Archive for the tag 'department of health'

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Gnomiki Day Care at 2221 Ocean Avenue, which was closed due to its history of violations. Its sister site at 2623 Ocean Avenue has been recommended for closure as well. (Source: Google Maps)

The operators of nine child care facilities – seven in Brooklyn and two in Staten Island – were charged last Friday with submitting false documents to the city to cover up a slew of health and safety problems, according to Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation Mark Peters, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, and Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, Jr.

At the centers, which served about 400 children, investigators said they found a long list of egregious conditions, including rat droppings, poison, a mountain of trash, and a fire alarm falling off the wall, the Daily News reported. Additionally, the DOI said they discovered owners had submitted fake educational degrees, forged medical records, and falsified letters stating employees had been trained in child abuse identification.

The city recently closed four of the centers:

  • Gnomiki Day Care, Inc., 2221 Ocean Avenue, closed due to the site’s violation history, city officials said.
  • Next to Home, 1123 Flatbush Avenue, was shuttered due to a city Department of Buildings vacate order issued in response to multiple DOB and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene violations.
  • Next to Home, 1159 Flatbush Avenue was closed because investigators said the program had been operating under an expired DOB certificate of occupancy.
  • One of a Kind Child Care, 6318 Amboy Road, Staten Island, ended operations after DOHMH petitioned to revoke the permit.

At the remaining five sites:

  • Next to Home, 5566 Kings Highway, was “never leased and never provided services to children,” the DOI said
  • ABC Little Star, 2345 85th Street, is still operating and city officials said DOHMH inspected it this week, finding no new violations.
  • Gnomiki Day Care, Inc., Group Family Day Care, 2623 Ocean Avenue, has been recommended for closure.
  • Next to Home, 353 Ocean Avenue, closed after the owner stopped operations, city officials said.
  • One of a Kind Child Care, a group family daycare operating at 6306 Amboy Road in Staten Island, is operating, but the owner that was arrested will be excluded from the program, officials said.

The site owners who were arrested were:

  • Viktoriya Federovich, 38, of Brooklyn, was the owner of Gnomiki Day Care, Inc. She was charged with presenting fraudulent documents to the city, including two Certificates of Completion for Identification and Reporting of Child Abuse and Maltreatment for an assistant teacher and a volunteer, the DOI said.
  • Elena Kaplan, 53, of Brooklyn, was the owner ABC Little Star Day Care, and, according to the DOI’s investigation, she allegedly submitted a number of false documents to the city, including a a fake public school teacher certificate for herself and state Nurses Association Certificates of Completion for various members of the staff confirming they had received training in identifying child abuse, when, in fact, they allegedly had not, the city officials said.
  • Owen Larman, 41, of Brooklyn, a convicted felon who was found guilty of operating a $12 million mortgage fraud scheme in 2007 and who was also charged in this case with stealing close to $60,000 in public funds. He was the owner and operator of Next to Home Child Care, which provided services at three locations in the borough. Next to Home also obtained a registration to operate a fourth child care program at 5566 Kings Highway, but the DOI said this site did not actually provide any services.
  • Gina Schiavo, 44, of Staten Island, was the owner of One of a King Child Care. According to the DOI, she allegedly introduced an individual to a DOHMH inspector under another teacher’s name and fraudulently provided documents with the name and qualifications of the teacher. When the inspector questioned the individual about her identity, Schiavo allegedly admitted that the individual was using another person’s name.

“These defendants forged and falsified documents in order to cover up safety risks and steal money intended for actual child care, as charged,” Peters said in a prepared statement. “Our investigations underscore the importance of continuing to vigorously police the integrity of the city’s child care systems, an effort that is very much continuing.”

In his statement to the press, Thompson too issued harsh words for the defendants.

“Each day parents throughout the city count on child care providers to protect the safety of their children,” he said. “It is disgraceful that greedy operators would circumvent safety provisions for their own benefit. Our parents and children deserve better and that’s why we worked so closely with the Department of Investigation on these cases.”

An example of a bait station (Source: DOH)

An example of a bait station (Source: DOH)

After a raccoon tested positive for rabies in Bensonhurst last month, the city announced today that vaccine-treated bait will be placed around Southern Brooklyn to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

Raccoons will be vaccinated using bait containing oral rabies vaccine in parks, public green spaces, and on private property along the southern border of Brooklyn and Queens. The brown, fish-scented bait will conceal a small packet of pink colored liquid vaccine about one square inch in size. When raccoons chew the bait, they will become immunized.

It’s an expansion of a program initiated by the United Stated Department of Agriculture and Cornell University, and is already being conducted in Long Island and parts of upstate New York.

An example of the bait. Quarter for size comparison purposes. (Source: DOH)

An example of the bait. Quarter for size comparison purposes. (Source: DOH)

The bait itself is harmless to humans, but exposure to the liquid can cause a rash. If neighbors somehow stumble across one of the fixed bait stations, rummage through the bait, puncture the packet and get the liquid on their skin – an unlikely scenario – they’re advised to wash the affected area with warm, soapy water and notify the Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222. The bait is not harmful to pets, but can cause vomiting if too much is consumed.

More information about the bait program can be found here.

The Department of Health is also sharing the following tips to help prevent the spread of rabies:

  • Get your cat or dog vaccinated for rabies. It’s the law.
    • Check with your vet to see if your pet is up-to-date with vaccinations. Pets need a rabies booster shot every one to four years.
    • Call 311 or visit nyc.gov and search for “rabies” for information on rabies.
    • Always keep cats, even vaccinated cats, indoors and supervise your dog when it is outdoors. Cats and dogs that roam could come into contact with a rabid animal, get infected, and then expose you.
  • Avoid wild, stray or unfamiliar animals. Keep children and pets away from them too.
    • Avoid any wild, stray, sick, or injured animal, no matter how helpless it looks. Even stray cats can be dangerous.
    • Raccoons, skunks, and bats are more likely than other animals to have rabies. Be careful around them—especially if they appear sick or behave strangely. For example:
      • Normally tame animals, like cats, acting too aggressive or wild animals acting too friendly.
      • Difficulty walking around.
      • Night animals like raccoons walking around during the day.
    • Call 311 and ask for Animal Care and Control to find out what to do
    • Keep garbage in tight containers to avoid attracting animals.
  • If you are bitten by an animal, wash the wound, consult a doctor, and call 311 or Poison Control to report the bite.
    • First, wash the wound with soap and water IMMEDIATELY.
    • Talk to a doctor right away to see if you need a tetanus shot or a rabies evaluation. If you don’t have a regular doctor, go to a hospital emergency room.
    • Call 311 to report the bite. After business hours, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

West Nile DOH map

The city Department of Health will be spraying mosquito-killing pesticides throughout parts of our neighborhood tonight, between 8:15pm and 6am – which was supposed to happen last week but ended up being canceled because of the rain, according to a DOH spokeswoman.

The area to be sprayed is shaded yellow on the map above, although it’s only an approximation.

Here’s a .pdf from the city detailing the spraying, and here’s more information about the West Nile Virus.

And, to prepare yourself for tonight, check out the suggestions we detailed last week about what to do to protect yourself, including staying indoors and closing air conditioner vents.

doh-map

The Department of Health is warning residents of the Sheepshead Bay area that they will be spraying pesticides throughout parts of the neighborhood tomorrow night, between 8:15 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

The area to be sprayed is shaded yellow on the map above, although it’s only an approximation.

Like any time a government sprays a bunch of toxic crap in the air, they’re saying the chemical used – Anvil 10+10 – has no known risk to humans. But it’s The Man, man, so here are a couple of things you should do to make sure you stay safe and don’t grow an arm out of your butt (tips courtesy of The Man, not guaranteed to be 100 percent effective):

  • Stay indoors whenever possible during that time period – especially if you have asthma or respiratory issues.
  • Close the vents on your air-conditioner and set it to recirculate.
  • Remove toys, equipment and clothing from outdoor areas. If you leave them out there, make sure to wash them with soap before using them.
  • If you have an outdoor garden, wash your produce thoroughly before eating it.

Here’s a .pdf from the city detailing the spraying and safety tips, and here’s the city’s webpage for West Nile Virus.

