Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Three simple ways to spread holiday cheer to the homebound

By Joanna Ignatiades, RN, VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans

HEALTH NEWS- For many of us, the holidays are considered the “most wonderful time of the year.” But, for the frail, elderly, or homebound among us, the holidays can be a disheartening reminder of one’s own isolation and stripped independence.

As a registered nurse and care coordinator with VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans, I understand the fragile set of circumstances that often define this time of year for many people, including grief, limited mobility, and depression. Paying a visit to a shut-in friend, loved one or neighbor is not as consuming as you might think—and can go a long way to spreading the joy of the season in meaningful ways!

Here are a few ways to show a homebound person you care about them this holiday season:

“Bring the Outside In”: For many seniors with reduced mobility, gazing out the window can be an important connection to community and the outside world. Small plants make thoughtful gifts: No matter how small, nature always helps someone feel good. Helping an isolated loved one set up a small bird feeder outside a window can help keep their spirits up and encourage them to engage with the outside world – however small its creatures may be.

“Just for You” Coupons: Handmade “favor” coupons are free, yet meaningful. Offer a “Ten Minute Back or Shoulder Massage,” a “Free Day of Washing Dishes,” or a “Walk in the Park” for some guaranteed smiles. 

The Spice is Right: Healthy spiced nuts and other “sweet” gifts are a two-fold opportunity to spend some quality time with a loved one without sabotaging special dietary needs. 

The Caregiver’s Cookbook has great suggestions: https://www.vnsny.org/article_category/caregivers-cookbook/

For more information about VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans from the not-for-profit Visiting Nurse Service of New York, please call 1-888-867-6555 or visit www.VNSNYCHOICE.org.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Important Tips for Managing Diabetes at Home

By Joan Brown, RN, VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans

According to the American Diabetes Association, one in four Americans age 65+ now lives with diabetes—that makes it more important now than ever to find ways to bridge the gap in diabetes control. 

“Approximately one-third of our patients have diabetes in addition to their primary diagnosis,” says Yael Reich, a nurse diabetes specialist with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) who advises nurses on how to help patients and health plan members with diabetes manage their glucose levels. “This means our nurses are treating thousands of patients with diabetes on any given day.”

As a registered nurse and diabetes educator with VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans, my colleagues and I know that every day people with type 2 diabetes are warned by their doctors to monitor their diet and stay active in order to control blood sugar and maintain their health. We know too how difficult it can be when they walk out the office door to follow the advice. When they get home, the kitchen shelves are stocked with processed foods, white rice and sugary cereals; it’s difficult to find fresh or affordable produce in their neighborhood; and a regular fitness routine is one of those things they just never seem to get to.

Helping people better manage their diabetes and supporting them when lifestyle changes are needed is one of the most important things I do as a registered nurse and care coordinator. We have conversations every single day about how to apply “doctor’s orders” at home and keep diabetes under control for those who are at risk or coping with the disease. These strategies may be helpful for you as well: 

Shop Smart
You’ve heard it before, but when shopping and planning meals for yourself or a loved one with diabetes it’s important to remember:
  • Eliminate refined sugar.
  • Add fruits and vegetables to the diet. If you can’t get fresh, frozen is usually better than canned (check labels for sugars and sodium).
  • Not all fruits are created equal. Green means "go" for certain fruits: greenish bananas have less sugar than deep yellow ones, and green apples are better than red ones. Avoid grapes and raisins, which are high in sugar.
  • Stay away from white flour; choose brown rice and whole-wheat pasta instead.
  • Avoid salt and fat in cooking; if you do use fat, olive oil can be a great substitute for less healthy fats like butter.
  • Limit juices and avoid sodas
  • Control portions and don't skip meals. 
  • Have sugary items such as orange juice or hard candy on hand at all times in case of an emergency dip in blood sugar. 

Focus on What You CAN Have
As a caregiver for someone with diabetes, you can limit your role as naysayer by involving your loved one in mealtime decisions and preparation. Remind them what they can have in addition to what they cannot. Offer meals that are roasted or sautéed in olive or canola oil rather than fried. Think spices rather than salt or sugary sauces. 

For a filling, healthy alternative dish, try legumes—lentils, chickpeas, beans— rather than white rice, which is high in carbohydrates. There are plenty of diabetes-focused cookbooks that are full of helpful tips like these. Begin with the simplest one to avoid being overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, don’t underestimate the power of reward. With portion control and safety in mind, someone with diabetes (and their caregiver!) can indulge in a small treat now and then—say, to celebrate a good week. Think “fun-sized” candy bar. You may find, as our nurses often do, that once the good feeling of healthy eating takes hold, a couple bites of a sweet go a long way.

