Health

Councilwoman Susan Berland supports a limit of gas-powered leaf blowers. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

The fight against gas-powered leaf blowers continues in Huntington.

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) launched an initiative to educate Huntington residents on the environmental and health effects of specific leaf blowers this past week. Berland posted a video on her page within the town website that shows a presentation with Quiet Communities and the American Green Zone Alliance, both organizations that work toward protecting the health, environment and quality of life from the use of industrial outdoor maintenance equipment.

“The pollution generated by gas-powered leaf blowers is completely avoidable, as is the high-frequency noise generated by these blowers, which carries through entire neighborhoods and has been associated with permanent hearing damage,” Berland said in the video.

She highlights a lithium battery-powered leaf blower as a preferable alternative to gas-powered blowers.

“Lithium battery-powered leaf blowers give off zero toxic emissions and generate 50 percent less noise than gas-powered equipment,” Berland said. “There is no soil or water pollution and the price is comparable to other types of lawn maintenance equipment.”

Quiet Communities Executive Director Jamie Banks talked in the video about the public health and environmental effects of gas-powered blowers.

“If you think about what it takes to maintain a gas-powered engine, there are a lot of solid and toxic chemicals,” Banks said. “They come usually in cans or nonrecyclable plastic containers with residue. These can be thrown into landfills; the chemicals themselves can be spilled into the soil and eventually reach water supplies and marine systems.”

She also highlighted the health risks that come with using or being around the usage area of a gas-powered leaf blower.

Gas-powered leaf blowers have raised some concerns with Huntington residents.
Gas-powered leaf blowers have raised some concerns with Huntington residents.

“Workers who have these machines on their backs, they are very close to the source of the exhaust emissions and other ground source particulates,” she said, noting that children playing nearby may also be exposed.

Both the exhaust emissions and the ground source particulates can negatively affect health.

A 2013 assessment by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer said, “Outdoor air pollution is carcinogenic to humans, with the particulate matter component of air pollution most closely associated with increased cancer incidence, especially cancer of the lung. An association also has been observed between outdoor air pollution and increase in cancer of the urinary tract/bladder.”

The American Lung Association also said in its 2014 State of the Air, “Short-term exposure to particle pollution can kill. Particle pollution does not just make people die a few days earlier than they might otherwise — these are deaths that would not have occurred if the air were cleaner.”

The noise effect of leaf blowers was also mentioned in Berland’s presentation.

According to public advocacy group Dangerous Decibels, once a sound reaches 85 decibels or higher, it can cause permanent damage to your hearing. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said noise from leaf blowers can reach at least 90 decibels.

According to the Center for Hearing and Communication, rainfall measures about 50 decibels, normal conversation is about 60 decibels and freeway traffic or a vacuum cleaner could reach about 70 decibels.

“The health risks posed by gas-powered landscaping equipment need to be addressed,” Berland said.

She is also encouraging residents and landscaping companies in the Huntington area who only use electric-powered equipment, as opposed to gas-powered equipment, to take a “green pledge” and add themselves to a list that will be featured on the town’s website.

Berland has been working on legislation that would limit use of gas-powered leaf blowers in summer months, as residents have voiced their concerns about the blowers at town board meetings and have asked for Heckscher State Park to be designated the town’s first green zone — an area maintained with zero-emission lawn care equipment.

At previous town board meetings, Berland’s proposal has not picked up much steam with other board members.

Residents flooded the Rocky Point High School auditorium on Tuesday for a night of education on drugs and a chance to see what drug use is like in the district.

John Venza, vice president of Adolescent Services for Outreach, a New York-based organization that encourages community residents to seek help for substance abuse, and Suffolk County Senior Drug Abuse Educator Stephanie Sloan tackled drug education in the nearly two-hour forum.

Gateway drugs, drug use causes, the evolution of these substances and how parents and students alike can navigate through life without using drugs were among the topics discussed. The forum was also an opportunity to see results from the New York State-issued 2014-15 survey regarding youth development. Rocky Point was one of 10 school districts that took the survey, which examined drug use and prevalence in the district.

