Monday, June 22, 2009

Good Medicine Webisode 2

Good Medicine Webisode 2 from CP2E on Vimeo.
This webisode of Good Medicine is hosted by Beth Croughan. Reporters are Torie Wells, Megan Rowls, Beth Croughan and Chris McGrath. Directed by Mike DeSumma.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Good Medicine Webisode 1

Good Medicine Webisode 1 from CP2E on Vimeo.

Good Medicine is a health news program produced by the Spring '09 broadcast journalism health reporting students at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Cynthia Schweigert hosts and reports for Webisode 1. Featured reporters are Chris Shepherd, Megan Rowls and Amy Aaronson. Directed by Mike DeSumma.

Friday, May 1, 2009

No Health Insurance

No Health Insurance
Graduation season is approaching fast meaning many students who do not have jobs or going into higher education will have to get off their parents health insurance in a couple of months. Stephanie Berzenski is graduating with a master degree and is worried about not having a job once she graduates.
“It’s just scary because it's a lot of things that I have taken for granted I have medication now. My monthly birth control pill some skin medications for pimples for what I guess took for granted because I always had them covered under my parent’s health insurance policy. But come August you know that's gone so if I need to continue on more medication I need to come up with a plan,” said Stephanie Berzenski.
Erin Parks in a graduating senior, she is not only worried about finding a job but finding a job with good benefits.
“I have to really look for a job that has health benefits because I can't afford to not have health insurance with all the prescriptions I have to fill,” said Erin Parks
Parks was diagnosed with Type I diabetes earlier this year. She as many supplies she uses every day.
“Yea my supplies are definitely expensive because it is stuff that I have to use daily many times throughout the day. So it really adds up,” said Erin Parks
Health Insurance Options
John Catanzarita, Jr. President of Benefit Consulting Group in Syracuse says students should sit down with their parents and look at what’s included in their health insurance coverage under their parents. Then compare the rates to other insurance plans. He also says the state of New York has many health insurance options, such as Family Healthy Plus and Healthy New York.
“ These couple of stories I’m talking about now are income sensitive, so obviously if they don’t have a job they wouldn’t have income,” said John Catanzarita, Jr.
He also says don’t risk not having health insurance and it’s better to be insured than to not be.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Health Insurance For Graduates

By Torie Wells

No Job=No Insurance:

Erin Parks is a graduating senior. She’s a biology major, excited to get her first job. But at the beginning of this semester, she knew something was wrong.

"I lost about twenty pounds in two weeks. I was very fatigued. I couldn't muster the strength to get up and go to class. I was very thirsty all the time couldn't get enough water," she said

Erin was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. Now, her blood sugar is under control. But the cost of her medical supplies makes having health insurance a necessity.

"It’s not just about finding a job now. It's about finding a job that has good health care," she said.

It's the story of hundreds of graduates who are looking for a job, in a failing economy. No job means no health insurance. And come graduation they're off mom and dad's plan. Stephaine Berzenski is a healthy graduate student. But she's worried too.

"Under my dad's prescription we only have to pay a co-pay of 5 dollars each for each prescription. But with the regular price, one would cost me $153.75 a month and the other would cost $322.62," she said.

But, it's not just expensive. We spoke with a representative from Families USA who said people without coverage can even be turned away from health care.

There is Help:

But, there are options. The first step is to jump online and see what your state offers. Often there are inexpensive options. In New York, there are a couple.

“Healthy NY is one program. And there's another, family health plus, it's almost like a Medicaid type program," said John Catanzarita Jr. He’s the President of Benefit Consulting Group in Syracuse.

Both programs are determined based on income, and cost about $250 a month. They're usually cheaper than the alternatives, like COBRA, or buying insurance on your own. COBRA’s a program where you to continue to pay into your parent's plan, but your costs double. So, if you pay $100 a month under the family plan, you'd pay about $200 as an individual. Take that route and you could be paying up to $400 a month. But that's cheaper than private insurance which can cost between $600 and $1200.

Playing with Fate?

Another option is not having insurance.

“As much as someone doesn't have income, it’s way better, I think, than rolling the dice," said Catanzarita.

He said that one accident, sudden illness, or trip to the hospital without coverage, and you could lose everything. The best plan is to sit down with your parents and compare the options. That's exactly what Erin's doing. Her life depends on it.

