Return to the Upstate HomeCare Home Page

Benefits of Vaccines

Vaccination has been around for hundreds of years and today’s vaccines are a very real part of modern medicine.  Efforts taken during the 18th and 19th centuries led to the eradication of Small Pox in 1979.  Since then many more vaccinations have been created and more diseases are close to being wiped out.  Modern flu vaccinations help prevent serious cases of influenza among high risk adults and children, as well and keeping outbreaks under control.  The future may hold vaccines for cancers or HIV.  Although modern medicine holds vaccines to the highest standards, there are many myths and beliefs supporting an anti-vaccination lobby.  Due to recent outbreaks of Measles and Whooping Cough cases in the US, the topic of immunization warrants a discussion and further detail.

Recent outbreaks such as the Ebola outbreak in 2014 bring to light the issue of diseases and their effects on the globe.  Although our standards here in the US are very high, travelers from other countries can bring in potentially harmful viruses and diseases.  Shortly after the New Year, several cases of Measles have been traced back to Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure Theme Parks.  Six of those cases were among unvaccinated children.  It is believed that just one infected visitor was the cause of the outbreak according to the Dept. of Public Health.  In 2010 there was also a Whooping Cough outbreak in California with 9000 cases, 10 of which resulted in death.  With international travel so prevalent, we need to keep in mind that the US isn’t separate from the world community.  One visitor from a country where a disease is endemic can threaten our public safety here at home.

Many of our Upstate HomeCare customers are dealing with symptoms that would be much worse if they were exposed to diseases that vaccines try to prevent.  Measles and Whooping Cough greatly task the respiratory system and can result in pneumonia or worse.  Part of the benefit from vaccines has to do with a concept called “Herd Immunity.”  This is defined as “the immunity or resistance to a particular infection that occurs in a group of people or animals when a very high percentage of individuals have been vaccinated or previously exposed to the infection.”  The intent is then to help protect the portion of the population who is more susceptible to the disease by preventing it from gaining any foothold.  This protects those who cannot receive the vaccine due to immune deficiencies or allergies.  The symptoms of the disease are higher risk than having a side-effect from a vaccine injection.  For example, see the following stats for Measles and Rubella versus their vaccine MMR.

Measles Conditions:
Pneumonia:  6 in 100
Encephalitis:  1 in 1,000
Death:  2 in 1,000

Rubella Conditions:
Congenital Rubella Syndrome:  1 in 4 (if woman becomes infected early in pregnancy)

Vaccine MMR Reactions:
Encephalitis or severe allergic reaction:  1 in 1,000,000

Although some health concerns have arisen over the safety of vaccines on our children, the risk of highly contagious diseases is far greater to our young children and elderly than the side-effects of a vaccine.  Good education is the key to choosing the right decision for your child and yourself.  Everyone should research what is in each vaccine and consult their physician in regards to any allergies or other possible reactions; then you can make an educated decision.  For more information on the misconceptions of vaccines and facts, please take a look at the following Q&A from the World Health Organization or any of the other links below regarding the safety of vaccines and possible side-effects.


Interactive World Map Showing Vaccinated Disease Status

Advice from regarding Vaccines for Parents

LA Times Article on Disneyland Outbreak and Vaccinations

LA Times Article on the Vaccine and Autism Link

CDC Article on Vaccine Side-Effects Immunization Overview Article on Vaccine Myths Article on a Brief History of Vaccination

CDC Article on Rotavirus

CDC Article:  What Would Happen if we Stopped Vaccinations

World Health Organization Article on Vaccine Misconceptions

Little Hats, Big Hearts

Upstate HomeCare is very proud to have employees that donate hours of their free time to help out with generous causes.  Recently Christen Bannigan of the Clinton Branch ran across an article on Mended Little Hearts of West Michigan.  The Mended Little Heats organization hopes to have 1000 hats knitted or crocheted by January 21st in time for February, American Heart Month.  The hats will then be used for all babies born at participating hospitals during the month of February.  This effort is in partnership with the American Heart Association and their “Little Hats, Big Hearts” fundraising campaign.  The Mended Little Hearts organization provides resources and support to children with congenital heart defects.  The 1000 hats will be used in the hospital to help keep the infants warm and cozy during their healing process and help to raise awareness of congenital heart defects, the most common type of birth defect in our country.

