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Displaying items by tag: saratoga hospital

Thursday, 29 March 2018 14:13

Opioid Nation - Part 1

THE PAIN in her voice was still there, beneath the surface. Even though her daughter had just completed an extensive stint in rehab and was on her way to a halfway house somewhere down South, her fear and anxiety were palpable, even over the phone. 

While Mary’s story (not her real name) is uniquely her own, it is nevertheless a story with familiar themes. No matter how many times people have told me their own tales of bailing their kid
out of jail, kicking her out of the house for stealing, or finding him passed out on the bathroom floor, the needle still sticking out of his arm, I cannot get over the constant and pervasive threads of the truths each family shares about their shared journey through addiction.

And make no mistake about it. It is a journey, one the addict does not make alone. Addiction is a family disease. It is a community disease and it runs roughshod across socio-economic, educational, and ethnic lines. Addiction is an equal opportunity perp.

According to the NYS Department of Health, in 2016 there were 1,238 deaths from heroin and opioid use, 6,621 people were seen in emergency rooms for overdoses and 1,855 hospital admissions. While other states experienced severely higher instances of overdose, hospitalization and death during that same period, Lieutenant Dan Morley of the Saratoga County Sheriff’s department says that the number of calls coming into the dispatcher office is still entirely too high and warrants a new level – and a new kind – of response.

Thanks to people like Morley and his team, new strategies are being used to reach out to families of addicts. Morley said that, about a year ago, the sheriff’s department began implementing a procedure of following up at an addict’s home after an overdose. For Mary, when Lieutenant Morley showed up at her door the day after her daughter’s overdose, it felt like a life-line being tossed to her.

Before this, Mary had struggled. She didn’t know who to turn to and, in many instances, she was told that there was a two-week or longer waiting list to get her daughter into rehab. Once she was even told that her daughter wasn’t “sick enough” to warrant being admitted into a rehab facility.

When you’re an addict, sometimes two weeks is too long to wait.

People like Lieutenant Morley are doing the vital outreach and serving as life-lines between addicts, their families and the help they need. Within a few hours of meeting Morley, Mary received the kind of help and information she had been so desperately seeking for the last few years. 

“He comes to help people. He is just the most compassionate person. He offers so much help and knowledge about where to go. He is the most wonderful person in the world. I would not have known where to go without him,” said Mary.

One of the places he told Mary about is Healing Springs Recovery Community and Outreach Center, a recently created resource for addicts, their families and loved ones who are struggling along the dark path of addiction. Located at 125 High Rock Avenue, Suite 105A in Saratoga Springs, Healing Springs is funded through state grants and is part of a larger network, Southern Adirondack Recovery Alliance (SARA) with additional sites in Johnstown and Hudson Falls. Its purpose is to serve as a “hub” for recovery support services and it welcomes both addicts and their families and loved ones.  It is a peer-driven and peer- delivered support services-based organization. For many people, this is good news. People 18 years or older are welcome into the program, regardless of what stage of recovery they are in. 

12 13 A group meeting at Healing SpringsA group meeting at Healing Springs. Photo provided.

Fawn Montanye, CRPA-P, is the site coordinator for the Saratoga Springs program and she stressed the importance of peer-on-peer support, mentoring and education. She also talked about the importance of providing support to families. 

The organization is free, and no insurance is necessary to gain access to the facility and its many programs and group activities. Some of those activities include recovery yoga, Narcotics Anonymous and Heroin Anonymous meetings, Reiki, and young people’s group AA. 

Montanye explained that Healing Springs is different from other support systems in that it is not abstinence-based. “Somebody may want to stop using opioids, but maybe they are not going to stop smoking marijuana,” said Montanye.  While Healing Springs is not a faith-based organization like Alcoholics Anonymous, they do use some of the questions that have become a standard means of determining if a person is an addict or alcoholic. Questions such as: “Do you feel powerless to stop using your drug of choice? Has your life become unmanageable? Are you struggling to hold onto a job or a relationship?” The non-abstinence feature is a marked departure from many programs that adhere to a stricter philosophy of abstinence across the board. The prevailing school of thought has been that, if a person is an addict, he or she cannot be considered “sober” unless they are completely free of any drug or alcohol.

