New York State Department of Health

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

A group of healthcare professionals are seeking a meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health department, saying they have compiled a compendium of new and ongoing research highlighting numerous health risks associated with the controversial natural gas drilling process called hydrofracking.

The health experts include a doctor, a veterinarian, and a Cornell University medical professor, who have requested a meeting with Cuomo’s acting health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, to go over the growing number of studies indicating numerous health risks associated with fracking.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York is now the 23rd state to allow medical marijuana, now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law. But, it will be some time before patients will have access to the drug.

New York will now permit patients with diseases like cancer and AIDS to have access to some forms of medical marijuana. Cuomo, who in the past opposed the idea, came around  after several new regulations and restriction guarantees were written into the legislation.

The Onondaga County Medical Society has taken an official stance against the proposed realignment of the Human Services Division of Onondaga County's government. The physicians organization believes the plan to take the Maternal Health and Child Wellness programs out of the purview of the Health Department is a bad move.

The organization has six major concerns about the move, says society treasurer Dr. Richard Beers. He says it starts with the unintended consequences of changing the relationship doctors already have with health care providers involved in the county’s programs.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Updated, 3:40 p.m.:

St. Joseph's Hospital is responding to allegations of misbehavior against a former doctor, saying it reacted quickly and thoroughly.

The hospital said it became aware of complaints involving inappropriate actions and vulgar language -- reportedly involving the slapping of sedated patients -- in its operating rooms in December.

The hospital faces sanctions and disciplinary actions over the charges, stemming from a federal investigation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who plans to introduce a limited program for medical marijuana in his State of the State speech Wednesday, says he does not see it leading to the legalization of the drug at this time. But some in the legislature disagree.

Cuomo is using his authority through the New York State Health Department to allow up to 20 hospitals to prescribe medical marijuana to some patients. Cuomo says he favors a limited experiment for now to work out any potential problems.

“If it goes bad, we can correct or improve it, all within our own control,” Cuomo said.  

Justin Sorenson, Watertown Daily Times

Earlier this week, a researcher from the state Health Department met with Watertown residents from the neighborhood near the New York Air Brake plant. The Health Department has agreed to study the area’s disease patterns because residents suspect that pollution from the plant has made people sick.

FDRHPO

A last-minute deal was struck Thursday to rescue a long-standing health care safety net for needy north country children. The North Country Children's Clinic in Watertown announced Tuesday that it would close suddenly, at the end of the week, because of dire financial problems. Now, the clinic has gotten at least another month of life.

CREDO.fracking / Flickr

It’s been nearly a year since the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state health commissioner would conduct a review to determine whether hydrofracking could be done safely in New York. Since then, little information has been released on the ongoing study. Now, an anti-fracking group is suing the state to find out what exactly is being reviewed.

The 23-year-old Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association (SLPWA) filed papers in the New York State Supreme Court to demand that the public be allowed to know what exactly Cuomo’s health commissioner is reviewing.

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Ontario County is moving forward with the privatization of its nursing home. The board of supervisors voted last week to accept a $2 million bid for the Hopewell facility, but concerns remain about the level of care a private owner would provide.

The sale makes Ontario the latest in a string of counties in upstate New York looking to privatization as a solution to the rising costs of operating a nursing home.

Steuben, Chautauqua, and Onondaga Counties are among many considering or finalizing the sale of county facilities to private operators.

DEC may miss deadline for fracking regulations

Feb 4, 2013
Matt Ryan/WMHT

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens suggested Monday that the state may miss a February 27 deadline to complete its proposed fracking regulations. And that could stall a decision on gas drilling for months.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

A document from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration assessing the health impacts of hydrofracking, written less than a year ago, says the gas drilling process is likely safe if proper precautions are taken by the governor’s environmental agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). 

The Cuomo Administration could be headed toward approval of hydrofracking in New York by the end of February, when a 90-day extension on a rule making process ends.

A legal expert says that the Cuomo administration’s move to delay for another 90 days the decision on whether to allow hydrofracking in New York makes sense. Meanwhile, some health care professionals say a review underway on the health effects of fracking is a sham.

The state’s environmental agency confirms it will miss a key deadline and delay approval of hydrofracking in New York once again. Anti-fracking forces see an opportunity in the new delay, while those waiting to benefit economically from the gas drilling process are feeling frustrated.

Hydrofracking could once again be delayed in New York, unless the state Health Commissioner is able to complete requirements to contract with outside health experts and conduct a health review by November 29.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he supports his administration’s internal health review on hydrofracking in New York, and he says it could even hasten the gas drilling process in the state, should fracking ultimately be approved.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s environmental commissioner announcement that he is rejecting calls for an independent health analysis of hydrofracking has left more questions than answers. Commissioner Joe Martens says he will conduct an internal health review instead.

Joanna Richards / WRVO

A toxic waste site in Watertown is drawing renewed attention from residents and city leaders. New York Air Brake's chemical dump on the north side of town was cleaned up in the 1990s. State environmental officials say it's been monitored since then and they're convinced it's safe for neighbors and wildlife. But people who live nearby believe they have health problems traceable to the site. And they fear it still poses a health risk.

This summer, the synthetic drugs known as bath salts alarmed emergency responders all over upstate New York, including in Jefferson County. In Watertown, they dealt with unstable, violent users several times a day. But lawmakers and law enforcement at the local, state and federal levels have been responding with crackdowns on the drugs. Now, both police and hospital officials in Watertown say cases are down sharply. 

The New York State Department of Health regulations outlawing  bath salts in New York state come on the heels of several local laws banning the designer drug.  The new regulations were announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo Tuesday, but there could be more laws coming down the road.