Archive for the ‘General’ category

Severe Dog Bites Up Sharply in AZ

March 27th, 2014

When I heard about what happened to the 4 year old boy that was attacked by a Pit Bull a couple of weeks ago, I asked our public health statistics team to look at our surveillance data and see whether severe dog maulings are really up- or whether it just seems that way.  It turns out that they really are up over the last few years.  In fact, our report (released yesterday) found that severe dog bites requiring inpatient hospitalization have more than doubled over the last 5 years in AZ. 

The most striking finding was that there’s been a 139% increase in inpatient hospitalizations (requiring at least 1 overnight stay) in the last 5 years in Arizona.  Overall, there were 34,151 emergency department visits and 2,358 inpatient hospitalizations from 2008-2012 for dog-bite related injuries.   The total healthcare charges during this time-period were $55,000,000.   The median cost for a dog bite inpatient stay was $17,000…  emergency department visits averaged $1,150.  Interestingly, more than 70% of the dog bite injuries happened in homes. 

Probably the most important safety tip for folks is to pick a dog breed and dog that match your lifestyle- especially if you have or think you might have kids.  

Other helpful tips are to avoid running from or approaching an unfamiliar dog (remain motionless).  Never try to break up a dog fight by yourself.   If you’re knocked over by an unfamiliar dog you should roll into a ball and be still.    Don’t disturb a dog that’s sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.  Kids should avoid playing with unfamiliar dogs unless supervised by an adult- and ask questions about family pets before sending your kid on a play date or sleepover at a friend’s house.

Dogs can be great family companions- but just like your mom probably taught you- they also come with responsibilities.

ICM Spring Cleaning Drive Final Push

March 25th, 2014

 If you’re a regular blog reader, you’ve probably seen posts about our water drives in the spring to prepare for the summer heat and the food drive in the fall to help our food banks for the holiday season.  We also do an annual spring cleaning drive that benefits ICM.  This is a great opportunity for those who like to do spring cleaning to get rid of old clothes, household items and even non-perishable foods. This year our drive ends on March 31st and we’re almost at 1,000 pounds of items donated to the charity. 

ICM does much more than just provide “stuff” for people in need.   The facility which is located in South Phoenix provides an immediate response to basic human needs including clothing, toiletries and financial assistance. ICM serves 60,000 clients each year, including families with children. All of their donations go directly to people that need them and for free.  Its website says, ”Our services are provided by volunteers, with an emphasis on hope and dignity for the individual. While helping the very poor be fed and clothed, we encourage their self-sufficiency with specific assistance and education.”

So if you’re looking for a place to donate your spring cleaning bounty or looking for an opportunity to volunteer – ICM is always looking for donations.


Court Provides More Clarity Regarding Marijuana Extracts

March 23rd, 2014

Judge Cooper from Maricopa County Superior Court ruled on Friday that: “The language of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and its ballot materials make clear that proponents and votes intended the Act to provide access to medicine for debilitating medical conditions without fear of criminal prosecution.  The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act does not limit the form in which that medicine can be administered.  Nor does it prohibit the use of extracts, such as CBD oil.”


This ruling provides some clarity regarding how we’ll regulate the sale of edibles that contain extracts from the marijuana plant.  Here’s a summary of the issue addressed by the Court:
The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act provides registry identification card holders and dispensaries a number of legal protections for their medical use of Marijuana pursuant to the Act.  Interestingly, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act definition of “Marijuana” in A.R.S. § 36-2801(8) differs from the Arizona Criminal Code’s (“Criminal Code”) definition of “Marijuana” in A.R.S. § 13-3401(19).  The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act makes a distinction between “Marijuana” and “Usable Marijuana.” A.R.S. § 36-2801(8) and (15).  The definition of “Marijuana” in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act is “… all parts of any plant of the genus cannabis whether growing or not, and the seeds of such plant.”  The definition of “Usable Marijuana” is  “…  the dried flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof, but does not include the seeds, stalks and roots of the plant and does not include the weight of any non-marijuana ingredients combined with marijuana and prepared for consumption as food or drink.”  The “allowable amount of marijuana” for a qualifying patient and a designated caregiver includes “two-and-one half ounces of usable marijuana.”  A.R.S. § 36-2801(1).


The definition of “Marijuana” in the Criminal Code is “… all parts of any plant of the genus cannabis, from which the resin has not been extracted, whether growing or not, and the seeds of such plant.”   “Cannabis” (a narcotic drug under the Criminal Code) is defined as: “… the following substances under whatever names they may be designated: (a) The resin extracted from any part of a plant of the genus cannabis, and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of such plant, its seeds or its resin.  Cannabis does not include oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any fiber, compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of the mature stalks of such plant except the resin extracted from the stalks or any fiber, oil or cake or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination; and (b) Every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of such resin or tetrahydrocannabinol.” A.R.S. § 13-3401(4) and (20)(w).


An issue the Department had been wrestling with for some time is how the definition of “Marijuana” and “Usable Marijuana” in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and the definition of “Cannabis” and “Marijuana” in the Criminal Code fit together. In other words, prior to this ruling it had appeared as though registered identification card holders and dispensaries could have been exposed to criminal prosecution under the Criminal Code for possessing a narcotic drug if the card holder or dispensary possesses resin extracted from any part of a plant of the genus Cannabis or an edible containing resin extracted from any part of a plant of the genus Cannabis.


