Free Hepatitis C Testing at PCDOH on May 20

CDC Recommends One-time Testing for All Baby Boomers

BREWSTER, NY—The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) is offering free hepatitis C testing in recognition of National Hepatitis C Testing Day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hepatitis C causes more deaths among Americans than any other infectious disease. Free testing, especially targeted to New York State baby boomers, will take place on Monday, May 20. Anyone can get “Hep C,” but those born from 1945 through 1965 are five times more likely to be infected with the virus. Testing starts at 10 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m. at the main health department office at 1 Geneva Road in Brewster. No appointment is necessary and results are ready in 20 minutes.

“You can have Hep C infection without knowing it, says County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “And this free test can be the first step to getting lifesaving care and treatment.”

“Hep C can live in your body for decades without producing any symptoms and the longer someone lives with the untreated infection, the more likely they are to develop life-threatening liver disease,” says Health Commissioner, Michael J. Nesheiwat, M.D. “Seventy-five percent of people living with Hepatitis C were born from 1945 to 1965. This is why U.S. health officials have come together to recommend a one-time test for all baby boomers, regardless of risk factors.”

Hepatitis C is primarily spread through contact with infected blood. Baby boomers may have gotten infected from contaminated blood and blood products before routine screening started in 1992. Others may have become infected from injecting drugs, even if they did it only once in the past. Many baby boomers don’t know how or when they were infected.

There are 2.4 million Americans living with hepatitis C and most people don’t have symptoms until the later stages of the infection. When left untreated, Hepatitis C can cause liver failure, cirrhosis and cancer. There is no vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C. Getting tested is the best way to know if an infection exists and then treatment can be started as soon as possible. For many, treatment can cure Hepatitis C.

Residents who are unable to make the Free Testing Day on May 20, can call the health department at 845-808-1390 for information about other free testing opportunities.

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.

 

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Please let us know if we can provide any additional information. Feel free to contact our Public Information Officer Susan Hoffner with any questions at 845-808-1390.

Thirteenth Annual Food Operator’s Seminar Held – New Expo with Food Industry Vendors Helps Draw Record Crowd

Brewster, NY— A record crowd of nearly 200 attendees—chefs, caterers, owners, food establishment operators and other food industry representatives—were in attendance for the Thirteenth Annual Food Operator’s Seminar and Expo on April 23. For the first time, the event featured an expo with food industry vendors, displaying their products and services. The jam-packed event offered a “one-stop” opportunity for food operators to learn about the latest dining trends, enhance their business skills, and improve their bottom line. At the same time they were able to visit with vendors, see products first-hand and learn about the latest services available to make their facilities run as smoothly as possible.

“This event surpassed all expectations,” said Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, the Commissioner of Health. “We work year round with all our food operators, with this event we advanced those efforts to a higher level. Public health is about building community partnerships—it is fundamental to the way an accredited health department operates. As our public health sanitarian Shawn Rogan who oversees the PCDOH’s food industry program has said many times, ‘When our restaurants succeed, we all benefit,’ and I certainly agree.”

Shawn Rogan, who together with event coordinator Jane Meunier, oversees the Food Operators Seminar and Expo, thanked his colleagues for their ongoing success in changing Putnam’s food-licensing culture from one historically viewed as regulatory, to a more supportive relationship in which the goal is improving quality and problem solving.  “We have more in common with food operators than you might think. We are both service-based operations,” said Mr. Rogan. “This event helps us strengthen our working relationships and it is our residents who ultimately benefit.”

Vendors were not the only newcomers to the event. Public health professionals from health departments in the surrounding counties of Westchester, Orange and Dutchess County also attended. They were interested to see how the event was planned and to study how they might coordinate a similar event in their own county.

The event also offers an opportunity for the health department to recognize food establishments for lifetime achievement, distinguished performance and operational success in the past year. Health Inspectors Commendation Awards went to George Seitz at the Arch Restaurant and another to David Humphreys of Wandering Dave’s Fork in the Road, both in Brewster in the Town of Southeast.

The 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award went to Joseph Iebba, from Nicola’s Italian Restaurant in Philipstown. The department’s highest and most stringent honor, the Commissioner’s Gold Award for operational excellence was presented to James and Patricia Turco who own and operate the Ice Cream Studio in Lake Carmel, Town of Kent.