Healing Springs is different and Montanye explains. “My job is not to judge. We are not dictating or telling people how to achieve recovery, or what recovery looks like.” That does not mean that someone in recovery should feel free about indulging in other substances. For far too many addicts, using a substance that was not previously their “drug of choice” can often lead them back to the addiction that got them into trouble in the first place and jeopardize their lives and their futures.

Healing Springs is not bound by the more restrictive mandates that other recovery centers operate under. Annabel Lago-Pedrick is the Director of Out-Patient Services at Twin County Recovery, based in Hudson and Catskill. 

She explained that, while much of their operating capital also comes through OASAS and state funding, 96 percent of her Twin County’s clients are mandated to seek treatment there, either by a probation or parole board, the Department of Social Services or the courts.

“That makes it tough because those entities want to see abstinence. So, it’s tough when we have to report back and comply with those agencies, said Lago-Pedrick, who has been counseling addicts for ten years.

She added that, while she agrees that everyone’s recovery is different, in her experience, for most people who return to the facility because of relapse, the reason is usually that they have stopped going to their sober support meetings or they’ve begun using another substance, which makes it easier for them to revert to old behavior patterns.

“When we ask, ‘Why are you back?’ they pretty much say the same thing – “Oh. I smoked pot, drank beer.’ So much of addiction has to do with behavior, habits and loving the feeling of being high. It’s very easy to do that,” said Lago-Pedrick.

However, she concedes that the opioid epidemic has changed the way so many people are being treated. Because addiction has reached epidemic proportions, centers like Healing Springs are vital to the community and serve as a place where people can begin – or continue – their journey into recovery.

“The reality is that we still don’t have enough treatment centers and we still have issues getting people who need it getting into rehab facilities. Now with the crisis, we are in a place where, if we don’t provide Medicaid-assisted treatment, someone can die,” said Lago-Pedrick.

Montanye agrees with how critical it has become to get people the help they need. “Here, we want to support everyone on their own path. I do agree that, if someone goes back to using something when they were using nothing, then yes, it is still a substance that is filling a void and they haven’t had a spiritual awakening,” said Montanye.

She quickly clarifies that by “spiritual awakening,” she is referring to finding that something in oneself that will enable them to do the hard work of recovery and lead them – and their loved ones – out of the dark place of addiction into the light of recovery and sobriety.

For Mary, her recovering daughter and hundreds more who have already been helped by Healing Springs, the fact that they were able to receive the kind of help they needed – when they needed it – is a comfort and a source of hope. “There is help, right here in Saratoga, and I never knew about these places,” said Mary. If not for the tireless efforts of people like Lieutenant Morley, Fawn Montanye and so many others, Mary’s daughter’s story may have had a different ending.

Local Help

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Because minutes matter, an important service recently instituted at Saratoga Hospital that offers emergency cardiac interventions for heart attack patients has potentially life-saving ramifications.

“Saratoga Hospital is now at the tip of the spear of a public health effort to bring the most effective treatment ever invented to the world’s deadliest disease,” explained Dr. Patrick McNulty, director of Interventional Cardiology at the hospital.  

The minimally invasive, catheter-based procedures is available 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week. What that means is patients requiring treatment for heart conditions won’t lose precious time being transported beyond Saratoga County. 

“The best chance of survival is getting the blocked artery open as quickly as possible, so it’s a matter of how many minutes you have,” McNulty said. “The faster you can get to a hospital that has this effective treatment and get it done, the better chance you’re going to have of surviving - and surviving in a way that gives you a better quality of life that allows you to be functional. 

“When I was starting my training, patients with heart attacks were admitted to the hospital just like people with pneumonia or broken legs,” said McNulty, who has conducted 30 years of cardiology training. “They’d be in the hospital 10 days or so, their heart would undergo enormous amounts of damage and they would have all sorts of complications. Most of the training in being a cardiologist back then was a matter of training to treat all of the electrical and mechanical complications after people had big heart attacks. This was 20 years after we landed on the moon, so this was not the dark ages - but still the treatment of heart attacks was pretty primitive.” 