Steps in the Right Direction
The directive “Get plenty of exercise” can worry older people living with diabetes if it conjures up images of long jogging excursions or lifting weights at the gym. Instead, exercise can be part of daily life. A walk in the park or to the pharmacy or a stroll through the apartment hallways to get the mail all count! When riding the bus, get off a stop early and walk the extra few blocks home. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, at least for a flight or two. Exercise can even happen in front of the television, with a series of leg lifts or arm circles done right in your chair.

Head to Toe Care
Diabetes is a systemic disease that affects the whole body. Pay careful attention to vision, as diabetes-related damage to delicate blood vessels in the eye can cause problems. When caring for someone with diabetes, communicate often about how well they are seeing. And be observant: if your loved one used to read the paper every day but now leaves it untouched, ask about their vision, and follow up with a doctor if necessary.

Solutions for healthier living truly begin at home—speak with a health professional if you have questions or concerns about your risk for diabetes. With the right home care support, the tools for managing your blood glucose levels are within easy reach.

To learn more about health plans that help elder New Yorkers live more comfortably, safely and independently in their own homes, please visit www.VNSNYCHOICE.org or call 1-855-AT CHOICE (1-855-282-4642). VNSNY CHOICE is affiliated with the not-for-profit Visiting Nurse Service of New York. 


Friday, October 4, 2019

One Step at A Time: A Physical Therapist’s Guidelines for Better “PT”

By Sonia Rapaport, Physical Therapist and Rehabilitation Instructor, Partners in Care

When recovering from a serious injury, stroke, major surgery, or a debilitating condition, help is necessary to regain strength, coordination, and balance, in order to live your life as independently as possible. 

As a Physical Therapist and Rehabilitation Instructor at Partners in Care, the home care organization where I work, and its affiliate, The Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), my colleagues and I work closely with our clients to combine the latest medical knowledge and the most up-to-date technologies with hands-on care. We also develop goals for recovery and create a plan of care that helps our clients develop the skills and confidence they need to regain independence.
In recognition of National Physical Therapy Month, here are a few pointers about the many ways physical therapy can be of benefit, and how your physical therapist can work with you to provide optimal rehabilitation at home.
Assess Safety – First and foremost, your physical therapist will assess the safety of your home environment. This means ensuring that the space of your home is clear of obstruction and screened for falls risks–a safe recovery or rehab cannot be made in a danger zone!

Do You Need a Mobility Device? 

Your physical therapist will then determine if a mobility device, such as a walker or cane, is needed to assist your recovery and provide you with additional support when necessary. Mobility devices can prevent falls and further injury, and can also be helpful in regaining strength, coordination, and independence.

Develop a Care Plan 

A care plan based on your physical therapist’s recommendations and your personal goals will be developed to make certain that a clear line of communication is open, priorities are aligned, and rehabilitation is optimized.

Instruct Proper Body Movement and Positioning 

Excessive strain on joints and muscles while rehabilitating can initiate further damage and stunt the recovery process. Through physical therapy, you will be instructed on gait, learn how to conserve your energy, and teach you how to distribute your weight while moving and walking so that you’ll have less pain and recover more steadily.
Encourage Physical Activity 

A body in motion stays in motion! Keeping active is an essential part to recovery, and one of the most significant challenges that your physical therapist will help you overcome safely. Your physical therapist will develop exercise programs to target trouble areas, enhance balance and coordination, build up strength and stamina, and maintain muscle mass,

Educate on Proper Care 

Your physical therapist will instruct you and your caregiver on proper around-the-clock rehabilitation, which WILL include introduction of an exercise schedule, a list of things to avoid, and what to do if additional assistance is needed. 

APPROPRIATE AND THOROUGH information IS just as vital as physical strength when it comes to healing. 

Observe Progress 

DURING each session, your physical therapist will MONITOR your progress and ADJUST your care plan ACCORDINGLY. Close observation is key to proper care and full recovery. When undergoing physical therapy, it’s natural to feel discouraged by challenge, or lack of independence, but observing your progress will show you how far you’ve come–one step at a time.

Sonia Rapaport is a physical therapist and rehabilitation instructor with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York and its private pay affiliate Partners in Care. For more information please visit www.PartnersinCareNY.org or www.VNSNY.org, or call (212) 609-7700. 


