Walking program helps Upstate earn American Heart award

On hand to receive the award from the American Heart Association's Michael DiGiovani (holding plaque) are Bruce Simmons, MD, Gregory Eastwood, MD, Deborah Hermann, registered dietitian Terry Podolak, and John McCabe, MD.

On hand to receive the award from the American Heart Association’s Michael DiGiovani (holding plaque) are Bruce Simmons, MD, Gregory Eastwood, MD, Deborah Hermann, registered dietitian Terry Podolak, and John McCabe, MD.

Upstate Medical University received the American Heart Association Gold Fit-Friendly Award for the second year in a row. The awards are given to American companies that take steps to make their employees’ health and wellness a top priority. Upstate encourages walking and provides walking routes; walking is said to have the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity.

Also this year, Upstate fielded the largest team (571 members) and raised the most money ($37,966) for the American Heart Association’s annual Heart Walk.


Posted in community, fitness, human resources | 1 Comment

Caregiver Advice: How to make a home ‘senior safe’

Some practical advice from Upstate’s Marjorie Libling, a social worker specializing in geriatrics, for making your senior loved one’s home safe:

In the bathroom:

* Use a nonslip rubber mat for the tub, and also for the floor outside of the tub. Avoid loose towels or rugs on the floor, to reduce the chance of slipping.

* Install grab bars in the bathing area, and invest in a proper shower stool that has rubber feet and a nonskid surface.

* Use a doorknob that cannot be locked, or one that can be unlocked from either side, in case your loved one suddenly needs assistance.

* Label the faucets “hot” and “cold,” and check the water temperature to make sure it is not hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

MH900448501* Encourage your loved one to bring a phone or a medical alert system into the bathroom with them in case they need help.

* Get a weekly pill box or mechanical medication dispenser so your loved one does not have to open multiple pill bottles each day.

In the kitchen:

* Disconnect the stove if your loved one lives alone and is developing memory problems.

* Use coffee makers or electric kettles that shut off automatically, and label “on” and “off” clearly on any appliances.

* Sheath knives in a drawer or store them safely in a block.

* Move cleaners and chemicals to another room to reduce the chance of mixing them with food products.

* Check perishables every week so your loved one doesn’t consume something that has spoiled.

* Keep high protein healthy snacks visible, as a reminder to eat.

* Dilute wine with water or swap it with nonalcoholic beverages to reduce your loved one’s alcohol intake. Alcohol does not mix well with memory impairment, an unsteady gait and prescription medications.

In the bedroom / living room:

* Consider guard rails that can help your loved one get in and out of bed.

* Minimize blankets and pillows on the bed, so there is less to fall off, and keep floors uncluttered to reduce the risk of tripping.

* Label drawers and closets with the clothing items they contain.

* Tuck away power cords.

* Label remote controls with simple “on” and “off” instructions.

* Replace any burnt out light bulbs, and strategically place automatic nightlights in outlets to assure safe navigation at night.

* Use rug pads or tack down rugs with nails to help prevent falls.

* If your loved one refuses to quit smoking, establish one “safe” smoking spot that is away from the bed, the stove and any chemicals.

* Consider taking control of bank and credit accounts. Television shopping networks can become an addiction, and your loved one may find it impossible to say no to telemarketers.

Posted in Alzheimer's disease, community, dementia, public health | Leave a comment

What to do for chest pain

Chest pain is one of the primary reasons people seek care at a hospital emergency room, and it can signal a variety of medical conditions, says William Paolo, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Upstate University Hospital.

Among the most serious is a heart attack or acute coronary syndrome. Differentiating heart attack-induced chest pain from other types of chest pain is tricky.

“Your heart doesn’t have the same kind of nerves as your skin does. With your skin, when you have pain you can pinpoint where that is; that’s called somatic pain. When you have heart pain or pain in your internal organs, that is innervated by a different system; that’s called visceral pain. It’s very vague and nonspecific, more generalized. Sometimes you’ll feel like it’s in the middle of your chest, sometimes in your neck.”

Doctors pay attention to associated symptoms, as well. Is the person sweating, nauseous or short of breath?

Paolo says it’s simple: If you have chest pain you have never experienced before, get to the hospital emergency room.

If you are with someone who suffers chest pain:

  • sit them down and make sure they do not exert themselves,
  • call 911 for an ambulance, so that paramedics will be able to start treatment, and
  • consider giving the person an aspirin, a blood thinner, as long as they are not allergic.

Listen to this interview on HealthLink on Air radio.


Posted in cardiac, community, emergency | Leave a comment

July: A great month for ribbon-cuttings and new buildings

Estella Nolta, the first patient at Upstate University Hospital, downtown, cuts the ribbon on July 20, 1964. She is flanked by Upstate President Carlyle “Jake” Jacobsen PhD on the left and James Abbott, vice president for hospital affairs, on the right.

