Enterovirus D68

September 15th, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

enterovirusArizona joined the states asking CDC for laboratory testing for Enterovirus D68 on Friday.  We’ve had an increase in the number of children hospitalized and treated for upper respiratory illness.  Enterovirus is in the family with the common cold and illness is usually limited to cold symptoms (stuffy or runny nose and cough).  There seem to be groups of children who need more intense care because of difficulty breathing…most of them have asthma or another respiratory condition, but not all.  The CDC sent out information about specific outbreaks in two states earlier this week in a special Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

We work with our local public health partners to monitor for any outbreaks.   We will continue to stay in contact with local health offices, doctors and hospitals across the state to monitor for any changes.

In the meantime, you can help prevent the spread of Enterovirus and lots of other illnesses – keep your kids home when they’re sick, cover your coughs and sneezes, and wash your hands regularly and well.

2013 AZ Abortion Annual Report

September 12th, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

abortionreportWe publish several reports every year that are required by Arizona law…including our annual abortion surveillance report.  We published our 4th Abortion Surveillance Report this week.  Overall, the abortion rate in Arizona was stable from 2012 to 2013, however, the rate of abortions among 18-19 year old women decreased more than 30% between 2012 and 2013…the lowest in a decade.  The majority of women who received abortions were between 20 and 29.  In 2013, about 70% of Arizona abortions were handled surgically.

The complete report also contains information about the number and kinds of complications as a result of abortion procedures and a host of other demographic analyses.  The report is compiled using a secure, web-based reporting system from facilities and providers across the state.

The Legal Mechanics of State Government & PTSD

September 11th, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

gavelState government authority and policy is driven by laws that are established by the Legislature and carried out by the Governor through the Executive Branch.  Sometimes laws are passed directly by the voters (called a voter initiative).  Many state laws require state agencies to develop regulations to “flesh out” the laws they pass by  giving state agencies “Rulemaking” authority to provide the details.  The Rulemaking process is governed by the Arizona Administrative Procedure Act.  Some laws (like the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act) allow agency directors to modify laws on their own, and then follow up later with rule changes.

Sometimes state agencies decide that the Rules they’ve adopted can use some extra clarification to help people understand them better.  Agencies can develop what are called Substantive Policy Statements – which advise the public about the procedures the agency will follow as they interpret and implement the rules that they’ve officially adopted.

You can think of state laws as the “skeleton”, agency rules as the “muscle and other tissue”, and a substantive policy statement as an “outfit”.

For example, this week we filed a Substantive Policy Statement clarifying my Decision to authorize medical marijuana for registered patients that are currently undergoing conventional treatment for PTSD beginning January 1.  Certifying physicians will be required to attest that they have reviewed evidence documenting that the patient is currently undergoing conventional treatment for PTSD before signing the medical marijuana certification.

The new Substantive Policy Statement provides the public with clarification of our interpretation of what constitutes treatment for PTSD, allowing a qualifying patient to get a medical marijuana registry identification card.  The Statement clarifies that treatment could include, but isn’t limited to, psychotherapy (counseling); participation in support groups to help the qualifying patient feel less isolated or alone; or the use of medications to help the qualifying patient with reducing depression, relaxing, or sleeping.

Awesome ASH Teamwork

September 10th, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

ASH-feature_homeThanks for all your hard work in changing our culture of care at the Hospital.  It’s been 2 years since we implemented new processes to change how we work with patients.  We’ve revised roles and responsibilities for unit staff and campus support, trained all our staff in Non-Violent Crisis Intervention, which is an evidence-based, best practice for early intervention and de-escalation created by the Crisis Prevention Institute.

Non-Violent Crisis Intervention is a tool that provides a better therapeutic environment for patients and residents to live and improves safety for everyone.  It has guided us as we implemented a new code response process, enhanced the environment, improved nursing processes, improved program delivery focused on recruitment and retention and committed ourselves to Quality Care.

Our efforts are producing promising results – with demonstrated reductions in seclusion and assaults.  This progress wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of each and every one of you.  We still have milestones to achieve…and we’ll continue to work towards them every day.  Thanks to Team ASH for your hard work and commitment to accomplish our goals.

Celebrating National Payroll Week

September 10th, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

bAs one of the largest departments in Arizona State Government,  ADHS is joining in the salute to payroll professionals by participating in National Payroll Week.  National Payroll Week recognizes professionals who support the American system by not only processing your wages, but also reporting your earnings and withholding employment taxes, which keep America running.

Our payroll department is staffed with a small but dedicated team of highly skilled professionals who are experts at meeting deadlines, answering employee inquiries, and who are aware of local, state and federal tax rules and regulations. They are the ones who shoulder the responsibility for paying you correctly – a task that is not as simple as it sounds.  Why?  Because payroll is one of a few business functions where 99.9% accuracy is simply not good enough.  Payroll operations are highly regulated and scrutinized by a myriad of local, state and federal agencies, auditors, collection agents, and of course, by ADHS employees.

Thanks to Michael Johnson, Payroll Manager, and our Team: Rosalie Gonzales, Evelyn Clark, Donna Eberhard, Juanita Gano, Jane Griggs, Donna Wilson, Eileen  O’Connell.  Patricia Frank and our Controller Cindy Smith for making sure we all get paid correctly and on time!

Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

September 9th, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

FoodAssistance2Arizona is focused on making affordable fruits and vegetables easy-to-find in communities throughout the state.  In Arizona, more than 40% of Farmers’ Markets accept Arizona Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program coupons so WIC moms and seniors on the Commodity Supplemental Food Program can purchase fruits and vegetables at Farmers’ Markets, compared to just 21% of the Farmers’ Markets across the US accepting these coupons.

We’re working with Maricopa County to pilot a project to increase the number of Farmers’ Markets that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp) benefits.  The project will help those with a limited income have better access to locally grown produce close to home.  Currently, there are 19 Farmers’ Markets  in Arizona that take SNAP benefits.  The Arizona Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program  has maps showing which markets accept SNAP benefits.

The feds are the Farmers’ Market folks too.  Marketlink.org is a one-stop information center where farmers markets and farmers can find out how to participate in SNAP.   Installing wireless technology at farmers markets expands the customer base for markets and increases the share of the SNAP dollar that goes directly back to local farmers, strengthening local economies.

September is Suicide Prevention Month

September 9th, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

suicideawarenessIn 2012, more than 1,000 Arizonans took their own lives, including more than 200 folks who had served in the military.  Suicide influences populations differently.  Nationally, the group committing suicide in the greatest numbers is elderly men.  In Arizona, we also have a high rate among American Indians.  Additionally, those with a serious mental illness are 12-15 times more likely to commit suicide than others.

We know suicide is preventable.  September is national suicide prevention month, with September 10th being a day of recognition.  Please consider wearing purple, the cause’s color, on September 10th – or any time during the month – as your sign of showing support for preventing suicide.

If you or someone you know is need of help, please reach out.  There are healthcare workers who are available 24-7 via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK.  For more information e-mail kelli.donley@azdhs.gov.

Arizona Community Profiles Dashboard (Part I of IV)

September 5th, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

StatisticsWe collect all kinds of surveillance about prevalence of disease, birth, causes of death, reasons for hospital visits, smoking rates and hundreds of other indicators to help us assess health indicators and design interventions to improve outcomes.

For the first time ever, we now have a tool to explore this data and visualize it in several different ways.  Our new Community Profiles Dashboard is a huge leap forward for public health professionals, city planners, non-profit organizations, medical providers and anyone who needs public health data to improve their performance.  What makes the new Community Profiles Dashboard revolutionary is the way you can access, sort, and analyze the information.  The Dashboard provides several options for looking at the state, county, or small community level data among the more than 100 Primary Care Areas in Arizona.

If you’re a community planner and you want to see where there are higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension – you can compare data from the last four years to see how different areas have changed.  As a community planner, this information can be very useful in how you plan for the future.  Knowing this information could help you make a more informed decision about where the new community park will be built, or where to locate a new bike and walking path. To improve the overall health of our communities, access to these kinds of services is vital.

If you run a non-profit, you can zero in on key indicators related to your mission and drill down to the community level to determine where to focus your resources.

The site is user friendly and will work on a desktop or mobile device, like an iPad.  If you want to take a quick tour of the Community Profiles Dashboard and learn about a few of the functions, take a look at our video tutorial.  The video gives an overview of how to access the dashboard and a few of the functions.  It’s the first in a series of four videos that will highlight data and different functions of the dashboard.

In the upcoming weeks I’ll be blogging about some of the other unique and interesting data that you can gather from the site.  Thanks go out to Dr’s Khaleel Hussaini and Nicholas Bishop, Patricia Tarango, Tracy Lenartz, Jeff Burgess, the staff from GeoWise Ltd., and especially Wes Kortuem and Marvis Kisakye - their leadership and help developing the site.   More to come over the next few weeks.

e-Book Edition of the “Guide to Clinical Preventive Services”

September 4th, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

Businessman with laptop computerFor the first time, the US Preventive Services Task Force has released an e-book version of its Guide to Clinical Preventive Services which helps primary care clinicians and patients decide together what preventive services are right for a patient’s needs.

The 2014 Guide includes all active Task Force evidence-based recommendations including 28 new and updated recommendations since the 2012 version.  The e-book is compatible with many readers, including Kindle, Nook, iBook, and Kobo.  As a reminder, in addition to the e-book, you can view and download the Guide online or order a print copy of the guide at the AHRQ Publications Online Store.  For more information about the Guide and other Task Force resources, visit www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

Vital Records Quality Improvement Team Gets Impressive Results

September 3rd, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

Award CertificateOur Vital Records team handles more than 600 mail-in requests for birth and death certificates each week.  The average wait time for mail-in certificates had been nearly 4 weeks…too slow in anybody’s book.  Last month we established a cross-functional quality improvement team to find and implement ways to reduce the turnaround time.  We now have some great results to show for our effort.

By implementing interventions including a tool that allows our staff to view the backlog real-time and change staff responsibilities to match demand, we’ve reduced our turn-around time by more than 75%…to just 5 days.  A secondary benefit was the decrease in phone calls from customers who wanted to know when they could expect to get their birth or death certificates…which freed up staff time to stay on task on other job duties.

Congratulations to the team members for making a huge difference for our customers.  Thanks go out to the entire Vital Records Operations Team as well as Nancy Flores, Robin Rodriquez, Esther Castro, Jeff Bloomberg, Krystal Colburn, and Bernie Sanden.  Well done!