May 30th, 2013 by Will Humble
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We got sued again this week regarding our Medical Marijuana Program. This time we’re getting sued because the Plaintiffs think that our 1-year deadline for getting a dispensary up and running is too restrictive. Basically, the Plaintiffs allege that the legal issues that have arisen in response to the White Mountain Health Center, Inc. (a prospective dispensary) case have made it unreasonably difficult for the Plaintiffs to be able to get their dispensaries up and running in the 1-year timeframe allowed under our regulations.
We have a court hearing on Friday morning (May 31, 2013) in which the Plaintiffs are asking for a Temporary Restraining Order delaying at least the June 7 deadline for submitting their application for an Approval to Operate. Ultimately, they’re looking to extend our final deadline for actually getting their Approval to Operate past our August 7 deadline (after which their Registration Certificate expires).
BTW… We have about 20 or so dispensaries already up and running across the state and another dozen or so have already filed their request for an Approval to Operate. Also, you can see links to the other 12 lawsuits that have been filed on our website.
May 30th, 2013 by Will Humble
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Our country’s disaster preparedness system is really a matrix that starts with families and goes all the way to a coordinated federal response. In between are local first-responders, county public health and emergency management, and state public health and emergency management. But really- the real first first-responders are moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas and even kids. That’s why family preparedness is so important. The family is the first link in the preparedness chain.
Last week’s tornadoes illustrate the need for personal and family preparedness. Arizonans don’t typically encounter massive tornados, but we are vulnerable to many other kinds of disasters such as power outages, extreme heat, wildfires, pandemics, floods, and severe weather. The best way to prepare for any kind of disaster is to be informed, make a plan, build a kit, and get involved. You can get started with your family plan by using the resources at www.ready.gov. Also, be sure to work with your family, friends, and the vulnerable people in your community to ensure that you have the information, plans, and supplies in place to survive, respond to and recover from the unexpected.
Take a minute and talk with your family about personal and family preparedness. You may even want to take the Pledge to Prepare by joining the National Preparedness Coalition. As I mentioned before, it’s important to stay informed during a disaster, so be sure to visit the AZ Emergency Information Network for real-time emergency updates, and preparedness resources.
May 29th, 2013 by Will Humble
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Every year we get reports of wild animals with bizarre behaviors like approaching people rather than running away, charging vehicles, latching on to arms of joggers and refusing to let go, even walking into a bar. In many cases, these animals are found to be rabid. Bats are usually our most frequent reservoirs for rabies in AZ… but we also see rabies in skunks and foxes. Our state lab does a great job of testing animals for rabies and getting rapid results back to local health departments and healthcare providers to coordinate treatment when someone has been exposed to the rabid animal.
Last year 60 animals tested positive for rabies in Arizona, including 43 bats. This year 14 animals have tested positive for rabies, half of them bats. Almost half were identified in the first week of May, so our rabies season is definitely underway. We usually see an increase in rabid bats between March and October, so now is a good time to remind people, especially kids, to leave bats and other wild animals alone.
While rabies is 100% fatal disease once symptoms appear (actually 2 people have lived, ever) it can be treated if people seek healthcare as soon as they have come into contact or are bitten by a suspect animal. We’ve got lots of resources to help local health departments and providers make decisions about positional rabies exposures, including a rabies control and bite management manual and a rabies risk assessment, which can help providers determine whether someone should receive rabies post-exposure treatment.
May 28th, 2013 by Will Humble
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A special thanks to our team that worked the US Public Health Service’s Scientific and Training Symposium this week. Several of our staff hosted informative booths during the Symposium. A special thanks to Clarisse Tsang who hosted a break out session related to newborns and Hepatitis B.
