Outcomes- Public Health’s Lighthouse

November 18th, 2011 by admin No comments »

One of our primary goals over the last couple of years has been to shift the focus of our performance measures toward actual outcomes.  In other words, we don’t want to measure our success on simple activities like whether we did an intervention, placed an ad, or whether someone’s paperwork is right- but on whether our interventions and services actually make a difference.  That’s where our data Dashboard resources come in.  

Last year we rolled out our Arizona Health Matters website- to help the public health system to access data and information about community health- and to measure community outcomes.  It helps the public health system, planners, policy makers, and community members learn about issues and identify improvements.  On the site you can compare Arizona’s health with other communities and the nation, using more than 100 health and quality of life indicators; search and compare data by County and zip code within Arizona; learn about evidence-based  promising practices or use the Report Assistant to create quick reports and summaries. 

Another outcome data source is our Health Status Report which measures 70 public health outcome indicators over the last 10 years. Our annual Behavioral Risk Factor Survey plays a role… our brand new 2010 Report provides key data that can be used to monitor and plan health promotion and help our public health system to better target our intervention strategies for chronic disease prevention in Arizona. 

We’re also using Outcome Dashboards throughout the behavioral health system to measure effectiveness… and allowing users to review performance and outcomes information (employment, housing, staying out of crisis centers, abstaining from substance abuse, avoiding arrests, etc.) at the statewide level.  Examples of our accomplishments are available in outcome dashboards developed by CPSA, NARBHACenpatico and Magellan.

Hospital Visitation Refresh

November 18th, 2011 by admin 1 comment »

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been working on ways to engage family members in the treatment of patients- as part of our continuing efforts to promote a culture of care at the hospital that reflects recovery and resilience.  One of those ways is to make sure that our policies make it easier for family members to visit the hospital… and our teams have been working on a new visitation policy for the last few weeks.  It may sound like an easy task to just change a policy- but there are actually lots of details that need to be worked out before the changes can occur.  Things like…  Do we have the right number of staff on at the right time?  How do we make it work so that family members can enjoy a meal at the hospital?  Are there any new safety and security issues we need to take into consideration? 

Our hospital team worked through those kinds of questions- and Monday we’ll be rolling out our new expanded visitation hours including a more friendly visitation protocol with more flexible criteria for food and gifts.  We think it’ll help create a more therapeutic environment for the patients and will make it easier for family members to participate in the Recovery process.  Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the new visitation policy and hours.

Tempe’s Health Impact Assessment

November 18th, 2011 by admin No comments »

Your health is influenced by lots of things- genetics, behaviors, and the environment into which you’re born, grow, work, and live.  A “Health Impact Assessment” is a way of assessing and influencing policy or project decisions to improve health.  A simple example is that if your neighborhood has safe, accessible sidewalks or walking or biking paths, you’ll be more likely to be physically active. 

Health Impact Assessments are used alot in Europe- and they’re gaining steam here in the U.S.  Arizona recently completed its very first assessment in July.  We worked with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health on the health impact assessment of the proposed Tempe Modern Street Car, which will be a 3-mile trolley system connecting the current light rail system to Southern Avenue. 

The assessment Team developed comprehensive recommendations that were provided to the City of Tempe for their consideration in planning of the trolley system.  Some of the ideas proposed include: having a bike rental system; adding shade to the walking environment; implementing safe routes to school; identifying sites for additional farmers markets; encouraging supermarkets in underserved area; encouraging community gardens; installing a buffer between sidewalk and arterial streets to make walking safer; installing pedestrian signals; and implementing a 20 minute neighborhood concept for the neighborhoods within the streetcar corridor- so people are more likely to walk or bike.

What’s a GASO?

November 17th, 2011 by admin No comments »

Today is the Great American Smoke Out – started by the American Cancer Society to encourage smokers to quit, even if it is just for one day.  Arizona is doing very well compared to the rest of the country when you talk about stopping smoking.  Our state is down to 16% of the adult population that smokes – the national average is 21%.  But those that are left are the most addicted – so we need to help them any way we can.

