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Samaritan touts success of Home Health program

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WATERTOWN — Samaritan Home Health in February launched its telehealth Hospital Re-admissions Reduction Program and officials say they’ve seen rousing success among participants this year.

The program is for people with congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and aims to reduce readmission within 30 days of discharge from the hospital by providing at-home care for participants.

“Patients who have been discharged from the hospital, or who have been referred by their physician, and are eligible for our Home Health services, benefit from this program,” said Stephanie Parks, Samaritan Home Health’s director of patient services.

Lee Filkins, whose wife Kim has congestive heart failure, called the program “very helpful” for what it has done for him as caretaker for his wife and said “the community should really know” what the program is and what it does for patients.

Mr. Filkins said that the program “took the stress off” and let him focus on taking care of his wife without worrying about trying to get her to the hospital for a checkup. Samaritan sends an occupational therapist, physical therapist and nurse on alternating days to his house to keep his wife from having to be readmitted to the hospital.

“They give us equipment to monitor her. They gave me a little computer and I plug all them in and that goes directly to them,” Mr. Filkins said. “If I put a vital in and it’s in the green, we just keep on doing what we’re doing. If it’s in the yellow, then we should call the doctor and they might make an adjustment, and if it’s in the red, then usually we’re getting phone calls from them and they’ll come out here and assess, because they’re authorized to give her a medication or draw blood to fix the problem without her going into the hospital.”

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Holy Mackerel! Fish Really Is Brain Food – Even if You Only Eat a Small Amount

in Food/Health 57 views

Could eating salmon, cod, tuna, herring, or sardines keep your brain healthy and your thinking agile in middle age? This study says emphatically, YES.

Eating cold-water fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids may preserve brain health and enhance cognition in middle age, according to new evidence from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

In fact, healthy volunteers whose red blood cells contained higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids were found to have better brain structure and cognitive function than others who were aged 40-60.

Could eating salmon, cod, tuna, herring, or sardines keep your brain healthy and your thinking agile in middle age? This study says emphatically, YES.

Eating cold-water fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids may preserve brain health and enhance cognition in middle age, according to new evidence from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

In fact, healthy volunteers whose red blood cells contained higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids were found to have better brain structure and cognitive function than others who were aged 40-60.

Volunteers’ average age was 46. The team looked at the relation of red blood cell omega-3 fatty acid concentrations with MRI and cognitive markers of brain aging. Researchers also studied the effect of omega-3 red blood cell concentrations in volunteers who carried APOE4, a genetic variation linked to higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study of 2,183 dementia- and stroke-free participants found that higher omega-3 index was associated with larger hippocampal volumes. The hippocampus, a structure in the brain, plays a major role in learning and memory.

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Singapore Uses Bright Colored Signs to Created a Dementia-Friendly Neighborhood – LOOK

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In keeping with the Singapore government’s initiative to enable ageing in place, a dementia-friendly wayfinding solution was devised for Khatib Central and Chong Pang City, which were identified as residential estates with ageing populations.

The project’s objective was to create a system that assists seniors and those afflicted with dementia in navigating around their neighborhoods safely and independently.

This was achieved by formulating wayfinding strategies that support easy navigation between residential blocks and key amenities around the estates, especially within high-traffic zones.

The estate was co-designed in 2019 by community stakeholders, healthcare partners and design consultants. 22% of Singapore’s population is already over 60, and health authorities worry that there could be as many as 158,000 people with dementia by 2050.

Building upon research to ascertain the needs of the elderly and dementia patients, the resulting wayfinding solution involves zoning areas by color and symbol, as well as developing a signage system that allows easy spatial recognition.

The residential blocks were sectioned into zones and each was assigned a bold colors, either red, green or blue. The zone colors were painted on the façade of the blocks, along with block numbers prominently displayed in large fonts, making them easily legible from a distance.

Other features of the wayfinding project include super-sized graphic walls and pillar signage that incorporate directional elements, universal icons, as well as stenciled symbols of pineapples, tropical fish and rubber trees, chosen for their close association with the area’s heritage.

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New VA Clinic in Watertown holds open house to address questions from veterans

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WATERTOWN — An open house at the new Syracuse VA’s Jefferson County Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Stateway Plaza off Arsenal Street in the old Planet Fitness allowed veterans to ask questions about offerings at the new clinic in Watertown.

The main center in Syracuse has seven clinics in locations such as Binghamton, Auburn, Rome, Watertown and Potsdam.

Robert W. Mclean, public affairs officer at the Syracuse VA Medical Center, said the clinics provide basic and specialty care for veterans before they are triaged to the main medical center in Syracuse.

