Cold Winter Weather Increases Health Risks for Lung Cancer; Protect Your Health—Test Your Home Now in Radon Action Month

BREWSTER, NY— Radon is the number-one cause of lung cancer among people who don’t smoke. For residents who do smoke, the combination of the two may cause worse health results. Putnam has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a “high risk” radon zone. This naturally occurring odorless gas can seep into homes. In winter when homes are sealed up to keep the heat in, trapped radon gas is a particular danger. That’s why the EPA designates each January as National Radon Action Month. Smoking is a serious risk all year long, but much like radon, second-hand smoke has less chance of escape in winter.

“To protect our residents’ health, I urge home owners to test for radon, and if you smoke, consider quitting or cutting down for the New Year,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Testing for radon in a home is not difficult; quitting smoking on the other hand usually takes multiple attempts,” she added.

Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, agreed, pointing out that “An easy, convenient do-it-yourself testing kit can be purchased at most hardware stores and online. Putnam has high rates of lung cancer, so it is important to talk about and work to reduce these two risks. In addition to being in a high radon region, Putnam has higher smoking rates at 18.3 percent, compared to all New York State where the rate is 14.5 percent.”

The EPA estimates radon gas claims the lives of about 21,000 Americans each year. The natural decay of uranium leads to the release of radon in rock, soil and water. High levels of radon in homes usually come from the surrounding soil. Radon gas enters buildings through cracks and openings. Radon-resistant construction can be utilized when building new homes; older homes must be tested. Because radon levels can vary from one house to another, the only way to know for sure is to test every home.

For $11, the New York State Department of Health offers short-term radon testing kits, which includes the lab fee. The test remains in the home for a number of days and then the kit is sealed and mailed in for analysis. Results are typically returned to the homeowner within a few weeks. Similar test kits can also be purchased at local home and hardware store. Elevated radon levels can be corrected by handy homeowners, or by certified radon mitigation contractors. To learn more about radon, or to order a test kit through NYS and discover mitigation options, visit the state website, or contact them by phone at 518-402-7556. Or call the health department at 845-808-1390, extension 43163.

For residents who would like to quit smoking, help is also available from the health department. The American Lung Association has developed a “gold standard” quit program, called Freedom from Smoking. The Putnam County Department of Health offers the eight-week Freedom From Smoking workshop sessions a couple of times a year, and offers it free of charge to residents. To be placed on a waiting list, or for further information, call extension 43155 at the same health department number, 808-1390. Remember, most smokers require more than one quit attempt to finally quit for good.

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/putnamhealthny and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Low Cost Clinic for Pets and Feral/Community Cats

A low-cost spay/neuter clinic has been planned in Fishkill on Thursday, January 16. Here’s an opportunity to have your private pets and feral/community cats spayed or neutered for just $70. Appointments are required and can be made by calling Paula at 845-206-9021.

Partner Spotlight: Second Chance Foods

Did you know that 40% of food in the US ends up in the garbage?

Meet the people in Putnam doing something to fix this! Our Live Healthy Putnam champions— Second Chance Foods elevates the health of people and planet through food rescue. Their team and groups of volunteers rescue food from grocers, harvest at local farms and cook nutritious meals. This recovered and prepared food is then donated to local food pantries, veterans’ organizations and the soup kitchen. Second Chance Foods’ executive director Martha Elder sits on our Live Healthy Putnam Coalition. She has a Master’s in Social Work and has seen firsthand the impact of hunger on families. She is also a passionate defender of the earth and appreciates how Second Chance Foods addresses both the humanitarian and environmental impacts of food waste.

 

Low Cost Clinic for Pets and Feral/Community Cats

Another low-cost spay/neuter clinic added in Fishkill on Thursday, December 12. Here’s an opportunity to get your private pets and feral/community cats spayed or neutered for just $50. Appointments are required and can be made by calling Paula at 845-206-9021.

“Last Chance” Flu Clinic Set for Dec 3 at the Putnam County Department of Health; National Influenza Vaccination Week runs from Dec 1 through 7

BREWSTER, NY—The flu season may have gotten off to a slow and steady rise, but there is no way to predict when a spike may occur. In New York, flu activity is usually highest between December and February. a “last chance” public flu vaccination clinic is scheduled for Tuesday, December 3, hosted by the Putnam County Department of Health as part of National Influenza Vaccination Week. The recognition week, which runs from December 1 through December 7, focuses attention on the importance of flu vaccination for all ages. These illnesses often linger into spring as well.

“If you have not yet received your flu shot, we hope you will take advantage of the health department’s ‘last chance’ clinic,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “It offers the best protection to ensure you don’t miss out on school or work, or any of our important holiday and family gatherings this month or next.”

Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, M.D. also reminds everyone that, “Pregnant women and those with chronic health issues should take extra care to get immunized against the flu. Those with heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes are at increased risk of flu-related complications and exacerbation of underlying disease, even if these conditions are well-managed.” This wise advice is supported by a new campaign, represented by the hashtag #LowerYourFluRisk launched by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

The clinic will be held at the health department office at 1 Geneva Road in Brewster, from 2 to 6:30 p.m. No appointments are necessary. Any Putnam County resident, 18 years and older, is eligible to receive flu vaccine at this clinic. The fee, covering vaccine cost and administration, is $25. There is no fee for those over age 65 or with a Medicare card. High-dose flu vaccine will be available for individuals, 65 years and older, which studies have shown appears more effective in fighting flu in seniors. The nasal spray flu vaccine and pneumonia vaccine will not be available at this clinic.

The more individuals who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from the flu, including older people, very young children, pregnant women and individuals with certain health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications. For questions concerning flu vaccination or in the event of inclement weather, please 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.

Join Stray HELP for Community Day on November 16

Stray HELP’s Community Day will be held on Saturday, November 16 from 11:30 to 4:30 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 5 Elm Street, Fishkill, NY. Vendors, raffles, food, music, humane trapping demonstrations and adoptable cats and kittens will be available.

Low-Cost Spay/ Neuter services by appointment: $70 general public; $35 military members. Please call Paula at 845-206-9021 to schedule your appointment.

Stray H.E.L.P. (Healthcare and Education to Limit Population) is here to help you help the community cats you care about. Through the Trap-Neuter-Return/Place, Cat Adoption, Cat and Kitten Fostering, and Humane Education programs, we are able to improve the lives of both cats and people in the Hudson Valley.

#PutnamRecycles Plastic Bags; The Health Department Challenges Residents to Recycle

Brewster, NY-  Are you recycling all that you can? Leading up to America Recycles Day on November 15, The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) has launched a plastic “film” recycling challenge. Plastic film consists of flexible polyethylene packaging such as grocery bags and bread bags. It is also the wrap around many products including bathroom tissue, diapers, and more. Plastics such as these, commonly considered single-use, unnecessarily head to landfills. They can instead be dropped off at specified locations to be recycled.  To join the challenge, head to a drop-off location in Putnam to recycle plastic bags or film and share a photo online with the hashtag #PutnamRecycles.

“Because they are not part of curbside pickup, plastic bags and plastic film are often forgotten about when we talk about recycling. Many people are unaware that the plastic wrap surrounding their paper towel rolls is actually recyclable. Recycling these plastics has positive environmental and economic impacts, and it can be as simple as bringing the bags back to the store with you on your next visit,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

“The health department works in partnership with every retailer in the county that is required to accept plastic bags and films. Currently there are more than 20 drop-off locations throughout Putnam,” says Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD.

Home Depot, Acme, and Kohl’s in Brewster, Acme in Mahopac, and Foodtown in Cold Spring are a few participating retailers. All large retail stores, or chains with more than five smaller stores, must participate. A complete list is posted online at the PCDOH website at https://www.putnamcountyny.com/green-putnam/.

“It takes up to 500 years for plastic items to decompose in landfills,” adds Dr. Nesheiwat. “And many plastics never decompose completely— they just break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Daily we may not witness the impact plastics have on human health, but we do know that plastics can pose a danger to animals, especially marine life. We are hoping this recycling challenge calls attention to this important issue.”

While many residents in Putnam participate in curbside recycling, recycling today is vastly different from the recycling of the 1990s. The Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle have since been updated to the Five R’s, which now includes Refuse and Rot.  Refuse means not accepting and not purchasing items that will later end up in recycling centers or landfills. While rot refers to food items that can decompose in a compost pile or bin. If consumers regularly follow this motto, they will have less to sort through as they determine what is recyclable and what is trash.

Rinsed plastic containers and glass bottles, cardboard, and food and beverage cans are almost always accepted for curbside recycling. Paper, plastic, or foil with remains of food— think greasy pizza boxes, are not recyclable. Attempting to recycle items that cannot be recycled can contaminate an entire batch of recyclables and actually does more harm than good. Recycling experts have coined this well-intentioned, yet detrimental recycling misstep, “wish-cycling.” They urge consumers, “when in doubt, throw it out.”

While recycling has some challenges, the environmental impacts of recycling remain true and measurable, from reducing CO2 emissions to conserving natural resources and more.

New York State’s ban on plastic bags, set to go into effect March 2020, prohibits retailers from providing customers with single-use plastic bags. While there are some exceptions, including deli meat bags and film, produce bags, and bags for individually delivered newspapers, the ban aims to reduce widespread plastic waste. The ban has an additional component allowing counties to opt in to a 5-cent fee on paper bags; revenue that would go to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund as well as a separate fund to buy reusable bags for consumers.

Even after the ban is in place, plastic bag and film drop-off locations will continue to operate. To search for your nearest drop-off location, visit: www.plasticfilmrecycling.org/recycling-bags-and-wraps/find-drop-off-location/.

The mission of the PCDOH, 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.