"I check my blood sugar 4-5 times a day to make sure it's ok. That's how I keep myself healthy and feeling good," she said.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

One Star Care

Growing old is not always easy, and for Betty and William Dwight who are in their early eighties, it only got harder as their health got worse.

"I just pass out on the floor and don't even know it" says Betty.

Betty went to the hospital, but the insurance stopped paying. William couldn't take care of her anymore. He says "They brought me in because I was so exhausted from taking care of her."

She had to be moved to a nursing home. Rosewood Heights Health Center was their only option.

"There was no other place. This was the only bed open at the time she had to leave the hospital," says William Dwight.

The Dwights were not able to choose their nursing home. Many have the same experience. But for those who can choose, the Federal Government is looking to make that decision easier.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid, Kerry Weems, says the rating system is used to "provide families a straightfoward assessment of nursing home quality, with meaningful distinctions between high and low performing homes."

Rosewood Heights Health Center is one of thirteen nursing homes in the Syracuse area that were rated.

"What you'll find is that maybe with the exception of one or two, everybody is one out of five stars," says Rosewood Heights Director, Paul Scarpinato.

In fact five were rated higher. But Rosewood Heights is among the eight that got the lowest rating. To determine the overall rating, surveyors look at three areas: Health Inspections, Staffing and Quality Measures.

Scarpinato says it's difficult to compare nursing homes.

"You're going to find that you're not comparing apples to apples. The size of the facility, the complexity of folks they take in, do play into the information that shows up in the Quality Measures as well as staffing."

Scarpinato says there's more to choosing a nursing home than just looking at a star system."Rely on your five senses, which means you gotta go visit. You need to go take a look a walk through, go see what's going on for yourself. Go look at the condition of the building, the rooms, see the interaction of the staff and the residents," says Scarpinato.

Even the best ranked five star facilities, like the Nottingham says families do have several things to consider when choosing. Tracy Engle is the director of the Nottingham, she says "I'd walk into the facility, what does it look like, what does it smell like? I would look at the activities calendar."

"Yes we are a five star facility, some of the other facilities, that didn't get five stars, I don't think it's an accurate representation of the care they provide," says Engle.

And the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Kerry Weems agreed with that in his news release, saying "this system is not intended to be the only tool families use in selecting the right nursing facility for a loved one."

But it is a tool that's available, not only to choose, but to know one measure of the facility you or your loved one has already been placed in.

William and Betty Dwight agree that no place is perfect.

"You got some good help, and you got some mediocre help," says William.

In their short time at Rosewood Heights, they say they have experienced both.

"We were all night without an aid or anybody. And we need to ring the bell usually to go to the John, because we need help," says Betty Dwight.

"From eleven o'clock to 8 o'clock this morning, nobody," says William.

"Yeah, we had to hold it or foget it," added Betty.

But they say overall they are treated well and taken care of. Still, the had no choice but to go to a place that has the lowest rating, one star.

Scarpinato says he wants to improve Rosewood Heights, but it's not the number of stars he's interested in. "I'm going to focus in on our day to day operations. The residents that we have, the systems that we have, the financial reimbursements that we have, and make the best shot at improving our health inspections and quality measures," says Scarpinato.

To compare nursing homes in your area, or to find out more information please visit

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stuck at Home

Two-hundred and eighty-five people last year relied on the Homebound Transportation Program to help get of their house during the day to go to places such as the grocery store, doctor’s appointments or the mall. On February 23, 2009, homebound patients received a letter in the mail saying the transportation program will no longer be in service because of budget cuts.

Lou Anne Hadley used Homebound Transportation because she is unable to drive. She has a condition called CPOD, which causes her to get sleepy unexpectedly. She is also, in a wheel chair because she has arthritis in her legs. For only 20 dollars a month she was able to go to her doctor’s appointments, make trips to the MOST museum and the mall with her daughter.

“We joined the MOST because wow it is a great way to spend weekends sometimes you can go down there she can go run around and I can run around in my wheel chair and its only twenty dollars round trip which I can afford. “ said Lou Anne Hadley.

Lou Anne Hadley and other homebound patients contacted ARISE an advocacy organization for the disabled to see if they can help get the program restored.