“This is a way for our veterans to get the routine care they need and also the referrals they might need if they need a higher level of care which will take place either at our medical center or in the community,” he said.

Mr. Mclean said the justification for the new building was to modernize the facility and provide veterans the extra space. The clinic will serve up to 4,000 veterans in the area.

Patients will mostly see the same people, but the VA is looking for new providers because of the facility’s size, he said.

This building replaces the old VA Clinic in Northland Plaza on State Street in Watertown. STGI of Alexandria, Va. will operate the new location, instead of Sterling Medical which operated the old building.

Frank P. Pearson, director of the Syracuse VA Medical Center, said STGI provides the staffing for the Watertown, Potsdam and Auburn locations.

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Snacking on Grapes May Add 4-5 Years to Lifespans of Those Who Regularly Eat Fast Food

in Food/Health 120 views

New research suggests that snacking on grapes might combat the effects of consuming a junk food diet—flushing out the refined fats and sugars of processed food.

Eating the grapes led to “unique gene expression patterns, reduced fatty liver, and extension of lifespan” for animals consuming the high-fat diet, said Dr. John Pezzuto who led the team at Western New England University.

Pezzuto, who has authored over 600 studies, called it “truly remarkable.”

“It adds an entirely new dimension to the old saying ‘you are what you eat.’”

In a series of experiments, mice gorged on a high fat diet, similar to those consumed in western countries.

They also received over a cup of daily powdered grape supplement. These lab rodents had less fatty liver—and lived longer than those who didn’t.

The effect was an alteration of gene expression. As shown in this paper, fatty liver—which affects around 25% of humans and can eventually lead to liver cancer—is prevented or delayed. The genes responsible for the development of fatty liver were altered in a beneficial way by feeding grapes.

In addition to genes related to fatty liver, the researchers found increased levels of antioxidant genes after the grape-supplemented diets.

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14 Unique Ways People Are Generating More Physical Activity in Daily Routines

in Health 1,263 views

A recent survey polled 2,000 U.S. adults to see how they’re staying active as their routines and lifestyles have undergone a drastic change over the past two years.

73% are eager to increase their physical activity and to change their habits, with 70% making more of an effort to move more, compared to when the pandemic began.

Whether due to working from home or lack of motivation, 42% said they struggle to stay physically active during the day.

Yet the survey found that people are renewing their commitment to an active lifestyle through activities like stretching at home (43%), at-home workouts (38%) and taking mental health walks (31%).

But people are also getting active in new ways, with 81 percent saying that exercising puts them in a better mood. Over half want to exercise more with their family, as well as be a good influence on their children.

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Calls for 2022 Community Health Survey to begin Wednesday

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WATERTOWN — The Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization, in partnership with the North Country Health Compass Partners, will begin making calls to community members for its 2022 Community Health Survey on Wednesday.

Completed on an annual basis, the survey asks local adults about their thoughts and experiences with health care. Responses are kept anonymous and are used to assess the effectiveness of local programs, identify specific health needs in the community and create plans to address needs.

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Handheld Device Painlessly Identifies Skin Cancer

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Skin biopsies are no fun: doctors carve away small lumps of tissue for laboratory testing, leaving patients with painful wounds that can take weeks to heal. That’s a price worth paying if it enables early cancer treatment. However, in recent years, aggressive diagnostic efforts have seen the number of biopsies grow around four times faster than the number of cancers detected, with about 30 benign lesions now biopsied for every case of skin cancer that’s found.

Researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology are now developing a low-cost handheld device that could cut the rate of unnecessary biopsies in half and give dermatologists and other frontline physicians easy access to laboratory-grade cancer diagnostics. “We aren’t trying to get rid of biopsies,” said Negar Tavassolian, director of the Bio-Electromagnetics Laboratory at Stevens. “But we do want to give doctors additional tools and help them to make better decisions.”

The team’s device uses milimeter-wave imaging—the same technology used in airport security scanners—to scan a patient’s skin. (In earlier work, Tavassolian and her team had to work with already biopsied skin for the device to detect if it was cancerous.)

Healthy tissue reflects milimeter-wave rays differently than cancerous tissue, so it’s theoretically possible to spot cancers by monitoring contrasts in the rays reflected back from the skin. To bring that approach into clinical practice, the researchers used algorithms to fuse signals captured by multiple different antennas into a single ultrahigh-bandwidth image, reducing noise and quickly capturing high-resolution images of even the tiniest mole or blemish.

