Health Department Warns about Increasing Respiratory Illnesses

Tips to Protect Residents This Holiday Season

BREWSTER, NY—The holiday season is here…and so are contagious respiratory illnesses. This year there is a triple threat: high circulating levels of flu, COVID and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. Everyone is familiar with the first two, and safe and effective vaccines are available for both. RSV may be less familiar, but it has been around for decades. RSV vaccines are being developed, but none are currently available. 

This year’s spike in RSV cases has attracted lots of attention. As a common respiratory illness, it usually has seasonal peaks in colder months. This year increases started in the summer and levels now are already exceeding the higher numbers typically seen later in RSV season. For healthy adults, symptoms are like the common cold, most often a runny nose and cough. In very young children, especially those born preterm or with underlying lung conditions, and older adults and individuals with compromised immune systems, it can cause serious illness and lead to pneumonia.  

Flu cases also started earlier than usual and with greater numbers. This mirrors what was seen in the southern hemisphere, which experts use to predict what may happen in the north. So far, predictions of an early and severe flu season are holding true for New York and the rest of the country.   

Residents hearing stories on the news about high levels of respiratory illness around the country should be aware that this is also true in Putnam County,” reports the health department’s epidemiologist, Alison Kaufman, DVM, MPH. “COVID cases remain steady at about 150 per week, and in the last reporting week we saw cases of flu more than double from 39 up to 98 cases.”   

The good news is that there are a number of things we can do to protect ourselves and our families,” said Kathleen Percacciolo, RN, supervising public health nurse. “Flu and COVID vaccines are available through pharmacies, healthcare providers, and here at the department of health as well.” 

The health department has a clinic with flu shots available on Thursday, December 1, at the health department office at 1 Geneva Road in Brewster. Appointments must be made and are available from 3 to 4 p.m. Bivalent COVID boosters may be available as well depending on overall demand. For information and to schedule a time, call 845-808-1390, x43230.  

Public health initiatives work to address barriers to accessing basic healthcare, including vaccinations. Clinics are also held in the Village of Brewster, supported by the NYSDOH Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker (MSFW) program which ensures eligible residents receive access to vital vaccinations, while helping to address vaccine equity. The next MSFW clinic is scheduled on November 22, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Brewster Methodist Church, at 83 Main Street. The following MSFW clinic will be held on December 13, at its regular location, 121 Main Street. For more information on the MSFW program or to check eligibility, call the health department at the same number, 845-808-1390, x 43230.  

With holiday gatherings nearly here, it’s important to get flu and COVID shots soon. The best immunity is achieved about two weeks after each injection. There are other precautions that work well too…stay home when you are sick, cover coughs and sneezes, dispose of used tissues, and practice good hand hygiene. Keeping windows open for good air circulation helps also. 

If symptoms develop for any respiratory illness, especially if they are severe, contact your health care provider right away,” added Ms. Percacciolo. “Your provider can help you with providing a diagnosis and care.” For those without quick access to a physician or other healthcare provider, a visit to the emergency department is necessary if severe symptoms are present or worsen. 

Other prevention tips for RSV and respiratory viruses, including COVID and the flu, are ones everyone by now is very familiar with—social distancing and masking in crowded settings. These are particularly important for people living with newborns, very young children, and the elderly or immune-compromised.  

To relieve any symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control recommends over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. (Aspirin should never be given to children, and it is important to talk to a healthcare provider before giving children any over-the-counter cold medicines because some ingredients are not good for children.) Also drink enough fluids to prevent loss of body fluids and dehydration. 

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 entire Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services are provided through a lens of equity, and 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, Twitter and Instagram @PutnamHealthNY. 

Health Department Releases Three 2022 Survey Reports

PCDOH is releasing a trio of reports from surveys conducted in 2022 They are part of the tri-annual community health assessment, often referred to simply as the “CHA.” The complete regional and county level CHA and Putnam County’s community health improvement plan, known as the “CHIP,” will be released by year-end. The surveys and reports are part of an ongoing process to improve residents’ health and well-being led by the health department, in collaboration with Putnam Hospital Center and a myriad of other county agencies and community-based organizations. The collaborative work includes investigating, strategizing and implementing evidence-based interventions to achieve health for all by ending health inequities. Reducing and illuminating health disparities has been a part of the New York State Prevention Agenda since 2008, but a much more public spotlight has been cast on these longstanding inequities during the COVID pandemic.