“Let’s face it, teenage years are tough enough to begin with, but then you have all this stuff added on — I wouldn’t want to go through [adolescence] again [now],” said Amy Agnesini, forum organizer and athletic director for Rocky Point.

Although drug use in Rocky Point’s seventh and eighth-graders falls below state average for alcohol and energy drinks — the most common substances used by this age group — the survey revealed the use of these two drugs in addition to chewing tobacco or using marijuana, cigarettes and pain relievers, among a few other drugs, increased in high school.

Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) was among the speakers in attendance. Bonner announced her piece of legislation to ban hookah lounges, vape and smoke shops within 1,000 feet of various locations, including schools, non-degree granting schools, like a ballet or karate studio, religious facilities, hospitals and other areas. She added that there will be a public hearing on the ban proposal in the near future.

“This is a war — we are in the trenches as parents, as educators, as members of the community — we’re the ones battling,” said Rocky Point Superintendent of Schools Michael Ring. “The battle isn’t necessarily in the streets, the way a lot of people think it is … it’s in your living room.”

According to Venza, technology isn’t the only thing that’s evolved; drugs have as well. People can now use devices like vape pens to smoke different forms of marijuana, including a dab, a waxy substance with high concentrations of THC. Between 14 and 24-years-old is the worst time to smoke marijuana in a person’s life, Venza said during the forum. The potency of drugs, including marijuana, has also increased over the decades.

“Unlike 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago where you needed a needle, you no longer need a needle because [of the purity of the drugs],” Venza said about heroin needles. People can now sniff the drug and get high, which makes trying the drug less daunting, Venza added.

Outreach’s Vice President of Adolescent Services John Venza educates adults and children about drugs during a forum at Rocky Point High School. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Outreach’s Vice President of Adolescent Services John Venza educates adults and children about drugs during a forum at Rocky Point High School. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Hope House Ministries’ Opioid Overdose Prevention Program’s Clinical Director Dr. Jennifer Serrentino said 120 people die from drug overdose daily. Last year, there were around 100 fatal heroin overdoses in Suffolk County alone.

Although one resident voiced her concerns that the forum would give students more ideas on how and where to use drugs, the speakers and parents, like Sound Beach resident Sharon Ferraro, think knowledge is power.

“If you were at a party or at a friend’s house and you see that paraphernalia, that’s your trigger to get out,” Ferraro said to her daughter Molly Searight, after the resident posed the question.

Ferraro said she is very involved with her children, but that’s not the case for every family. She said some parents are busy and don’t always spend quality time with their children. Although Ferraro’s daughter Molly hasn’t seen students using drugs on campus, beyond electronic cigarettes or vape pens in the bathroom, she said she hears of drug use from peers. After the event, Molly said she’s more aware of the effects of alcohol on youth.

Residents and speakers alike, including the councilwoman, were not only pleased with the event’s turnout, but also the large volume of residents who were in attendance.

“I was so proud of the community that I live in, that it was standing room only,” Bonner said. “People [are] finally recognizing that you can’t bury your heads in the sand. Community forums like this one are integral to combatting this [drug use issue].”

By Elana Glowatz

A 24-hour substance abuse hotline went live on April 1, providing Suffolk County residents with a new resource to help with battling addiction.

The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence is operating the new hotline — 631-979-1700 — and will help callers get screenings, referrals and follow-ups, directing them to local resources that will help them or loved ones overcome addiction.

A flyer advertises a new substance abuse hotline. Image from the Suffolk County health department
A flyer advertises a new substance abuse hotline. Image from the Suffolk County health department

Officials announced the initiative at the end of February, calling it a partnership between the county, Stony Brook Medicine and the state’s health department, as well as private and public community partners in the substance abuse field. Those officials said having a single phone number for all those resources is key.

“This initiative will provide [the] opportunity for addicts to reach out during their time of need and access treatment and support options easily,” Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said in a previous statement. “Often, there is a critical and brief period of time when a person sees clarity and makes the decision to seek help. This hotline can be fertile ground for change and recovery as it can quickly link residents to crucial health care services.”

