Up & Away & Out of Sight

January 6th, 2012 by admin No comments »

More than  2,000 kids ended up in AZ emergency rooms from accidental poisoning last year. Kids 5 and younger had the highest rates of non-fatal ER visits from accidental poisoning.  Nationally, more than 60,000 young children end up in emergency rooms because they got into medicines while their parent or caregiver wasn’t looking.  The new Up and Away and Out of Sight educational program was created to remind families of the importance of safe medicine storage. 

Up and Away and Out of Sight outlines six simple things parents and caregivers can do to help keep kids safe through proper medicine storage.  For more information about what you can do to prevent accidental poisoning, please visit www.poisonhelp.hrsa.gov and check out winter prevention tips.   Arizona has two Poison Control Centers that can be accessed through the national Poison Help number: 800-222-1222.  Add this number into your cell phone so it’s easy to find if and when you need it (I used it once when I found one of my kids licking a chlorine pool tablet).

Prevention and County Health

January 5th, 2012 by admin 1 comment »

Our prevention and county health folks will be spending more time working to help counties, schools, and communities to adopt policies that will reduce obesity, chronic disease and disparities.  One area of focus will be Border Health where the objectives include reducing motor vehicle accidents and substance abuse.  There will also be more going on around employee worksite wellness.

Do Yourself A Favor in 2012

January 4th, 2012 by admin 1 comment »

Life is a precious gift.  None of us knows long our gift will last, so it’s important to make the most of every day.  That means doing everything you can to stay healthy by eating well and exercising regularly.  A lot of folks will say – I’m stuck with my health because of my genes, or my doctor can’t do anything to help me.   The truth is, half your health depends upon your choices.  Only 20 percent of health is hereditary, 20 percent comes from your environment, and 10 percent is dependent on your doctor.  The bottom line – your health is largely in your own hands. 

Meet Matt Gainey. Matt works at the Department of Health Services.  About 3 years ago, he was tired of how he felt and looked.  He started walking at lunch, added more fruits and vegetables to his diet.  He didn’t notice a change immediately, but he kept going.  He wanted to feel better. 

As his energy increased, Matt added more to his routine – sit ups at night. He cut out soda and reduced the processed food he ate, like cookies and chips.  He started paying attention to what he ate, what he did and what he weighed – things he’d never really noticed before, even though diabetes and heart disease run in his family. 

Pretty soon Matt was taking longer walks – he changed from walking to running. He added push-ups and free weights to his evening activities.  Even when it’s hot, I see Matt running wind sprints on top of the parking garage. 

The changes paid off; Matt lost 160 pounds.  He has more energy and sleeps better.  Of course, he did have to buy new pants – the old ones were 9 sizes too big! 

As you can see with Matt’s story – you can change your bad habits.  It doesn’t take a miracle or a fortune – and you don’t have to do it alone. 

If you want to change your diet and activities, eatwellbewell.org can help you choose healthier foods. For example, switching to whole grain foods and adding fruits and vegetables will increase your fiber, give you more vitamins and let you eat less to feel full.  

For ideas to helping you increase activity and for healthy recipes on the website go to eatwellbewell.org. You can even have them emailed to you each week.  Myplate.gov helps you decide the right balance of foods to eat. 

There’s a worksite wellness website (azhealthyworksites.com), if you want to corral your coworkers into getting healthy in 2012. 

The Arizona Smokers’ Helpline will help you stop smoking.  Online (ashline.org) or by phone (800-55-66-222), ASHLine provides medication, tips and coaching to help you get through the urges – all for free.  There’s also an iPhone and Facebook app. 

So when you wake up tomorrow in the New Year – know that you have the power to make a change.  You have the power to choose how healthy you will be for the rest of your life.  Go for it!

Looking Forward, 2012

January 3rd, 2012 by admin 1 comment »

Looking forward, 2012 is going to be another busy year for all of us.  During the last Deputy/Assistant Director meeting, managers shared the biggest priorities for the next six months and I will share a few of the highlights throughout this week in our blog.    

One key focus that echoed throughout everyone’s summary was an emphasis on working together across agency programs, with our partners and through our strategic plan.  From the importance of integrating behavioral and physical health to supporting our workforce with cross training, and planning for continuity of operations as staff members retire, ADHS is truly working together. 

The work on merging rules for behavioral health and medical facilities got off to a great start with a series of public meetings.  Six months from now, we expect to have a workable set of draft rules put together.  Operations, behavioral health and licensing are all contributing to this project.  There are also many 5-year Rule reviews getting underway as we speak.

Global Polio Eradication- The Ongoing Push

December 30th, 2011 by admin 1 comment »

Public health efforts eradicated smallpox from the globe in the late 1970s.  The last naturally occurring case was in Somalia in 1977 (followed by a couple of lab accident cases in 1978).  Public health’s sites have been set on Polio eradication for the last couple of decades.  We got close a couple of times, but a series of naturally occurring and man-made setbacks slowed progress.  

A couple of billion kids around the globe have been vaccinated against polio in the last decades – resulting in a 99% decrease in global polio cases.  The world was on the verge of eliminating polio in the 2000’s, but political strife and other issues in West Africa turned the tide and set the eradication clock back.  The good news is that the world is making progress again.  The list of countries where polio cases is shrinking, as are the number of cases.  Parts of Nigeria, India, Tajikistan, and parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan account for more than 75% of global cases.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been adding support to the new push to eradicate by working with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.  The goal is to eradicate polio by 2015. 

