Albany County Legislature bans tobacco sales in pharmacies

Albany County Legislature

The American Heart Association applauds the Albany County Legislature tonight, as it voted to ban the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies. The county Legislature approved Local Law A 26 – 11, with one abstention.

“This is a great step forward for the health of Albany County residents,” said Caitlin O’Brien, New York state government relations director for the American Heart Association. “Smoking remains a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 5 killers in America. To have tobacco products sold in pharmacies, that are designed to improve health, never made any sense. The American Heart Association thanks the Albany County Legislature for passing this law tonight.”

The law now goes to Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy for his signature. Before that, there must be a public hearing.

Albany County was among the first to raise the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products to 21,” O’Brien said. “We’re looking forward to having the County Executive further make Albany County a leader in making the healthy choice the easy choice by signing this law.”








Update From Albany: Changes, Lobby Day Approaches

Heart Association advocates will return to the Capitol on May 8.

With the American Heart Association’s Tobacco 21 lobby day set for May 8, a strong show of support will go a long way. Help us protect the health of our youth by letting elected officials know that you support raising the minimum legal sales age of tobacco products to 21.

You may have heard about the political unrest currently going on in the New York Senate. A breakaway group of Democrats, called the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), who had previously caucused with the Republicans, decided to rejoin the mainline Democrats in hopes to create a Senate controlled by the Democratic Party. After the Democrats gained two seats in a special election at the end of April, the Democrats where only one seat away from becoming the majority party. This one seat deficit is due in part to Senator Felder, a Democrat who votes with the Republicans.

So, why does all this matter for our Tobacco 21 legislation? Well, Tobacco 21’s Senate sponsor, a former IDC member, is now in the minority. By showing your support, you can increase the chances of getting this common-sense legislation passed this year.

Now more than ever legislators need to hear from you. Social media is a great way to get involved. Below is a list of key legislators and their twitter handles as well as some Facebook and Twitter messages you can use. You can also tweet, call or write to your own elected legislator.

John J. Flanagan  @LeaderFlanagan

Kemp Hannon   @HannonSenate

Simcha Felder    @NYSenatorFelder

John DeFrancisco @JohnDeFrancisco

Richard Funke   @SenatorFunke

Catharine Young  @SenatorYoung

Carl Heastie        @CarlHeastie

Joseph Lentol    @assemblymanjoe

Andrew Hevesi @AndrewHevesi 

Suggested Facebook posts or tweets regarding Tobacco 21

Half a million New Yorkers live with serious smoking-caused illnesses and disabilities. Let’s stop smoking before it starts by passing #Tobacco21. @YourLegislator #LifeIsWhyNY @AHANewYork

If someone reaches the age of 21 without smoking, the chance of them ever doing so plummets to 2%. Protect our youth by passing #Tobacco21. @YourLegislator #LifeIsWhyNY @AHANewYork

28,000 people in New York die annually from tobacco use. It’s time to change that. Passing #Tobacco 21 will prevent death and disability connected to stroke. @YourLegisaltor. #LifeIsWhyNY. @AHANewYork

Smoking is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. 95% of smokers start before turning 21. 95%! Passing #Tobacco21 can stop that. @YourLegislator #LifeIsWhyNY. @AHANewYork



The Red Couch Tour arrives at the Y on April 24

Leigh Hornbeck

The third stop of the Red Couch Tour is almost here! On Tuesday, April 24, at the Southern Saratoga Y, you can join host Leigh Hornbeck of the Times Union on the red couch presented by the American Heart Association and Ellis Medicine, and share your story of how heart disease and stroke has affected you.

The Heart Association and Ellis invite survivors, caregivers, and anyone affected by heart disease or stroke to join us at “The Red Couch Tour” and share their story.  Leigh will ask about your experience and what you want others to know.

Heart disease is our nation’s No. 1 killer, and stroke is No. 5. Come take a seat on our red couch to share, or be in the audience to be inspired and educated.

Here’s info about Stop No. 3! Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 24

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Southern Saratoga YMCA

1 Wall St., Clifton Park

Moderator: Leigh Hornbeck, reporter, Times Union and Women@Work

For questions, or to let the Heart Association know you’d like to share your story (pre-registration not needed!), call Sharon Horton, Development Director, Go Red for Women at 518.626.8754 or email Sharon.horton@heart.org or Jessica Pettengill, Development Director, Heart Walk at 518.626. 8768 or jessica.pettengill@heart.org.




