Wednesday, August 15, 2018

New Jacobi Ambulatory Chief Looks to Imrpove Wait Times

Public Hospital Veteran Looks Forward to Modernizing Outpatient Care

NEW YORK- NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi’s Chief Executive Officer Christopher Mastromano announced today the appointment of Dr. Elana Sydney as chief of ambulatory medicine. 

In this role she will oversee all outpatient clinics and implement new strategies to reduce patient wait times.

Dr. Sydney has spent two decades at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, including serving as chief resident in 1997 and rising through the ranks in the hospital’s general internal medicine, ambulatory care, and women’s health practices.

“I’ve made Jacobi my professional home because I truly believe in the mission that our health system stands for: the provision of compassionate, quality care to all New Yorkers,” she said. 

“My goals are to make sure we live up to that promise and provide the finest care to all our patients. This means improving the patient experience by making sure our staffing meets our patients' needs, improving access to our clinics, and facilitating supportive, collaborative relationships between patients and their primary care providers,” she said.

Dr. Sydney will continue to see her patients in the hospital’s clinics. One of those patients is Margaret Sapienza, an Allerton native who has been receiving care from Dr. Sydney for almost twenty years. 

“I’ve had quite a few medical issues over the years, and Dr. Sydney has always gone above and beyond to help me heal,” said Ms. Sapienza. “I appreciate having my own personal doctor and the way that she takes such good care of me.”

Dr. Sydney earned her doctorate in medicine at the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv, Israel. She graduated Barnard College of Columbia University, receiving her bachelor’s degree cum laude in sociology and biology.

Each year, more than 90,000 patients receive medical services in ambulatory care settings at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi.  

To make an appointment, please call 718-918-5000.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Helping Elders Stay Cool When the Heat is On

Tips to Beat the Heat During Dog Days of Summer

By Elina Veksler, RN, BSN, VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans

NEW YORK- Though the end of July is fast approaching, it’s important for New Yorkers to remember that they are not yet out of the woods when it comes to beating the heat.

This summer, oppressive humidity combined with temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s puts older and more vulnerable New Yorkers at increased risk of heat-related health issues. 

Many elders may not realize the dangers that can arise upon stepping out into hot weather unprepared. 
When taking into consideration additional factors such as air quality and cloud cover, temperatures can often feel much hotter than they actually are, posing hazardous conditions for those already at elevated risk of health problems.

Now more than ever, it makes sense to stay mindful of hot weather health cautions. 

My colleagues and I at VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans coordinate care for homebound seniors so they can live safely and independently in their own homes for as long as possible. Because the weather may slow down or prevent friends and family from visiting homebound seniors, it is important to ensure that they are safe and comfortable at home amidst high temperatures. 

Below are a few easy ways in which New Yorkers—old and young alike—can stay feeling their best as they brave the heat. 

Drink up

One of the most important ways to maintain health during the summer is by drinking enough fluids to avoid dehydration. 

Drink plenty of water and eat foods containing water, such as fruits, vegetables, gelatin (Jell-O) and ice pops. Aim for 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day (this amount includes the water in foods). Beware of coffee, caffeine and alcohol, which can actually dehydrate, rather than replenish, the body of fluids.

Keep a healthy appetite

Though your appetite may decrease in summer months, it is important to continue to eat well. 

Be sure your daily meals contain protein (lean meats, like chicken and fish) and carbohydrates (vegetables and whole grains). Salad, fruit and other small, cool meals can be eaten throughout the day to maintain strength. 

Cool down the body
Take frequent cool baths and showers to keep your body temperature from rising too high (Be sure that the bathtub has a slip-resistant mat or safety bars to prevent slips and falls). 

Simply cooling the feet in a bowl of cold or iced water may also help sustain bring your temperature down. Having a damp cloth to wipe down your face and arms is convenient as well.

Seek out cool places

Visit your local library, shopping center, movie theater, community center, or anyplace with air conditioning. 

New York City opens cooling centers in air-conditioned places like these when the weather is deemed dangerously high. Make sure you can get to important sites like the police station, fire station, pharmacy or hospital in case of emergency as well.

Consider a temporary care for an at-risk loved one 

For elderly people who are home bound or living alone, regular visits from friends, family or caregivers offer welcome companionship when excessive heat outdoors keeps you inside for long periods of time. 

A home health aide can also be arranged for a few hours to provide peace of mind for family members who can’t reach loved ones or check in when the heat is on to make sure they are getting fluids and staying safe at home.

Get it delivered

If possible, have something brought to your home rather than make the trek outside yourself. With many eateries offering delivery, and services like Postmates or Amazon Prime able to bring almost anything to your door, you can save yourself the trouble of carrying extra things around in the heat.

Skip the sun’s peak hours

The hottest time of the day is between 10 AM and 2 PM. Avoid cooking or spending time outdoors during this period. 

