Twelfth Annual Food Operator’s Seminar Held; Eight Putnam County Food Establishments Honored

Brewster, NY— More than 135 attendees—chefs, caterers, owners and operators of Putnam County’s food establishments—were in attendance for the twelfth annual Food Operator’s Seminar on April 16 and 17. This year the event took place in the newly renovated Tilly Foster Farm venue, and showcased food prepared by the BOCES culinary students at the farm who have honed their skills under the direction of their instructor chef Christina Holic over the past year.

The seminar had representation from all types of restaurants, delicatessens, food shops, institutional food services and other food vendors. They gathered again, as has become tradition, to learn about new topics and trends in the food industry. The event also offers an opportunity for the health department to recognize food establishments for both “lifetime” achievements, as well as those of the past year.

One “hot” topic on the agenda this year was food waste reduction, which is not only good for the planet, but also helps cut food establishment costs. Other practical topics included restaurant branding and social media, and the top ten critical violations and how to avoid them. The health department also took the opportunity to discuss food safety and operations during the recent power outages this past winter. Presentations given by outside speakers included a talk        about food safety measures, and another on dining choices such as the paleo diet, “clean 30” and gluten-free options. A demonstration on knife skills and sharpening given by the culinary school students.

The recognition side of the program included the presentation of two Health Inspectors Commendation Awards for distinguished performance to Mia’s Pizza and North Brewster Deli & Market. The department’s highest and most stringent honor, the Commissioner’s Gold Award for operational excellence was presented to six food establishments: The Arch Restaurant, Austin Road Elementary School, Countryside Kitchen, Henry H. Wells Middle School, John F. Kennedy Elementary School and Matthew Paterson Elementary School.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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 County website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Complete Award Listings

Commissioner’s Gold Awards

  • The Arch Restaurant – George Seitz
  • Austin Road Elementary School – Robert Campisi, Aramark Food Service
  • Countryside Kitchen – Lee and Christina Vataj
  • Henry H. Wells Middle School – Cathy Ashe
  • John F. Kennedy Elementary School – Cathy Ashe
  • Matthew Paterson Elementary School – Patrick Rodia

Health Inspectors Commendation

  • Mia’s Pizza – Dante Mazzotta
  • North Brewster Deli & Market – Saverio Zuccaro

Putnam County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day Scheduled for Saturday, May 5

BREWSTER, NY—Putnam County will hold a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Day for Putnam County residents on Saturday, May 5. The Putnam County Department of Health and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are co-sponsoring the FREE event, scheduled from 9 am to 12 noon (rain or shine) in the Canopus Beach parking lot at Fahnestock Park, Route 301 in Kent. Pre-registration is required.
“We like to say that Putnam County is where the country begins,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “We are fortunate to live in a vibrant community with beautiful, natural surroundings. That is why our household hazardous waste collection days are so important. I encourage everyone who has hazardous waste to take advantage of this opportunity and help preserve our natural environment.”

“Improper storage or disposal of hazardous waste poses a health risk to our residents and our families,” said interim Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD. “We are very fortunate that our County Executive recognizes this and maintains this event in the budget each year. We have been holding this event for nearly two decades now. The number of 55-gallon drums of waste kept from our environment is now well in the thousands.”
Household cleaners, pesticides, herbicides, oil-based paint (not latex), solvents, thinners, mothballs, rodent poisons, gasoline, and kerosene can all be safely disposed of by Putnam residents, along with small propane tanks (up to 20 pound size). For a more complete list of acceptable items, click on the flyer posted under “Special Wastes” on the Green Putnam webpage at http://www.putnamcountyny.com/green-putnam/.

Disposal items must be labeled and identifiable to be accepted. Items not accepted include: water-based paints (latex), used oil, lead-acid batteries, plastic bags, batteries, tires, electronic waste or any materials from commercial establishments. Materials packed into garbage or lawn bags will also not be accepted. Latex paints can be discarded by routine means, after they have been dried out.

Call early to reserve a spot. The Putnam County Department of Health number is (845) 808-1390 ext. 43150 for questions or to pre-register.
For information regarding electronic waste disposal, call your local town. Please note that household hazardous waste items are not accepted at the town electronic waste drop-off locations.
The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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 County website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Gonorrhea Cases Rise: PCDOH Urges Testing During STD Awareness Month and Afterwards

BREWSTER, NY— Cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) continue to rise in Putnam County and around the U.S.  In 2017, gonorrhea cases in particular rose in Putnam—nearly 60 percent, with an increase from 17 to 27 reported cases from 2016 to 2017. At the same time both chlamydia and syphilis numbers remained relatively stable, after a dramatic rise of 125 percent in syphilis the year before. In fact, in 2015 the highest numbers of syphilis cases were reported in the U.S. since 1995. These increases worry public health officials both locally and nationwide.