 

 

Over 100 Hudson Valley Residents Attend Film’s Premiere: Loneliness and Resilience Take Centerstage

CARMEL, NY–Last week, more than 60 Putnam residents gathered in Carmel and dozens more watched remotely from the Poughkeepsie Public Library to view an inspiring documentary “All The Lonely People.” Participants from both locations stayed on afterwards to talk with the filmmakers Joseph Applebaum and Stu Maddox. They headlined the panel discussion in the Putnam County auditorium at the Bureau of Emergency Services and answered questions about how their film came to be and what changes they hope it will launch. It was part of two-month, 20-county tour in New York State for their film, which was created to spur social change.

Loneliness and social isolation have been the topic of health research for decades and surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy began calling it an epidemic more than two years before the pandemic began. The film was also well into production before the world encountered COVID, the filmmakers explained. The film’s urgency grew of course, as it tells the story of how for the past two years, a handful of people overcame crippling social isolation and loneliness with breathtaking stories of resilience. Despite the film’s poignancy, in introducing the film the creators expressed hope that the discussions afterwards would be as beneficial as the film itself.

Loneliness is a natural part of the human experience, explained Eric Toth, who was part of the panel discussion. Mr. Toth is executive director of CoveCare, a Putnam County mental health and addiction counseling services group. When loneliness is chronic and debilitating, it becomes problematic, often cited as being as detrimental to one’s health as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness should also be viewed through the lens of health equity. Certain populations including LGBTQ populations, and both youth and the elderly are at higher risk for serious loneliness that affects health and quality of life.

Michael Cunningham, director of the Putnam County Office for Senior Resources, who was instrumental in bringing the film to Putnam, and Shanna Siegel, supervising public health educator at the Putnam County Department of Health, also participated in the discussions. Mr. Cunningham pointed out that how much has changed in our way of life in the last two to three generations and this has resulted in many struggling with loneliness, made that much more critical by COVID.

Despite the challenge and inherent sadness of the pandemic, the film portrayed the clear call of resilience. Numerous “loneliness life hacks” appeared throughout the film such as connecting with nature or expressing gratitude, all of which have social research and history of success to back them up. A question from the Poughkeepsie audience asked about low-cost interventions that local governments could easily implement. One suggestion touted in the discussions was the “chat bench,” which offers a seat to someone who is open to a conversation from a passerby. Another mentioned by Shanna Siegel described a multigenerational program “seniors helping seniors” that put seniors seeking online COVID vaccine registration in touch with tech-savvy high school seniors who helped them register.

Many things can cause loneliness and while it may be different for individuals, many experiences commonly affect people. For more information on these factors and to see a list of all twelve “loneliness life hacks,” visit the website of the production company the Clowder Group, at https://www.allthelonelypeoplefilm.com/.
The Putnam County Office for Senior Resources serves the seniors of Putnam County, providing senior center programs, nutritious lunches, transportation, home-delivered meals, recreation, and other services that address the social determinants of health and support seniors living at home as independently as possible.

Filmmakers Joseph Applebaum and Stu Maddox to Attend Putnam Film Screening on Friday

Carmel, NY—This Friday, October 21, producer Joseph Applebaum and director Stu Maddox will be in Carmel for the Putnam screening of their film “All The Lonely People.” They will participate in a panel discussion that follows the one-hour documentary, which places a human face on the hidden epidemic of chronic loneliness and social isolation. The film, by the creators of the acclaimed 2010 film “Gen Silent,” begins at 1 pm in the auditorium at the Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services, 112 Old Route 6, in Carmel. Tickets can be reserved at AllTheLonelyPeoplePutnam.eventbrite.com for this free event, sponsored by Putnam County’s Office for Senior Resources. For more information or to reserve accessible seating, call 845-808-1700.

