Monday, December 14, 2020

The Big Squeeze

I finally did it. I got over my fear and had my first
mammogram. Going in I didn’t know what to expect, but my experience was great! My technician was nice and very professional. She explained every step to me and made me feel very comfortable. After the test was complete, she let me know how I would receive my results. She also told me that since I was a first timer, I might need to go back in for a few more pictures. This is very common and may be needed to establish a baseline for future mammograms. Regular mammograms are the best test doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to 3 years before it can be felt.

P.S. My results were normal. Yahoo!

When should I get a mammogram?

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPTF) recommends that women who are 50 -74 years old and are at average risk for breast cancer get a mammogram every 2 years. Women who are 40 – 49 years old should talk to their health care provider about when to start and how often to get a mammogram. The Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines for Women chart compares recommendations from several leading organizations. 


Knowing how to prepare for your mammogram can help ease your mind and speed the process.

  • Visit the NYS Cancer Services Program website for up to date screening information.
  • Don’t wear deodorant, perfume, lotion or powder under your arms or on your breasts on the day of your exam. Foreign particles could show up in an x-ray.
  • Let technician and staff know if you have breast implants. They may need to take more pictures than a regular mammogram.
  • You have the right to a written report of the results within 30 days of receiving a mammogram, as well as the original mammogram x-ray pictures. Call if you don’t get your results, don’t assume everything is normal.
  • Tell the clinic if you have physical disabilities that may make it hard for you to sit up, lift your arms, or hold your breath.

How is a mammogram performed?

  • You will need to take off your shirt and bra.
  • You will stand in front of the x-ray machine.
  • Your breast is placed on a small platform.
  • A clear plastic plate presses down on the breast for a few seconds. Some women say the pressure feels uncomfortable, but most don’t find it painful.
  • The technician will take several pictures of the breast.
  • A specialist then looks at the x-ray pictures to see if there are any changes in the breast.

The Cancer Services Program of Northeastern NY provides free breast, cervical and colon cancer screening to uninsured, eligible residents. With proper precautions, cancer screening can be done safely. Give their office a call with any questions 518-324-7671.

Jennifer Anderson

WIC Project Counselor

Division of Health Planning and Promotion

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Scams, Scams, Everywhere!


It takes all kinds. There are:

·         Web links that you click on, and something dreadful installs on your computer, with redirecting every time you try to go to your favorite website.

·         Email attachments that creep deep into your computer, hunting down your personal information.

·         Cute puppy or baby photos that have malicious software that gets installed and locks your personal files until you pay a ransom.

This has resulted in everybody having to be their own detective. Here are some helpful tips to increase your “Spidey Senses”:

Search Engines – when searching the web, pay attention to the web address. Most valid websites should end in .org or .com. Results that come up with a strange ending should be avoided.

Emails – before clicking links received via email, hover over the senders name to verify it is a valid email address. Scammers have gotten creative and can make it look like the email is from someone that you know. Don’t forward a suspicious email to anyone to review, it’s best to just delete it.

Downloads - If you’re downloading something off the web, watch for the word “Ad” next to the big download button – that one is fake. Make sure the download site is a reputable one. Before clicking on some tempting cute photo out there on the web, hover your mouse pointer and see where it’s going. Is it going to a place you’re going to regret?

Until SCAMMERS get a real job don’t be a crazy “double-clicker”! Use your “Spidey Senses” to protect yourself.

Further tips can be found here (it’s valid, we promiseJ).


Karen Cabana

Senior Computer Programmer

Finance & Information Technology Division

Clinton County Health Department

Thursday, October 29, 2020

SIDS…How a Parent’s Worst Fear Can Be Prevented.


Becoming a parent can be overwhelming, scary and full of unknowns. Your whole world becomes consumed with caring for your newborn and you worry about every little thing. Are you doing things right? Is your baby happy and healthy? You watch them sleep and check on them constantly…but for good reason. One of the biggest concerns that new parents have is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. Below I will explain SIDS and ways you can protect your baby from this heartbreaking syndrome.

What is SIDS?

  •   Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby younger     than 1 year old.

·         About 2,300 babies in the United States die of SIDS each year.

·         SIDS is more likely to affect a baby who is between 1 and 4 months old.

·         SIDS is more common in boys than girls.