Spearheaded by Amir Mirbeik Ph.D. ’18, the team used a tabletop version of their technology to examine 71 patients during real-world clinical visits, and found their methods could accurately distinguish benign and malignant lesions in just a few seconds. Using their device, Tavassolian and Mirbeik could identify cancerous tissue with 97% sensitivity and 98% specificity—a rate competitive with even the best hospital-grade diagnostic tools.

“There are other advanced imaging technologies that can detect skin cancers, but they’re big, expensive machines that aren’t available in the clinic,” said Tavassolian. “We’re creating a low-cost device that’s as small and as easy to use as a cellphone, so we can bring advanced diagnostics within reach for everyone.”

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Nurses Week 2022: JCC nursing graduates to join Samaritan workforce

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WATERTOWN — In celebration of National Nurses Week, which begins each year on May 6 and ends on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, May 12, soon-to-be graduates of the nursing program at Jefferson Community College are reflecting on the past four semesters and looking to the future.

Grace A. Matthews has always known nursing was the career for her. Fellow students Jennifer L. and Georgia L. Barton, mother and daughter, respectively, also enjoy the challenges of their chosen paths and the fact that nursing keeps them on their toes. Jennifer Barton was a teacher prior to joining the nursing program, and said she wanted to have more of an impact on the lives of others. The two say going through the program at the same time has pushed them to be better and brought them closer together.

All three will join the nursing workforce at Samaritan Medical Center.

“For this group in particular, we struggled a little bit coming into this. We were challenged due to the pandemic having our first semester virtual for the majority,” Mrs. Matthews said. “We weren’t able to be in person and so we had virtual clinicals, which is not the same, so coming into it as second-semester students we had to play catch up.”

While the pandemic put pressure on the new nursing students, it put even more on registered nurses working amid many unknowns. The pandemic stressed nurses nationwide as hospitalizations surged and patient needs increased, causing demand for nurses to soar.

Before the pandemic, nursing shortages fluctuated due to various factors. Starting in March 2020, the nursing workforce — the largest group of health care professionals in the country — suffered even more losses.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 194,500 average annual openings for registered nurses between 2020 and 2030, with employment projected to grow 9%.

Samaritan will soon be hiring graduating nurses, including Mrs. Matthews and Jennifer and Georgia Barton. The hospital hired 11 graduates in January from JCC and Canton-Potsdam Hospital who are now finishing orientation, and 24 more graduates will be hired by the end of the summer.

“We are getting back, but we still will have open nursing positions,” said Samaritan’s Chief Nursing Officer Jacqueline A. Dawe. “We had a lot of nurses retire from the industry once the pandemic started and then we had a lot of staff go traveling, they became traveler nurses. We’re not unique; a lot of the hospitals experienced this nationally as well.”

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Scientists Discover Genetic Cause of Lupus, a Chronic Autoimmune Disease

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An international team of researchers has identified a cause of the autoimmune disease lupus within the DNA mutations of a gene that senses viral RNA—findings that will lead to the development of new treatments.

Currently there is no cure for the chronic autoimmune disease which causes inflammation in organs and joints and affects movement and the skin—sometimes with debilitating symptoms and complications that can be fatal.

Lupus affects around a quarter-million people in the US and UK, and current treatments are predominantly immune-suppressors which work by dialing down the immune system to alleviate symptoms.

But scientists recently reported carrying out whole genome sequencing on the DNA of a Spanish child named Gabriela, who was diagnosed with severe lupus when she was 7 years old. Such a severe case with early onset of symptoms is rare and indicates a single genetic cause.

In their analysis published April 27 in Nature, the researchers report finding a single point mutation in the TLR7 gene. Via referrals from the US and the Shanghai Renji Hospital in China, they identified other cases of severe lupus where this gene was also mutated.

To confirm that the mutation causes lupus, the team used CRISPR gene-editing to introduce it into mice. These mice went on to develop the disease and showed similar symptoms, providing evidence that the TLR7 mutation was the cause. The mouse model and the mutation were both named ‘kika’ by Gabriela, the young girl being treated at the Centre for Personalised Immunology at the Australian National University.

“It has been a huge challenge to find effective treatments for lupus, and the immune-suppressors currently being used can have serious side effects and leave patients more susceptible to infection,” said Carola Vinuesa, senior author, principal investigator, and leader of the new Autoimmunity Laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute where she will continue the research. “There has only been a single new treatment approved by the FDA in about the last 60 years.”

“This is the first time a TLR7 mutation has been shown to cause lupus, providing clear evidence of one way this disease can arise.”

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