Archive for the ‘General’ category

New Foods for WIC Families in Arizona

May 11th, 2015

you do a lotGetting kids to eat healthy is hard, especially for busy moms.  The Arizona WIC program now offers new foods to help families provide nutritious meals.

Yogurt, whole wheat pasta, and new brands of cereal and baby foods for older babies are now available through the WIC program.  The full list of foods includes many fresh, frozen and canned vegetables, milks, cheeses, and cereals.  WIC foods are healthy for moms, babies, and preschoolers and are approved by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Helping choose healthy foods is only one of the ways WIC helps families.  WIC moms learn what to eat while pregnant or breastfeeding and how to feed their growing kids, especially picky eaters.  Moms get WIC checks that can be used at grocery stores and farmers’ markets to buy healthy foods for their family.  WIC helps moms with breastfeeding, too.

Moms do a lot and WIC is there to help a little.  Many families do not realize they can participate in the WIC program, even after their baby turns one.  Spread the word, encourage all the moms you know with kids under age five to visit today and find out if they are eligible.

Empowering Habits, Empowering Lives: Superheroes Empowering Arizona!

May 5th, 2015

CaraChrist_EmpowerThis past weekend, we held the fourth annual “Empowering Habits and Empowering Lives” Empower Conference. More than 250 Early Care and Education professionals from all over Arizona participated in the all-day meeting. Conference participants explored the Empower Program’s 10 Standards to Empower Children to Live Healthy Lives and learned how to be more effective through developing cultural competency and inclusiveness.

The conference included fun and interactive sessions presented by state and national experts. Dr. Cara Christ, Deputy Director and Chief Medical Officer of the Arizona Department of Health Services, kick-started the event held at the Desert Willow Conference Center in Phoenix.

The child care providers attending had a chance to participate in high-energy sessions to find out how to “Krunch Out Tooth Decay,” be a sun safety “Superstar,” play nutrition and breastfeeding “Jeopardy,” and ignite physical activity sparks for all families. A “Superstar” photo booth and  resource-rich exhibits were popular places.

The 10 Empower Standards were developed for Empower Child Care Facilities in Arizona. More than 2,500 child care providers from across the state participate in the Empower Program, reaching over 200,000 children in Arizona.  Check out the conference presentations and see pictures of the Superstars from all around Arizona.

Title V Priority Setting Meeting

April 20th, 2015

MOur Women’s and Children’s Health team administers the federal maternal Child Health Block Grant.  This grant is authorized through Title V of the Social Security Act and has been in place since 1935.  Every 5 years we look at the health and well-being of Arizona’s women and children and develop our top priorities based on identified needs. We’re been working on the next needs assessment, which is due in 2015.

Our maternal child health folks have been traveling around the state listening to stakeholders and community partners about how they saw the health of Arizona’s women and children including children with special health care needs.  We reviewed the results of the online surveys and have also reviewed the compiled data.  Now we are ready to choose our Maternal Child Health priorities going forward for the next 5 years.  Please join us today, April 20, from 1:30-4:30 in Room 005, at 1740 W. Adams, as we select these priorities.




More EMS Web-based Improvements to Launch This Month

April 6th, 2015

Businessman with laptop computerA year ago, our Bureau of EMS and Trauma System launched its Web-based EMCT registration program.  The Bureau along with our IT staff have been hard at work on the next phase of their automation project, the EMS Training Program portal.  The  portal will go live this month allowing the EMS Training Program folks to submit all of the required registration, testing and course completion documents electronically.  To prepare for the launch, Bureau staff has been hosting several regional train-the-trainer sessions to provide program directors, and their staff, with the opportunity to learn how the new on-line system works and the benefits to the program and the students.

National Public Health Week 2015 website launched

March 4th, 2015

children eating applesThe website for National Public Health Week, which will run April 6-12 this year, is now open for business.  Visit to stay abreast of information and events and access the NPHW toolkit.  The toolkit contains fact sheets, media outreach materials, suggested community events, legislative information and other helpful resources and activities.  This year’s NPHW focuses on the goal of making the U.S. the “Healthiest Nation in One Generation — by 2030.”  You can sign up to be a national, state or local partner here.

Tuberculosis: Stubborn but Eradicable

March 3rd, 2015

clinicianIn the past, tuberculosis was all over popular culture.  It was portrayed in opera (Puccini’s La bóheme, Verdi’s La Traviata), in novels (Tolstoy’s Anna Karénina, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment), and in poetry (works by both Keats and Shelley).  Nowadays, it seems like the only time TB is in the news is when it’s about ancient Egyptian mummies.

In fact, TB is far from ancient. We had nearly 200 cases of TB in Arizona last year (our final numbers will be released on March 24, World TB Day).  Each of those 200 cases had contact with an average of 10 contacts meaning that around 2,000 people were exposed last year in Arizona.  Public health works hard to find exposed persons because some of them will develop tuberculosis in the future.

