Posts Tagged ‘healthcare’

Health Profession Summer Program Opportunity for AZ High Schoolers

March 5th, 2014

Have you ever wondered — Why do people get sick? How can we prevent the spread of disease? What do doctors REALLY do?  If so, the U of A College of Medicine in Phoenix has a summer program for you! 

Be a part of Med-Start Phoenix, a two-week day program with a fast paced curriculum sure to help confirm your healthcare interest.  The  Program is designed to inspire Arizona high school students to explore their existing interest in the health professions. Each of the three Med-Start Phoenix summer sessions include hands-on activities, field trips, community service projects, simulation and related lab experiences, culminating projects and lectures from medical students, faculty and community members. 

The unique sessions will highlight three healthcare themes: Scientific Research, Arizona’s Healthcare Needs and the Healthcare Team.  There are separate sessions for current 9th and 10th grade and 11th and 12th grade students.  Applications are electronic and are due March 15.  There are limited slots, so interested students better get on the stick.


Arizona Public Health Association gets National Recognition

December 18th, 2013

Congratulations to Arizona Public Health Association (AzPHA) for gaining national recognition for its work- snagging the 2013 National Affiliate of the Year Award from the American Public Health Association.

For 85 years, AzPHA has helped shape public health in Arizona working to create smoke-free environments and access to healthcare.  In this year alone, the Arizona affiliate reviewed more than a 1,000 legislative bills, visited AZ Congressional offices, put on professional development events and webinars and advocated for the restoration of Medicaid.  The current President, Patti Taylor, attributes the success to the membership, volunteers and partners.  I think it is also because of the leadership and dedication of the organization. 

AzPHA is a professional group that welcomes those who are interested in promoting public health in Arizona’s communities.  If you want to make a commitment to join, find out more online.


To Decolonize, or Not to Decolonize

June 5th, 2013

…  that is the question- at least when it comes to whether to take standard measures to decolonize intensive care patients with antibiotic ointments in their nose to remove Staphylococcus bugs.  Hospital associated infections are a critical public health and healthcare cost problem.  While we’re losing ground in our fight against obesity- we’re making progress toward reducing healthcare associated infections both here in AZ and across the country. 

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week found that that “universal decolonization” of intensive care patients can reduce MRSA infections by up to 37% and other  bloodstream infections by 44%.  This was a big study (about 74,000 patients in 43 hospitals), meaning that these results carry a fair amount of statistical weight.  This study will provide additional information to the infectious disease practitioners in AZ as they craft and implement hospital infection control plans. 

We’re making it a priority to prevent hospital associated infections by maintaining our HAI Program and by licensing and inspecting healthcare facilities across the state.  We also facilitate a multidisciplinary HAI Advisory Committee that identifies and addresses priority areas for Arizona.  This dedicated group of partners has collaborated continuously since 2009 to coordinate prevention efforts across the state. The partnerships and open dialogue help us improve surveillance, report and prevent hospital associated infections, which support our Strategic Map goal of reducing healthcare associated infections and re-admissions.

Bats, Foxes, and Bobcats

May 29th, 2013

Every year we get reports of wild animals with bizarre behaviors like approaching people rather than running away, charging vehicles, latching on to arms of joggers and refusing to let go, even walking into a bar.  In many cases, these animals are found to be rabid. Bats are usually our most frequent reservoirs for rabies in AZ…  but we also see rabies in skunks and foxes.  Our state lab does a great job of testing animals for rabies and getting rapid results back to local health departments and healthcare providers to coordinate treatment when someone has been exposed to the rabid animal. 

Last year 60 animals tested positive for rabies in Arizona, including 43 bats. This year 14 animals have tested positive for rabies, half of them bats.  Almost half were identified in the first week of May, so our rabies season is definitely underway. We usually see an increase in rabid bats between March and October, so now is a good time to remind people, especially kids, to leave bats and other wild animals alone. 

While rabies is 100% fatal disease once symptoms appear (actually 2 people have lived, ever) it can be treated if people seek healthcare as soon as they have come into contact or are bitten by a suspect animal. We’ve got lots of resources to help local health departments and providers make decisions about positional rabies exposures, including a rabies control and bite management manual and a rabies risk assessment, which can help providers determine whether someone should receive rabies post-exposure treatment.

Programs that Advance Health Equity

April 25th, 2013

If you live in or have visited the rural towns and cities in Arizona, it’s not a surprise that many of these rural locations don’t have enough healthcare providers. Based on current provider shortage data from the federal HRSA, we need an additional 170 primary care providers and 54 mental health providers to adequately care for its underserved populations. 

April is Minority Health Month and a great time to highlight one of our programs that addresses provider shortages and improves health equity in rural and underserved areas. The First Things First Early Childhood Therapist Incentives Program provides stipends and loan repayment to Speech & Language Pathologists, Occupational and Physical Therapists, Child Psychologists, and Mental Health Specialists who provide early childhood development services in rural and underserved areas.  

The program currently has 30 providers participating and will be accepting applications until June 15 for providers in 9 rural counties.  Visit the First Things First Early Childhood Therapist Incentives Program for eligibility and application details.  This program is one of several incentives that can help bring more providers to undeserved areas of the state. Visit the workforce programs web site for information on other programs.