“We have asked the county legislators to put this issue on the agenda of the legislative committee and we are very fortunate to get a lot of support from legislators,” said Beata Karpinska Prehn Director of Advocacy

Legislators and the health department plan to have more meetings to see what they can do to restore the program.

“It was never our intention to say to people we are going to ignore you and you are going to have to figure this out on your own. But, looking at the current economic environment we need to look at the best way to look at our community,” said Amanda Nestor Public Health Administrator.

For Lou Anne and other homebound patients they will have to wait at home until next month for a decision to be made.

Monday, April 13, 2009

New York gets larger; follows national trend

(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

To put it bluntly, people are getting fat.

In New York, 56% of adults are considered either overweight or obese, with that number rising to 60% in Syracuse.

“Whenever you have a community at large that’s overweight, the community at large has got a tendency to have too many calories in and not enough calories burned," says Rachael Murphy, registered dietician with the Onondaga County Health Department.

Murphy says even worse is that fact that overweight and obesity is largely preventable.

But New Yorkers aren't alone. Studies from the CDC show a troubling trend across the United States. From 1985-2007, obesity rates have skyrocketed across the country. In 2007, only Colorado had an obesity rate below 20%, while 30 states had an obesity rate between 20 and 25%t. Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee all had obesity rates over 30%.

The news is especially troubling to Annette Marchbanks, SCSD Assistant Director of Food Services. She's well aware that one in four children are overweight or obese in New York State and says you have to get to them early.

“If you get them in kindergarten, first, second, third grade...anything you say to them they truly listen and they take it to heart. Once you get into high school, they are not nearly as receptive as our younger children are,” she says.

And you may want to take it to heart.

Of the children who are currently overweight in New York, statistics say 70% of them will become overweight or obese adults. That number rises to 80% if at least one parent is overweight or obese as well.

"Once you are obese as a child it is much, much, much harder to lose that weight as an adult," Marchbanks says.

Tackling the Obesity Epidemic

You’ve heard the advice numerous times before; eat your fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly and limit your daily intake of fats and sugars. Doctors say these are the keys to maintaining a healthy body weight. Yet individuals all across the country seem to be overweight and obese. It has become much more than just a problem and the outlook is worse for our children.

The Centers for Disease Control reports a dramatic increase in obesity rates across the country in the past 20 years. To be obese means your body mass index (BMI) is greater than 30 percent. BMI measures the amount of fat in your body.

To calculate:

In Onondaga County, 60 percent of adults are overweight or obese. And nearly 1 in 7 children are overweight.

Psychologist Tony McCormick says the first step to helping kids is to help their families by educating them on how to encourage healthier choices. But Annette Marchbanks of the Syracuse City School District says the obesity issue is one our entire community needs to be willing to fight; from the schools, to the government, parents and kids.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tobacco 19: Taking Youth Smoking On

By Torie Wells (Good Medicine)
April 2, 2009 1:45 pm

Statistics show that 90% of adult smokers started before the age of 18. In an effort to fight youth smoking, and decrease tobacco use overall, Onondaga County is making it harder for teenagers to get a hold of it.

Ryan DeOrdio will soon turn 18. He's looking forward to legal adulthood, including the right to vote.

"I like writing and talking about my political views," he said.

But there's one right he's willing to give up, buying tobacco.

"When people smoke it's hurting more than themselves, obviously with secondhand smoke, but also the Medicare costs," he said.

Ryan took this issue on. First, he wrote an essay for the "Voices" section of the "Post Standard" in October. Then, he spoke to the County Legislature shortly after. Now, here in Onondaga County-18-year-olds can't legally purchase tobacco products. And it's because of Tobacco 19, a new law enacted March 1st, raising the purchase age.

"The thought behind Tobacco 19 is just to get tobacco out of the schools. There aren't a lot of 19, 20-year-olds in school still," said Jenny Dickinson from Tobacco Free Onondaga County.

It was first introduced in 2006 but was vetoed twice, first by former County Executive Nicholas Pirro and then by current Executive Joanie Mahoney. The legislature over-rode that veto this past December, adding Onondaga County to two others in the state, taking action against youth smoking.

