Monthly Archives: February 2006

Pandolfo’s choice to step aside was best for everyone

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NorthJournal, originally uploaded by rsdscrpsnews.

Pandolfo’s choice to step aside was best for everyone

By Jerry Clark, Sports Editor
Thursday, February 23, 2006

Former North Allegheny hockey head coach Tom Pandolfo has been under some unjust criticism since he resigned from his position earlier this month. Hockey Web sites and fans who have labeled him a quitter or say he was pushed out by North Allegheny parents are grossly misinformed.

Pandolfo didn’t quit on his team, he made the best decision he could to help their progress.

Pandolfo suffers from a condition known as reflexive sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), a chronic progressive neurological condition that affects skin, muscles, joints and bones. The syndrome often develops in an injured limb like a broken bone, but can also be caused by a minor injury as small as a slight sprain. The condition has forced Pandolfo into the emergency room 26 times in the past eight months.

The illness flares up a lot of time in the middle of the night and gets so severe Pandolfo has needed to call family members to give him a ride because the pain is so unbearable, he can’t drive. There is a laundry list of symptoms that go along with the disease including burning pain, extreme sensitivity to touch, joint pain, muscle spasms, weakness, migraine headaches and fatigue which can cause stabbing pain that disrupts sleep.

There is no cure for RSD, so to combat the pain, Pandolfo was taking a heavy dose of medication. Pandolfo decided to stop taking the medicine and rather than ween himself off the medication as his doctor advised him to, he stopped cold turkey. By stopping so abruptly, Pandolfo began to suffer side effects — mood shifts, depression and dizziness. These side effects made it difficult for Pandolfo to convey a positive attitude during practice and games, and led Pandolfo to believe he was not connecting with the kids.

He did a good job of concealing his agony but finally decided he had to gain control of the situation which ultimately meant stepping away from one of his favorite things, coaching hockey.

I’ve known Pandolfo for three years and conversed with him on a weekly basis during that time. He is very passionate about coaching. He loves it and aside from family and his business, it’s the next most important thing.

He restored a swagger in North Allegheny hockey that had been missing for a while and made the Tigers a respected and competitive organization.

“My leaving had nothing to do with the parents at North Allegheny,” Pandolfo said. “The condition became so tough because it prevented me from being positive with my kids. It was hard to leave. I loved it at North Allegheny. They are class people up there.

“I want the kids to be able to get on with the season. They are resilient and they look good.”

Pandolfo wanted to be fair to the organization and admits he could have handled the situation better, but the condition he was in after stopping the medication prevented him from doing so.

When he first told me he was stepping aside, I was stunned. I honestly thought he’d be there for a long time, and I know the decision was not an easy one for him to make. But as he always has done, he did what was best for his kids, even if it meant not coaching them.

Pandolfo will be missed, but one’s health must come first. He said he would like to coach again someday, I just hope that it’s for a team I can cover.

I wish him the best and hope he not only gets healthy, but that he can resume coaching again some day because I know how much he enjoys it. Pandolfo has always been a class act as far as I am concerned.

Win, lose or draw he always showed me the same respect and I will miss talking hockey with him each week. Even though his decision is the right one, the PIHL and North Allegheny will not be the same without Pandolfo being involved.

Jerry Clark can be reached at

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New U.S. Patent 6,982,089 Issued – Describing a Novel Biotechnology Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease

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PRWeb, originally uploaded by rsdscrpsnews.

New U.S. Patent 6,982,089 Issued – Describing a Novel Biotechnology Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease

New U.S. patent 6,982,089, describing perispinal administration of biological TNF-alpha modulators for certain neurological disorders, issued on January 3, 2006, awarded to Edward Tobinick, MD, Los Angeles, California.

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) February 20, 2006 — U.S. patent 6,982,089, awarded to Edward Tobinick, MD, issued on January 3, 2006. This new patent describes novel methods for Alzheimer’s Disease using molecules developed through recombinant DNA technology. The patented methods involve the perispinal use of certain biologic inhibitors of TNF-alpha, including etanercept, certolizumab pegol (CDP 870), and others, for clinical disorders in which neurological inflammation is thought to play a significant role.

TNF-alpha is a proinflammatory cytokine, a protein which is involved in the initiation and amplification of the immune response which causes inflammation in a variety of organ systems, including the brain. This patent also includes claims involving the perispinal use of certain biologic TNF inhibitors, including adalimumab and certolizumab pegol, for disorders involving neurologic pain and inflammation, including post-herpetic neuralgia, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, other forms of neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, low back pain, and vertebral disc disease, all clinical conditions with unmet medical need.

Note: Edward Tobinick, MD is the Medical Director of Institute Research Associates, a [private Medical Group, Inc., 100 UCLA Medical Plaza, Suites 205-210, Los Angeles, California 90095, (310) 824-6191. This press release describes patent claims and should not be interpreted as a treatment recommendation, which it is not.

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Apartment renters in tough spot

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HeraldToday, originally uploaded by rsdscrpsnews.

Posted on Sun, Feb. 19, 2006

Apartment renters in tough spot

Tenants in dilemma as apartments go condo

Herald Staff Writer

MANATEE – In the past few months, the nationwide condo-conversion trend has reached a crescendo in Manatee County. Almost every week it seems another rental property in the county announces it is going condo.

While those interested in owning their own home now have more affordable opportunities in the form of conversions, others are put in a predicament and don’t know where to go.

According to Triad Research & Consulting President Michael Slater, a Tampa-based company that tracks losses in rental inventory, Manatee lost approximately 2,000 of its 9,000 rental units in 2005. Sarasota County has lost upward of 40 percent of its rental inventory in the past 24 months, he said.

These changes have affected not only potential renters but those who often helped them find properties to fit their needs, like Apartment Hunters.

Employees of Apartment Hunters, a company that specializes in providing free assistance to those looking for rental properties, have found it increasingly difficult to match prospective tenants with available properties that suit their needs in all areas of the Tampa Bay market.

“People come in saying, ‘Please find a place that won’t be converting. We don’t want to move anymore,’ ” said Mark Berry, manager at Apartment Hunters.

Berry said they are losing inventory to conversions and the losses have changed the dynamic of Apartment Hunters’ business.

“We are working with the individual investor when, in the past, we never did. We worked with large communities,” Berry said.

According to the Manatee County Property Appraisers Office, there are 132 rental communities in Manatee County with more than 10 units.

When large communities like the 352-unit Hampton Bay apartment complex and the 252-unit Mainstreet are converted to condominiums, the area’s available rental inventory is quickly depleted, leaving some wondering where to go next.

“I predict we’ll see 3,000 new condo units this year and at least 1,200 of those will be conversions,” said Dale Friedley of the Manatee County Property Appraisers Office.

Waiting to hear

‘Scared to death and livid’

As signs went up proclaiming the new name and new intentions for the development formerly known as Hampton Bay, the Lewandoski family waited for the other shoe to drop. Living paycheck to paycheck wasn’t always a way of life for the family of four – five if Lucinda, the black labrador who thinks she’s human, is included.

Their 4,000-plus-square-foot home outside Chicago seems a lifetime away, though it has been less than a year since they lived there. Gone are the days of making $150,000 annually and feeling secure.

When Trish and John Lewandoski both lost their jobs at Alpha Bakery in Chicago within five minutes of one another, they knew change was on the horizon. But they never could have foreseen what a life in Bradenton would mean or how the booming real estate market would leave them feeling scared and displaced.

“I am between scared to death and livid,” said Trish Lewandoski.

When The Herald ran a story detailing the Bradenton apartment complex’s plans to go condo, most residents had already received notice of pending conversion, but not the Lewandoski family.

Trish Lewandoski said she asked whether the complex was being converted to condos and was told by the staff that they didn’t know. She even asked a week before the letters went out.

Ashley Lewandoski is much older than her 17 years. The polite and poised teenager deals with pain adults more than twice her age can’t fathom. She battles six auto-immune diseases, including two forms of lupus.

While the Lewandoskis are dealing with their layoffs and struggles to find new employment, Ashley has become homebound, requiring visits from nurses monthly as well as around-the-clock care.

