Trash Your Stash V

April 27th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

Prescription drugs can be safe and effective at treating illnesses- but leftovers are also tempting for experimental teens- and the misuse of narcotic prescriptions is an increasingly urgent public health problem in Arizona.  In fact, more than 1,100 Arizonans died from prescription drug poisoning from misuse and abuse last year- which is more than the number of Arizonans that die in car crashes. Opioids (such as codeine, morphine, oxycodone, and other synthetic narcotics) were responsible for most drug overdoses. Our drug-related death statistics for 1985-2009 are available online.  Parents of teens should really pay attention to what they have around the house, and this weekend is your perfect opportunity to clean up. 

Powerful drugs are often easily accessible in many, if not most, homes- and many parents don’t recognize that these (sometimes dangerous) unused meds can be tempting for teens.  They’re often easily accessible in home medicine cabinets, and hundreds Arizonans face the devastating effects of prescription drug abuse every day.  

The DEA and state & local partners are sponsoring their 5th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day this Saturday from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.  This (always successful) nationwide effort provides a way for people to get rid of leftover prescription drugs.  The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked. Arizonans disposed of more than 3 tons at April’s event.  There are more than 100 drop-off sites that’ll be open Saturday- and you can find the location nearest you by visiting the DEA Website.

Remembering Alan

April 26th, 2012 by Will Humble 1 comment »

Alan Oppenheim was an excellent leader and manager- but much more importantly- he was a really good person.  He always cared about others and asked lots of questions about what was going on.  He was a team player- he had everybody’s and the team’s best interests in mind…  and was wholeheartedly committed to our mission of serving the folks of Arizona.   We will truly miss Alan as a friend and a colleague.

We’ll be having a drop-in open-house brown-bag celebration of Alan’s life Wednesday from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Lab Igloo (250 N. 17th Ave, Phoenix). We’re crafting the event in a way that we think Alan would have liked.  Come by and share if you can.


Implementing Our Strategic Plan- Prioritize and Address Public Health Risks

April 26th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

Our team from Environmental Health was in the Dewey-Humboldt area at their elementary school gym providing free blood lead tests for area kids.  There’s been some community concerns about possible lead poisoning in children because of the nearby Iron King Mine and a smelter that once operated in the area.  

Lead poisoning in AZ (we have about 300 cases per year) tends to be in certain Zip Codes where the houses were built when lead based paint was still being used. Here’s our latest surveillance report with the information.  Our Targeted Childhood Lead Poisoning Screening Plan provides a listing of Arizona’s high-risk ZIP Codes to help physicians decide which kids to test.  We’re working on an update to the targeted screening plan- which should be available later this year.

Implementing Our Strategic Plan- Address Public Health Workforce Needs

April 25th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

Dietitians are a core public health asset- and one in short supply to boot.  We’re trying to do something about that shortage with our new “WIC Track” initiative.  We’re partnering with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health Dietetic Internship to offer a “WIC Track” internship. It’s open to any eligible (have completed a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics) WIC employee that’s worked for at least a year. The competitive process includes an application, a portfolio of prior assessed learning, and an interview.  

We’re pleased to announce our four new candidates: Rachel Molina, Mountain Park Health Center; Caitlin Howard, Pima County WIC; Carrie Wright, Pinal County WIC; and Kathryn Baldwin; Adelante Healthcare. They’ll begin their internship in August of 2012.

Implementing Our Strategic Plan- Prepare for and Respond to Public Health Emergencies

April 24th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

Over the past several months our Public Health Emergency Preparedness team has been integrating 2 big federal disaster preparedness grants- the Public Health Emergency Preparedness program from the CDC and the Hospital Preparedness Program from HHS.  The initiative involves coordinating emergency planning between healthcare facilities, local public health departments, emergency management agencies, tribal partners and a whole slew of other stakeholders across the state.  

One innovative project involves a partnership between our preparedness program and the Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council.  We used federal hospital preparedness funds to buy durable medical equipment and supplies capable of supporting up to 1,000 people with disabilities in general population shelters.  Not only is it important to keep families together during a disaster, it’s a good idea to keep folks who aren’t having a medical emergency out of the healthcare system.  

Another key piece that bridges the gap between healthcare system and public health preparedness is the Arizona Emergency System for the Advanced Registration of Volunteer Professionals.  Our Volunteer Coordinator, Antonio Hernandez, has been working nonstop (in addition to his wellness ambassador duties) with public health and healthcare system stakeholders to prepare our state for all types of emergencies.  Thanks to Antonio for his enthusiasm and dedication.

Our Friend Alan

April 23rd, 2012 by Will Humble 2 comments »

We learned some sad and shocking news this morning that Alan Oppenheim (our ADHS Acting Assistant Director for Licensing) passed away this weekend.  Alan was an excellent leader and manager- but much more importantly- he was a really good person.  He always cared about others and asked lots of questions about what was going on.  Alan was a team player- he had everybody’s and the team’s best interests in mind…  and was  wholeheartedly committed to our mission of serving the folks of Arizona.   We will truly miss Alan as a friend and a colleague. 

Everybody grieves in their own way- please make sure to take care of yourself today.

Implementing Our Strategic Plan- Promote Physical Activity & Nutrition

April 23rd, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

Our Public Health Prevention folks launched an exciting new initiative to improve health outcomes for Arizonans this month called the Arizona Population Health Policy Initiative.  This new partnership (with Arizona’s local county health departments) is focused on achieving targeted improvements in health outcomes for Arizonans by advancing evidence-based strategies which address community design, school health, worksite wellness, clinical care, and accessibility to nutritious food.  

The Initiative is similar to CDC’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work and Community Transformation Grants- and the program is funded with federal Title V and state tobacco tax & lottery prevention funds.  The idea came out of our strategic planning process, with the goal of working on several of our strategic planning elements and Winnable Battles by increasing the capacity of our county partners.  

We’re excited to partner with Arizona’s county health and community partners as we move forward with this Winnable Battle from the ADHS Strategic Plan.  For more info on the Initiative you can visit the Chronic Disease blog at


5 Reasons to vaccinate your baby

April 22nd, 2012 by Will Humble 3 comments »

It’s always a good idea to periodically look at why you are doing something and see if something might be different -just in case you need to change course.  Public health does that with many things – this week, we take a look at infant immunizations and the value they play in protecting the little ones and all of society.  It is National Infant Immunization Week… and in honor of that – we have a list of the top five reasons vaccines are good.

Check out or the ADHS website for vaccinations for more information.


What’s Debilitating?

April 20th, 2012 by Will Humble 10 comments »

The voter approved language in the AZ Medical Marijuana Act directs us to periodically accept and evaluate petitions to add new debilitating medical conditions.  We’ve made it through the first phase of considering whether to add 4 new debilitating conditions… 1) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; 2) Generalized Anxiety Disorder; 3) Migraines; and 4) Depression.  You’ll be able to give us your thoughts about these four conditions at a public hearing next month (May 25th from 1 – 4 p.m. at our State Lab).  You can read the information we already have about these four starting next week.

If we decide to add PTSD or any other debilitating conditions, we want to make sure we’re on solid medical ground.  I’m heading down to a conference in Tucson next weekend where physicians can get Continuing Medical Education credits for learning about medical cannabis.

Infant Mortality- the Presidential Challenge

April 19th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Dr. David Lakey, this year’s President of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials has  selected the Healthy Babies Project for his national initiative-  challenging each state to implement strategies to reduce prematurity and infant mortality based on successful national, regional, and state efforts to improve the health status of babies.  We’ll be working alongside our partner states over the coming months to help carry some water.  We started on our trek this week. 

We’ll be working with the Arizona Perinatal Trust and our local AZ March of Dimes to implement evidence-based strategies to reduce prematurity like: 1) Expanding home visiting programs to families and pregnant women in high-risk communities; 2) Developing standards for home visiting programs throughout Arizona and professional development of home visitors so that home visits maximize opportunities to reduce risks for premature birth; 3) Expanding awareness of importance of preconception health and implementation of the  Arizona Preconception Health Strategic Plan; 4) Continuing to support the March of Dimes “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait”  39 Week Toolkit;  5) Renew focus on infant safe sleeping practices to reduce post-neonatal infant mortality; and 6) Use social media and public relations events to promote the overall campaign.