Michelle Gabrielle Centamore


Tips For Losing The COVID-15

Exercising and eating right are still the best ways to lose weight. (Getty Images)

Three months of inactivity and isolation can wreak havoc on your health. If quarantine from COVID-19 has left you feeling sluggish, out of shape, and battling extra pounds — aka the COVID-15 — now’s as good a time as any to kick your health and fitness regime into full gear.

Experts say the ideal way to create change is to choose attainable goals with the understanding that achieving optimal health takes effort and won’t happen overnight. 

“Be mindful that it took time to get where you are today, says registered dietician Lori D’Amato of Food and Wellness in Huntington. “So, it will take time to create healthy choices and new habits. Start by deciding what your long-term goals look like and then break it up into smaller, more achievable goals.”

D’Amato suggests addressing your emotional state, as well as health and weight loss goals. 

“If we are providing the right foods and working on exercise but our mind is not on the same page — stress, external cues — we may see some extra bumps in the road,” she adds.

Exercising is key to achieving better health and weight loss and is good for the psyche, too, says D’Amato.  Cardio is a great starting point, she notes, as it not only raises your heart rate but, “over a prolonged period of time, it starts to release your ‘happy’ neurotransmitters.” Feeling happy can serve as excellent motivation to continue your efforts. 

Consistency is key. Be consistent and slowly build upon your routine, for example, adding weight training, D’Amato adds. 

Regarding exercise, equally as important to what you do is how you do it, says Kayla Hendrickson, a Huntington nutrition consultant, personal trainer, and co-owner of Brains & Brawn, Inc. It’s all about execution.

“Choose three basic moves and commit to perfecting them,” she advises. “Movement is not much different than learning a new language. It needs to be practiced frequently, correctly, and with detail.” 

Choose exercise that you’re comfortable with physically and mentally and reevaluate over time, Hendrickson says. She suggests avoiding high repetition workouts and instead, increasing sets. Providing “ample opportunity to rest ensures that most reps are executed correctly. This is especially important after a lay-off because there is no way to know your body’s peak ability.” 

Listen to your body. Your “workout should be stimulating yet should not annihilate,” Hendrickson says.

Achieving better health and fitness is indeed a package deal — a positive mindset, plus exercise, plus nutrition, says Stefani Kavner, a certified holistic health coach at Huntington-based Fit For Life with Stef. 

Fuel your body with quality ingredients. To reduce inflammation and restore your body, avoid sugars, white flours and processed foods, Kavner advises. Mind your alcohol intake. 

“It turns into glucose in your body and causes systemic inflammation, as well as being a depressant,” she says, adding that junk food should be limited. “Why tempt yourself with food that you are not OK with eating right now?” 

“It’s important to ingest nutrient-dense foods so your body is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs to heal and run properly,” Kavner adds. “Starting slowly can look like adding greens three times a day or cutting the gluten out of your diet.”

Include fresh vegetables, proteins including fish, and healthy fats into your diet — and don’t forget H2O, the experts say. Include antioxidant-rich foods, too. They’re “not only beneficial for the body by reducing oxidative stress, but [contain] a powerful antioxidant called polyphenols — found in black tea, coffee, several fruits and vegetables — that has been shown to help stimulate fat breakdown,” D’Amato notes.

Be realistic about your goals and path to achieving them. 

“Losing one to two pounds per week is the healthy way to go about weight loss,” for example, notes Kavner. 

Avoid fad diets! 

Make being healthy your new normal,” Kavner says. “If this is something you really want for yourself, making gradual changes over time will build momentum toward healthier habits.” 

Don’t forget to enjoy some fresh summer air and sunshine, too. It’s good for the soul. Seek support if needed, Kavner says.

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Huntington Hospital’s Executive Director Dr. Nick Fitterman Touts Top-Notch Care

Dr. Nick Fitterman

Dr. Nick Fitterman, Huntington Hospital’s executive director, is a native Long Islander who has embraced the Town of Huntington as his “personal and professional home.” 

Run by New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health, the state-of-the-art healthcare facility strives to offer the kind of unsurpassed care and compassion to patients that has been valued by Dr. Fitterman since before he began his career. He says childhood experiences with his family’s pediatrician were the driving forces behind him becoming a physician. 

“We didn’t have a lot of money,” he says. “[My pediatrician] took care of us and I always remember how grateful my parents were. This one person could impact the lives of the whole family. I wanted to be able to do something like that.”