If you must leave the house during a heat wave, wear sunscreen, as well as loose, light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. 

Always keep a fresh bottle of water in the refrigerator and bring it with you when you leave the house. Be careful to avoid burns on metal, especially on walkers, wheelchairs or benches.

Elina Veksler with VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans is a Registered Nurse in charge of Clinical Review. To learn more, visit or call 1-855-AT CHOICE (1-855-282-4642).

Monday, July 30, 2018

Butt Out of NYCHA Buildings

NYCHA Goes Smoke Free

NEW YORK- NYCHA is telling all tenants to butt out. 

The agency has banned tobacco products in all its developments. 

The news affects its 400,000 tenants. Now smokers have to be 25 feet outside NYCHA buildings. 

No word whether marijuana and vaping products will face a similar ban. 

Legionella bacteria discovered at Jacobi Medical Center

Jacobi Battles Legionella Found at Hospital 

NEW YORK- Jacobi Hospital is on bottled water after low-levels of  Legionella bacteria were found in the water supply.

NYC Health + Hospitals released the following statement: "As part of our aggressive water monitoring program, our routine, required testing of our potable water supply found very low levels of Legionella bacteria at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi. Per guidance from the New York State Department of Health, which regulates hospitals, we have taken steps to prevent any impact on our patients, staff, or visitors. Safety is always our highest priority.”

Following the discovery of the bacteria officials say they will launch aggressive, enhanced water treatment and ongoing monitoring of the water supply.

Bottled water is now being handed out to patients for drinking. In addition packaged bath wipes will be issued for daily hygiene. 

Also, the hospital will install new water filters on showers.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

#Alzheimer’s - Aging and Brain Strength

By Constance Washington, RN, VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans

HEALTH- June is National Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, a good time to reflect on mental sharpness—no matter what your age.

Isolated incidents where someone cannot recall a person’s name, phone number, or where they placed the keys, and other minor bouts of forgetfulness, are common. Noting that these memory lapses are likely due to the chemical and structural age-related changes in thinking skills can help bring peace of mind. But it’s a good idea to check in with your physician if you or a loved one seems more forgetful than usual and displays dramatic changes in appetite or sleep patterns, excessive worry or agoraphobia, panic attacks or increasingly erratic behaviors such as aggression, paranoia, wandering or rummaging around the house, getting lost in familiar places, or if there is a noted decline in organization and planning skills.

Any of these behaviors could signal early signs of age-related dementia and should be discussed with a health professional. My colleagues and I at VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans coordinate care for homebound seniors so they can live safely and independently in their own homes for as long as possible. To help those we care for stay mentally sharp and feeling their best, we encourage them to follow these easy-to-do steps to maintaining good mental health.

Embrace recognition instead of trusting recall. Humans are better at recognition than recall, making it easier to remember something they read, such as a note or list, than something they’re simply told.

Recognize the value of repetition. People are more inclined to remember what they hear if they repeat it out loud, such as names and addresses.

Eat a healthy diet.

A study of 27,000 people in 40 countries published in 2015 in the journal Neurology found that people who consumed healthy diets with lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, and little alcohol and red meat were less likely to experience declines in their memory and thinking skills.

Break things down.

Breaking things down into small chunks can help improve memory. Instead of trying to remember a whole speech, focus on a single sentence at a time.

Work your brain.

Reading, writing, completing puzzles and even playing along with TV game shows are fun ways to keep the mind sharp and active, offering opportunities to practice memorization.

Exercise/staying physically active. 

Exercise is overall good for the body. Maintaining an active lifestyle helps to improve memory and thinking skills.

Routine prevention/screening medical follow-ups. 

Illness can affect your brains ability to function optimally so it’s very important to go for your routine medical check-ups.

Social and recreational activity. 

Involvement in recreational activities such as playing cards, or working on puzzles helps to stimulate brain function and provides sociable times with family or friends.

Periodic memory lapses are often nothing to worry about. 

However, ongoing problems should be discussed with your primary care provider or a neurologist.

(Constance Washington of VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans is a Registered Nurse and Care Coordinator. The Visiting Nurse Service of New York is the largest not-for-profit home- and community-based health care agency in the United States, providing quality private care services.To learn more, visitwww.vnsnychoice.orgor call 1-855-AT CHOICE (1-855-282-4642).

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Health Options for Pride Week

Visiting Nurse Revisits the LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights

By Arthur Fitting, RN, LGBT Program Director, Visiting Nurse Service of New York

HEALTH- There’s an old adage: “With age comes wisdom.” Applying that adage to our current healthcare environment is the next great challenge for all of us in the LGBT community—especially those of us in the Stonewall generation who fought to gain acceptance and rights that were once unimaginable.

We’ve come such a long way since the days when being gay, lesbian or bisexual was considered criminal, sacrilegious or mentally ill behavior. Now we need to ensure that the healthcare industry completes that journey with us—and there’s no better time to focus on this challenge than right now, in the midst of NYC Pride Week 2018.

