Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Mobile Health Center Brings Healthcare into New York Communities


Union Community Health Center Unveiled Its Mobile Health Center 



The program is an unprecedented, neighborhood-targeted, mobile medical and dental delivery infrastructure that serves to improve health outcomes for Bronx residents through direct services and health education. 

Focusing on the most vulnerable populations and those more likely to experience barriers to accessing health care, UCHCs dedicated mobile health team is estimated to engage 168 patients weekly throughout the Bronx, conducting 7728 care visits during the 46 week care year; enabling the Center to further provide comprehensive-high quality, affordable health care services without the boundaries associated with traditional brick and mortar settings. 

“There is no disputing that access to quality health care is a major determinant of overall health and wellness,” said Dr. Douglas York, CEO of Union Community Health Center. “The inability to access care impacts life expectancy, employment, and family dynamics. 

“The UCHC Mobile Health Fleet will now bring vital health care services directly to thousands of Bronx residents. Our goal has simply been to help to eliminate some of the existing barriers to accessing care.” 


Thanks to a $475,834.00 New York State Health Care Facility Transformation Grant UCHC received in 2017, the health center was able to bring that goal to fruition and invest in a program that will extend its reach to more schools, day care centers, public housing developments, homeless shelters and senior centers. 

The wheelchair accessible vehicle is equipped with the latest in mobile health technology including x-ray, and in addition to primary health care services, specialties services such as rheumatology, gastroenterology, podiatry and cardiology will also be offered. 

In line with UCHC’s collaborative care model, the mobile medical unit will integrate behavioral health services into each primary care visit, which has statistically proven successful in 
identifying undiagnosed depression in patients reluctant to seek care from mental health professionals and connecting them to treatment and care. 
The holistic integration of behavioral health services in a primary care setting has also proven effective in addressing the high rates of co-morbidity linked between mental health and chronic physical health conditions. 

“The UCHC Mobile Health Fleet will now bring vital health care services directly to thousands of Bronx residents. Our goal has simply been to help to eliminate some of the existing barriers to accessing care.” 

Thanks to a $475,834.00 New York State Health Care Facility Transformation Grant UCHC received in 2017, the health center was able to bring that goal to fruition and invest in a program that will extend its reach to more schools, day care centers, public housing developments, homeless shelters and senior centers.

The wheelchair accessible vehicle is equipped with the latest in mobile health technology including x-ray, and in addition to primary health care services, specialties services such as rheumatology, gastroenterology, podiatry and cardiology will also be offered. 

In line with UCHC’s collaborative care model, the mobile medical unit will integrate behavioral health services into each primary care visit, which has statistically proven successful in 
identifying undiagnosed depression in patients reluctant to seek care from mental health professionals and connecting them to treatment and care. 


The holistic integration of behavioral health services in a primary care setting has also proven effective in addressing the high rates of co-morbidity linked between mental health and chronic physical health conditions. 

Flu Shot Myths Debunked, Why You Need a Flu Shot


By Liz Spurrell-Huss, LCSW, MPH, Community and Population Health, Montefiore Health System



Each year the flu tears across the country, hitting the Bronx particularly hard. In our borough, flu and pneumonia were the 4th leading cause of death in 2016; causing more deaths than substance abuse disorders or stroke. This year, more than 11,600 Bronx residents have sought care at an emergency department for flu-like symptoms.

Montefiore takes educating our community and patients as seriously as their health. That is why for the past 4 flu seasons, we have teamed up with Walgreens/Duane Reade to offer flu vaccines to as many people as possible and partnered with community organizations to hold seminars addressing any concerns people have about flu and the vaccine.

To better understand how our community feels about the flu vaccine, Montefiore and the Bronx Borough President’s Office conducted a survey asking our community for their thoughts on flu.
From our 101 responses, we learned that 62 percent of those who did not get vaccinated said they were worried about the side effects of the vaccine and 55 percent said they did not believe the flu vaccine will prevent the flu. 

To address these concerns, here are some important facts about the flu vaccine:

The flu shot will give me the flu.