In his previous roles as head of hospitalists at Huntington Hospital and vice chair of medicine at Northwell, Dr. Fitterman says he was able to help address “the changing landscape of patients’ needs and available treatment” and “improve efficiencies and quality at numerous hospitals.” 

In October 2018, Dr. Fitterman leapt at the opportunity to become the executive director at Huntington Hospital. He recalls thinking, “How great would it be to potentially have even more influence to improve the care of the community I live in? This job to me is a dream job.”

Dr. Fitterman praises Huntington Hospital’s exceptional collaborative team that includes physicians, nursing staff, aides, and environmental workers. 

“These people are really committed to relieving suffering of anyone that walks through our doors,” he says.

Huntington Hospital was previously ranked the 12th best hospital in the state and 14th in the region by U.S. News & World Report’s 2019-20 Best Hospitals rankings. 

“What all this reflects is that the community should feel safe,” he says. “They don’t need to travel to get world-class care — it’s right here in their backyard.” 

Dr. Fitterman says Huntington Hospital will continue to raise the bar in healthcare with plans to build a world-class cancer center in Huntington as part of the Northwell Cancer Institute as well as developing a neuroscience center. In addition, the hospital aims to enhance its already outstanding orthopedic and bariatric programs. 

“We are building programs here not to create a demand but rather, to meet the needs of community,” he says. “Healthcare should be a right and not a privilege. The sanctity of a physician-patient relationship is paramount to good care.” 

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Coronavirus Fuels Rise Of Telehealth Trend

Telehealth is the wave of the future, medical experts say. (Getty Images)

As the coronavirus pandemic created the need for doctors to see their patients without potentially contracting or spreading COVID-19 during office visits, many are increasingly turning to telehealth — like Skype, but for healthcare — which provides care remotely through telecommunications technology.

Telemedicine services enable practitioners to collaborate with each other and their patients — for example, transfer and analyze data and images — to treat and monitor patients without physical contact. The technology has been crucial in not only being able to address the needs of the sick but to protect the healthy, too. 

“Clearly at a time when you have a large influx of patients with potential for infectious disease, putting them all in a waiting room is suboptimal,” says Dr. Josh Kugler, who chairs the Department of Emergency Medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside. 

Telehealth allows for initial screening to differentiate the need for an emergency room visit due to a broken bone or possible COVID-19, for example. 

“If they don’t meet certain criteria, we may take their phone number and call them in their car and use their technology or we could bring them an iPad…and we could set up a queue according to severity,” Kugler says, adding that by utilizing technology, physicians are able to triage and treat effectively without overexposing patients and providers. 

The healthcare industry is not new to telehealth. But healthcare privacy laws, limited reimbursement for providers, slower adoption by practitioners, and technical limitations made it an intimidating and/or slow-moving feat before coronavirus. 

Upon implementing or updating the scope of their telehealth care, hospitals and medical practices faced challenges from everything from language barriers to entering Medicare and Medicaid telemedicine codes, adoption and comprehension of the technology, and some patients’ reluctance due to their unfamiliarity with the technology. But most if not all of these bumps in the road were promptly addressed. For example, translation technology was utilized to combat language barriers, and the government has lifted regulatory restrictions.

Ultimately, telehealth has provided healthcare experts with advanced capabilities to care for their patients, the benefits of which are invaluable, experts say.

Telehealth adds 24/7 convenience, says Dr. Ken Long, vice president of administration, Mount Sinai South Nassau. Physicians have access to electronic medical records to remotely attend to hospital as well as family practices, even if their physicians have coronavirus. Doctors could easily fill prescriptions following a telehealth visit rather than have their patients run to the ER, for example. And while there’s been a great shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE), telehealth “allows us to conserve masks and gowns,” he says. “We want the practices to stay functional; we don’t want people to get sick.” 

Medical professionals at Northwell Health, Long Island’s largest healthcare system, agree.

“With the onset of COVID-19, Northwell Health has leveraged existing capabilities and expanded their capabilities and outreach tremendously,” says Iris Berman, R.N., vice president of Telehealth Services at Northwell Health. 

Telehealth has been extremely valuable particularly for the vulnerable and at-risk population, she notes, explaining that a patient with multiple comorbidities, simultaneous chronic diseases that require a number of different specialists to manage their care, would typically require special transportation and visits on any given day to a professional team including a pulmonologist, nutritionist, and physical therapist. 