For April, National STD Awareness Month, the Putnam County Department of Health, together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other partners are reaching out with the message “Treat Me Right.” This theme is meant to underscore the importance of a trusting patient/provider relationship, both for receiving the best care and also for providing it. For patients this includes learning as much as they can about STDs and how to protect themselves; for providers it means building trust by listening to patients in a way they feel heard and respected.

“The doctor/patient rapport is a key ingredient to all successful medical care,” said Interim Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, M.D., “and something physicians value when practicing medicine. The resurgence of sexually transmitted diseases is quite serious. If untreated, these diseases can cause severe health problems. The health department is spearheading efforts and partnering with local physicians to increase appropriate testing. In this way we can stem this trend.”

Gonorrhea is the second most common STD after chlamydia. Nationwide, there have been nearly half a million cases of gonorrhea since 2015, compared to over 1.5 million cases of chlamydia. Syphilis, the third most common, has affected approximately 27,000 individuals during the same time period. The problem with all STDs is that often a person will have no symptoms, or the symptoms may be similar to other problems. For example, a woman with gonorrhea may experience mild symptoms such as pain or burning when urinating, which might be easily mistaken for a bladder infection.

Chlamydia’s skyrocketing increases have resulted in a new public health law and practice called EPT for expedited patient therapy. This encourages physicians treating patients with chlamydia to provide their patients with an additional prescription for their partner (or partners), without examining or even speaking to the partner.

Syphilis has a unique set of challenges of its own. Because it develops in stages, a variety of symptoms may go unnoticed and clear up without treatment. During the initial stage, painless sores develop and through direct contact with these sores during any sexual activity (vaginal, anal or oral), the disease spreads. Second-stage symptoms may include a faint skin rash, internal sores, fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, patchy hair loss, weight loss, muscle aches and tiredness. This is followed by a latent period during which there are no signs or symptoms, but the disease continues. A person can potentially transmit the disease to a sexual partner for up to a year after the initial infection.

Anyone is at risk, but some groups are more affected, including young people aged 15 to 24 years of age, gay and bisexual men, and pregnant women. The good news is that there are medications that can be prescribed for all STDs, and some can be cured. The only sure way to know if someone has an STD is to be tested. Primary care providers can order tests and prescribe the right treatments. For those who are under- or uninsured, Putnam County’s federally qualified health center Open Door provides these services free, or on a sliding scale. The office is located at 155 Main Street in Brewster. Their phone number is 845-279-6999. For questions about prevention, symptoms or transmission, contact the communicable disease nurse at the health department at 808-1390.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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 County website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

PUTNAM COUNTY RANKS AMONG TOP FIVE COUNTIES IN NYS, FOR EIGHTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR

Brewster, NY—The eighth annual County Health Rankings have been released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. For the eighth consecutive year, Putnam County ranks among the top five counties in New York State. Putnam is fifth in health outcomes based on length and quality of life, and fourth in health factors, the influencers of health. Last year Putnam was also fifth in health outcomes, and second in health factors, from among the 62 counties in the state.

“Putnam County is a great place to live and work. We are fortunate to have a safe, clean environment and this allows us to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and a pattern of good health,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Our nationally accredited health department partners with other county agencies and community organizations. Together they work diligently to ensure our residents’ health.”

“These rankings are great news,” said Michael Nesheiwat M.D., Interim Commissioner of Health. “For the eighth consecutive year we are demonstrating a higher level of wellbeing by being among the healthiest in the state. The numbers shift from year to year of course, based not just on our own statistics, but as a result of numbers from other New York State health departments. Overall, there are no big surprises. This data reconfirms the health concerns currently on our radar, ones we are targeting for improvement.”

Similar to previous years, one of the identified challenges in the county is a higher rate for excessive alcohol use in Putnam compared to the rest of New York State. The good news is that the rate of alcohol-impaired driving deaths has decreased from 27%, reported last year, to 22% this year. The health department continues to work closely with The Prevention Council of Putnam (formerly the Putnam chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and other Drug Dependencies) and the Communities That Care (CTC) coalition on this pressing issue.