"We do know that making cigarettes harder to obtain will affect youth smoking. In 2006, there was a study of 7th graders. Thirty percent got cigarettes through friends, so we know it's a problem with youth obtaining cigarettes in schools," Dickinson said.

Because this law is so new in Onondaga County, Dickinson said there is no real data yet. Local retailers are the only ones who can really tell if it’s working.

"The age thing happened when the cost increased about 75 cents every time that happens, we see a decrease in sales," said Jack Glisson, owner of Glisson’s Mobil.

But that doesn't necessarily mean Tobacco 19 is working. Glisson says it might deter some teenagers, but even with his employees enforcing the law, there are loopholes.

"They'll find a way to get it. I'm sure they have friends who are older, and it's happened for years, you always find someone older to buy you the drinks or cigarettes so it's still going to happen," he said.

Dickinson says statistics from other states with similar laws show there is a positive effect. She said even a small impact is worth it in the long run.

"The harder you can make it for older youth to obtain cigarettes in order to pass down to 11 to 12-year-olds, it's a good measure," she said.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Life Without Homebound

The hundreds literally left homebound with the recent closure of the Homebound Transportation program may be getting rides once again. Onondaga County legislators are looking into restoring this program because the cuts have been such a big deal for people in the community. 

Lou Ann Hadley is just one person who depended on Homebound to get out of her home. Hadley has been homebound for two years since she was diagnosed with severe COPD. She can no longer get behind the wheel with circulation problems in her legs, arthritis, and sleep apnea. 

She used Homebound to get to places like the MOST, restaurants, and the mall, until February 28th when the county's contract with Homebound was cancelled. There were 283 people who depended on this service and it only cost 20 dollars. 

But the county had to make budget cuts and Homebound was one of them. Public Health Administrator Amanda Nestor says, "Our mission is health, shelter, and safety. This didn't meet that criteria, there are other resources." 

One of the other services in the county is Centro Call a Bus. It's the local transit authority with fixed routes and also a call-a-bus service. However, Most homebound people need more assistance. 

The County Health Department sent out a list of alternative options, but for Lou Ann none of them met her needs. Right now, Lou Ann and others are waiting for the County Legislature to meet later this month. 

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Onondaga County Tobacco 19

"Most teenagers know the dangers in cigarettes, but they think that they should be able to choose, but I think the problem with that is the whole aspect of addiction makes it harder," said Ryan DeOrdio.

Tobacco Free Onondaga County reports every year thousands of young New Yorkers make the choice to light up a cigarette for the first time. But now a new law in Onondaga County increases the age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 19. While some teens may find it unfair to wait an extra year, one teenager we found doesn’t mind at all.

"I think that it's very important, because I think that it can help save lives."

Ryan DeOrdio, 17, wrote a story in favor of increasing the purchase age as a contributing writer for the Post-Standard. The high school junior said restricting tobacco sales to people in their late teens or early 20s protects more than just the smoker. He said he published the article because of the cigarette swapping he saw amongst his peers.

"In my school specifically, I didn't see that many of trading cigarettes and whatnot in my school," said DeOrdio, "but I did see it a lot out of school."

"Making cigarettes harder for youth to obtain is a way to reduce youth smoking," said Jenny Dickinson of the Onondaga County Health Department. "In 2006, there's a study amongst seventh graders that found 30 percent of seventh graders obtained cigarettes through friends."

Since the law is so new, there isn't a lot of data to show if the new plan is working or not. Central New York businesses are still adjusting to the changes.

"One of the things that happened was the age difference happened when cigarette prices also increased. We just had a 70 cents increase in packs of cigarettes," said Jack Glisson, owner of Glisson's Mobil on Nottingham Road in Syracuse. "Every time that happens, we see a decrease in sales."

Glisson's store sells tobacco products and the county regularly checks his business to make sure he’s in compliance with who he sells to. He says those under 19 can still go to the nearby Onondaga Nation and buy tobacco products. Glisson says Tobacco 19 is good, but not full proof.

"I think it will notch it down a little bit," said Glisson. "If it's not easily accessible then they won't get it. I'm sure there are places where you can buy the cigarettes." He said older people buying tobacco products for the underage has happened for years, and he expects it to continue.

"It's one prong in a multi-pronged approach to reduce youth smoking, and we really have seen that policy change is the way to go to reduce youth smoking," said Dickinson.

