Friday, May 29, 2020

Coronavirus- Montefiore Launches Clinic to Treat

Montefiore Launches Clinic to Treat Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children

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An unexpected and mounting complication thought to be related to COVID-19 is Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children. (MIS-C). As more cases of the syndrome appear in children throughout New York, a multidisciplinary team of pediatric specialists at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) have created a weekly MIS-C/COVID-19 Clinic where they will evaluate, diagnose, treat and monitor children with the syndrome.

MIS-C presents in children with features that overlap with other rare pediatric inflammatory conditions such as Kawasaki disease, including rash, conjunctivitis, and swollen hands or feet. 

Children with Kawasaki disease develop enlargement of the coronary arteries and aneurysms in those blood vessels. Other patients exhibit symptoms similar to toxic shock syndrome, with abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea, and high levels of inflammation in the body. This new condition requires expertise from a team of providers to help manage the varying symptoms experienced by children. 

At CHAM, pediatric cardiologists, pediatric rheumatologists, pediatric infectious disease experts, and pediatric hematologists have cared for more than 30 children with the syndrome so far, and recognizing that this is a new and unknown condition, believe that children would benefit from long-term follow-up.

The weekly clinic allows families to stay in regular contact with their child’s providers, monitor any changes and prevent potential complications of COVID or MIS-C. 

For more information call 718-741-2343.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

NYC Mayor-visits-NYC-Health-Hospitals-Jacobi-to-applaud-medical staff

Photos by Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

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Mayor Bill de Blasio visited NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi to applaud and thank medical staff. on May 22, 2020. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Coronavirus- Covid Concert in Bronx Hospital

Coronavirus- Covid Concert in Bronx Hospital Lifts Spirits 
Even in the Elevator

Singer and guitarist Tony Scarpa holds what could be the first concert in North America inside an elevator at North Central Bronx Hospital.--Photo by David Greene

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By David Greene, May 15, 2020

As mega performers like Elton John, Billy Joel and Beyonce remain sidelined due to the coronavirus outbreak and the closure of most concert halls around the world, the sound of song and yes, even some laughter, has continued to fill the halls, rooms and even elevators at one local hospital. Members of the Health and Hospital Corporation's North Central Bronx Hospital's Creative Arts Therapy Department have been spreading good will throughout the hospital through song and dance.

In a poetic moment caught on video at the Kossuth Avenue hospital in Norwood, music therapist Tony Scarpa, 68, a resident of Long Island, held an impromptu concert on the elevator with a maximum crowd of five as he and his partner Alexa Palmer were headed to another floor. Scarpa continued to play, "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles. One hospital staff member is seen moving her head to the song's rhythm.

During a telephone interview the following day, Scarpa explained he and his partner Palmer, 30, who are officially dubbed, the 'Music and Emotional Support' team at the hospital, but unofficially the duo is called the "Chill Pills." Palmer is a creative arts therapist and Scarpa says, "I play the guitar and sing the songs and she dances with them" and gets patients to move.

"What I normally do here is," Scarpa recalled, "I'm a music therapist in the Partial Hospitalization Program for people with mental illness, that's what I've been doing. But what happened when the COVID came to the hospital, they closed the program to make room for the COVID patients."

The Music Emotional Support staff also known as the "Chill Pills" (l-r): Alexa Palmer and Tony Scarpa of North Central Bronx Hospital.--Photo by David Greene

He continued, "So I wasn't doing that anymore, so I went to the CEO of the hospital and requested that I do this, which would be providing stress relief and emotional support to patients and staff. I'd go around and do music therapy with them."

After given the blessing by North Central Bronx Hospital's CEO Cristina Contrera last month, the duo have been traveling throughout the hospital, performing for staff members and patients, even bringing other instruments and song sheets with lyrics, if anyone wants to join in.

Scarpa says, "They play the instruments and basically just have a good time and take their mind off of their problems and stress."

As Scarpa belts out his tunes, Palmer gets their crowd involved as a dance and movement therapist. 

Palmer explained, "I help the staff and patients physicalize and move the body as a form of expression, socialization and stress relief." She continued, "I focus on the nonverbal expressions and create a supportive relationship from there, through mirroring and attuning to their movements, rhythm and mood."

"Movement and dance," Palmer noted, "is also a great form of providing joy, connection and emotional release." She said of her job at the Creative Arts Therapy Department "Could be draining, but it's also very rewarding, especially at a time of crisis."

