Category Archives: Featured Stories

Audiologist joins Oswego Health


Karah Gottschalk, Au.D./CC-A, has joined Oswego Health as an audiologist.

She is providing hearing and balance testing for those of all ages using the newest technology.

Dr. Gottschalk earned her doctor of audiology degree at the University of Louisville and completed her residency at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center, in Cleveland, Ohio.

She also holds a Certificate of Clinical Competency (CCC-A) from the American Speech and Hearing Association. Throughout her schooling, she took part in extensive training in all aspects of audiology, allowing her to offer comprehensive hearing and balance services.

Oswego Health has purchased the latest hearing and balance equipment for Dr. Gottschalk so community members can receive exceptional audiology care close to their homes.

For those with hearing issues, Dr. Gottschalk is conducting specialized hearing tests using an audiometer in a newly purchased sound booth.

The Audiostar audiometer offers patient comfort and consistent results. When testing an infant’s hearing, she will utilize advanced Auditory Brainstem Response  equipment.

For balance testing, state-of-the-art Videonystagmography equipment, which records a patient’s eye movements during a series of actions, can assist in determining a patient diagnosis.

“I am excited to be offering a variety of excellent hearing and balance services in the community,” Dr. Gottschalk said. “This is a great opportunity that allows me to care for all ages from the very young to the elderly in a hospital environment, which I greatly enjoy.”

The new audiologist offers her hearing and balance services in suite 210 of the Oswego Health Services Center, which is adjacent to Oswego Hospital. The phone number is 349-5828.


Sunrise Rotary pork barbecue April 27

11th Annual Sunrise Rotary Pork BBQ – Sunday April 27, 2014 at the Polish Home – Noon until GONE. Eat in or take out and children under 5 eat FREE – All proceeds used for Community Projects. Pork BBQ Sandwich, Baked Beans, Coleslaw.
Pictured Back row from left; Dennis Goss, Chad Whelsky, Patrick Waite, Betty Maute, Dan Farfaglia, President Ed Garrow, Peggy Donnelly, Doug Stevens, Donna Kestner and Diane Cooper-Currier. Front from left: Linda Rossiter, the Rev. David Nethercott, Ellen Nowyj, Abby Wiertzema and LaVerne DeLand.

St. Luke Health Services honors volunteers

Pictured at a luncheon honoring the over one hundred and twenty volunteers at St. Luke Health Services are (left to right) St. Luke volunteer Hillary Adkins; St. Luke Volunteer Coordinator Nicole Greenier; and volunteer Betty Bartholomew. The St. Luke organization hosted the event as a way to thank their many dedicated volunteers who share their time and talents and help add to the quality of life of residents in their care.
Pictured at a luncheon honoring the more than 120 volunteers at St. Luke Health Services are (left to right) St. Luke volunteer Hillary Adkins; St. Luke Volunteer Coordinator Nicole Greenier; and volunteer Betty Bartholomew. The St. Luke organization hosted the event as a way to thank their many dedicated volunteers who share their time and talents and help add to the quality of life of residents in their care.

Volunteers of all ages gathered recently for a celebration in their honor at St. Luke Health Services.

The theme of this year’s luncheon event, “Volunteers Rock,” transformed the Riverview Room at St. Luke into a 1950s diner — a perfect setting for the Activities Department staff to use music of the era to celebrate the many contributions volunteers make on behalf of St. Luke residents throughout the year.

“We are appreciative of all the time and talents our volunteers share with our residents,” said Volunteer Coordinator Nicole Greenier.

“Our annual volunteer recognition luncheon is just a small way for our organization thanks them for their tremendous dedication and all the contributions our volunteers make on behalf of the people we serve and care for here at St. Luke,” she said.

In addition to an “All-American” lunch prepared by St. Luke’s culinary staff, the Activities Department entertained those gathered with a performance of their own creation; “Volunteers Rock!” a musical tribute to the important role volunteers play not only at St. Luke, but throughout our community.

“St. Luke has a tremendous base of 120 volunteers, including many groups from the community who share their unique gifts helping to enhance the quality of life that our residents experience,” said Greenier.

“Our volunteers are always ready to lend a hand, helping to make all the activities and outings we provide throughout the year possible,” she said.

Greenier noted last year, St. Luke volunteers ranging in age from 14 to 96 contributed nearly 4,000 hours of their time participating in hundreds of programs, activities and outings with residents.

“Volunteers at St. Luke can give of their time as often as they like,” explained Greenier. “Our program is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of schedules, and many people who inquire are surprised at the number of varied opportunities we have available that allows someone to volunteer as their schedule permits, and help make a difference in the lives of our residents.”

Anyone seeking information about the St. Luke Volunteer Program can call program Coordinator Nicole Greenier at 342-3166, extension 173.

Information about the program, including a downloadable application, can be found on the St. Luke website at


Hastings receiving money to upgrade sewer plant

The town of Hastings in Oswego County is receiving a Farm Bill grant of $981,000 to help make wastewater treatment plant upgrades.