“We are thrilled at this opportunity to support organizations across the state that are doing amazing things to ease loneliness and isolation,” said producer Joseph Applebaum. “New York is making a meaningful commitment to easing loneliness and isolation.” Carmel and Poughkeepsie are the only two sites in the mid-Hudson Valley on a tour that traverses 20 locations from St. Lawrence County near Canada to Long Island.

Speaking about the event, writer and director Stu Maddox said, “This is more than just watching a film. It’s a chance to reconnect after a life-changing few years of isolation.”
The Putnam County Office for Senior Resources serves the seniors of Putnam County, providing senior center programs, nutritious lunches, transportation, home-delivered meals, recreation, and other services that address the social determinants of health and support seniors living at home as independently as possible.

Free Rabies Vaccination Clinic Scheduled for November 5

Attention Putnam Residents! Bring your dogs, cats, and ferrets to a FREE rabies vaccination clinic on Saturday, November 5th from 10am-12pm. Sponsored by the Putnam County Department of Health, the clinic is being held at Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park (Upper Park), 201 Gipsy Trail Road, Carmel, and is open to all Putnam County residents.

Please bring photo ID as proof of Putnam County residency, as well as 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 vaccine. Pets must be at least 12 weeks old. All dogs must be leashed and controlled. Any dog that may become aggressive must be muzzled. Cats and ferrets must be in carriers – top loading carriers preferred, no harnesses. All animals must be supervised by an adult. Masks are recommended while inside the barn. Social/physical distancing, face coverings and a minimum number of people are appreciated.

For more information and directions, please call the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390 ext. 43160.

You can quit smoking. We can help.

Join the American Lung Association’s week quit smoking program, conveniently
held at the Putnam County Department of Health, 1 Geneva Road, Brewster 10509

Hundreds of thousands of people have become smokefree through a Freedom From
Smoking® Group Clinic which offers a structured, systematic approach to quitting
smoking.
Overseen by a certified facilitator, you will learn:

  • How to know if you’re really ready to quit
  • Medications that can increase your success
  • Lifestyle changes to make quitting easier
  • How to prepare for your quit day
  • Coping strategies for managing stress & avoiding weight gain
  • How to stay smokefree for good

at the Putnam County Department of Health, 1 Geneva Road, Brewster 10509.

Freedom From Smoking Group Quit Program (7 Weeks)
Wednesdays at 6:00 pm (8 Classes)
First class starts on Wednesday, October 26 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Open to the public over 18 yrs. old
For more information contact:
Alexa Contreras (845) 808-1390 ext. 43155 or email alexa.contreras@putnamcountyny.gov
Program Facilitators: Alexa Contreras, Putnam County Department of Health and
Sarena Chisick, Nuvance Health. Click here to register.
Visit Lung.org/ffs for more information about the program or our online Freedom From
Smoking® Plus if a Group Clinic isn’t right for your quit.

“All The Lonely People” Film Premiers in Putnam County; Research Shows Loneliness Impacts Physical Health Equal to Smoking or Obesity

CARMEL, NY—Public viewing of a unique documentary will take place on Friday, October 21. The one-hour film entitled “All The Lonely People” presents stories of resilience in the face of loneliness. It chronicles a handful of individuals who overcame crippling social isolation over the past two years. The free-of-charge event starts at 1pm in the auditorium at the Bureau of Emergency Services, 110 Old Route 6 in Carmel, and will be followed by a live panel of the film’s producers and local experts, and an audience discussion. The documentary is being presented by Putnam County’s Office for Senior Resources, in cooperation with the Putnam County Department of Health and Putnam’s Bureau of Emergency Services. It is part of a statewide tour organized by the New York State Office for the Aging, the Association on Aging in New York, and local senior services agencies.  

“We have known for some time the negative effect loneliness can have on an individual’s health and well-being,” said Michael Cunningham, the director of the Office for Senior Resources in Putnam County. “These last few years have been challenging times for all residents, and I have seen it especially impact our seniors. We are hoping this film can bring a broader focus to the issue and point to new opportunities and solutions for building resilience. Audience participation in the panel discussion can bring new insights on the effects of isolation and I invite everyone who can to make time to attend and participate.” 

