http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health.html New Public Health RWJF's New Public Health forum is a vibrant online destination for news and discussion about public health. We connect the dots in public health and across other sectors to identify ways to prevent health crises where they begin—in our communities. Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:30:00 -0400 en-us Copyright 2000- 2014 RWJF webmail@rwjf.org (RWJF) http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/recommended_reading0.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/recommended_reading0.html <![CDATA[Recommended Reading: RWJF Culture of Health Prize Winner Spokane County on Health Affairs Blog]]> file

Earlier this year, Spokane County, Wash.,was chosen by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) as a Culture of Health Prize winner for its efforts to improve community health by increasing graduation rates. As part of a new ongoing series, Health Affairs blog has featured a piece by local Spokane leader Ben Smith on the community’s health successes.

Just eight years ago, the high school graduation rate for Spokane Public Schools was below 60 percent and 18 percent of the county’s students lived in poverty. In addition, the students who did attend college or technical school often failed to earn their degree, leaving them unprepared to fill available positions in the county’s more technical fields.

To address these issues, Priority Spokane emerged from a collaboration of local businesses, educators, health organizations and community nonprofits—all committed to improving the future of Spokane County residents by improving education. A report linking lack of education to poorer health helped spur a dramatic change. Over the next several years, the county emphasized increased collaboration and a clear vision to improve the high school graduation rate to 79.5 percent overall.

Spokane County’s efforts include:

  • Training teachers and childcare workers to mentor children who experience traumatic home events.
  • Developing an early warning system for at-risk students.
  • Establishing community attendance support teams that reengage truant students in school.
  • Starting Spokane Valley Tech, a high school designed to help students build careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

To learn more about Spokane’s prize-winning efforts to improve health, read the Health Affairs blog post.

>>Bonus Links: Learn more about the 2014 RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners and read NewPublicHealth coverage of the prize announcement.

>>Bonus Content: Watch a NewPublicHealth video on Spokane's efforts to build a Culture of Health.

 

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Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:30:00 -0400 New Public Health Community-based care Education and training Culture of Health Recommended Reading Education
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/is_your_child_inthe.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/is_your_child_inthe.html <![CDATA[Is Your Child In the Right Car Seat?]]>

This week, NewPublicHealth will run a series on new and creative public health campaigns that aim to improve the health of communities across the country through the use of public service announcements, infographics and more. Stay tuned to learn more about a new campaign each day.

Each day in 2010 approximately two children ages 12 and younger were killed in car crashes and another 325 were injured. If the correct child safety seats were used and installed properly, that death rate could be cut by more than 50 percent. Proper use of car seats reduces the risk of death by 71 percent in infants and by 54 percent among toddlers ages one to four, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Use of booster seats decreases the risk of serious injury by 45 percent among kids ages four to eight, compared to just using seatbelts in this age group.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) and the Ad Council’s Child Passenger Safety campaign urges parents and caregivers of children under age 12 to secure their kids in the best possible car restraint system for their age and size.

Through a series of television, radio, print, outdoor and digital PSAs, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of using the correct restraints for children, whether it’s a rear-facing car seat (for babies up to age one), a forward-facing car seat (for kids up to age five), a booster seat (for ages five to 12) or a seatbelt for older kids. The PSAs direct viewers to the Parents Central website, where they can find out whether their children are in age- and size-appropriate car seats and learn how to install the car seats properly.

Child Passenger Safety Week, from September 14-20, will also feature free car seat inspection events throughout the country to help people learn how to install and use them properly.

>>Bonus Links: Read previous NewPublicHealth coverage on child car seat safety:

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Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:37:00 -0400 New Public Health Child welfare Transportation Video Pediatrics Safety Injury Prevention
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr12.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr12.html <![CDATA[Public Health News Roundup: August 20]]> file

Workers with Access to Natural Light Sleep Longer and Better
Natural light in the workplace improves overall health, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Researchers from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that employees with windows received 173 percent more white light exposure during an average work day and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night. They also engaged in more physical activity and reported a better overall quality of life. “There is increasing evidence that exposure to light, during the day—particularly in the morning—is beneficial to your health via its effects on mood, alertness and metabolism,” said senior study author Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD, a Northwestern Medicine neurologist and sleep specialist, in a release. “Workers are a group at risk because they are typically indoors often without access to natural or even artificial bright light for the entire day. The study results confirm that light during the natural daylight hours has powerful effects on health.” Read more on environment.

Public Transportation to Work Linked to Healthier Weights
Public transportation should potentially be added to what we think of as “active commuting” modes because of its related health benefits, according to a new study on TheBMJ.com. People who go to work on public transportation tend to be thinner than people who drive their own cars, according to researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University College London. The findings are based on data from 7,424 people in the United Kingdom on how much body fat they had and from 7,534 people on their body mass index. “It seems to suggest switching your commute mode—where you can build in just a bit of incidental physical activity—you may be able to cut down on your chance of being overweight and achieve a healthier body composition as well,” said study leader Ellen Flint, according to Reuters. Read more on physical activity.

ACOG: All Pregnant Women Should Receive a Flu Shot
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is now recommending that all pregnant women, no matter how far along they are in the pregnancy, should be vaccinated against influenza. During the 2009-2010 flu season the immunization rate for pregnant women was 50 percent; prior to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic it was only 15 percent. According to the college, flu prevention is “an essential element of preconception, prenatal, and postpartum care” because of immune system changes during the pregnancy and the added need to protect the fetus. “The flu virus is highly infectious and can be particularly dangerous to pregnant women, as it can cause pneumonia, premature labor, and other complications, “ said Laura Riley, MD, chair of the College’s Immunization Expert Work Group, which developed the Committee Opinion in conjunction with the College’s Committee on Obstetric Practice. “Vaccination every year, early in the season and regardless of the stage of pregnancy, is the best line of defense.” Read more on maternal and infant health.

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Wed, 20 Aug 2014 10:45:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health Environment Flu Maternal and Infant Health News roundups Physical activity
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/google_hangout_conve.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/google_hangout_conve.html <![CDATA[Google Hangout Convenes Culture of Health Prize Winners to Discuss Lessons Learned in Creating Healthy Communities]]>

This past June, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced the six winners of its 2014 Culture of Health Prize, which honors communities that place a high priority on health and bring partners together to drive local change. Each community, selected from more than 250 across the nation, received a no-strings-attached $25,000 cash prize in recognition of their accomplishments.  

Last week, RWJF brought together representatives from two of this year’s winners and one from last year in an online discussion, “Building a Culture of Health: What Does it Take?” Each community representative spoke about the barriers they’ve faced, how they overcame them and the role partnerships play in their ongoing success.

The discussion was moderated by Julie Willems Van Dijk, co-director of the RWJF County Health Rankings & Roadmaps and director of the RWJF Culture of Health Prize.

Alisa May, executive director of Priority Spokane and representing 2014 winner Spokane County, Wash., said that as a largely rural community of 210,000 people they’ve placed an emphasis on improving education at all levels. And they took a data-centric approach.

“Priority Spokane—which is a collaboration of community leaders—looked at the data, pulled community members together to talk about the issues that were most important to them, and educational attainment rose to the surface,” said May.