All three people said there are people who think increasing the age to buy cigarettes is a waste of time. According to Tobacco Free Onondaga County, nearly 90 percent of adult smokers started puffing before turning 18. It's facts like these that keep DeOrdio fighting.

"There's a lot of teenagers who start smoking, and then years later they just say 'I wish I could quit.' Even if they could choose, I think that we have to almost protect them from themselves in a way."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Recess Helps Kids Learn and Behave Better

The playground.

It is where kids go during recess, to make friends and develop important social skills. But a new study done by the Albert Einstein School of Medicine suggests it may also have a crucial role in a child’s education. The study found that children who receive at least 15 minutes of recess each day not only behave better, but learn more.

Ed Smith Elementary School in Syracuse believes in this study wholeheartedly.

“They go out rain or shine. It would have to be a terrible storm or minus temperatures,” says Principal Daryl Hall.

Even though New York State does not have a recess requirement, Ed Smith School schedules each grade level a separate 30 minute slot of outdoor recess in addition to lunch. For some of the school’s students, this may be the only time they get outside all day.

PTO President Lisa Neville says, “Some neighborhoods are safe and comfortable enough for children to play outside and many aren’t. Kids need to get outside and have unstructured free time, or recess, because we don’t know for sure they get it at home.”

A special task force of parents and teachers raised $40,000 to build a new playground for kids to choose to do whatever they want during recess.

But local pediatrician, Dr. Robert Dracker, is not convinced that unstructured free time is worthwhile because it takes away from time that could be used for a child’s development or education.  But Dr. Dracker does say it is important for the kids to go outdoors because they don’t go outside enough anymore.

Hall says Ed Smith School recognizes the need for structured activities and provides students with brain gym, or breaks and activities in classrooms throughout the day. But both doctor and principal agree that going outdoors for recess is a priority. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Most Syracuse Nursing Homes Given Poorest Rating by Government.

The government is trying to make choosing a nursing home easier. It recently came out with a new five star rating system, and it's giving most Syracuse nursing homes only one star, the lowest rating possible.

Growing old is not always easy, for Betty and William Dwight, it only got harder as their health became worse.
"I just pass out on the floor and I don't even know it" said Betty Dwight.
"They brought me in because I was so exhausted from taking care of her" said her husband of sixty three years, William Dwight.

They needed help and Rosewood Health Center was their only option.
"There was no other place. This was the only bed open" said William Dwight.

Many have an experience like the Dwights. For families that can choose a home for their loved one, Medicare is looking to make that decision easier. The government rates nursing homes from one to five stars.

Rosewood Heights Health Center is one of eight nursing homes in the Syracuse area and surrounding ten miles that received one star, the poorest rating. Thirteen nursing homes were rated in this area.
"What you'll find is that maybe with the exception of one or two, everybody is a one out of five stars," said Paul Scarpinato, Director or Rosewood Heights.

To determine the overall rating, surveyors look at three areas: health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. Scarpinato says since the nursing homes aren't equal on all levels, it's too hard to compare.
"You're going to find that you're not comparing apples to apples.
The size of the facility, the complexity of folks they take in, do play into the information that shows up in the quality measures as well as staffing."

Scarpinato also says there is more to choosing a nursing home than just looking at a star system.
"You need to go take a look a walk through, go see what's going on for yourself. Go look at the condition of the building, the rooms, see the interaction of the staff of the residents."

Bit it's not just one star facilities like Rosewood Heights that says families should look at more than just the five star quality ranking when choosing a nursing home. Tracy Engle is the director of Nottingham Nursing home, a five star facility. She say families have several things to consider when trying to choose the right nursing home.
"Look at the activities calendar, how many different activities do they have going on? Observe a meal."

Engle also says she doesn't always agree with how the star system ranks nursing homes. SHE
"Yes we are a five star facility, some of the other facilities, that didn't get five stars, I don't think it's an accurate representation of the care they provide."

Betty and William Dwight say overall, they are happy with the care they receive at Rosewood, but in their short time at the nursing home, they say there's been one big exception.
"We were all night without an aid or anybody. And we need to ring the bell usually to go to the John, because we need help," said Betty Dwight. William Dwight said that "from 11 o'clock to 8 o'clock this morning, nobody came."
"Yeah, we had to hold it or forget it," said Betty Dwight.