At least for now, it appears that forms of marijuana that include extracts from the plant are provided the same level of protection (for patients and dispensaries) as the actual dried marijuana plants under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.

Send Your Teen to CDC’s Disease Detective Camp this Summer

March 21st, 2014

The CDC just began accepting applications for their annual summer Disease Detective Camp.  The Camp is open to motivated students who’ll be high-school juniors or seniors during the 2014-2015 school year.  Over the course of five days, campers  take on the role of disease detectives.   Campers can expect a variety of experiences including re-created outbreaks, mock press conferences, environmental and global health activities, a laboratory session, an introduction to chronic disease surveillance, public health law, and short lectures from world-renowned CDC scientists.  Here’s a sample schedule

Applicants need to be 16 years old by the first day of the camp in order to comply with CDC’s laboratory safety requirements.  Two sessions will be offered this summer:  June 23-27, and July 21-25.  Applicants are selected based on the Application Essay Questions submitted and the teacher/counselor Recommendation Form.  Applications need to be postmarked by April 11. 

The Camp is free, but campers are responsible for providing their own accommodations and transportation. Campers in past years have stayed with family friends or relatives in Atlanta.

New Phrase for the Week: Sleep Hygiene

March 19th, 2014

If you’re like my family, there are times when some of you don’t get enough sleep.  In fact about 30% of Americans don’t get the 7 to 8 hours of sleep that we need to stay healthy.  Now that everybody is plugged into an electronic device these days (especially teens) is seems to be getting worse.  

Electronic devices and even some night lights suppresses your production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the body’s clock.  Light during the day is good because it boosts your mood and keeps you more alert.  But at night, light makes falling and staying asleep harder because it prevents your body from making melatonin. 

If you struggle with getting enough sleep, there are a number of recommendations that might help (often referred to as sleep hygiene).  Here are some helpful hints: 

  • Sleep 7 to 8 hours in total darkness;
  • Avoid electronic media with brightly lit screens before going to bed. This includes televisions, computers, and even your smart phone;
  • If you use nightlights, try using dim lights, which are less likely to suppress melatonin production; and
  • Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will help to reset your body’s internal clock, making it easier to sleep well at night.


Health Profession Summer Program Opportunity for AZ High Schoolers

March 5th, 2014

Have you ever wondered — Why do people get sick? How can we prevent the spread of disease? What do doctors REALLY do?  If so, the U of A College of Medicine in Phoenix has a summer program for you! 

Be a part of Med-Start Phoenix, a two-week day program with a fast paced curriculum sure to help confirm your healthcare interest.  The  Program is designed to inspire Arizona high school students to explore their existing interest in the health professions. Each of the three Med-Start Phoenix summer sessions include hands-on activities, field trips, community service projects, simulation and related lab experiences, culminating projects and lectures from medical students, faculty and community members. 

The unique sessions will highlight three healthcare themes: Scientific Research, Arizona’s Healthcare Needs and the Healthcare Team.  There are separate sessions for current 9th and 10th grade and 11th and 12th grade students.  Applications are electronic and are due March 15.  There are limited slots, so interested students better get on the stick.


USDA Announces New School Nutrition Guidelines

February 28th, 2014

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.

Please Help Supply Blessing Bags

February 20th, 2014

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.

Arizona’s First Ever State Health Assessment

February 13th, 2014

Today we published Arizona’s first ever comprehensive State Health Assessment. The objective of the State Health Assessment is to give Arizona’s public health and health care systems a clear tool to help drive future decision-making and resource allocation as we collectively design and implement evidence-based interventions to improve health and wellness outcomes across Arizona.  

The Assessment uses Arizona-specific data to assess the state of the public’s health in Arizona and has been a collaborative effort among all of the health departments in each AZ county as well as the ADHS.  The 15 priority health issues in the Report are obesity, tobacco use, substance abuse, healthcare associated infections, suicides, teen pregnancy, creating healthy communities, behavioral health services, diabetes, heart disease, other chronic diseases (cancer, respiratory disease, asthma), accidents and injuries, oral health, access to well care, and access to health insurance. 

Each public health indicator is summarized for its significance and scope, trending, and comparative analysis against national data.  The report also provides in-depth analysis for a number of indicators in each of Arizona’s 126 Community Health Analysis Areas. 

Please take time to look at the State Health Assessment and the county level community health assessments.  After you’re done, we’d appreciate hearing from you through the survey monkey as we take the next giant step to create Arizona’s first State Health Improvement Plan.

Car Seat Collection Launch

February 11th, 2014

The child safety seat exchange program we established as cooperative partnership via the Arizona-Mexico Commission last summer is moving forward.  We’ve established a new partnership with Rural Metro and Southwest Ambulance to serve as collection sites for people who want to donate their gently used car seat that will be donated to families in Sonora.  As part of the program, all child safety seats donated by Arizonans for transfer to Sonora will be inspected using the Used Car Seat Check List.    

If you have a used child safety seat you want to donate to the program, visit our Safe Ride Home website to find a location near you.  The seat that is collecting dust in your garage could help protect children in Mexico.