LICADD itself noted in a recent statement about the hotline that “the time to seek treatment is ‘now’” and that sometimes the “now” is late at night, early in the morning or on weekends or holidays. The agency also said that the period in which an addict is willing to get treatment could close without immediate help, due to “the pathology of denial, obsession and fear which often defines substance use disorders.”

Community leaders have ramped up efforts to fight opioid addiction in recent years while seeing an increase in heroin and prescription painkiller abuse and overdoses across Suffolk County. Those efforts have included more directed police enforcement and informational meetings. Police officers have also started carrying the medication Narcan, which can temporarily stop opioid overdoses and has been used hundreds of times in Suffolk.

Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), who authored the law that put Narcan into officers’ hands, said about the new hotline, “Every second counts to a mother whose son or daughter was found and saved from overdosing. And every hour and every day that slips by trying to find quality, affordable, accessible treatment is critical.”

For 24/7 substance abuse help, call 631-979-1700.

To report drug activity to the police, call 631-852-NARC.

The county health department will provide oversight and analyze data to monitor the hotline’s effectiveness, and identify trends and emerging issues in the community.

At the same time the drug abuse hotline went live, the Suffolk County Police Department announced another phone number, this one a 24-hour tip line for residents to report drug activity in their neighborhoods.

“We are asking the public’s help to fight this scourge, and with the public’s help, we can make a real difference,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said in a statement.

Residents can call 631-852-NARC anonymously to report information about local drug dealers, and authorities will investigate the tips. Even anonymous callers can receive cash rewards for tips that lead to arrests.

“If you see something, say something and Suffolk County police will do something about it,” Sini said.

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Beware of low quality pet supplements at local pet stores and wholesale clubs. Stock photo

By Matthew Kearns, DVM

I was watching the movie, “The Big Short” and could not believe what many of the participants of the subprime mortgage and derivative market were able to get away with. I was wondering if there was some sort of parallel in veterinary medicine, and veterinary supplements best fit the bill.  Veterinary supplements are a very big business.  Are we getting what we pay for?

Veterinary supplements can be divided into pre- and post-1994. Supplements, or nutraceuticals, were first coined by human physicians in the 1980s. A nutraceutical referred to any oral compound that is neither a nutrient, “nutra,” nor a pharmaceutical, “ceutical.”

Before 1994 all dietary ingredients not marketed as a supplement were subject to strict premarket safety evaluation by the FDA to prove the compound did not present a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury. However, in October of 1994 human nutraceutical special-interest groups (lobbyists) were able to persuade Congress to pass the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. This act restricted the FDA’s ability to regulate these products by no longer requiring premarket safety evaluation. What this means is, although the manufacturer is still responsible for premarket safety evaluations, the manufacturer is also able to decide what constitutes an assurance of safety.   

So what happens when the nutraceutical industry is allowed to self-regulate?  In a study performed at the University of Maryland in 2000, one particular supplement, chondroitin sulfate, was mislabeled in 9 of 11 products (about 84 percent of the time). The range of 0 percent (could not find any of the product as compared to what was labeled) to 114 percent (there was more than labeled) was found. The products that were the cheapest to produce (less than $1 per 1200 mg of chondroitin sulfate) were the worst of the bunch with 10 percent or less of what was actually on the label.

So the industry learned its lesson, yes?  Well … let’s flash forward to 2015.  In 2015 the New York State Attorney General’s Office brought suit against GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart. Why, you ask? An investigation into these top selling supplements found that four out of five did not contain any of the herb on the label.

What was in there, you ask? Ground up rice, asparagus, radish and houseplants. OK, so the supplements were not top quality but there was no danger, correct?  Well, unfortunately these supplements also contained soy and peanut fillers that could be a real danger for those individuals with allergies.

That’s not to say that all supplement manufacturers are shady. There are plenty that are of very high quality and are very safe. These supplements are usually found through your veterinarian and are more expensive. So, before you brag to the veterinarian that you can get the same supplement at the local pet retailer or wholesale club ask yourself this — “If some of these companies show little concern as to what is in a human supplement, what do you think these same companies will put in pet supplements?”

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office.

The front entrance of Huntington Hospital's new emergency department that will open in 2017. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

By Victoria Espinoza

The days of dreading the emergency room may be over come Jan. 2, 2017.