Like any group before a big gig, Scarpa and Palmer go over their playlist daily, which Scarpa says his catalog includes about 20,000 songs, including such groups as "The Beatles," "The Black Eyed Peas" and "Maroon Five" to name just a few. He tapes his day's list of 30 or so songs that he feels "appropriate" for that day, on his guitar however, he explains, "usually people request songs, so that changes things."

Dealing with a diverse crowd, Scarpa says, "You'll get more people joining in with the older songs. Yesterday we got a request from a woman who was actually a COVID patient and we were playing for the staff and the staff suggested we visit her because she likes music." When the "Chill Pills" arrived, the patient requested, "We are The World."

Recalling his work in the height of the pandemic in April, Scarpa said, "The songs at the beginning, when the outbreak first took over, were songs more about caring and compassion and helping each other like ‘Lean on Me,’ I don't know if you know the words of that song, but it's more about someone saying I'll help you and then you'll help me and we'll help each other... more songs that are directly related to the sadness and the grief everyone was feeling in the early weeks."

At one point in the interview Scarpa clearly became emotional as he recalled his first performance after the outbreak of the coronavirus. "The first person I went to, I started playing ‘Stand by Me’ and gosh, we probably weren't into the song 15 seconds and the woman that I was playing for was right behind the desk and she started crying."

"Now things tend to be lightning up," Scarpa says after a nearly 7-week "PAUSE" order and partial closure of our entire city, he now adds, "And people are enjoying more happier music. I’m not being reminded so much of the COVID anymore and people just want to have a good time and that's the stage were at now... We're starting to see the light in the tunnel and things are getting better."

Scarpa, who first performed at the 1964 World's Fair at the age of 12, recalled his most recent performances, and said, "The thing that affects you the most is the demand that people had to hear these songs. I felt like they were in a desert and I had water." He added, "I can never remember a time when people had a connection to music like that."

"The Chill Pills" continue to perform daily at North Central Bronx Hospital, with the largest crowd of 20 held in a cafeteria or the hospital's lobby. The entire staff of art and movement therapists also had plans for something special in honor of 'Nurses Week.'

In a prepared statement issued by Cristina Contreras, the Executive Director, NYC Health and Hospitals / North Central Bronx, noted, "Singing, listening to music and dancing have uplifted hearts for centuries and in the clinical settings have been associated with improved outcomes."

Contreras added, "Our music therapy program has proven to be a potent tool for improving employee morale and patient satisfaction and functions as an extension of the care team. The physical, psychological and social effects of the music therapy are a catalyst for healing and as such a crucial component of the ancillary services we offer our NCB community of both staff and patients."

Thursday, May 21, 2020

National Nurses Week - nurse uses scooter to fight covid-19

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Reachena Ang-Ty has been an RN at North Central Bronx’s Employee Health department for 8 years. She is one of so many amazing nurses that juggle being a full-time super RN and a full-time wonder mom.  Reachena is currently expecting her third child and manages to make it to work on her scooter every day.

Reachena still arrives to work with her helmet, electric scooter and her smile. During the COVID-19 pandemic she has not missed a day at work, helping to ensure the workforce is healthy and ready to return to work to combat COVID19. 

With two toddlers at home, Reachena has become an impromptu kindergarten teacher, readily moving on to that role as soon as she goes through her nightly ritual of removing her scrubs and shoes at the door.  Her children are still not used to the fact that they can’t greet mommy with a hug at the door until she’s gotten rid of all the “yucky germs”. 

For Reachena, this is one of the toughest parts of her day, “I had to stop my much-needed welcome home hugs and kisses after a long day. Now I have to let them know, ‘mommy has too many germs and I need to shower before you can touch mommy’!”

Reachena recognizes the challenges she faces and how they have been compounded with this time of crisis, but she meets those challenges with a positive attitude, “I don’t get much rest these days, but I love being a nurse and I love being mom, I’m blessed! What more can I ask for?”

NYS Ban on Flavored Vape Products in Pharmacies

NY Bans Pharmacies from Selling Flavored Vaping Products 

May 18, 2020 marked a new day for public health in New York State. Per a new law passed earlier this year, sales of tobacco and vapor products are now prohibited in pharmacies. The change could be a catalyst for increased quit-attempts among state residents. That's good news for the New York State Smokers' Quitline (Quitline).

The Quitline provides free evidence-based coaching for all of New York State as well as a starter supply of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) – including patches, gum and lozenges – for eligible participants. In addition, the Quitline and Health Systems for a Tobacco-Free New York regional contractors assist pharmacies statewide by providing cessation education to pharmacists and supporting their patients with quit-attempts.

One organization the Quitline partners with is Tops Friendly Markets, a Williamsville N.Y.-based regional grocery chain with pharmacies in more than 50 of its locations throughout Western and Central New York. Each pharmacy is connected to the Quitline's Patient Referral Program, which provides additional support to help pharmacists track patient outcomes.

"With the new law taking effect, our customers may be turning to us for added support to quit smoking or vaping," said Jamie Keller, PharmD, clinical pharmacy specialist with Tops. "We're here to promote health, and anyone 18 years or older can continue to purchase NRT at our pharmacies. We encourage our customers to consult our pharmacists about the different FDA-approved medications available and learn more about additional resources available such as the Quitline."

Kinney Drugs, a Gouverneur, N.Y.-based pharmacy chain with nearly 100 locations in Central and Northern New York as well as nearby Vermont, took a proactive approach beginning in 2014 to comprehensively train all its pharmacists to provide pharmacotherapy and counseling for tobacco-using patients. Shannon Miller, PharmD, BCPS, CDE, director of patient outcomes, said the training is part of Kinney's "Ready. Set. Quit." smoking cessation program. 

"Ultimately, this law moves New York State pharmacies much closer to our mission of helping people stay well through healthy habits," Miller said. "While some customers may initially be frustrated about no longer being able to purchase tobacco products at pharmacies, we hope the new law may be an impetus to get them to think about quitting.”

Ted Dennee, wellness strategies manager for Wegmans, a multi-state chain supermarket with 47 locations across New York State, understands the important role pharmacists play in tobacco cessation efforts. Dennee works with Roswell Park Cessation Services (RPCS) – the program that administers the New York State Smokers' Quitline – to promote smoking cessation among Wegmans' tobacco-using team members.

"Wegmans took a stand back in 2008 to not allow tobacco products in its stores," Dennee said. "We believe we can be stewards of good health, especially at our in-store pharmacies. Quitting smoking is the very best thing tobacco users can do to improve their health. That's one reason we partnered back in 2013 with RPCS to create Wegmans QuitClub, an added resource to give smokers the best possible odds to take back their health. The new law is another great step in that direction, and we applaud the efforts by our state government to make it happen."

Quit Coaches are available seven days a week beginning at 9 a.m. at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) to help all New York State residents overcome nicotine dependency with smoking and vaping. The Quitline recommends pharmacists connect to the Quitline's Patient Referral Program to provide their tobacco-using patients added support, including a personalized quit-plan. Quitline experts can also offer customized training to help individual pharmacists and organizations become better equipped for coaching patients. 

Contact information is available at the Quitline's Online News Room, located at

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Living comfortably with COPD

Take a Breath: 
Living comfortably with COPD

By Fatima Shell-Sanchez, Registered Nurse, Visiting Nurse Service of New York

According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 12 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a chronic illness characterized by decreased airflow in and out of the lungs, tightened muscles in the chest, excessive mucus, shortness of breath, fatigue, chronic cough and frequent respiratory ailment.

As many as 120,000 people are estimated to die from the disease each year. Conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis are common forms of COPD, though many suffer from both, and those with COPD may also have asthma. 

November is COPD Awareness Month, and a good time to review the signs and symptoms of COPD to see if you or a loved one may be living with this disease. While there is no cure for COPD, your doctor or healthcare professional can help you slow the damage to your lungs, improve symptoms, and better manage your illness.
As a registered nurse with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, my colleagues and I help New Yorkers manage their COPD symptoms every day. The first recommendation is to quit smoking and avoid exposure to others who smoke. Making lifestyle changes like this can be difficult, but by understanding the disease it is possible to learn how to control symptoms and triggers so you can prevent complications and stay well. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind and discuss with your doctor or a health professional: 


People with COPD often feel shortness of breath, which may cause fear and anxiety. Fear and anxiety may lead to less activity which will make you physically weaker. If you notice the following symptoms you should seek medical attention right away: 

* Frequent coughing and coughs that include mucus.

* Trouble breathing both during the day and at night.

* Slow recovery (several weeks) from a cold or chest infection.

* Feeling too weak or fatigued to go to work or do chores around home.

