requirements for School Entrance/Attendance click here

For information about Health Department services contact:

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

March 6, 2018 - 9:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in health department, news, notify.

There have been 520 confirmed flu cases in Genesee County, up from an average of 150 to 200 per season, Health Director Paul Petitt told the Human Services Committee at a meeting on Monday.

The good news is, the number of cases is starting to slow but there is also typically a second peak during flu season.

Even though this year's flu shot has proven to be only about 40 percent effective, it's still the best measure to prevent the flu or to lessen its severity, Petitt said.

Flu is just one of many issues on the Health Department's plate, Petitt said.

There was also a rabies case in January involving 12 people who needed post-exposure treatment after a family took in a stray kitten.  The family members, as well as some friends, required treatment.

Petitt said people need to remember to be wary of unknown animals, whether domestic or wild.

The opiate crisis continues to hit Genesee County hard.  The number of deaths in the county for 2017 is not yet available but officials are aware of the continued high call volume for emergency responders and the reports of deaths locally.

The tri-county task force continues to work on the issue and will be supplement by an intra-agency effort funded by a $578,000 grant from the Greater Rochester Foundation to GCASA.

The health department is also tasked with ensuring any local buildings with cooling towers are complying with new regulations to help prevent the spread of Legionnaires Disease.

Finally, even though mosquitos carrying the Zika virus aren't likely to make to Western New York, it is a concern to the south of us, so the health department is also monitoring for reports of infections locally -- there have been none so far -- for people who travel.

Petitt also shared that in the five years since Orleans and Genesee counties entered into a shared services agreement for health department services, the two counties have saved about $1 million in costs.

October 11, 2017 - 3:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in YMCA, UMMC, health department, Alexander, news.


Families in Alexander have been participating in a special fitness program sponsored by the YMCA, UMMC, County Health Department, and the school district.

The sessions are on Wednesday nights from 6:15 to 7:45 at the school. They started Sept. 27.

"The goal is to keep people moving is the best way to describe the program," said Rob Walker, CEO of the GLOW YMCA.

Photos submitted by the YMCA.






June 2, 2015 - 10:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in health department, little league.

The controversy that erupted two weeks ago over a health department demand that the Batavia Little League secure the proper permits to sell hots and pizza was actually years in the making, department officials told members of the County Legislature yesterday.

At the request of the Human Services Committee, Paul Pettit, Public Health director, and David Whitcroft, Environmental Health director, attended the committee's meeting at the Old Courthouse and answered legislators' questions.

The fee schedule for various permits issued by the department changed in 2003 and that made it mandatory for most of the area nonprofit groups that hold events and serve food to acquire health permits. 

It was sticky issue when nonprofits were exempt because it isn't always clear what qualifies as a nonprofit, or what events should get exempted, Whitcroft said.

"It was an ethical problem," Whitcroft said. "It was entirely subjective. Who determines who doesn't have to pay? There was no standard to decide and that gives a lot of power to individuals to decide who gets waivers. I wasn't comfortable with that power."

In 2013, the county's Public Health Committee learned that for some reason, youth baseball had been exempted from the permit requirement, and nobody really knew why that was or how that happened.

"It seemed unfair because if I'm playing with a bat and ball, I don't have to pay, but if I'm playing with a soccer ball, then I have to pay," Pettit said.

Most of those bat-and-ball organizations complied with the new rules once it applied to them, Whitcroft said, and in many cases, the department was able to work with organizations to help better determine which permit was appropriate to the situation, or how food operations might be changed to lower permit costs.

The rules can be "interpreted generously" when organizations are cooperative, Whitcroft said.

Whitcroft implied that Batavia Little League was less than cooperative, telling officials that they refused to comply. That left the county with no option but to require a permit level with a $175 price tag.

Now, the league is more cooperative and the department is working with league leaders on what could be a lower cost option.

Permit fees barely even cover the costs of field inspections of food services, Pettit said. The department is not looking to turn a profit on permits, just cover the direct costs of inspections, he said.

Every business, group or organization that serves prepared food (rather than pre-packaged food) is required to obtain some level of Health Department permit. It's not just a piece of paper, Pettit said. It serves as notice to the county that food service is taking place and triggers an automatic inspection of the food service. There is an inspection with each and every permit issued.

There are some exceptions to the permit requirement. Churches with kitchens that serve only their own members need only obtain a letter of permission. There are about 60 letters of permission on file in the county.

Outside groups that use church kitchens for fundraisers or other public meals are required to get a temporary health permit.

Bake sales involving anything that doesn't need to be refrigerated are not required to get a permit.

Your kid's lemonade stand, however, is required to have a health permit.