“What we are able to do with telehealth is have all of those specialties at one visit at one time while that patient stays home,”  Berman adds.

They are able to coordinate, collaborate, and treat effectively.

“People will see the convenience of it and the efficiency and want to continue this well after the COVID emergency is over,” Berman says. “Getting good data together, looking at those avoided unnecessary and high-cost transfers to the emergency room — conserving more expensive resources for those that really need it — will be something interesting to look at.” 

Related Story: How To Boost Your Immune System During The Coronavirus War

For more coronavirus coverage visit longislandpress.com/coronavirus

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How To Boost Your Immune System During The Coronavirus War

Drinking fresh citrus fruit juice is a good source of vitamin C. (Getty Images)

As the world takes cover from the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare experts offer insight on how to help strengthen the immune system and stay healthy.

In addition to not touching your face and practicing social distancing — staying home, avoiding crowds, keeping at least 6 feet away from people in public — to avoid the spread of the disease, experts also offer a few suggestions on preventing and fighting COVID-19, should you contract it.

“Strengthening or boosting the immune system during this difficult time is of the utmost importance,” says Rosemary Cook, a registered nurse and holistic nutritionist. “A healthy immune system can defeat an invasion of a bacteria or virus or organism that is going to come to the host, which is your body.”

Hand hygiene is critical. Good old-fashioned soap and water is preferable to hand sanitizer, which should be used as a backup.

“People are using an overabundance of hand sanitizers and wiping out the natural flora or good bacteria,” she says. “Alcohol, although it has good disinfectant properties, deprives skin of oil and water and can dry skin out, which can interrupt the skin’s natural barrier of protection, increasing the risk of viruses and bacteria entering into the skin.”

She recommends disinfecting and sanitizing naturally, too, with vinegar, oregano oil, Thieves oil, or witch hazel. 

Consume a balanced diet that includes protein, fruits and vegetables, advises Vivian DeNise, D.O., of Garden City Center for Integrative Health. Avoid refined sugar, processed foods (which often contain monosodium glutamate or MSG) and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), all of which will inhibit the body from doing its best work, she warns. 

Blending fruits and vegetables into juices and smoothies is a great way to get lots of nutrients into your diet. Frozen vegetables are dense in vitamins and minerals, Dr. DeNise notes. Gelatin-rich bone broth supports gut health and the immune system, adds Cook. 

Liposomal vitamin C is a most powerful antioxidant that strengthens your body’s natural defenses, combats free radicals, and encourages the production of white blood cells to protect the body against infection, experts say. Good food sources of Vitamin C include kiwi, oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit, as well as raw vegetables — red and green peppers, spinach, leafy greens, etc. 

“Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut are great probiotics and also are rich in vitamin C,” Cook says. 

Experts note that zinc helps strengthen the immune system, in addition to cod liver oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin D. 

“All provide protection against viruses,” Cook says. 

If you’re experiencing respiratory challenges, aside from consulting your physician, Cook recommends soothing the condition with the herb, thyme.

“It helps fight respiratory infections and is a natural expectorant; it helps get rid of mucus,” she says.

Avoid respiratory challenges by not smoking or vaping, warns Dr. DeNise. 

“When you smoke, it calms the cilia [tiny hairlike organisms that help protect your body from pathogens] down and whatever you’re inhaling gets deeper into your lungs,” the doctor adds. 

Remember, quarantine does not mean stay inside, says Cook. Fresh air, natural sunlight, and exercise are paramount to feeding the mind, body, and soul. 

“Take a break from social media every now and then, as negativity can wreak havoc on the immune system,” she says. “Sleep helps the body rejuvenate and heal. The body needs rest to maintain and build strength and immunity.” 

Dr. Salvatore R. Pardo, chair of emergency medicine at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream, agrees. 

“Whenever there’s a new virus, we don’t know how it behaves,” he says. Rather than panic, he advises: “Follow good hygiene, health, and safety practices.” 

Experts advise individuals to consult with their trusted healthcare provider for specific guidance and supplement dosage relating to their individual health needs. 

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Bite Into Wellness This National Nutrition Month

Say yes to fruits and no to sweets. (Getty Images)

An unhealthy diet is a leading risk factor for death, studies show.

Poor nutrition choices were responsible for an estimated 318,656 cardiometabolic deaths in 2012, according to “Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States,” a 2017 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The good news is that it’s never too late to get healthy. What better way to start than to explore some of 2020’s most promising nutrition plans? This year’s front-runners are the ketogenic (keto) diet, plant-based diet, and intermittent fasting.