Christen Bannigan and Ronda Jones spent countless hours working on crocheting the infant hats for “Little Hats, Big Hearts.” They received several donations from the following donors:  Maureen Bannigan, Karen Skaradek, Suzanne Moore, Michele Bowen, Jan Slawson, Carolyn O’Brien,  and photography by Franklin Kielar.  Together they knitted a total of 143 infant hats and Christen mailed them to Michigan on Friday January 16th.  Christen plans to expand on their first time providing the hats and looks to grow the effort into an annual project.  To learn more visit our reference links at the bottom of the page to find out how you can help. (Mending Little Hearts of Michigan) (American Heart Association) (Mending Little Hearts of Michigan)

10 Simple Healthy Choices for 2015

Many of us think about resolutions a lot prior to January. Sometimes whole discussions are held regarding last year’s resolutions compared to ones you and others are making.  Then ultimately the topic comes up whether or not you will stick to a resolution.  Amidst all the ideas being thrown around, the simplest lifestyle or health choices may be overlooked.  Instead of setting a lofty goal that may be difficult to stick to, consider one of these ten simpler changes to improve your lifestyle and make 2015 a healthier year.

1:  Eat Slower. Eating foods fast can lead to consuming more calories.  It takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to signal that you feel full.  Taking your time will also aid in digestion due to thoroughly chewing your food and help even out your meals improving energy levels throughout the day.

Fruit for Breakfast2:  Make Time for Breakfast. Hitting the snooze button one too many times can lead to skipping that first important meal of the day.  Even if you have just some yogurt or a piece of fruit, your body will have something for energy to begin the day with.  Eating a healthy breakfast improves cognitive abilities and mood.

3:  10 Minute Power Napping. Energy drinks and alternatives may give a quick boost; but try a ten minute nap to cut back on the sugar in energy drinks, or the crash/side effects that can happen after energy pills.

4:  Enhance Your Mood. Focus on gratitude over complaints.  Take the time to notice the good things that happen to you and thank those who bring you more happiness.  Your mood will improve and will lead to healthier choices.  Being surrounded by other positive people can also improve mood as well as provide positive reinforcement for healthy choices.

5:  Read More. Studies have shown reading reduces stress and increases mental activity.  And reading non-fiction will increase knowledge and exercise your memory.  This can be as simple as reading an article or two in the paper to starting a novel and reading just a chapter a night.

6:  Stick to a Set Bedtime. Setting a routine for getting to sleep greatly improves the effectiveness of falling asleep on time and getting better sleep.  In addition, try turning off all devices 30 minutes prior to allow yourself some mental peace.  Limiting the glow from electronic displays can help along with quieting the room.

7:  Moderation Instead of Deprivation. Being healthy doesn’t have to deprive us of desserts or other things we enjoy.  If you moderate the quantities and treat yourself, you can still have a healthy life style and treat yourself now and then as well.

8:  Drink More Water. This may be greatly overlooked.  The CDC claims 43% of Americans drink less than 4 cups of water per day.  An extra cup of water in the morning will help kick in your metabolism and allows better digestion with meals.  If you’re looking to lose weight, having a full glass or two with meals will help you feel fuller and cut back on extra calories.

9:  Walk More. One of the simplest changes you can make if you don’t have much time for exercise is to increase the amount of walking you do.  This will help increase blood flow and heart rate.  Park farther from buildings, take the stairs, or take a walk around your home or office during breaks.

10:  Think Small. Making large changes to your life style or habits can seem very daunting.  Change a single simple thing, or a few small changes.  Focusing on small changes or adjustments to your lifestyle are both attainable and rewarding.  These smaller decisions are less stressful and will have a positive impact on your health.

Once you’ve made even the slightest change for a healthier lifestyle, more opportunities will be available to continue down that path.  Before you know it, your lifestyle for 2015 will be the healthiest yet.


AVACNY Teaching Day Symposium

On Friday November 7th, AVACNY held their annual Teaching Day Symposium at the Craftsman Inn and Conference Center in Syracuse NY.  With over 100 attendees and 21 sponsors, the event was a huge success.  Upstate HomeCare proudly sponsors the group and volunteers from our Syracuse Branch ran the sponsor table.  Lorissa(Syracuse Branch Manager), Maryann(Syracuse Supervising Pharmacist), and Cindy(Syracuse PICC certified RN) met with attendees through-out the day to answer questions about Upstate’s services or policies.  They also heard many generous compliments of what Upstate HomeCare offers and does from their peers or communities.    Nurses came from all of New York State to attend the event.

Speakers covered a wide range of topics; from topics on Blood Culture Collection and Modern Vascular Access, to Intraosseous Vascular Access and Sonoguided Short Catheter Insertion.  The following speakers made presentations this year:

  • Stephanie Pitts MSN, RN, CPN, VA-BC™ (sponsored by Angiodynamics) presented Reaching New Heights in Understanding Catheter Related Venous Thrombosis.
  • Nadine Nakazawa BS, RN,OCN, VA-BC™ (sponsored by Carefusion) presented Improving Blood Culture Collection.
  • Dr. Jack LaDonne MD VA-BC™(Sponsored by Ethicon/Biopatch) presented Modern Vascular Access.
  • Lynn Hadaway M, Ed., RN, BC, CRNI (sponsored by 2M) presented SHEA Compendium 2014 Update on CLABSI.
  • Dan Smith RN, BSN, CFRN, CEN (sponsored by Teleflex/Arrow) presented The Science of Intraosseous Vascular Access.
  • Robert B. Dawson DNP, MSA, APRN, ACNP-BC, CPUI, VA-BC™ presented Vascular Access in 10cm or Less: Limits and Keys to Success with Sonoguided Short Catheter Insertion.

After a brief introduction by Jan Elliott BS, RN, VA-BC™, CRNI, President of AVACNY; the speakers took the podium each within their time slot and engaged the audience with a wealth of insight and followed each presentation with a polite Q&A.  With the largest turnout to date for the CNY chapter of AVA, this Teaching Day resulted in enthusiastic attendees and sponsors who complimented how well the day went.  Upstate HomeCare had a very strong presence among the sponsors and made many new contacts as well as helping with the documentation that was prepared for each attendee.  Everyone assisting with the event are looking forward to the future events and the Craftsmen Inn provided excellent service and support the entire day in addition to the excellent Conference Area.

For more information, see below for AVACNY’s website and other resources.


AVA National:

Craftsmen Inn and Conference Center:

“Internet of Things”

What is this “Internet of Things?” (IoT)
You may have heard someone mention the “Internet of Things” in conversation or in an article and skipped right past it.  The internet has been around in its modern form since the 1990’s and although it is constantly evolving, the way we think about it hasn’t changed all that much.  With the addition of smart phones, watches, and even smart household appliances; the reality about the internet and the communication that is utilizing it has become more complex.

The “Internet of Things” refers to any device that can connect to the internet. The IoT can be people to people, people to device, or device to device communications via the internet.  Or as defined by the U.S. National Intelligence Council: “The “Internet of Things” is the general idea of things, especially everyday objects, that are readable, recognizable, locatable, addressable, and controllable via the Internet – whether via RFID, wireless LAN, wide-area network, or other means.”  Traditionally this included tablets, phones, and desktop computers; but now can be sensors of an automated home, health sensors in/on patients, even elevators or sensors in flooring.  With technology advancing in such a way as to reduce the CPU, space, and power consumption required by these devices, the applications have become widespread and will continue to grow.

What does this mean for the health industry? Already several devices are out that will track your steps taken, calories burned, and heart rate.  These devices can be tied in to a wireless connection and may eventually monitor your physical health close enough to alert an outside party of your condition.  Medical staff may have the ability to remotely monitor pacemakers or the nutrition of elderly patients.  Sensors in smart clothing now monitor athlete’s to alert of heat stroke and dehydration, similar technology applied to patients in hospitals could improve the general well being of patients across the board.

