Boyd Well Drillers repair

Water Emergency in Mahopac; County Executive and Health Department Step In

Water Emergency in Mahopac; County Executive and Health Department Step In

BREWSTER, NY— A public health emergency was in the making according to Interim Health Commissioner Michael Nesheiwat, MD. On Thursday, with the Chateau Ridge well water system in Mahopac barely functioning and with no hope of immediate repair, County Executive MaryEllen Odell authorized an emergency delivery of 6,000 gallons of water to be delivered to the water storage tanks for Chateau Ridge.

“We have been monitoring the overall situation,” explains Dr. Nesheiwat. “From a water safety perspective, the water quality has been fine. This week all thirteen water districts serviced by Forest Park Water Company had been put on water conservation restrictions until further notice in order to avert a potential major water outage. Up until now, only some districts and their residents have had to contend with water shortages, resulting from the various problems with the water systems.”

“With this health emergency, we needed a short-term and a long-term solution,” said County Executive Odell. “We needed water out there immediately and we got it there in a matter of hours. I have further called upon our law department, and with the assistance of Senator Terrance Murphy, we have reached out to the New York State Public Service Commission to help expedite the sale of Forest Park Water Company that has allowed this unacceptable situation.” The sale to United Water Company is currently slated to take place in September.

On Thursday, one of the two wells at the Chateau Ridge water supply stopped producing water. Forest Park Water Company could not arrange for repair because their payment could not be guaranteed, causing an emergency situation. When the functioning well could not keep up with demand, Mr. Cody Barticciotto, from CEMCO, the current water supply operator put in overtime. According to residents, Mr. Barticciotto spent two nights at the Chateau Ridge pump house trying to maintain the system. Additionally Henry Boyd, of Henry Boyd Well Drillers, has stepped in at the request of the health department, to provide an emergency repair without knowing when payment would be made.

As of early Friday afternoon, workers from Boyd Well Drillers had replaced the well pump and removed one bad section of line of the broken well. Currently this well is producing 60 gallons a minute. As of 3 p.m., both wells are functioning and the system is back on line.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit the PCDOH website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health or visit the social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth, and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

rabiesclinicjuly9th

Free Rabies Vaccine Clinic Saturday July 9th at 10 a.m.

Brewster, NY-  Bring your dogs, cats and ferrets to a FREE rabies vaccination clinic on Saturday, July 9,
from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sponsored by the Putnam County Department of Health, the clinic is being held at Hubbard Lodge, 2880 Route 9, Cold Spring, N.Y. and is open to all Putnam County residents.

Please bring photo ID as proof of Putnam County residency, as well as written proof of prior

rabies vaccination. Tags are not acceptable. If you do not have a written certificate documenting prior
rabies vaccination, your pet will receive a one-year rabies vaccine. All dogs must be leashed and
well-controlled and cats and ferrets must be in a carrier. An animal information/release form will be
available and can be completed at the clinic site. For more information and directions, please call the
Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390 ext. 43127.

Pet vaccination is important to protect your pets and prevent the spread of rabies, but the number-one reason for rabies treatments in Putnam County remains bat exposures. In warmer weather bats return to the local area and are more active and likely to get into homes. If you find a bat in your house, capture the bat and call the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390. A staff person will assess your situation and if appropriate, arrange to test the bat for rabies, since this is the only way to avoid unnecessary treatment, a two-week series of shots. For more information about rabies and capturing a bat, visit the Putnam County website at http://www.putnamcountyny.com/health/communicable/ .

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health is to improve and protect the health of our community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family
health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

 

Saturday, July 9, 2016
10 am – 12 pm
at Hubbard Lodge
2880 Route 9
Cold Spring, NY 10516

Bring your pets –
dogs, cats, and
ferrets for a FREE Rabies Vaccination!
Dogs must be leashed. Cats &
ferrets must be in carriers.

Items to Bring:

  • Photo ID as proof of Putnam County residency.
  • Proof of prior rabies vaccination, tags are NOT
    acceptable. (If you do not have
    proof of prior rabies vaccination,
    your pet will receive a one-year
    rabies vaccination.)

Please call the Putnam County Department of Health for directions and more information at
(845) 808-1390 ext. 43127

 

foodborneillensseswhenindoubtpcdohbk

Summer Activities Increase Risk for Foodborne Illness; PCDOH Advises “When in Doubt, Throw it Out”

Summer Activities Increase Risk for Foodborne Illness;
PCDOH Advises “When in Doubt, Throw it Out”

Brewster, NY – Each year, 1 in 6 people get food poisoning nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meaning approximately 48 million Americans get sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages, and 3,000 of them die. With warm weather here, more cooking will be done on the grill and more coolers packed for picnics, presenting additional challenges to ensure food safety. Food may be improperly prepped, cooked, stored, or simply left out in the sun too long, creating opportunities for bacteria to grow. In 2012 Putnam County experienced its largest food-related illness outbreak, effecting approximately 150 individuals, due to food being kept at an improper temperature for an extended period of time.

“Residents can protect themselves with thorough cooking and proper refrigeration of perishable foods,” says Interim Health Commissioner Michael Nesheiwat, MD. “Illness-causing microorganisms can be present in a number of foods, so keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.”

Rules to follow consistently to protect against foodborne illness include:

  • Cook meat to at least 130ºF (for a rare steak), chicken to 165ºF, hamburger to 158 ºF and fish to 140ºF. Do not rely on the color of the meat juices for determining doneness. Instead, check the food’s internal temperature with a stem thermometer in the center.
  • Refrigerators should be set at 40°F or slightly lower to store foods including eggs, milk, meats, chicken, seafood, cooked leftovers, gravies, soups, or products with these ingredients. Discard food if temperature exceeds 40°F for longer than two hours.
  • Fruits, vegetables, juices, and cheeses may be stored above 40°F for a limited time. Check appearance, odor, texture and color before serving or eating.
  • Use a stem thermometer to ensure foods are at the correct temperature when storing, serving, or checking for doneness.
  • If food is to be held longer than two hours before eating, keep hot foods at 140°F or higher, and cold foods at 40°F or lower.
  • To keep foods hot, use a heat source underneath the food, and to keep foods chilled,

have the cooling source/ice packs on top of foods.

  • Refrigerate leftovers immediately after cooling. Use a wide shallow container for faster cooling. Reheat leftovers only once to 165°F or above.
  • Select frozen and refrigerated products last when shopping. Refrigerate or freeze these items immediately on arriving home.
  • Cook from frozen, or defrost in the refrigerator. Never thaw frozen foods at room temperature.
  • If uncertain whether a food item should be eaten, follow this rule: WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT.

Kitchen and personal cleanliness is important year-round:

  • Wash hands and under fingernails thoroughly with hot water and soap before preparing food and after handling raw fish, meats and poultry.
  • Wash and sanitize sponges and dishrags in the dishwasher, or sanitize them by heating in the microwave on high for at least one minute.
  • Wash and sanitize any surface that comes in contact with food. To make a sanitizing solution, place a capful of bleach in a gallon of water and use for wiping down food surfaces. Rinse with clean water after sanitizing. Ideally, refrigerators should be cleaned at least once a week.

For more information, call the Putnam County Department of Health’s Food Safety Program at (845) 808-1390.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

HIV

PCDOH Offers Free HIV Testing on June 27

PCDOH Offers Free HIV Testing on June 27

BREWSTER, NY—National HIV Testing Day is an annual event to encourage people of all ages to “Take the Test, Take Control.” Nearly 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention in Atlanta, and approximately one in eight of them do not know they are infected.

“Early diagnosis allows us to begin treatment promptly,” said Michael Nesheiwat, MD, Putnam County’s Interim Commissioner of Health. “This can make a big difference in the patient’s outcome and can help limit the spread of the virus.”

To encourage HIV testing, the Putnam County Department of Health, in partnership with Hudson Valley Community Services and Planned Parenthood, will be offering free rapid HIV testing and counseling at three sites in Putnam County on Monday, June 27: Health Department, 1 Geneva Road, Brewster, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; a mobile testing van at Putnam Family & Community Services, 1816 Route 6, in Carmel, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and a testing van at Hudson Valley Community Services, 46 Oscawana Lake Road, in Putnam Valley, from 12 noon to 5 p.m. Privacy and confidentiality are ensured. No appointments are necessary and results are ready in 20 minutes. Free condoms, giveaways and educational information will be available at all sites.

HIV can affect anyone regardless of age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender. In 2014, 22 percent of all new HIV diagnoses were among youth aged 13 to 24 years of age. However, people aged 50 and older have many of the same HIV risk factors as younger people, but may be less aware of their risk. In 2012, people aged 55 and older accounted for 24 percent of those living with HIV infection in the U.S.

People with HIV and AIDS are living longer, healthier and more productive lives. New research is promising, but there is still no vaccine or cure for HIV. While safe sex is considered primary prevention, early diagnosis is called “secondary prevention” in public health terms, and early diagnosis saves lives too. Unfortunately, older Americans are more likely than youth to be diagnosed with HIV infection later in the course of their disease, which means delayed treatment, possibly more immune-system damage and shorter survival.

For more information about HIV testing or HIV/AIDS education and prevention, contact the Health Department at (845) 808-1390.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit the PCDOH website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health or visit the social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

You talk we listen-png

Health Department and Hospital to Residents: You Talk, We Listen

Take the survey. Tell us what you think about community strengths, and health-related issues and concerns.

The Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is being updated by the Putnam County Department of Health, Putnam Hospital Center and other public health system partners. The input of residents and those who work in Putnam is also important to this process.

Your responses to the survey, along with other community assessments, will help create a strong Community Health Improvement Plan.

 

Health Department and Hospital to Residents: You Talk, We Listen

BREWSTER, NY— Putnam County residents are being asked to share their thoughts and opinions to make the community a better place to live and work. The Putnam County Department of Health is partnering with Putnam Hospital Center to launch a “community asset survey” to gain insight into what the public thinks are the greatest strengths of the community and where the gaps exist so resources can be directed adequately to develop a healthier community. Already more than 300 residents have expressed their views, but everyone who lives or works in Putnam County is invited to voice their opinions. The quick and anonymous survey is on the homepage of the Putnam County website at www.putnamcountyny.com and will run until July 31. The direct link is: http://tinyurl.com/Community-Asset-Survey.

“This is a chance to let us know where you think improvement efforts should focus,” explained Michael Nesheiwat, MD, Interim Commissioner of Health for the Putnam County. “This survey is an integral step in developing our community health assessment, which looks at an array of socio-economic factors that affect health,” Dr. Nesheiwat continued, “and the results help form the basis for our Community Health Improvement Plan.”

From start to finish, the survey has 13, easy-to-answer questions that can be completed in five to ten minutes. The first asks respondents to choose the county’s greatest strengths from a list that includes broad factors such as low crime, a clean and healthy environment and public transportation. The second presents a similar list, but asks where improvement efforts should focus. The third question concentrates on specific health issues in the county, and the next two questions ask about how the person gets his or her health care. The remaining eight questions collect simple demographic data such as zip code, age and ethnicity.

Putnam County businesses and other organizations that wish to ensure their employees’ opinions are counted can contact the health department at 845-808-1390 or are encouraged to email the survey link directly to their employees.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of Putnam County residents through prevention of illness and injury. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Edward Murphy, president of the Putnam Chapter of the National Association of Mental Illness, casts his vote for promoting mental health and preventing substance abuse as the top health priority.  Putnam residents can voice their opinions online at http://tinyurl.com/Community-Asset-Survey

Public Health Summit VI Convenes Record Number of Community Partners; Nearly Three Dozen Community Interventions Highlighted

Public Health Summit VI Convenes Record Number of Community Partners;Nearly Three Dozen Community Interventions Highlighted

Brewster, NY—More than 78 public health partners from 47 different community agencies convened at Putnam Hospital Center (PHC) on Tuesday, June 6, for the Sixth Annual Public Health Summit, organized by the Putnam County Department of Health with support from the hospital. The event serves as an opportunity for community health partners to discuss progress on the Community Health Improvement (CHIP) plan, and to learn of new developments concerning the county’s various health priorities.

