Thursday, August 30, 2018

Pediatrician’s Back to School Checklist

By Bianca Calderon, MD, FAAP
Attending Physician in Pediatrics, Comprehensive Health Care Center, Montefiore Medical Group
Instructor, Department of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine 

NEW YORK- As summer winds down, it’s time to start thinking about preparing your children for the new school year. 

As a pediatrician at Montefiore’s Comprehensive Health Care Center, I have seen quite a few children go through this transition year after year. To make the back-to-school transition as smooth as possible, here is my recommended checklist for parents: 


Make sure that your child is up to date with their annual physical. 

If you do not remember when your child last had a physical, you can always call your pediatrician’s office and ask. 

Make sure that your child is up to date with their vaccinations. 

You can refer to the CDC website for the recommended vaccine schedule:

You can find the medical and vaccine requirements for New York City schools here:

And don’t forget about the flu shot! 

Most pediatric offices should be carrying the influenza vaccine by early September. 

Make sure to call your pediatrician’s office to find out when they will have the flu shot and what their policy is for coming in to get the shot (ask whether you need an appointment or if you can just walk in). 

For the 2018-2019 school year, all children aged 6 months through 59 months who attend a New York City regulated childcare program must receive the flu shot by December 31st. 

A lot of children have anxiety about the first day of school, especially if they are entering a new school. To help offset this anxiety, you can: 

Talk through what the new school year will be like with your child. 

For elementary school students, you can tell them their teacher’s name and go through any information/expectations the teacher has told you beforehand. 

For middle school and high school students, go through their schedule with them. 

For those attending a new school in the fall, in order to help your child feel more comfortable with the transition, make sure that both you and your child take a tour of the new school and go to orientation. 


Start having your children adjust back to the school sleep and wake schedule a few days to a week before school starts. 

That way, their bodies will already be accustomed to this schedule on the first day of school. 

Remember: younger children generally require 10-12 hours of sleep each night, and teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep each night.


Make sure that you have a safe plan for how your child is going to get to school and how they are going to get home after school. 

If your child needs any special accommodations for travel, make sure to set this up with the school before the school year starts. 


If your child will be walking to school, make sure that it is a safe and well-lit route. 

Make sure that you or another trusted adult has practiced the route with them before the first day of school. 

If possible, find out if other neighborhood children will be going to the same school so that the children can walk together. 

Remind your children not to talk to strangers. 

Make sure that your child is always wearing a helmet when they are riding their bike.


Make sure your child knows to look both ways before crossing the street. 

Make sure your child does not try to board the bus until the bus has come to a complete stop. 

Make sure your child wears the lap strap or seatbelt (if the bus has these devices). 


Make sure that everyone in the car is wearing a seatbelt. 

If your teenager will be driving themselves to school, remind them not to use their cellphones while driving and to always be fully focused on the road. 

Back pain due to a heavy backpack is a common complaint. 

In order to avoid this complaint: 

Make sure that your child uses both straps when wearing their backpack.

Choose the right sized backpack. You should be able to adjust the straps so that the bottom of the backpack is near the level of your child’s waist. 


If your child is entering middle school or high school, you should have a frank conversation with them about smoking, drugs, alcohol, sex (including contraception and sexually transmitted infections), and romantic relationships. 


Find out if your child’s school provides breakfast. If the school does not provide breakfast, make sure that your child has breakfast before school each day. 

Children who eat breakfast have more energy, focus better, and have improved school performance.

If you want more information on preparing for the new school year, you can check out the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website for parents:

Bronx hospital Named ‘High Performing’ by US News & World Report

Lincoln Hospital honored for its heart help

NEW YORK-U.S. News & World Report has named NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln a “High Performing” hospital for both heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The recognition was published as part of the national magazine’s “Best Hospital” issue for 2018-19.

“We are delighted that once again U.S. News & World Report has recognized the world-class care provided to the South Bronx community,” said Milton Nuñez, chief executive officer of NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln. “This care is among the best found anywhere and is evidence of the compassion, focus, and hard work of staff and leadership.”  For the second consecutive year, NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln received the “High Performing” designation for both heart failure and COPD.

The hospital’s clinical leaders credit their success working with patients with heart failure or COPD with their collaborative, comprehensive approach involving staff in the departments of Medicine, Nursing, Social Services, and the Emergency Department.

Patient care management is guided by the most current clinical guidelines. Nurses and care managers work with patients to help them manage these chronic conditions, preferably in the adult medicine clinic. 

They ensure that each patient is on appropriate medications and has no adherence barriers. They also identify the impact of social determinants on disease control and initiate mitigation plans, when appropriate, in collaboration with other disciplines and community service providers.

For patients with congestive heart failure, a check list is created that ensures that the American Heart Association’s “Get with the Guidelines” criteria are implemented for each patient.

Similar oversight is applied for patients who go to the emergency department. 

For patients with either condition who are hospitalized, their primary care physician is made aware. On discharge, patients receive a month’s supply of medications and follow-up appointments are scheduled within a week, both with their primary care physician and their cardiologist (for heart failure) or pulmonologist (for COPD).

U.S. News & World Report’s “High Performing” rankings for heart failure and COPD are based on multiple critical data categories, including patient survival, number of patients treated, and care-related factors. NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln earned the recognition by performing significantly better than the national average.

“The recognition by U.S. News & World Report is further validation that our hospital continues to provide excellent health care to the community we serve,” stated Anita Soni, MD, chief medical officer for the hospital. “We are committed to meeting the health care needs of this community and reducing health disparities in services found in urban communities.”

U.S. News & World Report generates hospital rankings annually by evaluating data on nearly 5,000 hospitals to help patients decide where to receive the most appropriate care.

For more information, visit and stay connected on Facebook at or Twitter at @NYCHealthSystem.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Schedule Back to School Checkups with Doctors

Physicals, Immunizations, and Wellness Services Available City-Wide at Little or No Cost

NEW YORK- As the new school year approaches, NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln encourages parents and guardians to prepare their children for academic readiness by scheduling appointments for physicals, immunizations, vision and hearing tests, and other health services.

To make an appointment at any public health system location, parents and guardians are encouraged to call 1-844-NYC-4NYC (1-844-692-4692).  

In addition to appointment availability, NYC Health+ Hospitals also invites families to visit Back-to-School Health Fairs, offered at Lincoln Medical Center on September 8, 2018, and at select locations in all five boroughs on different dates in August and early September.

“Parents and guardians should help kids prepare for a great school year by making sure they are healthy, up to date on their immunizations, well rested, and ready to learn,” said Warren Seigel, MD, chairman of Pediatrics at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island. “We know that healthy students are better learners, and a healthy school environment gives all students the best chance to learn and grow.”

NYC Health + Hospitals also offers parents and guardians 7 health tips to help children get ready for the school year, including advice on vaccination requirements, flu shots, nutrition, sleep, setting routines, and limiting screen time on computers and cellphones.

The Bronx:

NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln
234 East 149th Street
Back-to-School Health Fair: Saturday, September 8, 10am – 2pm

NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Belvis 
545 East 142nd Street
Back-to-School Fair: Wednesday, August 29, 12pm – 4pm 

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).