Clinical research trials were conducted during the 1990s and it was determined the fix involved getting people with heart attacks caused by blocked arteries into an operating room and conducting a minimum evasive operation to open the blocked artery with a balloon. Moving forward, the research indicated patients would be best served having an emergency operation. The issue then became how to make that procedure more readily available to people having heart attacks.

“It requires sophisticated technicians and physicians and nurses working as a team in a complicated medical facility at a large hospital,” McNulty said.  

A little over a decade ago, when Angelo Calbone became Saratoga Hospital president and CEO, he says the question was: How do we move Saratoga Hospital into a position of what the community needs? “The vision of Saratoga Hospital for many years was as the hospital for Saratoga Springs. We wanted our scope and vision to be much bigger than that. We thought it was part of our responsibility as the only hospital in the county.” 

A lot can change in a decade. Technological advances, such as robotic surgery, were brought in. Emergency rooms and the Intensive Care Unit were expanded and improved. Older operating rooms were replaced with new ones, built to accommodate members of the staff, surgeons, robots, and supplies required in present-day procedures. The hospital grew its regional footprint by adding off-site services in places like Wilton, Malta, Galway, Schuylerville, and others. It also developed a “medical group,” that incorporates professionals who had previously operated their practices independently.

“We have over 100 physicians now that work inside with us. We see them as our partner and they see us as their home organization,” Calbone said. “We had to get a little bigger and reach further out into the county. Ten-plus years ago, we said we’d like no one in the county to be further than 10 minutes from one of our services. By the time we’re done, over the next few years, we will fulfill that. We still have our eyes on two or three other places in the county where we can expand some programs and physician services.”

The hospital built upon its growing momentum and invested in a 50-50 joint venture with Albany Medical Center at Exit 12 in Malta, which Calbone said has been very successful and is a direct connection to being able to bring McNulty to the community and setting up its 24/7 emergency interventional cardiology service.

“Ten years ago, New York State did not have any hospitals offering coronary angioplasty for heart attacks except for hospitals that also did heart transplants and heart valve replacement surgery,” McNulty said.  “Now, Saratoga Hospital offers a procedure so complicated and technically demanding that no hospital in the world offered it until 20 years ago, and only very large tertiary academic medical centers offered it 10 years ago.”

Hospital facilities were renovated and the Saratoga staff trained in March in preparation of the service. Since that time, the hospital has served 20 patients.

“Those 20 cases were 100 percent successful,” McNulty said. “The mean time it’s taken to get people in here, assemble the team, stabilize the patient, get them to the operating room and fix the artery in the last four months is 59.6 minutes, (less than the) 90 minutes that the government says you should be aiming for. And so now, after a year or two of preparing and four months of early experience, in the way that it provides this one critical service Saratoga Hospital is hitting the same type of quality benchmarks as some of the largest and most sophisticated hospitals in the country.”   

Published in News
Thursday, 13 July 2017 17:37

Saratoga Hospital Among ‘Most Wired’

SARATOGA SPRINGS — For the second year in a row, Saratoga Hospital has been named one of the nation’s “most wired” healthcare providers.

The designation is based on an annual Hospital and Health Networks magazine survey that measures how hospitals and health systems use technology to improve communication, safety and patient-provider relationships.

Thirty-five New York hospitals made the list, which was released this week by the American Hospital Association’s Health Forum.

More than 2,100 hospitals nationwide participated in the survey. Of those, 461 earned the “most wired” designation by meeting requirements for infrastructure, business and administration, clinical quality and safety, and clinical integration.

Detailed results of the survey can be found in the July issue of Health and Hospitals Networks, an AHA publication. For a full list of winners, visit www.hhnmag.com.

Published in Business

A blur of bright neon burst through Congress Park Sunday and it brought with it tens of thousands of dollars. What was it? A pack of children in green shirts running for a good cause.

Children up to age 12 sprinted and waddled and rolled through two different trails in the tenth annual Cantina Fun Run Sunday morning. The Cantina restaurant, in conjunction with the Saratoga hospital foundation and various sponsors, organized the event.  

“The tenth anniversary had a lot of personal meaning for us,” Cantina owner Heath Ames said. “Along with the money an awareness raised over the years, engaging our kids to help others and showing how a community comes together is a wonderful lesson to share.”