Friday, September 20, 2019

Home Health Care Wisdom for Suicide Prevention and Risk Awareness

By Deirdré DeLeo, MA, LCSW, Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Community Mental Health Services

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death in people ages 10 to 34, the fourth leading cause of death in people ages 35 to 50, and the eighth leading cause of death in people ages 55 to 64. Alarmingly, the United States has seen a 41 percent increase in suicide from 1999 to 2016 among Americans ages 25 to 64. It is clear that America is facing a public-health crisis related to mental and behavioral health.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and an excellent time to review some of the signs and symptoms that may indicate that someone in your community or even your family may be at increased risk for suicide or other mental health issues that could be leading in that direction.

In my work as the Associate Director for Community Mental Health Programs and Clinical Operations at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), I work with a team of experts who are trained to observe and skillfully respond to people of all ages who may be struggling with mental health issues. We work with people from all walks of life and all ages, from very young children to the most elderly members of our communities. We meet people every day who are afraid to ask for help because they feel a sense of stigma at having difficulty, or they may live or work in situations where speaking up about what they are feeling does not feel safe or comfortable for a variety of reasons. 
My colleagues at VNSNY and I work closely and confidentially with organizations like NYC Well to help people who believe they may have problems with depression, stress, anxiety, or drug or alcohol misuse. No one should feel that they have to suffer alone. Private, cost-free care is available for anyone in our community who needs help. If you suspect someone might be in need of help you can call NYC Well at 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355), text “WELL” to 65173 or put “NYC Well” into your computer’s search 


Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind if you suspect a loved one may be having suicidal thoughts, or in need of help for mental health issues: 
• Talk About It – In many cultures, social circles, or families, talking about suicide or mental illness is considered “taboo.” Some believe speaking of suicide can make a person weak or will bring their suicidal thoughts to fruition. In fact, talking about our struggles is often a first step to getting the help we need and can be a vital component in the recovery process. Seek help from a health professional if you notice that someone is: Talking about wanting to die, being a burden, feeling hopeless about a situation, not having a reason to live, or being in unbearable pain.
• Listen Closely – Phrases like, “I just want to give up,” “I can’t do this anymore,” “Nothing I do is ever good enough,” “There’s nothing left for me,” etc., may disguise suicidal thoughts and desires and are often the number one indicator that an individual is contemplating suicide. Other signs and symptoms to take note of include: hoarding pills, inquiring about ways to commit suicide, increased use of alcohol or drugs, or the start of a new habit, reckless behavior or uncharacteristic agitation or anxiety, even being less social can be a sign that someone is severely depressed or having suicidal thoughts. 
• Take It Seriously – You might not realize that a friend or loved one is struggling. Be careful about just dismissing their communications saying, “It’s going to be okay,” or “Just get over it.” Even if you are not certain about the situation, let the person know that you care and would like to help. If you notice any of the behaviors mentioned above, maintain eye contact, keep a calming tone, and an open demeanor and listen. Recognize that when someone is in pain, their sense of reality may differ greatly from your own. 
  • Seek Help – Help of all levels is possible. Whether someone is in need of brief reassurance and counseling, access to emergency medical services, or connection to long-term resources, there are people standing by at all hours of every day to provide care to those suffering from mental illness or suicidal thoughts.

To learn more about community mental health services that are available where you live, visit VNSNY.org/community-mental-health-services.

Deirdré DeLeo, is the Associate Director of Programs and Clinical Operations with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York and its Community Mental Health Services division. For more information please visit www.VNSNY.org or call (800) 675-0391. 


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Helping Homebound Seniors Stay Safe in the Heat

Health News- Tips to Beat the Heat in Heatwave

By Constance Washington, RN, VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans

It’s July and the summer’s extreme heat is about to kick temperatures up a notch. When that happens we all need to keep a few important guidelines in mind. 

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.

1. 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.

2. 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. 

3. Cool down the body

Take 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 help with transfers and 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.

4. 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, call 311 to locate your nearest cooling centers. You may also qualify for a free air conditioner through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP); Call 1-800-692-0557 or 311 for more information.

Make sure you can get to important sites like the police station, fire station, pharmacy or hospital in case of emergency as well.

5. 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 forces you to stay 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

Constance Washington, RN, is a Care Coordinator with VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans. To learn more, visit www.vnsnychoice.org or call 1-855-AT CHOICE (1-855-282-4642).