May said the link between education and health is clear, and analyzing the data—much of it available through the Community Indicators Initiative, a sort of report card on detailing expansive metrics — “energized and catalyzed” the county. Among the findings were that babies born to mothers with less than a high school education were 2.5 times more likely to die before their first birthday. Among other areas, the county has focused on adverse childhood experiences, which can affect brain development; expanding access to and interest in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields; project-based learning, with a focus on building a workplace development pipeline; and identifying and responding to barriers to college.

“It’s not education for the sake of education—it’s education because it will improve the health of the individual and will ultimately improve the overall health of the economy and the education level of Spokane County,” said May.

The successes so far are clear. In 2006, Spokane public schools—the second largest school district in the state—had a 59 percent graduation rate and one out of every three students were dropping out of high school. By the end of 2013, the graduation rate was up to 79.5 percent. May said the focus now is on encouraging the community to stay the course and not be satisfied with the great strides they’ve already made.

Jennifer Hudson, director of the Mingo County Diabetes Coalition and representing 2014 winner Williamson, W.Va., spoke about her county’s realization that they needed to make health the focal point of any sustainable community plan. This was especially important considering the size of the community. There are approximately 3,000 people living in Williamson and only about 26,000 people in Mingo County overall. She said that when Williamson set about to create a Culture of Health five years ago they emphasized food access issues in terms of healthy eating, as well as active living. Today, in addition to a more active community, Williamson features a farmer’s market and a community garden where everyone can come together.

Another thing that helps set Williamson apart is its Health Innovation Hub, according to Hudson. It provides local entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their ideas about new businesses and healthy enterprises to the community, and introduces them to experts who are able to help them develop their plans.

“We’ve got this next network of entrepreneurs that’s supported by development agencies, and the idea is to link them with investors so that these ideas can grow,” said Hudson.

Representing 2013 winner Cambridge, Mass., Stacey King, director of the Community Health and Wellness Program’s Cambridge Public Health Department, spent much of the discussion speaking about the diversity of the community, which is something that many people might not expect.

“It’s not just Harvard and MIT,” King said. “We have a lot of diversity here that people don’t know about.”

According to King, the children in Cambridge’s public schools come from a diverse immigrant community and speak 60 languages. Many are also low-income residents, so building a Culture of Health in Cambridge is also about making sure that all residents have access to opportunities and resources, and that everyone is participating and working together to make the community a healthy place to live.

She said the community has tapped into its extensive medical resources through the Cambridge Health Alliance, which is a collection of health providers that, all told, serves more than 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville and Boston’s Metro North areas. The alliance is a “pretty unusual system” that offers residents access to great health systems and infrastructure that many communities might not have. It also allows them to open up opportunities to collaborate and share resources. To give just a few examples, public health nurses operate the tuberculosis clinic at Cambridge Hospital; the men’s health league works at the community level to help men of color—who are at higher risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes—and includes community-based and navigated care; and school nurses are also public health department employees, expanding their access to hospital resources. Essentially, Cambridge has worked to connect everything together in order to build a Culture of Health, according to King.

>>Bonus Content: Watch a video on the 2014 Culture of Health Prize winners.

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Tue, 19 Aug 2014 17:55:00 -0400 New Public Health Community-based care Community development Culture of Health Video
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/a_call_to_actionto.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/a_call_to_actionto.html <![CDATA[A Call to Action to Help Caregivers]]>

This week, NewPublicHealth will run a series on new and creative public health campaigns that aim to improve the health of communities across the country through the use of public service announcements, infographics and more. Stay tuned to learn more about a new campaign each day.

As the country turns increasingly gray, more and more adults are experiencing the stresses and strains of caring for aging family members. It has long been a silent struggle for many of the nation’s 42 million unpaid caregivers, but the full impact of family caregiving is starting to come out from the shadows thanks to a major ongoing campaign from the AARP and the Ad Council first launched in 2012. Through a series of ads for television, radio, print media and digital venues, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the ripple effects of family caregiving and to steer overwhelmed families toward resources that may ease the pressure.

The public service advertisements (PSAs) depict the sense of isolation, responsibility and frustration family caregivers often feel as they tend to their loved ones—providing reassurance that they are not alone with these challenges. The ads also highlight a community of experts set up by the AARP to help caregivers take better care of themselves while caring for others and to encourage caregivers to access online tools or call a toll-free hotline (877-333-5885). The website includes resources on planning for long-term care (legally, financially and in other ways) and advice on dealing with emotional issues such as grief and loss.

Nearly 30 percent of caregivers report feeling sad or depressed, and 33 percent isolate themselves by avoiding people or social situations, according to a 2013 AARP report, Caregivers: Life Changes and Coping Strategies. Moreover, 38 percent of those caring for a loved one say they sleep less since they became caregivers, and 44 percent admit they try to squelch their feelings. An earlier survey by the AARP and the Ad Council, involving 500 caregivers between the ages of 40 and 60, revealed that 31 percent describe their caregiving tasks as extremely or very difficult; 21 percent say they don’t feel like they have the support they need; and 26 percent don’t feel confident about knowing where to turn to find support and information for unpaid caregivers.

“Only those who care for others know what it’s really like to care for others—that’s why we created a community where caregivers can connect with experts and others facing similar challenges,” said AARP CEO Barry Rand. “We hope this campaign will help the millions of family caregivers in the U.S. feel heard and supported, in turn, helping them better care for themselves and for the ones they love.”

As an offshoot of the Caregiver Assistance PSAs, the AARP and Ad Council also launched the “Thanks Project”, a digital opportunity for family members and friends to publicly acknowledge and appreciate how much they value the contributions from the caregivers in their lives. The idea is that a note of thanks can mean a lot to caregivers.

>>Bonus link: Read a NewPublicHealth interview with Gail Sheehy, author of “Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence.”

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Tue, 19 Aug 2014 13:53:00 -0400 New Public Health Care transitions Aging Aging Older Adults
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr11.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr11.html <![CDATA[Public Health News Roundup: August 19]]> file

EBOLA UPDATE: Death Toll Passes 1,200; Improvement Seen in Three African Doctors Who Received Experimental Treatment
(NewPublicHealth is monitoring the public health crisis in West Africa.)
The death toll in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa has passed 1,200, according to the World Health Organization, with infection rates continuing to outpace containment efforts. Concerns over the disease also continue to spread, with a 30-year-old woman in Germany isolated and then taken to a specialist medical unit after being found with a high fever. However, the Liberian information minister was also recently quoted as saying that three African doctors treated with the experimental ZMapp treatment are showing “remarkable signs of improvement.” The drug was used to treat two Americans who are now also showing signs of improvement. Read more on Ebola.

Study: Older Americans Receiving Cancer Screenings Against Recommendations
As many as half of older Americans continue to receive cancer screenings despite the recommendation by several professional societies that certain cancers not be screening for in people who aren’t expected to live for another 10 years, according to a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine. “There is general agreement that routine cancer screening has little likelihood to result in a net benefit for individuals with limited life expectancy,” wrote Trevor Royce, MD, in the study. Keith Bellizzi of the University of Connecticut‘s Center for Public Health and Health Policy in Storrs added that "Each screening test carries different risks and benefits ... Individuals should be counseled about these risks in order to make an informed decision (sometimes involving caregivers or family members)." Read more on cancer.