Huntington Hospital is more than one year into $43 million worth of renovations for its new emergency department, which was designed to herald in shorter wait times, a separate pediatric section, an expanded trauma center, and private rooms for all patients.

The department is expected to open the day after New Years Day next year, with all state-of-the-art equipment and protocol.

“Most of our admissions come through the ER, most of the people in the building came through the ER, so that’s your face to the community,” said Gerard X. Brogan, MD, executive director at Huntington Hospital and professor of emergency medicine at Hofstra North Shore LIJ School of Medicine.

The plan for Huntington Hospital's new emergency department, which will be more than twice the size of the current one. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
The plan for Huntington Hospital’s new emergency department. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Brogan said the current ER sees about 51,000 patients a year, but was designed for 24,000. Coming in at around 31,000 square feet, this new facility promises to be bigger and better than anything Huntington residents have seen before, Brogan said.

“So this will be more than twice the size of the current department,” he said.

By far the most common complaint patients visiting the ER have is the wait time. And Brogan said the new layout and protocol would help cut wait time down and expedite the process of a patient being treated.

“Part of that bottleneck starts right up front. You wait to even get triaged and see a nurse,” he said. “This ER has four different triage stations, and at the time of triage there will be either a physician, a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner there. As you’re getting triaged the workup is already starting. We’re taking blood samples, we’re deciding if you need any X-Rays.”

Brogan also said that by the time a patient is sent to the department to be treated, “your blood is already cooking in the lab, radiology is already coming to find you for an X-ray and a doctor is already started to direct your work up.”

He said the hospital’s current ER has already put this method into effect and has cut down patients’ visit by an average of 48 minutes — about one third of their stay.

“It shouldn’t be a penalty for being sick that you sit in an ER for five hours,” Brogan said.

New staff protocol should also cut down wait times. This includes a new lab testing system that has just been put into use, which brings the quickest results in the North Well health system, according to Brogan. Biofire FilmArray, a molecular multiplex assay, allows for results to be returned within an hour rather than 24 hours. This helps patients spend less time at the hospital and allow for treatment to be administered faster if necessary.

The floor to ceiling windows that will be featured in the special results waiting area in the new Huntington Hospital emergency department that will open in 2017. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
The floor to ceiling windows that will be featured in the special results waiting area in the new Huntington Hospital emergency department that will open in 2017. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

“Determining someone’s illness and beginning to treat it quickly is vital for the patient,” Gary Stone, MD, associate chair of pathology and laboratory medicine said in a statement. “This faster laboratory test will also help Huntington Hospital’s emergency department to diagnose, treat and release patients faster.”

Another way Brogan said the ER plans to keep patients happy while they wait is through additional lounge areas.

“Some tests, by their very nature, take at least 45 minutes to an hour to actually perform, so we will have a special results waiting area with comfortable recliners and floor to ceiling windows,” he said. “You’re not going to be sitting on a stretcher, you’ll be out in a lounge area, looking outside and seeing sunlight or watching the sunset.”

The layout also aims at redoing the current entrance system, he said. There will be two entrances in the new ER, one for ambulances and one for patients and families coming in. “Now, if you’re walking your kid in with a sore throat there can be an ambulance unloading right next to you,” Brogan said. “This way, we keep the dramatic traumas which might be uncomfortable to young children around the corner.”

The new department will be giving patients single rooms that measure up to 11 feet by 13 feet.

“You can close your door, and you don’t have to see or hear or smell any of the other cases going on in the emergency department.”

In terms of the ER, which is now 20 years old, Brogan said nothing has been decided yet as to what it will be used for. But some ideas, he said, included creating an advanced treatment center — which would help patients whose illnesses might’ve taken days to diagnose and treat before — be treated within several hours instead of being committed to the hospital for a few days.

The pediatric emergency department has already been renamed after New York Islanders Hall of Famer Clark Gillies, who committed to donating $2 million to the department through the Clark Gillies Foundation. Staff said they are still hoping to receive other donations to rename parts of the ER including the special results waiting area.