“Many diabetics—Type 2—are using [the Keto] diet for weight loss which helps decrease blood sugar and insulin levels,” notes Greer McGuinness R.D., C.D.N., chief clinical dietician at Cold Spring Hills Nursing Home in Woodbury. “The biggest challenge is following the diet; many patients don’t stick to it and eventually get frustrated and stop, resulting in weight gain.”

The keto diet is a high-fat, moderate- to high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. McGuinness suggests that diabetics, especially, should collaborate with their physician and dietician to monitor health and achieve success.

Plant-based diets are the next hottest trend, says McGuinness, and for good reason. According to the American Heart Association, a plant-based diet — which entails removing or limiting some or all meat items and consuming fruits, vegetables and grains — reduces the risk of coronary disease, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and many cancers. 

“Plant based doesn’t mean you eat less protein,” says McGuinness. “You get protein sources from other items.”

Be sure to get adequate amounts of vitamin B12 and iron, too. 

Intermittent fasting does not dictate what types of food you can or can’t eat; rather, “It’s an adjustment of times for consumption of food and not eating,” explains McGuinness. 

“The fewer hours you eat, the fewer calories you consume, putting you in a calorie deficit for weight loss,” she says. 

Still, consuming healthy foods and practicing healthy lifestyle habits can surely contribute to success. Individuals on medications should consult with their physician, says McGuinness. Whatever nutrition plan you choose, remember, no diet is a one-size-fits-all, says McGuinness, who suggests seeking out counseling if need be.

“The human body is so complex, and everyone is different,” she says, adding that it’s all about “changing the mindset.” 

The Little Mermaid Takes The Argyle Theatre at Babylon Village Under The Sea

The Little Mermaid takes the stage at Argyle Theatre at Babylon Village

The Argyle Theatre at Babylon Village is taking Long Island theatergoers “under the sea” for one more week with the classic Broadway musical, Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

The enchanted tale of a beautiful, brave mermaid who longs to explore life on land is an absolute must-see. Under the creative leadership of Argyle’s artistic director, Evan Pappas, The Little Mermaid sweeps audiences up in one wave, beginning with mesmerizing ocean sounds breezing through the theatre minutes before both vibrant sea and land-life take the audience by storm, quite literally. With brilliantly designed costumes and choreography, a super creative set, awesome props, intricate lighting and sound details, and a dynamic, talented cast, one would think the real Disney story has come to life in the most magical place on earth, except in this story, the magic is all on Argyle’s stage. An especially “hot crustacean [pit] band” is underneath and fills the theatre with a captivating instrumental performance.

Princess Ariel, played by Kimberly Immanuel, embodies the heart, soul, talent and beauty of the teenaged princess who dreams of becoming human, and live with the charming Prince Eric, played by the dashingly talented, Jeff Sullivan. Immanuel sings Part of Your World with a voice that is both sweet and strong, full of conviction with a hint of a dream about to come true. Her transformation on stage from mermaid to human is pure genius thanks to costume designer, Kurt Alger, whose designs are all exquisitely constructed to reflect each character’s unique personalities.  

Ariel’s father King Triton is played with royal perfection by Warren Nolan Jr. He truly personifies your average, protective father and majestic ruler. Under the Sea is a blast, performed by the fiery red crustacean, Sebastian, played by Ryan Gregory Thurman. Such fun and fancy fin-work graces the stage in this scene and more, thanks to an eclectic choreography arrangement by choreographer Tara Jeanne Valle. 

Courtney Balan’s performance as the evil Ursula singing Poor Unfortunate Soul, accompanied by Flotsam and Jetsam, her evil sidekicks on skates, was super powerful. Ariel’s faithful friends, Flounder, played by Matthew Rafanelli and Scuttle, played by Michael Valvo, brought that fantastic, fun-loving energy we’ve all come to adore from a Disney Classic. 

Several of The Little Mermaid’s cast and crew are returnees, a true testament to the specialness of the Argyle family, started by father-son duo, Mark and Dylan Perlman. Argyle’s frequent theatergoers, too, have come to look forward to and appreciate the exceptional talent and heart that is displayed at each of Argyle’s productions.

Argyle Theatre, 34 West Main St., Babylon. argyletheatre.com, 844-631-5483. Disney’s The Little Mermaid tickets $35-$74 Through February 23. 

