Archive for the ‘General’ category

Federal Program Helps Recruit Doctors in Underserved Areas

October 30th, 2014

docsArizona needs more doctors to help take care of our residents’ various health issues but we are challenged with recruiting enough especially in the rural communities.  The National Health Service Corps has a program called the  Student to Service Loan Repayment Program which is designed to attract newly trained physicians to work in rural, underserved areas.  The program allows 4th year medical students pursuing a primary care residency to get annual loan repayment while still in medical school or residency if they commit to serve in underserved communities.

In exchange for service in a high need Health Professional Shortage Area a medical student may receive tax-free loan repayment of up to $30,000 annually or up to $120,000 for three years of full-time service or for six years of part-time service.  Medical students can benefit by reducing their medical student loan debt by more than half.

This 2015 “Students to Service” application cycle is open until November 13, 2014.  If you know an interested medical student, encourage them to review the Students to Service Application and Program Guidance for additional instructions.  Click here to start an application.  For more information contact Ana Roscetti, Workforce Programs Section Manager.

City Health Commissioners Raise Awareness of Prescription Drug Overdose

October 29th, 2014

prescriptiondrugThe National Association of City and County Health Officers Big Cities Health Coalition recently held a standing-room-only Congressional briefing on prescription drug abuse and overdose. The briefing focused on local policy successes, challenges, and solutions to help save lives.  Click here to learn more about the Big Cities Health Coalition, projects they are currently engaged in, and to watch a video of the briefing.

Vital Records & Same Gender Marriage

October 27th, 2014

vitalrecordsBy now I’m sure you’ve heard that Arizona began recognizing same gender marriages (as an outcome of a recent federal court case).  The court decision will influence some of the things that we do in our Vital Records shop – mostly as we process of death certificates.  Arizona law specifies the people that can get a certified copy of a death certificate.  One of those categories is the decedents’ spouse.  Now that Arizona recognizes the marriage of people of the same gender, we’ve begun processing death certificates of all marriages – whether the people are the same gender or not.

We don’t expect to make major changes for the issuance of birth certificates, but we’re still looking into the nuances of the maternity and paternity statutes to determine how to register a birth when a birth mother has a same gender spouse and wants to name her spouse on the birth certificate as the other parent.

Our Vital Records shop also records adoptions…and this area may be affected by the ruling – but we’re not 100% sure yet.  Arizona law doesn’t prohibit people of the same gender from adopting children, but state law gives preference to a married man and woman over others.  We still don’t know if those criteria in law will eventually be affected.  Since our team simply registers adoptions approved by the courts (ours is more of an administrative function), we’ll simply continue to record adoptions as they arrive.

2014 AIDS Walk

October 24th, 2014
AIDS walk ribbonHIV/AIDS affects or infects over 15,000 people in the state of Arizona.  HIV has become a chronic disease, one that can be managed, which means most people are not dying of AIDS.  However, there are still a lot of difficulties associated with being HIV positive.  The prescriptions alone can be expensive and the side effects can be very hard on the body, making simple daily tasks more difficult. 
What can our community do to help?  The 2014 AIDS Walk Arizona Walk & 5K Run is just around the corner and is a great way to show your support.  All the money raised locally is spent locally; it’s distributed equally to 17 valley-wide member agencies that provide programs to prevent HIV/AIDS or that assist those living with the disease.  Programs include education, safe-sex practices, testing, medical, food, housing, legal, and youth empowerment.  Some of these programs depend on the funds raised to survive.
The fundraising goal for the 2014 event is $500,000.  You can help by registering here as a part of the ADHS team or donating to our team. This year the Phoenix AIDS Walk Arizona & 5K Run on Sunday, October 26th, 2014 at 9am.  Whether you run, walk, donate, or simply support the ADHS team, thank you for all you do.
MONDAY UPDATE: As of October 27th, the Phoenix AIDS Walk raised $308,780.92.  Our  ADHS team goal was $500.00 and we exceeded our goal raising a total of $580.00.  Our top team member who raised the most money was our mascot “Chewy” raising a total of $160.00.

Vaccines- Calling the Shots

October 23rd, 2014

Syringe and VaccinationEvery time a different disease surfaces in the news like MERS, Ebola or Enterovirus D 68, one of the first questions people ask is, “Is there a vaccine for it?”  A new documentary created for NOVA on PBS – Vaccines – Calling the Shots recently outlined the history of vaccines and the possibility of vaccine-preventable diseases returning to the U.S.  It’ll take an hour to watch, but it’s excellent – especially for us public health enthusiasts.

Ebola Toolkits

October 20th, 2014

ebolaOne of the roles we play in any outbreak is making sure that our partners in the state have all the information they need to respond to a situation and be safe in that response. I’ve posted about our continuing education of those partners, but now we’ve created a one-page stop for partner.

Our Ebola Preparedness website contains all the information we’ve sent out through our Health Alert Network. There are toolkits for hospitals, outpatient clinics, EMS providers and laboratories.

We will continue to push information to our partners, especially as things change. We anticipate new information today about personal protective gear . So stay tuned

Plague over the Centuries

October 15th, 2014

plagueRing around the roseies, A pocket full of posies, Ashes, ashes! We all fall down!