·         Most deaths occur during the fall, winter and early spring months.


What are the Risk Factors for SIDS?

  • Sleeping on their stomach or their side, rather than their back.
  • Overheating when sleeping.
  • Sleeping on a surface that is too soft or filled with fluffy blankets or soft toys.
  • Mothers who smoked during pregnancy (three times more likely to have a baby with SIDS).
  • Exposure to passive smoke.
  • Mothers who are younger than 20 years old at the time of their first pregnancy.
  • Being born to mothers who had little, late, or no prenatal care.
  • Born prematurely or with low birth weight.
  • Having a sibling who died of SIDS.

What You Can Do as a Parent to Protect Your Baby:

·         Attend all prenatal care visits.

·         Don’t allow anyone to smoke around your baby.

·         Provide a safe sleep environment:

o   Always place baby on his or her back to sleep.

o   Use a firm and flat surface in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet and free of soft and loose bedding, crib bumpers, stuffed animals, and toys.

o   Share your room with baby. Keep baby close to your bed but on a separate surface, for example, in their own crib or bassinet.

·         Breastfeed your baby.


Jessica Mathews, Children’s Services Program Specialist

Division of Health Care Services

Clinton County Health Department

Friday, October 23, 2020

Fostering Body Positivity in your Children


Mallory Gonia, Senior Year
Growing up my parents tried their best to ensure I had self-confidence and a positive body image. There
is not one single occurrence where either of my parents negatively commented on the appearance of my body or weight growing even during a period of my adolescent years when I was overweight. My Mom and Dad always made me feel loved and told me I was beautiful every day.

My fiancé was not as lucky. Instead of building my fiancé’s confidence, his father broke down any self-confidence he had. Instead of being told he was handsome, he was told he was fat and ugly.

Somehow even with drastically different upbringings, as teenagers we lacked body confidence and WE both developed eating disorders. Now as an adult no longer being in that negative environment my fiancé has a positive body image and his self-confidence is much higher. I will admit for myself I still struggle with my body image from time to time, but overall I am more confident and much happier.

Research shows that a negative body image is the most influential factor to the development of eating disorders, specifically anorexia and bulimia. In some cases there may be obvious factors that contribute to teens having a disordered or negative body image, potentially leading to eating disorders, such as bullying in school and/or online or negative body comments made by parents, caregivers or other family members. For me growing up I was never bullied for being overweight. Based on my history, there would seem to be absolutely no reason for me to have developed an eating disorder, but I still did.

Parental behavior can have a huge impact on children’s body image. Even parents like mine who never put pressure on me regarding my own weight, may be unintentionally contributing to a disordered body image in their children.

I can’t even count how many times my Mother had a wardrobe malfunction before events because she looked “fat” in all her clothes. At all family gatherings, to this day, there are always conversations around weight loss, body image and dieting. At these events there is always one or more relatives who can’t eat the dessert because he/she is on a “diet”. In 10th grade I began playing school sports. Naturally, without trying, I lost a significant amount of weight that year. Family started noticing and I was told how great I looked and how skinny I was. There were never any comments complementing me on eating healthy and exercising to better my health, just on my physical appearance. These family dynamics had a huge impact on how I saw my own body and what food choices I made. I began to really focus on how my clothes looked on me and became overly conscious about eating healthy so I could maintain this weight loss.

With social media, the pressure on children to look a certain way is high. This makes it very important to foster body positivity starting from a young age. Pre-teens and teens who already have a positive body image may be more prepared to handle the stress and pressure of growing up in today’s social media centered world.

I believe the first step to fostering a positive body image begins in the home. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 40-60% of girls age 6-12 are concerned with their weight and becoming fat. Parents are typically the most influential adults in children’s lives at this age. One important thing parents can do to encourage body positivity in their children is by having body confidence themselves. Parents lead by example and should be mindful of the way they talk about weight, self-appearance and food. As parents and caretakers, I encourage you to:

  • Promote a balanced diet in response to body hunger,
  • Not use food as a reward or punishment, and
  • Tell your child(ren) that weight does not define happiness.

Every one of us has something we can thank our bodies for and at some point in our lives we may take our bodies for granted. Teach children to love their bodies for what they do and not for what they look like. This is something I wish I could have done at 15.

