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Rockland Health Department celebrates World Breastfeeding Week

POMONA (July 28) – The Rockland County Department of Health announces that August 1st through 7th is World Breastfeeding Week, a perfect time to encourage new parents, and parents-to-be, to consider the benefits of breastfeeding your baby. 

During World Breastfeeding Week, when you shop at one of the following local Farmers’ Markets, get more than just fresh, delicious and nutritious food! Get information about breastfeeding and get your questions answered by lactation (breastfeeding) experts. These events will be held weather-permitting.   

  • Friday, August 1st from 10 am – 1 pm at the Pearl River Farmers’ Market, located in the large parking lot at The River Church, 253 Ehrhardt Road
  • Wednesday, August 6th from 10 am – 1 pm at the Memorial Park Community Parking Lot, 1 Veterans Drive, located next to the Spring Valley Farmers’ Market
  • Thursday, August 7th from 10 am – 1 pm at the Nyack Farmers' Market, located at the municipal parking lot on Main Street

Breast milk provides your baby with a healthy start in life, and promotes normal healthy growth long after breastfeeding ends. “As nature’s perfect food, breast milk helps your baby fight off illnesses, and ensures proper brain and eye development, and a healthier immune system and digestive tract.  Breastfeeding can reduce your baby’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), respiratory illnesses, allergies, asthma, obesity, diarrhea, ear infections, and other illnesses,” said Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, Rockland County  Commissioner of Health.

The Department of Health also offers these free programs to help you get started and continue breastfeeding successfully:

Breastfeeding Promotion and Support Program:  A breastfeeding expert provides free breastfeeding education and counseling (in person or over the phone) and help with breastfeeding challenges.

Mother 2 Mother Breastfeeding Support Groups:  Share your breastfeeding questions and experiences with other pregnant women and new mothers at free support groups right in your community!  Babies are welcome.  The support group meets at:

  • 26 New Main Street in Haverstraw on the following Wednesdays at 1:45 pm:
    • The English-speaking group meets on August 6, September 3, and October 1.
    • The Spanish-speaking group meets on August 20, September 17, and October 15.
  • 14 South Main Street in Spring Valley on the following Tuesdays at 1:45 pm for the Spanish- speaking group, and at 2:30 pm for the English-speaking group: August 19, September 16, and October  21.


Premier Medical Group welcomes Farah M. Ashraf, D.O.

POUGHKEEPSIE (July 28) - Premier Medical Group announces that Farah M. Ashraf, D.O. will be joining our group on August 4, 2014.

Dr. Ashraf, is board certified in Rheumatology, earned her medical degree from the University of New England, College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine and completed a Rheumatology fellowship at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, NY.  She has been practicing in the Hudson Valley for twelve years.

“It's an honor and pleasure to join Premier Medical Group,” said Dr. Ashraf.  “I have known many of the physicians and staff for quite a few years now. The mutual understanding and cordial relationships amongst everyone is especially noteworthy and admirable. Above all patient care is outstanding.   My staff and I look forward to adding the Rheumatology division as a new dimension to Premier Medical Group.”

Dr. Ashraf is currently accepting new patients at her current location, 74 West Cedar Street in Poughkeepsie.  Call 845.454.9500


Orange Regional Medical Center’s pediatric unit is the recipient of student’s good deed

MIDDLETOWN (July 7) - Orange Regional Medical Center’s Pediatric Unit received a donation of more than 125 new books. Dylan King of Bloomingburg, New York, a third grade student at Circleville Elementary School, proudly made the donation of books spanning various reading levels.

Turning to reading instead of television while home sick one day, Dylan, age 8, came up with the idea of collecting new books for pediatric patients who were staying in the hospital. He created flyers requesting donations of new books and passed them out to his classmates. With the help of his fellow students, Dylan had collected more than 125 books in short period of time.

“We are so excited to receive this awesome donation of books for our young patients. Dylan’s effort toward this donation is terrific and we are grateful for his support,” states Michelle Ferguson, Orange Regional’s child life specialist.

Dylan King with Michelle Ferguson, Orange Regional Medical Center’s child life specialist

The Orange Regional Medical Center Foundation is currently accepting donations toward its Lend A Hand For Kids Capital Campaign to benefit Orange Regional’s new Pediatric Center. If you would like to donate please call 845-333-2333 or visit us at  www.ormc.org/LendAHandForKids to make an online donation.