The Arizona Smokers’ Helpline is expanding its arsenal of resources to help smokers quit tobacco with the addition of the Call It Quits app.  The app debuted on ASHLine’s Facebook page this week and will soon be introduced as an iPhone app.

Support from friends and family are essential and things like nicotine replacement medication or patches can help make the difference between success and failure when quitting smoking.  People in Arizona can tap into free telephone quit coaching through the ASHLine at 1-800-55-66-222 and free online quit coaching services via WebQuit™ at www.ASHLine.org. The Arizona Smokers’ Helpline has one of the best quit rates in the country and has been helping people for 15 years.

Business owners can help too – take a look at your health plans and see if they support your employees who want to quit. It can be a good investment – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates comprehensive smoking-cessation benefits cost between $1.20 and $4.80 per person per year, miniscule when compared with the $1,623-per-smoker per year in excess medical expenditures.

Vigilant Guard Epilog

November 16th, 2011 by admin No comments »

That largest exercise in Arizona history wrapped up last weekend, but now the work begins.  Vigilant Guard featured a pseudo tropical storm, flooding and a nuclear bomb blast in downtown Phoenix.  Arizona cities, counties, state and federal agencies participated in the exercise – testing emergency and evacuation plans, as well plans to transport and prioritize patients.  5,000 participants were working in health care – all 15 county health departments, tribes, 82 hospitals – to name a few.  50 folks from ADHS worked at the Health Emergency Operations Center and the State Emergency Operations Center. Thanks to all of you who participated and continue working to make sure any gaps we found will be fixed for the future!

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

November 15th, 2011 by admin 1 comment »

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most serious tickborne disease in the US. AZ has recorded 38 cases so far this year compared to 17 in all of 2010. Most of the cases are in the eastern part of the state.  The disease’s symptoms include a nasty “spotted” rash that usually starts 2-5 days after a fever starts.  Early antibiotic treatment is critical, because untreated and late treated cases are often fatal.  Doctors need to use symptoms to diagnose it because lab testing usually doesn’t detect the disease in time. 

We first noticed an increase in Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases in Arizona In 2002 when we did a study that found that the brown dog tick carried the germ in Arizona- a different kind of tick from the rest of the country.  We’ll probably never know how Rocky Mountain spotted fever got into the ticks and dogs of Arizona, but we know it’s going to be here for awhile. Because of our mild winters and because brown dog ticks feed on dogs- the disease is spread year round. There’s the potential for spread to other areas of Arizona because the tick is common and the disease can be carried by coyotes and dogs. 

Luckily it’s easy to protect yourself, your family and your pets.  Dogs in rural and eastern AZ should always wear a fresh tick collar.   Pets (and people) should be checked for ticks after being in rural or wilderness areas- and tick control around homes can also help protect people and pets. If ticks are found, they should be removed carefully with tweezers, pulling straight up to remove the mouth parts. Weeds and grass should also be trimmed and any debris should be regularly removed to get rid of tick habitats.

AZ Carecheck

November 14th, 2011 by admin No comments »

It’s been a while since I mentioned to you that our Division of Licensing has a really good web site called AZ Care Check.  Our website provides a 3 year history of survey results, complaint investigation results and if any of our licensed facilities (nursing homes, assisted living, hospital and other medical facilities, childcare or behavioral healthcare services) including any enforcement actions in the last 3 years. 

AZ Care Check also provides the user with facility names, addresses, city, phone number and other useful pieces of information. In fact, once you select a facility to review, you can even be linked right to MapQuest to get directions. Of course, the main value of this website is to provide the user with up to date information about our licensed facilities so a good decision can be made when services/care are needed.  I encourage you to visit the website and to pass it along to someone you know who may find this website useful.

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.