Two survivors chair Go Red for Women Luncheon

Dr. Joy Lucas

Hope Plavin

On a Thursday evening in March 2015, Dr. Joy Lucas, owner of Upstate Animal Medical Center in Saratoga Springs, didn’t feel right. But she kept on about her business, working 12-hour days, taking her four-mile runs, and doing her intense workouts at the gym. The following Tuesday, after her chiropractor made her promise to go to the emergency department, she went home, kissed her animals, then went to the Glens Falls emergency room. She was diagnosed with a Type A Dissecting Aortic Aneurysm and told she would die without surgery.

Her request for a second opinion was answered with, “You move, you die.”

Lucas was taken by helicopter to Albany Med, where Dr. Louis Britton operated on her.

Hope Plavin is a senior consultant at Health Management Associates. Seven years ago, she was out for her regular Sunday run when she collapsed in a ditch. Luckily, a neighbor looked out his window, saw her fall and called 9-1-1. The healthy, 51-year-old had suffered a stroke. She was taken to Saratoga Hospital, then transferred to Albany Med, where Dr. Junichi Yamamoto put six platinum coils in her head to create a barrier where an aneurysm had burst, destroying vessels in her brain.

Plavin was at Albany Med for three weeks and spent six more months between home and Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital. She was on pain medication for months to combat the pressure and pain caused by the burst vessels.

“I’ve been told there is no reason I should be alive without disability,” Plavin said. “Every Christmas, I bring the neighbor who saved me a basket of goodies. I’m extremely fortunate.”

Lucas and Plavin are co-chairing the 2018 Go Red For Women Luncheon on May 24 at the Albany Marriott. They hope that their stories will encourage other women to pay attention to their symptoms and to their family history.

“I shouldn’t even be here,” Lucas said. “In the back of my mind, I thought something might be wrong with my heart. My father was 60 when he also died of a dissecting aortic aneurysm. I got my life back, and my mission now is to make sure other women with symptoms don’t ignore them like I did.”

“Like many, with 20/20 hindsight, I should have known I was at risk for a stroke,” Plavin said. “My mother dropped dead at 60 in a restroom. We didn’t have an autopsy done, but it was probably a stroke. I had no risk factors; it was all genetics. My brother and sister have been advised to get checked, and my 28-year-old son will also need to be checked when he is 40.”

Lucas, who shared her story at the 2017 Capital Region Heart Ball at the Hall of Springs, asked Plavin to co-chair the 2018 Go Red for Women Luncheon with her. The day she asked was a significant one for Plavin: It was the one-year anniversary of Plavin’s husband’s death from cancer.

“This is the world giving me the opportunity to give back,” Plavin said of her decision to co-chair.
Lucas is a native of Wellston, Ohio. Her undergraduate degree is from Ohio Dominican University and her DVM is from the University of Tennessee. She has owned Upstate Animal Medical Center since 2001. She has a strong interest in avian and exotic animals. She lives in Saratoga Springs and is a devoted Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

Plavin worked at United Health Care and in several positions at the New York state Department of Health before joining Health Management Associates. She grew up in New York City. Her undergraduate degree is from SUNY Stony Brook, and she holds a Master’s of Public Administration from Rockefeller College, SUNY Albany, as well as a Master’s of Health Care Delivery Science from Dartmouth College. She also has a certificate of completion for the Shaping Healthcare Delivery Policy Program, Health Care Delivery Science, from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

For information about the 2018 Capital Region Go Red for Women Luncheon, visit www.CapitalREgionNYGoRedLUncheon.heart.org or call 518.626.8754.

About the Go Red For Women Luncheon 

The 2018 Capital Region Go Red for Women Luncheon is set for Thursday, May 24 at the Albany Marriott, 189 Wolf Road, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. There will be a Festival of Red that includes the Purse-Onality auction, an educational session, health screenings and information, followed by a heart-healthy lunch, the introduction of the BetterU, and survivor stories. Dr. Joy Lucas of Upstate Animal Medical Center, and Hope Plavin of Health Management Associates, are co-chairs of the Luncheon. Benita Zahn of WNYT NewsChannel 13 will emcee the Luncheon. Macy’s and CVS are national sponsors of the Go Red for Women movement. Albany Med is the American Heart Association’s Life is Why sponsor in the Capital Region. Local sponsors include Upstate Animal Medical Center, CDPHP, CAP COM, Price Chopper/Market 32, SEFCU and St. Peter’s Health Partners. Women@Work is the media sponsor of the BetterU. Other media sponsors re WNYT, B95.5, All Over Albany and the Albany Business Review. For information, contact 518.626.8754 or Sharon.Horton@heart.org.