“This is a full-time job. It’s not a paying job but it’s my child,” Trish Lewandoski said.

John Lewandoski works hard for a local bakery company but between insurance changes and trying to catch up from the period of unemployment, paying bills is often a challenge.

“That one paycheck barely makes ends meet. Well, it doesn’t make ends meet, actually,” Trish Lewandoski said.

Medical expenses combined with Bradenton’s high rent rates and the cost of day-to-day life makes the idea of saving money not much more than just that: an idea.

A month after MK Equity Corp., the Chicago-based company purchasing the complex, sent letters to some of their neighbors, the Lewandoskis finally received a letter stating their apartment is one of the 64 that is not for sale at this time. “Semantically speaking, the letter states ‘at this time.’ It doesn’t give us any piece of mind,” Trish Lewandoski said.

Stress exacerbates lupus flare-ups as well as Ashley’s Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. The disease is attacking the muscles in her legs, which is both painful and frightening.

The family is just one of many who feel displaced and disillusioned by the trend of apartments turning into condos. Renters live in fear of losing the place they have come to call home.

Common predicament

An ailing mother brought Bill Johnson to Manatee County about 10 years ago. Now he calls the area home but finds himself facing a predicament that is becoming extremely common. Johnson’s Harbour Pointe apartment is going condo.

“I expect to be finding another rental in the area,” Johnson said.

He knows his battle won’t be easy when his lease expires this summer. “Just driving around on a day-to-day basis, you see more and more apartments going condo,” he said.

Johnson isn’t interested in renting an apartment-turned-condo from an investor. “Let’s face it, contracts don’t mean what they used to years ago,” Johnson said.

He also expects rent will go through the roof as rentals become more and more scarce. “Like anything else, it’s supply and demand,” Johnson said.

Johnson doesn’t want to leave the area where his two stepdaughters live but doesn’t think it’s the right time to buy. “I believe that sooner or later the bottom is going to drop out,” he said.

Johnson said he can’t justify paying the outlandish amount of money for a property as the market is slowing. He also is astonished at some of the properties making the conversion to condos.

“Specific properties that aren’t that attractive are selling at high prices,” he said. “The market is so crazy right now that my gut feeling is somewhere in the next few years this market is going to change completely and it will probably spiral downward.”

Tenant to owner?

Both Palm Cove, formerly Hampton Bay, and Sands Bay, formerly Harbour Pointe, are in the process of renovations, and sales offices are open. Wagner Realty is handling the sales of units in both complexes. Sales Manager Bill Davidson is excited about the changes on the horizon but hopes enhanced offers for current tenants may help those who want to become homeowners.

“Everything has its pluses and minuses, and condo conversion is no different,” he said.

In his experience in the condo conversion market, Davidson has found that tenants only make up about 5 percent of buyers.

“There’s a reason people are renting. Either they don’t have the down payment or they don’t have the credit established,” said Michelle Daniels, mortgage broker with Intercoastal Lending Group.

When Mainstreet announced its intentions to go condo, the sales team marketed the change as an opportunity for current residents to become homeowners. Letters stating that mortgage payments would be comparable to what they were paying in rent and in some cases less were circulated.

The examples used in the letters were based on interest-only adjustable rate mortgages. In the development, the 678-square-foot, one-bedroom units are listed at $181,900. The units had been renting for $767 a month. For those Mainstreet residents who are able to put 11 percent down and who prefer the security of a fixed rate, purchasing a unit would cost them about $1,300 a month, Daniels said. Daniels ran the numbers at 6 percent interest with zero points.

Palm Cove is selling its 660-square-feet, one-bedroom units for $123,900. Rent for those units starts at $660. Using the same 11 percent down, with a fixed rate of 6 percent and zero points, prospective buyers can expect to pay about $920 a month, including condominium fees. Three-bedroom, two-bath units in Palm Cove start at $229,900.

The letter Mainstreet residents received detailed how much it would cost to purchase their units based on interest-only adjustable rate mortgages, something Daniels doesn’t recommend in the current market.