 

Free Rabies Vaccination Clinic Scheduled for November 2

Brewster, NY-  Bring your dogs, cats and ferrets to a FREE rabies vaccination clinic on Saturday, November 2, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sponsored by the Putnam County Department of Health, the clinic is being held at Brook Farm Veterinary Center, 2371 Route 22, in Patterson, 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 animals must be under control and not aggressive, with all dogs leashed and cats and ferrets 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. 43160.

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. 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, which consists of a two-week series of shots. For more information about rabies and capturing a bat, visit the Putnam County website at https://www.putnamcountyny.com/health/rabies/

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 Department of Health Confirms Measles Case, More Exposures Possible

Brewster, NY— The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) has confirmed a positive case of measles. The patient has been isolated to avoid spreading the disease further. Measles is a serious, highly contagious disease that can be spread through the air by coughing or sneezing. In rare cases it can be deadly.

“Keep in mind that this is currently one case of measles,” reassures County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Please support the efforts of the health department as they work to reduce the risk of measles exposure and transmission. We continue to urge all residents to check their vaccination status to protect themselves.”

Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, further explains, “Before this person was isolated, there may have been additional exposures. We are working with local partners to identify all possible contacts. If you are unsure if you or your children are protected from measles, reach out to your physician or one of our communicable disease nurses.” PCDOH nurses are available by calling 845-808-1390.

Several possible exposure sites have been identified: the Route 52 Laundromat, the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God church, and following the service, at the Annual Feast Day Celebration, and also at the Putnam Hospital Center Emergency Department.

Anyone in the laundromat at 184 Route 52 in Carmel on Saturday, September 21, between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. who develops symptoms before Saturday, October 12, should call the PCDOH as soon as possible to understand their possible risk and what action to take.

Anyone who attended church service at the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God at 1050 Route 6 in Mahopac on Sunday, September 22, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., or the celebration afterwards from 12 noon to 6 p.m. and develops symptoms before Sunday, October 13, should also call the health department as soon as possible.

Anyone in the Putnam Hospital Center Emergency Department at 670 Stoneleigh Ave in Carmel on Saturday, September 28, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. who has not been contacted by the PDCOH, should also call the health department as soon as possible.

Individuals born before 1957, anyone who has had measles disease, or those who have proof of receiving 2 MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccines, are less likely to become sick.

“Measles symptoms begin with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat,” continues Dr. Nesheiwat. “It is followed by a rash that spreads over the body. If anyone has these symptoms, call your doctor or the emergency room first. Do not go directly to a medical facility. Isolation procedures need to begin immediately upon arrival.”

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.

Free Smoking Cessation Offered in Putnam

Most Successful Quitters Have Failed Before

BREWSTER, NY- Putnam county residents have a new chance to take the first steps toward a tobacco-free life. The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) will offer residents a free smoking cessation program, with a group “Quit Day” falling on the eve of the Great American Smokeout, November 21. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Locally, smoking remains a major health concern. While only 11.7% of residents in the Mid-Hudson Valley are smokers, 18.3% of Putnam County residents smoke, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey from 2016.

The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is an annual event that encourages and offers support to smokers to make a plan to quit smoking or, for some, to quit smoking on the day of the event – the third Thursday in November each year. Quitting smoking isn’t easy and the PCDOH is supporting residents with an evidence-based approach to kicking the habit. This autumn, Putnam residents can come together to make a change that could save their lives. The eight-week Freedom From Smoking (FFS) program starts October 30, and continues every Wednesday, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., at the health department’s main office at 1 Geneva Road, Brewster. The last class is on December 18.

The group leader is a FFS/American Lung Association-certified facilitator from the health department. The sessions start with discussions and guidance for preparing and planning to quit. Each person’s experience with quitting smoking is different. The FFS program uses proven activities and tools to help participants understand their own relationship with tobacco—and how to enjoy a tobacco-free life. Nicotine replacement products (NRT) such as the patch and gum will be available, also for free, while supplies last. Using NRT is encouraged, and will be discussed in detail as part of the program, but it is not required.

“While there are currently 16 million Americans living with a smoking-related disease, we know that the benefits to quitting smoking are almost immediately measurable. After just 12 hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Somewhere between 2 weeks to 3 months your circulation improves, and your lung function increases,” says Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD.

Widely regarded as the gold standard in quit-smoking programs, the FFS program was created by the American Lung Association, an organization with more than 50 years of experience helping smokers quit. Some smokers feel hopeless after unsuccessful attempts at quitting. The FFS Program recognizes these feelings are part of the journey to become a non-smoker and stresses the fact that most successful quitters have failed at it before. The program empowers participants to create their own path to success by instilling strategies for managing stress, avoiding weight gain and staying active during their quit, and after.

Pre-registration is required, as group size is limited. More information on the program can be found online at www.freedomfromsmoking.org. For more information or to pre-register, contact the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390, ext. 43155.

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.