It was a special treat to have 3 Surgeon’s General at the Symposium- which was dedicated to the work of C. Everett Koop who served as the Surgeon General from 1982-1989. Also attending were Joycelyn Elders (1993-1994); David Satcher (1998-2002); and Richard Carmona (2002-2006). Dr. Satcher headed the CDC from 1993 to 1998 before taking the Surgeon General Post in 1998. Dr. Elders was in my job in Arkansas before becoming the Surgeon General. I’m sure you know about Dr. Carmona’s biography with his deep AZ roots. All 3 had inspiring stories to tell (as well as helpful hints) about their time at the Surgeon General post.
May 24th, 2013 by Will Humble
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This week there were about 120 home-birth enthusiasts demonstrating in front of our building for about 3 hours. The crowd was expressing their unhappiness about our draft regulations for Licensed Midwives. You might have also seen the Arizona Republic article on the demonstration.
As I’ve written before, we started the process of revising the rules for Licensed Midwives about a year ago and we’re coming near the end of the process. My main goal has been to improve the entire system- including coordination with EMS and hospitals as well as data collection and analysis, oversight, and emergency planning… with the goal of ensuring (to the extent we can) the health and safety of moms and newborns.
Anyway- one of the issues the demonstrators were discussing is the administration of medications like oxygen and Pitocin by Licensed Midwives. The current rules outline several emergency measures to be performed before emergency personnel arrive in cases where the health of the mother or newborn is at risk. These rules outline guides for the administration of some medication (oxygen, Pitocin). The rules currently in effect require a Licensed Midwife to identify a physician that has agreed to provide back up, consultation, and a prescription for these medications.
Some in the midwifery community would like the ADHS to grant the authority for midwives to obtain and administer medications on their own (without consulting a physician)… however that would require a change in state law that I have no authority to make because it requires a statutory change. When I explained that I don’t have the authority to permit midwives to obtain and administer medications without consulting a physician, a member of the committee (a midwife) asked us to remove all references to medications. I’m inclined to keep the current medication rule language so at least these meds will be in scope (in consultation a physician).
Another provision that’s controversial in the current and proposed new rule asks women to take certain blood and urine tests as a condition of having a licensed midwife attend their homebirth. In the draft rules, there are a handful of tests that women need to take if she wants to have Licensed Midwifery services. These tests (HIV, Hepatitis B, blood glucose, and blood Rh factor) are the only way for the midwife to establish that the birth will be low risk and safe for the health of the newborn and mom. The mom-to-be can still refuse the tests, but that means she wouldn’t be able to have a Licensed Midwife present during the home-birth because it wouldn’t be possible to determine if the birth is low-risk and suitable for a home delivery.
The parties on the Advisory Committee still don’t agree on several points. Hopefully, the draft final rules for public comment that we publish next week will get the parties closer to at least grudging consensus. If there’s still gross disagreement about the final regulations, we could always just scrap the entire effort and keep using the existing scope of practice.
May 22nd, 2013 by Will Humble
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Our Lab just finished a major website makeover. Check out the new Laboratory landing page which will lead you to Newborn Screening, Microbiology, Chemistry, and Lab Licensure and Certification.
May 21st, 2013 by Will Humble
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Summer is almost here and the kids are wrapping up the school year. Let’s challenge families to end the school year on the right foot. Why not try walking or biking to school? The mornings are still nice enough to walk. Make it a family activity; role model healthy behavior, leave the car keys at home, and walk or bike as a family to drop your kids off at school. It’ll wake you up much more than a morning cup of coffee, and get your heart pumping and blood moving!
I’ve talked a lot recently about how where you live impacts your health. ADOT and ADHS teamed up to produce the Active School Neighborhood Checklist. This handy tool helps bring together teams (which might include public works, parents, teachers and health professionals) to assess routes to school and decide what major challenges exist for the students who wish to walk or bike. These teams provide a really great opportunity for bringing health into the conversation.
Research is really producing many new tools to assess the built environment and how that impacts health. An easy tool to use is WalkScore, where you simply input an address and get a score output on a scale of 0-100, with 100 being “Walker’s Paradise.” In fact, check out what ASU is doing to examine the relationship between Walk Score and urban housing.