Healthy Relationships With Food Take Dedication

Eating disorders can impact the mind and body equally. (Getty Images)

For Meaghan Wamboldt, 26, of Dix Hills, establishing a healthy relationship with food and her body took nearly half of her lifetime to accomplish. 

“Ever since I was a little girl, I always struggled with body image and self-confidence,” she recalls. 

During her childhood, competitive cheerleading and dance kept her active and fit on the outside, but by the time she hit her teens, she began to crumble on the inside. Traumatic experiences, poor self-esteem, anxiety, and depression settled in, resulting in dangerous eating and lifestyle habits. By her freshman year of college, Wamboldt was diagnosed with anorexia, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Although presently recovered from her eating disorder, Wamboldt suffers from its physical side effects, including a heart condition (bradycardia) and infertility.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that could negatively and indefinitely impact an individual’s emotional, mental, and physical health. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa (starvation), bulimia nervosa (self-induced vomiting following binge eating), and binge eating disorder (eating large quantities of food). Most individuals who suffer from an eating disorder also feel some sort of guilt or shame about themselves and their condition. 

“An eating disorder is the degree to which thoughts, actions and behaviors about food, weight, body image and exercise begin to interfere with your quality of life and your ability to be present,” says Dr. Sondra Kronberg, licensed clinical nutritionist, certified eating disorder specialist, and founding executive director of Eating Disorder Treatment Collaborative, which has officers in Jericho and Hauppauge. 

There are several potential triggers in eating disorders and Long Island is no stranger to many of them, says Kronberg.

“We live in a pretty image-driven culture on Long Island — the amount of pressure to succeed, be the best and the thinnest, stress, and affluence,” could all create an “epidemic of eating disorders,” she says. 

Other triggers may include a history of a mental health condition, a relative with an eating disorder, poor body image, and weight issues, poor self-esteem, anxiety or trauma, and peer pressure, according to NEDA.

“The most obvious sign of an eating disorder is being grossly too thin or being grossly overweight,” says Barbara Crosby, M.S., certified health coach, weight management expert and eating disorder therapist. Other symptoms include thinning hair or hair loss, decreased socialization, increased isolation, not being able to eat around people, etc. 

Recovery from eating disorders is “a work in progress and a lifetime responsibility,” says Crosby. 

“The sooner the patient is diagnosed the easier it will be to heal,” Crosby says. Working with a mental health professional, nutritionist, physician, etc., who specializes in eating disorders is critical. “The goal is for the patient to have the courage and strength to look into and learn about themselves.” 

Support of family and friends may also contribute to healing and help foster positive self-attitudes and gratitude. Crosby advises: Don’t discuss food, weight or appearance. 

“Instead, chat about the weather, kids, jobs, vacations, movies … If asked how they look, “stay neutral,” she suggests, with a reply like, “You look beautiful.”

Those who succeed in recovering from an eating disorder have this in common: “They learn how to eat and care for themselves emotionally, physically and spiritually in a way that supports their aliveness, well-being, spontaneity, growth and development,” says Kronberg. 

Wamboldt says her life was saved by a team of professionals including a nutritionist, psychologist, psychiatrist, medical doctor, and support group, as well as her faith. 

“I no longer view my body as a battlefield, and food isn’t the enemy,” she says. “I learned that my worth and my value doesn’t come from a number on the scale, but what’s in my heart. I learned that self-esteem comes from doing esteemable acts and living my life according to my values and morals. I learned that I am loved because of who I am inside, not outside.”

Proposed Flu, HPV Vaccine Mandates Ignite Controversy

Vaccine mandate opponents rally in Albany on Jan. 8, 2020. Photo by Meighan Esmond.

Long Island parents were among an estimated 1,000 protesters who picketed on Jan. 8 outside the New York State Capitol in Albany to rally against a pair of proposals that would mandate students to get additional vaccines to attend school.

If passed, the bills would require an annual flu vaccine for minors from age 2 months to 18 years and require the HPV vaccine for all children born on or after January 1, 2009. Supporters of the bills say the mandates are necessary for public health. Opponents say the science is not settled as to the vaccines’ safety and the government is interfering in parents’ medical decisions for their children. 