The possibilities of the IoT in our lives is endless. We may not see an impact over night, but the utilization of smart technology in our lives could have huge benefits.  Smart cars can detect in advance if a traffic accident has occurred along your route of travel.  Smart elevators can learn what floors have the highest traffic and minimize wait times.  Our environment can be monitored as well as infrastructures such as bridges and roadways to increase safety.  Although the utilization of these technologies will take more testing and resources before they can be implemented, their impact will be seen all around us.

References and additional reading for more information, see articles below:

Benefits of Social Media

Health Care and Social Media

Social Media has taken such a foothold in our society that it should be noted what the benefits  have become in regards to the health industry.  Issues such as the Ebola outbreak, ALS bucket challenge, and suicide discussions; have all been at the forefront of social media.  With more than 67 percent of physicians on social media for professional purposes as reported by the Federation of State Medical Boards, the beneficial uses are abundant.  Not only are large campaigns and international health news finding their way on social media, but individual users are finding broad audiences to search for answers to health questions and/or fellow survivors or patients of certain ailments.


National health news is a major topic on social media.  With the speed at which information travels via these networks, health news spreads faster than ever before.  Incidents like the Boston Marathon Bombing in April of 2013, used to take days to reach as many people compared to the hours it took to reach millions of Americans and the world.  The reach of the news is only part of the picture however.  Health professionals and rescue personnel were then able to respond much faster and were more prepared for the aftermath.  Nearby hospitals already knew when people would be coming in without having to wait for a news broadcast on TV or radio.  Incidents like the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria used to only show up on the nightly news or as a footnote on some health websites.  Now the CDC and the World Health Organization, along with other similar sites; post detailed information on their social networks clarifying the situation and informing the public of precautions being taken.  With the ability to follow these organizations without having to manually search for their sites on a regular basis, health professionals receive updates and important posts automatically.

Charities and Health Causes

Recently, the ALS Association created a fund raising and awareness campaign called the “Ice Bucket Challenge.”  Traditionally these associations have relied on walks, events, and media efforts to spread the word and raise much needed funds for their cause.  This recent effort by the ALS Association has spread across social media unlike campaigns of the past raising traffic to ALS related websites and raising over 41 million dollars so far.  Social Media makes campaigns like these work and other health organizations will be looking for similar ways to raise awareness.  Even the more traditional walks and events now reach more followers and possible donors through videos, events, and photos; posted to the several social media outlets.  Charities using social media have seen an increase by approximately 40% in their fundraising campaigns, a study by Charity Dynamics and Blackbaud found.  National charities post news on breakthroughs and events regularly on their social networks spreading the news as fast as possible and driving as much traffic and potential donors to their sites.

Personal Impact

The impact Social Media can have on a personal level tends to be overlooked.  Serious health issues such as depression and other mental health illnesses are extremely difficult to face.  Coping with a terminal illness or disability has always been very difficult resulting in depression or other ailments.  The deaths of celebrities such as Heath Ledger and now Robin Williams, bring to the forefront in the media the terrible results of serious depression and other mental illnesses.  Social Media has become a place where those dealing with those illnesses can talk to each other and their health care professionals without the anxiety or pressure of setting up appointments or worrying about the right time to bring their issues up in conversation.  Physicians, nurses, and psychiatrists have begun creating separate accounts on social media specifically to address their patients and the growing need for faster methods of communication.  The ability to connect with others with similar questions or needs has never been as easy as it is now with Social Media.

The Next Level

In the past, Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter appeared to be more of a fad and was for the younger generation for sharing photos with friends, without much use for professional networks.  Today it appears things are changing and Social Media is maturing in a way that can be very beneficial to our health care industry.  By connecting world health concerns and news with health professionals globally; greater strides can be achieved in research and studies of modern health issues.  Individuals can stay in contact with their personal care physicians and support groups more often resulting in proper support or diagnosis when needed.  And with advanced methods of fund raising and awareness building, charities can raise the funds necessary to provide their support and services to the health issues we continue to face.   Social Media is here to stay, but the impact on health care looks bright and rewarding.


USNEWS:  Health Care Harnesses Social Media

ALS Association Ice Bucket Challenge

World Health Organization

Blackbaud and Charity Dynamics Study

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention