Monday, May 25, 2015

Hurricane Season: How to Prepare for Big Storms

by CHI Staff

The longstanding and powerful former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neil, is famous for saying that “all politics is local.”  In that vein, it is not a large leap to contend that all emergency management is local as well.  When a disaster or event occurs, it is the citizens living in the affected area, and the first responders who serve them, who are on the front lines.  A community much be ready to survive for at least 72 hours on their own before help may arrive. 

With the beginning of Hurricane Season upon us June 1, it is important to remember to take personal responsibility by having ourselves and our families prepared for storms and other disasters.  By securing personal preparedness, first responders are able to address the needs of the community that inevitably develop during an emergency. 

The emergency management preparedness manta remains Build a Kit, Make a Plan, Stay Informed.  More information on what to include in these kits and other resources for personal preparedness can be found at

Beyond personal preparedness, for emergency management to be effective it is imperative to build community resilience. Adelphi’s Center for Health Innovation is working to do just that. 

Under our Partnership for Social and Community Resilience, CHI has collaborated with communities to improve the resilience of Long Island residents that were significantly impacted by recent disasters. Through a competitive, self-nomination process, two communities were selected for this program.  These two communities differ in population, vulnerabilities, resources, geographic location, and population variation.  Both were provided with customized resources from Adelphi University such as experts and training. CHI and University College’s Emergency Management faculty and students worked with recipients, using a guided self-assessment process to determine current needs and capacities.

CHI then assisted with development of a definitive community resiliency program, empowering town officials in the process, and developing public-partnerships that are essential to improving resiliency in a disaster situation. The results are tangible products, for example a town-specific toolkit, a set of public service announcement specific to these townships, and recorded in the prominent languages in those areas.  

We continued the overall programming by partnering with the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management and Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management to offer multiple trainings for local emergency managers, public safety, and town officials including providing the training on the Public Assistance Program to help town officials to arrange for post-Sandy rebuilding of building infrastructure and the development of building codes that promote resilience.

At the intersection of our physical, community and social health is our vulnerability to disasters.  By strengthening our physical and community infrastructure, we strengthen our community’s ability to be proactive and strong.  Preparing for disasters is a dynamic process that includes building significant public-private partnerships, outreach and involvement of residents and their neighborhood units and focusing efforts on the most vulnerable in our communities. Just as the physical infrastructure is constantly evaluated and strengthened, so must our communities’ social and community resilience.  

Preparedness at both the personal and local levels leads to a more resilient public and one more ready to handle hurricanes and other disasters.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Can Patients Choose Their Hospital in a Pandemic?

by Bonnie Eissner

With the outbreak of Ebola in Africa and the looming threat of avian flu and other highly transmissible diseases, the threat of a pandemic has taken on a new urgency, at least in the public consciousness. According to Jiang Zhang, Ph.D., an associate professor at the Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, the U.S. government has been concerned for some time about the possibility of an influenza or avian influenza outbreak. What would this look like? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that it could mean from just shy of a million to more than nine and a half million hospitalized victims...

Recently, Dr. Zhang, an operations management expert, teamed up with a colleague, Lihui Bai, an assistant professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Louisville, to examine how patients can be enticed to choose the hospitals that will best serve them.

At the heart of the issue is the unequal distribution of hospitals and hospital beds. Urban areas, such as New York City, have larger, more prominent hospitals. But the demand for beds is much greater. During a pandemic, this imbalance could lead to bottlenecks at city and suburban hospitals, while rural hospitals remain underutilized.

How do you spur people to travel to the hospitals that will serve them most efficiently? One option is for the government to assign people to particular hospitals. Another is to entice them.

Dr. Zhang and Dr. Bai showed that an incentive-based model is as effective as an assignment-based model. And it’s likely to be more palatable. 

They used a simple incentive: shorter wait times. According to the model, shorter wait times can be used to offset the time spent traveling to more distant hospitals. The model is akin to using tolls to encourage drivers to use less crowded roads, bridges and tunnels.

The study, published in 2014 in the International Journal of Mathematics in Operational Research, has drawn significant attention. Dr. Zhang said, “The reason our paper has been picked by the journal and sent out was because it’s relatively new…in this type of setting.”

Dr. Zhang noted that as hospitals and doctors focus more on service delivery and cost savings, operations management models and expertise will become more relevant. Already, he is working on another hospital-related study, and he said that the physicians who participate in Adelphi’s M.B.A. program are showing increased interest in understanding how to apply business models to their own work. Both are examples of how operations management is becoming more interdisciplinary. 

