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

Women giving birth at Upstate University Hospital's Family Birth Center now have the option of using nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, to help control labor pain. Nurse manager Laurie Fegley explains on “HealthLink on Air” how the gas works and how it compares with epidural pain relief. She also tells about the private birthing rooms with whirlpool tubs that make up the Family Birth Center, located at Upstate's Community campus.

Children, students, adults, families and professionals can find helpful nutritional information on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website, says Maureen Franklin, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Upstate's Joslin Diabetes Center.

Maintaining a routine is important for children and adults after hearing about a traumatizing event such as a mass shooting, says psychologist Wendy Gordon, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Upstate.

She advises parents to consider the developmental level of a child when deciding whether and how to talk with him or her about terrorist incidents or other disasters. Remaining as calm as possible can help too, says Gordon, because children look to their parents for reassurance.

This week: HPV in men, hereditary cancers and heart attack

Nov 22, 2017

Exceedingly low HPV vaccination rates among young men are putting the men, and their sexual partners, at increased risk for the human papilloma virus, say Upstate urologists Timothy Byler and Michael Daugherty.

They point out that certain strains of the virus cause genital warts and are implicated in penile cancers. In this interview, they explain what men can do to protect themselves.

This week: Easing a loved one into long term care and more

Nov 14, 2017

When looking for a nursing home for a loved one, Upstate College of Nursing faculty member Helen Clancy says to make note of the mood of the staff, whether residents appear clean and well cared for, and your gut feeling.

"Your intuition tells you a lot, so listen to it," she advises about easing the transition into long-term care. The transition into a nursing home is more than a change of address, and Clancy describes some ways to ease that change on this week's show.

Also on the program: an update on dietary fiber, plus bladder cancer diagnosis and treatment.

College campuses are increasingly coping with outbreaks of measles and mumps, two viruses for which children are commonly vaccinated.

In the case of measles, outbreaks have occurred because people went unvaccinated, and in the case of mumps, the vaccination has not provided long-term protection, says Dr. Jana Shaw, a pediatrician at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital who specializes in infectious diseases.

This week: Sepsis, autism and food systems

Nov 1, 2017

Pediatrician Melissa Schafer describes how the potentially life-threatening infection complication called sepsis develops, how it is diagnosed and treated and what steps are in place at Upstate to help identify and treat sepsis early.

The Sepsis Alliance -- a group that raises awareness of sepsis and educates health care providers on how best to treat it -- recently bestowed the "Sepsis Hero" recognition on the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital for its part in The Children’s Hospital Association Improving Pediatric Sepsis Outcomes Collaborative.

This week: Flu shots, congenital heart defects, more

Oct 24, 2017

The flu vaccine primes your body's immune system, so it's prepared to fight influenza. Getting vaccinated doesn't guarantee that you won't get the flu this season, but if that happens, you likely would have only a mild illness, says Jana Shaw, MD, an Upstate pediatrician with expertise in infectious diseases.

This week: Running, the hunger hormone, caregiver grief

Oct 18, 2017

Upstate physical therapist Lee Berube, who won the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge race in 2016 and 2017, joins us this week to talk about the health benefits of running. Berube explains how he got his start running as a youngster and he offers advice for beginners.

Also this week: how grief may affect caregivers, and what we know about the hunger hormone ghrelin -- specifically how molecules could potentially block the way ghrelin communicates with the body.

Join us this Sunday, October 22, at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. for "HealthLink on Air," on WRVO.

This week: In-flight medical care, lung cancer, more

Oct 11, 2017

Have you been on an airplane when a flight attendant asked whether a physician was on board to help with a medical emergency?

Dr. Gregory Eastwood has seven times. Each time, he responded to help, even though as an administrator (he was president of Upstate Medical University from 1993 to 2006, and interim president from 2013 to 2016) he was decades removed from patient care.

This week: Prostate cancer, plus common thyroid disorders

Oct 5, 2017

Prostate cancer is a disease of many types that has to be treated individually. Treatment options include various types of surgery, radiotherapy and medications, in addition to active surveillance and watchful waiting.

Dr. Gennady Bratslavsky provides an update on prostate cancer in this special 30-minute overview for “HealthLink on Air.”

One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Urologists with expertise in oncology can help these men decide which treatment is best for them.

This week: Heart failure, spinal cord injury, glaucoma

Sep 28, 2017

Heart failure is the most common reason people over age 65 are admitted to the hospital. Now those who leave Upstate University Hospital with a diagnosis of heart failure receive a phone number, so they can reach a nurse 24 hours a day with any questions.

A recent study showing that people with cancer were more likely to survive when they had social interaction with other cancer patients during chemotherapy did not surprise Dr. Kaushal Nanavati, the medical director of integrative therapy at the Upstate Cancer Center.

Survival rates for people with sickle cell disease have greatly improved over the last 40 years, and pediatrician Kathryn Scott believes a cure is likely within the lifetime of her young patients. Scott directs the pediatric sickle cell program at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. She discusses stem cell transplants and the promise of gene therapy in this week’s show.

This week: Lyme disease, anesthesia and home heath aides

Sep 7, 2017

Treatment for Lyme disease is most effective when it begins soon after transmission, says Dr. Kristopher Paolino, an infectious disease expert at Upstate University Hospital.

He advises people to remove the tick and bring it with them to the doctor's office for identification. Deer ticks can transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

Paolino goes over the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease and explains that antibiotics are the common treatment. He also tells about complications of Lyme and the lingering effects that up to 20 percent of patients deal with.