FALSE: The flu vaccine does not give you the flu. It stimulates your body to produce antibodies. These antibodies protect you from flu viruses.

If I get the flu shot, I will get very sick from it.

FALSE: You may experience some mild symptoms, such as soreness where the shot was given, but serious complications are rare. The symptoms are usually mild compared to how sick you would feel if you developed the actual flu. 

I am healthy, so I don’t need to get the flu shot.

FALSE: Because it is a highly contagious virus, even healthy people can get the flu. Also, if you are not protected against the flu, you could easily spread the flu to loved ones. Depending on their health issues, they might become very ill.

The flu vaccine isn’t 100-percent effective so it’s not worth it.

It can take your body about 2 weeks to fully develop immunity (or protection) from the vaccine, so if you get the flu within a few days of getting the flu shot, you were exposed to the flu before the vaccine could take effect.  

If you do end up getting the flu more than two weeks after you’ve gotten the shot, you will likely have a much milder case.

The flu shot is a money-making scheme-that’s why we are pushed to get one every year.

Every flu season there are different flu viruses circulating. Viruses can also mutate. If your antibodies meet a virus they don’t recognize, they are unable to block it. The vaccine gives you antibodies so your body can recognize flu and can fend it off. 

The Flu vaccine can keep you from getting sick from flu!

In fact, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, including among children and older adults.

Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.

Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy.

Flu vaccination also may make your illness milder, if you do get sick.

Getting vaccinated yourself also protects people around you, like babies, young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.


If you have concerns about the flu or the flu vaccine, please do not hesitate to talk to your primary care provider. If you would like to speak with a member of Montefiore’s Community Health team—please reach out here:  347-418-4733.

Colon Cancer Awareness Kicks Off with Inflatable Colon


HEALTH- Montefiore rolled out the Rollin’ Colon, a 20-foot-long, pink inflatable colon. The interactive learning experience kicks off activities aimed at raising colon cancer education and prevention in honor of Colon Cancer Awareness Month.




Colon cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer in the U.S.

Colon cancer is often treatable, if it’s found early enough.

Risk of colon cancer increases if you’re overweight or obese.

Red meat and high fat/processed foods can increase your risk of colon cancer.


Physical activity can decrease your risk of developing colon cancer.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Healthy Food Starts with Spring Cleaning of Your Pantry



HEALTH- Looking for help meal planning? Want to find ways to enjoy balanced meals and still lose weight? Wondering how to declutter your pantry to make room for healthier foods and snacks? It’s easy – just stop in the office of your local ShopRite dietitian. 


In celebration of National Nutrition Month®, which is celebrated each March and focused on helping shoppers make informed food choices, select ShopRite stores will host a wide variety of complimentary special events, free in-store classes, and community events.

“Our dietitians are excited about celebrating National Nutrition Month because not only is it a great time to highlight the wide-range of free health and wellness services we offer year-round, it also allows us to share the expertise of our in-store nutrition experts with local organizations in our surrounding communities,” says Natalie Menza-Crowe, MS, RD, Director of Health and Wellness at ShopRite.

In addition to in-store and community events that will be held during the month-long celebration, ShopRite’s dietitians will be partnering with dozens of government agencies to officially designate March as National Nutrition Month.

Founded in 2006, ShopRite’s Registered Dietitian program has over one hundred registered dietitians servicing ShopRite locations across the Northeast. ShopRite’s Registered Dietitians also offer free store tours, cooking skills classes, and work with ShopRite chefs to host culinary workshops for both kids and adults.

“March marks the beginning of springtime as well as National Nutrition Month,” says Menza-Crowe. “What better way to celebrate than by doing some spring cleaning in your own kitchen. The pantry is a great place to reduce clutter and encourage healthy eating.”

Menza-Crowe offers some tips on how to approach a pantry overhaul this season.

Take stock

A good first step of any reorganization is to take inventory. Clear a space and move everything from your pantry so you can see what you have.

Check expiration dates

Discard items past their expiration date to make room for newer items.

Store similar products together
Organize in a way that makes sense to you. For example, have a shelf for canned items, and pair all the beans together by type. Similarly, nuts and seeds, dried pastas, dried fruits, broths, and prepared soups can be categorized.