Study: Dramatic Drop in Deaths, Hospitalization for Heart Disease and Stroke
Lifestyle changes, better treatment and effective preventive measures have caused a dramatic drop in deaths and hospitalizations for heart disease over the past decade, according to a new study in the journal Circulation. In a review of data on nearly 34 million Americans covered by Medicare, researchers found that from 1999 to 2011 hospitalizations rates for heart attacks dropped by 38 percent; rates of unstable angina dropped by almost 85 percent; and hospitalizations for both heart failure and stroke dropped by approximately one-third. "The findings are jaw-dropping," said lead researcher Harlan Krumholz, MD, a professor of cardiology at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn, according to HealthDay. "They really show that we have begun to reverse this epidemic of heart disease and stroke." Read more on heart and vascular health.

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Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:37:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health Ebola Cancer Aging News roundups Heart and Vascular Health
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/a_public_effort_toh.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/a_public_effort_toh.html <![CDATA[A Public Effort to Help Kids Breathe Easier]]>

This week, NewPublicHealth will run a series on new and creative public health campaigns that aim to improve the health of communities across the country through the use of public service announcements, infographics and more. Stay tuned to learn more about a new campaign each day.

In an effort to reduce missed school days, theEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with the Ad Council, has launched a campaign to teach parents how to prevent asthma attacks in kids by identifying common asthma triggers. The “No Attacks” campaign urges parents to learn how to control factors that make a child’s asthma worse, use asthma medicines effectively and recognize when to call the doctor.

Asthma affects nearly 9 million U.S. children, with poor and minority children suffering a greater burden from the disease. Asthma can be especially serious in kids because of their small airways.

Through a series of Public Service Advertisements (PSAs) featuring a rock band of puppet characters called the “Breathe Easies,” the campaign includes online videos, radio spots and online banners (available in English and Spanish) with songs about asthma triggers at home, at school and outside. These entertaining messages inform viewers about how to prevent asthma attacks by cleaning up mold, vacuuming regularly and eliminating smoking at home; making sure their child’s school has a plan for controlling cockroaches and other pests, banning furry class pets and minimizing the use of chemical irritants in cleaning products, air fresheners and pesticides; and postponing outdoor sports and other high-energy activities to avoid exposure to high air pollution levels.

“Too many Americans, particularly children, minorities and people living in poverty, suffer from asthma, spending their time at doctor visits and hospitals instead of at school, work and play,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. By working with the Ad Council and other partners in communities across the country, we can make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans dealing with asthma.”

Asthma causes U.S. children to miss 14 million school days each year, which is especially worrisome because more frequent school absences are consistently linked with worse academic performance. The good news: “School absences due to asthma can be avoided by appropriate asthma management, including appropriate use of medications and reduced exposure to triggers,” noted a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since there’s no cure for asthma, preventing attacks—by reducing exposure to environmental triggers and using medications appropriately—is the primary focus of treatment.

The new PSAs stem from The Childhood Asthma Campaign, which was first launched by the EPA and the Ad Council in 2001. Since the debut of that campaign, the percentage of parents who feel they can make “a lot of difference” in preventing asthma attacks has risen from 49 percent to 67 percent, according to the Ad Council’s tracking surveys. The hope is that the new PSAs will improve that percentage even more. 

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Mon, 18 Aug 2014 14:02:00 -0400 New Public Health Asthma Pediatric care Asthma Pediatrics Water and air quality
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr10.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr10.html <![CDATA[Public Health News Roundup: August 18]]> file

EBOLA UPDATE: Looted Quarantine Center Raises Fears of Ebola’s Spread
(NewPublicHealth is monitoring the public health crisis in West Africa.)
The raid by residents of an Ebola quarantine center in Liberia this weekend sent potentially infected patients fleeing and has raised very serious concerns over spreading the outbreak throughout West Point, Monrovia. Looters—apparently angry that patients were brought to the holding center from other parts of Monrovia—were seen taking items that were visibly stained with blood, vomit and excrement, all of which can spread the Ebola virus. The Washington Post reports that there have been talks about quarantining the entire township if needed. Read more on Ebola.

Study: Mothers in Poorer Health Less Likely to Breastfeed
Mothers who are in poorer health are also less likely to breastfeed their infant children, according to a new study in the journal PLOS ONE. Researchers from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota determined that women who are obese, have diabetes or have hypertension were 30 percent less likely to intend to breastfeed than were mothers without health complications. “Statistically we’re seeing an increase in breastfeeding in the U.S., which is great news. Unfortunately, at the same time, rates of obesity and other health problems are increasing. More than a million women each year enter pregnancy with a health problem, and our study shows that these mothers were less likely to plan to breastfeed,” said Katy Kozhimannil, PhD, lead author of the study and assistant professor at the university, in a release. “This is troubling because the families with social and medical risk factors are often those who stand to gain the most benefits from breastfeeding.” Read more on maternal and infant health.

Study: HPV Vaccine Still Effective After Eight Years
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine appears to remain effective at protecting against the sexually transmitted virus for at least eight years, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers randomly assigned 1,781 sexually inactive boys and girls ages 9-15 to either the HPV vaccine or placebo shots, finding that those who received the vaccine still had antibodies against HPV after eight years. “The body's response against HPV by making antibodies looks very good at eight years, and it seems like no booster doses will be necessary," said lead researcher Daron Ferris, MD, director of the HPV epidemiology and prevention program at Georgia Regents University in Atlanta, according to HealthDay. "These are all indications that the vaccine is safe, and it looks like it's effective in preventing genital warts and other diseases caused by HPV.” Read more on vaccines.

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Mon, 18 Aug 2014 10:29:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health Ebola Maternal and Infant Health News roundups Vaccines
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/ebola_roundup_newpu.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/ebola_roundup_newpu.html <![CDATA[Ebola Roundup: NewPublicHealth Looks at the Latest News on the West African Outbreak]]>
file Image courtesy: CDC

The worst Ebola outbreak in history has now claimed 1,145 lives, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In the two days to August 13, 76 people died and there were 152 confirmed, probable and suspected new cases in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. NewPublicHealth has been following the outbreak in West Africa closely. You can read our ongoing coverage of the Ebola epidemic here. Below is a look at the latest news on the outbreak:

  • While stating its belief that the magnitude of the outbreak has been “vastly” underestimated, WHO continues to partner with individual countries, disease control agencies, agencies within the United Nations system and other organizations to combat the Ebola epidemic. “Practical on-the-ground intelligence is the backbone of a coordinated response,” the global health organization said in an update, noting that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing computer hardware and software that should enable real-time reporting and analysis. The World Food Programme is also delivering food to the more than one million people living in quarantine zones; the food shortage has been compared to a “wartime” situation.
  • The medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) estimates that it will take public health officials at least six months to bring the Ebola outbreak under control. "In terms of timeline, we're not talking in terms of weeks, we're talking in terms of months,” said MSF President Joanne Lui, according to the BBC. “We need a commitment for months, at least I would say six months, and I'm being, I would say, very optimistic."
  • Kent Brantly, MD, one of two U.S. aid workers infected in Liberia who received an experimental Ebola treatment, continues to improve and hopes to be “released sometime in the near future.” He is being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Ga. The family of Nancy Writebol, a missionary from Charlotte, N.C., said she also continues to improve and doctors remain optimistic.
  • The U.S. Department of State has ordered family members of staff members at the U.S. embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to evacuate the country, announcing the order as part of reconfiguring of resources to better respond to the Ebola outbreak. The order stated: “We remain deeply committed to supporting Sierra Leone and regional and international efforts to strengthen the capacity of the country’s health care infrastructure and system—specifically, the capacity to contain and control the transmission of the Ebola virus, and deliver health care.”

>>Bonus Links: You can also find the latest information on the Ebola outbreak at the websites for the CDC and WHO.

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Fri, 15 Aug 2014 14:25:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health agencies Public health Ebola Global Health
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr9.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr9.html <![CDATA[Public Health News Roundup: August 15]]> file

HHS: $250M to Expand Access to High-Quality Preschools
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that applications are now available for the $250 million Preschool Development Grants competition, which was established to build, develop and expand voluntary, high-quality preschool programs in high-need communities for children from low- and moderate-income families. “When we invest in early education, the benefits can last a lifetime,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, in a release. “Children who attend high-quality early learning and preschool programs are more likely to do well in school and secure good jobs down the road. We all gain when our country has a stronger, more productive workforce, lower crime rates, and less need for public assistance. These Preschool Development Grants will help put more children on the path to opportunity.” Read more on education.

Study: Three Common Respiratory Illnesses Linked to Higher Risk of Lung Cancer
Chronic bronchitis, emphysema and pneumonia are all tied to an increased risk of lung cancer, according to a new study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Researchers analyzed data on more than 250,000 people, concluding that the reason for the increased risk could relate to underlying disease mechanisms. They also said that a better understanding of the respiratory diseases could affect how doctors monitor and help patients. Read more on prevention.

FDA: More Data Needed on Painkiller’s Abuse-Deterrent Capability
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has requested additional study and information to determine the effectiveness of an abuse-deterrent capability in an experimental painkiller. Acura Pharmaceuticals states that its drug, which contains the common painkillers hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen, cannot be abused by snorting. The drug is designed to cause a burning sensation when snorted or form a gelatinous mixture when prepared for injection. However, the drug failed in a mid-stage trial to show a statistically significant likelihood of reducing abuse. Read more on substance abuse.

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Fri, 15 Aug 2014 10:55:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health Education News roundups Prevention Substance Abuse
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_psaic.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_psaic.html <![CDATA[Public Health Icon Smokey Bear Turns 70]]>

If you’re reading this, then YOU can prevent wildfires. Also forest fires.

Both are indelible messages from Smokey Bear—an icon of public health and a friendly face from everyone’s childhood—who is celebrating his 70th birthday. Born August 9, 1944, the creation of the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council has over the decades become the center of the longest-running PSA campaign in U.S. history.

As part of the birthday celebration, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters have launched a new round of PSAs featuring outdoor enthusiasts thanking Smokey for his years of work.

Since the campaign’s launch in 1944, the average number of acres burned by wildfires has decreased from 22 million to 6.7 million. However, they still remain one of the country’s most critical environmental issues—as well as one of its most misunderstood. While many people believe that lightning is the cause of most wildfires, the reality is the vast majority—9 out of 10—are manmade. The causes range from unattended campfires and burning debris on a windy day to improperly discarded smoking materials and operating equipment without spark arrestors.

Explore Smokey’s history and messaging at SmokeyBear.com, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

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Thu, 14 Aug 2014 15:06:00 -0400 New Public Health Environmental health Prevention Video Environment
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr8.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr8.html <![CDATA[Public Health News Roundup: August 14]]> file

EBOLA UPDATE: 55 CDC Workers Now on the Ground in West Africa
(NewPublicHealth is monitoring the public health crisis in West Africa.)
There are now 55 disease detectives and other experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the ground in West Africa in response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak. All told, more than 350 CDC U.S. staff are working around the clock on logistics, communications, analytics, management and other support functions. “We are fulfilling our promise to the people of West Africa, Americans, and the world, that CDC would quickly ramp up its efforts to help bring the worst Ebola outbreak in history under control,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “We know how to stop Ebola. It won’t be easy or fast, but working together with our U.S. and international partners and country leadership, together we are doing it.” Read more on Ebola.

Three Studies Offer Differing Takes on Extremely-Low Salt Diets
Two new studies in the New England Journal of Medicine are calling into question the conventional wisdom that as little sodium as possible is always the ideal. The first study found that extremely low-salt diets may not be as beneficial as believed—and may even be dangerous—and the second found that people with moderate salt intake don’t benefit from reductions as much as people who consume higher amounts of salt. "Previously it was believed that the lower you go the better. What these studies show collectively is that there is an optimal level, and lower is not necessarily better," Andrew Mente, MD, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, chief author of the blood pressure study, according to Reuters. However, a third study also published in the journal found a direct link between less salt and better health, and no evidence to indicate that extremely-low sodium levels were dangerous. Read more on nutrition.

SAMHSA: States Meeting Goals for Reducing Tobacco Sales to Minors
All states and the District of Columbia continue to meet their goals of preventing tobacco sales to people under the age of 18, according to a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report found that only 9.6 percent of inspected retail outlets illegally sold tobacco products to minors in 2013, below the goal of 20 percent set by the Synar Amendment program. The rate was as high as 72.7 percent only 16 years ago. “Tobacco use is still the nation’s leading cause of preventable death. We must do everything we can to deter minors from buying tobacco products,” said Frances Harding, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. “For the past 17 years, the Synar program has made a real difference in lowering the levels of illegal tobacco sales to minors across the nation. However, everyone in the community must continue to work together in eliminating these illegal sales.” Read more on tobacco.

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Thu, 14 Aug 2014 10:44:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health Ebola Nutrition News roundups
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/the_mission_of_publi.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/the_mission_of_publi.html <![CDATA[The Mission of Public Health: Q&A with David Fleming, Seattle and King County in Washington State]]> file

This week, David Fleming, MD, MPH, stepped down as public health director of Seattle and King County in Washington State after seven years leading the public health agency. Over that period, among many other accomplishments, he led the department’s efforts to sign up more than 165,000 residents under the Affordable Care Act and oversaw a 17 percent drop in obesity rates in partnering schools.

NewPublicHealth spoke with Fleming about his views on the mission of public health.

NPH: How has public health changed since you began your career?

David Fleming: The mission of public health has not changed—and that's to prevent unnecessary illness and death—but what has been changing is what the nature of that prevention is. Increasingly, it is in chronic diseases, injuries and, importantly, the driving force of underlying social determinants of health. So public health has changed from being more of a direct service agency where we have frontline public health workers who are out there providing treatment to people and preventing infectious diseases, to really more of a collaborative kind of agency where we need to be working with a wide range of partners outside of the traditional domains of public health to help them implement the changes that need to happen. It's a fundamental shift, I think, in the business model of public health that we're in the process of witnessing today.

