Saving Kid’s Lives

November 10th, 2011 by admin No comments »

The death of a child is a tragedy not only for their family, but also for our communities- and finding ways to save kids’ lives is a sentinel public health goal.  But- as is always the case- finding solutions and implementing effective public health interventions requires solid data collection and analysis.  That’s where the annual Child Fatality Review Report comes in.

Each year the statewide child fatality review team analyzes each child death in AZ.  This year, pediatricians, social workers, attorneys, advocates, law enforcement and others volunteered more than 5,700 hours to investigate every child death in Arizona.  The Team published their data analysis report today.

Today’s report is the 18th annual Child Fatality Review Report – which continues the tradition of proposing a series of evidence-based recommendations and public health intervention ideas to save kid’s lives.  These reports have been very successful in saving lives over the last few years.  For example, interventions implemented as a result of previous report recommendations have reduced deaths from prematurity by 40% in the last 3 years (from 321 to 197) by sparking preconception health initiatives.  Transportation deaths have fallen by more than 50% (from 122 to 61) through better awareness of the importance of using car seats and buckling up.  Sudden Infant Death Syndrome deaths have dramatically decreased- by almost 100% (37 to 1) by spurring better awareness of safe sleeping (putting kids to sleep on their backs).

You get the idea- by collecting and analyzing the who, what, when, where, and how’s- AZ’s child fatality review team is able to identify intervention strategies and identify partners that change policies and implement interventions that can make a real difference and save lives.  Well done.  Your work makes a difference every day.

Painkiller Overdoses

November 10th, 2011 by admin No comments »

I know I read like a broken record- but prescription painkiller misuse and abuse is a huge public health issue not just here- but nationally.  The newest edition of CDC Vital Signs presents information about prescription painkiller overdoses in the United States and highlights promising strategies for addressing the issue. Please share this information broadly with your colleagues and partners and encourage them to take advantage of CDC’s social media tools, such as the RSS feed, Everyday Health Widget, and Vital Signs buttons, to help spread the word. Further, visit the Vital Signs webpage to see a podcast and CDC.gov feature article on this topic.

Helping Folks with Disabilities

November 9th, 2011 by admin No comments »

Part of my job as the Director is to be the Chair of the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council- which expands resources through planning for folks with developmental disabilities and their families.  The Council advocates for folks of all ages to achieve the highest possible level of independence while being included in the life of the surrounding community.  We rolled out our new Five Year State Plan this week-focusing on employment and self advocacy along with other key support and integration and quality of life goals.   

Our updated website provides the community with information on state, federal and private sector programs, a quarterly newsletter that highlights programs and people from around Arizona who are achieving success, and offers a listing of comprehensive resources.  We’ve also developed a Legal Options Manual in conjunction with the Arizona Center for Disability Law and the Native American Disability Law Center. More info is on the ADDPC website.  Check it out and send this to your friends that are interested in helping folks with developmental disabilities today.

Bite the Bullet

November 8th, 2011 by admin 1 comment »

There are lots of things about turning 50 that make you stop and think. Near the top of the list is the conversation you’ll have with your doctor about getting a colonoscopy screening to looks for polyps and cancer.  Not every polyp turns into cancer, but just about every colon cancer starts as a polyp.  And since colon cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death, it’s super important to find and remove polyps before they turn into cancer.  It’s not nearly as bad as you might think… so if you’re over 50 and you haven’t done it yet, get it over with.  Don’t fret.  It’s not that bad and it’s definitely worth it.  I blogged about mine a few months ago.

November 19th marks our 4th annual “Undy 5000” which is a fun walk/run to increase awareness and to encourage folks to bite the bullet and get screened.  The run raises money for the Colon Cancer Alliance (a national organization) but half the profits stay here in Arizona for treatment services for Arizonans diagnosed with colorectal cancer through the Fit at 50 Healthcheck Program.  Having access to treatment funds will make a huge difference to an uninsured Arizonan diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Celia Nabor is our Team Captain this year.  She’s done a terrific job recruiting participants.  Click here to register on line for the Undy 5000. Select the Phoenix event.  When you register the team name and team organization is the Arizona Department of Health Services.  The password is health1 (you’ll need to enter that twice).  Have fun and see you there!

PS: Celia and Virginia Warren will be hosting a Lunch & Learn from 11:30 to 12:30 today in room 345 of the 150 Bldg of ADHS.

What’s Preconception Health- and Why’s it Important?

November 7th, 2011 by admin 1 comment »

Being born too soon is the number one killer of infants in Arizona and in the nation.  Death rates from prematurity are declining but babies born too soon (before 37 weeks) often face medical, developmental and social challenges as they get older. More than 8,000 babies in Arizona were born too soon last year.   This week the March of Dimes released the 2011 Premature Birth Report Card that grades States on their premature birth rates.  While Arizona was average- there was good news related to the reduction in the percentage of uninsured women and the number of women who smoke.   

Some of the known factors impacting prematurity include having twins/triplets, having a chronic disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, being obese, smoking, and alcohol or illegal drug use.  One of our main approaches to reducing prematurity rates is to improve the health of women before they get pregnant- called preconception health.   Prenatal care is still important- but poor health practices during pregnancy will usually trump good prenatal care.   

