An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, according to the American Thyroid Association, ranging from function issues such as underactive or overactive conditions to cancer. These conditions, once diagnosed, can usually be successfully treated with either monitoring; medication; or surgically, usually through a minimally invasive procedure that may or may not require an overnight stay.  more

An Appreciation

By Donald Gilpin | Photography by Weronika Plohn

“America’s nurses are the beating heart of our medical system.”

—Barack Obama

In a job that’s never been easy, nurses found themselves in March 2020 at the epicenter of a deadly pandemic, on the front lines in battling a mysterious new virus, COVID-19.

For nurses, altruism and hard work are a way of life, every single day. Princeton Magazine asked several area nurses in different fields in a variety of settings and facilities around the area to share thoughts about themselves and how they have stayed positive in facing the challenges of their profession, especially during the pandemic.

Caring, helping, teamwork, persevering, and touching people’s lives were themes that recurred over and over.

Ashley Ferrante, RN
The Pediatric Group

Ashley Ferrante has worked as a registered nurse at The Pediatric Group for 12 years. She is currently back in school to further her education and she plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in 2023.

“I adore working with kids,” says Ferrante. “It is rewarding to provide them with medical care and watch them grow from birth to adolescence.

“Juggling family, school, work, and dealing with the anxiety of COVID can be highly stressful. I stay positive by spending my free time with family and friends. Devoting time to my garden and hiking in the woods with my fiancé and six rescue dogs are some of my favorite ways to relieve stress.”

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Where Words Fail, Music Speaks

By Anne Levin

In a video that debuted last November, 55 people join together on Zoom to sing the song Louis Armstrong made famous, “What a Wonderful World.” Most of them suffer from aphasia, a language disorder that often develops after a stroke or brain injury. As an introduction to the song, several of the participants talk — some more haltingly than others — about the frustrations of their condition. “Aphasia is difficulty speaking,” says one. “Makes me slow,” says another. “Aphasia is lonely.” “Aphasia is complicated.” “Aphasia is not being able to talk to my children.” And so on.

But once they begin to sing, all of the hesitancy disappears. Words so difficult to speak appear to flow effortlessly when set to music. The singers are members of the International Aphasia Choir, drawn from different aphasia choirs on five continents. They are visual and aural proof of the Hans Christian Andersen quote: “Where words fail, music speaks.”

Prominent among these choirs is the Bridgewater-based Sing Aphasia, founded by Westminster Choir College graduate Gillian Velmer during her doctoral studies in speech language pathology at Kean University. As part of her doctoral program, Velmer built a website, singaphasia.com, for aphasia choir resources. During the pandemic last year, she was approached by Trent Barrick, a music therapist in Florida. He had discovered the site, and wondered if she’d be interested in helping him put together an international aphasia choir video.

Gillian Velmer

“I said yes right away. I loved the idea,” says Velmer, 34, who has a day job as a speech language pathologist in the South Plainfield Public Schools. “Aphasia can be so isolating. If you are all of a sudden not able to communicate the way you used to, it’s just devastating. And it doesn’t affect just one person. It really affects the whole family and friends and community of the person as well.”
A native of Bridgewater, Velmer has always loved to sing. At Westminster, “choir was a huge and very fulfilling part of my life,” she says. “My time there inspired me to look into the field of speech language pathology. My senior year, I had classes on anatomy and physiology of the voice, which I found so interesting.”

As a prerequisite for her master’s degree, Velmer took a course on aphasia. “That was the first time I had heard of it, or even heard the word,” she says. “But that’s not really unusual. Statistics say that less than 15 percent of Americans know about aphasia, yet nearly two million in this country are living with it. I was so fascinated by that. Somehow, doing the research and having my musical background, I thought, ‘What about music for aphasia?’ ”

Velmer made aphasia choirs around the world the topic of her master’s thesis. After earning her degree and working in public education for a few years, she returned to Kean to pursue a doctorate. “I knew I wanted to continue my research,” she says.