NPH: When you point to some of the achievements that you've had, whether they're specific changes in the state or specific models of examples that you've given to other states, what would you point to?

Fleming: First off, I think it's important to say that public health is a team sport, and so when I talk about accomplishments, I'm talking about accomplishments of the department in which I work on this and the staff that work here. I think that we have been successful at pivoting to that future that we were talking about a moment ago, at looking at how health departments can attack the underlying social determinants of health.

Increasingly, it is health disparities that are driving poor health in this country. We have been successful here in beginning to figure out how to partner with other sectors—the education sector to reduce obesity in our poorest school districts, for example. We’ve also worked with the community development sector to begin making investments in our poorest neighborhoods to increase the healthiness of our communities, so that people who live in them can be healthy, as well. At the end of the day, I think that we have been trying to lead this new path where public health is a partner in communities with all of the other entities that are capable of influencing health and figuring out how to make that happen.

NPH: What are things left to be picked up by the team, by your successor, in order to keep making a healthier population?

Fleming: When we talk, we talk about us trying to pivot to the future because the future never gets here. There's always work that remains undone. I think that the opportunities and challenges relate to forging a more effective partnership with our clinical care system as this country undergoes health care reform and as we move from health care to a health system. In addition, I think we're at the beginning stages and need to do more to build those partnerships with the community development sector and with the education sector to really have this cross-siloed approach to improving health.

NPH: What would you say to somebody who was starting an MPH now or even starting to study public health at the undergraduate level? What would be some of the most important things that they could look at now?

Fleming: In addition to getting a great background in public health, I think increasingly our new entrants into the public health field need to have exposure to other disciplines that will be critical in moving health forward. So having a business sense and thinking about models of delivering health that have a sustainable element to them would be one. A second would be to understand the community development field and the non-health-related financing that is in essence going to the poorest neighborhoods. A third would be thinking more directly about how we can ensure that, in our health system of the future, at an individual level the human and social services that people need to be healthy—such as housing and employment—are routinely available regardless of which door patients walk in.

NPH: Are you optimistic that we really can make some of these changes and make our nation healthier? That we can end or reduce disparities, make people pay attention to physical activity and change smoking rates? Are you optimistic as we all head into the future?

Fleming: Oh, I'm absolutely optimistic. Public health is a field that if you look backward, we have continually made progress in increasing life expectancy and improving quality of health. That is something that absolutely will continue on in the future. There will be bumps in the road, but we are on the right course, and we have this huge opportunity in front of us to learn from each other in this country and from other countries about how to make progress moving forward.

>>Bonus Content: Read a previous NewPublicHealth interview with Fleming.

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Wed, 13 Aug 2014 14:47:00 -0400 New Public Health Social determinants of health Public health agencies Culture of Health Q&A
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr7.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr7.html <![CDATA[Public Health News Roundup: August 13]]> file

EBOLA UPDATE: Canada to Donate Experimental Drug for Ebola Treatment
(NewPublicHealth is monitoring the public health crisis in West Africa.)
Canada announced late yesterday that it will donate 800 to 1,000 doses of its experimental Ebola vaccine for the World Health Organization (WHO) to use in West Africa. WHO declared yesterday that it was ethical to use untested drugs to combat the Ebola outbreak. "We see this as a global resource, something we need to put on the global table to say...how can we make best use of this asset? We're looking to do that as fast as we can,” said Greg Taylor, MD, deputy chief public health officer of the Public Health Agency of Canada, according to Reuters. Read more on Ebola.

CDC: 40 Percent of Americans Will Develop Diabetes
An estimated 40 percent of Americans will develop diabetes at some point in their lives, according to a new study in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data on 598,216 adults from 1985 to 2011, finding that the increase in the diagnosis of diabetes and overall declining mortality means that people are also living longer with diabetes; years spent with diabetes increased by 156 percent in men and 70 percent in women. Researchers said the findings demonstrate a need for effective interventions to reduce the incidence of diabetes. Read more on diabetes.

FDA Approves Device that Could Increase the Number of Transplantable Lungs
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new device to preserve donated lungs that do not initially meet the standards for transplantation, but that might be transplantable given more time to evaluate their viability. Only approximately one in five donated lungs meet transplantation criteria. There were 1,754 lung transplants in the United States in 2012, with 1,616 potential patients remaining on the recipient list at the end of the year. “This innovative device addresses a critical public health need,” said Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “With this approval, there may be more lungs available for transplant, which could allow more people with end stage lung disease who have exhausted all other treatment options to be able to receive a lung transplant.” Read more on technology.

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Wed, 13 Aug 2014 10:35:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health News roundups Technology Ebola Diabetes
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/recommended_reading.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/recommended_reading.html <![CDATA[Recommended Reading: New Technology Helps Improve Patient and Provider Communications]]> file

Better communication means better patient engagement, and better patient engagement means better health outcomes. Understanding this, Sense Health has developed an app to promote interactive, text-message-based communications between health care professionals and high-needs patients. Stan Berkow, CEO of the New York City-based company, said in a recent interview with AlleyWatch that the focus thus far has been on Medicaid patients with chronic conditions because they represent “an underserved population with a huge unmet need both considering the human element as well as the cost-burden.”

The app allows providers to create message-based conversations tailored to the particular needs of their patients. In a two-month randomized control trial with Montefiore Medical Center, which included 67 high-needs patients and 15 care managers, providers saw a 40 percent increase in self-reported patient adherence to appointments, a 12 percent increase in adherence to medications and a 7 percent increase in adherence to care plan goals.

“Our business is built on our belief that it is not only possible, but essential to personalize healthcare through the use of technology,” said Berkow. “The prevention and management of chronic health conditions requires behavior change, something that technology alone cannot provide. Sense Health is amongst those who realize that technology in health works best when there is a human touch behind the system and patients feel supported by their providers.”

The company recently joined the New York Digital Health Accelerator, which offers up to $100,000 in funding to companies engaged in developing digital health solutions. The accelerator is run by the Partnership Fund for New York City and the New York eHealth Collaborative.

Read the full interview at AlleyWatch.

 

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Tue, 12 Aug 2014 15:10:00 -0400 New Public Health Medicaid Underserved populations Recommended Reading Health disparities
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr6.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr6.html <![CDATA[Public Health News Roundup: August 12]]> file

EBOLA UPDATE: Death Toll at 1,013 as Two More Doctors are Set to Receive an Experimental Treatment
(NewPublicHealth is monitoring the public health crisis in West Africa.)
Two more Ebola-infected doctors are set to receive the experimental ZMapp drug that was given to two American health workers and a Spanish priest. The Americans continue to receive treatment in an Atlanta hospital, while the 75-year-old missionary died early this morning. The death toll of the West African outbreak—the largest Ebola outbreak in history—now stands at 1,013, according to the World Health Organization. Read more on Ebola.