Organize with health in mind. 

Place nutritious snacks at eye level, so that everyone sees them right away when opening the pantry. This makes a healthy choice an easy one.

Create a “grab and go” section. This is a great place for ready-to-eat foods that are convenient for kids to grab after school or on the way to their next activity.

National Nutrition Month® is an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign, celebrated each year during the month of March, focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

For more information on National Nutrition Month® at ShopRite, visit shoprite.com.


#health

Don’t Be Fooled! You Probably Won’t Get Kicked Out of Public Housing for Smoking Marijuana


By David Greene

BRONX- Those who partake in the still-illegal pastime of smoking marijuana, can rest easy to know that the letter currently circulating on the Internet about "Weed censors," is a hoax and you can rest easy. For now.


The undated letter with the official letter head of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) stated, "Dear Tenants, Just to inform all tenants that we are investigating each apartment with a marijuana ‘weed’ sensor tester and if your apartment fails the test you will be losing your lease and apartment.”

In the one true part of the statement, the letter continues, "You signed the new lease agreement of the new rules of the federal regulations (in) effect on July 30, 2018." The letter ends, "We received thousands of complaints of "weed" smoking everyday and every night.”

One non-pot-smoking NYCHA resident, Shalenia Wilson, quickly defended against the hoax, offering, "I feel like if you pay rent and it's your space, you can smoke in your apartment. But not in the hallway, because it goes into other people's apartments.”

Regarding a recent lease signed by all leaseholders last year, Wilson said, "It said cigarette smoke, so it's not specify and it's not clear. Legally, maybe they can try and put them out of their apartments.”

Another NYCHA resident added, "And when they legalize marijuana, where are they going to put all these people. They have to deal with this one way or the other. More people are smoking marijuana now then cigarettes." 

(A letter circulating online and at NYCHA complexes across the city, stating the NYCHA weed police were coming.--Photo by David Greene)

Still another NYCHA resident stated, "You can smell it, all day, every day in the hallways, if they’re not arresting people anymore for smoking weed... everybody smokes pot.”

A call for comment to NYCHA was directed to a Twitter post by spokeswoman Jasmine Blake, who tweeted out, "To be clear: this is a hoax @NYCHA did NOT put this out. There are no weed sensors and we aren't evicting residents.”

The tweet concluded, "Smoke-Free NYCHA is a federal policy that has graduated enforcement starting with meetings only. We only know  about smoking if staff or residents alert us to it.”


NYCHA pot smokers appear safe for the moment.


#health

Monday, February 25, 2019

Speeding Access to Specialty Health Care in NYC


New Online System Streamlines Process to See a Medical Specialist


HEALTH- Appointments to see an outpatient specialist at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln are expected to be a little quicker and easier to schedule, thanks to a program called eConsult—a system that streamlines the referral process from primary care providers to specialists.


The system also facilitates enhanced communication between the primary care provider and the specialist so sometimes the patient can avoid a visit to a specialist altogether.

The eConsult system has been expanding dramatically in recent months, as more outpatient clinics in the public health system sign on citywide. 

Just this month, Rehabilitation Medicine and Infectious Disease at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln became the 100th and 101st specialty clinics in the city to participate. They join 12 other specialty clinics at Lincoln—including Ear/Nose/Throat, Gastroenterology, Neurology, and Urology—making the hospital one of the most aggressive adopters of eConsult in the public health system.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi and NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx are also participating in eConsult, demonstrating the unity of the Bronx hospitals in improving patient access to specialty care.

“Specialists like oncologists, orthopedic surgeons, and ophthalmologists often play a critical role in diagnosing and managing our patients’ illnesses,” said Dave Chokshi, MD, vice president and chief population health officer at NYC Health + Hospitals. “EConsult helps facilitate more rapid access to specialist expertise, which is a priority as we continuously work to improve patient care.”

How does it work?

When a primary care provider’s patient has a health concern that would typically be treated by a specialist, the primary care provider can send a message through the system and get a quick response from the specialist, who can then suggest next steps for the patient, as well as secure a timely appointment for the patient, if needed.

