Posts Tagged ‘treatment’

Obesity Declared a Disease

June 21st, 2013

The American Medical Association voted to recognize obesity as a disease this week.  This is an important change… because the term “disease” in the managed care world means that that prevention and treatment is more medically necessary, justifying reimbursement for necessary interventions. 

If obesity isn’t a disease then I don’t know what is.  Obesity has gone from being a public health nuisance to a public health disaster in the last 20 years.  In Arizona, the percentage of obese adults has nearly doubled in the last 15 years- from about 13% in 1995 to more than 25% in 2010.  It’s overwhelming the country both in health care costs and productivity. We spend about $150B annually on health care costs related to obesity… and it increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes leads to devastating health problems including blindness, the loss of limbs and an early death. 

As a public health system, we’ve got to start pulling folks out at the top of the waterfall rather than fishing them out at the bottom. While the change by the AMA is a positive step forward, some doctors might need the nudge of calling this a disease so that they’ll actually put together a treatment and prevention management plan together for their patients. This is where our work becomes even more important.  

Reducing obesity is a Winnable Battle both nationally and in Arizona.  We have lots of resources to help you and your family eat healthier meals and become more active. Check out the Arizona Nutrition Network’s Champions for Change for simple ways to eat better. Find more ideas for healthy eating and active living at, where you can sign up for healthy recipes that are emailed every week.

Hearing and Vision Screening

February 19th, 2013

According to the CDC about 15% of school age kids have some hearing loss.  Children who are hard of hearing will find it harder to learn vocabulary, grammar, word order, and other parts of verbal communication.  Newborn hearing loss occurs in about 1 in 5,000 births- which is why it’s so important that AZ kids get a newborn hearing screening test.  IN AZ each school is supposed to conduct hearing screening for their students.   Last school year 574,361 children had a hearing screen and 1,484 children were identified as having some hearing loss- many of who moved on to interventions like ear tubes or hearing assist devices.  

But to be successful in school you need to see clearly too.  Vision Screening isn’t a mandated service at schools, but according to Prevent Blindness America vision problems affect 25% of school-aged kids.  In the US millions of kids in elementary schools have vision problems that go undetected and untreated.  Not being able to see clearly will slow a child’s ability to learn.  Without early detection and treatment, children’s vision problems can lead to permanent vision loss, learning difficulties, and of course missed learning opportunities.

50 Years of Newborn Screening

January 29th, 2013

Last year we welcomed about 87,000 newborns to Arizona.  Our Newborn Screening Program (in our State Lab) ensures that each are tested for 28 inherited disorders and hearing problems.   The goal is to help kids avoid illness, developmental delays and even death.  Teamwork, communication and coordination are critical in making this program effective.  A quick look at the numbers reveals how monumental this screening task really is.

On any given day our newborn screening team receives and tests from 600 to 1,500 bloodspot samples for each of the 28 disorders. Our demographics team verifies the results and confirms all of the data associated with each sample as well as ensuring that lab results are sent out to the health care provider.  Our case management team follows up on about 140 potentially positive results (including hearing) each week, coordinates the confirmation test and works with pediatricians, clinical specialists and families.


The end result?  Because of the dedication and commitment of each member of the Team, hundreds of families have the opportunity for their newborn to receive the early treatment, intervention and support services that will allow them to lead normal lives.  Of course, none of this would be possible without the gasoline that runs the engine, the billing department brings in the money that keeps this effective machine helping families every day.

The first state-mandated newborn screening programs began in Massachusetts, Oregon, and Delaware 50 years ago this week.  Now, 97% of U.S. newborns are screened by state public health labs like ours.  The Association of Public Health Laboratories is partnering with the CDC to launch a year-long public awareness campaign to celebrate this milestone. The campaign website includes a calendar of events and informational resources for expectant parents, healthcare providers, and health decision-makers.

Trauma Informed Care

April 12th, 2012

Trauma Informed Care provides another perspective when working with individuals in the behavioral health system.  Think of it this way, our life experiences have helped shape each of us into the person we are today, why would it be any different for our patients/residents. When a person experiences trauma it can have any number of effects on them.  There is no “one size fits all” approach that works with patients/residents, we have to understand each person individually and craft our treatment approaches to best meet their needs.  I hope you take the time to check out this link as it gives some of the basics about Trauma Informed Care.

HIV Becomes a Chronic Disease

December 1st, 2011

Chronic disease often calls up bad images for people because it means living with the disease for a long time.  But…  there was a time when cancer wasn’t chronic disease because people got sick and died pretty quickly.  The same goes for HIV.  When it was first discovered in the early 80s people quickly transitioned to AIDS and died shortly after diagnosis.  Now science and medicine have advanced so far, that HIV and AIDS are both more like chronic diseases.  They’ve even come close to what could be considered a vaccine – a discovery so important researchers released it before the rest of the study was finished.  The CDC celebrated World HIV day this week by releasing a new issue of Vital Signs.

We’re also keeping up with the times and changing how we handle HIV & AIDS.  The folks who work in HIV/AIDS prevention are moving into our Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease.  This makes so much sense – a lot of the messaging is the same.  People need to learn to control the symptoms, reduce the stressors (like tobacco use or high blood pressure), exercise, eat well and get regular health screenings.   We’ll continue with our surveillance efforts in our Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control.

AZ HIV Surveillance Hits the Mark

September 29th, 2011

Arizona’s HIV surveillance hit the mark in the latest CDC national Incidence report.  Arizona led the nation in testing and treatment completeness and test results. We’re very proud to have published the first ever Arizona specific HIV incidence estimate which is now posted on our website.

Behavioral Health Services Block Grant

August 17th, 2011

Our Behavioral Health team has completed the draft of our ($27M) 2012-2013 Joint Block Grant Application for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Services. This year SAMHSA streamlined the application process to allow States to apply for grant funds under one combined application and has moved away from a standardized reporting template, allowing the States to determine their own needs and service directions.  Our (150 page) application has been posted for public comment (through August 26) on our grant application website.  Folks can provide comments to  

States use this Block Grant for prevention, treatment, recovery supports and other services that will supplement services covered by Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance. For example, we use block grant funds to fill in for priority behavioral health treatment and support services for folks without insurance or for services not covered by Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance.  Block grant funds also go toward primary prevention services like universal, selective and indicated prevention activities and services.