”Many children in daycares and preschools are exposed to daily close contact with other young and possibly ill children,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) wrote in his sponsor memo for the flu bill. “Often children of this age group are too young to have been properly taught to cough properly and protect themselves from disease. Vaccination is the best way to make sure our youth is protected.” 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu vaccine can reduce flu illness in up to 60 percent of the general population, depending on how well the current, circulating flu virus is matched to the current flu vaccine virus. Influenza vaccine effectiveness for all vaccine types against influenza A or B for 2019 to 2020 was 48 percent for children ages 6 months to 8 years and 7 percent for children ages 9 to 17, says the CDC.

“Children at that age are at high risk for complications and more likely to transmit influenza,” says Dr. Jana Shaw, chair of public education for the New York State HPV Coalition and an associate professor of Pediatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University. “The flu vaccine is not perfect but it’s better than nothing.” 

The benefits outweigh the risks, she says. But skeptics remain. Critics note that the flu shot has the most complaints filed with the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a federal program for vaccine safety, co-managed by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Flu vaccines like all other federally recommended vaccines, are inadequately tested,” says Mary Holland, general counsel of Children’s Health Defense and co-author of HPV Vaccine on Trial: Seeking Justice for a Generation Betrayed. “They’re not tested against true inert placebos and not tested over a long period of time. We know that many flu vaccines contain mercury and aluminum — known neurotoxins.”

Sen. Hoylman is also sponsoring the HPV bill. 

“Human papillomavirus is an incredibly common sexually transmitted infection that can be passed on even when an infected person is asymptomatic, and can cause genital warts or cancer,” he says in his sponsor memo for the HPV bill. 

According to the CDC, the numbers of cases and the number of deaths from cervical cancer have decreased significantly in the past 40 years, due mostly to women getting regular Pap tests, which can identify cervical precancer. 

Dr. Shaw says the HPV vaccine can prevent that precancer — HPV infection — and cancer in the future. 

“Most of the infections happen early in life,” she says. “You can be infected with HPV. You will have no symptoms and no idea you are infected and then you will go on developing cancer.” 

An annual Pap smear and consistent medical care — not the HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9 — are the safest and most effective means of preventing cancer, critics say. According to VAERS, more than 60,000 serious injuries and more than 500 deaths were reported from the HPV vaccine as of October 14, 2019. 

“The HPV vaccine has never been proven to prevent a single case of cancer ever,” Holland says. “The clinical trials to license Gardasil 9 were grossly inadequate and fraudulent. The injuries and deaths from the HPV vaccine are real. No parent knowing the real risks would choose to give it to their child.” 

Bills that would permit minors to receive this vaccine without parental knowledge or consent “are unethical and violate the principle of informed consent,” she adds.

New York State Assemblyman David DiPietro (R-Erie County) says the proposed mandates are an example of government overreach and the pharmaceutical industry flexing its muscle, as he suggests was the case in 2019, with the controversial repeal of religious exemptions for vaccines for students in the wake of the measles outbreak.

“It’s not a coincidence that on June 13 — our last day in session — we passed this bill and then on June 14 when we were not in Albany, the [pharmaceutical] company Merck drops 48 million in New York State,” DiPietro says.

Matilda the Musical Coming Soon To Cultural Arts Playhouse

L. to R.: Goldie Lynne Centamore, Sophia Jarmel, and Claire Daly star in Matilda the Musical at the Cultural Arts Playhouse in Syosset.

With a fabulous cast ranging in age from 7 years to grown-up, an extraordinary creative score, catchy tunes, fantastic special effects, and awesome choreography, Matilda the Musical will entertain audiences of all ages at Cultural Arts Playhouse (CAP) in Syosset.

The role of the tiny yet ever-so-capable Matilda Wormwood is shared by three super talented girls: Goldie Lynne Centamore, Claire Daly, and Sofia Jarmel. 

“Their innocence and sweetness, as well as their talent shine through and their ability to memorize such massive material is amazing,” says Bruce Grossman, CAP’s owner and artistic director.

Based on the beloved Roald Dahl classic, Matilda is the story of an exceptional, seemingly enchanted girl who at 5 years old has read hefty titles as Crime and Punishment and Jane Eyre, and even speaks Russian. Rather than praise their daughter and shower her with kisses of pride, Matilda’s parents resent her for not being a boy and are incredibly cruel to her. Matilda attends a private school with a monstrous headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, played by John DiGiorgio and Jerry Callahan. Fortunately, Matilda and her school friends meet kindness in their teacher, Miss Honey, played by Alyson Endlich and Samantha Eagle. The children discover that “even if you’re little, you can do a lot,” a message that resonates well with CAP.