National Public Health Week: A Celebration of Health Improvement

April 5th, 2013

This week we’re celebrating National Public Health Week… a week that helps us recognize the work we do to keep our communities healthy. Public health focuses on improving our overall health by making the entire healthcare system stronger. The theme of this year’s celebration is Return on Investment. This isn’t just an investment of money, but also in the time and dedication of our staff and innovation that goes into making our communities healthier places to live. 

This video shows how public health surrounds us and has an impact in all aspects of our lives, and why we need to prioritize public health funding. Watch to learn how public health saves both money and lives, and share with others to help us spread the message.

Medicare’s Physician Bonus Program

April 3rd, 2013

Healthcare providers including MDs, DOs, dentists, podiatrists, psychiatrists and chiropractors that work in a Health Professional Shortage Area (and meet the requirements) can apply for the Medicare Physician Bonus Program which qualifies for a 10% reimbursement bonus if they’re providing services to Medicare beneficiaries in a medical shortage area.  Medical providers can check online to see if their practice site is in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area and they can apply for the program online.  Providers that have questions can also submit a request for analysis to our  Bureau of Health Systems Development or Tracy Lenartz.

Norovirus Blooms with the Desert

March 15th, 2013

Spring in Arizona is exciting for many reasons. We look forward to warmer weather, beautiful desert blooms, and cactus league baseball. Spring also signals the transition to our norovirus season… which infects about 21 million Americans including hundreds of thousands of Arizonans. 

Norovirus inflames the stomach and intestines and causes 24-48 hours of very unpleasant vomiting and diarrhea. It’s very contagious and spreads from person to person via food, water, or surfaces with microscopic particles of feces or vomit.  Good hygiene is the only way to prevent the spread.  If you come down with “the stomach flu”, avoid preparing food for other people, clean your kitchen and bathroom with properly diluted bleach-based cleaners, and wash your hands with soap and water often. Many alcohol-based hand sanitizers aren’t effective against norovirus.  

Norovirus can be particularly troublesome in settings like nursing homes.  Here’s a fact sheet with tips for  preventing norovirus in Healthcare Facilities Fact Sheet and other Healthcare Settings.  For more information about norovirus visit our norovirus website. To report an outbreak please contact your county health department.

Strategic National Stockpile Readiness

February 27th, 2013

The CDC’s “Strategic National Stockpile” is a large quantity of medicine and medical supplies that are available to states in case there’s a public health emergency (flu outbreak, asteroid, etc.) severe enough to cause local health supplies to run out.  Once federal and local authorities agree that the stockpile is needed, meds and supplies are delivered to any state in time for them to be effective. Each state is responsible for receiving and distributing the stockpile assets to local communities fast. 

Our Public Health Emergency Preparedness shop is responsible for the overall planning and execution in AZ.  The Plan (which isn’t posted on-line for security reasons) provides a step by step approach to accessing and distributing pharmaceuticals, vaccines and other medical equipment and products stored by the Feds.  Our Plan is evaluated yearly by the CDC.  The review covers every aspect of our plan… including how we communicate with the public, work with our healthcare and Agency partners as well as how we plan to work with vulnerable populations should SNS assets be needed. 

This year we got a score of 93% from the CDC…  and our partner counties (Pinal and Maricopa) received similar scores- demonstrating that the plans work together effectively to serve the public when they need to be activated.  We’ll be testing these plans during a full-scale exercise this week.  Congratulations to our preparedness rock-stars Teresa Ehnert, Marcus Castle, Stacey Cain and the whole emergency preparedness team! 

By the way…  we received and executed stockpile assets (antiviral medications and other healthcare supplies) during the 2009 H1N1 Influenza pandemic.  Our turnaround time from the minute we received the first shipment until everything was at its local destination was less than 36 hours- an impressive testament to our ability to plan and execute during a public health emergency. 


Doctor Shortage – a Public Health Concern

January 30th, 2013

Public Health tracks the number of healthcare workers – physicians, dentists and psychiatrists – to make sure we have enough to take care of the community.  In Arizona we’ve been challenged to recruit and keep those professionals – and we have numerous Health Professional Shortage Areas.  Just to eliminate the current shortages, we’d need an additional 313 primary care physicians, 250 Dentists, and 136 Psychiatrists… and a new study shows that we’ll need even more as AZ aligns Medicaid eligibility with the Affordable Care Act.  The study estimates the country will need about 52,000 more primary care physicians to meet the nation’s health care needs through 2025.  The biggest reason for the increase is the growing population, but the number of people getting older and the insurance change impact the number too. 

Fortunately, we have some creative people working on solutions here in Arizona.  This month our Health Systems Development shop along with the Arizona Alliance of Community Health Centers and the UA’s Center for Rural Health brought together folks from the healthcare industry, academia, Arizona Area Health Education Centers, and clinicians to discuss strategies to address the shortage of healthcare workers in Arizona.  The group showed strong support for the National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network (3RNet) – a tool that helps businesses solve healthcare workforce issues.  The 3RNet Program invites healthcare facilities in Arizona to register and use 3RNet as a recruitment tool.  Agencies that use 3RNet can post and update vacancies and post videos or pictures of their facility or their community to better market and attract candidates.  If you have questions about the program, you can contact Ana Roscetti, Workforce Section Manage, at or 602-542-1066.