Update From Albany

Caitlin O’Brien, the Heart Association’s government relations director, brings us an Update From Albany.

With New York State finalizing the state budget this past weekend, the Heart Association scored some great public health wins. With the Governor threatening to cut millions of dollars in funding to crucial public health programs, AHA staff and advocates worked hard to make sure this didn’t come to fruition. After months of email, calls, and meetings with elected officials, our hard work paid off and the cuts were rejected in the final budget. This means programs like the Hypertension Program, aimed at reducing rates of heart disease and stroke, will continue to get $692,000 in critical funding. Additionally, the Obesity/Diabetes Prevention Program received $5.9 million, which will help people in communities across the State live healthier lives. Lastly, our elected officials held steady funding aimed at tobacco cessation in the Tobacco Control Program.

As we look toward the rest of the legislative session, we have plenty of policy priorities to support. Here is what we will be focusing on:

  • Raising the minimum legal sales age of tobacco products to 21 through the passage of Tobacco 21.
  • Prohibiting flavored tobacco products which the tobacco industry targets to youth
  • Instituting healthy vending machines throughout state owned properties
  • Offering healthier, non-sugary beverages in children’s meals at restaurants


  • Join us on May 8 for Lobby Day at the New York State Capitol to push for the passage of Tobacco 21. Email me at Caitlin.Obrien@heart.org to learn more or sign up.
  • Take action when you get an email from You’re the Cure! With one click, you can let your legislator know that you support the American Heart Association’s initiatives.

The New York State Budget: The Good, The Bad, and How You Can Help


Caitlin O’Brien, New York State Government Relations Director

Caitlin O’Brien, the government relations director for New York, brings us an update on the New York state budget, and how it affects the policies and programs we need to help all New Yorkers fight heart disease and stroke. The Assembly and Senate have proposed their one-house budget bills which lay out the policies and legislation they hope to see enacted in the final State Budget. These bills, along with the Governor’s proposed budget, will lay the framework for the negotiations between the Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator John Flanagan; the Speaker of the Assembly, Carl Heastie; and Governor Cuomo.

The Good

  • Both the state Assembly and state Senate rejected consolidation of all the public health programs into one pool. They further propose restoring funding to critically important and lifesaving public health programs. Two programs that provide resources, education, and prevention to New Yorkers across the state, the Hypertension Program and the Obesity/Diabetes Prevention Program, were at risk of being cut an astonishing 20%! These cuts would mean less money and resources going to preventing diseases like hypertension, heart disease, and type II diabetes. We’re glad the state Legislature understands the importance of these programs, and hope Gov. Cuomo will keep them in the final budget.

The Bad

  • The state Senate included some provisions detrimental to public health when they proposed removing a tax on e-cigarettes. A slight increase in the price of these products would mean fewer youth becoming addicted.
  • They also proposed a provision that would require that both the Assembly and Senate could only increase tobacco tax revenue with a two-thirds vote. We know from the declining rates of cigarette smoking after the imposition of a cigarette tax, that tobacco taxes work, especially amongst young adults. Making it harder to establish a tax on products like chewing tobacco and little cigars, the products young adults frequently use, will have a negative impact on health.
  • In addition, the Senate is proposing a stay of enforcement for the Tobacco Product Settlement Agreement provisions. These provisions require tobacco manufacturers to give millions of dollars to New York based on years of misleading the public on the dangerous effect of tobacco. This money, in part, goes to fund tobacco prevention in New York. The stay of enforcement means New York would not be able to collect these helpful funds.

What YOU can do

  • Contact Sen. Flanagan, R-East Northport, temporary president and majority leader of the New York state Senate,  and ask that he continues to support public health by:
    • making sure the final budget rejects consolidation and cuts to Hypertension and Obesity/Diabetes,
    • ensuring New York continues to fight against the tobacco industry,
    • making sure dangerous tobacco products stay out of the hands of our youth.
  • You can reach Sen. Flanagan at 631-361-2154; 518-455-2071; or flanagan@nysenate.gov. He is on Facebook as John Flanagan.
  • Join us on May 8th for Tobacco 21 Lobby Day where we let our legislators know how important keeping tobacco products out of the hands of our youth is.