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell praised Putnam’s public health system, saying “The silos are being eliminated. Partnership was one of the things that impressed the Public Health Accreditation Board when the health department received national accreditation earlier this year. It’s wonderful to see the collaboration between the health department, county mental health services, Putnam Hospital Center and all other community agencies—with a common goal of keeping our residents healthy.” PHC president James Caldas, Open Door President and CEO Lindsay Farrell, Commissioner of Social Services and Mental Health Michael Piazza, and Interim Health Commissioner Michael Nesheiwat, MD, were among the other attending public and healthcare leaders.

The format for the half-day event was streamlined from previous summits, with an initial data presentation by Erin Pascaretti, the health department’s epidemiologist, followed by panel presentations and discussions by community partners on current interventions, many of which were evidenced-based programs.

Nearly three dozen community interventions were highlighted by panel presenters who were

convened to tackle the two CHIP priorities—promoting mental health and reducing substance abuse, and preventing chronic diseases. Mental health interventions in place include mental health first aid training; safeTALK, suicide prevention training, CIT (crisis intervention team) training for law enforcement; ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training); anti-stigma media campaigns; Text4Teens initiative; Lifelines curriculum in most school districts; and peer-to-peer mental health programs. Substance abuse initiatives were discussed such as the Communities That Care (CTC) Coalitions, whose work brings together multi-sector disciplines including community organizations, schools, and government entities to work on substance abuse prevention strategies. Chronic disease initiatives including work-site wellness programs, school gardens and tobacco prevention and cessation strategies were also discussed.

Preventing chronic diseases, along with promoting mental health and reducing substance abuse, have so far remained the top health priorities in Putnam. With the growing opioid addiction problem in the county, similar to what other communities are experiencing nationwide, Putnam formally incorporated substance abuse prevention into its CHIP last year and Putnam’s priorities now mirror exactly those crafted by the New York State Department of Health’s Prevention Agenda 2013-2017.

Putnam residents and those who work in the county can also participate in the CHIP process, by taking the online community asset survey, accessible through the homepage of the Putnam County website at www.putnamcountyny.com until July 31. The direct link is www.tinyurl.com/Community-Asset-Survey.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit the PCDOH website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health or visit the social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Poster-YearsIconic May 2016 HEP C

Free Hepatitis C Testing at PCDOH on May 19; All Baby Boomers Advised to Have One-Time Test

 Free Hepatitis C Testing at PCDOH on May 19; All Baby Boomers Advised to Have One-Time Test

BREWSTER, NY—The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) is offering free Hepatitis C testing on National Hepatitis C Testing Day, Thursday, May 19, for all New York State baby boomers. While anyone can get “Hep C,” baby boomers born from 1945 through 1965 are five times more likely to have the virus. Testing starts at 10 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. at the main health department office at 1 Geneva Road in Brewster. No appointment is necessary.

“Health officials encourage everyone in this age category to take this one-time test, regardless of any specific risk,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

“The reason baby boomers have high rates of Hep C is not completely understood,” explains Interim Health Commissioner, Michael Nesheiwat, M.D., “but the fact is that 75 percent of infected adults were born in these years. Most are believed to have been infected in the 1970s and 1980s when infection rates were highest. The danger with this infection is that you can live with it for decades without feeling sick, but long-term it can cause liver failure, cirrhosis and cancer.”

Hep C is primarily spread through contact with infected blood. Many baby boomers could have gotten infected from contaminated blood and blood products before widespread screening of the blood supply in 1992. Others may have become infected from injecting drugs, even if only once in the past. Many baby boomers however don’t know how or when they were infected.

More than 3 million Americans are living with this viral disease, and 75 percent of them are unaware of their infection. The longer an individual lives with the infection untreated, the more likely they are to develop serious, life-threatening liver disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, viral hepatitis is a leading infectious cause of death in the U.S.