Commissioner’s Gold Awards also were awarded to Patrick Rodia from the Carmel Central School District and Cathy Ashe from the Brewster Central School District. These awards recognized nine specific schools. Food service director at Mahopac High School Rob Campisi, from Aramark, won for the first time. The remaining eight were repeat winners: Matthew Paterson School, ten times; John F. Kennedy Elementary School, eight times; Kent Primary School, seven times; and George Fischer Middle School, 6 times. Carmel High School and Kent Elementary School both won for the fifth time. Brewster High School brought home the gold for the fourth time and Henry H. Wells Middle School won gold for the third time.

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.

Community Health Survey: You Talk, We Listen Department of Health and Putnam Hospital Request Public Input

BREWSTER, NY— The Putnam County Department of Health and Putnam Hospital Center  are asking residents to complete a brief community health survey known as the “community asset survey.” Residents are being asked what they think are the greatest strengths of the community and where the gaps exist so resources can be directed adequately to develop a healthier community. Over 200 people have expressed their views, but everyone who lives or works in Putnam County is encouraged to voice their opinions.

“Community health improvement is most successful when it is driven by direct community input” explains Commissioner of Health Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD. “This is why we encourage all community members to participate.” The health department and Putnam Hospital Center collaborate with public health partners to analyze resident feedback alongside an array of socio-economic factors. The result is an accurate community health assessment and subsequent Community Health Improvement Plan.

From start to finish, the survey has five, easy-to-answer questions that can be completed in five to ten minutes. Utilizing a wide-ranging list, the survey asks respondents to identify the county’s greatest strengths as well as to help pinpoint where the county should focus improvement efforts.  Dr. Nesheiwat reminds, “Community health is not defined by medical diagnoses alone. Crime levels, clean environment and transportation access all contribute to the overall health of a community.”

The quick and anonymous survey is on the homepage of the Putnam County website at www.putnamcountyny.com and will run until May 31. The direct link is: https://tinyurl.com/Community-Asset-Survey-2019. 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 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 Early Education Partnership hosts training conference; “Spring into Learning” set for Saturday, May 4

Brewster, NY – The Putnam Early Education Partnership will host the “Spring into Learning” conference on Saturday, May 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at George Fischer Middle School, 281 Fair Street in Carmel. The partnership, known as PEEP, is a collaborative group made up of representatives from schools and human service agencies in Putnam County, including the Putnam County Department of Health.

The event is a training conference for staff working in typical early childhood settings with children ages birth to five. Participants in this event can earn Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) training hours.

The training consists of two workshops. “Jump, Jive, and Wail! Music for All Kids” will demonstrate and teach songs and movement games to use with children of all ages and abilities. Participants should wear comfortable clothes and bring a creative mind to apply the songs and games they will learn to their own programs.  The second workshop, “Understanding the Early Intervention and CPSE Referral Process,” will cover these processes and also include discussion of developmental milestones and age appropriate expectations, and tips for communicating with families about their children.

For more information and to register, please call the Child Care Council of Dutchess and Putnam at 845-473-4141, ext. 210. The fee to register is $15.00 per participant. Light refreshments will be served. Credit card payments for registration are accepted. Deadline for registration is April 26.

The Putnam Early Education Partnership (PEEP) is composed of individuals from the Arc Putnam NY Preschool, Putnam County Early Intervention and Preschool Programs, the Child Care Council of Dutchess and Putnam, the Lower Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center, Putnam Independent Living Services, and the Carmel, Garrison, and Lakeland School Districts. The Partnership is committed to enhancing the knowledge and tools of early education providers to assist in the daily management of typical child development, while better understanding the referral process to the Child Find System.

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.

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Please let us know if we can provide any additional information. Feel free to reach me by email, or phone at 845-808-139

Measles Watch in Putnam

There are currently no known measles cases in Putnam County. However, outbreaks have occurred in surrounding areas, most recently with eight cases confirmed in Westchester. The Putnam County Department of Health is proactively preparing for possible cases here. Educational efforts are underway to support the public and our health care providers.

If you think you or a family member have been exposed or are having symptoms, you should stay home and call your health care provider first. If you do have the measles, you could spread it to others who are not immune. That is why it is best to call to your doctor, an urgent care center or your emergency room before going there. They will tell you the best way to get checked without exposing others.

The measles virus is a danger to children, pregnant women and immune-compromised people. All of these groups may be present in your health care providers’ offices, urgent care centers or an emergency room.

It is also important to know your own immunization status. If you are unsure, you should check with your physician and get the measles vaccine to protect yourself if necessary.