Mission: Lifeline work earns Donald Led Duke Heart Hero award for two doctors

Dr. Edward Philbin

Dr. Michael Dailey

Getting the most appropriate care in the quickest manner to a patient suffering the most severe kind of heart attack, a STEMI, is the goal of the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program.

For the past two years, Edward Philbin III, MD, the George E. Pataki Chair of the Division of Cardiology at Albany Med, and Michael Dailey, MD, Chief of Prehospital and Operational Medicine in the Department of Emergency Medicine and attending physician at Albany Med, and medical director, Regional Emergency Management Organization, brought together 12 Capital Region hospitals, all the regional EMS councils and the state Department of Health to study how well the Capital Region can provide that care. Drs. Philbin and Dailey had secured the funding to study this from Duke University, in a grant called the Mission: Lifeline Accelerator II project. Albany was one of 12 regions nationwide that were part of The Accelerator II Study.

For their work, Drs. Philbin and Dailey will receive the Donald Led Duke Heart Hero Award at the Capital Region Heart Ball on Saturday, March 3, at the New York State Museum in Albany.

The Mission: Lifeline study brought good news. The intervention resulted in significant improvements in the proportion of patients getting treatment within a crucial 90-minute window to restore blood flow. In the intervention, 74 percent of patients were treated on time vs. 67 percent prior to the intervention.

Improved treatment times corresponded with far fewer deaths. Among patients brought to PCI-capable centers (centers that can perform procedures) by EMS, in-hospital deaths fell to 2.3 percent during the program from 4.4 percent prior. Heart failure as a complication fell from 7.4 percent to 5 percent between the baseline and final quarters of the intervention.

“I’d like to congratulate Ed and Mike for this award, and congratulate the whole Capital Region that worked on this,” said Christopher Granger, M.D., cardiologist, professor of medicine, Duke University, and co-principal investigator on the Mission: Lifeline Accelerator II study. “This was a key part of the most ambitious program that’s ever been conducted in the U.S. to improve heart attack care. Albany and the Capital Region improved the time to treatment for patients being transferred from one hospital to a PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) center to have the artery opened that caused the heart attack, and improved care for patients being brought directly to PCI centers. That means your neighbors, friends and community members are much more likely to survive a heart attack than they were three years ago.”

 “It is an honor to receive this award,” said Dr. Philbin. “More than that, it was an honor to work on this project with all of the stakeholders in the Capital Region. It was truly a collaborative effort, and the result is that it will save lives. In our world, real heroes are people who strive to prevent heart disease, or fight to survive and recover when it afflicts them. Because of the community’s commitment to Mission: Lifeline, we will be meeting more survivors.” 

“This award goes to so many people,” said Dr. Dailey. “EMS, hospitals, the Department of Health, the American Heart Association — everyone came together with the common goal of improving the way that heart attack is treated from the minute that someone calls 911 or arrives at a hospital. We often had to put aside our personal or corporate interests, and it has been profoundly moving to see people do that to improve the survival rate in the Capital Region.”

Dr. Edward Philbin is a cardiologist for adults with expertise in heart failure and heart transplant care. Dr. Philbin is a past president of the Founders Affiliate Board and the Northeast Board of the American Heart Association, and past president of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association. He received his medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and did his residencies at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton, Mass., and the V.A. Hospital and Medical Center in West Roxbury, Mass. He had a clinical research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He and his family live in Loudonville, NY. 

Dr. Michael Dailey received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and did his residency in emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the medical director of the Regional Emergency Medical Organization, and several EMS agencies. He and his wife Robin live in Delmar with their two boys.

“Drs. Philbin and Dailey have led a project that is truly saving lives in the Capital Region,” said Kathy Lanni, chief community officer at SEFCU and chair of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association. “The American Heart Association congratulates them for making our community a safer and healthier place to live.”

Named for the late Donald Led Duke, the Donald Led Duke Heart Hero award honors a member or members of the community who make the area a better place to live.


Retired Navy pilot to share his story at the Heart Ball

Because everything worked out right, Henna Hanrahan is still here, enjoying time with his family.

Robert “Henna” Hanrahan had one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. He was a Navy pilot for 10 years, and stayed in the Reserves after leaving the Navy. He flew a helicopter for the New York state Department of Conservation, which then merged with the State Police.