“A year ago if you said, ‘should I do an interest-only ARM?’ I would’ve said yes because property values were escalating so quickly,” Daniels said.

Lack of supply and high demand for rental properties lead to rent increases, said Berry.

Investors have already shown interest in many of the properties, and many of them will then turn the units back into rentals using property management companies. In many cases, Davidson said, the units will receive face-lifts before they re-enter the rental inventory.

Will market sustain this?

Just how long the condo conversion phase will continue is uncertain. When the conversion trend first took off, it was when there was a shortage of properties on the market and an influx of buyers willing to pay prices considerably higher than the appraised value of the home or condo. With interest rates climbing, more available inventory on the market and the acceleration of home prices showing little sign of slowing down, conversions seem to be gaining momentum, not losing it. Some think more competitive and realistic house prices may turn the tide.

“Now you can find a concrete block house for $229,900 without paying a condo association fee,” Daniels said.

While that is good news for those in the position to buy, tenants like the Lewandoskis and Johnson are left wondering if they will encounter the same situation in the next rental complex where they settle.

“How do we know it won’t happen again?” Trish Lewandoski asked.

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Worker’s comp cheater earns year’s jail time

Worker’s comp cheater earns year’s jail time
Videotape evidence helped sink defendant
By Malaika Fraley, STAFF WRITER

REDWOOD CITY — Former San Mateo County collections worker Yolanda Dobkins was sentenced to a year in jail Tuesday for misrepresenting an injury in order to collect worker’s compensation.

Dobkins’ family members broke out in tears after Judge Craig Parsons denied home detention or probation in lieu of jail time for the 54-year-old San Francisco resident. Dobkins also received five years supervised probation and was ordered to pay $67,000 to cover costs for the investigation that led to her conviction.

A jury convicted Dobkins in November of four counts of insurance fraud and attempted perjury. She was acquitted of five other related charges.

Dobkins had worked as a full-time county collections officer since 1998 when, in February 2001, she filed a workers’ compensation claim for bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. Dobkins, who has had multiple surgeries on both arms and suffers from reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, told the county she couldn’t work because simple tasks like shaking hands had become unbearable.

Prosecutor Kathryn Alberti said Dobkins exaggerated the seriousness of her injury to collect $24,000 in state disability payments and $10,000 in worker’s compensation benefits.

The county — which is self-insured and pays worker’s compensation claims out of its general fund — investigated the claim after a secretary spotted Dobkins prying open an elevator door after a meeting at which she said she had limited hand function.

Soon, independent investigators began secretly videotaping Dobkins and obtained footage of her doing tasks she said were unbearable, such as lifting heavy objects and washing her car. Dobkins was slapped with criminal charges after she claimed to have not done such tasks at a deposition with investigators who had seen the footage.

Her attorney, Kathleen McCasey, asked for a new trial on Tuesday, based on what she called vindictive behavior by county employees who investigated her client and ambiguity by the person whose questions led to attempted perjury. McCasey added that the jury should have been allowed to hear about Dobkins’ additional surgeries.

Judge Parsons rejected McCasey’s argument and said that he considered sentencing Dobkins to the maximum term of six years in prison because of her failure to admit any wrongdoing to this day.

“The defendant expresses no remorse. She continues to deny responsibility and, most importantly, Ms. Dobkins continues to portray herself as a victim rather than someone who … lied under oath and committed a serious felony,” Parsons said.

Contact staff writer Malaika Fraley at (650) 306-2425 or by e-mail at

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More Reports on new RSDS/CRPS Article

Yahoo News



Nerve Damage May Underlie Mystery Pain Syndrome

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RedOrbit, originally uploaded by rsdscrpsnews.

Nerve Damage May Underlie Mystery Pain Syndrome

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The findings from a new study lend support to the hypothesis that the so-called “complex regional pain syndrome” is a bona fide neurologic disorder caused by persistent nerve injury affecting small fibers that can feel pain.

Complex regional pain syndrome involves post-traumatic limb pain and other disturbances that continue even though the inciting injury seems to have healed. The cause of the symptoms is unknown and because there are few objective findings, diagnosis and treatment is difficult. Some have even questioned whether complex regional pain syndrome has a real biologic basis or is a psychosomatic illness.