The second noteworthy health concern, again similar to last year, relates to the continuing rise of sexually transmitted diseases, including the three major ones: gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia. This problem is not limited to Putnam or even New York State, but isa concerning nationwide trend. From 2016 to 2017, cases of gonorrhea in Putnam rose 59 percent, from 17 cases to 27. This jump comes on the heels of previous dramatic increases in Putnam of syphilis and chlamydia. Syphilis went from 8 to 18 cases, a dramatic rise of 125 percent from 2015 to 2016; chlamydia numbers have more than quadrupled in the last decade. Left undiagnosed and untreated, these diseases can have serious health consequences including infertility and in rare cases, even death. The PCDOH continues to spearhead prevention and surveillance efforts, including working closely with county physicians to increase routine testing.

For more information on the 2018 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, visit http://www.countyhealthrankings.org

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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 County website at www.putnamcountyny.com ; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Health Department Advises About Food Safety after Power Outage

BREWSTER, NY—With the recent storm and continuing power outages, the Putnam County Department of Health cautions residents to check food left in refrigerators and freezers. Bacteria can easily grow in many foods at temperatures above 41 degrees Fahrenheit and make people ill. Here are some general guidelines from the NYS Department of Health:

  • Foods such as eggs, milk, meats, chicken, seafood, cooked leftovers, gravies, soups, or products with these ingredients, must be discarded if temperatures exceeded 41 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 2 hours.
  • Other foods such as fruits, vegetables, juices, cheeses and condiments, may be stored above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended time. Check appearance, odor, texture and color before eating.
  • For frozen foods, if the freezer thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen. (If there is no thermometer in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. Don’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals, it is safe to refreeze or cook.) Refreezing may cause a loss in nutrition, taste or quality.
  • Frozen foods that have completely thawed and have been warmed to temperatures above 41 degrees Fahrenheit should be discarded.
  • The motto to remember is: “WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT.”

The Health Department has been making site visits to area restaurants and other food service businesses to ensure the safety of foods offered at these establishments.
Residents can visit www.fda.gov for more information about food safety following a power outage, or they can call the Health Department at 845-808-1390.
The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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 County website at www.putnamcountyny.com ; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

PCDOH Opens Doors for Free Flu Vaccines

BREWSTER, NY— Just two weeks after declaring the flu a “health disaster emergency,” Governor Cuomo has directed the state health department to financially support local health departments to provide expanded services.

The Putnam County Department of Health will offer free flu vaccines daily at their main office, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting on Monday, February 12, and running through Friday, February 16. On Thursday, the hours will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The main office is located at        1 Geneva Road in Brewster, above the Department of Motor Vehicles.

All those over the age of six months, who live or work in New York State are welcome. No appointment is necessary. Bring proof of residency and Medicare card. Free vaccine will be administered as long as supplies last. Check the flu hotline at 845-808-1390 daily to confirm availability. Additionally, parents with children between six months and three years of age should call the health department during business hours at 845-808-1332 to check availability of the pediatric vaccine.

Vaccine consent forms are available for downloading on the Putnam County Department of Health website at www.putnamcountyny.gov/health/immunization. Forms will also be available at the flu clinic. In the event of bad weather, call the flu hotline to check for rescheduling.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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 County website at www.putnamcountyny.com ; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Heart Health in Winter

Brewster, NY- February is Heart Health Month, an ideal time for Putnam residents to focus on their heart’s health. Most everyone knows someone who has been affected by heart disease or stroke. It is the leading cause of death in Putnam County and the U.S as well. About 2,300 Americans die of heart disease each day, that’s an average of 1 death every 38 seconds!

“The good news is, if you make simple changes, you can improve your heart’s health,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “That’s why the American Heart Association started Heart Health Month—to get the word out that prevention does work. And it is not too early to start thinking about joining us for the Putnam County Heart Walk in April.”

“Your heart beats over 100,000 times a day, and you want to keep it healthy for a long time,’ says County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD. “Walking is one of the best ways to get exercise you can find.”

When it’s cold and icy outside, indoor exercise can help you stay active. This includes stair climbing, mall walking and an aerobic routine on YouTube or an exercise video. Other options for staying fit indoors are running in place or climbing stairs. Laps can be done inside your local shopping mall and a speedy one-hour walk will burn approximately 300 to 400 calories. Malls with multiple levels allow the addition of stairs to a workout. For in-home exercise, a workout DVD or a YouTube video is a good idea when there is limited space. Using a jump rope or resistance bands can also be a great addition to a home workout.

Staying physically active during the winter months is important for heart health, and so is good nutrition. Eating more vegetables, decreasing sodium intake, and focusing on lean protein sources are among the top dietary tips. Avoiding tobacco smoke can also greatly reduce a person’s risk of heart disease.