As for improving Rosewood Heights, Scarpinato says it's not the number of stars he's interested in. "I'm going to focus in on our day to day operations. The residents that we have, the systems that we have, the financial reimbursements that we have, and make the best shot at improving out health inspections and quality measures."

Scarpinato says he hopes Medicare's rating system evolves in the future, but until then he says families should trust their own judgement.

The Dangers of Smoking Hookah

Every week some people may stop by Hollywood Hookah on Marshall Street to smoke flavored tobacco. Others may have a hookah in their home.

Some of those people may not know what they are inhaling could be harmful to their health. According to officials from Tobacco Free Onondaga County during forty to sixty minute sessions smoking hookah is equivalent to smoking ten cigarettes.

"I was under the impression that just smoking the pure tobacco was not as nearly as bad. They always tell you that all the things all the things they add to it are so much worse. And had thought that the pure tobacco wasn't bad." Rob Solonick patron of Hollywood Hookah.

Jenny Dickinson from Onondaga Health Department says there are a lot of myths about smoking hookah.

"The misinterpretation there is hookah is more natural and it doesn;t have many health affects as if that it is just a misconception there are a lot of negative health affects associated with hookah as well as cigarettte use."

According to Jenny Dickinson people who smoke hookah are more at risk for getting oral and bladder cancer, cancer of the esophagus and gum disease.

The mouth piece used to inahle the smoke has been known to carry hepatitis and turberculosis. For more information about the harmful use of smoking hookah you can visit

Monday, February 16, 2009

Work Hard, Play Hard

All work and no play may not be a good thing, especially for school kids. A new study shows children who get more free time during the school day behave better in class.

One local elementary school agrees with this study and has taken steps to make sure there’s time for recess.

At Edward Smith Elementary, for thirty minutes every day, they swing, run, and play in the snow. Principal Daryl Hall says, “Most classes try and get out every single day, they’re religious about it.”

In New York State, there’s no set standard for recess time. But at this school, Principal Hall has worked with parents to make recess a priority. They got new equipment, games, and balls to do just that. Principal Hall believes kids behave better in the classroom when they get a break from sitting and learning.

PTO president Lisa Neville strongly agrees with the school’s recess policy. She has three kids in the school now. She is a strong believe in free time, especially since kids don’t get much of it anymore.

Doctor Robert Dracker has a different point of view. Dracker says, “To just have play time or break time where it’s a free for all lets them release energy and interact, it sounds nice, but not really sure or convinced how useful it would be.”

Doctor Dracker recommends some structured activity, such as dance, meditation, or even cooking classes.

At Smith, they already get a lot of structure in the classroom already. This school’s philosophy is work hard and then play hard.

Athletes are pushing their bodies to the limit

By: Beth Croughan

More and more headlines are shedding light on the risks athletes are exposing themselves to throughout their playing years; from concussions to weight problems later in life. And at Syracuse University, where division one sports are a priority, some athletes are pushing themselves and their bodies to the limits.

23-year-old Jordan Davis runs over 100 miles every week.

He's working towards joining the ranks of a very elite group of athletes. The four-minute mile club. Jordan has been running for over nine years. And his body has begun to see the effects of all that working out.

“When I was 18 years old, compared to now I’m 23, it takes me longer to feel better running in the mornings, instead of taking 15 minutes to feel better, it takes me 40 minutes.” Jordan Davis

And Jordan Davis is not alone. Megan Skelly is the leading scorer for the Syracuse University Women's Hockey team.

“I think your joints wear down in any sport…but that comes with any sport, my playing hockey outweighs any personal toughness down the road.” Megan Skelly

Aside from aches and pains, Megan and Jordan have played through some serious injuries. Jordan suffered a broken foot and continued to race, while Megan stepped out on the ice with a torn Achilles tendon. Both of the athletes have said it’s difficult to sit out.

But that's when Syracuse University Athletic Trainer Denny Kellington, says players need to take responsibility for themselves and address serious injuries when they arise. “Disrupting a joint,” Kellington says, could potentially lead to arthritis down the road.