There is no vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C. Getting tested is the best way to know so treatment can be started as soon as possible. For many people, treatment can cure Hepatitis C and prevent liver damage, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Residents who can’t make the Free Testing Day on May 19, can call the health department at 845-808-1390 for information about other free testing opportunities.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

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rabiesadputnam

Rabies Concerns Increase as Warmer Temperatures Arrive

Rabies Concerns Increase as Warmer Temperatures Arrive

Brewster, NY— With warmer temperatures and more hours of daylight, people are spending more time outdoors and the potential for contact with wildlife increases. Raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats, as well as feral cats, can carry the rabies virus, which is found in the saliva and nervous tissue of an infected animal. Transmission can occur through an animal bite, or if saliva comes in contact with an open wound, or an individual’s eyes, nose or mouth.

Spring is also the time of year when individuals may come into contact with baby wild animals, believing them to have been abandoned by their mother. Abandonment by the mother is unlikely, and baby animals, while often adorable, may have been exposed to the rabies virus and can pass it through a simple scratch or small bite. Every year well intentioned residents “rescue” wild babies, later becoming concerned about rabies exposure. The babies must be euthanized to determine if rabies exposure occurred. However, wildlife rehabilitators can be called to determine if the babies need to be “rescued.”

To educate children about the risk of rabies, teach them to:

  • Avoid wild animals, including new litters of baby animals in spring. (Everyone should resist the urge to touch or pet a wild animal or unfamiliar pet.)
  • Tell an adult about any contact with a wild animal or unfamiliar pet.
  • Never touch a bat. If a bat is found indoors, call the Health Department immediately.

“While wildlife and feral cats may account for a significant number of required rabies treatments, the number-one reason for treatments in Putnam County remains bats,” states Michael Nesheiwat, M.D., Interim Commissioner of Health.  As the weather warms, bats return to the local area and are more active and likely to get into homes. “A bat found in the home should be captured since testing it for rabies is the only way to avoid unnecessary treatment, a two week series of shots. Since 2014, over 200 bats have been brought to the Putnam County Department of Health for testing, a sign that the capture-the-bat message is getting out,” added Dr. Nesheiwat.

To safely capture a bat, watch the popular demo from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), available on the Putnam County website at http://www.putnamcountyny.com/how-to-capture-a-bat/ .

The Feral Cat Task Force, initiated by the Putnam County Department of Health, works to reduce the risk of rabies exposure by decreasing the population of feral cats in our community. Since its inception in 2012, this program has captured, neutered, vaccinated and returned 485 cats and adopted or fostered 88 of them in Putnam County. If you are interested in volunteering or making a donation in support of this program, please contact the Health Department at 845-808-1390 ext. 43160.

All animal bites and/or contact with wild animals should be reported promptly to the Department of Health at 845-808-1390. After hours or on weekends/holidays report the incident by calling the Environmental Health Hotline at 845-808-1390 and press “3.” A Health Department representative will promptly return your call. The Health Department will test a wild animal for possible rabies after an incident involving human or pet contact. If a family pet encounters a wild animal, avoid immediate handling of your pet, or use rubber gloves and call the Health Department.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the county’s nearly 100,000 residents through prevention of illness and injury. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health  or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

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putnamcountylivingwell

LIVING WELL WORKSHOP SERIES TO BEGIN MAY 9

 LIVING WELL WORKSHOP SERIES TO BEGIN MAY 9

 BREWSTER, NY—Putnam County residents can attend a free six-week Living Well workshop series, beginning May 9, at Putnam Hospital Center. Individuals living with or caring for someone with a chronic illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, asthma, chronic pain or obesity, will learn ways to manage their health and create “action plans” to get results. The Living Well series is an evidence-based chronic disease self-management program developed at Stanford University. It is led by trained volunteers and proven to help individuals with an ongoing health condition lead healthier, more satisfying lives. Participants learn strategies for gaining control over their condition, connect with others battling similar health issues, and ultimately learn how to accomplish more and feel better.

The workshop series will be held on Mondays from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., from May 9 to June 20, with no class on May 30. The program is free, but registration is required. For further details or to register, contact Sarena Chisick at (845) 279-5711, ext. 2702 or email her at schisick@health-quest.org .