She began looking into the question of whether singing can help with word-finding. “Over a five-week period, we did find an improvement,” she says. “There is definitely more research needed in this area, and that’s what Sing Aphasia hopes for in the future.” more

Image Source: www.pennmedicine.org

At the end of October 2021, Penn Medicine opened the doors to its 1.5-million-square-foot future-ready pavilion. The 17-story building on Penn Medicine’s West Philadelphia campus houses 504 private patient rooms and 47 operating rooms. The pavilion will play host to the latest inpatient care for cardiology, cardiac surgery, medical and surgical oncology, neurology and neurosurgery, and transplant surgery. It will also be the site for Penn Medicine’s new emergency department.  more

On Sunday, November 21 from 9:30 a.m. to noon, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve will lead a unique and relaxing nature therapy walk. These guided walks are an immersive and slow-paced experience with proven health benefits. Inspired by the Japanese practice of forest bathing and led by certified nature and forest therapy guide Linda Domino, guests will explore the land of the Preserve and awaken their senses to its sounds, creatures, textures, and beauty.  more

The CEA School of Flemington presents the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 5K on Thursday, November 25. Winding through the historic streets of Hunterdon County, the race is an inspiring and uplifting way to celebrate a season of thanks, goodwill, and gratitude. 

Since 1993, the CEA Turkey Trot has attracted upwards of 6,000 runners and walkers, all in benefit of the CEA’s employment programs, which bring much needed jobs to individuals with disabilities. The CEA School, located at South Hunterdon Regional High School ,was established to meet the needs of Hunterdon County’s students in a more inclusive environment. The CEA School is a New Jersey Department of Education approved private school located within a public school setting serving middle and high school aged students with disabilities. more

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that health is precious and the nation’s health care system can buckle under the strain of a pandemic. While COVID-19 proliferated throughout much of the world, the 2020 flu season was noticeably mild due to the implementation of mask wearing, social distancing, and extra hand sanitizing. This makes sense since the coronavirus and influenza are both spread by respiratory droplets. Both illnesses can go undetected until the actual symptoms set in, meaning that you can test positive for the flu, but you may not feel ill until two, three, or even four days later.  more

New Jersey’s historic marathon returns to the boardwalks and beachside roadways of coastal New Jersey and Atlantic County on October 17. 

Established in 1958, the Atlantic City Marathon is the third oldest marathon in the United States. The course is noted for being flat and fast, a great qualifier for both the Boston and Chicago marathons. With eight miles of boardwalk running, the scenic landscape is decidedly beachy and a beautiful setting for a fall race.  more

COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida significantly impacted available blood supply in New Jersey. As such, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) and Sky Zone Hamilton are partnering to host a blood drive on September 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sky Zone Hamilton, located at 17 Quakerbridge Plaza, Unit B in Hamilton. 

“Sky Zoe Hamilton has always been committed to our #DoGood mantra as well as being a strong community partner” said Joshua Harry, general manager of Sky Zone Hamilton. “When we heard there was a need of blood in New Jersey, we reached out right away to our community partners.” more

Noah A. Goldman, MD, a gynecologic oncology specialist who has taught at five medical schools during the past two decades, has joined Penn Medicine Princeton Health as the new medical director of cancer programs.

As medical director, Goldman will collaborate with administrative and medical staff leaders at Princeton Health and Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center to foster development of a comprehensive cancer program for central New Jersey.

Goldman also will see patients in Princeton Health’s new oncology suite in the Medical Arts Pavilion, adjacent to Princeton Medical Center (PMC). He is board certified in gynecologic oncology and obstetrics and gynecology. To schedule appointments in the oncology suite, call 609.853.6590. more

State grants will increase student engagement and support academic progress.

Montclair State University will receive more than $1.4 million from the state of New Jersey to support programs that help to address the impacts of COVID-19 on postsecondary students. 