This year, the event raised $76,500, 30 percent more than the organizers’ goal of $59,500. The race trampled the previous donation record of $60,000, set in 2014. All the funds have supported Saratoga Hospital’s pediatric care. The event has raised over $400,000 since the first race in 2008.

The Saratoga Hospital Foundation has fostered the event since its inception. Officials estimated that the hospital treats over 4000 children each year. The donations have brought in new equipment and provided employees special training.

The benefit isn’t solely for the children in need of treatment. Jane Jeffery of Clifton Park said her two children, who ran the event for the first time, felt inspired watching parents and other kids move together for a good cause.

“After these types of activities, I see my kids walking around with a little bit more confidence, feeling taller, older,” Jeffery said. “I think it’s great to have that kind of internal feeling of what it feels like to move your body, what it feels like to accomplishing things together.”

Over 730 people from all over Saratoga County participated in the race. For some, the sense of community the event brought was a highlight.

“We got a big kick watching the little ones run by,” said Sal Calvelli, a Saratoga County resident of six years. “We don’t know them but we’re cheering them on. It brings you together.”

Calvelli’s children participated in the event for the first time this year.

“It’s not just fun; it makes you feel good that you’re contributing to the hospital,” he said. “It’s not just getting together with friends and family. It’s getting together for a good cause.”

Among the numerous community members were hundreds of volunteers. Heather and Brian Straughter have been Fun Run volunteers since its second year, when it was held in the old Cantina parking lot. They have watched the event, the community and their own son, Ethan, grow together.

“All these events are so great because you see people who have young kids, who have older kids. Some of the kids who run this are now volunteers. It makes you feel happy that you live in area where people care.”

Ethan, 12, has been running in the event since he was five, and 2017 was his last year eligible for the run. “He aged out,” Brian said. “Now he can volunteer.”

Published in Sports
Friday, 04 November 2016 12:02

Comics Touched by Cancer Give Back

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The first time comedian Jodi Weiner considered holding a cancer fundraiser made up of comedic acts was not long after she was diagnosed with esophageal cancer at the Saratoga Hospital’s Mollie Wilmot Radiation Oncology Center in 2013. In the midst of her shock and distress, she realized she had just suddenly joined a community of patients and survivors that were some of the kindest and most courageous people she had ever met. She wanted to give back, and give back with laughter and funds.

“The women and men who walk in there [Molly Wilmot Center] are so sweet, even though they are going through the worst time in their life,” said Weiner. “You never meet nicer people than walking into a cancer center, and they shouldn’t be. I’m not.”

At the time, Weiner underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and was too sick to follow through on her wish, but not long after becoming a survivor, she was again diagnosed with cancer.

“It was devastating that first time. You don’t know, you don’t understand,” said Weiner. “The cancer takes control, you have no control and that’s the worst way to feel. This summer I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which wasn’t as bad because I had surgery and radiation. I will have chemo pills for five years, but those haven’t started yet. Five years. Brutal. But this time, I said, I’m going to do something.”

Weiner felt lucky because she and her husband, comedian Vinnie Mark, belong to a close-knit community that spreads across the country – comics. Between her health benefits and the generous support of some of the biggest names in the industry, her husband was able to leave the road and stay with Weiner throughout her treatment.

“People have been very, very good to me. Some major stars, who want to remain anonymous, were very generous,” said Weiner, “but even the guys who only make fifty bucks a show sent fifty bucks. I’ve been very, very lucky. If my life ended tomorrow I could say I had a full life.”

Weiner’s gratitude is overflowing, not only for her extended professional family, but close to home as well. “Remember, the family members are affected as much as the person who has cancer. I have a husband who is really supportive, by my side, takes me to treatment every day, the most supportive man I’ve ever met in my life,” said Weiner. This December, they will have been married 21 years. They renewed their vows in Vegas the same year she was initially diagnosed.

“But some people don’t have that,” said Weiner. “They are alone or their family doesn’t help them. I live in West Fort Ann, and had to be here every day for 33 days for treatment. Some people live right around the corner, but not everybody does.”

