HealthLink on Air

Sundays at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Hosted by Amber Smith

“HealthLink on Air” is a 60-minute program produced since 2006 by Upstate Medical University, the academic medical center in Syracuse, NY.

“HealthLink on Air” provides a weekly dose of information on health and medical issues affecting central New Yorkers. The program showcases health professionals and researchers from Upstate Medical University, Upstate University Hospital, the central New York community and those visiting the region who are involved with health care issues and events. The interviews are permanently archived online.

For more information, visit the HealthLink on Air website.

Ways to Connect

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents not to put off well-child visits to the doctor, particularly for young children, during the pandemic.

Pediatrics professor Dr. Steven Blatt, director of the Upstate Pediatric and Adolescent enter, explains what's important about these visits. He also discusses how medical care has been provided during the pandemicon this week's show.

Pediatric infectious disease specialist, Dr. Jana Shaw discusses the symptoms of a rare condition that has appeared in a small number of children who have been infected with COVID-19 in this week's "HealthLink on Air."

Called pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, the hallmark symptom is a fever that lasts more than five days. Other common symptoms may be a rash, pink eye, swollen hands and feet or vomiting and diarrhea. Shaw explains the similarity with Kawasaki disease.

The coronavirus pandemic is keeping many people in seclusion and that provides time to reflect on our health and relationships.

Dr. Susan Levinsohn talks about the value of wrestling with existential questions and how this pandemic might be the perfect time to replace bad habits with healthy ones, in this episode of "HealthLink on Air." Levinsohn is an assistant professor of family medicine at Upstate who specializes in integrative medicine.

COVID-19 can impact the neurological system and some doctors have noted strokes in some patients. In this "HealthLink on Air" interview, Upstate neurologist Hesham Masoud discusses the neurological impact of the disease and explains why some patients report a loss of taste and smell. Masoud specializes in endovascular surgical neuroradiology.

Taking breaks from news reports and taking care of your body and mind can help combat the loneliness that may develop if you are isolating yourself during the pandemic, says Brian Amidon, a licensed clinical social worker from Upstate's Inclusive Health Services.

He makes the point in this week's "HealthLink on Air" that maintaining physical distance from friends and family should not mean staying away socially, and he talks about ways to stay connected.

The COVID-19 pandemic might create conditions that threaten the recovery of people being treated for their use of alcohol or other drugs.

Psychiatric nurse practitioner John Ringhisen from Upstate's Addiction and Pain Service explains how caregivers continue to provide telehealth appointments and in-person appointments during the outbreak. In this episode, he also talks about the risks of using tobacco products and/or alcohol, especially now.

The physician leading the makeshift hospital at the Javits Convention Center in New York City during this pandemic is Dr. Christopher Tanski, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Upstate. In this episode of HealthLink on Air, he tells what his days are like overseeing the care of patients infected with COVID-19. Also this week, medical sociologist Christopher Morley explains how the epidemic's "curve" is charted and what it means. And, neurologist Antonio Culebras discusses how to sleep well when you're worried. Listen this Sunday, April 19 at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

New York state has guidelines that instruct how medical staff should decide which patients will get ventilators during a viral pandemic. Dr. Thomas Curran, a member of the bioethics and humanities faculty at Upstate Medical University, explains how the entire health care system changes during a pandemic. "All of a sudden you have to shift from patient-centered practice to patient care that's really guided by public health considerations," he says. In this interview, he walks through three considerations in the state guidelines for whether a person gets a ventilator.

If a loved one tests positive for the respiratory virus known as COVID-19, pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Jana Shaw recommends isolating that person to minimize any contact with housemates. She says adequate fluid and rest may be helpful in providing some relief, but there is no treatment for the virus.

Staff from Upstate University Hospital train regularly to prepare for a variety of disasters, including pandemics.

Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Robert Corona explains how hospital leaders comprise an "incident command" team that meets twice a day during the current crisis and collaborate with staff from other hospitals in central New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo asked hospital executives to produce plans for expanding occupancy, and Corona explains in this "HealthLink on Air" episode how Upstate could increase beds by 77 percent.

Dr. Sharon Brangman is telling her patients to stay home, especially if they are in their 80s, to help reduce their risk of exposure to coronavirus.

She's the chief of geriatrics at Upstate, and on this "HealthLink on Air" episode she explains that our immune systems deteriorate as we age, making older people more vulnerable to this and other viruses.

In this interview, she talks about ways to help prevent feelings of isolation and how to help seniors get through this pandemic.

Adam and MaryBeth Gillan of Rochester lost their daughter Maisie in January 2019 after the 9-month-old ingested a pill that had fallen on the floor of a neighbor's home. In this week's "HealthLink on Air" they talk about their efforts to improve medication safety, so no other family has to experience a similar loss.

"Keep Your Family Safe: Medication Safety" -- a video presented by the Upstate New York Poison Center

How many hours a day do you spend on electronic devices? Do you walk down the sidewalk looking at your smartphone? Can you get through a meal without being online?

Upstate psychiatric nurse practitioner John Ringhisen talks about FOMO (the fear of missing out), how addiction can be defined and the potential for addiction to electronics on this week's "HealthLink on Air."

More and more, cancer treatment is transitioning from one-size-fits-all toward an era of personalized treatment based on an individual patient's cancer characteristics.

Dr. Jeffrey Ross explains what immunotherapy and targeted therapies are, how DNA sequencing is done, and what patients should do if they receive a diagnosis of cancer but it is not known where the cancer began in this week's episode of "HealthLink on Air." Ross is an assistant professor of pathology and urology at Upstate.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. It can hit at any age but is more common in people older than 60.