And if athletes don’t take care of their bodies once their playing career is over, Kellington says they could also experience other unhealthy side effects, like weight gain. But Kellington says playing collegiate sports has significant health benefits like lower cholesterol and a decreased chance of diabetes.

And for runner Jordan Davis, he says the personal benefits he sees from running, are greater, than any potential risks.

“I’m pretty sure when I’m 50 I’m going to need to get some kind of knee surgery, or back surgery, or hip surgery, something is going to go wrong, but to be honest with you, I’m 23 and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing until I can’t do it anymore and even when I can’t do it anymore, I’m probably still going to run.” Jordan Davis

Athlete's Bodies Taking a Hit

By Torie Wells

Elite athletes are often seen as almost super-human, but new research suggests their bodies are taking a hit. Weight gain, brain damage from concussions, and joint damage are all side effects doctors are seeing in college and professional athletes. At Syracuse University, players are already feeling the effects of their sports. But, some sports trainers think some of that damage can be avoided if players realize they aren't invincible.

Every week SU graduate student Jordan Davis puts over a hundred miles on his body. With each step, he's working to shave seconds off his race time. At 23, Davis has reached an elite level of fitness, competing against division one athletes across the country. But being this strong, over time, is already taking a toll.

"It takes me longer to warm up, it takes me more time to feel better running in the mornings," he said.

Soreness and stiffness are one thing. For that, he can take preventative measures like icing his legs, and physical therapy to prevent tightness. But injury from over training, is another, and it's a reality constantly in the back of Davis' mind.

"When you're training, you're riding on the fence, and whichever way you fall is either with success or injury," said Davis.

He's been on both sides.

"We were in the middle of a workout and I felt my foot break, so I went up to the coach and was like 'my foot's broken man' and he was like 'we've got only one more race left," said Davis.
That attitude of putting the game, before the body, is also true for SU women's hockey player Megan Skelly."

"I hyper-extended my calf muscle, and tour my achilles tendon," said Skelly, "but I kept playing."

Injuries like that, and even concussions, are nothing out of the ordinary, she said. While she knows head injuries can cause brain damage, it's never stopped her, she said.

College athletes take many precautions with stretching, padding and building strength, said SU football trainer Denny Kellington. Beyond that, it's about personal responsibility.

"If you sprain or disrupt a joint you do disrupt the integrity of that joint, so yes, you may have arthritis down the road," said Kellington, "but if you take care of yourself after you stop playing you will be fine."

Athletes also have to be careful of weight gain, said Kellington. They can't keep eating what they aren't burning. If athletes are smart about their bodies, the benefits of collegiate athletics are certainly there, he said.

"Improved health, lowered cholesterol, decreased chance of diabetes, heart disease," Kellington said.

Davis and Skelly sometimes neglect their bodies in the interest of succeeding with their sport, they said.

"My playing hockey outweighs any personal toughness down the road," Skelly said.

But for now, they're more concerned with the mental benefits of being on a team and doing what they love.

"I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing until I can't do it anymore and even when I cant do it, I'm probably still going to run," Davis said.

Maryland Sports Injury Center: Prevention and Care of Athletic Injury

CNN article on Brain Injury in Athletes

New NFL Rules

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Local Nursing Homes Critical of Government Ratings

                                                 (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Do the research.

That's the message nursing home directors are sending to Good Medicine when asked about a new Five-Star Quality Rating System from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

This after the majority of nursing homes in Central New York were rated poorly--including eight homes within 20 miles of Syracuse receiving a one-star rating.

The system rates nursing homes based on three factors: health inspections, nursing staff and quality of care.

"The goal is to provide families a straightforward assessment of nursing home quality with meaningful distinctions between high and low performing homes," said CMS administrator Kerry Weems in a press release.

However, sharp criticism has followed on both ends of the rating spectrum.

Rosewood Heights Health Center in Syracuse was rated as a one-star facility. Its director Paul Scarpinato says all the information used to critique each nursing home has always been available to the public, claiming CMS is just simplifying data.

"People are just going to go so far and that’s it. It’s a simple way for someone to look and say that’s how I’m going to judge a place," Scarpinato worried.

But it isn't only the poorly-rated that are critical of the ratings. The Nottingham Residential Health Care Facility received a five-star ranking, and even its director Tracy Engle remains skeptical.