FDA Approves New Colorectal Screening Test
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first stool-based colorectal screening test to identify cancers such as colon cancer or precursors to cancer. The test can detect red blood cells and DNA mutations that can indicate certain types of abnormal growths. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among those that affect both men and women, and regular screening tests for all people ages 50 and older could reduce related deaths by at least 60 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This approval offers patients and physicians another option to screen for colorectal cancer,” said Alberto Gutierrez, PhD, director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a release. “Fecal blood testing is a well-established screening tool and the clinical data showed that the test detected more cancers than a commonly used fecal occult test.” Read more on cancer.

Study: Women, Blacks Affected Most by Heart Disease and Stroke
Women and African-Americans are affected the most by chronic diseases linked to increased risk of heart attack or stroke, according to a new population-based study in the journal Circulation. Researchers analyzed the five major risk factors for heart disease—high cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes—in more than 13,500 Americans from 1987 to 1998, finding that while the combined risk for women dropped from 68 percent to 58 percent, it was still higher than the risk for men, which dropped from 51 percent to 48 percent. The study also found that diabetes more than doubled the risk of heart disease for African-Americans when compared to whites—28 percent versus 13 percent. Researchers said the difference could be because heart disease has been traditionally viewed as a disease of white men, affecting how it is treated. Read more on health disparities.

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Tue, 12 Aug 2014 10:36:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health News roundups Cancer Ebola Health disparities
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/high-quality_carein.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/high-quality_carein.html <![CDATA[High-Quality Care in Low-Income Communities: Q&A with Steven Weingarten, Vital Healthcare Capital]]> file

Vital Healthcare Capital (V-Cap) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) have announced a $10 million investment in Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA), based in Boston, Mass., to help fund the organization as it rapidly expands its model of care for patients who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.

The non-profit care delivery system provides integrated health care and related social support services for people with complex health care needs covered under Medicaid and for those eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. CCA’s expansion comes as Massachusetts continues to pioneer integrated, patient-centered care for people who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid though the newly created “One Care: MassHealth plus Medicare” program, one of several financial alignment initiatives for people with dual eligibility established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that are launching nationwide.

The loan—the first to be made by Vital Healthcare Capital, a new social impact fund based in Boston, through support from RWJF—provides funds needed by CCA for financial reserves required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as the agency expands the number of beneficiaries in its programs.

According to CCA Director Robert Master, the social impact goals are to:

  • Scale a person-centered integrated care model for high-needs populations.
  • Demonstrate what are known in public health as “triple aim” outcomes in health status, care metrics and cost effectiveness.
  • Train, develop and create frontline health care workforce jobs, including health aides, drivers and translators.
  • Create innovations in health care workforce engagement in coordinated care plans to better integrate into the care plan the staff members who most directly touch the lives of its members.

Over the next five years, Vital Healthcare Capital plans to establish a $100 million revolving loan fund, leveraging $500 million of total project capital for organizations working on health care reform for patients in low-income communities.

NewPublicHealth recently spoke with Steven Weingarten, CEO of Vital Healthcare Capital, about the inaugural loan and the firm’s expansion plans going forward.

NewPublicHealth: How did Vital Healthcare Capital get started and what are its overarching goals and investment criteria?

Steven Weingarten: Vital Healthcare Capital has been formed as a new non-profit financing organization to invest in quality health care and good health care jobs in low-income communities. The organization came about after a couple of years of research and development with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as well as from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations and support from SEIU, the health care union. Healthcare reform is really part of a broader restructuring of health care that has enormous implications for low-income communities, and for the health care providers and plans that have been focused on these communities. Having financial capital to be able to transform health care to a better delivery model will be a critical challenge in upcoming years. So we are coming in to serve that need.

NPH: Tell me about the investment criteria. What do you look for when you are thinking about the investments?

Weingarten: We’re looking for three things. One is strong financial and management competencies, two is a health care impact—we’re looking for organizations that will improve health care outcomes and quality of care for local communities—and three is a jobs focus. We are particularly looking for organizations that are committed to enhancing the job quality of the frontline health care workers who often are critical to a better model of health care delivery.

Health care transformation is an enormously complex road and we’re looking for organizations that have demonstrated that they have the managerial, financial and clinical competencies needed for a better integrated model of health care delivery. We were particularly excited to have CCA as our platform transaction—our first deal—because they have demonstrated over the years that they’re an outstanding organization with clinical depth and they are able to serve vulnerable populations with complex needs.

NPH: Why does CCA need a new source of funding?

Weingarten: CCA has been one of the pioneering organizations serving Medicare/Medicaid dually-eligible individuals. CCA was one of the first demonstration plans about 10 years ago, in 2004, in Massachusetts that first took the Medicare/Medicaid funding streams and put them together so that one organization could take the full payment stream and integrate the whole continuum of care. CCA has been growing this model of care serving frail elders in Massachusetts and succeeding in both showing positive health outcomes and cost effectiveness, and as a result has been able to fund their own growth incrementally. The opportunity they have now is to dramatically scale the model and so there’s really an exponential growth opportunity. To achieve that they needed more than their own financial resources. The proceeds of the loan will provide for a very specific need—the financial reserves that CCA is required to hold as a regulated plan in Massachusetts. The loan frees up other revenue to be able to provide services and infrastructure that’s needed to build and grow the model—such as improving information technology systems, scaling up clinical capacity and increasing the workforce that’s needed to be able to serve a much larger population.

NPH: Why does the state have that requirement?

Weingarten: Massachusetts calls this financial requirement “insolvency reserves” and it’s really the financial buffer and cash in place so that the state knows that if CCA were unable to meet its obligations to pay their providers in its network for care that has already taken place, that there are resources there to serve that purpose. And we believe after the due diligence and underwriting process that this loan made tons of financial sense; that CCA was the organization best positioned to care for what is in many ways the hardest-to-serve populations; and that the state, the regulators, the federal government and other key actors in the health care system who partner with CCA in providing care all had a strong vested financial and clinical interest in making sure that CCA succeeded. So we felt like not only were we putting an oar on a good boat, but they were rowing in friendly waters.

We’re absolutely seeing the CCA loan as part of a line of business for us and something that is a piece of the puzzle about how to replicate excellent care models for hard to serve populations. Both V-Cap and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation see this opportunity with CCA as a critical learning process to see what financial resources are needed to scale the right model of care for hard to serve populations.

NPH: How will you assess the merits of the loan and its ability to be replicated?

Weingarten: Because CCA is such a pioneer and this is the first loan we’re making, we very much see the reporting on programmatic achievement as a critical piece of the learning experience for V-Cap, for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and also for CCA. I think that all three organizations see this as the beginning of a process and something that we want to replicate. So we are approaching the reporting process under the loan as an opportunity to be a participant in CCA’s learning about how it’s doing in scaling its model of care. We'll look at the various programmatic, operational and clinical metrics that will be tracked as the program is scaled up.

The CCA loan is a five-year loan, and the process of assessment will be ongoing during the term of the loan. We are in the process of preparing our next round of capitalization, and expect to soon be in a position to have additional capital to deploy. We’re seeking borrowers who can put those resources to use to accomplish the kinds of goals CCA represents. We are looking to provide financing to a range of provider types who have the common themes of focusing on low-income, hard-to-serve populations and advancing integrated care models.