If you have questions about measles or the measles vaccine, call the New York State Measles Hotline at 888-364-4837.

 

Putnam’s Health Department Hosts Food Operators Expo : Celebrates National Public Health Week, April 1-7

Health Department Hosts Food Operators Expo | Celebrates National Public Health Week

BREWSTER, NY— National Public Health Week (NPHW), celebrated April 1-7, honors public health partners across the county for coming together to build healthier communities. A fundamental aspect of keeping a community healthy is the prevention of food-borne illnesses. The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) is working across sectors and hosting the 13th annual Food Operators Expo on April 23 at the Putnam County Golf Course from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Collaboration is key— that is why the health department works with partners to offer relevant training for food industry professionals. Just as your doctor is a major player when it comes to your health, public health workers are often working behind the scenes to prevent illness, disease and injuries,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell, who had previously declared this year “The year of the health provider.”

PCDOH staff are continually involved in training professionals in the community on an array of health and safety topics.  “To keep our community healthy, we must start new conversations about familiar topics,” says Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD. “Food-borne illnesses, communicable diseases, chronic health challenges. These are not new issues, but we absolutely must take an innovative approach when it comes to prevention. We are out working with food operators, camp operators, as well as an array of healthcare providers to do just that.”

Restaurant inspectors from PCDOH not only provide ongoing training in safe food handling practices, they are also among the presenters at the Food Operators Expo. This year, the theme is “Educating Those Who Feed Us,” and the day will include a variety of seminar presentations by both public health and restaurant industry leaders, with an emphasis on best practices. Dr. Nesheiwat also will be speaking on the topic of dietary sodium, as well as leading a discussion on the medical and legal issues related to food allergies.

“Opportunities for health promotion exist in every corner of our lives,” said Dr. Nesheiwat. “We will be hosting an expansive vendor showcase, designed with the food industry professional in mind.” He encourages food industry professionals to build upon their knowledge and network with one another. Chefs, restaurant owners, managers and food service personnel are encouraged to attend this free event. For more information, or to register to attend the Food Operators Expo, visit www.putnamcountyny.com/FoodOpsExpo/.

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.

 

Putnam County Ranks Among Healthiest in NYS, for Ninth Consecutive Year

Brewster, NY—The ninth annual County Health Rankings have been released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and for the ninth year Putnam County ranks among the healthiest counties. Putnam is third in health factors, the influencers of health, up from last year’s fourth place ranking. In health outcomes, based on length and quality of life, this year Putnam was sixth, compared to fifth last year, from among the 62 counties in the state.

“Putnam County continues to be a great place to live and work. We are fortunate to live in a safe, beautiful environment with easy access to parks, recreation and healthy, fresh food. This helps residents maintain a good lifestyle which translates to our health,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “We’ve declared 2019 the ‘Year of the Health Provider’ to honor the hard work of our nationally accredited health department and all the other county agencies and community organizations that work together to help residents remain healthy, safe and productive.”

“The consistency that our county has demonstrated in these annual rankings speaks for itself,” said Michael Nesheiwat M.D., Commissioner of Health. “The numbers always shift a bit. Changes in data collection and the performances of other counties affect the rankings. This data reconfirms much of what we already know and points to areas we will continue to work on.”

One of the identified challenges in the county is a higher rate of excessive alcohol use in Putnam compared to the rest of New York State. Alcohol-impaired driving deaths that had decreased from 27% to 22% last year, are back up to 28%. The health department continues to work on this pressing issue, working closely with two community organizations that spearhead the efforts, the Prevention Council of Putnam and the Communities That Care (CTC) coalition.

Similarly the numbers of sexually transmitted diseases rose, as they have around New York State and the United States. Left undiagnosed and untreated, these illnesses 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 2019 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.

 

Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, named permanent Health Commissioner

BREWSTER, NY— Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, assumed appointment as the permanent Commissioner of the Putnam County Department of Health on March 5. In making the announcement, County Executive MaryEllen Odell said, “There is no question that Dr. Nesheiwat is the best candidate for the position. He has proved this many times over the past three years. He is a true gem and we are fortunate to have him here in Putnam. I am thrilled he has decided to accept this as a permanent appointment.”

In the announcement the County Executive listed numerous accomplishments attributed to “Dr. Mike,” as he is known by many throughout the community, and in her 2019 County Address on March 7, she heralded the upcoming year as the “Year of the Health Provider.” This was due in part to Dr. Nesheiwat’s leadership, under which the department took the final step in achieving national accreditation and is on the fast track moving forward to reaccreditation in 2021.