* You tire easily and cannot walk up stairs or across the room very well. 
Among the most indicative factors of COPD are shortness of breath, chest tightening, an intense need for air, and a feeling of being suffocated. 
These symptoms can trigger an anxious response in the body, causing shallow breathing to worsen. This discomfort and anxiety can lead to decreased physical activity, and as physical activity decreases, so does physical strength. A consistent decline in activities of daily living can lead to depression as well. If unmanaged, the compilation of these symptoms can contribute to a serious “downward health spiral” for someone with COPD.


COPD is a serious illness that needs medical attention. Your doctor can help you manage symptoms and stay as healthy as possible. In some cases, it may even possible to reverse the downward health spiral. 

At VNSNY, care for each of our COPD patients begins with a complete health assessment to develop individualized plan that may include nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, social work and home health aide services (personal care).

Here are some important self-management guidelines to discuss with your physician, a health professional and your family: 

Quit Smoking – Most people with COPD are smokers or were smokers in the past. Quitting smoking is the single most important step you can take to improve your overall health and slow the progression of COPD. Nicotine Replacement Therapy, medications which reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms, and support groups are all available for those looking to quit smoking.

Prevent Further Damage to Your Lungs – Those living with COPD should avoid breathing in air irritants, which can increase swelling in airways and increase mucus production. Avoid outdoor air pollution by staying indoors if air quality is poor, smoggy, or traffic is heavy. Stay away from perfumes, dust, pets, cooking fumes, and aerosol sprays indoors.

Make Use of Medication and Equipment – COPD medications may be taken to either decrease or eliminate symptoms. Most COPD medications–usually administered through an inhaler–make the breathing passages larger so air can get in and out more easily. Nebulizers, which use oxygen or compressed air to deliver liquid medications to the lungs, or oxygen therapy, can also be used to treat symptoms of COPD.

Learn Energy Conservation Techniques – A body in motion stays in motion, but one should get necessary amounts of rest and maintain a healthy physical balance. Pace yourself and get a full night’s sleep every night. Proper, upright posture can also conserve one’s energy, as it allows for more oxygen to enter the body.

Refine Your Diet – Nutritious food can aid overall physical and mental health. Reducing intake of soft drinks, sugars, alcohol, and salty snacks can be beneficial in coping with COPD, and sufficient fluid intake can help keep mucus thin and airways clearer.

Improve Your Mental Health – There are many relaxation techniques, including progressive muscle relaxation and meditation, that can reduce anxiety, improve breathing, and promote overall well-being. If your emotional health persists or worsens speak to your doctor about getting help to combat depression and anxiety resulting from COPD.

Get Physical! – Exercise is essential to meeting one’s potential while living with COPD–this also includes breathing exercises. A health professional can guide you through exercises to open the airways and strengthen the lungs. Talk to your health care provider about a workout plan that best suits your goals and capabilities.

Living with COPD can be physically and mentally challenging, but by quitting smoking, managing symptoms, and seeking proper treatment, one can learn to live comfortably, reduce risk, and take a deep breath.

Fatima Shell-Sanchez, RN, is a registered nurse with the not-for-profit Visiting Nurse Service of New York. Learn more about how home health care can support your well-being by visiting or calling 1-800-675-0391.

Women Need to Put Their Hearts First- Heart Health Reminders

Sheryl Jarvis, RN, Visiting Nurse Service of New York

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By Sheryl Jarvis, RN, Visiting Nurse Service of New York, May 12, 2020

While the coronavirus crisis is top of mind for everyone these days, it is important that all of us stay mindful of lifestyle choices that support good health—despite the stresses of sheltering in place and working remotely, with everyone in the family under one roof.

I’m taking the opportunity during Women’s Health Week, to remind the family caregivers and female patients that I care for every day as a public health nurse with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York that staying safe, means paying extra attention to heart health for women.

Heart disease is the number one killer in women – with a disproportionate effect on African American women – and yet only 47 percent of women are aware of this. The Women’s Heart Foundation and  American Heart Association remind us that:

* Women with diabetes are twice as at risk of heart attack as non-diabetic women. 49 percent of African American women age 20 and older have heart disease.

*Only 1 out of 5 African American women believes she is personally at risk.

*Cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 500,000 African-American women annually. 

*Every year, heart attacks kill six times as many women as breast cancer.

It's no secret that for women age 65 and up, these risk factors abound. As you age, so do your blood vessels, which become less flexible and more difficult for blood to readily, move through them every day.  

As a Registered Nurse with VNSNY, I work with elderly patients - many of whom are frail and homebound - who are diagnosed with heart disease. While some risk factors, such as family history, menopause, and age are inescapable, others can be avoided with a few lifestyle changes. Here are some reminders for women of all ages to reinforce healthful, heartful well-being:

Just Say No to Smoking: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought attention to just how vulnerable our lungs can be to toxic viruses. Smoking is toxic too. It’s time to stop smoking.