The Living Well program is part of Putnam County’s Community Health Improvement Plan, and is a joint initiative of the Putnam County Department of Health, Putnam Hospital Center, Putnam County Office for Senior Resources, and the Visiting Nurse Association of Hudson Valley.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit the PCDOH website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health or visit the social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth, www.instagram.com/PutnamHealthNY and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

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stigma

Residents Report More Poor Mental Health Days

Residents Report More Poor Mental Health Days;

Putnam’s Mental Health Month events highlight message: problems common but treatable

BREWSTER, NY— Mental health problems are terribly common: one in five Americans experiences mental illness in a given year. In Putnam County the numbers are similar, and may be rising. In a recent national survey, Putnam residents estimated more poor mental health days per month than they had reported in previous years. This May, Mental Health Month, Putnam’s community organizations and the county’s Department of Health are joining to bring awareness, sensitivity and action to this problem.

“The high numbers of mental health problems means that virtually everyone has a family member or close personal friend who lives with a mental health issue, or they are living with one themselves,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “The ultimate role of government is to protect its citizenry—that’s why our health department and our department of social services and mental health, along with many community partners, have selected mental health as a priority for our community health improvement plan. It’s also why the Suicide Prevention Task Force was established in the County.”

Interim Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, explained, “These rising numbers of reported poor mental health days are something we must take seriously.” The data comes from the national premier telephone survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), and Putnam residents have reported 3.1 poor mental health days in the previous month—up from 2.2 days in previous surveys.

“While mental illnesses are extremely common, they unfortunately are not talked about often,” said Megan Castellano, executive director of the Mental Health Association in Putnam County, Inc.  “This is problematic because they are also very treatable, and help is available here in Putnam County. We need to speak up and encourage sharing. This is key to breaking down stigma—to show that if you live with a mental illness, you are not alone with your feelings and your symptoms.”

To highlight how widespread mental health challenges are and to bring awareness to how these conditions can be diagnosed and successfully treated, the Putnam County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is sponsoring its Third Annual Mental Health Awareness Walk on Saturday, May 14, from 9 am to Noon. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and forms must be turned in by 8:50 a.m. at the Carmel Fire House. For more information, including a registration form, visit NAMI Putnam on the web at www.namiputnam.org.

Putnam residents can also join mental health providers and other community organizations for the Mental Health Recovery Conference, entitled “Redefining Mental Health: Perspectives on Wellness and Recovery,” on May 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the Putnam County Golf Course.

“This inspiring event will feature consumers, family members, and acclaimed national and state leaders who will speak about wellness and initiate change in our way of thinking about mental health recovery,” says Diane Russo, chief executive officer of Putnam Family & Community Services, one of the organizations hosting the event. For further information, visit the Putnam Family & Community Services website at www.pfcsinc.org.

The national theme of this year’s Mental Health Month is “Life with a Mental Illness,” a call to action by Mental Health America, Ms. Castellano’s national organization, to share what life with a mental illness feels like to someone going through it. One way is by tagging social media posts with #mentalillnessfeelslike. Posting with the hash tag helps fight the stigma and shame that accompany mental illness—and that can prevent individuals from seeking help early on. The Putnam County Department of Health will be sharing national and local stories on their Facebook page during May.

Ms. Castellano, together with Marla Behler, program coordinator for the Child Advocacy Center of Putnam County, co-chair the Suicide Prevention Task Force that started in 2013. Preventing suicide along with improving mental health were two priorities identified during the development of the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). Task force members and CHIP partners include the Mental Health Providers Group and numerous other local organizations.

Mental Health Month, commemorated each May, was started 67 years ago by Mental Health America. Its overarching purpose is to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of good mental health for everyone. Online youth and adult screening tools are available at its website, under “Finding Help.” Fact sheets on depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder are listed under “Mental Health Info.”  The web address is: www.mentalhealthamerica.net.

For a list of mental health resources in Putnam County, visit the Putnam County Cares app www.putnamcountycares.com/speak and in the menu on the right, click on “Resource List.”

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of Putnam County residents through prevention of illness and injury. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, environmental health protection, family health promotion, emergency preparedness and health education. For more information, please visit the website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or the social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

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