Archive for the ‘General’ category

Arizona Community Profiles Dashboard (Part II of IV)

October 1st, 2014

reportingA couple weeks ago I wrote about our new Community Profiles Dashboards.   They’re a huge leap forward for public health professionals, city planners, non-profit organizations, medical providers and anyone interested in health data.  The data are arranged on the Dashboards - in state, county, and Primary Care Areas - to provide several options to compare and explore data.

This week we take a look at how the dashboard can help public health gather data it needs to address one of our winnable battles, reducing suicide.  More than 1,100 of those were in Arizona last year.  To develop effective public health prevention and intervention programs to prevent suicide, we have to understand our communities.  Looking at the raw numbers of suicides isn’t enough to develop new strategies.  Public health professionals need more information, including where we have higher numbers of suicides and the health and demographic indicators in that area.

In this Community Profiles Dashboards Video Tutorial we look at rural and metropolitan areas of the state to identify where suicide rates are higher than the overall Arizona rate to get a better understanding of the relationships between demographic information and the higher rates.  When we looked at the communities with higher suicide rates, we found that all of these communities either had an older population or a higher population of Native Americans, and that all of the communities had lower educations levels.  This isn’t a definitive answer to the question of why these areas have higher rates, but it gives us a starting point.  The Dashboards aren’t meant to solve public health problems; it’s a tool to help public health better target our resources and intervention strategies.

One of our key interventions has been training people across the state in Mental Health First Aid.  Since 2011, more than 7,000 people have learned the warning signs of suicide and what to do when there is a concern.  You can find out more about the free classes on our website.

National Latino Children’s Summit This Week in Phoenix

September 30th, 2014

Father And Son In Park With FootballChild-serving organizations and community leaders will be meeting at the 2014 National Latino Children’s Summit on October 3rd in Phoenix.  It’s called The State of Latino Children: Our Future – and it’ll focus on health, child safety, education and more.

At the summit, Dyanne Herrera from our Office of Women and Children’s Health will provide a data overview and bring focus to the mobilization around children’s health. Dyanne will be joined by colleagues who will update the participants about connecting children to healthcare; Parent Ambassador Programs in the schools; public private partnerships and opportunities for building positive environments.  For more information about the summit community partners and agenda, visit the website.

Arizona Health Improvement Plan Broadcast Posted

September 29th, 2014

Our most recent AzHIP  broadcast is posted to the Arizona State Health Assessment section (look under the Resources heading).  A big thank you to everyone involved for their hard work.  The next set of heavy lifting is putting together the working groups that will assemble gap analysis and the intervention ideas that will flesh out the Plan.

Trash Your Stash

September 26th, 2014

got-drugs-buttonAbuse of prescription drugs is a public health epidemic, but you can do your part in helping to curb access to prescription drugs with one simple step: get rid of your old and unused medications.  This weekend is the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day held by the DEA and state and local partners.  Removing unused prescription drugs from your home is important because it can help reduce the number of accidental poisonings and can limit the access to drugs that people abuse.  Each year in Arizona more than 2,000 kids were sent to the emergency room from accidental poisonings.

The Prescription Drug Take Back Day will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked. There are more than 100 drop-off sites across the state, and you can find a location near you by visiting the DEA website

If you can’t get to a site on Saturday, there are other ways to properly dispose of unused medications. There are several permanent drop boxes where you can dispose of medications that you can find by visiting the Arizona Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse Initiative.  You can also mix your unused medications in a plastic bag with undesirable materials, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter and then throw it in the trash. If you throw the medication in the trash without destroying them, they can be retrieved and sold – if you flush them down the toilet, they can contaminate our water supply.  Take some time this weekend to go through your medicine cabinets and get rid of all your unused medications that can be a danger to our family, friends, and community.

Congrats to Emily

September 19th, 2014

Award CertificateCongratulations to Emily Jenkins, the President and CEO of the Arizona Council of Human Service Providers who was recognized by the Arizona Capitol Times as the Leader of the Year in Public Policy for Healthcare this week.  The award recognizes individuals and organizations for advancing public policy that positively impacts the lives of Arizonans.  Categories include education, arts and humanities, business, economic development, environment, government, health care, legislative, public safety, social services, technology, transportation, volunteerism, lifetime achievement, unsung hero and up and comer.

Emily has been the President/CEO of the Arizona Council of Human Service Providers since January 2008.  She’s worked in the health field for much of her professional life.  Emily has been an excellent partner with the ADHS over the last several years – working with and helping us with several areas of our Strategic Map, especially in columns B and C.

Congrats Emily – well deserved.

New ASTHO Presidential Challenge: Healthy Aging

September 17th, 2014

HI was at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials Annual Meeting and Policy Summit most of last week.  This year’s meeting was entitled Achieving Population Health in Evolving Systems.  We shared best practices with each other about different ways states are approaching population health.  We heard from the Acting Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH, who provided a federal perspective.  We also covered the progress that the US has made addressing this year’s ASTHO Presidential Challenge to address the prescription painkiller epidemic through Prevention Strategies, Monitoring and Surveillance, Control and Enforcement, and Treatment and Recovery.

ASTHO’s 2015 Presidential Challenge is to promote the health of older adults by collaborating across sectors.  The challenge aims to galvanize support for state health officials, public health teams, state and local experts in aging and a broad network of partners, to implement evidence-based strategies for increasing the number of older adults who are living well in our communities.  More on this in the coming weeks and months.

Community Integrated Paramedicine Taking Shape in AZ

September 16th, 2014

PCommunity Integrated Paramedicine programs are beginning to come together in two primary business models in Arizona.  The first one has EMS (emergency medical services) agencies partnering with hospitals to reduce the frequency that patients are re-admitted to hospitals.  In the second, EMS agencies are cultivating social service referrals to reduce the frequency that folks use emergency departments for non-emergency events.

Here in Arizona, EMS agencies have really jumped on board, highlighted by the Mesa Fire and Medical Department’s $12 million grant from the Federal Government, Rio Rico Fire District’s Community Paramedicine Program and Golder Ranch Fire District’s Community Paramedicine Program.

There are two possible reasons for the increased interest in Community Integrated Paramedicine programs.  Federal law provides financial incentives to hospitals to reduce the number of readmissions among patients discharged within 30 days.  There’s also been a national focus on conducting community health needs assessments.  Many community needs assessments have exposed large gaps in the availability of preventative health care services needed to improve the health and well-being of residents.

A new piece of the community paramedicine puzzle became available this week with the publication of a document called “Expanding the Role of Emergency Medical Services Providers: A Legal Analysis” by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.  The document examines the legal perspective and provides guidance on several topics including scope of practice, emergency calls, payment, liability and medical direction for community integrated paramedicine programs.

Community Integrated Paramedicine touches our Bureau of EMS and Trauma System, the Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease and the Health Care Institution Licensing Branch.  Our job over the coming months is to help Community Integrated Paramedicine Programs to navigate regulatory waters and manage the risks associated with a new business model for EMS providers – our Team is finalizing work on a guidance document right now.

Enterovirus D68

September 15th, 2014

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

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

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.