Dispensary Application Window Opens

May 14th, 2012 by Will Humble 5 comments »

Today marks the start of the 2-week window for applying for a medical marijuana dispensary Registration Certificate in Arizona.  Prospective applicants can check out our Registration Certificate Application ChecklistInstructions, and the official Application on our Medical Marijuana Dispensary webpage.  In the first two hours, seven people had dropped off applications.

We’ll start reviewing applications as they come in- and we’ll stop taking applications at the close of business on May 25.  We’ll have 30 working days to review the applications- and folks will have 20 working days to submit any documents or information that were missing during our review of the application.  We expect to award all of the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Registration Certificates on August 7.  If there’s only 1 qualified applicant in a Community Health Analysis Area- that applicant will be awarded a Registration Certificate.  We’ll be holding a random drawing on August 7 to award Registration Certificates in the CHAAs with more than 1 qualified applicant.

We’ll refresh our dispensary application page every weekday around the close of business to show how many applications we’ve received by Community Health Analysis Area.


Chronicle Public Health on May 15 (Tuesday)

May 11th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

Join thousands of public health professionals around the globe next Tuesday by using your iPhone or BlackBerry or whatever and chronicling public health.  May 15 is “A Day” and it’s a global event designed to create and share inspiring perspectives on daily life through photography.  Public health folks and organizations can submit photos that capture a day in the life of public health in their communities.  You can upload your photos between May 15 and the 22nd by visiting the “A Day” FAQs page (which will go live on the 15th)

AZ Legal Options Guide

May 11th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

One of my jobs is to serve on the AZ Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC).  We have lots of goals- and one of them is to help folks with disabilities, their families and caregivers to learn about options that are available when an adult with a disability needs legal help to manage one or more facets of his or her life.  One of the ways we do that is by funding projects to develop and update info on Arizona’s laws in this area… and we just published our newest AZ Legal Options Guide– written by the Arizona Center for Disability Law and the Native American Disability Law Center.  In it, you’ll be able to answer questions like: 

“I like living on my own, but I have some trouble with remembering to set aside money for all my bills. I have my own job and earn my own money, but I could use some help. How can I give someone the ability to help me with my finances without giving away my independence?” 

“I think my daughter can live on her own, but I worry that she will spend her Social Security check and won’t have money for her bills. How can I help her manage her money without taking away her independence?” 

“My son just turned 18 and his school is telling me that I am no longer invited to his Individualized Education Plan meeting, but my son still wants me to participate in the IEP process. What can I do? ” 

“I am trying to find out about vocational rehabilitation benefits but I am having a hard time figuring out what I need to do. Can I have someone help me in this process?” 

The new AZ Legal Options Guide was written to help folks find ways to help people with a disability get assistance while preserving individual rights.  Add this to your toolkit.


Interim AD for Licensing

May 10th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

 Colby Bower will serve as our Interim Assistant Director for Licensing while we recruit and hire a permanent Assistant Director.  Colby has been serving as our Legislative Affairs chief for the last couple of years.

Colby fills several of the criteria that we needed for the interim post: 1) He’s a good risk manager and has a good understanding of the importance of Stakeholder relations; 2) He understands the matrix of our statutes and rules- and knows that we need to exercise our authority through the prism of public health; 3) He’s good with people; and 4) Now that the legislative session is over- he’ll have the time needed to invest in the program.  Our Operations folks are busy doing all of the IT, finance and legal things to get Colby the authority and tools he’ll need in his post.

We’ve already announced our recruitment for a permanent Assistant Director.  I blogged about the recruitment yesterday, including a hot link to the job announcement on ADOA’s website.  Our goal is to complete the recruitment process and hire a permanent AD this summer.


Join me in welcoming and thanking Colby for his willing to fill this important post while we go through the full recruiting process!

Public Health Budget

May 9th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »
 The Governor signed the budget this week – here’s a look at how some of it affects public health:

Behavioral Health Services for folks that don’t Qualify for Medicaid

The budget that was just signed includes about $39M in new funding for services for folks with a serious mental illness that don’t qualify for Medicaid.  With it, we’ll be able to provide some services like supported employment and housing, peer and family support, living skills training, and health promotion to help folks along their Recovery journey.  We’ll also be expanding the list of medications for the folks with a serious mental illness so it matches the list for folks that qualify for Medicaid.  Our behavioral health team has already begun working closely with the RBHAs, providers, and members/families to plan for the most effective use of this funding.

Newborn Screening

Our newborn screening program has been running in the red for the last couple of years- despite the fact that we’ve squeezed just about every efficiency out of the program and are collecting more than 95% of our service fees.  The current screening fee is $30 for the 1st (hospital) screen and $40 for the 2nd (which happens in the pediatric office a couple of weeks after birth).  These fees haven’t been raised in several years- meanwhile the instruments and reagents we use have become increasingly expensive.  We’ve been supplementing the program with Title V funds that really should be used for other more effective purposes. The budget that was just signed allows us to set new fees for the 2nd screen in Rule…  and we’ll be starting that process shortly.