It wasn’t this dangerous job that threatened Henna’s life, but his heart.

Henna was having a quiet evening at home on June 20, 2104, with his wife, Marri Aviza, owner of Rumors Salon. They were watching “Shark Tank” in their living room.

That was the first in a chain of lucky coincidences for Henna, who was much more likely to be in his “man cave” than in his living room. But another in the chain of luck for Henna that evening was that Marri had gone out with friends, but decided to return home.

As they were watching TV, Marri noticed that Henna didn’t look so good.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, I felt like a 30,” he said. “Marri said she wanted to call 911, but I said no, and went to get an aspirin. I walked to the bathroom, took the aspirin, then fell backwards. That’s all I remember.”

Marri remembers more. “I called 911 and started CPR,” she said. “We had learned it at the hospital because our twin daughters were born prematurely. I did it for seven long minutes before EMS arrived. When they rang the bell, and the dispatcher on the phone told me to answer the door, I didn’t want to. I was afraid to leave Henna.”

The next lucky coincidence for Henna came when the paramedics arrived in 3 to 4 minutes. Instead of taking a direct route back to Albany Med, they were taking the scenic route down Route 9, close to Henna and Mary’s home.

“Some of the medics were people I had flown when we were doing rescue missions,” Henna said. “They paddled me, and put an oxygen mask on my face. They took me to the emergency department at St. Peter’s.”

Five days later, Henna had a defibrillator implanted to control his ventricular tachycardia. His heart rate had been at 270 beats per minute.

“I was 61 and a half years old,” Henna said. “I couldn’t fly any more. I retired, and was lucky to have a year of time set aside. If this had happened three or four years earlier, it would have been much harder. The house we live in also saved my life. We had just about paid off our other house, but Marri wanted to live closer to her business. EMS was so close to this house that night. When I write the mortgage check, I think of it.”

Henna still takes a big motorcycle trip each year, and enjoys the time he spends with his 10-year-old twin daughters, Simi and Zoe. He coaches his daughter’s basketball team.

“I thank God every day that I’m alive,” Henna said. “If things hadn’t gone as they did, the girls wouldn’t have remembered their father.”

Henna, Mari, Simi and Zoe also travel frequently.

“We have a good life,” Henna said. “I go back to my pilot mentality – I’m one of the luckiest people alive.”

Henna will share his story at the Capital Region Heart Ball on Saturday, March 3.


Three hospital leaders to co-chair 2018 Capital Region Heart Ball

Dr. Ferdinand Venditti, Jr., Albany Med

Jay Cahalan, Columbia Memorial Health

Angelo Calbone, Saratoga Hospital

Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 5 killers of all Americans. Yet, both diseases can be largely prevented, and every year, thanks to scientific advances brought about by research, treatment improves.

To continue that good work, leaders from Albany Med, Saratoga Hospital and Columbia Memorial Health have come together to lead the fight against heart disease and stroke at the American Heart Association’s Capital Region Heart Ball on Saturday, March 3, at the New York State Museum, 222 Madison Ave., Albany, from 6 to 11 p.m.

Dr. Ferdinand J. Venditti, Jr., executive vice president for System Care Delivery and hospital general director of Albany Med; Angelo Calbone, president and CEO of Saratoga Hospital; and Jay Cahalan, president and CEO of Columbia Memorial Health, are co-chairing the event.

Calbone and Cahalan were two of the three recipients of the Donald Led Duke Heart Hero Award at last year’s Heart Ball.

Dr. Venditti, a board-certified cardiologist, first came to Albany Med in 1999 as the Richard T. Beebe Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine. After serving more than 10 years as chair, he was appointed vice dean for Clinical Affairs at Albany Medical College in 2008, where he assumed responsibility for the management of all aspects of the Albany Med Faculty Physicians Practice, which currently has more than 500 full-time physicians practicing in more than 35 sites throughout the Capital Region. In January 2016, Dr. Venditti was appointed executive vice president for System Care Delivery and hospital general director, where he is now responsible for all aspects of the clinical care delivered at the main Albany Med campus on New Scotland Avenue.

