Archive for the ‘General’ category

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.

AzPHA Spring Conference

February 20th, 2015

AZPHA_Logo_Clr-1pngRegistration is now open for the Arizona Public Health Association (AzPHA) 2015 Spring Conference.  The conference titled: “It Starts Upstream:  A Public Health Approach to Building a Healthy Future” will be held on Thursday, April 9, at the Phoenix Zoo.

This year’s conference will feature panel discussions on the Social Determinants of Health and Nutrition through a Cultural Lens, a presentation on preconception health and a keynote presentation on epigenetics.  The afternoon will feature a World Café, which will include four 20 minutes presentations at several tables.  There will be a wide variety of public health topics, including healthy aging, developing sustainable public health policies, comprehensive medical and dental program for children in foster care, and many more topics.  The conference is a great opportunity to learn about emerging public health issues and network with your fellow public health professionals.

AzPHA is a key stakeholder in Arizona’s public health network of community partners that includes government agencies, medical professionals, community groups, advocates, private industry, and individual citizens – all working together to make our communities healthier.  They’re a non-profit organization that’s been around since 1928.

AzPHA provides a way for members to network with other public health and medical professionals from around the state, enhance their skills by attending professional development trainings, and advocate for a better public health system in Arizona.  Take a look at their website to learn about all the benefits of joining and the discounted memberships.

Southern AZ RBHA Procurement Protest

February 19th, 2015

arnold-sarn1In mid-December (2014) we awarded contracts for the Northern and Southern regions of the state to Health Choice Integrated Care (Northern AZ) and Cenpatico Integrated Care (in Southern AZ).  On January 2nd United Healthcare filed a Protest with the ADHS for the award in Southern AZ, requesting an Emergency Stay and Administrative Hearing.  Last month (January 21) we denied the Protest.

United HealthCare has until tomorrow (February 20th) to file a Notice of Appeal to the ADOA Director.  If United Healthcare appeals our Decision, then we would have 21 days from the date of the appeal to file an Agency Report to the ADOA Director and interested parties.  After review of our Agency Report, the ADOA Director can issue a Stay, dismiss the appeal in whole or part, terminate the award, or schedule an Administrative Hearing.

The contracts for the Northern and Southern regions are scheduled to begin on October 1, 2015 and are three-year contracts with the option for two additional two-year extensions.

Coping with Stress

February 18th, 2015

WStress can have a profound impact on health and affects your body, thoughts, feelings, and behavior.  Symptoms like chronic headaches, insomnia, and lower productivity can be a direct result of stress.  Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them.  Stress management is important, because, left unchecked, it can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.  It can also lead to behavioral health conditions like anxiety or depression.

Each year since 2007, the American Psychological Association publishes a study called the Stress in AmericaPaying With Our Health.  This year’s report came out last week.  It’s only 23 pages long- so it’s digestible.  The survey measures stress among Americans including the leading sources of stress, things people do to manage stress, and the impact that stress has on our lives.

The Association’s annual awareness campaign educates folks about the connection between stress and physical health and how you can change your lifestyle and behaviors to better manage stress.  They also have a Psychology Help Center, which is an online consumer resource featuring articles and information like Stress management: How to strengthen your social support network; Face the numbers: Moving beyond financial denial; Money and family: Creating good financial habits; and Happy couples: How to avoid money arguments.

Helping our team manage stress is one key to helping employees achieve wellness.  Benefits Options are available for employees, retirees, and their spouses and dependents.  In addition to an Employee Assistance Program, Benefit Options offers resources like Fact Sheet: Mental Well-Being and Learn How to Stop the Cycle of Stress.