Making a low wage is a health hazard, says Jeanette Zoeckler, the director of research and special projects for the Occupational Health Clinical Centers at Upstate. She's been immersed in the Low-Wage Workers' Health Project since 2013, analyzing the health effects of low-wage jobs on workers, mostly from the service sectors of multiple industries.

This week: State fair infirmary, neuroradiology and more

Aug 16, 2017

Even if you attend the New York State Fair slathered in sunscreen, with proper footwear, and well-hydrated with water, a stumble could land you in the infirmary.

For the past two years, an average 600 people get treated in the infirmary each day, plus an average 400 visit for "quality of life" items such as headache remedies. Seventy percent of visitors are able to return to the fair, says Christian Knutsen, MD, the medical director for the infirmary. Doctors from the emergency department at Upstate University Hospital staff the first aid center when the fair is open.

This week: Glioblastoma, social media and Guglielmo Marconi

Aug 10, 2017

Dr. Lawrence Chin, chief of neurosurgery and director of the neuro-oncology program at Upstate Medical University, talks about the aggressive brain tumor known as glioblastoma on this week’s show. This is the diagnosis Arizona senator John McCain recently disclosed.

This week: Medication mistakes, divorce impact and more

Aug 2, 2017

Four in 10 people do not take their medicine as prescribed, according to a recent survey by Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Luke Probst, the director of pharmacy at Upstate University Hospital, explains the details of medication adherence and medication compliance and the sorts of problems that can arise if drugs are not taken as prescribed on this week’s show. He also shares suggestions four ways people can remember to take their medications.

Also on the show: the impact of divorce on children and families, and a video project for end-stage cancer patients.

This week: Volunteering in Ghana, breast surgery, poverty

Jul 26, 2017

What began with a service trip to Ghana in 2010 for Lauri Rupracht has blossomed into a nonprofit organization called the Americans Serving Abroad Project.

The group now sponsors two trips per year to provide medical and dental care and community development in the African nation of Ghana.

This week: Displacement, bone health and bioethics

Jul 13, 2017

The Interstate 81 project in Syracuse will likely result in some forced relocations for people and businesses. Psychiatrists have a term -- "community displacement" -- for when a population is moved by another entity.

This week: Heart attack, hereditary cancers and HPV

Jul 4, 2017

A sudden reduction in blood supply to the heart muscle, such as happens in a heart attack, can permanently damage heart tissue. Swiftly seeking emergency medical care at the first sign of trouble can help minimize the damage, says Upstate cardiologist Robert Carhart Jr., MD.

The disclosure invariably begins with, "This may sound crazy."

That's how psychologist Jeffrey Schweitzer can tell a bereaved person is about to relay a story about a dream featuring their deceased loved one. Schweitzer, the primary psychologist at the Upstate Cancer Center, has researched the role of dreams during the bereavement process. He says dreams featuring loved ones can be helpful as a person copes with loss, and he explains how in this week’s show.

This week: Mosquito spraying and autism, and more

Jun 15, 2017

A pediatrician and researcher at Penn State Health in Hershey, Pa. found an increased incidence of autism and developmental delays in children who live within a two-mile radius of the Cicero Swamp.

That's an area of Onondaga County with a high concentration of mosquitos that undergoes aerial pesticide spraying to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis.

An Upstate scientist has found a way to identify when a person has a concussion and predict how long their recovery will take -- using a simple saliva test.

This week: Building replacement bone, and falls

Jun 1, 2017

Scientists from Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University have teamed up to build replacement bones, essentially from scratch.

SU's Pranav Soman, an assistant professor of biomedical and chemical engineering, uses a 3-D printer to develop polymer-based ‘scaffolding.’ Upstate's Jason Horton, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and cell and developmental biology, adds stem cells.

This week: HIV, heart disease, and head and neck cancers

May 25, 2017

New York state has several efforts underway to curtail the HIV epidemic.

Upstate infectious disease expert Elizabeth Asiago-Reddy talks this week about the increased availability of HIV testing, treatment options for those who test positive,  and where to obtain medication that can reduce a person's risk of becoming infected.

PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is available in Syracuse through Upstate's Immune Health Services, the Adolescent/Young Adult Specialized Care Center or the Onondaga County Sexually Transmitted Disease Center.

This week: stroke prevention, asthma and wrist injuries

May 18, 2017

A heart-healthy diet is also healthy for the brain. So, eating food that is low in salt, low in fat and low in carbohydrates can help reduce the risk of stroke, says registered dietitian nutritionist Rebecca Hausserman.

She and nurse Michelle Vallelunga, from Upstate University Hospital's Comprehensive Stroke Center, talk about the steps people can take to reduce their stroke risk on this week’s show. They say some 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.

This week: Refugee care, sinusitis and sexual violence

May 11, 2017

Pediatrician Andrea Shaw cares for many children of refugees who resettle in Syracuse. They come from a variety of countries, including Eastern Europe, Somalia, Afghanistan, Ukraine, the Republic of Congo, Sudan and Syria, often to escape persecution and other hardships.

This week: Sleep research, STDs and estate planning

May 3, 2017

Most living things -- including humans, plants and fruit flies -- follow 24-hour cycles known as circadian rhythms, which influence sleep and other physiologic processes.

Neuroscientist Amita Sehgal talks about her research on fruit flies and what it tells us about human sleep. Sehgal, from the University of Pennsylvania, was in Syracuse as the keynote speaker for student research day at Upstate Medical University.

Also on this week's show: an update on sexually transmitted disease rates and treatments, plus legal issues facing people with chronic conditions.

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