Our interventions include implementing evidence-based practices to get moms to stop smoking, improve physical activity and nutrition and behavioral health- and all are part of our Preconception Health Strategic Plan which includes Every Woman Arizona educational materials, grants to six local communities to implement preconception health strategies, and home visitation programs that address many of the factors that can lead to prematurity.  Our WIC program and clinics also work with young moms in their reproductive years to improve their health.  We also work with the Arizona March of Dimes and the Arizona Perinatal Trust to encourage hospitals to adopt policies designed to ensure that elective inductions aren’t approved before 39 weeks gestation.

Valley Fever Week

November 4th, 2011 by admin 1 comment »

This is Valley Fever Awareness Week- an annual event to provide awareness  of coccidioidomycosis (also known as Valley Fever)- the second most commonly reported infectious disease in Arizona.  Events for the general public include a “Learn about Valley Fever – Ask the Doctor Your Questions” held in Tucson on Sunday, Nov. 6 and the Walk for Valley Fever in Sun City West on Sunday, Nov. 6.  Healthcare providers can receive continuing medical education in Tucson on Saturday, Nov. 5:  “Coccidioidomycosis for the PCP” and “Advanced Clinical Aspects of Coccidioidomycosis”.  To find out more about valley fever awareness week events visit: http://www.vfce.arizona.edu/

Our epidemiology staff work closely with the Valley Fever Center for Excellence to promote education and awareness.  The Center is based at the U of A and will be opening a center in Phoenix in January.  Check out our home-grown video that’s designed help people understand the disease and how to talk to their doctors about it. To read more about valley fever and what has been done during past valley fever awareness weeks, please visit my blog.  I also wrote a piece about the effects that the large dust storms may have on valley fever, which by the way, we’re still investigating…

Turning 50

November 3rd, 2011 by admin 1 comment »

Two things happen when you turn 50.  First, you start getting invitations to join the AARP in the mail every couple of weeks (until they give up).  Second, your doctor tells you it’s time for your colonoscopy screening.  That’s the one that puts a lump in your throat.  At 51, I finally bit the bullet and got my colonoscopy screen- and it may have saved my life.

Here’s what to expect.  If you have anxiety, rest assured that it’s not too bad and definitely worth it. You’ve probably heard that the preparation part is the worst, and that’s true.  But, it’s not all that bad especially now that they have a formula that you can’t taste.  You do need to drink lots of Gatorade or something like that (with the added laxative).  The last couple of glasses are the hardest to swallow because you’re saturated but it’s not that bad.  The purging part takes a total of 6 hours or so, but you can still get other things done around the house.  Since you’re drinking alot, heating it up to body temperature and then expelling it- you do get cold, so dress warm.

It’s best to schedule your appointment first thing in the morning so you don’t go hungry all day on the day of your screening.  They’ll take your vital signs and give you an IV for the medication you’ll get during the procedure when you arrive.  When they roll you back to the room, they’ll have a short conversation with you and then start the “twilight” medication, which kind of half-way knocks you out.  You’re awake for the procedure, but you can’t really tell what’s going on.  The actual procedure itself usually takes just a short time; mine lasted 11 minutes.  When you come out, they’ll tell you the results and then you can go home (someone has to drive you).

I turned out to have something called a polyp (1 cm), which is a benign growth.  If you have one, they’ll remove it during the procedure with this lasso tool.  Not every polyp turns into cancer, but every colon cancer starts as a polyp.  And since colon cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death, it’s really important to find and remove polyps before they turn into cancer.

Anyway, this is an important screening and it’s not nearly as bad as you might think… so if you’re over 50 and you haven’t done it yet, get it over with.  Don’t fret.  It’s not that bad and it’s definitely worth it.

Scheduled Maintenance 11/3, 8p-10p

November 2nd, 2011 by admin No comments »

Due to scheduled maintenance, users may experience intermittent access to http://directorsblog.health.azdhs.gov on Tuesday, November 3 from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience.

Prescription Drug Abuse III

November 2nd, 2011 by admin 1 comment »

I know I read like a broken record- but prescription drug misuse and abuse is a huge public health issue not just here- but nationally.  The newest edition of CDC Vital Signs presents information about prescription painkiller overdoses in the United States and highlights promising strategies for addressing the issue. Please share this information broadly with your colleagues and partners and encourage them to take advantage of CDC’s social media tools, such as the RSS feed, Everyday Health Widget, and Vital Signs buttons, to help spread the word. Further, visit the Vital Signs webpage to see a podcast and CDC.gov feature article on this topic.

Drug Facts Week

November 1st, 2011 by admin No comments »

Teens and drug experts across the land will connect for the 2nd annual National Drug Facts Week this week.  The week-long event is sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)- and brings together teens and scientific experts in community events across the country to discuss scientific facts about drug abuse- including prescription drug abuse.  Events can be sponsored by a variety of organizations, including schools, community groups, sports clubs, book clubs, and local hospitals. The Institute provides an online school toolkits walk folks through how to create and publicize an event- as well as turn-key curriculum materials.