"It’s a snapshot of time that it’s looking at. The data that it’s pulling from is the information that was submitted at the time, and those characteristics change quite frequently," Engle stressed.

So if the rating system isn't all it's cracked up to be, how should you go about choosing a nursing home for a loved one?

"Look at the condition of the building, the rooms, see the interaction of the staff with the residents, talk with other folks in the area – so, people should do legwork when they’re looking at putting a family member in a facility," said Scarpinato.

Engle tends to agree.

"I would never rely on the star rating system to determine where I would put a loved one. I want to go to the facility, I want to meet the staff, I want to see the interaction between the staff and the residents, I want to see how the residents are taken care of – I want to see it for myself," Engle ads.

And it's not just nursing home directors. Weems cautions people not to rely solely on the rankings when choosing a nursing home.

"Because the quality and conditions within a nursing home can change at anytime, this stem is not intended to be the only tool families use in selecting the right nursing facility for a loved one," Weems said.

The Dangers of Smoking Hookah

It's something that's becoming more and more popular: smoking hookah.

"I like the idea of setting up the hookah and sitting around the couch with like five friends," said Tamara Cohen.

Firing up this contraption is one way she relaxes. The Syracuse University senior smokes tobacco through a water pipe. She said smoking through the pipe goes back to her culture and from the time spent in Israel. She said the device helps to set a nice mood.

"For me the benefits outweigh the costs because it creates a nice situation."

Smoking tobacco, or hookah, involves inhaling smoke through a hose as heat pulls the burned tobacco flavor down to the water. Even though the smoke may calm you down, it's making dangerous changes inside your body.

"It's a drug like any can become addicting," said Jenny Dickinson of the Onondaga County Health Department. It doesn't matter if people smoke alone or with friends because it's dangerous either way, says Dickinson.

There are some people who smoke with friends by going to the latest hot spot on Marshall Street. People go to Hollywood Hookah to enjoy the social atmosphere. Employees there maintain a close watch over their customers and make sure they remain hydrated.

"We give them a water, we have a certain amount of waters that we'll give out free a night," said Ali Rideau who works at the bar. "The girls, the waitresses that come around, their job is to ask 'do you need anything to drink, is there anything we can get you?'"

"It's something else to do than the typical party scene," said freshman Rob Solonick. it was his first time visiting the bar and he brought a few friends along with him. "it's just something different than say going to a frat."

A Syracuse University professor of drugs and human behavior says these gatherings are a fad and warns that a 30-to-60 minute hookah session equates to smoking several packs of cigarettes. Rideau said she knows smoking hookah contains dangerous chemicals, but it's safer than smoking cigarettes.

"For your concern be aware that it is still nicotine, that you're still getting some in your body so it isn't completely healthy, but not to the point where you're going to get lung cancer." Rideau said smoking the kind of hookah offered at the bar is safer than smoking cigarettes.

According to the World Health Organization, the amount of nicotine in just one puff of hookah tobacco is equal to smoking 10 cigarettes. Although the concentration of nicotine is lower in hookah than cigs, the amount someone inhales is much greater. According to documents from the County Health Department, there's a lack of awareness and misperceptions amongst hookah users on the dangers of smoking hookah.

"Yea I was always under the impression, just the pure tobacco, wasn't as bad as smoking cigs, because they always tell you about the addicting attitude," said Solonick. "I just thought the pure tobacco wasn't as bad."

"If someone would have told me that 10 years ago I probably wouldn't have done it," said Cohen.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Online medical help for CNY refugees

They come to Central New York by the thousands. They are refugees, looking for safe shelter and a better life. They are fleeing life threatening persecution or oppression in their home countries.

The people
streaming into our community have many needs. Foremost is health care. But language and cultural differences can hamper a refugee's access to medical treatment.

A new internet resource may help some new immigrants clear those health care barriers. The Refugee Health Information Network offers multi-language help for refugees and their health care providers. The site includes links to US government agencies, online intake forms for medical office use and financial eligibility information.

According to the Refugee Resettlement Program at the Center for New Americans in Syracuse, NY, refugees now coming to Central New York are from Sudan, Somalia, Liberia, Burma, Cambodia, Uzbekistan, Cuba, Vietnam, Columbia, Congo D.R., Burundi, and Ethiopia.