Saratoga Hospital has a Cancer Patient Fund to help cover expenses that insurance doesn’t, such as transportation, wigs, dietary supplements, even food. To help raise money so that fund can help as many people as possible, Weiner, Mark, and fellow comedians Chris Monty and special guest Mike Speirs will appear in “Comics Care: Comedians Touched by Cancer Give Back” on Thursday, November 10 at the Embassy Suites in Saratoga Springs. Doors open at 7 p.m. for 8 p.m. show time. Reservations are $25 per person. Proceeds from the event, including an on-site raffle, will benefit Saratoga Hospital’s Cancer Patient Fund.

“The cancer community – our patients, friends and family, and cancer survivors – is an incredibly close group of people, supporting and encouraging each other and programs like our Cancer Patient Fund,” said Jennifer Baldwin, LMSW, OSW-C and oncology social worker at Saratoga Hospital’s Mollie Wilmot Radiation Oncology Center. “To use comedy as a bridge to share and tell personal stories about their experiences with cancer is brave. We truly appreciate Jodi and Vinnie and Chris and Mike volunteering their talent to entertain, as well as raise awareness and funding for our program. They’re pretty special people.”

The three comedians have extensive experience performing on TV (Weiner on ABC’s “The View” and Comedy Central, Mark on Letterman and VH1, Monty on HBO’s “Vinyl”), in film (Monty in “Paul Blart Mall Cop 2”), and live (both Weiner and Mark on multiple USO tours and at The Borgata Casino).

“And we’re so funny! We’re actually funny!” joked Weiner. “This is a fundraiser for a good reason. I’m funny, Vinny’s funny, Chris is funny and my friend Mike Speirs jumped on board and he’s funny as well.”

Mark said he was always interested in magic as a kid, so he auditioned in 1981 for the Long Island Laughter Company. “I got lucky enough to get cast with Rosie O’Donnell, Bob Nelson and Eddie Murphy,” said Mark. “I was just 18 or 19, so young and too stupid to be nervous. We did a live show of improv and sketches every Monday night.”

Mark had owned the Saratoga Comedy Club, which was located not far from the Embassy Suites, which is donating the space and food and beverages for the event. Mark thought it would be nice to perform so close to the venue where he and Weiner had performed before along with stars like J.J. Walker from the television series “Good Times” and Colin Quinn from Saturday Night Live.

“The View I was on twice,” said Weiner. “They treated me so well, such nice people, I loved it. I saw Barbara Walters, Billy Zane and Susan Lucci. She is such a tiny little thing, like a ballerina doll. I’m 5 foot 3 inches, and she was up to my belly button.”

Chris Monty met Vinnie through the comedy circuit, and they’ve been close friends for 15 years. “In the early 90’s, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Monty. “She opted to have a single mastectomy and was cancer free, and within three years her sisters got breast cancer. They beat it and decided to raise money to beat it, so since then I do a comedy show every year for the Three STROHM Sisters Family Foundation.”

Then, in the summer of 2012, Monty’s mother was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer. “My mother is tough as anything,” said Monty. “She did aggressive chemo and she fought tooth and nail to her last breath. But it was a very aggressive cancer. She passed on January 4 of 2013. Vinnie called me, it was about the same time that Jodi had cancer, and we were both crying on the phone together.”

Monty said that when Mark called to ask him to participate in this fundraiser, he was immediately on board. “If I’m available, I will always make time to give back to any kind of cancer organization,” said Monty. “Laughter is the best medicine, even when my mother was sick, I try to bring smiles to people’s faces.”

Dinner and pre-show cocktails will be available from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Diamond Club Grill at the Embassy Suites hotel. For more information or to register for “Comics Care,” visit www.saratogahospital.org or call 518-583-8340.

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – As the country’s collective waistline continues to expand, the need to educate younger generations to make smarter decisions becomes more and more important. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 12.5 million children between the ages 2-19 are considered obese. Whether it’s the lack of physical education, the increase in availability of processed foods packed with calories and sugar or the rise of television and video games as a pastime activity; learning to live healthy is something you should learn sooner rather than later, in hopes to carry those habits with you for the rest of your life.  

Published in News
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