Gov. Phil Murphy and Secretary of Higher Education Brian Bridges announced the grants on July 12, with Montclair State among 35 public and public-mission private institutions receiving $30 million in state aid to implement vetted best practices that increase college completion, address barriers to student success, and develop sustainable systemic reforms.  more

Escape from daily life at 4 Elements Wellness Center in Princeton. Whether you have 5 minutes or several hours, 4 Elements is a place where nature and cutting-edge science are combined for improved health and positivity. 

Designed to embrace your curiosity and lift your spirits from the moment you enter their doors, 4 Elements offers a wealth of rejuvenating services. One of the most cutting-edge is Cryotherapy. 4 Elements offers full-body, localized, and Cryo facial therapy. Their Pagani Cryo T-Shock has been used in Europe since 2014 to kill fat cells, reduce cellulite, tighten loose skin, and slow the overall signs of aging.  more

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Penn Medicine is offering telemedicine appointments and consultations for a variety of specialties and services. These remote services include coronavirus screenings, new patient appointments, and follow-up care. More than 9,000 members of the Penn Medicine clinical staff are trained to provide telemedicine visits and participate in more than 7,000 appointments per day across the Penn Medicine system. The following Penn Medicine departments currently offer telemedicine appointments for new patients, with services being continually added: cancer, heart and vascular, bariatric surgery, orthopaedics, primary care, transplant, neurosciences, and neurosurgery. If you are already a Penn Medicine patient, contact your doctor to see if telemedicine appointments would work for you.  more

Crafted right in New Jersey, Brown’s Best Premium Raw Pet Food is chef-created and nutrient packed for your favorite dog. 

Using restaurant-quality, farm fresh ingredients like grade A beef, chicken, turkey, and more, Brown’s delivers superior nutritional benefits. The result is healthier, happier dogs, and reduced health concerns such as red eyes, dry skin, allergies, loose stools, low energy, and excessive shedding. Brown’s ships across New Jersey and is manufactured in Bergen County’s Harrington Park. Their website and 24/7 customer service phone line will answer all of your questions about transitioning your dog to a raw food diet. You can also visit their physical store at 68 Schraalenburgh Road in Harrington Park.  more

Sunflower season is here and what better way to enjoy these beautiful blooms than to take a trip to Alan’s Flower Farm in Allentown.

From sunflowers to hydrangeas, lavender, dahlias, peonies, mixed bouquets, and summer annuals, Alan’s bucolic fields contain a wide variety of blooms. In season now, sunflowers are harvested from July to October. These regal blooms are an instant pick-me-up and look wonderful as a table setting or dried and added to a hanging wreath. more

Runners rejoice!

The HiTOPS Princeton Half Marathon will offer in-person and virtual race options on Sunday, November 14. There will also be special youth run options for the youngest athletes.

The live half-marathon is currently 50 percent full. Register today at https://bit.ly/3ymJ6R7.

For all in-person runners, the start gun will go off at 7 a.m. at Paul Robeson Place. The field is currently limited to 1,200 participants. The beautiful course will carry runners through the heart of historic Princeton, as well as the Princeton Battlefield, Institute for Advanced Study, past the home of Albert Einstein, Princeton University, the Princeton Boathouse on Lake Carnegie, Westminster Choir College, Mount Lucas, and Herrontown Woods. more

Image Source: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RVRoadRunners/

Raritan Valley Road Runners will host its 5K Summer Series on July 27, August 10, and August 24. 

Registration for this 37th edition of the race series opens at 5:30 p.m. on the evening of each race day. 2.5K run/walk options are also available. All race registration will be held near the boat launch in Donaldson Park in Highland Park. 

Races are cross country style, meaning that the terrain will include mostly grass and dirt following the path of the scenic Raritan River.  more

JFCS of Greater Mercer County invites you to join them for the first annual Wheels for Meals Bike Ride Fundraiser to Fight Hunger, taking place on Sunday, October 3, 2021 at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor. Route options include a 32-mile, 8 a.m. start; 10-mile, 9:30 a.m. start; and 3 mile, 10:15 a.m. start. For registration and event details, visit jfcswheels4meals.org.  more

Bicycling is Booming  —with Princeton at the Epicenter                                                                  By Donald Gilpin

There’s a bicycling boom going on, Princeton is at the center of the action, and there are good reasons for both of these facts.

The cycling industry was already thriving before COVID-19. Then lockdowns and anxiety over public transportation brought about a sharp increase in bike sales and repairs, as people of all ages, whether they’d ridden a bike in the last 20 years or not, were eager to get outdoors and exercise safely. They found old bikes in the garage to refurbish or headed to the bike stores.

The waiting time to buy a new bike can be as much as a full year now, as bike stores struggle to keep up with demand.

This time in the history of our planet, when concerns for the environment and a focus on personal health and wellness impact every aspect of our daily lives, seems to be particularly propitious for a sustained surge of interest in bicycling. Whether for pure fun and fresh air, for sociability, for exercise, for transport, or for commuting and working, bicycling appears to be an activity that will continue to grow.

Princeton — formerly best known as a town of scholars and educators or a bastion of American history or perhaps as an enclave of genteel elegance or a mecca for sophisticated suburban shoppers — was recently designated the most “bike-friendly” town in the state and is well poised to ride the crest of this wave of popularity. Presented with a silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) award by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) in December 2020, Princeton is one of only six BFCs in New Jersey and the only one in the state to attain the silver level. Since 2016 Princeton had been ranked at the bronze level along with Hoboken, Lambertville, New Brunswick, Ocean City, and West Windsor.

Blessed by its geographical location and some resourceful, foresighted leaders, Princeton has been developing its Bicycle Mobility Plan for many years. Its recently upgraded Bike Boulevards provide a network of routes that connect the schools, the public library, and the downtown area to other parts of the town; with a variety of different routes ranging from a 16-mile fitness loop around the perimeter of town to the 4.5-mile town and gown loop near the center of town. The recently published Princeton Bicycle Map is available at Kopp’s and Jay’s bike shops and online on the municipal website at princetonnj.gov.

For more ambitious riders the Bike Boulevards connect with the 22-mile Lawrence Hopewell Trail, which meanders from just west of Princeton through the environs of Lawrenceville, Pennington, and Hopewell. The 77-mile Delaware & Raritan Canal Trail goes about 15 miles north from Princeton to New Brunswick, about 13 miles south to Trenton, then from Trenton about 32 miles north along the Delaware River to Frenchtown. more

Laura Huntsman, board president of Whole Earth Center.

Three Area Markets with Distinctive Personalities

By Anne Levin | Photos by Jeffrey E. Tryon

During the first several months of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were noticeable changes in the way people shopped for food. Fearful of exposure to the virus, many began to avoid big chains. Smaller, independent stores felt safer.

Three such stores in the Princeton area — Whole Earth Center, McCaffrey’s Food Market, and Pennington Quality Market — have each weathered what was hopefully the worst of COVID. These are distinctly different organizations. Whole Earth and Pennington Market are single stores; McCaffrey’s in Princeton Shopping Center is one of seven owned by the McCaffrey family. What the three companies do have in common is a focus on their local communities, and a dedication to their customers and staff who, in turn, have been exceedingly loyal.

“Our staff has been incredibly supportive,” said Jen Murray, general manager of Whole Earth Center. “We did lose a bunch of staff when it first started, but we continued to employ everybody who wanted to work. It’s a lot of heavy lifting on the team that’s here. Resiliency has been the word. We serve our community.”

“With COVID, our customers were tremendously supportive of us, and expressed appreciation for staff that continued to work despite the challenges,” said Mike Rothwell, who co-owns Pennington Quality Market with his two sisters. “It’s our staff, and the personal relationships with customers, that make us unique. And we have kept that going.”

“Overnight, our associates became something we at McCaffrey’s always knew they were – essential workers,” said Jim McCaffrey IV of the company’s response to COVID. “They came to work, day in and day out, while others were sheltering in place, to serve our customers and communities. Most importantly, they did it with a smile — behind their masks, of course.” more