"It's required under New York State law and I should enforce it, but I never have," Whitcroft said.

In all, various permits issued by the Health Department generate about $90,000 in revenue annually. Less than $8,000 of that revenue comes from groups that could be considered nonprofits.

May 20, 2015 - 3:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, baseball, little league, health department.

Batavia Little League has paid for a health permit, according to County Manager Jay Gsell.

Gsell said a VP with the league showed up at the County Health Department this morning and paid the fee, Gsell said.

The department had told league officials they couldn't sell pizza and hot dogs without a proper permit, which costs $175 per food stand.

May 20, 2015 - 10:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in little league, baseball, sports, health department.

Report from our news partner 13WHAM about the County Health Department requiring Batavia Little League to acquire a health permit to sell pizza and hot dogs.

October 15, 2013 - 11:35am
posted by Tammi Ferringer in County, Nursing, health department.
Company Name: 
County of Genesee, Health Department
Job Type: 

Genesee County is seeking candidates for the full-time position of Community Health Nurse in the Health Department. The successful candidate will join the Nursing Team which provides: Program Planning/Reporting; Preventive Care Services; Health Education; Disease Investigations; Collaboration with stakeholders to improve Community Health.

July 31, 2013 - 9:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in health department.

Press release:

The Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County health departments are encouraging county residents to “Choose Health.” Taking small steps in our day-to-day living and making positive health choices will lead to healthier outcomes. Is this a step you can take?

When you consider the information that you receive regarding your health, where does the majority of the information come from? A doctor, the Internet, family, friends, or coworkers? Some of this information might be excellent, while other information may be incorrect or too broad to adopt as part of your healthy routine. As always, we encourage you to seek out the best information in order to make informed health choices.

Beginning in September, the Genesee County Health Department will offer new and up-to-date technology to all patients in the clinic waiting room and to those we meet during educational community events. The new technology is made available through an exciting award to the county through the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. The award provides iPad devices, kiosks, a printer, and a large screen television to make accessing health information fun and inviting.

Free of charge, patients have the opportunity to get directly connected to health information using Web sites that the National Network of Libraries of Medicine support, ensuring the information you receive is reliable. This can be health information relevant to your visit, or related to other health concerns. Patients have the ability to print the information out to take home or to use it to consult with a health professional at the clinic.

Unsure how to use an iPad tablet? The waiting room will be stocked with directions as to how to easily operate and use the technology while waiting.

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine supports various Web sites including Medline Plus, AIDSinfo, NIH Senior Health, ToxTown, and many more. Each Web site is designed to be easily understood and offers tips on how individuals can make healthy choices. Even if you do not use Genesee County clinics or miss the opportunity at community events, we highly recommend each of the Web sites for great day-to-day health information.

There are three different clinics that are offered through the Genesee County Health Department; Immunization, STD/HIV Testing and Tuberculosis Testing.  The Immunization Clinic is offered by appointment, twice a month, for both adults and children. The STD/HIV Testing Clinic is a walk-in clinic, offered every Tuesday from 9 to 11 a.m. The Tuberculosis Testing Clinic is also available twice a month and on a walk-in basis, too. To make an appointment and to check for clinic dates please visit the department’s Web site or Facebook page.

You can easily become a health-conscious consumer by accessing reliable health information and using it to make healthier choices. Utilizing this educational opportunity now makes it easier than ever! 

This project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHS-N-276-2011-00003-C with the University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Library System.

A special thank you goes to Carrie Whipple for her assistance and research for this column. Carrie is a Public Health Intern with the Orleans County Health Department and is receiving her master’s degree from the University of New England.

For information about health department services:
    •    Genesee County Health Department call: 344-2580, ext. 5000, or visit their Web site at www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/health/index.html. Visit Facebook at Genesee County Health Department and Twitter at GeneseeCoHealthDept.
    •    Orleans County Health Department call: 589-3278 or check out our Web site at:  www.orleansny.com/publichealth. Visit Facebook and Twitter: the user name for both is OrleansCoHealth.  
    •    Wyoming County Health Department call: 786-8890 or visit their Web site at www.wyomingco.net/health/main.html.

July 3, 2013 - 1:50pm
posted by David Whitcroft in health department, Full Time Job.
Company Name: 
The Orleans County Health Department
Job Type: 

PUBLIC HEALTH SANITARIAN.  Full time position available.  The Orleans County Health Department is seeking a qualified individual to perform the required job responsibilities included but not limited to: sanitary surveys including public and private water supplies, private sewage disposal facilities, inspections of permitted establishments such as food service establishments, children’s camps, migrant labor housing, etc.   Duties include performing investigations, conducting surveys and environmental sample collection; within the full scope of Orleans County Health Departmen

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