For example, one Bronx resident—we’ll call him Joe—saw his primary care doctor recently, who diagnosed acute pancreatitis. The primary care doctor exchanged messages through eConsult with a gastroenterologist about the best approach for Joe. 

The gastroenterologist gave instructions to the primary care doctor for the tests Joe needed, and an appointment for a visit was scheduled. When Joe went to the gastroenterologist, the diagnosis was already clear, and Joe and the gastroenterologist were able to focus on the plan of care—a much faster path from problem to solution than in the past. Joe couldn’t have been more pleased with the care.

Some lucky patients have it even easier. Depending on the diagnosis, sometimes the guidance from specialists can empower the primary care provider to treat the patient in the primary care setting, avoiding the visit to the specialist completely. 
For example, the specialist might recommend the primary care provider to prescribe a medication, and the patient can do all the follow-up with the primary care provider, always with the support of the specialist if additional guidance is needed.

Measuring success

“By having a significant number of patients managed in the primary care setting and by reducing the number of inefficient first visits to specialists, we have freed up valuable appointment time with our specialists, which makes a huge difference for patients,” said Hannah Byrnes-Enoch, MPH, director of specialty care transformation in the Office of Population Health.

Throughout the public health system, there have already been 79,370 referrals between a primary care provider and a specialist through eConsult, and nearly 8,000 new referrals take place each month. Is it working? When eConsult first started, only 14 specialty clinics participated, but wait times for new patient appointments dropped by 23 percent—a key reason why NYC Health + Hospitals is pushing to expand the program.
  

About NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln
NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, located at 234 East 149th Street in the Bronx, is a 362-bed, Acute Care Level 1 Trauma Center with the busiest single site emergency department in the region. Recognized as a “2013 Top Performer on Key Quality Measures” by The Joint Commission, receiving top grades in Leapfrog Scores Safety in 2015 and 2017, and acknowledged with High Performing ranks in U.S. News & World Report in 2017 and 2018, the hospital emphasizes primary care and specialty medicine and uses the latest advances in medical science. It has designations as a Breast Center of Excellence, Breast Imaging Center of Excellence, Diabetes Education Center of Excellence, and others. Lincoln’s Primary Stroke Center has The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Gold Plus and Target Plus Honor Elite awards. Its Hemodialysis, Palliative Care and Perinatal Care services are all The Joint Commission certified.

#health

Friday, February 15, 2019

Bay Plaza Mall Run Walk to Raise Awareness for Colorectal Cancer


HEALTH- As we close upon Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, The Mall at Bay Plaza will host the first ever 5K Run/Walk to benefit programs at the American Cancer Society of The Bronx. 

This timed 5k run/walk will travel through the beautiful streets of Bay Plaza and will engage many stores on the property to participate with employees. 

Participants will enjoy snacks, activities, cancer information and live music throughout the morning.

Awards for fastest runners and top fundraisers will also be presented immediately following the run. 

“It is so important to provide a platform where Bronxites can stay active and learn about lifesaving information. Our partnership with the American Cancer Society does just that. We are excited to present this event in conjunction with the community and hope to raise funds for lifesaving research and local programs for in The Bronx,” says Maranda Ashkar, Director of Mall Management. 

“Colorectal Cancer awareness continues to be a priority for The American Cancer Society, partnerships such as this one, allows us to communicate with constituents in our local area to educate them on early detection and screening resources. We are thrilled to be able to do just that with The Mall at Bay Plaza,” said Lizzette Dorado, NYC Community Development Director at American Cancer Society. 

Date: Sunday, March 31, 2019 
Time: 8am registration | 9am kick off  
Location: The Mall at Bay Plaza, 200 Baychester Avenue – JC Penney Lot  
Event Contact: Luis Heredia 212.237.3835 or email luis.heredia@cancer.org  


For more information and to sign up to participate on www.acsdetermination.org/bayplaza5k


#health

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Closing Health Disparities in the Black Community



By Sharon Paul-Sylvestre, RN Visiting Nurse Service of New York

HEALTH- February is American Heart Month—and an excellent time to review heart health risks and guidelines, especially among members of the African American and Latino communities. 