Based on data from SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older people, there are approximately three million LGBT adults over the age of 50 in the U.S., and that number is expected to grow to around seven million by the year 2030. 

As with all age groups, we, as members of the older LGBT population, face our own specific health concerns.

According to SAGE:

LGBT elders are twice as likely to be single and living alone;

We are far more likely than our heterosexual peers to have faced discrimination, social stigma and the effects of prejudice;

34 percent of older LGBT individuals fear they’ll have to re-closet themselves when seeking senior housing;

Nearly 60 percent report feeling a lack of companionship; and LGBT elders are also hesitant to trust health care providers after decades of bullying, discrimination and verbal or physical abuse. 

As a registered nurse working on the front lines for nearly 30 years, I’ve tried to face these disparities head on. And while we’ve come a long way with rights like marriage and adoption, we need to keep going, especially where health care is concerned. 

Today, many older LGBT people still find it difficult to find a physician or other healthcare professional they feel comfortable talking to. As a result, they often avoid seeking care until faced with an emergency situation. 

My goal as LGBT Program Director for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) is to work with my colleagues to help bridge this gap. A good starting point is New York City’s LGBTQ  Health Care Bill of Rights. First announced one year ago by Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, MD, MPH, New York City’s Commissioner of Health, this is a critical piece of healthcare information that empowers those of us in the LGBT community to take responsibility for our own health. It lays out 10 important legal rights that every older LGBTQ person can assert, in any health care situation. 
The LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights

In any health care setting or health care interaction, you have the right to:

  1. Be treated with dignity, respect and professionalism by all providers and all staff.
  2. Receive compassionate, judgement-free and comprehensive care that is mindful of your sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
  3. Respectful discussions with providers about your health and health care needs, including your sexual history and current sex life.
  4. Have your gender identity and gender expression recognized, affirmed, documented and accommodated.
  5. Clear explanations of requests for your health information.
  6. Clear explanations of all medical procedures and risks, and the right to choose or refuse any treatment.
  7. Access health insurance coverage and benefits without discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
  8. Choose who will make medical decisions for you if you are unable. If you are a minor, you have the right to have your voice heard and best interests included in these decisions.
  9. Decide who may and may not visit you if you are admitted to a health care facility.
  10. Privacy and confidentiality.

As a nurse, I’ve met so many LGBT people—of all ages—who still live in fear, and to whom these basic rights have been withheld, miscommunicated or culturally garbled, much like that old game of “telephone.” But it doesn’t have to be that way—which is why my colleagues and I are working so hard to educate our fellow New Yorkers about these rights, as well as the steps people can take to ensure they are upheld.

In particular, everyone should know that New York City provides several options for anyone who feels that their rights have been denied. If you believe you have been mistreated or denied care because of your sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, you can call The New York City Commission on Human Rights at 718-722-3131, or call 311, or file a complaint online to report discrimination (

Maintaining our health and navigating the healthcare system can be a difficult balancing act—especially as we age. Please keep this information close at hand, and remember, we should never get sick due to silence or fear!

Have a Healthy, Happy and Safe Pride Week!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Mini Museum Makes Big Impression at Lincoln Hospital

HEALTH- NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln announced the temporary installation of what is being called the world’s “Smallest Mollusk Museum,” located in the hospital’s front lobby for patients, visitors, and staff to enjoy. MICRO partnered with Science Sandbox to bring this captivating tiny science museum to the South Bronx hospital. 

About the size of a refrigerator, the science museum takes visitors on an adventure through the last 650 million years of life on earth and is packed with 15 exhibits on natural history, including two miniature movie theaters, a holographic aquarium, and the world’s first 3D-printed octopus brain. Accompanied by a free online book and audio tour, the Smallest Mollusk Museum is full of stories that explore the biology of our slimy sidekicks the mollusks, sparking delight in kids of all ages.

The Smallest Mollusk Museum was built by MICRO, a nonprofit whose fleet of tiny museums engage communities in conversations about the natural world, and is supported by Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation dedicated to the sciences.

“Curiosity, questioning, experimenting. All these things are fundamental to innovating and moving the boundaries of science,” said Milton Nuñez, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln. “Our patients, families, and visitors absolutely love the exhibit.”

“The NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln community is an important part of the South Bronx, and we’re delighted to become a part of it,” said MICRO’s co-founder Charles Philipp. “The Smallest Mollusk Museums are places where families get to step out of their normal days for a moment to connect, play, and explore. It’s a small thing that can make a big difference in the way people feel.”

Developed in collaboration with over 30 scientists from institutions including Stanford University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, MIT, and the University of Oxford, the Smallest Mollusk Museum will serve as an enjoyable gathering place for families and staff in the NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln community over the summer.