Posts Tagged ‘Tempe’

AZ’s Community Planning Matrix

May 14th, 2013

Over the last few weeks, I’ve written about how a city’s General Plan is one tool for communities to define how they want their city or town to grow and improve population health and how city planning can have a real impact.  I wrote about how community residents can use a recently developed Toolkit put together by ADHS and other members of the Healthy Community Design Collaborative to help them get started and a schedule for General Plan updates for some AZ cities.   

Other community planning resources I’ve written about recently include workshops coordinated by the Urban Land Institute.  The workshops, known as the Community Plan are a free service for public officials at the local level that focus on a holistic approach to land use planning, zoning, transportation, economic development, real estate development and finance. 

Another tool for impacting community and population is something called a “Health Impact Assessment”.  It’s basically a tool for 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 a lot in Europe- and they’re gaining steam here in the U.S.  For example, AZ completed a comprehensive health impact assessment last summer.  We worked with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health on the health impact assessment of the proposed Tempe Modern Streetcar, which will be a 3-mile trolley system connecting the current light rail system to Southern.  

The HIA Team developed comprehensive recommendations that were provided to 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 areas; 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.

We have a couple training opportunities coming up if you want to learn more about health impact assessments.

AZ Cities’ General Plan Schedules

May 2nd, 2013

A city’s General Plan is one tool for communities to define how they want their city or town to grow and improve population health.  Currently, Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, and Scottsdale are updating their General Plans, and each city has a variety of resources that give community members the opportunity to share their opinions and get involved with making their community healthier.  And remember there are excellent tools out there to help folks think through community design. 

Mesa has a website called This is My Mesa that gives their folks an opportunity to share their vision of a healthy community.  Check out the “News” and “Get Involved” tabs to look for upcoming events and ways to participate. Mesa has gone one step further and created  Idea Site. Through September you can share your ideas about what you want in your Mesa…  and voice your thoughts about how health can tie into the city’s General Plan. 

Tempe has an online forum where community members can share their 30-year vision for Tempe and can help craft a plan that makes Tempe a healthier community.  Information about upcoming meetings and the logistics of Tempe’s 2040 General Plan can be found on the City of Tempe website under the Community Development page. Keep your eyes open… there will be a process for public comment and involvement. The Council is scheduled to adopt the plan in late 2013 & Tempe residents are scheduled to vote on the General Plan in May 2014. 

Scottsdale has a website called Scottsdale General Plan, Your Plan, Your Future where community members can stay informed about Scottsdale’s 2014 General Plan. During late January and early February, a group of Scottsdale citizens came together to develop a draft vision statement for the 2014 General Plan…  which you can read and comment on here.  Community engagement will continue throughout 2013, with the General Plan public hearing and adoption process in late 2013 and early 2014. Scottsdale residents will vote on their Plan in August of 2014. 

Phoenix is in the middle of developing their General Plan- and 2013 is the year of heavy lifting.  They have a website called My Plan PHX which serves as their General Plan info hub.  Their “How it Works” site is a good place to start.  A good next step is to go to the Conserve Create ConnectPHX site and weigh in on the development and recreational ideas proposed by others- or post your own ideas.  

The General Plan outlines the plans for your city’s future. What better way is there to create the healthy environment you want to live and grow in over the next 10, 20, or 30 years? 


Prescription Painkiller Forum

July 17th, 2012

We’re committed to reducing substance abuse in Arizona and we’re consistently reminding the public to get rid of old medication to reduce the number of unintentional poisonings.  With more Arizonans dying every year from misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers than car crashes- it’s more important than ever to educate health care providers… so we’re hosting a forum to discuss this increasingly urgent public health issue.  About 30% of all prescriptions painkillers are written in emergency rooms…  so we’ve set up the all-day event with partners from emergency rooms, physicians, nurses, hospital management and Indian Health Services Wednesday, July 18th  at the Fiesta Resort Conference Center, 2100 South Priest Drive in Tempe to help increase awareness and identify solutions. Here’s a fact sheet with more info about this increasingly dangerous public health threat.

