Health & Medical News

Becky Baker and Kelsey Hansen / Substance Overdose Awareness Recovery Services

As the number of lives lost to opioids continues to grow in the Rochester area, a new support group has formed to reach out to young adults who have lost friends and loved ones.

Becky Baker, who helped organize the group, said an all-ages grief group that formed last summer has been so popular that it’s outgrown successive meeting places from an Irondequoit garage to a church.

But, Baker said, the group has lacked a space devoted to the needs and experiences of young adults.


With news that Alex Trebek has stage four pancreatic cancer, many are left wondering how the longtime “Jeopardy!” host will be treated.

Dr. Richard Dunne researches and treats cancer at Wilmot Cancer Institute, which is a part of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Dunne says that when the disease is caught early, it’s often treated through surgery and chemotherapy, and patients rebound. But Trebek and the majority of people with pancreatic cancer do not know they have it until their options are limited, he said.

Petr Kovar / freeimages.com

Lawmakers in the State Assembly have voted to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21.

The legislation would prohibit the sale of tobacco, as well as electronic cigarettes, to anyone younger than 21.

Elizabeth Hamlin, the director of advocacy with the American Lung Association, said the popularity of e-cigarettes with teenagers is making this legislation more urgent.

She said raising the age even just a few years would create an age gap between kids and people who can smoke.


It's budget season in Albany, and advocates were in the capital Tuesday to ask that more funding go towards helping aging New Yorkers stay in their own homes.

AARP,  as well as a number of volunteers say programs that help keep New Yorkers home are better than expensive and mostly taxpayer funded nursing homes. Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP New York, says it will also help family caregivers.

freeimages.com/Julia Freeman-Woolpert

Advocates from the Rochester - Finger Lakes region joined others from around the state in Albany to ask state lawmakers to increase funding for services helping people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

Jim Gulley of Penfield was one of the people on the trip. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2015 when he was 66. He thinks the state can do more to promote early diagnosis.

The number of deaths in Monroe County this flu season has risen to 6. It was at 2 a week ago.

The latest numbers from the county health department shows that all of the deaths were in people aged 50 and over.

So far, there have been more than 2,400 lab-confirmed cases of the flu, with 335 people hospitalized.

Those numbers are still behind last year, which was a particularly bad flu season. Last year at this time, Monroe County had recorded 11 deaths, with more than 4,400 lab-confirmed cases of the flu and more than 800 hospitalizations.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

"There’s panic," Marty Teller said, sitting in a conference room in the executive offices of the Finger Lakes Area Counseling and Recovery Agency. "What you’re really seeing is, the epidemic is rising."

For five rural counties around the Finger Lakes, FLACRA is the only provider of certain state-sanctioned treatments for opioid use disorder. On a per capita basis, those counties have some of the highest death rates due to opioid overdose in New York state.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield

Enrollment has continued to grow for Rochester’s largest health insurer, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

In its latest filing with the New York state financial services department, Excellus reported that it added about 40,000 new members in 2018. The company now has more than 1.5 million subscribers.

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

A rally was held outside the Regional Office of the Governor in Rochester in an effort to increase funding for mental health housing programs.

Doug Cooper is the Executive Director of the Association for Community Living, a statewide group that represents programs funded by office of mental health.

Cooper and about a dozen other people were outside on the corner of Liberty Pole Way and Andrews Street advocating to get more funding for mental health housing programs.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office

The Monroe County jail will launch a new treatment program for people with drug addictions, County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo and Sheriff Todd Baxter announced Wednesday.

The program will offer addiction treatment services for people who are held with pending charges at the county jail in downtown Rochester. Dinolfo said it will be the first of its kind in New York state.

Other addiction treatment options are already available for inmates who have been sentenced, but the county is now expanding some of those services to people still awaiting a court hearing or a sentence.