Smoking increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, including stroke – and heart disease. Even second-hand smoke can increase your risk, and this risk factor is greater for women than for men. Your risk of heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker in just one year after quitting.

Journal Every Kernel: Lots of people are stress eating these days, but watching what you eat – specifically, keeping high fats, sugar, and salt-laden treats at bay – can help prevent weight gain and keep cholesterol levels under control. Be sure to read food labels to check the amount of sodium in packaged foods. Keeping a food journal is a simple way to hold yourself accountable to your healthy eating goals. For example, writing down the content on your food labels – e.g. salt content levels – or how many servings of fruits and vegetables you have each day helps you to manage and plan your diet more effectively. This practice is especially important for African American women, who may be more sensitive to the effects of salt

Stairway to Heart Health: For optimum heart health, the American Heart Association recommends thirty minutes of moderate to dynamic aerobic exercise on most days of the week in order to improve heart and lung fitness and to lower risk factors for heart disease. Aerobic exercise opportunities are limitless: Go for a walk after you eat, skip the elevator and take the stairs to pick up the mail – your heart will thank you for it later! For my patients with limited mobility, I suggest doing leg exercises in your chair while watching TV, seated arm stretches or riding a stationary bike with a doctor’s approval. 

Sheryl Jarvis, RN, is a public health nurse with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the largest not-for-profit home- and community-based health care agency in the country. To learn more, visit: or call 1-800-675-0391.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Coronavirus- Einstein Hospital Celebrates 1,000th COVID-19 Patient's Discharge

Maximo Gonzalez is surrounded by a few dozen staff members of the Jack D. Weiler Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine as he is being discharge.--Photo by David Greene

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By David Greene, May 8, 2020

Staff members at one local hospital took a few minutes off from their busy day to applaud their work and say goodbye to their 1,000th patient of COVID-19, who has been discharged since the pandemic began.

Bronxite Maximo Gonzalez, 56, originally from the Dominican Republic, was brought to the Jack D. Weiler Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Morris Park and after two days, the red carpet was rolled out for him as staff cheered him as he left the hospital on May 7.

According to Elizabeth Kaledin, the hospital's Vice President of Public Relations, said of Gonzalez' case, "It wasn't a severe case of COVID, but he tested COVID-positive. His story is that he was the 1,000th discharge. You know that's the big headline. That this is a community hospital taking care of people who live here."
Sitting in a wheelchair alongside of the hospital staff that treated him, Bronxite Maximo Gonzalez gives a thumbs up after being discharged from the Jack D. Weiler Hospital on May 7.--Photo by David Greene

Kaledin added, "He came in, he was tested, he was also reporting swelling in his legs and he was treated and went home today. So it's a good case scenario. Luckily he was not on a ventilator or anything like that."

Gonzalez thanked the staff and said he looked forward to going home and gave a 'thumbs up' sign before leaving the hospital.

Thank-you cards from patients and family members fill up a bulletin board in the lobby of the Jack D. Weiler Hospital.--Photo by David Greene

In a video released via YouTube, Beverly Michael, the Executive Director of the Jack D. Weiler Hospital, said of the milestone, "It feels wonderful, but it couldn't happen without all of the wonderful clinicians who work here at the Weiler Hospital, all of our physicians, PA's, nurses, all of our ancillary support staff, they are really committed to our patients and they've taken excellent care of them while their here."

A day earlier local television networks were at Montefiore Hospital in Norwood as Hubert Herrera Vanegas, 55, was released from the hospital. He was the 5,000th patient released from the 11 hospitals that make up the Montefiore healthcare system. 

The Jack D. Weiler Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine is also a part of that system.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Coronavirus- Honoring Nurses on the Frontline

Ann Moriarty, RN. Moses Cath Lab

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This Nurse’s Week, Montefiore Health System thanks its nurses for their dedication to patients during the COVID-19 crisis and always. 

Brenda Solis CTICU RN, Cath Lab CCRN, TNCC

Even through these unprecedented times, Montefiore nurses come to work every day to give patients the best care possible. Montefiore officials said they are so grateful for the nurses’ compassion, expertise and trust.

Christina O’Malley RN Pediatric Emergency Room

(L) Ludovico Baqueriza, RN, Pediatric Emergency and Emily Colety, RN, ICU