County Contribution toward Hospital Patients and Residents

The “Budget Reconciliation Bill” or BRBs included specific instructions regarding how much counties are obligated to pay (50%) for the patients and residents at the Hospital and ACPTC (the sexually violent person’s unit).

ASH Administration building

Hospital Operating Fund

Despite all our efforts to reduce overtime, cut shift overlap, streamline services and other efficiency measures- our hospital operating fund was headed for big trouble next fiscal year- partly because the Hospital Fund (which had provided funds to operate the Hospital) went dry. The state budget that was just signed rescued us from needing to cut our staffing ratio’s to below Licensing standards (which would have put us in jeopardy of losing Medicare and Medicaid funds).  Whew.

Dispensary Medical Direction is a Go

May 8th, 2012 by Will Humble 11 comments »

One of the outstanding legal uncertainties regarding our implementation of AZ Medical Marijuana Act has been the Compassion First v. Brewer  lawsuit that challenged our authority to require future dispensaries to have a Medical Director.  We’ve always thought dispensary medical  direction was a key component to making sure that future dispensaries act in the best interest of patients and prevent recreational diversion.   After a judge’s ruling today, it looks like we’ll be OK.

Today a Maricopa Superior Court judge denied the Plaintiffs’ “Motion for Leave” to Amend their previous Complaint (which the court invalidated some of our dispensary selection criteria).  The Compassion First were attempting to re-open the case to challenge our requirement that dispensaries have a medical director. 

In his opinion (that largely tracks our argument), the judge denied their Motion, finding that the Plaintiffs failed to provide an adequate basis for declining to bring the medical director challenge in their initial complaint and that we (and the public) would be unduly prejudiced if the Court were to grant their Motion.  Of course, the Compassion First plaintiffs could always appeal- but (for now) the upshot is that we can require future dispensaries to have medical direction.

ADHS Looking for a Forward-thinking Assistant Director

May 8th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

Promoting Health and Wellness for all Arizonans” is the motto of the Arizona Department of Health Services.  We promote and protect the health of Arizona’s children and adults and set the standard for personal and community health through direct care, science, public policy and leadership.  Want a piece of the action? 

We’re looking for an experienced and proactive leader to become our new Assistant Director for Licensing Services. This key position reports directly to me and manages six different state and federal licensing units including Long Term Care, Medical Facilities, Child Care, Assisted Living, Behavioral Health, and Special Licensing.  The job oversees about 200 employees and a budget of $17M.  But- what makes the job exciting is that you’ll have a unique opportunity to lead a dynamic team and use your talents and skills to make Arizona a healthier place- “Promoting Health and Wellness for All Arizonans”.

New Border Health Resources

May 7th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

Obesity, injury prevention, teen pregnancy, and substance abuse are all border health priorities.  Our prevention team put together an inventory identifying current programs addressing these priority areas in AZs border communities.  Our WIC program and Arizona Nutrition Network reach thousands of low-income women and kids along the border- improving nutrition and reducing obesity.  Programs like our Sexual Violence Prevention & Education and Safe Kids coalitions work to address injuries. 

Our women’s and children’s health shop just finished an analysis of  Teen Pregnancy in Border and Non-Border Counties in Arizona.  Teen pregnancy rates along the border have declined significantly in the past decade.   The border counties have higher rates of teen pregnancy among 15-17 year olds, but lower rates among 18-19 year olds compared to non-border counties. 

Also this week…  the national office of the March of Dimes issued a three-year analysis of various maternal and child health indicators in its March of Dimes MCH Border Report.  The report finds that Arizona residents of border communities have lower rates of prenatal care and higher rates of infant mortality than the non-border counties, but have lower preterm birth.

Winnable Battles

May 4th, 2012 by Will Humble 2 comments »

As part of our strategic plan, we name 5 winnable battles to prioritize over the next 1-3 years.  While not de-emphasizing work in other areas, this is an important effort to achieve measurable impact quickly in a few targeted areas.  We’ve identified five areas as key domestic winnable battles for improving our state’s health, based on the scope of the burden and the ability to make significant progress in improving outcomes.  By identifying clear targets and by working closely with our public health partners, we can make significant progress in these areas.

These winnable battles include:  Promoting Nutrition and Physical Activity to Reduce Obesity, Reducing Tobacco Use & Substance Abuse, Reducing Healthcare Associated Infections, Reducing Suicides, and Reducing Teen Pregnancy.  Through targeted activities, our programs are working to bring the most feasible and cost-effective strategies to fruition, making a meaningful impact on health in our state.  I’ve put together a presentation that addresses the state of the state and where we stand on our winnable battles. Check it out on our Managing for Excellence Website.


ADHS Annual Report

May 3rd, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

We published our 2011 ADHS Annual Report this week. Rather than reproduce all of our activities in narrative form- we used a summary approach this year that incorporates a lot of “hot links” to more information about our achievements.