AZ Trauma System a Model for South Korea

March 6th, 2012 by Will Humble 1 comment »

We had the pleasure of meeting with a delegation of health officials from the Republic of Korea (South Korea) this week to talk about Arizona’s Trauma System.  The Director General of Public Health policy (Byung Guk Yang, MD) and his team met with our Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System team to talk about how we developed Arizona’s trauma system over the last 3 years.  Arizona has gained a national reputation for our ability to put together a solid trauma system in just the last 3 years.  When we began our quest to develop AZ’s system 3 years ago we had exactly 0 Level IV Trauma Centers in AZ- and we just signed up our 16th Level IV Center this month.  That’s progress. 

The Republic of Korea’s Health Ministry has been charged with and funded $1B US to develop their national trauma system over the next 5 years.  Their delegation wanted to visit Arizona and Southern California to view first hand our systems as they embark on their quest to develop their trauma system.  We spent a lot of time on Tuesday working with their team with a focus on the importance of collecting solid hospital and pre-hospital trauma data- so they can use data analysis to inform the development of their trauma system strategy.

Oral Health Teledentistry

March 5th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

Most folks know that good oral health is needed to prevent oral diseases- which can be progressive, cumulative, and more complex over time.  If left untreated, tooth decay leads to needless pain and suffering; difficulty in speaking, chewing, and swallowing; missed school days; increased cost of care.  There’s also good evidence that poor oral hygiene and health increases the risk of other systemic health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

One of Arizona’s biggest challenges is the lack of access to oral health care in the rural and frontier areas of the state.  Our Oral Health shop has a HRSA grant that helps us to focus on developing teledentistry…  and we’ve been one of the few states piloting this.  There’s a report posted on our website describing the pilot.  We have 4 enhanced dental team practice models using teledentistry and/or affiliate practice dental hygienists. They include: Northern Arizona Council of Governments Head Start, a pediatric dentist and summer camps for preschool children; a partnership with two IHS dental service units – one in 6 elementary schools for children on the Hopi Reservation and the second in Sells; a pediatric dentist opening a satellite office in a rural area 200 miles from his practice.

There are lots of benefits to maximizing the use of teledentistry in the rural parts of the state- but the biggest are improved access, cost efficiency, and better patient satisfaction.

Dr. Jack

March 5th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

I had the delightful experience of meeting with our former Director, Jack Dillenberg, at our AZ Developmental Disabilities Planning Council meeting last month.  Our Council meeting was out at AT Still University’s AZ School of Dentistry & Oral Health.  It was great seeing Jack again- he hasn’t changed a bit- he’s just as enthusiastic and animated as ever.

Most of all- it was great to see the great public health work that the school is doing (he’s the Dean).  Not only do they prepare students to practice dentistry- but they encourage students to commit to a lifetime of involvement with communities, including serving folks with disabilities.  Check out Jack’s 2 minute video to see him in person.

Procurement Keeps our Trains Running on Time

March 2nd, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

OK…  everybody knows that we have all sorts of recognition weeks and months for everything from breastfeeding to mental health.  Most folks don’t know that March is Purchasing Month.  But let’s face it- none of us would be able to accomplish anything in this business without our Procurement team! 

Our Procurement shop touches every aspect of our mission… from managing critical agency solicitations and contracts to helping each of us get needed stuff and services, we depend on the Procurement Office to help us do our work.  That’s why it is easy to understand the Governor issuing a Proclamation declaring March as Purchasing Month for the State of Arizona.  The Proclamation recognizes how the purchasing and supply management profession is a significant part of quality, efficiency, profitability, and productivity for private business and government.  Government and business purchasing plays an important internal function and also plays a vital external role helping with the health of our local and national economies.  

Our procurement team is a key force in achieving our “vision” of health and wellness for all Arizonans.  Thanks ADHS Procurement team for your hard work as you help our programs to purchasing goods and services that benefit the citizens of the State while being good stewards of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars!

Bite the Bullet

March 1st, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

Maybe you’ve read or heard about my experience with my colonoscopy when I turned 50 (OK, I was 51).  For years doctors have recommended getting a colonoscopy when you turn 50.  If doctors see something unusual like a polyp, they can remove it while they’re in there – which is what happened to me.  But until this week there wasn’t rock solid research to prove that it was a life-saving choice.  This week the New England Journal of Medicine published a report that colonoscopies that find polyps can reduce the chance of dying from colon cancer by more than 50%.  So, when your time comes, bite the bullet and have the test.  Just ask for the good tasting prep!

Behavioral Health Care Licensing Web Refresh

February 29th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

Our Office of Behavioral Health Licensing website has a brand-new look.  Check out their new landing page.  Everyone can now enjoy an updated and easy to use web format. The new site includes easy access to AZ Care Check (where the user can get up to date survey and enforcement results for a 3 year history)…  and you’re one click away from being able to access the on-line complaint system where the user can file a complaint to any of the Departments licensing Programs 24/7. 

Our Licensees can get the latest information of rules, statues and other important information for them. Prospective licensees can find important information on how to apply for a license, needed forms and other pertinent information. The public also has available, in an easy to follow format, information they may want to know about our team and the facilities we license. Their newsletters are now available on line as is information concerning emergency preparedness.