In the current study, reported in the journal Pain, Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander and colleagues, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, performed sensory testing and quantitative nerve assessment of affected and unaffected sites on 18 patients with complex regional pain syndrome.

Seven subjects without complex regional pain syndrome, but with similar symptoms served as additional controls.

The complex regional pain syndrome patients had classic histories and symptoms for the disorder. Unexpectedly, the researchers found that complex regional pain syndrome onset was often associated with medical procedures.

Sensory testing showed that sites affected by complex regional pain syndrome were highly sensitive to mechanically- and heat-induced pain and also showed decreased nerve fiber densities.

By contrast, control subjects did not display these reductions at their pain sites, “suggesting that pain, disuse, or prior surgeries alone do not explain complex regional pain syndrome-associated neurite losses,” the authors state.

“The fact that complex regional pain syndrome now has an identified cause takes it out of the realm of so-called ‘psychosomatic illness’,” Oaklander said in a statement.

“Our results suggest that complex regional pain syndrome patients should be evaluated by neurologists who specialize in nerve injury and be treated with medications or procedures that have proven effective for other nerve-injury pain syndromes.”

SOURCE: Pain, February 2006.

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19 January 2006
By Clinton Manning

FORMER foundry worker Jeff Smalley has won almost £1.5million compensation after a horror accident – but he would give back every penny to hold his wife again.

The 62-year-old has to have his left arm amputated after an explosion at work. The tragedy struck 25 years after another accident led to him losing his right arm.

He said: “It’s a lot of money but I’d give it all back in an instant if I could have my arms back.”

His wife Linda said the worst thing was not being able to have a cuddle with her husband.

“We always used to hold hands when we went out for a walk,” she said. “It’s really awful not being able to put your arms around one another.”

Jeff was working for James Maude & Co in Mansfield, Notts, when a sandblasting machine exploded in November 2001.

He was blown off his feet, broke his leg and ripped his left shoulder apart. Doctors tried surgery to repair the damage but it didn’t work. Jeff developed chronic regional pain syndrome which meant his arm and fingers are hyper sensitive. He is due to have his left arm amputated next week. “He’s in that much pain the operation will be a blessed relief in many ways,” said Linda, who quit her job at Asda to look after Jeff.

“He can’t use it and he’s taking about 16 tablets a day and he has morphine patches which he puts under his arm. Some days he’s so drugged up he doesn’t know where he is or – if he’s lucky – he just sleeps.”

Losing the use of his arms has also affected Jeff’s balance – but he hasn’t lost his sense of humour. He says: “I’ve fallen down twice. Once I broke my nose and split my head open so badly it needed 10 stitches.

“I can’t put my hands out to break the fall so the first thing that hits the floor is my hooter.

“I looked as if I’d got a tomato stuck on the end of it.” For Jeff the pain is made worse by not being able to play with his four grandchildren. After his first accident in 1980, he taught himself to paint with his left hand and to ride a mountain bike, cycling 200 miles a week to keep fit.

And shortly before the accident he started taking the eldest of his four grandchildren out for a ride. He said: “The eldest, Nathan, started to come out with me at weekends. I was looking forward to getting all of them out on the bikes.

“But now I can’t cycle anymore and I’ve put on about three stone.” His painting, too, will be impossible after next week’s surgery.

In Jeff’s first accident, in 1980, he dislocated his elbow and shoulder in a fall. Although a relatively minor injury he developed the infection CRPS. His arm was amputated five years later and he settled out of court with the company for £36,000.

Although the firm – which has since gone bust – admitted liability for the blast it took a four-year fight by the Amicus trade union and its legal firm Thompsons to win the insurance pay-out. “The union’s been absolutely brilliant,” said Jeff, “and Peter Magee at Thompsons. I don’t know what we’d have done without their help.”

Amicus legal services director Georgina Hirsch said: “This is an absolutely tragic case.

“No amount of money will ever make up for Mr Smalley’s loss. But the outcome highlights the support trades unions can give to members injured at work.”

‘No amount of money can make up for this loss

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