Mallory Gonia

Public Health Nutrition Educator 

Division of Health Planning and Promotion 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Back-to-School Tips for the COVID World

The start of every school year is an exciting, but scary time. Add in new reopening guidelines and health concerns about COVID-19, and many parents have found themselves at a loss. Is it safe to send my child back to school? Can I commit to remote learning? While I can’t tell you which option to choose, I can give you some easy tips to help your family with that transition. Routine is important for kids, start practicing now so they can have an easier first day later.

Tips for Traditional Learning

  •        Practice wearing a mask. Have your kids spend time each day wearing a mask while doing 
    everyday activities. Having trouble? Make a rule that they can’t use technology (watch tv, play on devices, play video games, etc.) unless they wear a mask. Chances are they want those privileges enough to comply. Pay attention to how often they touch or play with the mask. It defeats the purpose of a mask if they keep sticking their fingers inside! Be sure they know how to
    put it on and take it off properly, without spreading their germs all over. Make sure you have a few masks in the rotation. They need to be washed each day and you should always pack a backup.
  •     Teach them to wash hands properly. Teach kids the five easy steps for handwashing—wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry—and the key times to wash hands, such as after using the bathroom or before eating. Find ways to make it fun, like making up your own handwashing song or turning it into a game. Try the A, B, C’s or Row Row Row your boat. Proper handwashing includes 20 seconds of scrubbing, be sure the song you choose last at least that long.
  •     Practice social distancing. Help your children learn what being 6 feet apart really means. Practice staying 6 feet apart while doing everyday activities.
  •     Teach them how to open snacks and drinks. The more help your child needs to open things, the more hands will be touching their food. Practice lunch time at home so they can learn how to open items that might be packed in their lunch box.
  •     Pack a water bottle. Water fountains won’t be an option this year, so consider packing a full water bottle every day.
  •     Stay flexible. Schools are doing their very best to be prepared for every scenario, but change is inevitable. New things are learned every day and practice makes perfect. New protocols will be added or tweaked as needed once we start to learn what works best.

Tips for Remote Learning

  •     Stick to a routine. Wake up, eat breakfast, and get dressed for school – the only difference in their morning routine should be the commute to their desk instead of their school. If you don’t set a schedule for learning it will be difficult to tear kids away from toys and fun and it may lead to arguments and frustration. Kids are used to a set schedule at school, they do it for their teachers and they will do it for you too! You just have to commit to having a structured day, focused on getting the learning done.
  •     Dedicate a learning space. Set up an area in your home that you use only for learning. Make sure the temptations of play time, tv, and tablets are far away so the focus can be on learning. Set up your supplies just like their desk would be set up at school. Setting their space up can help them be excited to start learning again, a flashy new pencil never hurts either!

  •     Sit in the best position for learning. Be sure the space you use is right for your child. Make sure screens are at eye-level and kids are sitting up straight. Lounging in the chair or on the couch isn’t conducive to learning. Have a fidgety kid? Try using the “prone” position (laying on the floor on their bellies.) This flexible seating option can sometimes help students focus when they are having a rough day.

No matter which option you choose, remember that your kids are looking to you for guidance. Be positive about the experience no matter how you are feeling. If you show them your apprehension, they are likely to be scared too. You’re doing great and we will get through this together!

To learn more, check out the additional resources the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has for back to school planning.

Krissy Flynn

Elementary School Teacher

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Top Five Family Summer Safety Tips

While summer may look a little different this year with changes to vacation plans, camps and other family activities, one thing is for sure: it is hot! If your kids are like mine, they are begging you to go the beach, the playground and hiking. Maybe they are participating in outside youth camps, classes or sports. So how do we keep our kiddos safe this summer when all they want to do is be on the go outside and have fun?

Practice Safe Skin

It doesn’t matter if it is sunny or overcast, make sure to apply sunscreen to your children before they head out for the day. For the best protection, apply 20 minutes before they go outside to play or swim and re-apply every two hours (more so as needed if they are swimming or sweating).

Keep Your Cool

This summer has been especially hot. Keep your kids cool by offering lots of water, keep them in lightweight clothes and limit the amount of time they spend outside in extreme heat (90ºF or over). Heat stroke and or dehydration is serious business, so find other ways to stay cool and beat the heat on the hottest of days.