In 1348, London was 4 million strong, but within 2.5 years a third of those had “fallen down.”  The streets were narrow and cramped, often piled ankle deep with human and animal waste. The putrid smell contaminated everything in the city. Those infected with the new and ghastly plague placed posies in their pockets and rosaries around their necks.  Their symptoms include severe fever, chills, headache, muscle weakness and pain, swollen lymph nodes, and sometimes respiratory or GI illness.  Between one third and two thirds of Europe’s population was decimated within just a few decades.

The plague was known then as the Black Death, but it’s recognized today as the bacteria Yersinia pestis.  Scientific advances have turned it from a fearsome figure to a controllable nuisance.  Arizona has not had a single plague case in the past 5 years; the last confirmed case was in 2007.

Unfortunately for our rodent brethren, this is not the case.  In the 1300s, rats of the Rattus rattus variety were the primary rodent carrier of the fleas that spread plague.  Now the burden falls to others.  Prairie dogs, squirrels, rabbits, cats, and their predators have been found to be carriers of plague in Arizona.  Most recently fleas collected in Doney Park, near Flagstaff, tested positive for Yersinia pestis.

Staying safe from plague is pretty easy – pets should have flea protection (cats are susceptible), and people should use insect repellant if they’re in flea-infested areas.  People and pets should stay away from dead animals and wild animal burrows.  Human infections are rare, but early antibiotic intervention is the key to successful treatment.  When we apply what we’ve learned about biology, sanitation, and public health over the years, the serious diseases of our ancestors become mere nursery rhymes for our children.

New Draft Medical Marijuana Regulations Out for Public Comment

October 15th, 2014

DFor the last few months we’ve been reviewing our medical marijuana rules to make changes to them in response to an Arizona Superior Court judge’s decision.  In addition to the changes needed to comply with the Court’s ruling, also proposing other changes to the medical marijuana rules that affect qualifying patients, caregivers, and dispensaries that include:

  • Reducing the fees for qualifying patients who are 65 years of age or older, under 18 years of age, veterans, receiving SSI or SSDI benefits, or receiving hospice services;
  • Reducing the fees for the caregivers of qualifying patients who are under 18 years of age or receiving hospice services;
  • Adding a process for qualifying patients who are incapacitated and have a guardian to get a registry identification card;
  • Adding palliative care of PTSD to the list of qualifying medical conditions;
  • Clarifying requirements for the cultivation of marijuana;
  • Revising procedures for allocating dispensary registration certificates;
  • Clarifying who can sign documents and make requests on behalf of a dispensary; and
  • Clarifying requirements for inventory control, dispensing and transporting medical marijuana, and accepting donated marijuana.

After posting drafts of revised rules in February and June and meeting with people affected by the rules in June and July, we’re now posting a third draft, which includes changes based on the comments we received, and an on-line survey for comments on the new draft.  Based on the comments that we receive on the third draft, we’ll submit a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which will include official Oral Proceedings. After that, we’ll finalize the new regulations.  We plan to have the revised rules in effect by Summer 2015.  Here are the new draft rules.

Help Your Health & Wallet

October 9th, 2014

Coworkers smiling togetherIf you’re a “benefits eligible” state employee, you now have a new opportunity to improve your health and your wallet.  This week Benefit Options Wellness launched a new health initiative called the Health Impact Program (HIP).  It’s a point-based incentive program that encourages participation in a variety of wellness activities, while logging progress toward a goal of 500 “points”.  People that complete the program will be eligible for up to $200 which will be paid directly through payroll about a year from now.

Your activities will be self-reported by you through the new Mayo Clinic Healthy Living portal.  Simply visit the site to create your account and get started.  Take the Health Assessment as a way to find your starting point.  It’s a great tool to learn what you are doing well and how you can make improvements toward better health.

Qualifying activities include:  preventive health screenings, health coaching, participation in health education and wellness events, and more.  We’ll coordinate internally with our Workforce Development and Employee Wellness Teams to offer qualifying activities on site.

State employees: please consider challenging yourself to make HIP a part of your life for the upcoming year.  Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available at or email with any inquiries regarding program specifics.

Continuing Medical Education for PTSD Treatment

October 8th, 2014

CA few weeks ago I issued a Director’s Decision that will authorize the use of marijuana (under the AZ Medical Marijuana Act) for patients undergoing treatment for PTSD.  Medical marijuana certifications will be valid only for palliative care (not treatment).  I delayed the implementation date until January 1 to allow time for certifying physicians, dispensary medical directors, and dispensary agents to develop policies, procedures, and educational materials before the decision takes effect.

One good training option for physicians (and other clinicians) was recently uploaded to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality‘s website.  It’s entitled “Psychological and Pharmacological Treatments for Adults with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)”.  The CME/CE activities are accredited for a multi-disciplinary audience of health care practitioners and provides 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit as well as Certified Contact Hours for Case Managers, Certified Health Education Specialists, Nurse Practitioners, Registered Nurses, and Pharmacists.

The monograph examines various evidence-based treatments for adults with PTSD.  It covers the benefits, harms, and comparative effectiveness of various treatment strategies for adults including the comparative effectiveness of psychological treatments.

We’re reaching out to certifying physicians and other interested healthcare personnel to let them know about this resource so that they’re better informed about the latest data regarding evidence-based treatment of PTSD.