In this week's "HealthLink on Air," Upstate ophthalmologist Preethi Ganapathy explains that glaucoma involves damage to the optic nerve and increased pressure within the eye. The condition tends to affect one's vision at the edges first. A complete eye exam, with eye drops, is needed on a regular basis to detect glaucoma early, when its progress can best be slowed, she says since there is no cure.

When a couple is unable to conceive, both the woman and man can seek medical evaluation. Sometimes the problem traces to the female, sometimes to the male, and sometimes both partners have contributing factors, says Dr. JC Trussell, an associate professor of urology at Upstate who specializes in male infertility.

In this week's "HealthLink on Air," Trussell goes over the common causes of infertility, along with tests and treatment options.

Approximately one in eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. On this week's "HealthLink on Air," Dr. Ranjna Sharma discusses how the disease is diagnosed, treatment options and risk factors.

Sharma is the chief of breast surgery and medical director of the breast cancer program at Upstate.

This week: Coronavirus, vaping and drugs of abuse

Jan 30, 2020

China is dealing with the outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus. Thousands of people have been infected; some have died. And more cases are being diagnosed in people all over the world, including a relatively small number in the United States.

Providing perspective on this outbreak is Stephen Thomas, MD, a professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at Upstate and its chief of infectious disease.

Planning strategies, making decisions, instructing and motivating and organizing groups of people -- these are some of the tasks shared by hospital executives and football coaches.

Upstate University Hospital chief executive officer Dr. Robert Corona and Syracuse University head football coach Dino Babers discuss their views on leadership on this week's "HealthLink on Air."

She was a Somali refugee as a child, who went on to grow up in Syracuse. Now, physician assistant, Ayan Mohamed takes care of refugees who resettle in the Syracuse area.

Mohamed works in Upstate's adult medicine clinic, where many refugees receive their medical care soon after arriving in America. Mohamed talks about the challenges and rewards of caring for refugees as well as some of the medical conditions she encounters in this week's "HealthLink on Air."

Carrying even an extra 30 pounds significantly increases a woman's risk for endometrial cancer, the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is the chief symptom, but too many women are unsure what's normal and abnormal.

Even though the benefits of exercise are well documented, many people aren't getting enough of it, explains Karen Kemmis, a doctor of physical therapy, registered nurse and certified diabetes educator at Upstate. She talks about the research that shows how physical activity helps reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Also this week, medical student Natalie Antosh tells about a new "Food as Medicine" course. And, professor Mina Bissell discusses the origins of cancer. Tune in this Sunday, January 5 at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. for "HealthLink on Air."

Skin becomes thinner and drier as we age, but there are some steps seniors and their caregivers can take to keep skin healthy.

In this week's "HealthLink on Air," Dr. Ramsay Farah, chief of dermatology at Upstate Medical University, discusses what to expect for skin care in the later years. He also explains the importance to seniors of moisturizing, washing in lukewarm water with mild soaps and continuing to use sunscreen.

Women seeking birth control have many options, which are explained in this segment by Dr. Renee Mestad, the chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Upstate. She talks about intrauterine devices, barrier methods, hormonal strategies and natural methods and what to consider when a woman and her health care provider are deciding which is her best option in this week's "HealthLink on Air."

Several hundred cases of e-cigarette vaping related lung injury have been reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from all over the United States, including nearly 50 deaths.

Upstate toxicologist Jeanna Marraffa, assistant clinical director of the Upstate New York Poison Center, discusses the crisis and some of the theories about what is causing it in this week's "HealthLink on Air."

Physical therapy can help alleviate some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. In this week's "HealthLink on Air," doctor of physical therapy Julie Lombardi explains how Parkinson's is diagnosed, the role of physical therapy in treatment, and what to expect at a physical therapy appointment.

Also this week, Walt Stein from Hope for Bereaved, discusses grief during the holidays. And, Dr. Susan Levinsohn talks about wellness and integrative medicine. Tune in this Sunday, December 8 at 6 a.m and 9 p.m. for "HealthLink on Air."

A three-drug combination sold under the brand name Trikafta was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for people age 12 and older with cystic fibrosis.

Dr. Christopher Fortner, medical director of the cystic fibrosis program at Upstate, describes how this treatment works, its side effects and what it may mean for many of the people with this disease.

Cystic fibrosis causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time, among other problems.

This week: Prostate biopsy, tobacco cessation, more

Nov 20, 2019

One risk of prostate biopsy has been infection, but a new way of obtaining prostate tissue for testing greatly reduces that risk, say urologists Oleg Shapiro and Timothy Byler in this week's "HealthLink on Air."

This week: Gang violence, kidney stones, more

Nov 14, 2019

Gang-related violence has been a continual problem in impoverished inner-city neighborhoods throughout the United States. In Syracuse in 2010, a Community Trauma Response Team was established -- and appears to have helped to reduce gang-related gunshots and murders.

One of the team's founders, Timothy Jennings-Bey, provides an overview of the team's role and its importance in Syracuse on this week's "Healthlink on Air."

This week: Lung cancer screening, celiac disease, more

Nov 7, 2019

Eighty percent of the lung cancers discovered through screening are early stage and mostly curable. But for a variety of reasons, only about 2 percent of the people eligible for lung cancer screening actually undergo a test.

Dr. Jason Wallen explains what's important to know about lung cancer screening. A thoracic surgeon, Wallen is the division chief of thoracic surgery at Upstate and the medical director of the Thoracic Oncology Program, which is marking its 20th year this year.