Source: NYC Parks Department

In their battle against weeds and vermin, the New York City Parks Department is using a common pesticide that a new study suggests is associated with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and breast cancer.

The new concerns arise out of a study published in April by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that found that the commercially available pesticide Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, is associated with lymphoma. A report this morning in DNAinfo found that the city has sprayed Roundup in public greenspaces more than 1,300 times last year alone.

The outlet reports:

The Parks Department sprays the pesticide, called Roundup, to kill weeds that harbor rats on “little-used” areas near playgrounds, officials said. The city posts warning signs for 24 hours before and after spraying.

“In order to keep rats out of the playgrounds and meadow areas, we must use Roundup,” Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson said. “It is not used inside playgrounds but is often used on little-used slopes outside playgrounds precisely because overgrown weeds near playgrounds harbor rats.”

The city defended its use of Roundup, which was sprayed in public parks 1,365 times in 2013. That was a 22 percent increase from the previous year as officials phased out other weed-killing chemicals that were deemed more toxic, according to a Health Department report.

The agency would not tell the outlet which parks had been sprayed, or how often.

The outlet also noted a study published last year suggesting that glyphosate effects hormones linked to breast cancer.

While extreme critics say the city should stop using pesticides in parks altogether, some say it’s sufficient to leave signs up for 72 hours after spraying, not 24. However, the city cites statistics from the manufacturer, Monsanto, that claim the product becomes harmless after 24 hours. The agency also insists that pesticides are not sprayed in commonly used areas, but only along overgrown, out-of-the-way sections.

As for Monsanto, they’re dismissing the study’s conclusion.

“Comprehensive toxicological studies repeated over the last 40 years have time and again demonstrated that glyphosate…does not cause cancer, mutagenic effects, nervous system effects, immune system effects, endocrine disruption, birth defects or reproductive problems,” company spokeswoman Charla Lord told DNAinfo.

Although it appears the city will continue to use pesticides in playgrounds, the state has banned pesticides from use in other child-friendly areas.

In 2010, Governor Paterson signed the Child Safe Playing Field Act, which prohibits schools and day care centers from applying pesticides to any playground, turf or athletic playing field out of concern for children’s health.

According to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, HealthGuidance:

Potential harm from pesticides is especially important to consider in schools and day care centers because children are at greater risk from chemical exposure. Children are not little adults – from infants to teens, they are growing and developing. Their bodies have not yet reached developmental maturity. This means that they are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of many pesticides and other chemicals. Behaviors of young children, such as putting things in their mouths and crawling on the floor, put them at additional risk from pesticide exposure.

Ariel Jasper is leading the fight to legalize ferret ownership. (Photo by Vanessa Ogle)

by Vanessa Ogle

There are dog people. There are cat people. And, now, there are ferret people.

For the first time since 1999, New York City is considering reversing a ban on ferret ownership in all five boroughs. Though ownership is legal throughout the rest of the state, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani enacted a citywide ban, which the Bloomberg administration defended.

But that hasn’t stopped residents from secretly owning ferrets.

So Sheepshead Bay resident Ariel Jasper, 23, was excited when Mayor Bill de Blasio took office. De Blasio, who seeks to ban horse drawn carriages from city streets, has already earned a reputation from animal rights activists as a more compassionate mayor for animal rights than his predecessors.

“Growing up, I had an interest in ferrets,” Jasper told Sheepshead Bites. “They were adorable.”

She’d been eager to stop the ban but didn’t feel that the Bloomberg administration would have been receptive. In early January, after de Blasio took office, she launched a Change.org petition that now has more than 380 supporters. Now Jasper, a master’s student at Brooklyn College, is the frontlines activist to overturn the ban and credited with prompting the change at City Hall.

On Tuesday, officials from the Health Department confirmed they would support lifting the ban.

Ferrets, though commonly misidentified as rodents, are actually part of the weasel family. They have a lifespan of between five and nine years and they have the same bite incident as a cat or dog.

“We allow very powerful dogs in our society,” Jasper said. “I don’t understand the double standards.”

Jasper feels that with ferrets—like all animals—it comes down to responsible pet ownership.

“You never leave any child unsupervised with any animal,” she said.