NPH: How might the loan impact health care jobs in Massachusetts?

Weingarten: Any time you have a major piece of the economy going through major restructuring—as health care really is now—the kinds of jobs change, and they can change for better and they can change for worse. There is a major shift toward jobs located outside of the hospital walls and involved in close service to high-needs health care consumers. Those jobs can include home care aides, drivers and translators who help people connect to the health care system, technicians and medical assistants who often are the people that are directly touching the lives of people receiving care. One of the key challenges is how to better integrate these frontline health care workers into a coordinated model of care so that everyone is working as part of one team to help consumers get better health care outcomes. So we’re looking for organizations who are pioneering on the workforce side as well, and we think that CCA is doing some very exciting things in that regard.

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Mon, 11 Aug 2014 15:45:00 -0400 New Public Health Medicaid Medicare Health disparities Poverty Q&A
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr5.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr5.html <![CDATA[Public Health News Roundup: August 11]]> file

EBOLA UPDATE: Spanish Priest Receives Experimental U.S. Drug
(NewPublicHealth is monitoring the public health crisis in West Africa.)
As the World Health Organization (WHO) and other public health agencies continue to debate the ethics and intricacies of using experimental treatments in response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Spain has imported the U.S.-made ZMapp drug to treat a 75-year-old Spanish missionary priest who was evacuated from Liberia last week. The experimental drug, produced by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. of San Diego, Calif., was previously used on two American health workers who are now being treated at an Atlanta, Ga., hospital. More than 1,000 people have been killed so far in the outbreak which began last March. Read more on Ebola.

Study: Concussions Similar No Matter their Locations
One concussion should be treated just as seriously as any other concussion no matter where on the head it occurs, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers determined that no matter the location, the symptoms and time away from the field were similar for high-school football players who received a concussion. Approximately 44.7 percent of concussions from player-to-player collisions occurred from front-of-the-head impacts and 22.3 percent were from side-of-the-head impacts. The researchers recommended improved education on safer “head up” tackling techniques in order to reduce student athlete concussions. Read more on injury prevention.

Pregnant Women, Fetuses Exposed to Unnecessary Antibacterial Compounds
Children of pregnant women who are exposed to certain antibacterial compounds may experience developmental and reproductive issues, according to new data presented this weekend at the American Chemical Society annual meeting in San Francisco, Calif. Researchers looked at triclosan and triclocarbon levels in the urine of 184 pregnant women, finding that all tested positive for the former and 85 percent tested positive for the latter. Triclosan was also found in more than half of the samples of umbilical cord blood. The two chemicals are found in more than 2,000 everyday consumer products, including toothpastes, soaps, detergents, carpets, paints, school supplies and toys. Researchers also found butyl paraben in more than half of the urine and cord samples; the chemical has been linked to shorter length in newborns. All three can and should be removed from household goods, according to Andrea Gore, a spokeswoman for The Endocrine Society and a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Texas at Austin. "The efficacy of these products as being helpful to human health has not been proven, but companies are adding them to products anyway," she said, according to HealthDay. "There's no downside to removing chemicals that have no proven benefit." Read more on maternal and infant health.

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Mon, 11 Aug 2014 10:48:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health Ebola Injury Prevention Maternal and Infant Health News roundups
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/new_nhtsa_infographi.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/new_nhtsa_infographi.html <![CDATA[New NHTSA Infographic on Safe Summer Driving]]>

Summer is the deadliest time of year to be on the road. In fact, nearly twice as many people are killed in auto accidents during the summer months than are killed during the rest of the year’s months combined, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This increase is linked directly to alcohol consumption. According to NHTSA:

  • There was a drunken-driving fatality every 51 minutes in 2012
  • 35 percent of all drivers in nighttime fatal crashes were alcohol-impaired
  • 24 percent of male drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2012 had a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher
  • A DUI can cost drivers up to $10,000—or more than three months-worth of income for the average working American

NHTSA has created a new infographic to illustrate the need for drivers to stay sober:

file

>>Bonus Link: Find more information and resources about drunk driving here.

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Fri, 8 Aug 2014 13:35:00 -0400 New Public Health Alcoholism Transportation Alcohol Transportation
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr4.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr4.html <![CDATA[Public Health News Roundup: August 8]]> file

EBOLA UPDATE: WHO Declares an International Health Emergency
(NewPublicHealth is monitoring the public health crisis in West Africa.)
The West African Ebola outbreak, which has now killed 961 people, has been deemed an “extraordinary event” and an international health risk by the World Health Organization (WHO). "The outbreak is moving faster than we can control it," said WHO Director-General Margaret, according to Reuters. "The declaration...will galvanize the attention of leaders of all countries at the top level. It cannot be done by the ministries of health alone." Read more on Ebola.

NGA Picks Four States to Study Improving Outcomes in the Juvenile Justice System
The National Governors Association has selected Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan and Tennessee to examine new ways to improve outcomes for kids in the juvenile justice system. The four states will “explore strategic recommendations, focusing on improving information sharing across youth-servicing systems, limiting involvement of low-risk youth in the juvenile justice system and expanding community based-alternatives to incarceration,” according to a release. The goals are to lower recidivism rates, reduce costs and improve public safety. Read more on pediatrics.

Study: HIV Diagnosis Rate Down by One-Third Over the Past Decade
The rate of diagnosed HIV infections has dropped by approximately one-third over the past decade, according to a new study in The Journal of the American Medical Association. In 2011, approximately 16 of every 100,000 people in the United States ages 13 and older were diagnosed with HIV; in 2002 the rate was approximately 24 in every 100,000. The rate increased for young gay and bisexual men, but decreased among men, women, blacks, whites, Hispanics, heterosexuals and users of injected drugs. Read more on HIV/AIDS.

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Fri, 8 Aug 2014 10:30:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health News roundups HIV Ebola Pediatrics
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/columbia_s_publiche.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/columbia_s_publiche.html <![CDATA[Columbia’s Public Health ‘Summer School’]]>

Close to fifty college undergraduates got a bird’s-eye view of public health careers this summer during the Summer Public Health Scholars Program (SPHSP), a partnership with Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, College of Dental Medicine, School of Nursing and Mailman School of Public Health.

“I’ve learned that public health isn’t just about medicine,” said 2014 participant Richmond Laryea, a junior at the University of Central Florida. “It’s about things like the security and safety of public parks, places for farming, transportation, and education—it really takes place in every sector."

>>Bonus Content: Watch participants in last year’s program talk about their public health internships. 

The program, which is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, is designed to show students the range of public health practice. Students typically spend three days at an internship, one day in the classroom and one day on a field trip to places such as the Harlem Children’s Zone. Each student is also mentored by the Mailman School’s associate dean of Community and Minority Affairs.

Laryea said his career plan is to become a cardiothoracic surgeon, but with some time spent gaining a public health degree, as well.

“With my experience in public health, I’ve learned that I want to look into a community approach to help others as a whole, instead of just helping an individual person,” he said.