Monday, July 1, 2019

Lewy Body, The ‘Other’ Dementia

Questions to Ask When a Loved One Receives a Diagnosis of Dementia

By Susan Northover, RN, MHA, SVP Patient Care Services, Visiting Nurse Service of New York

When Alissa’s father was diagnosed with dementia after exhibiting cognitive, behavioral and physical impairment, his family assumed it was Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. It was only when he ended up in the hospital, with severe psychiatric symptoms and a frightening reaction to medication, that the family received another diagnosis: What Alissa’s father actually had, the doctors informed them, was Lewy body dementia.

The second-most common form of dementia, Lewy body dementia (LBD) affects an estimated 1.3 million Americans, but few people have heard of it. Caused by an abnormal buildup of deposits (Lewy bodies) in the brain, LBD is closely related to Parkinson’s disease and is often accompanied by problems with gait and movement.

Like Alzheimer’s disease, LBD is progressive and irreversible, with palliative treatment and medications for symptom management recommended to help people maximize quality of life. But there are differences between the two illnesses, including which medications should be prescribed. For people with LBD, traditional antipsychotics should be avoided, as should a number of other medications, according to the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA).

Alissa’s father was originally prescribed a medication contraindicated for LBD, which caused him great psychiatric distress.

“If my Dad had been correctly diagnosed, he wouldn’t have displayed such nightmare behavior or been hospitalized – which caused all of us a great deal of concern and stress,” says Alissa.

Unfortunately, there are no specific diagnostic screens—no definitive brain imaging or blood tests—for dementia and its associated illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s or LBD. Rather, doctors make a clinical diagnosis based on medical history, a physical examination, lab tests that might suggest one diagnosis or another, and a finding of marked changes in cognitive and behavioral function. Once you or a loved one receive such a life-changing diagnosis, you should seek referral to a specialist to learn more about what to expect day to day and in the long run, and what the latest treatments are (as well as what to avoid), says Dr. Ritchell Dignam, Medical Director for VNSNY Hospice and Palliative Care. Because LBD overlaps many specialties, she recommends visiting a neurologist, psychiatrist, geriatric specialist and/or movement specialist.

Three Differences

While both forms of dementia are characterized by significant cognitive and behavioral decline, there are three key areas of difference between the presentation of Lewy body dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Fluctuations in Cognitive Ability

With LBD, a person’s alertness and attention can fluctuate quickly, often leaving family members confused and alarmed. “You could be having a discussion with them, but then sounds become unintelligible,” says Dr. Samuel Weisblatt, a VNSNY Hospice Team physician. “Fifteen seconds later, they’ll have no recollection that they were unintelligible.”

People with Alzheimer’s, on the other hand, tend to experience a more steady cognitive and functional decline.

Difficulties with Movement and Gait

Much more so than with Alzheimer’s, patients with LBD often show a physical decline from the beginning of their illness that grows more pronounced over time. This may include difficulty walking, frequent falling, stiffness and tremors (resembling Parkinsonian movements). Physical therapy may help people with LBD, notes Dr. Dignam.

With Alzheimer’s, movement and gait disorders typically present very late in the trajectory of the illness, if at all.


People with LBD, even in early stages, often have vivid hallucinations. Alissa’s father saw animals—a horse, dog, and cat—and could describe in great detail what they were doing. Such vivid hallucinations are not a typical symptom of Alzheimer’s, although they may appear in late stages of the illness.

For more differences and similarities, see this LBDO reference chart

Coping Day to Day

Despite these distinctions, what the two dementias have in common—a progressive and profound loss of the ability to remember, think, and perform daily activities—outweighs their differences.

Behavioral health nurses offer the following advice for caregivers dealing with any type of dementia, no matter the diagnosis. The goal with all of these approaches is to keep your loved one safe and comfortable, manage his or her symptoms, and keep yourself, the caregiver, healthy.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.

“Know that they are going to ask the same questions over and over,” says behavioral health nurse Joel Genaw, who works with people with all types of dementia. “Try to keep them oriented, but you also need to be prepared to be patient about answering and explaining again and again.”

Keep Calm and Carry On

Always keep your tone and facial expressions calm, no matter the crisis. This is not easy. While you would be forgiven for getting agitated the hundredth time you explained something or the twentieth time you attempted help with showering, a visible rise in your stress quickly magnifies your loved one’s stress and makes the situation much worse. Caregivers can learn over time what increases their loved one’s agitation—including unfamiliar surroundings—and try to minimize those situations.

Join them in their Reality

This is especially helpful when caring for someone with LBD. Remember that their hallucinations are exquisitely real to them, brought on by the physical changes in their brain. While you don’t see the horses running through the fields or their mother sitting on the couch in the living room, never try to convince the person otherwise. Be patient and let them tell their story.

Don’t Take it Personally

It can be upsetting to see and live with such profound changes in your loved one, who might lash out at you in frustration or anger. But remember that it is the disease causing the personality changes. As an organization of professional caregivers, we know how difficult and how incredibly important caregiving is, and we extend thanks to family members and other informal caregivers whenever we have the chance. We also recommend connecting to caregiver support resources, because you cannot give care to others if you don’t take care of yourself.

Through all stages of the illness, it can be helpful for caregivers to be able to manage expectations. And when it comes to the especially challenging task of caring for a loved one with dementia, knowing what to expect can be aided—at least a little—by having the right diagnosis. 

For Alissa’s family, the deterioration of their beloved father and husband was heartbreaking. But once they received the diagnosis of Lewy body dementia, they found a small measure of comfort in knowing they were taking the right steps. 

“We could see him decline before our eyes,” she said. “But once we understood exactly what it was, we had a better idea what was going to happen next. That helped.”


Friday, June 14, 2019

HIV Long Term Survivors Meet to Celebrate Aging Positively

By Chandra Wilson

Wednesday, June 5th is designated as national HIV Long Term Survivors Awareness Day. The Long Term Survivors Wellness Coalition, a New York-based coalition dedicated to identifying and addressing the needs of people in the long-term survivor community hosted the event, “We’re Still Here!,” a day-long celebration. 

The Long-Term Survivors Wellness Coalition, which consists of representation from the  NYC Health Department, The New York  City  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Visiting Nurse Service of New York, SAGE Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders, ACRIA, GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis), and AgingHIV.org, was formed two years ago by AIDS activists and original ACT UP members, Andy Velez and Timothy Lunceford-Stevens, who envisioned a collaborative of HIV/AIDS service organizations and individuals.
HIV long-term survivors experience unique circumstances and special needs. They are pioneering the experience of aging with HIV and all its attendant challenges: medication management, drug interactions and side effects, comorbidities, maintaining good mental health and sexual wellness. They are a population of great resiliency and strength. Recently the New York City Department of Health held multiple focus groups throughout the City to explore gaps in care for this underserved population.

Timothy Lunceford-Stevens led attendees in a moment of silence in recognition of the recent death of the coalition’s co-founder, Any Velez. 
“As long-term survivors of HIV, we know how to be strong, resilient, and advocate for our health,” said Graham Harriman, MA, Director of the Care and Treatment Program at the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control. “Today we come together to celebrate in a spirit of radical self-love, knowing that in order to support each other and nurture a world that embraces all of us living with and affected by HIV, we need to start being mindful of our bodies, our diet, our mental health, our relationships, and our ability to be present with each other as a community.”

“As the number of long-term survivors throughout New York continues to grow,” said Oni Blackstock, MD, MHS, Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control in her opening remarks. “The Bureau remains steadfast in our commitment to both prevent and treat HIV/AIDS among all New Yorkers.”

Highlights of the celebration, which took place at the Baruch College Vertical Campus Conference Center, included a Long-term survivors panel discussion and an unveiling of GMHC/ACRIA’s new National Resource Center on HIV and Aging, by Stephen Karpiak, PhD, International AIDS Society member and Associate Director for Research at the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America’s (ACRIA/GMHC) ACRIA’s Center on HIV and Aging, and Associate Faculty at New York University.

The Long Term Survivor’s Wellness Coalition panel discussion was moderated by Ed Shaw, a founding member and Chair Emeritus of the Consumer Advisory Board at GMHC, who has dedicated more than 25 years to educating and organizing to raise awareness about the particular needs of seniors at risk or living with HIV/AIDS. The panel included Nationally recognized writer, speaker and long-time HIV/AIDS activist, Tez Anderson, founder of “Lets Kick ASS—AIDS Survivor Syndrome;” Julia Sanchez, a Certified Peer Worker and Facilitator for The Positive Life Workshop at The Family Center; Octavia Y. Lewis, MPA, a transgender woman of color living with HIV who works as an activist, advocate, mother and scholar, and is currently a Community Ambassador with AmidaCare; and Billy Fields, a former AT&T manager and advocate appointed to the NYC HIV Planning Council by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and current Mayor Bill De Blasio.

“Helping long-term survivors of HIV—both men and women—feel confident, proud and supported, with access to the health care they need to live full and active lives is what the coalition strives to do,” said Arthur Fitting, RN, LGBT Program Manager at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. Other members of the Long-Term Survivor’s Wellness Coalition in attendance were: Stephen Karpiak, Gregg Bruckno, Timothy Lunceford, Vanessa Gonzalez, Bill Gross, Graham Harriman, Scott Spiegler, Sarah Kozlowski and Rafael Ponce.