Dr. Nesheiwat’s guidance can be seen in the health department’s ongoing shift toward a quality improvement and performance management work culture. Staff have been trained in the “plan-do-study-act” method or “PDSA,” for short. One of the first issues tackled was the reduction of paper records, while enhancing electronic record keeping. Developed and implemented by department staff, this PDSA project has improved overall productivity. In particular disease reports are now more comprehensive and are completely captured in the New York State electronic reporting system. The ultimate result to better protect residents’ health and well-being.

Another accreditation-required task involves creating a branding communications strategy. Community partners and health department staff members were surveyed for feedback on the department’s current public image and how enhancements can be made. The department is in the process of rolling out a nameplate for their logo.

Other highlights under Dr. Nesheiwat’s leadership include building a blue-green algae monitoring program in which health department staff partnered closely with towns and beaches, and continuing tick surveillance with the New York State Department of Health in efforts to stem the rise of tick-borne illnesses. On the nursing side, flu immunizations continued to rise in the county with the popularity of the department’s school-based and public flu clinics and the promotion of pharmacy-based immunizations. Additionally STD surveillance and investigations are at an all-time high, important because of the rising number of cases.

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.

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Please let us know if we can provide any additional information. Feel free to contact our Public Information Officer Barbara Ilardi with any questions at 845-808-1390.

New Electronic Cards for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program

eWic Debit Cards Create Easier Food Shopping for Putnam Families

BREWSTER, NY— Putnam County residents can now shop for WIC food using a new electronic benefit card. The card, which looks like an ordinary debit or credit card, allows a more discreet shopping experience and eliminates delay at check-out. The card also can ease the “roll-over” of unused benefits, so that shoppers can take full advantage of the nutritional benefits the WIC program provides.

“A well-balanced meal of healthy foods is an important part of caring for young children,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “This new technology will make the WIC program more accessible to families in our county who need extra assistance, without having to endure any stigma. This is a very welcomed change.” The first eWIC purchase occurred in Albany last April. The system started in Putnam last December as part of a planned roll-out across New York State.

“The importance of good nutrition for proper childhood development and overall good health cannot be emphasized enough,” says interim Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, who encouraged residents who think they may qualify for the program to get more information. For example, a family of four earning $46,000 a year can qualify for WIC benefits.

Residents can learn more about qualifying for WIC by going online at www.health.ny.gov/wic, or by calling or visiting one of the two Putnam County WIC offices. One is located at the main office of the health department at 1 Geneva Road. The second is at 121 Main Street in the Village of Brewster. Appointments are preferred, but not required. Call 845-808-1337 for the main office, or 845-808-1416 for the village location.

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.

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Please let us know if we can provide any additional information. Feel free to contact our Public Information Officer Barbara Ilardi with any questions at 845-808-1390.

Putnam County Remains a High Risk Radon Zone Test Your Home and Protect Your Health

BREWSTER, NY— Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States among non-smokers. For those who smoke, radon greatly increases the cancer risk. This naturally occurring odorless gas claims the lives of about 21,000 Americans each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA designates January as National Radon Action Month and encourages all Americans to protect their health by testing their homes, schools and other buildings for radon. Radon however is a concern year-round.

Radon can easily accumulate to dangerous levels inside buildings. 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 from the soil enters buildings through cracks and openings. The EPA has identified Putnam County as a “high risk” radon zone. However, the only way to know if you have high radon levels in your home is to test it.

“The good news is that you can perform a simple, at-home test to discover your radon levels, and elevated radon levels in your home can be corrected,” says Interim Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD. “With the high rates of lung cancer in Putnam County, we absolutely must talk about radon and take it seriously. Radon-resistant construction can be utilized when building new homes but older homes must be tested. Remember, just because your neighbor’s house has safe levels of radon does not mean that your house is also safe.”

For $11, which includes the lab fee, the NYSDOH offers short-term radon testing kits. The test remains in the home for a few days and then the kit is sealed and mailed in for analysis. Results are typically returned to the homeowner within a few weeks. At-home radon test kits can also be purchased inexpensively at local home and hardware stores. If elevated levels are found there are various corrective measures, ranging in cost. To learn more about radon, order a test kit or discover mitigation options, visit the New York State Department of Health website or New York Radon Information website.

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.

 

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Please let us know if we can provide any additional information. Feel free to contact our Public Information Officer Barbara Ilardi with any questions at 845-808-1390.