Estella Nolta, the first patient at Upstate University Hospital, cut the ribbon to the new building on July 20, 1964. She is flanked by Upstate President Carlyle “Jake” Jacobsen PhD on the left and James Abbott, vice president for hospital affairs, on the right.

Fifty years ago, on July 20, Upstate marked the opening of the outpatient clinic of its new downtown hospital with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Estella Nolta, the first patient, cut the ceremonial ribbon and led the crowd into the then-new $22 million, 585,00 sq. ft. hospital at East Adams Street, Syracuse.

One year later, on July 11, 1965, the last 50 patients were moved from the old Hospital of the Good Shepherd (Upstate’s predecessor) to the new Upstate University Hospital. Good Shepherd closed, eventually becoming the School of Education building at Syracuse University.

This July — on Friday, the 18th at 10 a.m. — Upstate is hosting another ribbon-cutting ceremony to open  its newest building.  The new Upstate Cancer Center, located adjacent to Upstate University Hospital,  will house outpatient cancer services — for all ages — under one roof. This three-story center will offer the most advanced services and technology to the nearly 9,000 adults and 400 children with cancer who receive care at Upstate, as well as the 600+ patients in Upstate’s Survivor Wellness program. The building is designed to provide a calm and peaceful environment, and its decor and special features represent healing through nature.

Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony is open to the public and will include tours of the new center.

The public is also invited to an open house on Saturday, July 19, from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. There will be family-friendly entertainment, information about cancer services, and self-guided tours to see features such as the healing garden, family resource center, meditation room, private infusion rooms and the new Vero SBRT (stereotactic body radiotherapy system).

Upstate’s cancer program is recipient of the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons’ Outstanding Achievement Award, which places it among a group of 79 accredited cancer programs in the United States.

Exterior view of Cancer Center

The new Upstate Cancer Center will be open to the public on July 18 and 19. EwingCole, architects.


Posted in cancer, community, entertainment, health care, history, hospital | Leave a comment

Book about hospital during Hurricane Katrina warns of failing to prepare

By Chris Dunham, director of emergency management for Upstate University Hospital

5days“Five days at Memorial” by Sheri Fink is an amazing book, and I cannot recommend it enough. While Katrina is still relatively fresh in our collective memories I continue to be awestruck at the number of obstacles the staff at Memorial Baptist had to overcome.

The first part of this book details Katrina’s initial impact on Memorial Hospital. Sheri Fink details both the lackluster preparedness and the chaotic response in amazing detail of not only what went wrong but the assumptions regarding what should have happened.  In this book we get to spend time with not only the clinical staff but administration, support staff and all the others who played a critical role.

From an emergency preparedness standpoint one of the many items that really surprised me was the lack of hospital based incident command integration in to the local and state response partners by not only the Memorial itself but its parent corporation Tenet.  They both seemed to fumble almost every opportunity to obtain request critical resources and rescue assistance in the aftermath of the storm.

The second half of the book deals with each staff members lives become more complicated as various authorities believed that several physicians had euthanized patients.    We spend time with the patient’s families which paint an interesting picture of what they endured during and after the storm.  One of the more interesting parts of this book is a discussion regarding end of life procedures for medical staff members during a disaster.  The book uses recent studies as well as personal stories from Super storm Sandy in New York City to detail examples when scarce critical resources becomes a determining factor on which patients should receive care and for how long.

Emergency Management is at its core a process that enables rational, organized groups of leaders to come together and develop realistic plans in order to overcome events that could cripple an organization.   The monumental obstacles presented to Memorial Hospital during Katrina offers real insight in the fragile state of a complex healthcare organization’s ability to withstand a disaster of significant duration.

In my opinion, “Five days at Memorial” should be required reading for everyone at Upstate as it is a stark and well written account of a significant event in American history as well as a graphic warning to all those who fail to prepare.

Hear an interview with Dunham about emergency management.


Posted in community, emergency | Leave a comment

Carbohydrates are not the enemy

Carbohydrates such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta provide great energy, but Kaushal Nanavati, MD, from Upstate’s department of family medicine cautions eating them early in the day.

MH900388802“The point is, you don’t fuel your car up when you pull back in the garage. You fill it up before you go out on a long trip,” he says.

“Carbohydrates early in the day are great fuel to use up the rest of the day, but you don’t want to eat them and then sit. So, the idea is, you can have some of these things early in the day, but continue with your protein and your vegetables throughout the rest of the day.”

He tells his patients to eat seven to nine servings of vegetables per day, preferably including some cruciferous vegetables such as kale, cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower.

He favors beans, lentils and legumes for protein. For people who eat meat, Nanavati suggests fish, turkey or chicken.

Hear the interview from which this is excerpted.

Posted in community, integrative medicine, nutrition | 1 Comment

Science is Art is Science: A glimpse of research history

back cover embryo2SPRD3More than 175 years ago, the medical school faculty was conducting research to understand disease and search for cures. two years ago, Elinor Spring-Mills, PhD, was part of a group charged with studying and compiling Upstate’s long history of research in an accessible, easy-to-read fashion. Spring-Mills’ work began when she uncovered “an unmarked, shabby binder with a black cover” on a shelf in Weiskotten Hall. “Pieces broke off as I opened the cover and turned the pages,” she reports.

