Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Nourish a Neighbor in Need

Add healthy food donations to your holiday list this year. 
One of the things I like best about this time of year is the spirit of giving that fills the air. Thinking about gifts to purchase or make for family and friends, makes me happy. The idea of giving to those in our community who may not have anyone to make their holidays brighter also fills me with a sense of well-being.

Since a large part of my work focuses on increasing the availability of healthy and affordable foods for Clinton County residents, healthy food pantry donations are at the top of my giving list. This time of year, the need is high as families struggle to put together a Thanksgiving meal, buy gifts or spend a few spare dollars on a Christmas tree. Providing foods that positively impact someone’s overall health is a goal of mine.

Of course, we want our donation dollars to go as far as possible, so donating bulk items with a long shelf life makes sense. But during the holiday season especially, I try to re-frame my thinking. What better time than now to give something extra special, something a family in need may not be able to purchase on their own. Nuts and dried fruits are traditional and healthy holiday fare that fit the bill. Even canned and packaged foods can offer healthier options. Think about choosing canned vegetables with no added salt, canned fruits packed in their own juices with no added sugars, and shelf stable milk products.

Examples of healthy food donations. 
Did you know that most of our area pantries can accept perishable food items? Consider taking your healthy perishable donations directly to the pantry, just call ahead to make sure the pantry you choose can accept these items and ask them when they will have staff available to accept them.

Healthy Donation Food Drive Kit
Healthy giving is important all year round. A healthy diet reduces risk for chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Children who eat healthy foods do better in school and wholesome foods provide seniors with nutrients needed for healthy aging.  

So this holiday season (and throughout the year), nourish a neighbor in need. Make healthy donations to food drives and pantries. Spread the message to others too. If you are a food drive organizer, contact CCHD at 518-565-4993 to receive a free Healthy Donation Food Drive Kit or find suggestions for other healthy donation items at www.clintonhealth.org/healthygiving.

Karen Derusha
Supervising Public Health Educator
Health Planning and Promotion Division   

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

"Just" Baby Teeth?

“They’re just baby teeth and will eventually fall out. Why do we even have to worry about them?” I often get asked this question at check-ups and never feel like I can stress enough how important it is to take good care of those baby teeth.

Did you know that tooth decay in young children is THE most common chronic disease of early childhood? If left untreated tooth decay in children can lead to:
·         Pain,
·         Life threatening infections,
·         Difficulty chewing,
·         Malnutrition,
·         Trouble focusing in school,
·         Crooked adult teeth, and
·         Low self-esteem.
The good news is that most tooth decay and cavities are preventable!

What are cavities?

Cavities are holes in our teeth. They occur when three things mix together: bacteria, sugar (from the food that we eat) and teeth. If we don’t brush and floss regularly the bacteria and sugar build up and form a sticky substance called plaque. The bacteria gets nice and comfy in that plaque and turns the food that we eat into acid. Over time this acid wears down our teeth and a cavity (a hole!) grows.

Source: American Dental Association

Yikes! How can we prevent cavities?
Brush, floss, brush, floss, brush…you get the idea J Brushing your child’s teeth (and yours!) twice each day using a toothpaste with fluoride is the best way to prevent cavities.

When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?

As soon as the first baby tooth erupts! Fluoride is important for baby teeth because it makes the enamel stronger and more resistant to decay. For children younger than three years old you will want to start out using a smear of fluoridated toothpaste, no bigger than a grain of rice. This small amount has been shown to be safe for children. Once your child can spit the toothpaste out, usually around age three, you can start using a pea-sized amount.

Source: American Dental Association

My child grazes on snacks all day, how can I keep his chompers clean?

Offer your child meals and snacks that are low in sugar (carbohydrates). The bacteria in our mouths love sugar and turn it into acid that eats holes in our teeth. The more time sugar is on your child’s teeth, the more likely they are to get a cavity. This is good to know because HOW children eat can be just as important to their teeth as WHAT they eat. Children who graze on snacks throughout the day, or fall asleep with a cup of juice or milk at night, have their teeth swimming in sugars all the time. Here are some tips to curb the carbs: 

·         Opt for protein rich snacks like cheese, nuts and fresh vegetables.
·         Don’t offer snacks after brushing at night.
·         If your child is thirsty in between meals or during the night give them plain water.