Several awards presentations were made to advocates and members of the Coalition, and networking and breakout activates were held throughout the day focusing on food, cooking, nutrition and wellness demonstrations from Sophia Medinsky, RD at Heritage House, art therapy (by VisualAIDS), Yoga/Meditation (by Safiya Hassan), a sexual wellness discussion (by August Eckhardt from The Pleasure Chest) and a DJ, photo booth, dinner and dancing. The films Last Men Standing (documentary from San Francisco Chronicle) and Never Alone, developed by the Long View Coalition were also screened.


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Helpful Information about When to Visit Urgent Care Versus the Emergency Department

Monte Urgent Care Offers Alternative to ER Visit

By Dr. Amanda Parsons, Vice President of Community & Population Health at Montefiore Health System

HEALTH- Have you ever had a serious health problem and wanted to go see a doctor, but couldn’t get an appointment with your usual primary care provider so you ended up going to the Emergency Room instead? You are not alone. 

At Montefiore, we estimate roughly half of the visits that come to our Emergency Department could have been safely addressed in primary care or in Urgent Care centers. However, many patients are not familiar with Urgent Care or the services they provide.

Montefiore has three Urgent Care centers that are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They are open late (from 2 pm to 10:15 pm on weeknights) and on weekends (8:45 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday). These sites feature high-quality board-certified doctors who can treat children and adults. They can also do a range of procedures on-site including lab tests, X-rays, nebulizers, splints, and stitches. 

For patients without life-threatening issues, Urgent Care centers can usually provide faster service than Emergency Departments while providing high-quality care. Montefiore Urgent Care sites accept all major insurances, including Managed Medicaid, Medicare Advantage, and Fee-for-Service Medicaid.

So, if you're feeling unsure about using Urgent Care instead of the Emergency Department, here are some facts you should know:

1. Habit and Comfort

• Many people are familiar with the high-quality care and one-stop-shop experience they get at the Montefiore Emergency Department. We want our patients to know they can get the same great care for their serious, but not life-threatening, issues.

2. Fear

• Feeling ill or having a sick loved one can be a very scary experience. Some people feel more comfortable knowing that the Emergency Room has lots of staff and services. However, Montefiore’s Urgent Care centers also have well-trained staff, services and the equipment necessary to deal with urgent but non-life threatening problems.

3. Medical Records

• Some people choose to go to the Montefiore Emergency Room because they know the clinical team will have access to their electronic medical records. The good news is that the Montefiore Urgent Care sites use the same medical records as the Montefiore Emergency Rooms, hospital and primary care settings, so they can look up the same historical information. This helps reduce the number of questions patients have to answer about their medical histories, and also helps makes sure that prior test results are available for consideration or comparison.

4. Answering Machines

• Some doctor’s offices, when closed, have an answering machine message saying the office is closed and that if you need attention, you should go to the Emergency Room. This is true if you have a life-threatening emergency (like severe chest pain, sudden paralysis, serious burns or broken bones), but if you have more minor issues like an asthma exacerbation, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, cold or flu, muscle pain or a cut, you can go to Urgent Care instead.

So next time you or a loved one has a serious, but not life-threatening medical problem and you can’t get to your primary care provider, please consider visiting one of our Urgent Care sites:

1. Grand Concourse: 2532 Grand Concourse, Bronx NY 10458 (Between East Fordham Rd & E 192nd Street) Phone: 718-960-1569

2. Bronx East: 2300 Westchester Avenue, Bronx NY 10462 (Between Havemeyer Ave & Glover St) Phone: 718-409-8888

3. Cross County: 1010 Central Park Ave, Yonkers NY 10704 (Entrance on Allen Ave N) Phone: 914-964-4111

If you can’t get to one of those, Montefiore has a partnership with City MD. City MD has over 110 locations across New York and New Jersey including Bronx and Westchester. Visit www.cityMD.com for all locations and hours.

Learn more about when to use the emergency room at our first Emergency Department Utilization event in partnership with community boards 9, 10, and 11 on Tuesday, June 18th from 6-8 pm at the Morris Park Community Association Office (1824 Bronxdale Avenue). I will be representing the Montefiore Office of Community & Population Health in conversation with a local city council member and Dr. Frank Illuzzi, physician and Chief Medical Director of City MD.