Before joining Albany Med, Dr. Venditti was on the faculty of the Boston University School of Medicine and was later a faculty member of Harvard Medical School while on staff at Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass. A Schenectady native, he graduated from St. Lawrence University and the State University of New York at Brooklyn Medical School, and completed his medicine residency at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and his cardiology training at Boston University Medical Center. He trained in cardiac electrophysiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

“I’m truly honored to join Angelo and Jay in co-chairing this year’s Capital Region Heart Ball,” said Dr. Venditti. “Albany Med is known regionally for our leading-edge cardiac services, pioneering research in preventing heart attacks and strokes and for delivering quality, compassionate care. Over the past year, our affiliation with Saratoga Hospital and Columbia Memorial Hospital has allowed us to collaborate in a number of areas and further advance cardiac care throughout our region.”

Calbone has been president and CEO of Saratoga Hospital since 2006. Under his leadership, the hospital has invested tens of millions in facilities, technology and talent. The hospital also has taken significant steps—including affiliating with Albany Medical Center in January 2017—to secure the future of quality healthcare in Saratoga County. Already, the affiliation has enabled Saratoga Hospital to bring lifesaving 24/7 emergency cardiac interventional services to the Saratoga region.

Before joining Saratoga Hospital, Calbone was president and CEO of Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and Health Center in Lewiston/Niagara Falls, New York, and CEO of the Health System of Niagara. A graduate of West Liberty State College in West Virginia, he has a master’s in health services administration from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He lives in Saratoga Springs with his wife, Kate.

“We have an opportunity, as healthcare organizations and as individuals, to raise awareness about heart disease—and how to prevent it,” Calbone said. “We’re making progress. Deaths due to cardiovascular disease are on the decline, but we are still losing more than 600,000 Americans a year to this disease. We can and must do better.”

Cahalan is president and CEO of Columbia Memorial Health. He joined CMH in 1994 as its chief operating officer, and served as executive vice president before being named president and CEO in 2012. Cahalan was instrumental in building CMH’s Physician network and led the Hospital to its groundbreaking Affiliation with Albany Med. Prior to joining CMH, Cahalan was vice president of diagnostic services for Windham Hospital in Willimantic, Conn. Cahalan holds masters’ degrees from the University of Connecticut, and Champlain College in Burlington, Vt. He completed his undergraduate degree at Southern Connecticut State University. He lives in Athens, NY, with his wife Leila.

“Awareness and prevention go hand in hand, and the American Heart Association has achieved tremendous results. But there is still much more to be done,” said Cahalan. “The recent integration of cardiology services between CMH and Albany Med was an important step in providing seamless cardiac care to our service area. It’s an example of partnership that we know will help the American Heart Association meet is critical mission of preventing heart disease and stroke.”

“Nearly everyone has been affected by heart disease and stroke in one way or another,” said Kathy Lanni, chief community officer of SEFCU and chair of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association. “We’re honored that these three community leaders are leading this event, which will help us fulfill our mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.”

For information or to purchase tickets, visit CapitalRegionNYHeartBall.heart.org.






Valentine’s Day Rally Urges Legislature To Maintain Public Health Programs

Caitlin O’Brien, center, at mic, New York state government relations director for the American Heart Association, speaks during the public health rally at the state Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 14. The American Heart Association was one of 17 groups invested in public health that gathered to urge the state Legislature to reject the executive budget’s proposed consolidation and 20 % cut to public health programs. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan and chair of the Assembly Health Committee, and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, also joined the group.

The state’s Asthma Program. Funding to fight high blood pressure. The Obesity and Diabetes Program. The Physically Handicapped Children’s program. Maternal and child health programs.

Those are just some of the programs that could suffer under the proposed executive budget, which calls for a consolidation of public health spending, and a 20 percent reduction of that spending. That follows last year’s 20 percent cut.

Today, Wednesday, Feb. 14, at the New York State Capitol, representatives from some of the 17 groups that advocate for public health gathered to oppose the consolidation. Assembly members Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, chair of the Assembly Health Committee; and Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, joined the groups.

“Obesity and high blood pressure are enormous risk factors for heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 5 killers in America,” said Cardiologist Dr. Suzie Mookherjee, a member of the American Heart Association’s Founders Affiliate Board. “The Obesity and Diabetes Prevention Program and the Hypertension Program can help people live the kind of healthy lifestyle that reduces their risk of these chronic – too often fatal – diseases. Obesity-related diseases cost the state $11.8 billion annually. The American Heart Association urges the Legislature to reject the consolidation and cuts to public health programs, and invest in the health of all New Yorkers.”