Check for Ticks

You don’t have to be in the deep woods to get a tick. I make sure to check my girls for ticks daily, even if they have only been in our yard. Ticks can be in obvious spots or hidden behind knees or in the creases of ears. If you do find a tick, don’t panic, click here to learn how to safely remove it.

Watch the Water

I can’t stress this enough – keep a close eye on your children at all times when they are in a body of water. Even if they are the strongest of swimmers or they are in a shallow body of water. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1-4 and second highest cause of accidental death among children 5-9 in the United States.

Follow the Rules of the Road

If your kiddo isn’t at the pool or beach, they may be hitting the road on their bikes, rollerblades or scooters. Always make sure that they are wearing a helmet and ensure that they know the ‘rules of the road’ (walkers facing traffic, bikers riding with traffic).  Accidents happen but helmets will protect against brain and head injuries.

Role modeling these safety behaviors as adults and parents will help our children grow up healthy and safe.

Happy Summer! J

Jessica Mathews,

Children’s Services Program Specialist

Division of Health Care Services 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Inside Scoop - the Clinton County Health Department’s Rabies program

First a little background, why do we even care about rabies?

Rabies is a deadly, but preventable disease.  Once symptoms appear, the disease is nearly always fatal.

OK, you’ve got my attention now...

Let’s throw out a few scenarios to give you an idea of what we do in the rabies program.

Scenario 1- You lose your frisbee in your neighbor’s yard so you jump the fence to get it and their dog gets startled and bites you. You go to an urgent care to get the wound looked at and they ask you about the dog and the dog owners so they can fill out a bite report to submit to us.

Now you may be saying to yourself “No, I don’t want to get my neighbor’s dog taken away from them, I’m not going to report it.”

We do not harm or take animals away from people.

Here is what we do when we receive a bite report:

·        Use the information you give us to contact the animal owner and make sure the animal is alive and able to be monitored for 10 days.

·        Verify the rabies vaccination status of the animal.

·        Track the animal’s health.  If it is alive and well 10 days after the day it bit you, it did not have rabies at the time of the bite and there is no risk of rabies to you.

Scenario 2- You wake up to a bat flying around your bedroom. Bats have very tiny mouths and you were sleeping so you are not completely sure you didn’t get bit. You caught the bat and have it in a container. You call us to report it and see what you should do next.

Here is what we do when we receive your call:

  •   Fill out a bite report.
  • Retrieve the bat from you and send it away to be tested to see if it had rabies.

The results come in and the bat does not have rabies. This is good news, even if you got bit and didn’t realize it there is no risk of rabies to you.

Wait, but what if I couldn’t catch the bat and it got away?

In this case, if you truly don’t know if you were bitten we are going to recommend you receive postexposure prophylaxis (PEP).

There is a risk for rabies to you and we don’t want to take any chances. Did you know rabies symptoms can show up in people in a few days or not for months?

Postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) - that sounds scary.

It’s not as bad as it sounds!

PEP is a series of shots spread out in 4 visits over 2 weeks. I had to get these shots and I assure you they are no different than your typical flu shot.

Please note these are just some examples, the possible scenarios are endless.  

Ok this is a lot of information at once, let’s wrap it up!

What should you do if you are bitten by a pet or wildlife?

1.     Get the animal owner’s (if there is one) name, address and phone number – this is important!

2.     Note where and when the bite happened and the animal’s color, condition, size and temperament.

3.     Thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately – animal bites can be infected with many diseases besides rabies.

4.     Report the incident to the Clinton County Health Department (CCHD) by calling 518-565-4870. (Keep in mind we do not take peoples animals from them!)

How can you prevent rabies?

·        Do not attempt to catch or pet strays or wildlife, call animal control if you find a stray animal.

·        Keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, ferrets, and dogs.

·        Always ask before approaching someone else’s animal and teach your kids when it is and is not okay to pet an animal.

All animal bites, no matter how minor must be reported to CCHD.

One last thing to mention before you go, another part of the rabies program is that CCHD offers FREE rabies clinics to Clinton County residents. Due to the restrictions in place for COVID-19 we don’t have the date of our first 2020 clinic yet but keep an eye on our Facebook page for an update.

For more information about rabies in Clinton County click here.

Karissa LaBonte

Public Health Sanitarian

Division of Environmental Health and Safety