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

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.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy was initially used to treat deep sea divers with decompression sickness known as "the bends." Over the past few decades, the role of this therapy has expanded to include the treatment of a number of other medical conditions, particularly some which do not respond to other therapies.

Deer ticks, known for transmitting the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, also carry similar bacteria called Borrelia miyamotoi. Upstate microbiologist and immunologist Saravanan Thangamani explains what is known about how the Borrelia miyamotoi disease is transmitted from ticks to humans on this week’s “HealthLink on Air.”

A larger percentage of deer ticks carry the Borrelia mayonii, which causes Lyme, than carry the Borrelia miyamotoi. Symptoms of the two diseases are similar, he notes, and the treatment is the same.

This week: Strength training, hospital school, Dino Babers

Oct 16, 2019

Fitness guidelines for adults recommend both cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercise and muscle-strengthening activities. Upstate exercise physiologist Carol Sames explains why strength training is so important, especially for seniors, and various ways to achieve it.

Sames also addresses the value of seniors improving balance and flexibility.

Upstate Medical University is screening people who want to participate in a new, national clinical research study of a treatment for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Called the T2 Protect AD, the study evaluates the drug troriluzole for its ability to protect against, slow down or even improve memory and thinking problems that increase as Alzheimer's progresses.

Dr. Sharon Brangman, chief of the Department of Geriatrics, tells about the study in this week’s “HealthLink on Air.”

When a child has cancer, the parents and whole family focus their time and energy on getting that child through chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy or a combination of those treatments. This usually means many appointments at the hospital, Cancer Center and doctor's office, medications to manage, schedules to adjust and thinking no further ahead than the next medical appointment.

Some 37 million people in the United States have chronic kidney disease, and for those with end-stage renal disease, the only two treatment options are dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Dr. Mark Laftavi, a professor of surgery and interim chief of transplant services at Upstate, talks about the value of kidney transplants and how the best kidneys for transplant come from living donors in this “HealthLink on Air” interview.

This week: Vasectomy, physician burnout, Ecuador

Sep 12, 2019

Urologist JC Trussell discusses what to expect if you are considering the male sterilization procedure called vasectomy on “HealthLink on Air” this week. He explains what is covered in the first medical appointment, how the procedure is done, and what recovery is like.

Trussell also tells about options for a man who had a vasectomy and later decides he wants to have children. One option is an invitro fertilization technique in which sperm are removed surgically. Another is a complex operation in which Trussell specializes called a vasectomy reversal.

Upstate pulmonologist Birendra Sah explains pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure in the lungs, and the various forms it takes, based on its causes in this week's "HealthLink on Air."

This condition is not to be confused with regular hypertension, which affects the whole body.

People approaching the age of 65 should learn about their options for health coverage through Medicare, the government's insurance plan for seniors, says Myrna Koldin.

For more than 10 years Koldin has been the coordinator for Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance in the Onondaga County Department of Aging and Long Term Care Services. It is she who answers the phone when people call with questions: 315-435-2362, ext. 4944.

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