The title page of that binder, now reproduced digitally and housed in the archives at Upstate’s Health Sciences Library, read “by J. Howard Ferguson, MD, 1968.” It contains the history of anatomical study from 1834 to 1967. Spring-Mills and colleagues decided to tackle research and coursework conducted by their department after 1967.

The resulting book — Cell & Developmental Biology: 1968-2013 — was published this spring. On its cover is this stylized image of zebrafish embryos from the lab of Jeffrey Amack, PhD. According to Amack, “the zebrafish embryo provides a useful model to investigate development and disease of several organ systems.”

More than 30 clinical and basic science departments conduct research at Upstate Medical University.

Posted in community, education, research | Leave a comment

Artwork at Upstate: Important 50 years ago, important today

July 1964: Upstate President Carlyle “Jake” Jacobsen, PhD, discusses the commemorative bronze plaque with colleagues.

July 1964: Upstate President Carlyle “Jake” Jacobsen, PhD, discusses the commemorative bronze plaque with colleagues.

Anyone who walks in the first-floor lobby of Upstate’s downtown hospital can see a piece of artwork that dates back to the opening of the building. It’s a bronze plaque created by artist Dorothy Riester in 1964 to commemorate the hospital’s opening and the transfer of the Syracuse Dispensary. Five years ago — in honor of the hospital’s 45th anniversary —  the plaque was cleaned and reinstalled in black granite. (The plaque  was created in clay by Riester, and cast in bronze, as a donation, by M.L. Oberdorfer Foundry.)

Bronze plaque that hangs in the hospital lobby.

Bronze plaque that hangs in the hospital lobby.

In 2009, Reister described the process of working with hospital officials to create the wall sculpture: “I designed a number of maquettes (small models) for review. They selected the most contemporary approach, which should look as fresh today as it did over forty years ago.”

This year, Upstate is getting ready to fill its newest building for patient care — the Upstate Cancer Center — with the work of 30 artists. All artwork is based on the theme of “healing through nature” and was selected to complement the design of the center.

To select artwork for the cancer center, a committee of Upstate patients and staff reviewed proposals by numerous artists from New York state. The committee selected a sculpture for the building’s entrance and over a hundred pieces of art to hang in corridors; exam, patient and treatment rooms; and offices. Nationally acclaimed ceramist Margie Hughto of Jamesville, NY is among the 30 sculptors, painters and photographers whose work was selected for the new cancer center.

The public is invited to a “sneak peek” tour of the Upstate Cancer Center on Saturday, July 19, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Ceramic tiles by Margie Hughto. Similar nature-themed wall sculptures will be in the new cancer center.

Ceramic tiles by Margie Hughto. Similar nature-themed wall sculptures will be in the new cancer center.


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Why Stacey Karasinski loves floor hockey

Stacey with her Dad.

Stacey with her Dad.

Stacey Karasinski, an employee in payroll services at Upstate, competed in the state Special Olympics Winter Games with her floor hockey team. The 11-player roster includes a goalkeeper and two “lines” of five players that the coach swaps out throughout the game. Only six players play at a time.

Here’s what Karasinski likes about floor hockey, a sport she has played for 10 years:

1. She likes being the only girl on the team, even though sometimes the boys are a little rough.

2. She plays offense and prefers the face-off position.

3. She enjoys flicking the puck (made of heavy felt with a hole in the middle) into the air and knowing that it is destined for the goal.

4. She makes new friends through the games.

5. She loves to win.




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Upstate Answers: How soon will stem cells treat orthopedic injuries?

Q (from reader, Sally White of Syracuse) Studies are underway in other countries, and a couple in the United States using a product that helps with regenerating one’s injured knee. The procedure uses both your own stem cells and umbilical stem cells. How soon will we have such treatments in Syracuse?

A (from Kevin Setter, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Upstate) “I’m actually starting to develop some FDA trials for this procedure – which is not just for the knee — so we’re hoping by this summer. Stem cell therapy is pretty new in the United States, but it is already in use in Asia and Europe, and it holds a lot of promise.

“Stem cells are cells which haven’t differentiated yet. In the right environment, they can differentiate into the tissues you would like.

“There are three trials we are designing protocols for now. One is for overuse injuries such as tennis elbow and Achilles tendonitis. The second one is for tendon repair, for certain tendons that are stubborn and don’t like to heal. The third trial we want to do is looking at how to use stem cells to treat arthritis.

“Anyone who wants to learn more about these trials can contact me at 315-464-8634.”

If you have a question for the experts at Upstate, please submit it to whatsup@upstate.edu. We may feature your question – and answer – in an upcoming issue of Upstate Health.

Posted in community, orthopedic, surgery, transplant | Leave a comment