February 28th, 2014 by Will Humble
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The USDA announced proposed new guidelines for school wellness policies as part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 this week. The new policies set goals in nutrition, physical activity, and other school-based activities promoting student wellness. Additionally, the school wellness policies include a guideline on food marketing in schools, setting a standard that if an item cannot be sold or served in schools, it cannot be marketed to kids in schools.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture also launched a new School Nutrition Environment and Wellness Resources website, which includes sample wellness policy language for school districts and a dedicated page of resources for food marketing practices on the school campus.
February 27th, 2014 by Will Humble
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A few weeks ago the Governor announced a final agreement had been reached in the 32 year old Arnold vs. Sarn case regarding care and services for individuals with serious mental illness. The Settlement is the foundation to end the lawsuit while establishing a blueprint for a successful community-based behavioral health system in Arizona.
This morning we had a fairness hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court on the case. The Governor and I were among the speakers. The hearing went well, and at the end, Judge Bassett entered an Order from the bench that accepts the Settlement Agreement. Under the terms of the stipulation approved by the Court today as fair and reasonable, Arizonans with serious mental illnesses will be assured of enhanced community-based services that allow them to participate in society in a meaningful way, including: crisis services; supported employment and housing services; assertive community treatment; family and peer support; life skills training; and respite care services. Additionally, the stipulation includes metrics, national standards and evidence-based best practices to ensure quality, transparency and accountability in Arizona’s mental health system.
We expect to have a dismissal hearing later this year- which will officially end the Arnold vs. Sarn lawsuit that was filed in 1981. Of course, we’ll still be expected to live up to the terms of the Settlement- which is among our Agency’s top priorities.
February 27th, 2014 by Will Humble
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Last Wednesday we held a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Collaborative. It was modeled after last year’s successful ADVICE Collaborative, which brought dialysis facilities together to share best practices and engage in a dialog to reduce infection control violations and improve patient care. The goal of the meeting was to avoid future deficiencies by ensuring that dispensaries understand our expectations and to help us better understand their challenges.
The Dispensary Collaborative had a great turnout, with almost 150 dispensary agents, board members, and medical directors. The all-day meeting covered dispensary inspection results, patient and dispensary agent educational resources offered by the Arizona Poison Control, the administrative rules process, financial audit requirements (including the difference between profit and non-profit entities), and our computerized Point of Sale system that’s used by dispensaries to verify the status of cards and record marijuana transactions.
Overall, the input and suggestions that we received from the dispensaries was constructive and will be helpful as we continue to move forward with building a solid relationship with our dispensary stakeholders.
February 25th, 2014 by Will Humble
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Disease outbreaks can come from anywhere. In Arizona we’ve had illness from contaminated pomegranate seeds from the Middle East, measles from Switzerland, salmonellosis from African dwarf frogs and cholera from Peru. More recently a Canadian traveler died of H5N1 after she returned home from a long trip to China. An exotic disease from another country is only hours away. West Nile virus likely came from Israel on a plane ride to New York in 1999 and now we see it every year here in Arizona.
Right now, world health officials are keeping an eye on dozens of potentially dangerous new pathogens, from H7N9 bird flu in China, to the MERS virus in the Middle East, drug resistant bacteria, H5N1 bird flu in Southeast Asia, to Bas-Congo virus in the Congo. The Bas-Congo virus is a two-headed monster that causes bleeding like Ebola and invading the nerves like rabies.
Effective disease surveillance in other countries helps to protect both their population and the US, since infectious diseases are only a plane ride away. Working with local governments and health officials, CDC recently set up two demonstration projects in Uganda and Vietnam to see if it would be possible to quickly scale up an effective surveillance and response.
The project focuses on: 1) strengthening the public health laboratory system; 2) enhancing the existing communications and an online information system, and 3) developing a public health emergency operations center. In just six months, the CDC pilot program in Uganda found cases of West Nile virus, Zika virus, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever virus, hepatitis E virus, and a bacteria that causes dangerous meningitis.
We don’t know which disease will come next, but I’m confident the public health surveillance and laboratory system will detect it.
February 24th, 2014 by Will Humble
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Access to primary care providers in rural AZ is a problem. Our National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program and the State Loan Repayment Program are part of the solution- recruiting primary care workforce resources in those areas. Still, there’s not enough providers in rural Arizona- and 150 rural communities in Arizona need access to primary care providers.