Orange Regional Medical Center is a member of the Greater Hudson Valley Health System.       


Hudson’s scores are higher than state average across the board

TARRYTOWN (July 7) - Hudson Health Plan – an MVP Health Care Company – has once again been recognized for going the extra mile to serve its members. Hudson has received the highest score statewide among Medicaid Managed Care organizations for “Rating of Health Plan” in the recently released New York State Department of Health’s 2013 Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Survey. Hudson significantly outperformed its peers in customer service and scored higher than the state average on all nine measures.

“These high scores are a reflection of the hard work and dedication our staff and health care providers exhibit every day,” said Georganne Chapin, President and CEO of Hudson Health Plan and Executive Vice President for Corporate Affairs at MVP Health Care. “Applying for health insurance and navigating the health care system is not easy. Our members know we’re here for them, and will help them in any way we can.”

New York State conducts the CAHPS survey of Medicaid plan members every other year. In 2013, the survey was sent to 24,000 adult members of 16 Medicaid managed care plans. Hudson scored higher than the state average on all nine measures:

1. Getting needed care
2. Getting care quickly
3. How well doctors communicate
4. Customer service
5. Shared decision making
6. Rating of all health care
7. Rating of personal doctor
8. Rating of specialist seen most often
9. Rating of health plan


Orange Regional Medical Center among the first in Hudson Valley to implant subcutaneous implantable defibrillator system 

MIDDLETOWN (June 30) - Orange Regional Medical Center is among the first of hospitals in the Hudson Valley to implant the entirely subcutaneous ICD system. This device, manufactured by Boston Scientific (Natick, MA), represents the first commercially available subcutaneous implantable defibrillator system (S-ICD) for the treatment of patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.    

Sudden cardiac arrest involves the abrupt onset of a lethal heart rhythm. Most episodes are caused by the rapid and/or chaotic activity of the heart’s muscle and are known as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation.

“The subcutaneous ICD system represents a significant advancement in therapy for patients at risk of sudden cardiac arrest,” said Orange Regional Medical Center Cardiologist, Paul Eugenio, MD.  “The ability to provide effective defibrillation without the need to access the vascular system offers particular advantages in certain selected patients.  Orange Regional Medical Center is among the first institutions in the Hudson Valley to have implanted this system and is proud to offer this innovative therapy.”

The S-ICD System is designed to provide the same protection from sudden cardiac arrest as the traditional transvenous implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). The advantage of this entirely subcutaneous system involves its ability to be implanted just below the skin without the need for thin, insulated wires – known as leads – to be placed into the heart itself (as is necessary with the standard transvenous ICD system). This leaves the heart and blood vessels untouched while still providing protections against lethal cardiac arrhythmias.   

The S-ICD System has two main components: (1) the pulse generator, which powers the system, monitors heart activity, and delivers a shock if needed, and (2) the electrode, which enables the device to sense the cardiac rhythm and serves as a pathway for shock delivery when necessary. Both components are implanted just under the skin—the generator at the side of the chest, and the electrode beside the breastbone. Implantation of the S-ICD system is generally straightforward and can be done using only anatomical landmarks which removes the need for fluoroscopy (an X-ray procedure that is required for standard leads to be placed in the heart). 

The Orange Regional Medical Center Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, affiliated with Westchester Medical Center, offers three highly equipped, state-of-the-art cath labs where implantation of the S-ICD system is performed by our team of cardiac electrophysiologists.  

For more information on the Peter Frommer, M.D. Heart Center at Orange Regional Medical Center or the S-ICD System, visit www.ormcheartcare.org


SLCH receives Healthgrades® Patient Safety Excellence Award

NEWBURGH (June 23) -  St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital (SLCH) has received the Healthgrades® Patient Safety Excellence Award for the fourth year in a row.  SLCH is one of only 35 hospitals across the nation, and the only hospital in New York State to receive this distinction in each of the last four years.  SLCH has also been ranked among the top 5% in the nation for patient safety in both 2013 and 2014.

Of over 4,739 hospitals evaluated by Healthgrades only 381 received the 2014 Healthgrades Patent Safety Excellence Award™ . Healthgrades® patient safety ratings examine 14 different types of serious and potentially preventable complications. Healthgrades® uses Medicare inpatient data from the Medicare Provider Analysis and Review (MedPAR) database and Patient Safety Indicator software from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to calculate event rates for patient safety indicators.