Polio is more challenging to eradicate than smallpox was because it’s spread through what public health calls the “fecal-oral” route (i.e. sewage) rather than person to person, which means that public health needs to use mass vaccination efforts in areas with cases rather than the more focused (and less labor intensive)  “ring vaccination”  approach used to eradicate smallpox.

Annual Statewide Environmental Health Report

December 29th, 2011 by admin No comments »

I started my career in public health inspecting restaurants, motels and the like in the mid- 1980s.  My area was right around here down toward South Mountain-  and I inspected the cafeteria in the basement of the Executive Tower and the cafeteria that used to be on the 4th floor of the 1740 building.  It doesn’t seem like that was 25 years ago- but life is funny that way. 

Our department’s core environmental health responsibilities include administering the statewide public health sanitation program for food safety, bottled water, hotels and motels, children’s camps, public schools, and public and semi-public swimming pools.  We delegate the actual inspection work to the county health departments.  Statewide, there are about 170 Sanitarians employed by the counties to inspect the restaurants and food stores in AZ. We finished our statewide FY ’11 Annual Report last week.  Last fiscal year the system completed about 75,000 food safety inspections among the 34,000 food establishments in AZ.

AZ Biomedical Research Commission Roadmap

December 28th, 2011 by admin No comments »

Last legislative session, the Legislature and Governor made a statutory change that moved the AZ Biomedical Research Commission to our agency.   The Commission basically awards contracts for research projects that translate into interventions to save lives.  Our funding (a few million dollars per year) comes from tobacco taxes and some lottery funds.  Shoana Anderson has volunteered to serve as the Acting Executive Director for the Commission during the transition. 

Our first priorities were to get a good handle on the financial “books” and make some recommendations to replace several expired Commission slots.  We’ve made some progress in both areas.  To ensure we understand everything the Commission has done, we awarded a contract to an outside auditor to give us a full financial assessment – and we’ve been working throughout the fall to identify new Commissioners.  Early in 2012, we expect to begin recruiting for a permanent Executive Director and begin working with the new Commissioners (after they’re confirmed by the AZ State Senate) to put together a strategic roadmap for the Commission by working with statewide biomedical research Stakeholders. 

We expect to continue honoring the current research contracts as long as they’re performing well and meeting their contractual obligations- but we don’t expect to award any new research projects until after we’ve seated and confirmed new Commissioners, selected an Executive Director, and developed a strategic roadmap for the Commission.

State Hospital Web Refresh

December 27th, 2011 by admin 1 comment »

The State Hospital has a new front door, at least on the Internet.  Cory Nelson and Jesse Lewis spearheaded the effort to update the hospital’s homepage.  Jesse worked with Gannon Wegner to punch out the project.  The new landing page makes it a lot easier to find hospital info- everything from patient and family info, to employment opportunities, fact sheets, visitation hours and how to submit complaints and suggestions for better operation.  It’s even easier to find this week since Jeff Burgess gave it top slot in the rotating photos on our homepage – maybe the first time the hospital’s been featured like that!  Thanks to all of you for your hard to work to make it happen.

House on Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox

December 23rd, 2011 by admin No comments »

Looking for a book to read over the holidays about one of public health’s biggest achievements?  You’ll enjoy a new book written by Dr. Bill Foege called House on Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox.  Dr. Foege was a key leader in the smallpox eradication effort.  He joined the CDC in 1962 in the Epidemic Intelligence Service program and worked as an epidemiologist early in the eradication effort- becoming the chief of CDC’s Smallpox Eradication Program in the 1970s.  He eventually served as the CDC’s Director from 1977 to 1983. He was later the executive director of the Carter Center and is now a senior fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation- which does some of the most innovative and progressive public health work in the world these days.  Interesting career for sure.

The book doubles as an autobiography and non-fiction mystery- told from the perspective of somebody on the “inside” during of one of public health’s greatest achievements. It introduces you to the key players involved with the intervention efforts and gives you a feel for what it’s like to do boots-on-the-ground public health grunt work in developing countries.  You’ll also learn a lot about epidemiology along the way, and get a feel for what it’s like to be a teammate in a campaign that changed the world.  Since you contribute to programs that change Arizona every day- you’ll be able to relate.  You can order the (hard-copy) book on-line from the University of California Press for about $30.

Behavioral Health State Plan Released

December 22nd, 2011 by admin 1 comment »

Our Division of Behavioral Health Services recently submitted its combined mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services State Plan for FY 12-13 to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  The Plan that we submitted to SAMHSA doubles as the State Plan that’s required by ARS 36-550.01.  The Plan provides an overview of Arizona’s behavioral health prevention, early identification, treatment, and recovery support systems including how the public behavioral health system is currently organized at the State, County and local levels.  The Plan describes the child and adult service delivery systems highlighting their similarities and differences and how these systems address the needs of diverse racial, ethnic and sexual gender minorities as well as youth who are often underserved. 

The behavioral health continuum of care is presented and discussed  and the Plan explains how we’re moving towards an integrated care model that provides acute services for select populations, including the Health Home initiative for persons with serious mental illness.