Her only concern about the legalization of ferrets revolves around impulsive pet store customers.

“Ferrets have an initial cuteness,” she said, but adds that they shouldn’t be purchased on a whim. “They need space and they require special care. They are not cage animals.”

Legalization could take place anytime between June and December. And when it does, Jasper plans on owning a ferret.

“Once everything’s legal,” she said.

Source: DiFara.com

Legendary Midwood establishment Di Fara Pizza (1424 Avenue J) took to Facebook late last week and over the weekend, vowing to fight a $1,600 fine from the Department of Health for having too many chairs in the notoriously seat-strapped storefront.

Maggie DeMarco, daughter of famed dough-tosser Dom DeMarco, took to the social media site to explain a recent health inspection that left them with a B rating, saying that they had extra folding chairs in the kitchen.

Maggie wrote on Thursday:

A few years ago we purchased extra seats as we do get very crowded most of the time. We were always kind and would bring out an extra chair if someone asked … Those folding chairs caused us to get a B grade. As someone who has been doing this a very long time, I want people to know not to panic when they read grades on food service businesses . It rarely ever means anything hazardous to the public … At this time, we will no longer have anymore than 19 seats at all times.

According to city regulations, restaurants with 20 or more seats must have a public, handicapped-accessible bathroom. Di Fara does not. Their bathroom is behind the counter, in the kitchen.

On Saturday, Maggie updated Facebook fans on the developments. The city sent the business a letter offering to settle the case for $1,600 or spend a day attending a hearing. DeMarco suggested it’s a racket, and one she won’t stand for.

A business tends to settle just to avoid the inconvenience of attending the hearing. I , however will attend the hearing as I want the 19 seat rule explained to me clearer as we can not continue to pay fines for unexpected violations.

She also expressed her wish that the Department of Health assign dedicated inspectors to each restaurant, allowing them to build relationships and be subject to uniform standards on each visit – the inconsistent interpretation of regulations being a common complaint from restaurant owners.

DeMarco returned to Facebook again late last night, noting that the inspector appears to be a little ignorant of the laws. After some research, she discovered that the bathroom requirement is only applicable to restaurants opened after 1977. Since Di Fara Pizza opened in 1965, the eatery should be grandfathered in.

The hearing for Di Fara’s appeal is scheduled for March 18.

Hot damn, that’s sexy. (Source: teddy-rised/Flickr)

When I sit down to eat a sloppy tower of meat by-product stacked on soggy bread with wilted lettuce and questionable “secret” sauces, the last thing I really want to know is the awful, shudder-inducing details of what I’m cramming into my facehole.

The Department of Health doesn’t like my life of blissful ignorance, however, and so they’re making the knowledge quite available to me anyway, as if the calorie counts on the wall weren’t enough to shame this shambling mess of a man.

And so they’ve launched MenuStat, a public database of nutritional information for more than 35,000 dishes served up by 66 top chain eateries.

From the press release:

The site sources data from the restaurant websites, provides historical, date-stamped information, and puts it into a format that allows for comparison across restaurants, food categories, and over time.

… MenuStat is designed to be used by researchers, food industry professionals, health organizations and consumers interested in understanding nutrition trends. Users can search items by selecting specific criteria such as the calorie content of beverages on kids’ menus or the average grams of trans fat in fried potatoes, and, assess changes in nutrition content over time such as the sodium content of sandwiches in 2012 and 2013. The website also includes a graphing function and the option to export data to a spreadsheet for analysis.

Did you know that one additional meal consumed away from home increases daily caloric intake by more than 130 calories? Yeah, I didn’t either. Now I have that fact to keep me up at night.

In just a moment of playing around with the tool, I’ve learned that Dominos occupies the top eight slots for highest calorie count in a pizza, a category that has nearly 800 entries. Their Feast Pizza has between 2,760 and 4,580 calories, approximately double that of the top entry from the second restaurant named on the list, California Pizza Kitchen, whose California Club Pizza comes in with 1,400 calories.