Even before the pandemic, Vivek Murthy, MD, the 19th and now the 21st U.S. Surgeon General, called social isolation a “global pandemic.” The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has called its damage equal to high blood pressure, smoking or obesity and the AARP Public Policy Institute estimates social isolation drives $6.7 billion in additional, associated Medicare spending per year. Some populations including older adults are more likely to experience loneliness and social isolation. But they are not alone—other groups are also vulnerable, including immigrants; LGBTQ populations; racial, ethnic and religious minorities; low-income, and other underserved groups.   

“Loneliness and social isolation clearly impact mental health. They present ethical challenges as well,” said Sara Servadio, Deputy Commissioner of Mental Health and Social Services in Putnam County. “We are seeing an increase in the incidence of mental health challenges as well as widespread difficulties accessing care as a result of the pandemic. We must focus all our energies on improving wellbeing and reducing the stigma that presents added challenges to seeking care that go beyond the availability of services.”   

In addition to putting a human face on this hidden epidemic of social isolation and chronic loneliness, the filmmakers also interviewed “loneliness experts,” including Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, and geriatrician Carla Perissinotto, MD, social isolation and loneliness researcher. 

After seeing the film over a year ago, Greg Olsen, Director of the New York State Office of the Aging, immediately saw its connection with the work of his organization. “I also saw this as a tool to raise awareness,” said Mr. Olsen. “…including a broader community reach, as isolation impacts people of all ages. The film examines an issue that profoundly affects older adults, but it also features people from all walks of life and age groups, showing the many ways that we are all touched by social isolation.”  

The New York State Office of the Aging has spearheaded efforts to bring this film and these important messages to multiple counties around the state throughout October and November 2022. The tour includes 20 locations from St. Lawrence County near Canada to Long Island. Carmel and Poughkeepsie are the two sites in the mid-Hudson Valley.  

All The Lonely People is from The Clowder Group, the social enterprise that created the critically acclaimed film Gen Silent. Joseph Applebaum, cofounder and producer of The Clowder Group describes his group as having given hundreds of communities, governments and professional organizations around the world the immersive experience that sparks change. Their events—films followed by discussions—have resulted in national policy change, community awareness and organizational growth.   

Register here for the free-event: https://AllTheLonelyPeoplePutnam.eventbrite.com 

The Putnam County Office for Senior Resources serves the seniors of Putnam County, providing senior center programs, nutritious lunches, transportation, home-delivered meals, recreation, and other services that address the social determinants of health and support seniors living at home as independently as possible. 

 

“All The Lonely People” Film Premiers in Putnam County 

Mark your calendars for Friday, October 21, when a special public viewing of a unique film will be shown in Putnam County at 1pm. “All The Lonely People” presents stories of resilience in the face of loneliness. It chronicles a handful of individuals who overcame crippling social isolation over the past two years. The one-hour film will be shown free of charge in the auditorium at the Bureau of Emergency Services, 110 Old Route 6 in Carmel, at 1 pm, and followed by a live panel of local experts and the film’s producers for an audience discussion. The documentary puts a human face on the hidden epidemic of chronic loneliness and social isolation and is being presented by the Office for Senior Resources, in cooperation with the Putnam County Department of Health and Putnam’s Bureau of Emergency Services.

View the movie trailer here: www.allthelonelypeoplefilm.com

Register to attend here: AllTheLonelyPeoplePutnam.eventbrite.com

For more information and directions, please call the Putnam County Office for Senior Resources at (845) 808-1700.

Public Health Summit X Draws Record Crowd

Partners Discuss New Challenges, Highlight Resources

BREWSTER, NY— The task of improving community health has become more crucial with the pandemic serving as a wake-up call. Health disparities, mental health and the effects of misinformation have moved into a more public view, and when Public Health Summit X convened last week, these truths weighed heavy on the minds of participants.

“The world has changed,” declared the president of Putnam Hospital Center Mark K. Hirko, MD, at the start of five-hour event. “We are all still adapting, and we believe that everyone has the right to health.”

The event drew a record-breaking crowd of over 90 participants to the Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services in Carmel where it was held for the first time. The larger group also had much wider representation than previous years. Increased participation came from multiple sectors including school districts, legislators and community-based organizations. The hospital and the Putnam County Department of Health again co-hosted the summit, which previously took place at the hospital. Continuing COVID restrictions on healthcare facilities prevented that this year. Nuvance Health supported the event further by providing lunch; Fidelis Care sponsored the continental breakfast.

Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, welcomed and wished the audience well with the difficult work ahead. “Assessing our community health and planning for future improvements are not easy tasks,” he said, “but the people and organizations in this room are remarkable and we can do it.”

Shanna Siegel, RN, supervising public health educator, agreed, further noting that “A different path is ahead of us this year. We must find disparities and barriers, and work to reduce them.”

At the core of the summit are the community partner discussions about available health resources, funding and future possibilities. Ten major health challenges had been identified through the data collection process for the community health assessment, or CHA. This process, spearheaded by health department epidemiologist Alison Kaufman, DVM, MPH, was outlined earlier in the morning to lay the groundwork for developing the community health improvement plan, or CHIP. A prior CHIP steering committee had provided an extra layer of brainstorming in Putnam’s process this year. The major challenges were further reduced to six to align with the New York State Department of Health priority areas. All are health problems in which Putnam statistics show an increase in the problem, or they represent numbers that are worse in comparison to other counties in the Mid-Hudson Valley or New York State. These six identified areas include: the numbers of adults and children with obesity, perinatal and infant health disparities, early childhood vaccination coverage, sexually transmitted infections, mental health, and opioid and other substance use disorders. Feedback from community organizations and health care professionals on these issues is key to the health department further developing and finalizing the CHIP, which identifies two priorities to report results annually, as required by the New York State Department of Health. The Public Health Summit is an integral part of this multi-step process, revolving around a three-year cycle dictated by the state health department.

The overall take-aways from the discussions were that a good number of resources currently exist, even if they are sometimes underfunded, not well known or under-utilized. Staffing and transportation issues were repeatedly raised as concerns, along with the challenges presented by a lack of understanding of cultural beliefs, misinformation and health authority mistrust.

All was not negative, however. Stellar examples of new and growing community vibrance were noted. The Brewster-based, non-profit Second Chance Foods reported delivery of over 40,000 meals in the first six months of 2022—all made from farm-fresh, rescued food and donated to those in need. Putnam’s Director of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Alex Roehner took notice when a resident in need made multiple calls for emergency assistance in a short time period. She is now working with partner agencies and linking individuals with community-based services.

Before the discussions got underway, the group heard details about the county’s CHA. Dr. Kaufman reminded the group that despite challenges, “Putnam performs better than NYS and neighboring counties for most measures of health and well-being, affirming our number-one standing in the University of Wisconsin’s 2022 County Health Rankings Report. The declines we are seeing in performance over time, across many health measures, are likely due to the wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic.”

Other speakers charted achievements of the previous CHIP cycle and local efforts to improve health equity. Kristin McConnell of the Prevention Council of Putnam highlighted the harm reduction work in opioid overdose prevention, part of grant-funded collaboration with Columbia University, under the HEALing Communities Study; Jen Lerner and Ruby Koch-Fienberg, from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County, presented on the newly established Food Systems Coalition and their USDA-funded work to reduce obesity by improving access to healthy foods and reducing food insecurity. Ildiko Rabinowitz, assistant vice president of health equity, diversity and inclusion at Nuvance Health, laid out their corporate blueprint to address these issues, while Mike Cunningham, director of Office for Senior Resources, described how the agency’s services are built around the “social determinants of health,” emphasizing the operative word of the day, “collaboration.”

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, Twitter and Instagram @PutnamHealthNY.

Putnam County Department of Health Schedules Pfizer Bivalent COVID-19 Booster vaccine clinic

The Putnam County Department of Health has scheduled a Pfizer Bivalent COVID-19 Booster vaccine clinic:

  • Monday, October 3 from 3 pm to 6 pm at the Putnam County Department of Health, located at 1 Geneva Road in Brewster

Pfizer Bivalent vaccine will be available for those 12 and older who received their most recent COVID vaccine at least 2 months prior.

Registration is required and can be completed at https://apps2.health.ny.gov/doh2/applinks/cdmspr/2/counties?OpID=E9493B7E97760338E0530A6C7C163FC1

Please make sure to bring your vaccination card to be updated. This is NOT a drive thru clinic.