What else can I do to protect my child’s pearly whites?

Visit a pediatric dentist! It is recommended to see a pediatric dentist within six months of the first tooth coming in, and no later than age one. Just as you would take your child to well child check-ups, it is important to take him or her to the dentist before a problem develops. This will create positive experiences at the dentist and a foundation of good oral health. Remember, they are not “just baby teeth” they are the building blocks for a lifetime of healthy teeth.

Dr. Christopher Goodell
Lakeshore Pediatric Dentistry  

Sunday, October 6, 2019

What's all the Tizzy about Tummy Time?

You’ve just come home from the hospital with your brand new baby and there are a million and one things to remember and figure out.  Your mother tells you to warm a bottle a certain way, your pediatrician reminds you to call the office to make your first appointment, your sister informs you the brand of diapers you are using aren’t the ‘right ones’…your mind is spinning and all you want to do is sit in peace, snuggle your newborn and take a snooze!  And then your best friend texts to say, ‘Don’t forget about Tummy Time’! Tummy what!?

So…what is ‘Tummy Time’?
o   It’s the time during the day your baby spends on their tummy while they are awake.
o   The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing babies on their backs to sleep and on their tummies to play.

Why is it so important?
o   Tummy Time helps your baby develop their neck, back and shoulder muscles that are needed to meet developmental milestones.
o    It can also help prevent conditions like flat head syndrome and twisted neck (positional torticollis).
o   Your baby needs Tummy Time, gentle touching, holding and eye contact, just as much as they need nutrients to grow and develop!

When can I start Tummy Time with my baby?
o   As soon as your baby comes home from the hospital!

How much Tummy Time does my baby need?
o   Aim for a few minutes at a time, several times a day.
o   Try putting your baby on their tummy for a few minutes after each diaper change.
o   Work up to an hour per day by the time they are 3 months old.

My baby hates Tummy Time, how do I make it fun?
o   Find your baby’s happiest times of day and try it then.
o   Avoid Tummy Time right after a feeding.
o   Sing songs or play music to calm and soothe baby.
o   Use rattles, toys, and mirrors to get their attention.
o   Get down on the floor with them so you are at eye level. Let older siblings in on the fun too! Your baby loves to see your faces and have you on their level to play! J
For more tips and tricks click here. If you are concerned about your child’s development give our Early Intervention Program a call at 518-565-4848.

Have fun and good luck!

Jessica Mathews
Children’s Services Program Specialist
Health Care Services Division 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

How to Nourish Your Way to Victory!

Cooler weather, new school schedules, and back-to-school shopping. Aside from buying the coolest new clothes and shoes, have you thought about what you’ll buy to nourish your children’s bodies every day? Proper  nutrition is essential for all students, especially athletes. Pop quiz! What are the 5 food groups that everyone should include in their diets? If you answered protein, fruit, vegetable, dairy, and grains- you are right! Over the years I have learned how to change my diet so that I can perform at my absolute best in the gym. Here are a few tips on how you can help your kids do the same this year.

They say it’s the “most important meal of the day.” As it turns out, there is some truth behind this old saying and here are a few reasons why.

·         After a full night of rest and no eating, it’s important to refuel your empty tank to kick-start your day.

·         The brain uses 20% of the body’s total energy (or glucose, if we are getting technical). Just like an empty stomach early in the morning, the brain needs to be fed and recharged in order to prepare for the day ahead. If I miss breakfast, I feel foggy and find it hard to concentrate.

·         Starting the day with all 5 food groups puts you one step closer to reaching your MyPlate Plan.


Pre-workout or pre-game snacks should focus mainly on carbohydrates. That’s because they can be easily turned into energy (glucose) during exercise. Adding in some protein is also a good idea. Some of my favorite snacks are:

  •  Banana and a PB&J;
  • Yogurt with granola;
  • Apple with peanut (or any nut) butter.
Lunch and Dinner:

Lunch time is when energy (or, you guessed it, glucose) is put into storage to be used later. Dinner is the time to re-fuel after a hard practice or game. Eating right after exercising is the perfect way to help rebuild and recover muscles. For strong and lean muscles try these recipes:
  •         Turkey pinwheels (on whole wheat wraps) for a great game-day lunch;
  •      Tuna wraps to spice up your lunch and keep you full and focused;
  •      Mediterranean Orzo for a quick and satisfying post-game dinner.