To help alleviate this problem and support recruitment of providers in rural areas, our Bureau of Health Systems Development recently developed a partnership with the Center for Rural Health and the Arizona Alliance of Community Health Centers to support the National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network (3RNet) Program. It’s kinda like a Match.com for linking health care professionals and jobs in rural and underserved areas.
The 3RNet Program is made up of members from state agencies and non-profit organizations that work together to help many health care professionals find jobs in rural and underserved areas. They also work collaboratively to provide technical assistance to clinics about this free recruitment tool. This provides clinics with no cost marketing including tools allowing them to post online photos, detailed descriptions, maps, and other materials to attract health care professionals.
For questions about the 3RNet Program, please email the representatives from each individual agency: Ana Roscetti at Ana.lyn.Roscetti@azdhs.gov, Joyce Hospodar at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Lourdes Paez at email@example.com. If you’re an employer or clinic, register to become a 3Rnet user here.
February 21st, 2014 by Will Humble
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A report out by the CDC this week found that people between 18 and 64 years old make up 61% of all flu-related hospitalizations so far this season in the US. In normal years only about 35% of flu hospitalizations are from this age group. H1N1 (the flu strain we saw circulating in the 2009 flu pandemic) is still the main culprit. H1N1 is included in this year’s vaccine, so people who got vaccinated will be protected from the flu in most cases. People who’ve been vaccinated with the flu shot this year are 61% less likely to have to go to the doctor according to today’s report.
Influenza is still widespread In Arizona. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, you may need to call around to find whether a healthcare provider or pharmacy near you still has vaccine in stock. Remember to get your shot early next season so you’re protected for the entire flu season. Visit stopthespreadaz.org to find a shot.
February 20th, 2014 by Will Humble
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Patients and Staff at the Arizona State Hospital are working with the Phoenix Rescue Mission again this year to create Blessing Bags. They’re large gallon sized Ziploc bags filled with basic necessities which will be handed out by the Phoenix Rescue Mission to the homeless. But they need some donations to get going.
The Hospital team has placed boxes to collect the items in various areas around the Hospital and in the lobby of our 150 Building. They need donations of: gallon size Ziploc bags, chap stick, packages of tissues, toothbrushes, mouthwash, shampoo (small sizes), combs, soap, band aids, hand-wipes, socks, gift cards for retail stores, trail mix, granola bars, crackers, and/or gum or mints.
Anything on the list above that you can bring in over the next week or so will really help. Take some time this weekend to rifle through your bathroom drawers and make some room while helping out with this effort. Of course, you could also take a trip through a Dollar Store and help stock that way too.
February 19th, 2014 by Will Humble
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Sugar has been in the news with a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine that took a look at sugar intake and deaths from heart disease. The study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and included surveys from 1988 through 2010. Some of the findings were things we already know, like most adults in the US consume too much sugar. Some of the findings were new, like the risk of death from cardiovascular disease went up among people with higher sugar intakes, even when their overall diet was healthy. In fact, comparing the people who ate little sugar to those who ate more, the risk of dying from heart disease more than doubled.
The “big five” sources of sugar in the American diet are sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts like cookies and cakes, fruits drinks, dairy desserts including ice cream, and candy. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we keep our intake of sugars and solid fats to 5% to 15% of total calories. What does that mean for you?
Find out by creating an individualized diet plan at ChooseMyPlate.gov. Be a “Champions for Change” and look for new recipes that are low in sugar from the Arizona Nutrition Network.
February 18th, 2014 by Will Humble
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Around the Country, State Emergency Medical Services offices are looking for ways to help returning Veterans with medical experience find employment in the EMS industry. We’ll be making it a priority in 2014 to engage more Veterans with EMS experience to use their skills in Arizona’s progressive EMS and Trauma System.
We have a couple big things working in our favor for this initiative. The Armed Forces began to require enlisted personnel providing medical care to the troops to take Emergency Medical Care Technician courses (the same ones used in the non-military world) and then to pass the certification exam provided by the National Registry of EMT’s. That’s great because it means that the Armed Forces requirements align with our state requirements for certification.
In AZ, a coalition of stakeholders including the Arizona Fire Districts Association, the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona and the Arizona Ambulance Association worked to pass legislation allowing individuals that are currently certified by a national organization (like the National Registry of EMT’s) to obtain Arizona certification. Together, these two things are helping to ensure that our returning Veterans have an additional career opportunity and that our EMS team here in Arizona is benefitting from their strong training and extensive experience.