Untreated and longstanding high blood pressure can lead to hypertensive heart disease (HHD), which includes heart failure, coronary artery disease, and other conditions. 

HHD is the leading cause of death associated with high blood pressure for all Americans. High blood pressure also puts people at risk for experiencing a stroke. 
The American Heart Association says African American population is particularly vulnerable to HHD and stroke since roughly 40 percent of African American men and women have high blood pressure, a higher rate than any other racial group in the U.S.

Each year, approximately 100,000 home care patients in the U.S. report a prior stroke, and a recent study at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York Center for Home Care Policy & Research further shows that, at start of care, recurrent stroke risk is high for many patients and in particular, African Americans, due to uncontrolled blood pressure. 

As a registered nurse providing care at home for high-risk patients with chronic heart failure, hypertensive heart disease and post-stroke, I know how important it is to work with these vulnerable patients and their families to help them make lifestyle changes and link them to continuous, responsive hypertension care. 

My colleagues and I at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York are part of a workforce of skilled nurses, rehabilitation therapists and home health aides who work together to provide care coordination and support for more effective chronic care self-management of these health issues. Everyday, we visit at-risk New Yorkers in their homes to help patients and their families understand the persistent hypertension-related disparities that increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, re-hospitalization and even death. Here are a few guidelines for closing hypertensive heart health disparities in the African American community. 

Get Educated
The most powerful weapon we have against hypertensive heart disease and stroke is knowledge. Take every opportunity to learn about your risk for high blood pressure. You can find excellent resources online at the American Heart Association’s www.Heart.org and www.VNSNY.org

Manage Your Diet: this one can be the most challenging especially when your cultural eating habits conflict with healthy eating recommendations. 

It’s important to manage your cholesterol levels by reducing your daily fat intake gradually over time. Talk to your doctor or home health provider about establishing dietary goals that support healthy blood pressure. Even small changes to your diet can make a big difference in your health. Learn how to read food labels and become especially mindful of salt and sodium intake, which can have adverse effects on hypertension and diabetes, respectively. 

Limit or Stop Smoking and Drinking: smoking enhances blood pressure and can cause strokes – try to cut back or stop smoking. Limiting your alcohol consumption is important as alcohol can adversely affect some medications. Each person is different, but moderation is crucial. 

Be on the Lookout for Depression
Patients with heart disease and stroke survivors are at high risk for experiencing depression. 

Adapting to a new lifestyle and temporary or permanent limitations to mobility, speech or cognitive function can present significant challenges. 

Frustration and depression are especially common in the winter months. Talk with your health care provider about the signs and symptoms of depression and online or community resources that may be available easily accessible for you.

Move a Little: just 15 to 30 minutes of light physical activity three to five days a week can help reduce your risk for stroke and heart disease. 

Small steps can lead to big progress if you just add a little activity to your life: walk to the mailbox or the corner bodega every day, get off one stop early and walk a few extra blocks if you ride the bus or subway, do stretches and “hall laps” at home if you need to in order to get started.

Manage Your Stress: sometimes stress is unavoidable, but most of the time we can take a few minutes to separate from the typical tensions that we all face in a busy day. This is especially important when recovering from any heart-related health issue. 

Give yourself 10-minute de-stressing breaks to listen to music, visit with a friend, meditate, practice gentle yoga or take care of a pet to help reduce your risk for hypertension. 

Keep a Health Journal: take the time to write down all of your medications and any changes your doctor makes to each prescription. Don’t forget to write down over-the-counter medications you take too, from baby aspirin to vitamins. 
Note how you feel each day, especially on days when you feel a little groggy, tired, sad or confused. This way you have a record of your health so every health professional on your care team can understand your full medical history at any time.

American Heart Month is a great time to begin implementing heart healthy habits for everyone, but it is especially important for those with high risk for hypertension to stay in communication with their physicians and be mindful of high blood pressure and related health risks. As always, it is important to consult your health provider before making significant changes in your diet or fitness routine. 


#health

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