Don’t forget about hydration!

The human body’s thirst reflex is 2 cups behind. This means that when someone feels thirsty, they are already dehydrated. It is important to drink water all day long. Follow these hydration tips on the day of a big game or practice:

·         Drink at least 1-2 cups of water every hour, 2-3 hours leading up to an event;
·         Drink 1 of water cup 15 minutes before the start of the event;
·         Drink ½ cup of water every 15 minutes during the event.
TRUE OR FALSE: The number one reason athletes underperform is because they don’t drink
enough water….TRUE! Our bodies can’t absorb more than 4 cups of water per hour but during intense exercise we can sweat out 4 or more cups per hour! Have your kids stay ahead of the game by keeping them hydrated all day long.

What about sports drinks?

You know, those brightly colored drinks full of carbohydrates, protein, electrolytes, and sugar? They are all the rage recently. You can find them in school vending machines, in coolers at sporting events, and in our refrigerators at home. But are sports drinks really needed? Probably not, except when exercising hard for over an hour. If this is the case, choose a sports drink with no more than 80 calories, minimal added sugar, and drink it in combination with water.
Most importantly:

Have fun! Staying involved in sports is a great way for kids to stay active and build valuable life skills like leadership, confidence, and teamwork. Staying properly nourished and hydrated will make getting through practices and games all the more

Emily Hutchins
Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
Division of Health Planning & Promotion

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Preparing our Youth…Where Do We Start?

September is not only the beginning of a new school year, but it is also National Preparedness Month! Preparing for emergencies and disasters can be challenging enough when you are only planning for yourself.  Add kids into the mixture and it becomes much more complicated. While there are a LOT of topics to cover, let’s focus on two areas and talk about how to get the kids involved. They are our future after all! 😀
  • Discuss potential emergencies that could occur

My 4 year old son is becoming quite aware of all kinds of alarms, everything from car alarms to smoke alarms.  Although he may not know the ins and outs of every alarm he is definitely curious and says, “Dad, tell me all about them!”

So, where do we start? Every family should have a family emergency plan. If you don’t have one yet…put one together and practice, practice, practice (with the kids of course!). We should also be teaching our kiddos some basic information at an early age, things like:
  • Their home address, phone number, and YOUR full name,
  • How and when to call 911,
  • Who to contact if they cannot reach you (names, phone numbers, and addresses),
  •  Where your family meeting place is

I don’t know about your little ones but my son is right there to “help” me whenever he gets a chance! Including kids in the preparation activities is a great way to teach them what to do during emergencies. They love to help so let’s use that energy to our advantage!  Keep in mind that our kits should fit in a backpack. Use these lists to begin making a kit and then have the kids gather things like:
  •  Clothing
  • Blankets
  • Toys, books, games, etc.
  • Food
  • Flashlights and radios

Play this fun game to help them decide which items to choose. Fun Fact – it might even be a little challenge for adults!

If something happens, it will probably be scary for your kids.  Keep in mind; it is okay to tell them you are scared too. Preparing for emergencies BEFORE they happen will take some of those worries away.  Remember that during playtime, children can pretend to be superheroes but when disaster strikes…you are the superhero they need because you will be prepared!

Mark Lafountain
Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator
Administration Division

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Happenings at CCHD: Director of Public Health

John Kanoza, Director of Public Health 
After working for 14 years in the private sector as a consulting environmental engineer/hydrogeologist I decided it was time for a switch. I was looking to set aside the #1 goal of “making money for the company” in favor of helping people and communities. In September of 2002 I accepted the position of Director/Engineer of Environmental Health & Safety here at the Clinton County Health Department (CCHD) where I served for 15 years. Fast forward to 2017. Our previous Director of Public Health, Jerie Reid, announced she would be retiring in October 2017. She recommended that I consider applying for the position. The thought of this took me by surprise but I figured since we have a very solid and experienced department I could become a successful Director over time. And here I am!