This article appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Erudition. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

How Do Parents Help Kids Cope?

by Bonnie Eissner

It is intuitive and proven that secure parent-child relationships benefit children. But questions remain to be answered about why this is true or the precise ways in which parent-child attachment impacts child development.

Laura Brumariu, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, explores these questions in her research.

Dr. Brumariu explained that a secure parent-child attachment is a relationship in which children perceive their caregivers as available, sensitive to their needs and havens of safety in times of distress.

One question she is now addressing is: “Why does having a secure relationship with a parent help somebody have lower anxiety?”

She is primarily focused on how parent-child attachment affects a child’s ability to regulate emotions and cope with stressful or unexpected situations. In a series of studies involving children of different ages, she showed that children in secure relationships are better at identifying and managing emotions and have better peer relationships.

According to her findings, children with disorganized-insecure attachments, by contrast, have more difficulty managing emotions and have poorer peer relationships. They also tend to evaluate ambiguous situations more negatively and, when they encounter difficulties, are less likely to seek support or engage in problem solving.

“In turn, difficulties with emotion regulation and peer relationships have been linked with more anxious feelings in children,” Dr. Brumariu explained.

Dr. Brumariu readily acknowledges that attachment is not the be-all, end-all of childhood happiness. She and her colleagues are also looking at how temperament and parent-child communication relate to child anxiety.

For example, in one study in which child-mother pairs were asked to discuss a conflict, mothers of less anxious children were more supportive, exhibited more warmth and interest in the child and were more elaborative during conversations. Further, more anxious children showed heightened emotion and were less engaged in the conversation.

“I’m trying to look at it all in a context because we don’t believe in a vacuum,” Dr. Brumariu said. “There are other pieces to this puzzle of why some kids are anxious and some are not, including genetics.”

This article appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Erudition

Monday, May 4, 2015

100 and Not Retiring

by Sophia Conti

In honor of Older Americans Month, we are sharing a profile of a 100-year-old alumna of Adelphi University. 

Sylvester at the Freeport Memorial Library. 
When Belle Sylvester ’33 attended Adelphi 80 years ago, students roller-skated to class.

“It was like a club,” said the 100-year-old coordinator of classical programming at the Freeport (New York) Memorial Library. “It was a lot of fun.”

There was more space to roller-skate then, with only three buildings on the brand-new Garden City campus, which opened in 1929. Sylvester arrived a year later at age 15, completing her psychology degree in just three years. She also studied French and German, receiving medals for her work in both languages.

In addition to her studies, Sylvester brought music to Adelphi’s weekly chapel services. “We didn’t have an orchestra, but I organized a trio,” she said. Sylvester selected the pieces the trio would perform and also played the violin, which she continued playing until just a few years ago.

“It was really a wonderful three years,” Sylvester said of her time at Adelphi. “We had wonderful professors. And there was a lot of camaraderie going on. The people at Adelphi made a very close-knit community.”

Sylvester’s 100th birthday last October coincided with the 23rd anniversary of her being hired to coordinate classical music programming at the Freeport Memorial Library.

She told Newsday at the time, “Its no big deal that Ill be 100. A lot of people are doing that. But that Im still working, well, that might be unusual.”

She was similarly modest and witty when AU VU caught up with her in January, musing “I can’t believe that I have reached the age of 100 and some things still stick in my mind.”

Her recollection is remarkable, and, as she shared her past, it became evident that she has fashioned a memorable life.

After Adelphi, Sylvester pursued a master’s in psychology at Columbia University and later studied cryptography at Brooklyn College. “I always loved figures,” she said. “When I took [the course], I had the highest rating that they ever had.”

Sylvester never used her degrees professionally, instead taking time to raise her two children and pursue her love of music and dance. She organized a quartet that performed for many years, and she also took part in folk dancing.

“Folk dancing was one of my pleasures,” she said. “I did it for years with the same partner. We used to entertain at the Russian Bear [a nightclub]…they would give us vodka and lots of food.”

In her years at the Freeport Memorial Library, Sylvester has arranged numerous classical music concerts, ranging from chamber music trios to world-famous harmonica players.

“I love what I do,” she said, explaining why she has yet to retire.

Sylvester is loved as well. She can hardly cross the library without receiving a flurry of smiles, hellos and even hugs from her co-workers.

This article appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of AU VU.