“We have an outstanding team here at SLCH, and to receive this award yet again, speaks volumes to the level of care provided to our community,” said Robert S. Ross, SLCH President and CEO. 

For more information about Healthgrades® patient safety measures and other quality designations achieved by SLCH can be found on our website: www.stlukescornwallhospital.org/about/Pages/Recognition.asp. To download a full copy of the report or to receive information about hospital and physician quality, visit: www.Healthgrades.com/quality.

“Each member of the St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital team plays a key role in helping us to achieve this distinction,” said Christine Jelalian, MD, SLCH Medical Director. “Patient safety is at the core of what we do and remains our number one priority.”

During the 2014 study period, Patient Safety Excellence Award hospitals showed better than expected performance in providing safety for patients in the Medicare population, as measured by objective outcomes (risk-adjusted patient safety indicator rates) across 13 of the 14 patient safety indicators defined by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  If all hospitals performed at the same level of award recipients, 266,813 patient safety events among Medicare patients in U.S. hospitals could have potentially been avoided.

“Healthgrades is dedicated to providing quality information that helps consumers make decisions based on objective data leading to the best care for themselves and their families,” said Evan Marks, Executive Vice President, Informatics and Strategy, Healthgrades. “Consumers can rest assured that a hospital recognized with a Healthgrades 2014 Patient Safety Excellence Award has demonstrated an established commitment to patient safety.”

St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital (SLCH) is a not-for-profit community hospital with campuses in Newburgh and Cornwall, NY. The hospital is dedicated to serving the health care needs of the Hudson Valley and aspires to excellence in the delivery of compassionate and comprehensive health care services. SLCH offers comprehensive cardiac, stroke, cancer and orthopedic services and a full range of other clinical offerings. For more information, go to http://www.stlukescornwallhospital.org  or www.facebook.com/#!/stlukescornwallhospital


Vassar Brothers Medical Center launches nutrition and exercise education program for kids

POUGHKEEPSIE (June 2) – In response to the childhood obesity epidemic in our nation, which now impacts approximately 18 percent of kids ages 6-11 and 20.5 percent of kids ages 12-19, Vassar Brothers Medical Center has launched a program called Healthy Happenings, designed to promote healthy living habits among local youth. The three-month educational program for children ages 8-10 will include interactive lessons on food preparation, cooking and home gardening. Nutritional education will be provided by registered dietitians Theresa Zangerle-McArtin, RD, CDN, Stephanie Smith, RD, CDN, and Kayleigh Diaz, RD, CDN, as well as dietetic technician Christina Macnair, DTR. Participants will meet from 10am-12pm on June 21, July 19 and August 16 at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Conference Room B.

“We are very enthusiastic about this program, as we feel strongly that the messages of health and wellness are critically important to share with our youth,” stated Zangerle-McArtin. “Not only will this program provide kids with all that they need to live healthier lives, but our hope is that it will also inspire dialogue at home about healthy choices for the entire family.”

Roufia Payman, supervisor of outpatient community nutrition and certified dietitian nutritionist at Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck, continued, “with a growing number of dual-income families too busy to cook well-balanced meals, and children opting to spend leisure time on electronic devices in lieu of playing outdoors, obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the past 30 years. This is a very serious issue. We must take action and do our part to help our youth understand how important it is to stay active and make healthy choices.”

The program is free of charge, but space is limited. To register, call 845.437.3026. A separate program, Food, Fun & Fitness, will be held at Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck in the fall.


Orange County Stop DWI/Traffic Safety Program holds “Not One More” safe driving forum at Cornwall High School

CORNWALL (June 2) – The Orange County Stop DWI/Traffic Safety Program, in conjunction with the Cornwall School District, held one of its many “Not One More …” safe driving forums recently at Cornwall High School.

More details on our Education Page


Vassar College partners with Anderson Center for Autism to provide internship program

STAATSBURG (May 27) – This spring, Anderson Center for Autism partnered with Vassar College to provide nine seniors with an internship opportunity they would never forget. These students spent a semester working on Anderson’s Staatsburg campus to experience first-hand the medical, physiological and social aspects of autism in their local community – a concept that was foreign to most of the students.