There are some surprising results, though. Most would think a chain like McDonald’s or Burger King would near the top of the list for calorie counts on their squishy little meat patties. Alas, no, they don’t even come in on the list of top 70. Instead, Chili’s takes that fatso cake, with the top three spots for their burgers, the best tasting most calorie-packed of which is the Big Mouth Bites Burger with Ranch, with 1,800 calories. Similar chains round out the top 20, including Friendly’s, Applebee’s and Denny’s.

Well, that’s gross. I’m eating a salad today. Just not at IHOP, because there’s a category for that, too.

And… just because:

Source: kainet / Flickr

Source: kainet / Flickr

The following information regarding pesticide spraying on September 3 to cut down on the risk of West Nile Virus was sent to us by the Department of Health:

To reduce mosquito activity and the risk of West Nile virus, the Health Department will spray pesticide from trucks in parts of Brooklyn on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning, weather permitting. In case of bad weather, application will be delayed until Monday, September 9, 2013 during the same hours. The neighborhoods listed below are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations.

Neighborhoods

The areas being sprayed are parts of Brighton Beach, Bergen Beach, Coney Island, East Flatbush, Flatlands, Georgetown, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Homecrest, Marine Park, Manhattan Beach, Midwood, Middle Basin, Mill Island, Mill Basin, Sea Gate, Sheepshead Bay.

Boundaries

The boundaries are bordered by Avenue D, Brooklyn Avenue, East 36th Street, Avenue I, East 14th Street, Avenue U, Nostrand Avenue, Avenue X and 86th Street to the North; Bay Parkway and Gravesend Bay to the West; Atlantic Ocean, Knapp Street, Sheepshead Bay, Avenue X and Gerritsen Avenue to the South; and Belt Parkway, Paerdegat Basin and Ralph Avenue to the East.

ZIP Codes

The ZIP codes affected will be parts of 11203, 11210, 11214, 11223, 11224, 11229, 11230, 11234, and 11235.

For these sprayings, the Health Department will use a very low concentration of Anvil® 10+10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health. The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  • Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  • Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

Reducing Exposure to Mosquitoes

  • Consider reducing the amount of time spent outdoors during the hours between dusk and dawn in areas with heavy mosquito populations.
  • Use an approved insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus (not for children under three).
  • Make sure windows have screens, and repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
  • Eliminate any standing water from your property, and dispose of containers that can collect water.
  • Standing water is a violation of the New York City Health Code.
  • Make sure roof gutters are clean and draining properly.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty and covered if not in use; drain water that collects in pool covers.
  • Report standing water by calling 311 or visiting www.nyc.gov.

Members of the City Council unveiled a legislative package on Monday, designed to reform the restaurants inspection program and reduce the burden on business owners, who have long said the letter-grade inspection system unveiled in 2010 is just a revenue generating scheme.

The new plan, announced by Council Speaker Christine Quinn and a bevy of Council colleagues, seeks to reduce fines, streamline the process, create an office of the ombudsmen to field complaints, and provide more meaningful information to customers.

Here are the specific proposals:

  • Across the board fine reductions;
  • Fine waiver for restaurant owners/operators who contest an initial inspection’s findings at the Administrative Tribunal and ultimately receive an A;
  • The opportunity for restaurant owners/operators to request a consultative and ungraded inspection for educational purposes;
  • Establishment of an ombuds office to receive and address comments, complaints and compliments;
  • Development of an inspection code of conduct pamphlet that inspectors will distribute to all restaurant owners/operators prior to the beginning of an initial inspection;
  • Creation of an advisory board to ensure ongoing and systemic review of the restaurant inspection program;
  • Increased and improved reporting of restaurant inspection data; and
  • Relief from violations relating to the physical layout or structure of a restaurant

The letter grade system was introduced in 2010, and aimed to make it easier for the public to decide the cleanliness of restaurants. But restaurant owners said that it hurt their business, as a restaurant that poses no threat to the health or safety of their patrons might have a B or C grade due to some relatively minor and obscure regulation, while one with a more serious health threats did not necessarily rack up enough points to hurt their grade. They also said that inspectors were pressured to find minor violations, forcing restaurant owners to go to hearings and pay fines in order to increase their grades.

Since the letter grade system was implemented, the amount of money the city has collected has increased from approximately $30 million a year to $50 million.

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