Posts Tagged ‘science’

Arizona Public Health Association gets National Recognition

December 18th, 2013

Congratulations to Arizona Public Health Association (AzPHA) for gaining national recognition for its work- snagging the 2013 National Affiliate of the Year Award from the American Public Health Association.

For 85 years, AzPHA has helped shape public health in Arizona working to create smoke-free environments and access to healthcare.  In this year alone, the Arizona affiliate reviewed more than a 1,000 legislative bills, visited AZ Congressional offices, put on professional development events and webinars and advocated for the restoration of Medicaid.  The current President, Patti Taylor, attributes the success to the membership, volunteers and partners.  I think it is also because of the leadership and dedication of the organization. 

AzPHA is a professional group that welcomes those who are interested in promoting public health in Arizona’s communities.  If you want to make a commitment to join, find out more online.


Performance Assessment: An ADHS Priority

February 22nd, 2013

Part of good science is tracking the outcomes of what you do.  Tracking provides good data about what’s effective and gives us the ability to intervene if something isn’t working.  Our Behavioral Health Division is very good at that.  Working through the contracts with the Regional Behavioral Health Authorities, we set standards they are required to meet to collect their fees.  A few years ago we set up a dashboard for us (and the public) to keep track of how well they are doing with services for adults and children.

When we measure the effectiveness of children’s services, you’ll see that we evaluate our contractors on several key indicators to ensure patient progress:

  • Has quality of life improved for the child?
  • Do the child and family have access to recovery and resiliency oriented services?
  • Are services provided based on the needs of the child and family?
  • Do the child and family get seamless behavioral and medical care coordination?

The Regional Behavioral Health Authorities that we contract with maintain a high level of involvement whenever a child needs services.  The more intense the needed services, the more involved the contractors are – so when you talk about children who have the highest need for substance abuse or mental illness and are living in a residential treatment facility, ADHS has very high requirements.

We require the Regional Behavioral Health Authorities to: 1) ensure admission criteria are met; 2) that they conduct ongoing reviews to ensure criteria for continued stay are met; and to 3) ensure that each child and family has an individualized treatment plan with specific measurable goals and interventions that is reviewed and updated frequently during the course of treatment.  

But keep in mind that residential treatment is limited for children.  We have a clear commitment to use community-based, sometimes called wrap-around, services. Studies show that wrap-around services are proven to help children make substantial improvements.  I’ll have more about the benefits of wrap-around services in my next blog.

ADHS Looking for a Forward-thinking Assistant Director

May 8th, 2012

Promoting Health and Wellness for all Arizonans” is the motto of the Arizona Department of Health Services.  We promote and protect the health of Arizona’s children and adults and set the standard for personal and community health through direct care, science, public policy and leadership.  Want a piece of the action? 

We’re looking for an experienced and proactive leader to become our new Assistant Director for Licensing Services. This key position reports directly to me and manages six different state and federal licensing units including Long Term Care, Medical Facilities, Child Care, Assisted Living, Behavioral Health, and Special Licensing.  The job oversees about 200 employees and a budget of $17M.  But- what makes the job exciting is that you’ll have a unique opportunity to lead a dynamic team and use your talents and skills to make Arizona a healthier place- “Promoting Health and Wellness for All Arizonans”.


September 9th, 2011

In all my years in public health this is the first crack I’ve taken at being a movie critic- so give me a little slack on this one.  I checked out the new movie called Contagion- and really liked it. I won’t give up too much information and spoil the film, but it’s basically a fictional drama that portrays CDC and other public health folks responding to a new disease outbreak that ends up causing a pandemic.  While I thought some of the human behavior and public policy decisions in the film were over the top- I was pleasantly surprised that the Director made good efforts to capture the essence of epidemiology, surveillance and disease control, public health interventions, and laboratory science and how they fit together as part of a public health response.

Ok, so you might wonder as you leave the theater- “Could this really happen?”  The answer is “yes” and it kind of already has.  The 2002-03 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic was remarkably similar to the core of what happens in ContagionSARS- which was a easily transmitted and had a case-fatality rate of more than 10% – rapidly spread from Hong Kong to 37 countries.  Fortunately, a robust international public health response that included effective public health interventions was able to prevent the virus from becoming a devastating global pandemic.

Public health from around the world worked to identify and isolate the virus and good and swift public health interventions were able to limit the spread of the disease.  Because of the quick and robust initial public health response it was fully contained – but it won’t ever be eradicated because it could still live in an animal reservoir and spread to people.  By the way- civet cats were the likely intermediate host for direct transmission of SARS to humans, but bats, or some other host, are likely the natural reservoir for the virus.

The good news is that you should still be able to sleep after you watch the film because you’re aware that a global, national, state and local public health system is in place that’s designed to quickly identify emerging infectious diseases.  Plus, we get better every day at crafting and implementing public health interventions.  Here’s a website called Contagion and CDC which was created by the CDC Foundation to help separate fact from fiction and to highlight CDC’s role in preparedness and response… Contagion Movie:  Fact and Fiction in the film, a CDC website….and CDC 24/7 – which is a website that includes information you may find useful on how the public health system protects us from outbreaks.

By the way- all the locations in the movie that depict the CDC were all taken on their campus.  I recognized their Emergency Operations Center in the movie- and have even been in meetings in the conference room you’ll see in the movie.  The lab’s you see are actually the CDC labs too… as are the rooms you see where staff are talking about the outbreak.