For the Modern AZ Mom

February 28th, 2012 by Will Humble No comments »

Please join us in encouraging pregnant women and new moms to sign up for Text4baby.  Text4baby is a program of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition that provides pregnant women and new moms with information to help them give their babies the best possible start in life. Text4baby is the country’s first free, health education program using text messages. Participating national cell phone companies deliver Text4baby messages to their subscribers at no charge. Pregnant women and new mothers receive expert advice texted directly to their cell phones. The weekly messages are timed to their due date or their baby’s birth date through the baby’s first year. The messages deal with nutrition, immunizations and birth defects prevention, among many other topics. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today that it will partner with Text4Baby to promote enrollment in Medicaid.  Current Text4Baby users are receiving a new message providing a connection to the InsureKidsNow phone number and website for information about how to sign up. 

So far, 6,000 Arizonans have enrolled in Text4baby since the program started in February 2010.  You can help increase Arizona’s enrollment by spreading the word among pregnant women and new families or by encouraging other organizations to sign up as an official partner with the Text4baby program.  To learn more about the Text4baby Program, go to


Peer & Family Behavioral Health Report

February 28th, 2012 by Will Humble 1 comment »

We recently held a series of focus groups and interviews to obtain input from persons with Serious Mental Illnesses (peers) and their family members regarding the integration of physical healthcare and behavioral healthcare services in partnership with St. Luke’s Health Initiative and AHCCCS, and several behavioral health peer-run organizations and peer and family members.  The full report is now available online and is titled: “Summary of Input from Peers and Family Members Regarding the Planned Integrated Healthcare System for Persons with Serious Mental Illnesses”.  It’s on our Integrated Behavioral Health and Primary Care website under the NEWS area along with a link where to submit additional input and the latest information regarding integration. 

I won’t spoil things by saying too much about the results- but I’ll give you some “key words” from the report: Listen, Voice, Respect, Individualized, Skilled, Quality, Outcomes, & Equity.

Ink Dry on Final Revised Medical Marijuana Rules

February 27th, 2012 by Will Humble 13 comments »

As you know from earlier blog posts a judge ruled in a state case that had challenged our dispensary applicant selection criteria.  The judge’s decision basically struck down several of the selection criteria we had been planning to use to for competitive areas of the state (areas where there will be more than 1 applicant per Community Health Analysis Area). 

Last week our team finished the revisions to the regulations by making adjustments to comply with the judge’s decision and to set a process for identifying a new timeline for accepting dispensary applications.  We’ve shipped the revised rules to the Attorney General’s Office for final review.  Once their review is complete, the AG’s office will file the final package with the Secretary of State- and the revised rules will become immediately effective. 

I’ve heard that there’s a buzz in the community that we’re completely revamping the rules for dispensaries.  This is not the case.  We’ve simply made revisions to comply with the recent  Superior Court Ruling.   We’re still on track to be able to accept dispensary applications in April.  We’d then have  about 45 days to review and award dispensary certificates- so we could potentially award up to 125 dispensary certificates by mid- to late-June. If someone is pretty much ready to go at that point, we could see medical marijuana dispensaries operating in July or August. 

P.S.  There have been a couple of new lawsuits filed against the Department in the last couple of weeks.  One challenges our authority to require a medical director at dispensaries and one challenges other aspects of the rules and the initiative language itself.  It’s unclear whether these cases will impede our progress in getting the dispensaries licensed- but I’m going to do everything I can administratively and otherwise to make sure the dispensary licensing goes forward as planned.

Milk Research & Policy Change Cuts 7B Calories a Year in AZ

February 24th, 2012 by Will Humble 1 comment »

Congrats to our Women Infant & Children’s program who did some research and implemented some simple policy changes that reduced the consumption of 7 Billion calories annually in AZ.  How?  After we did a little research, we came up with a way to change our WIC policy… convincing people to replace whole milk with 1% or fat free milk (for kids over 2).  The policy change reduced fat by nearly 900 million grams and calorie intake by more than 7 Billion per year. Let’s take a look behind the scene. 

A few years ago the Arizona Nutrition Network did some research on milk preferences among our WIC recipients. We found that folks thought lower fat equals lower nutritional value- which is why they didn’t buy low fat milk.  Next, we developed a social marketing campaign to encourage Arizonans to “Go Low, All the goodness without the fat” and drink 1% or skim milk.  The Arizona WIC program promoted the messages in our WIC clinics…  and the “Go Low” social marketing campaign improved the success of the policy change in WIC.  The result- 7 Billion fewer fat calories are being consumed by our WIC recipients every year. 

Now for the sequel.  A couple of years ago we began encouraging WIC participants to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and grocers with their vouchers. Knowing how successful the “Go Low” campaign was, we partnered with the Arizona Nutrition to promote fruits and vegetables… but this time, the policy change didn’t achieve the expected results.  We did a little more research and found out that folks wanted frozen and canned fruits and vegetables more than fresh (shelf life)- so we added canned and frozen fruits and veggies to our list of foods families can buy in WIC.  In the first 3 months we had a huge increase in the purchase of fruits and vegetables.  WIC participants are now purchasing $1M of fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables monthly.

So what did we learn in all this policy change?  Number 1- it’s critical to do research to guide your public health interventions and to measure results to find out whether your interventions are successful, and Number 2-  meet your target audience where they are, and be practical.