The grant was announced Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of its celebration of Earth Day. Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack announced grants and loans for 116 projects that will improve water and wastewater services for rural Americans and benefit the environment.

“Having reliable, clean and safe water is essential for any community to thrive and grow,” Vilsack said. “I am proud that USDA helps build rural communities from the ground up by supporting water infrastructure projects like these. I am especially proud that we can help communities that are struggling economically and those that have urgent health and safety concerns due to their failing water systems.”

Today’s announcement is USDA’s largest Earth Day investment in rural water and wastewater systems. Nearly $387 million is being awarded to 116 recipients in 40 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Department is providing $150 million in grants through the 2014 Farm Bill plus $237 million in loans and grants from USDA’s Water and Environmental Program.

Fulton urgent care turns 5 years old

Dr. Martin Weitzel, Medical Director of Oswego Health’s urgent care center, is pictured with a patient at the healthcare facility, which is celebrating its fifth year.
Dr. Martin Weitzel, Medical Director of Oswego Health’s urgent care center, is pictured with a patient at the healthcare facility, which is celebrating its fifth year.

Oswego Health is celebrating its fifth anniversary of introducing urgent care services to the Fulton community.

The Oswego Health facility, now known as the Fulton Medical Center, has provided urgent care services to more than 116,000 individuals since its opening in late April 2009.

The urgent care center located at 510 S. Fourth St., always has a board-certified physician on site and is conveniently open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. including weekends and holidays.

At the urgent care center, minor illness and injuries can be treated, including respiratory ailments, cuts or wounds that may require stitches, sprains, strains or deep bruises, mild to moderate asthma attacks, ear infections, sore throats insect bites and rashes, among others.

When the urgent care first opened five years ago, it also has minimal other services such as laboratory and X-ray. Today, as the Fulton Medical Center, which officially opened two years ago, it offers complete medical imaging, laboratory, occupational and physical therapy departments that are technologically advanced, patient comfortable and attractive.

Among the medical imaging services offered at the Fulton Medical Center are Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), DEXA scans, Fluoroscopy and general x-rays.

This department also features a separate and more private area for those needing digital mammography, bone density or ultrasound screenings.

The imaging department has the electronic capacity to take a patient image in real time and make it immediately available for the radiologist to read. The images can also be sent to a physician’s office or the Oswego Hospital emergency room through the Picture Archiving Communications System.

For community members needing blood work, the Fulton Medical Center offers a three-station lab draw area for quick and convenient testing.

The physical therapy suite is located off the Park Street entrance and offers physical, occupational and speech therapy. A 1,300-square-foot gym will be equipped with the latest in rehabilitation tools.

Open burning banned now

Oswego County Fire Coordinator Donald Forbes reminds county residents of the annual statewide ban on all open burning.

The ban took effect March 16 and will remain in effect through May 14, during the high fire-risk period.

The ban makes it illegal to use a burn barrel or open pits as a means for incinerating trash. The burning of leaves is also banned in New York state.

Agricultural burns are allowed and there are certain circumstances when controlled burns, with a written permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation are permissible.

“The risk of brush fires is most prevalent at this time of year due to the lack of green vegetation, abundance of available fuels such as dry grass and leaves, warmer temperatures, and wind,” said Forbes.

On-site burning of limbs and branches between May 14 and the following March 15 in any town with a total population less than 20,000 is permissible, however, individual municipalities can pass ordinances that are stricter than, and not inconsistent with, the open fires regulations.

Forbes encourages residents to check with their local authorities to find out if local law requires a permit or prohibits open fires.

State regulation prohibits all open burning except for the following:

• Campfires less than 3 feet in height and 4 feet in length, width or diameter

• Small cooking fires

• Ceremonial or celebratory bonfires

• Fires cannot be left unattended and must be fully extinguished

• Only charcoal or clean, dry, untreated or unpainted wood can be burned

Violators of the open burning state regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense.

Additional information can be obtained on the NYSDEC website located at To report open burning, call the DEC at (800) 847-7332.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Members of the Prince of Peace Church representing the "Cherish All Children Ministries." From left to right front, the Rev. Richard Klafehn, Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward, Dianne Klafehn - Upstate NY Leader of Child Advocacy Center; back row  church member Alexandra Sorbello, Friend of CAC Ben Jarred, church member Margaret Nichols. Absent from photo Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Karrie Damm.
Members of the Prince of Peace Church representing the “Cherish All Children Ministries.” From left to right front, the Rev. Richard Klafehn, Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward, Dianne Klafehn – Upstate NY Leader of Child Advocacy Center; back row church member Alexandra Sorbello, Friend of CAC Ben Jarred, church member Margaret Nichols. Absent from photo Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Karrie Damm.

For more information on the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County, call 592-4453.
To report a case of abuse, call the state Child Protective Services hotline at (800) 342-3720. If you feel a child is in immediate danger, call 911.