“It has been a wonderful surprise to have a center with such a comprehensive focus on autism so close by,” says Massachusetts native and Vassar intern, Julianna Shinnick. With hopes to attend medical school, Shinnick holds a double major in sociology and psychology at Vassar, with an affinity for neurological studies.

“My cousin has Asperger’s Syndrome and was nonverbal for a long time," Schinick said.  "He’s overcome a lot. Right now he’s enrolled in a university music program in California. We stay in touch via Facebook and Skype and chat about my work in neuroscience. It was actually he who encouraged me to branch out into autism studies. He’s been my inspiration.”

Now affecting 1 in 68 children in the United States according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism awareness is as undeniable as the disorder is concerning. Peter Leonard has served as the Director of Field Work at Vassar College since 1997, placing students in a variety of agencies from community and government services to education to media and communications. Leonard worked alongside Anderson Center for Autism’s Assistant Director of Human Resources, Laura Taylor to coordinate the program, both recognizing the benefits of fieldwork, and the opportunity to enrich students’ classroom experiences.

“Anderson is very intern-friendly,” says Taylor.   “These students are a huge asset to our society, they are our future.”

The semester-long internship program has afforded Vassar students placement in the education, residential and clinical programs on Anderson’s Staatsburg campus. JR Ko, a biology major at Vassar spent his time in The Anderson Center Clinic, Anderson Center for Autism’s most recent addition in comprehensive services including diagnosis, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), therapies, counseling and more. Ko joined the program with no previous exposure to autism. “I felt as though this would be a great opportunity to challenge myself,” says Ko.

Fascinated by human life, Ko analyzed his work at the Center by drawing from the fundamentals of philosophy. Humbled by the experience, Ko admits it was quite a wake-up call.

“How do I digest their hardships? What is our job to help them live successfully and grow? Do we keep them in a box, so to speak, as to do no harm? These are the questions I ask myself all the time. It’s hard,” says Ko regarding individuals he’s created a personal connection with.


Dr. Suseelan

Pulmonary medicine specialist joins Health Quest Medical Practice

HYDE PARK (May 19) – Dr. Hary Suseelan has joined the Health Quest Medical Practice Division of Pulmonary Medicine.

Suseelan completed his Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship and his Internal Medicine Residency at New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn. He received his medical degree from the P.S.G. Institute of Medical Science and Research in Tamil Nadu, India.  He is board certified in internal medicine, critical care medicine and pulmonary disease. He is a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians.

Prior to joining Health Quest Medical Practice, he served as an attending pulmonary critical care physician at Jeanes Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa.
Suseelan will see patients at the HQMP Hyde Park office and will provide inpatient consults at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie.  His office is at 4068 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park. He is accepting new patients and appointments can be made by calling the HQMP scheduling line at 888-525-HQMP (888-525-4767).


Dr. Varanasi

Vassar Brothers Medical Center completes new heart procedure; first of its kind in Mid-Hudson 

POUGHKEEPSIE (May 13) –Dr. Sankar N. Varanasi has completed a medical procedure at Vassar Brothers Medical Center to provide a patient with the new S-ICD System™, a defibrillator implant for patients with heart conditions that is placed under the skin to monitor heart activity and deliver life-saving therapy if needed.

The minimally invasive procedure was the first of its kind completed in the mid-Hudson Valley region. The technology is so advanced that, unlike earlier models of defibrillators, it does not require a wire connected to the heart, but rather operates using electrodes. Instead of reading individual heartbeats, the device picks up broader heart rhythms, allowing for discrimination between major cardiac events and more minor, treatable episodes.

“This is a state-of-the-art option for patients who suffer heart conditions. The defibrillator is inserted under the skin, outside of the chest wall. The recovery times are very quick, and the procedure allows for fewer complications,” stated Varanasi. “There are no wires connected to the heart, and the technology is so advanced that patients will very soon be able to have their reports transmitted electronically from home, saving them significant time in our office for follow-up visits. It is revolutionary, and we are thrilled to offer it to our patients.”

“It’s hard to believe, but I felt healthier than I had in a long time within just a few days after I had the procedure done. I am so thankful to my doctor, and I am amazed that we have such excellent healthcare so close to home,” said Charles Spencer, patient.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 845.473.1188 or visit www.health-quest.org/hearthospital





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