For more information on heart healthy living, visit: www.healthyforgood.heart.org.

For more information on the Putnam County Heart Walk on April 22 at Brewster High School, visit: www.heartwalk.org and enter “10509.”

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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 County website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY. ###

Attention Putnam County Residents: Did you miss the Blue Green Algae seminar we recently hosted? You can now view the entire seminar online here

Attention Putnam County Residents: Did you miss the Blue Green Algae seminar we recently hosted? You can now view the entire seminar online here

Last, Last Chance Flu Clinic Set for January 30; Infants and elderly most vulnerable

BREWSTER, NY— The flu is now considered widespread in Putnam County and 49 states around the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Many are seeking vaccination and in some cases supplies are low. The Putnam County Department of Health has scheduled an extra flu clinic to vaccinate those who live or work in New York State, including those aged six months and older.

“The flu is now prevalent not just in Putnam but around the U.S. Anyone who has not been vaccinated should consider getting a shot to protect themselves,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “When you are a senior or very young, the flu can be especially dangerous. It is my hope, Putnam County residents not yet vaccinated will take advantage of this opportunity.”

“Seven pediatric deaths have occurred in the U.S. within the last week, so we have opened up our flu clinic to include vaccination for the youngest residents,” said Interim Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD., “Contracting the flu when very young or old brings the most serious consequences. If you have a child between six months and three years, please call us to ensure availability of the pediatric vaccine. It is also important to point out that there is some evidence that consistent, annual flu vaccination provides an added protection beyond what is provided in a single shot, especially in the elderly. ”

The clinic is scheduled for Tuesday, January 30, from 2 to 6:30 p.m., at the health department’s main office at 1 Geneva Road in Brewster. The fee is $25 (cash or check only) or free for those with a Medicare card. In case of inclement weather, call the flu hot line at 845-808-1390 or visit the PCDOH’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth for notification of postponement. Snow date is Thursday, February 1, from 2 to 6:30 p.m. at the health department.

Parents with children from six months to three years of age should call the health department at 845-808-1332 to double check on current availability of the pediatric vaccine.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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 County website at www.putnamcountyny.com ; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Putnam Health Dept. Wins $55,000 Award from NYSDOH

BREWSTER, NY- The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) has been awarded a total of $55,000 through a competitive, state-wide program focused on the prevention of chronic diseases, such as obesity or diabetes. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) chose to focus funds on preventing these types of diseases because they have surpassed communicable diseases, like influenza, as the leading cause of death and disability. Nationally-accredited health departments, such as Putnam County’s, were at an advantage with an automatic $7,500 base payment. An additional $5,000 automatic payment went to all agencies who competed due to the sheer work involved. The remaining funds were distributed to just 20 health departments based on performance and county population, and Putnam received an additional $42,500.

“Putnam residents can be reassured that our health department is among the best in the state with this award,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell, “and our health department should be proud.”

Interim Health Commissioner Michael Nesheiwat, MD, thanked staff for their perseverance, saying, “I am delighted that our staff decided to put in the extra work to compete for these funds. It was not an easy task, but having achieved national accreditation in 2016 helped to ease the submission process. No doubt it also helped us think more strategically and strengthen our partnerships with community members.”

Only 50 percent of health departments vying for the funds were awarded competitive monies. The PCDOH received four perfect scores in the highest category and three near-perfect scores in the second highest one. Extensive documentation was required, explaining health department activities in seven key areas, such as engaging community partners. The evaluation process the State Health Department used was similar to the process for national accreditation formulated by PHAB, the Public Health Accreditation Board. This was done because national accreditation may become mandatory in the future.

As with all performance-based awards, the funds must be used to support specified public health services. NYS-recommended activities include conducting campaigns to reduce chronic diseases, and to promote enhanced screening activities and follow-up care by individual providers. Funds may also be used for accreditation or reaccreditation fees. The PCDOH will work with community partners involved in Putnam’s Community Health Improvement Plan to prioritize and develop ideas for the use of the funds.

Residents with ideas are invited to visit the PCDOH website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health/chronicdisease/ to learn more about chronic diseases. They are encouraged to submit their own suggestions for prevention programs by mail to: Chronic Disease Prevention Programs, Health Education Unit, Putnam County Department of Health, 1 Geneva Road, Brewster, NY 10509, or by email to health@putnamcountyny.gov

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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 County website at www.putnamcountyny.com ; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.