The only way we can eliminate TB is to find and treat every tuberculosis infection.  Challenges include the fact that people can be infected but not have active disease or symptoms (latent TB); treatment is long and costly (even more if becomes drug-resistant); and federal support for TB programs is based on the number of state cases (a few hundred), instead of the number of contacts (a few thousand).

Arizona’s TB Control Program is working to protect the public.  It has partnerships with local and tribal health, the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory (which has the GeneXpert, a test that detects tuberculosis and resistance patterns in 2 hours), the CDC,  and other organizations.  Keep your ears perked on World TB Day – the state and national numbers will be released, and we will see how we’re progressing toward TB elimination.

Big Behavioral Health Procurement in the Books

March 2nd, 2015

hosp settingIn mid-December (2014) we awarded contracts for the Northern and Southern regions of the state to Health Choice Integrated Care and Cenpatico Integrated Care.  On January 2nd United Healthcare filed a Protest with the ADHS for the award in Southern AZ, requesting an Emergency Stay and Administrative Hearing.  On January 21 we denied the Protest.

United HealthCare didn’t appeal that denial to the ADOA within the timeframe – so this large procurement is now in the books, and we expect the new contracts in the Northern and Southern regions to begin as scheduled on October 1, 2015.

Az Health Improvement Plan Paying Dividends

February 27th, 2015
web az-state-health-assessment-coverAz Health Improvement Plan Paying Dividends
We made progress this week on one of our key Arizona Health Improvement Plan (AzHIP) objectives: To improve access to well care in underserved areas of Arizona.  This week the Governor signed Senate Bill 1194 which enhances our State Loan Repayment Program by expanding the types of providers who can receive loan repayment assistance, increasing the award amounts for the initial and succeeding commitment years, and removing the 4-year service cap.  
When the law becomes effective this summer, mental health providers, pharmacists and geriatrics will be added to the list of eligible providers joining the currently eligible primary care physicians, dentists, and advanced practice providers like nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurse midwives.  The new law makes up to $65,000 available (for a 2-year commitment) for physicians and dentists (a $40,000 increase).  Advanced practice providers can qualify for up to $50,000 (up from $15,000).  The incentives even get better as providers stay longer in the program.  For each year of continued service in the underserved area after the first two years, physicians and dentists can receive up to $35,000 from $25,000.
We expect the improved funding and eligibility structure to increase access to primary care in underserved communities by bringing in more providers and retaining those that are already serving while helping put a significant dent on their student loan debt.  More information about the State Loan Repayment Program is available on our website or by contacting Ana Roscetti.

EMTALA & Ebola

February 24th, 2015

clinicianThe Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) is a federal law that requires hospitals that accept Medicare payments to provide emergency healthcare to anybody regardless of citizenship or immigration status or their ability to pay.  Under the law, hospitals that accept Medicare payments can’t transfer or discharge patients that need emergency treatment unless there’s informed consent on the part of the patient or after the patient is stabilized.  An exception is when the patient’s condition requires the patient’s transfer to a hospital that’s better equipped to administer treatment.

Because patient care for Ebola patients is so unique, we (and most other states) have been struggling to interpret EMTALA requirements when building our protocol for assessment and treatment of Ebola (or potential Ebola) patients.  Last Fall the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent out a survey and certification letter to provide guidance to hospitals regarding meeting EMTALA requirements if a patient presents who was potentially exposed to Ebola.

Last week they followed up their earlier memo with a Q & A for clarification.  The short story is that all Medicare-certified hospitals with an emergency department are expected (at a minimum) to screen, isolate and begin stabilizing treatment for any patient with possible Ebola symptoms.  Medicare-participating hospitals with specialized capabilities (our designated hospitals) are required (within the limits of their capability and capacity) to accept appropriate transfers of individuals protected under EMTALA from other hospitals, without regard to insurance or ability to pay.  CMS hasn’t published the Q & A publically yet – but we’ll make sure it gets into our Ebola website when it’s ready for broad distribution.

We’ll be taking a close look at the new clarification as we continue to build our protocols for treating Ebola and other emerging infectious diseases.


ADHS Community Profiles Dashboard Gets International Recognition

February 23rd, 2015

StatisticsOur Community Profiles Dashboard is featured this month in the ESRI News, for State & Local Government newsletter as an example of the benefits from making health date more accessible.  I’ve blogged about our Dashboard, which is a 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 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.

In addition to the news feature in ESRI, our Dashboard has received worldwide recognition this year.  The Geowise Company, which built our Dashboard using Instant Atlas (IA) Software analyzed dashboards from around the world to determine what works and what doesn’t in IA dashboard creation.  Based on this analysis, our Community Profiles Dashboard was voted number three in the world.  This will be featured in the next Instant Atlas Newsletter.

I encourage public health professionals, city planners, and medical providers to use the Community Profiles Dashboard to look at health indicators in their communities.  This information is vital in developing healthy communities and targeting resources where they’re needed most.  To help you learn how to use the Dashboard, we’ve created a four part online video tutorial.