“Our theater is pretty profound for its development and work with kids,” Grossman says. “We give very good training and bring them up in a very positive fashion and help instill confidence.”

CAP offers youth classes and productions, as well as mainstage performances. It makes it a mutually enjoyable experience when child and adult actors collaborate for a mainstage production. 

“The kids absolutely love working with an adult cast — it makes them feel like it’s Broadway,” he says. “The adults are very appreciative because they know it will enhance the show to have really talented kids in the appropriate roles.”

Matilda the Musical is one monumental endeavor, says Grossman, but a welcome challenge that comes with great reward for CAP’s dedicated, creative production team that includes Tony Frangipane, artistic director; Amanda Schmidt, stage manager; Kristina King, choreographer; and Rich Giordano, music director. 

Matilda the Musical runs from Jan. 4 to Feb. 2 at Cultural Arts Playhouse, Syosset, 170 Michael Drive. 516-694-3330. culturalartsplayhouse.com Tickets are $24-$38.

Editor’s note: Goldie Lynne Centamore is Michelle’s daughter.

Making Realistic New Year’s Resolutions Is Key To Success

(Getty Images)

Every year, on December 31 as the clock approaches midnight, billions of people around the world envision a better year ahead. 

They dream of a healthier, happier, and more successful life — smiles, laughter, everything coming up roses. 

New Year’s resolutions can motivate us to create positive change personally and professionally, but experts advise: To make those resolutions stick, make both your goals and steps to achieving them attainable. 


To successfully accomplish your goals and realize your true potential, look within and “focus on you,” says Dr. Christine Grimaldi, founder of The Body Mantra Method, a fitness program for on-the-go celebrities and owner of Body Mantra and Barre Salt Spa in Smithtown. Dr. Grimaldi’s paramount advice: “The key to daily, sustainable happiness for yourself, and even for helping others, is to make yourself a priority.” 

Daily meditation can help, Dr. Grimaldi suggests. 

“Spend five minutes at night making a gratitude list of that day and then a brighter meditation,” she says. “Implementing these tasks will make you a happier and healthier person as a whole.”


Consider your reasons for pursuing your resolution, advises Ron Villano, psychotherapist, founder and director of Family & Personal Counseling and Hypnosis of Long Island, and author of the self-help book The Zing.

“Does it align with your values and beliefs or is it something you’re doing because someone else thinks it’s important for you to do?” he asks.

Stefani Kavner, clinical social worker, certified holistic health coach and personal trainer and owner of Huntington-based health and wellness organization Fit for Life, recalls a 78-year-old client who wanted to improve his health so he could dance with his granddaughter at her wedding and one day meet his great grandchildren. 

He “showed up” to work out three times per week for years. At first, “he could hardly do a crunch and within months he was doing full sit-ups. I watched him gain strength and confidence and dance with his granddaughter at her wedding. He’s continued to work out three days a week at 82 years old.”


“Most of us want to lose weight but planning to lose 10 pounds in 10 days is impossible to achieve,” notes Kavner. An alternative, attainable goal, she suggests, is aiming to lose five pounds in one month. Baby steps. 

“If you want to start waking earlier to exercise first thing in the morning, start by setting your clock back 15 minutes earlier than your normal wake-up time for an entire week before setting it back another 15 minutes the following week,” she says.

If detaching from technology is your mission, start small, suggests Villano. 

“Going cold turkey is not a realistic solution,” he says. Instead, he suggests, “For the month of January, I will not look at my cell phone past 9 p.m. … It gets you on the right path and sets a realistic goal designed to give you a win!”


Write everything down. Break down your goals into smaller, more manageable timeframes and record your progress. 

“You can tweak as things change for you, as life is constantly changing,” says Kavner.  


For goals that are particularly challenging — like quitting smoking, ending addiction, losing weight — it’s all right to seek professional counseling or support from family and friends. 

“Resolving to make major lifestyle changes to benefit your health and welfare takes a team—with you in the driver’s seat,” says Villano.


“Permanent change is the eventual goal but taking notice of the successes you make along the way will help you build that momentum to stick to it,” says Villano. 

Mistakes happen and that’s OK — that’s life. 

“Give yourself a good old-fashioned pat on the back for sticking to the long-term change,” he says. 

“Real, lasting change is hard and happens by changing small habits over time,” adds Kavner. “Time is your friend.”