“Cutting services to kids and families suffering with chronic illnesses is unconscionable – especially when the services and programs on the chopping block have already proven to be an effective means to improving public health and saving the state money on healthcare costs,” said Kristina Wieneke, Director of Public Policy for the American Lung Association in New York. “These programs have served as models of success for the country, with the State Asthma Program alone serving over 67,000 children with asthma and showing results when it comes to keeping kids out of emergency rooms.  Why should the state budget be balanced on their backs?”

“The American Diabetes Association is very disappointed that Governor Cuomo is again proposing to reduce health department funds, threatening cuts for obesity and type 2 diabetes prevention,” said Stephen Habbe, director, state government affairs for the American Diabetes Association. “Obesity is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.  More than 2 million adults already have diabetes in New York, devastating so many lives and costing more than $21 billion annually.  The ADA urges legislators to maintain funding for the state’s critical work to address obesity and reduce the associated burden of diabetes.”

“The YMCA has a long-standing commitment to community health programming,” said Kyle Stewart, Executive Director of the Alliance of New York State YMCAs. “We stand with our partners to ensure adequate funding and resources for chronic disease prevention and management initiatives. We call on the Legislature to oppose funding cuts and consolidation of vital public health programs that benefit millions of New Yorkers.”

“We cannot afford to burden New Yorkers with the proposed budget cuts. The cost of doing so will be detrimental to our communities,” said Erin Sinisgalli, MPH, MCHES, executive director New York State Public Health Association. “Public Health funding has allowed us to accomplish things such as supporting moms who are learning to breastfeed, training school teachers to incorporate physical activity into the school day and making streets safer for children to walk and bike to school- all proven strategies that help to prevent childhood obesity. Turning the clocks back on this progress will have a devastating impact on generations to come.”

“The New York State Association of Rural Health urges the state Legislature to reject the Governor’s proposal to combine 30 disease prevention, patient support and health workforce appropriations and to reduce aggregate funding by 20%,” said Jackie Leaf, executive director of the New York State Association of Rural Health. “These proposed cuts will result in job losses, and with their multiplying effects, will have a direct damaging impact on fragile rural economies.  These programs save both lives and money!  Evidence-based lifestyle, screening and supportive services provided by NYSARH members further the state’s goals to reduce the impact of chronic diseases, reduce emergency room utilization, enhance access to care and develop healthier rural residents.”

“Communities like the Bronx with the poorest health outcomes in the entire state of New York, but where great community health initiatives are underway, cannot afford any loss in public health dollars,” said Charmaine Ruddock, Project Director at the Institute for Family Health’s Bronx Health REACH.

“Local health departments are deeply committed to the advancement of New York State’s Prevention Agenda. Programs to combat chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and other smoking-related diseases, diabetes, adult and childhood obesity, children’s asthma, maternal and infant mortality, are only a handful of the programs now at risk for continuation due to this proposed cut,” said Dr. Carol Smith, commissioner of health and mental health for Ulster County, and president of the New York State Association of County Health Officials. “A 20% reduction will negatively impact programs that support the Governor’s Prevention Agenda, his Health Across the Lifespan initiative, the Women’s agenda, and the First 1,000 Days on Medicaid, Value-Based Payment, and DSRIP goals. We need to strengthen our own New York State health protection infrastructure, historically supported by local health departments with deep ties to the communities they serve, and restore the funding so seriously needed.”

“The New York State AHEC (Area Health Education Center) System is a proven health workforce leader from pipeline to practice,” said Leishia B. Smallwood, MPA, Director, New York State AHEC System. “Using cost-effective, outcomes-driven strategies, AHECs keep much-needed skills and talents in New York. The draconian budget proposal for consolidation and another 20% cut would make it impossible for AHEC to continue to provide these essential programs to our communities. We strongly urge that this proposal be rejected in the final state budget.”

The groups calling for the maintenance of the public health programs are:

  • The American Heart Association
  • The American Lung Association
  • The Alliance of New York State YMCAs
  • The American Diabetes Association
  • Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation
  • The New York State Association for Rural Health
  • The Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy
  • The New York State Area Health Education Center
  • The University of Rochester
  • The New York State Academy of Family Physicians
  • The New York State Public Health Association
  • Leading Age New York
  • The Medical Society of the State of New York
  • The Empire State Association of Assisted Living
  • The Association of Perinatal Networks of New York
  • The New York State Association of County Health Officials
  • The March of Dimes