By Debra J. Groom
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

And Oswego County is doing more to help children be safe by reporting more cases of child abuse than ever before.
The number of children and families served by the Child Advocacy Center in Fulton increased by 48 percent from 2012-2013 – from about 320 in 2012 to 475 in 2013.

The Child Advocacy Center, the Oswego County Department of Social Services and others are stressing the importance of knowing the signs of abuse and letting authorities know when abuse occurs.

Oswego County is keenly aware of child abuse as a result of the Erin Maxwell case in 2008.

Erin was 11 years old when she was found unresponsive in her Palermo home by her stepbrother, Alan Jones. She was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Jones was charged with her murder and her father and stepmother, Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, were found guilty of four counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Jones’ conviction eventually was reduced to manslaughter and he is serving tie in Fishkill Correctional Facility. According to Vinelink, he is scheduled for release in June 2015.

Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell were sentenced to two years in the Oswego County jail, but were released after serving 15 months.

When investigating Erin’s death, police found that she lived in deplorable conditions, was locked in her room to eat and sometimes went to school with dirty clothing and no lunch. It came to light during the investigation that the Oswego County Department of Social Services had investigated reports about the Maxwell household and Erin, but did not remove her from the house. Many faulted the department for its inaction.

Since then, many changes were made to the way these cases are handled in Oswego County. Cornell University completed one of three studies done looking at how the social services department worked at that time. The report found Oswego County’s caseworkers were overworked, handling nearly double the national and state average of cases per caseworker.

Changes were made after the reports and more caseworkers were hired. Gregg Heffner, who was hired as commissioner of the Department of Social Services about three years after the Erin Maxwell case, said previously all of those working in the department learned from the Erin Maxwell case and have made improvements to ensure it never happens again.

One change made is the start of a Child Protection Advisory Council that meets monthly. The group, consisting of people from many different agencies throughout the county, works to increase employees’ training, make sure they are all following regulations and that workers are using the best practices possible.

Karrie Damm, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center, is on that advisory council.

“I heard a quote once that stated ‘for every one educated adult, 10 children are safer,’” she said. She believes the more people learn about child abuse, the more they understand what abuse is and how to prevent it, then the number of children being abused will decrease.

Both she and Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes say the number of reported cases of child abuse coming into the Child Advocacy Center has increased so much because there is more abuse going on, but also because people are coming forward more often to report abuse cases.

Heffner recently said in a letter to the editor to The Valley News that it is important for people to report child abuse to the authorities. There is a state hotline for reporting cases, and abuse also can be called into the Child Advocacy Center or any police agency.

But people often are reluctant to report, feeling they shouldn’t stick their noses into someone else’s life or worrying the person they are reporting will come after them.

“People have to be trusting that there will be a response to their call,” Damm said. “People often feel as though ‘no one will listen to me.’”

Sometimes, the authorities aren’t listening well enough.

Oakes tells a story on how a trustworthy person he knows in the community called him about child abuse he saw in a family. Oakes said he checked out the information with others and found it to be valid and “caused me great concern as a DA and as a father.”

He called the state hotline to make a report. The state worker took Oakes’ information, but asked more questions. Oakes couldn’t answer the other questions, so the hotline worker said there was not enough information to take a report.

“I got very loud and threw my title out there,” Oakes said. “This mandated CPS (Child Protective Services) involvement. How can you turn this down?” Oakes said to the hotline worker. “This case screamed out for CPS involvement.”

Oakes then said he was going to call a press conference to let the world know the state hotline office was doing. He then was switched over to a supervisor who took the report.

Damm said if someone from the Child Advocacy Center calls the hotline with the case and is rejected, “we call back 10 minutes later to get another person to talk to or we ask for a supervisor.” She said it’s important for the public to know if they don’t get anywhere when trying to report a case of child abuse, don’t stop – try again.

“We like to blame the system. This is a community problem with a community solution,” she said.

People can report to the state hotline anonymously if they are afraid of retribution. But Damm said often it doesn’t matter if a person does or doesn’t give their names when reporting because the person doing the abuse usually knows who made a report.

“We have to be braver than the people doing the evil deeds,” she said.

Oakes, who prosecuted child abuse cases for six and a half years as an assistant district attorney in Oswego County, said many who abuse were abused themselves as children. “One of the best ways to break the cycle is to use prosecution, social services for the family and mental health services” for the child and the family.

If abuser were just prosecuted and then thrown in jail, the cycle of abuse would continue. “In many cases, abuse has gone unreported for many years across generations,” Oakes said.

That is why the nonprofit Child Advocacy Center works hand-in-hand with local law enforcement, prosecution, child protective services, medical providers, therapy providers and victim advocacy professionals in Oswego County. The center works with the parents and with the children.

“To prevent child abuse, we have to have conversations about it, keep talking about it, educate yourself and support the local program that helps kids,” Damm said. “Remember —  one educated adult keeps 10 kids safer.”