Though I do miss the engineering and problem solving work that I did as Director/Engineer of the Environmental Health & Safety Division, I have found that my role as Director of Public Health also includes a variety of problem solving tasks (of a different nature, but problem solving none the less J).  As well as doing everything possible to network and expand our many public health objectives I sincerely enjoy my daily interaction with department staff.

So, what else do I do all day?
·         Check on and attend to specific division, program and department needs. Our department has 5 different divisions and over 20 different programs/grants...this is a never ending task.
·         Answer requests from our Board of Health and County Legislature.
·         Chip away at our Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) and Community Health Assessment (CHA)…see what I did there?
·         Protect residents from potential health harms. See an example here.

Our field of Public Health is no doubt very strong. Based on new and changing risks to public health, it appears very likely that the need for public health professionals will only increase in the future. Over the last 17 years, I have grown to enjoy focusing on the single BIG objective of keeping our residents and community healthy and safe every day.

John M. Kanoza, P.E., P.G.
Director of Public Health
Clinton County Health Department 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Paddle with Me

In my previous life I spent many days on the Saranac River as a paddling instructor. Paddling can be a fun and exciting life-long sport - if you practice it correctly! With some help from my friends at the Town of Plattsburgh Parks & Recreation Department, I have some quick tips to make your next paddle one to remember.

Wear a Life Jacket
Life jackets, or PDFs (personal floatation devices), are the most critical piece of safety equipment to have no matter what kind of vessel you plan to paddle. Make sure your PDF is: 

It should be tight enough that you cannot lift it by the shoulder-straps. Remember, a PDF can only do its job if you are wearing it and it is fastened correctly.

Check the Weather Forecast
ALWAYS check the weather reports for the area you plan to paddle in before you head out on your water adventure. The last thing you want to do is get caught half-way between point A and point B when a thunderstorm hits (not that I’m speaking from experience, but hypothetically your arms would be burning, you would be soaking wet and you would be cursing…a lot). No matter the weather, you should never go out alone and always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.

Dress Appropriately and Be Prepared
  • First and foremost – SUNSCREEN and a hat (whether it’s sunny or overcast).
  • Clothing that is lightweight and quick drying. Consider packing a windbreaker.
  • Shoes that are waterproof AND will stay on your feet. There is a yellow croc on the bottom of the Saranac River who will forever be missing his partner in crime.

  • A whistle or signaling device in case of an emergency.
  • A dry-bag to keep your belongings safe.
  • Water and snacks to keep you hydrated and happy J.

Typically, width = stability. Canoes tend to be a standard size, but you can reduce the risk of swamping your canoe by loading it carefully. A recreational kayak is wider and more stable than a sea kayak and a wider paddleboard can also help with stability. No matter the vessel, be sure it is ALL THE WAY in the water before you try to get in or on – half in and half out is the worst spot to be for balance. I have seen more people tip getting in or out than in the middle of the water.

Paddling Basics
  • Stand in the water with one foot on each side of the cockpit and slowly sit down in the driver’s seat.
  • To paddle go in at your toes and out at your waist. Alternate your strokes, one per side.
  • Rotate your core with each stroke – if your arms are getting tired you probably aren’t engaging your core enough!

Paddle Boards
  • Plant your hands and knees on the board just behind the board’s halfway point.
  • Once stable slowly stand with your feet hip distance apart and your knees slightly bent.
  • Reach your paddle forward and pull the water back; you will remove the paddle from the water just behind your feet. Take a few strokes then switch sides.

  • Bring a buddy and board your vessel, one at a time. The paddler in the back will want to enter in the middle of the boat. After the paddler in the front is in their seat, slowly scoot back into yours.
  • The rider in the front is the workhorse – they paddle continuously. The rider in the back keeps track of where the boat is going.
  • Take a few strokes on one side then switch. Get into a rhythm with your co-pilot.

Know your paddling limits and remember, however far you paddle out you will also have to paddle back. Whether it is on a paddleboard, in a kayak or canoe, a summer paddling adventure is great experience for the whole family. Be sure to follow all of our safety tips and enjoy yourself! It is summer after all!

Molly Flynn, Senior Public Health Educator
Division of Health Planning & Promotion