Although residents won’t be able to walk through the doors for another 10 months, staff is already eager to share the space.

“I think for the patients, the experience is going to be just phenomenal,” Brogan said. “You’ll have your own room, auditory and visual privacy, with all the bells and whistles, and monitors in every room outfitted for the most complex patient.”

The Huntington YMCA, where the Healthy Weight and Your Child program is conducted. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Healthy eating habits and children don’t always mix in this day and age, but Christina Butcher is not letting that stop her.

Butcher, fitness center coordinator at the Huntington YMCA, is at the forefront of a new program — Healthy Weight and Your Child — that focuses on promoting good choices for young children who have struggled with maintaining a healthy weight.

“This gives kids the support they need and the opportunity to make healthy lifestyle choices,” Butcher said in a phone interview.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity now affects 17 percent of all children and adolescents in the United States. One in six children are obese and one in three are overweight, which could lead to serious health problems including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and mental health issues.

Healthy Weight and Your Child is a 12-month program geared toward 7 to 13-year-old children who are in the 95th percentile or higher on the body mass index scale. All participants must be cleared for physical activity by a health care provider or school nurse, and be accompanied by a parent or caregiver at every meeting.

Christina Butcher is fitness center coordinator and a personal trainer. Photo from Butcher
Christina Butcher is fitness center coordinator and a personal trainer. Photo from Butcher

“Parents usually make most of the food decisions in the home, so we want them included in this learning process,” Butcher said.

The program is meant to focus on social issues in health and engage the whole family on understanding how the home environment influences the choices that lead to unhealthy food selections.

Aside from eating habits, the program also highlights the importance of regular physical activity and behavioral changes.

Butcher said kids participate in different activities like dodgeball, spud and relays, to stay active.

“My favorite part of the program is the family unity,” she said. “There are a lot of siblings in the program, and even just the single children with parents are participating in a great bonding opportunity.”

Currently, Healthy Weight and Your Child at the YMCA has about 35 children signed up. The program is offered on Wednesdays from 5:30-7:30 p.m., and is also available at the Silas Wood Sixth Grade Center in the South Huntington school district on Mondays from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Aside from being in charge of all fitness programs the YMCA offers, Butcher is also a personal trainer at the fitness center in the YMCA.

“I have the opportunity to work with small groups to help achieve their fitness goals,” she said. “Whether it’s working on upper body strength to be able to pick up their grandchild, or getting over an injury or working toward a sport goal, I love the diversity training that the YMCA offers. It’s the best part of being a trainer.”

File photo

The path to overcoming opioid addiction will soon be just a phone call away, thanks to a new initiative that the Suffolk County Legislature announced last week.

A new full-service substance abuse hotline will serve as what officials called a lifeline to residents battling drug addiction, which lawmakers have been struggling to address across Long Island for years. To get there, the county teamed up with Stony Brook Medicine and the state’s health department as well as the county’s private and public community partners in the substance abuse field to allow residents to call to get screenings, referrals and follow-ups.

The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence will operate the 24-hour hotline and direct callers to those resources. Providing a single phone number to call for a myriad of resources and services is key to assisting those who are battling addiction and their families, officials said.

“Like many places in this country, Suffolk County is facing an opioid epidemic of historic proportions,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said in a statement. “We need to tackle this epidemic on all fronts — including prevention, treatment and law enforcement.”

Bellone said his administration has made it a top priority to “explore and launch new, evidence-based tools” to help address the region’s fight against heroin and opioid use.

“The creation of a local 24/7 hotline is now another tool in our arsenal to assist those who are battling opioid and heroin addiction and their families,” he said.

The hotline will become live by April, Bellone said, and the Suffolk County health department will provide oversight and analyze data to monitor its effectiveness and identify trends and emerging issues in the community.

“Every second counts to a mother whose son or daughter was found and saved from overdosing,” said Suffolk Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket). The majority leader was the author of several laws credited with preventing more than 1,000 opioid overdoses in Suffolk County since the summer of 2012, including one that gave police access to Narcan, a medicine that stops such overdoses. “And every hour and every day that slips by trying to find quality, affordable, accessible treatment is critical.”

Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) said the initiative is essential, as heroin deaths in the county have nearly tripled since 2010.

“This alarming data demands our immediate attention,” he said. “A centralized hotline for people in crisis is a critical step toward saving lives, but we must do more. My colleagues and I look forward to our continued work with both the county executive and officials from Nassau County as together we fight to stem Long Island’s heroin epidemic.”

County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) echoed the same sentiments and said the area’s substance abuse issue was pervasive and touched the lives of more than those who suffered from addiction.

“This initiative will provide [the] opportunity for addicts to reach out during their time of need and access treatment and support options easily,” he said. “Often, there is a critical and brief period of time when a person sees clarity and makes the decision to seek help. This hotline can be fertile ground for change and recovery as it can quickly link residents to crucial health care services.”

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Puppies and older dogs are especially susceptible to contracting the Canine Influenza virus. Stock photo

By Matthew Kearns, DVM

There has been a lot of media attention recently about outbreaks of the canine influenza virus (CIV), the H3N8 strain, which was first reported in racing greyhounds in Florida in 2004.  Rather than the typical respiratory infections (both viral and bacterial) that were limited to mild upper respiratory signs (coughing, sneezing, etc.), many of these dogs developed a sudden onset of severe pneumonia and death.

Later that year similar cases were documented in shelters and veterinary clinics in the New York City area. Dogs that recovered were tested at the Cornell Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University and tested positive for the  CIV H3N8 strain. In 2011, there was another outbreak in the NYC Metro area (three cases in NYC, three in Nassau County but none in Suffolk County) of the CIV H3N8 strain.

Fast forward to 2015 — an outbreak of the CIV occurred in the Chicago area that affected more than 1,000 dogs and led to eight deaths. Another outbreak shortly after the Chicago incident occurred in the Atlanta area affecting approximately 80 dogs (no deaths). In December 2015, another outbreak occurred in the Seattle area affecting approximately 80 dogs (again, no deaths).

Interestingly, none of the cases in 2015 were caused by the CIV H3N8 strain, but rather an H3N2 strain. The H3N2 strain was previously only seen in Asia (first diagnosed in 2006-2007). It is believed that this Asian strain gained entrance to the United States through Chicago’s O’Hare Airport inside a dog from Korea.

CIV is passed from dog to dog via aerosolized respiratory secretions from coughing, barking, sneezing, contaminated objects (food and water bowls, kennel surfaces) and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. Dogs that stay at kennels, groomers, doggy day care, parks etc. are more at risk.

Approximately 80 percent of dogs exposed to CIV will show symptoms of the disease and the other 20 percent will not. This is unfortunate because this 20 percent may not show symptoms, but they can still shed virus and spread disease.  Symptoms will start three to five days after exposure and can be very mild to severe. 

Mild symptoms include a low-grade fever, runny nose and cough. Severe symptoms include pneumonia and in some cases death. Risk factors include age (the very young and very old are most severely affected), pre-existing disease or genetic susceptibility. There is no evidence at this time that CIV poses any health risk for humans.

Treatment for CIV is supportive in nature. Less severe cases where the patient is able to eat and drink are self-limiting in nature and symptoms resolve within three to seven days. More severe cases require hospitalization, IV fluids/medications, nebulization treatments and, in some cases, supplemental oxygen.

Two vaccines against the CIV H3N8 strain (the first was approved by the FDA in 2009) are available for dogs at this time. The goal of the vaccine is to expose the host (in this case dogs) to a weakened or inactivated form of the virus and stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against it. Then, if the host is exposed to the virus naturally, the immune system will respond rapidly and fight the infection before signs of disease will occur.

At this time there is good news and bad news. The good news is there have been no reported cases of either strain of CIV in Suffolk County. The bad news is there is no evidence at this time that the vaccine currently available will protect against the new Asian strain (it may, but the veterinary community just doesn’t know at this time).

Please consult with your veterinarian as to whether your dog is at risk for the CIV virus (H3N8 or H3N2 strain) and whether vaccine is warranted for your own dog.  I will keep everyone posted through Times Beacon Record Newspapers as new information becomes available.