Bear Brains

June 25th, 2012

Some of our Laboratory scientists (Kathryn Fitzpatrick, Alexandra Bhatti, Heather Bickley and Charles Martin) are busy right now testing the brains of the 2 bears that were destroyed over the weekend to see if they had rabies.  You might have heard about the bear attacks, which happened in and around Payson recently. On Sunday, a Tempe man was attacked by a bear in his tent in Ponderosa Campground which is about 12 miles E. of Payson on Hwy. 260 (my family camps there every Halloween).  Last Friday a bear attacked a guy sleeping in his cabin under construction near Payson.  Last month a bear attacked a woman also at Ponderosa. 

It’s important to know if the bears were infected because if they were, then the people that were attacked definitely need a rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin. If the bears don’t have rabies then the patients don’t need the vaccine.  Rabies is pretty much 100% fatal if an exposed person doesn’t get a vaccine in time.  Also, by testing the DNA from the saliva etc. from the bears and matching it to the residue left after the attacks, we can tell whether Fish & Game got the right bears.  By the way- if you’re my age, you might think that the rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin is a series of shots with real long needles in the stomach.  It is a series of shots- but it’s not in the stomach anymore (but the immunoglobulin is real expensive- about $10K). 

Here’s how the lab test works.  We get the heads of the animal from Fish & Game and our team of scientists extract the brain tissue.  We use what’s called a fluorescent antibody stain on the brain tissue to see if the antibodies latch onto rabies viruses.  If they latch on- the antibodies “light up” and our lab scientists can confirm under a microscope that the rabies virus was in the brain tissue.  We’ll have results by morning. 

By the way- it would be rare for a bear to be infected with rabies because they’re not a common “reservoir” like foxes or bats.  But it can happen- especially if a rabid fox attacked the bear awhile back. 


Fl- – An Inexpensive Public Health Intervention

January 11th, 2012

When I was a kid growing up in Tucson- it seemed like we lived at the dentist- and getting cavities filled was routine.  It’s way better these days because of a host of public health and dental product interventions…  but 75% of Arizona kids still have tooth decay by the time they’re in 3rd grade.

Around 1900 scientists speculated that fluoride might protect against tooth decay based on observations that different communities had different trends in tooth decay.  They didn’t exactly know that it was fluoride, but noted that fewer cavities were present in communities where folks had mottled teeth (now called dental fluorosis) which we now know is caused by high levels of fluoride.  Researchers in the 30s and 40s found the direct relationship between fluoride concentrations and tooth decay, and determined that moderate levels of fluoride prevent cavities.  Water fluoridation as a public health intervention began shortly thereafter.

Water fluoridation today reduces cavities by up to 40% relative to communities with low levels of fluoride.  It costs about 95 ¢ per person per year, saves $38 in unnecessary dental costs per person per year… and fluoridating a person’s water for a lifetime costs less than filling 1 cavity!

Some fluoride is naturally present in water and food. Because of our reliance on groundwater for drinking water In Arizona, many communities have naturally occurring fluoride- so all Arizonans get some.  When you hear the word “fluoridation” it basically means that the community adds enough fluoride to the water to bring the natural level up to the amount needed to prevent tooth decay.  Currently, 10 Arizona communities (Bisbee, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Guadalupe, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Tempe, and Yuma) fluoridate their water supply to the right level.  Many other communities in Arizona have naturally occurring optimal levels of fluoride in their drinking water.  Arizonans can check the fluoride levels in their water systems on the My Water’s Fluoride website.  Folks can also learn more about community water fluoridation on the CDC’s fluoride website and on EPA’s fluoride website

We also recommend everybody brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste—when getting up in the morning and before going to bed.  For little kids, we recommend monitoring the amount of fluoride during tooth brushing by supervising and discouraging kids from swallowing toothpaste- and teaching them to only place a pea-size amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush.