A few weeks ago we were named the #1 social-media-friendly state health department in the U.S due to our robust social media presence and content including blogs, live streaming events, online forums, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, G+, Flickr and other social media environments. This week we were highlighted in the latest National Public Health Information Coalition Newsletter. Jennifer Tweedy- thanks for your leadership and creativity with our social media initiative.
Summer is almost here and the kids are wrapping up the school year. Let’s challenge families to end the school year on the right foot. Why not try walking or biking to school? The mornings are still nice enough to walk. Make it a family activity; role model healthy behavior, leave the car keys at home, and walk or bike as a family to drop your kids off at school. It’ll wake you up much more than a morning cup of coffee, and get your heart pumping and blood moving!
I’ve talked a lot recently about how where you live impacts your health. ADOT and ADHS teamed up to produce the Active School Neighborhood Checklist. This handy tool helps bring together teams (which might include public works, parents, teachers and health professionals) to assess routes to school and decide what major challenges exist for the students who wish to walk or bike. These teams provide a really great opportunity for bringing health into the conversation.
Research is really producing many new tools to assess the built environment and how that impacts health. An easy tool to use is WalkScore, where you simply input an address and get a score output on a scale of 0-100, with 100 being “Walker’s Paradise.” In fact, check out what ASU is doing to examine the relationship between Walk Score and urban housing.
National Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week is coming up next week. Healthy swimming depends on paying attention to basic health, hygiene, sun-safety, and what swimmers bring into the pool (and what they don’t). For starters, remind your kids to take a sunscreen, hydration, and bathroom break every hour when swimming. You might also want to start the summer off right by getting your kids a UV protective swim shirt. After all… 90% of lifetime sun exposure happens before you’re 20- so you can have a big influence on your kid’s lifetime risk for skin cancer. And remember- there’s no substitute for adult supervision especially for rookie swimmers.
Hygiene tips include not swimming when you (or your kids) have diarrhea, reminding your kids not to swallow pool water, and practicing good hygiene (shower before swimming and wash your hands after changing diapers). And remember- little kids should have a swim diaper… and always change diapers in the bathroom or diaper-changing areas (not poolside). You can visit our Waterborne Disease site and a new CDC report about fecal contamination in pools to learn more.
This year we’ll be holding a healthy swimming video contest to build awareness of safe swimming. Kids can create a 2-minute healthy swimming video to help educate people about safe swimming including sun safety, staying hydrated while swimming, and preventing the spread of germs at pools, lakes, and water parks. The deadline for submission is June 16th and the website has the complete details and contest rules. The winning video will be used in a statewide water safety campaign. Last year’s winning video is up on YouTube.
I’ve been writing quite a bit about population health and the importance of creating healthy environments for communities. Some of those innovations take creativity and cash to make them work. Help is on the way – today, the feds announced the Healthcare Innovation Awards – Round 2.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services put up $1 billion to entice better care and lower costs in healthcare. CMS will award money to projects that specifically improve comprehensive health and wellness; improve care for people with special needs; reduce the cost for patients on AHCCCS and in Medicare; and for providers to change financial and clinical models.
For example – a program that helps a population fight diabetes or one that helps integrate behavioral health care with primary care might be selected. Funds are available to non-profits, communities, healthcare providers, provider groups, faith-based organizations – almost every type of company, government or partnership.
Folks who are interested have to send in a Letter of Intent by June 28th. You can find out more on the CMS Frequently Asked Questions page.
Now that Cory Nelson has officially been appointed as our Deputy Director for Behavioral Health, we’re moving full steam ahead to recruit for the Chief Executive Officer of the Arizona State Hospital. The CEO is a critical member of our team and has the responsibility of managing the day-to-day operations of the civil, forensic and sex offender units located on the campus. This is a great opportunity for someone interested in being part of some of the most exciting changes happening at the hospital in years.
Recently the hospital hit ten-month lows in the use of seclusion, restraint and patient falls… all as a result of new efforts that have been put in place to create culture change that engages patients and staff in the overall success of treatment. The focus on Recovery, Trauma Informed Care using evidenced-based are all coming into full swing and present opportunities to even further improve the lives of patients on the campus. Anyone interested in applying of for the position should submit an application through the State of AZ Jobs Site and look under the Department of Health in the agency section.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve written about how a city’s General Plan is one tool for communities to define how they want their city or town to grow and improve population health and how city planning can have a real impact. I wrote about how community residents can use a recently developed Toolkit put together by ADHS and other members of the Healthy Community Design Collaborative to help them get started and a schedule for General Plan updates for some AZ cities.
Other community planning resources I’ve written about recently include workshops coordinated by the Urban Land Institute. The workshops, known as the Community Plan are a free service for public officials at the local level that focus on a holistic approach to land use planning, zoning, transportation, economic development, real estate development and finance.
Another tool for impacting community and population is something called a “Health Impact Assessment”. It’s basically a tool for assessing and influencing policy or project decisions to improve health. A simple example is that if your neighborhood has safe, accessible sidewalks or walking or biking paths, you’ll be more likely to be physically active.
Health Impact Assessments are used a lot in Europe- and they’re gaining steam here in the U.S. For example, AZ completed a comprehensive health impact assessment last summer. We worked with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health on the health impact assessment of the proposed Tempe Modern Streetcar, which will be a 3-mile trolley system connecting the current light rail system to Southern.
The HIA Team developed comprehensive recommendations that were provided to Tempe for their consideration in planning of the trolley system. Some of the ideas proposed include: having a bike rental system; adding shade to the walking environment; implementing safe routes to school; identifying sites for additional farmers markets; encouraging supermarkets in underserved areas; encouraging community gardens; installing a buffer between sidewalk and arterial streets to make walking safer; installing pedestrian signals; and implementing a 20 minute neighborhood concept for the neighborhoods within the streetcar corridor- so people are more likely to walk or bike.
We have a couple training opportunities coming up if you want to learn more about health impact assessments.
Minority populations often have poorer health outcomes than non-minority populations… but our new Power Me A2Z is doing something to change that. Power Me A2Z empowers women to take steps to promote good health for their families and their future children. It offers women a free 90-day supply of vitamins with folic acid and tools to help women be healthy.
All women need folic acid in their bodies before they get pregnant to help prevent birth defects. Plus it acts as a beauty aid to make hair shine, nails grown, and skin glow. Power Me A2Z is a perfect example of uniting our communities by empowering women to take charge of their health and advancing health equity for current and future generations. Visit the Power Me A2Z website to learn more about this exciting program.