Dr. Kearns has been in practice for 16 years.

Residents gather to discuss drug and heroin use, rehabilitation and laws at the North Shore Drug Awareness Advocates’ monthly meeting. Photo by Giselle Barkley

“Addiction is a family disease.”

That’s what Tracey Budd and social worker Mary Calamia had to say during the North Shore Drug Awareness Advocates’ community event about heroin use on Long Island.

Around 20 residents gathered at the Rocky Point Veterans of Foreign Wars headquarters on Feb. 24 to discuss drug laws, heroin use in the community and how to combat the Island’s heroin issues.

Tracey Budd, of Rocky Point, founded the North Shore Drug Awareness Advocates group to help work with families to try to combat the drug issues on Long Island. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Tracey Budd, of Rocky Point, founded the North Shore Drug Awareness Advocates group to help work with families to try to combat the drug issues on Long Island. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Budd, of Rocky Point, established the North Shore Drug Awareness Advocates group last fall. Her son, Kevin Norris, was one of many heroin users on Long Island before he died of an overdose in September 2012. Budd hoped to educate Long Island communities on drug awareness and establish a support system for drug users and their families who are seeking help, with the creation of this group. She tries to hold a meeting at least once a month.

“I’m hoping that as parents, neighbors, [and] friends, we learn how to advocate [about drug awareness] a little more, rather than putting it on Facebook,” said Budd about residents who have sought help, especially with acquiring Narcan, through social media outlets. She was among several residents, including Dorothy Johnson, who said people need to change how they view heroin users.

Johnson is a member of the Great Bay coalition. She lost her son four years ago to a heroin overdose and has fought to increase drug awareness ever since. For Johnson, heroin and drug users aren’t junkies, but everyday people in need of help.

“It’s not that they’re bad and sitting on a street corner,” Johnson said. “It’s somebody that’s walking around in a suit and tie that comes from a good family.”

Many of these families do not change how they view or deal with their relative once they return from a rehabilitation center. According to Calamia, treating rehabilitated individuals as though they still use heroin or other drugs will only encourage future drug use.

In light of heroin use on Long Island, the Suffolk County Police Department started using Narcan in August 2012, according to Dr. Scott Coyne, chief surgeon for the police department. The anti-overdose medication was used more than 470 times in 2013 and 2014 and 543 times last year. While Narcan allows officials and those trained to administer it to save people who overdose on heroin or opiate-based drugs, public and safety officials said some drug users abuse the system.

Sgt. Keith Olsen, on right, speaks at the North Shore Drug Awareness Advocates’ meeting. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Sgt. Keith Olsen, on right, speaks at the North Shore Drug Awareness Advocates’ meeting. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Capt. William Murphy said the police department has saved an unidentified Mastic Beach resident around 11 times using Narcan. Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) added that one woman who got into a car crash on Middle Country Road and Nicolls Road a few weeks ago demanded Narcan from First Responders. According to LaValle, officials can’t test a resident’s blood after receiving Narcan.

Currently, patients can go home shortly after officials administer the medication. Budd is trying to establish a 72-hour hold for these patients, which will allows hospitals to monitor patients following the procedure.

She also helped establish a 24-hour hotline for drug users and their families or friends who are looking for help, after she attended a conference at the Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s (D) office last September. That hotline should be up and running, according to Budd, by April 1.

“Sometimes I feel bad for the young kids we’re locking up,” said Sgt. Keith Olsen of the SCPD. “They need help. They’re not the dealer. They’re not turning it over. They’re not the ones causing trouble.”

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File photo

Winter weather has affected blood donations, and Port Jefferson’s John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, located at 75 N. Country Road, will hold a blood drive on Monday, March 7, to help.

According to the hospital, snow caused many blood drives to be canceled; so the community needs donors to help keep cancer and surgery patients, accident and burn victims, anemic patients, newborns and their mothers and AIDS patients alive.

The Mather event — which will run from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Conference Rooms 3, 4 and 5 — is open to everyone and no appointment is necessary.

Free valet parking is available at the main entrance.

Donors will receive candy, McDonald’s certificates and a gift card to Panera or Target.