Public health agencies where students are performing fieldwork this summer include the Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership, BOOM!Health, the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation and New York City’s Correctional Health Services

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Thu, 7 Aug 2014 13:18:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health schools Public health agencies Video
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr3.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr3.html <![CDATA[Public Health News Roundup: August 7]]>

EBOLA UPDATE: CDC Increases Deployments to West Africa
(NewPublicHealth is monitoring the public health crisis in West Africa.)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced an increase in its deployments and efforts in West Africa in response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak, which is the largest in the history of the disease. The public health agency has activated its Emergency Operations Center to its highest response level and plans on adding 50 disease control experts to the region within the next month.

As of Monday, CDC deployments are:

  • Guinea: 6 currently deployed,
  • Liberia: 12 currently deployed
  • Nigeria: 4 currently deployed
  • Sierra Leone: 9 currently deployed

“The bottom line with Ebola is we know how to stop it: traditional public health. Find patients, isolate and care for them; find their contacts; educate people; and strictly follow infection control in hospitals. Do those things with meticulous care and Ebola goes away,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, in a release. “To keep America safe, health care workers should isolate and evaluate people who have returned from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in the past 21 days and have fever or other symptoms suggestive of Ebola. We will save lives in West Africa and protect ourselves at home by stopping Ebola at the source.” Read more on Ebola.

Study: About Half of All Physicians Utilize EHRs
Electronic health records (EHRs) are increasingly being utilized by physicians and hospitals, according to two new studies in the journal Health Affairs. Researchers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology determined that in 2013 approximately 78 percent of  office-based physicians used some form of EHRs and about 48 percent of all physicians used an EHR system with advanced functionalities. They also found that 59 percent of hospitals in 2013 were using an EHR system with certain advanced functionalities. “Patients are seeing the benefits of health IT as a result of the significant strides that have been made in the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records,” said Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, national coordinator for health information technology. “We look forward to working with our partners to ensure that people’s digital health information follows them across the care continuum so it will be there when it matters most.” Read more on technology.

Number of Suicide Attempts Using Prescription Drugs Up Dramatically
Suicide attempts involving prescription medications and other drugs climbed 51 percent among people ages 12 and older from 2005 to 2011, according to two new reports from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The greatest increase was seen in people between the ages of 45 and 64, with a 104 percent increase, followed by adults younger than 30, with a 58 percent increase. "We probably are seeing an increase in overall suicide attempts, and along with that we are also seeing an increase in drug-related suicide attempts," said Peter Delany, director of the agency's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, in a release. "People have access to medications, and they are using both prescription and over-the-counter meds. It is clear that there are more drugs out there." Read more on prescription drugs.

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Thu, 7 Aug 2014 10:44:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health News roundups Global Health Infectious disease Ebola Prescription drugs Technology
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/alcohol_abuse_among.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/alcohol_abuse_among.html <![CDATA[Alcohol Abuse Among Returning U.S. Veterans]]>

The focus on military concerns in the last few weeks has understandably been on events in the Middle East, Ukraine and Afghanistan. But a new study from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University is shining a light on the continuing problems faced by returning U.S. military personnel—in particular their increased risk of abusing alcohol.

The study found that regardless of whether they experienced traumatic events during deployment, returning National Guard soldiers were more likely to develop a drinking problem when faced with civilian life setbacks, including job loss, legal problems, divorce, and serious financial or legal problems. The study authors say these are all very common for military families. The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Previous studies have shown that alcohol abuse is a major concern for reservists returning home. While almost 7 percent of Americans abuse or are dependent on alcohol, the rate of alcohol abuse among reserve soldiers returning from deployment is 14 percent, or almost double that of the civilian population, according to the Mailman researchers.

The study looked at 1,095 Ohio National Guard soldiers who had primarily served in either Iraq or Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009. The soldiers were interviewed three times over three years via telephone about their alcohol use, exposure to deployment-related traumatic events and stressors such as land mines, vehicle crashes, taking enemy fire and witnessing casualties. They were also questioned about any stress related to everyday life since returning from duty.

More than half (60 percent) of the soldiers who responded experienced combat-related trauma, 36 percent of soldiers experienced civilian stressors and 17 percent reported being sexually harassed during their most recent deployment. The researchers found that having at least one civilian stressor or a reported incident of sexual harassment during deployment raised the odds of alcohol use disorders; combat-related traumatic events were only marginally associated with alcohol problems.

“Exposure to the traumatic event itself has an important effect on mental health in the short-term, but what defines long-term mental health problems is having to deal with a lot of daily life difficulties that arise in the aftermath—when soldiers come home,” said the lead investigator, Magdalena Cerdá, DrPH, MPH, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health. “The more traumatic events soldiers are exposed to during and after combat, the more problems they are likely to have in their daily life—in their relationships, in their jobs—when they come home. These problems can in turn aggravate mental health issues, such as problems with alcohol that arise during and after deployment.”

The researchers said that with high rates of alcohol abuse among soldiers, there is a critical need for targeted interventions to help soldiers handle stressful life events without alcohol.

“Guardsmen who return home need help finding jobs, rebuilding their marriages and families, and reintegrating into their communities,” said Karestan Koenen, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School and senior author of the study. “Too many of our warriors fall through the cracks in our system when they return home...we need to support our soldiers on the home front just as we do in the war zone.”

Similar findings have recently been published. Last year the Institute of Medicine published a report on the serious mental health issues faced by military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The report indicated a critical need for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to develop an evidence base on the effectiveness of prevention and treatment programs targeting  servicemembers and their families.

The Mailman study was funded by the DOD, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has created online tools that veterans and their family members can use to assess their drinking levels and access help, including screening tests on MyHealtheVet:

  • A four-question alcohol screening tool can give users feedback on alcohol abuse tendencies in less than a minute.
  • A slightly longer questionnaire screens for abuse of alcohol and other substances, such as prescription and illegal drugs. All responses remain confidential. The test taker is the only person who can access the information. It cannot be seen by anyone at VA or anyone else.
  • All VA care locations offer first-time alcohol screening and intervention for veterans, who can choose to include family members in their treatment. Treatment can range from a single visit to a course of treatment, such as behavioral couples therapy.
  • The VA’s Make the Connection website shares stories from other veterans who have dealt with substance abuse problems. It also offers resources for veterans and their family members.
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Wed, 6 Aug 2014 13:08:00 -0400 New Public Health Alcoholism Military/veterans Alcohol Military Substance Abuse
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr2.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr2.html <![CDATA[Public Health News Roundup: August 6]]> file

EBOLA UPDATE: African Death Toll Hits 932 as Liberia Shuts Down a Major Hospital Over Continued Infections
(NewPublicHealth is monitoring the public health crisis in West Africa.)
St. Joseph's Catholic hospital in the Liberia capital of Monrovia has been shut down after the death of its hospital director from Ebola and the subsequent infections of six staff members, including two nuns and a priest. The World Health Organization reports that there were 45 deaths in the three days leading to August 4—bringing the death toll so far to 932—and is calling for an emergency meeting to determine whether the outbreak constitutes a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern" and to discuss what additional public health measures can be taken. Read more on infectious diseases.

‘Gluten-free’ Labels Must Now Fully Meet FDA Standards
What does a “gluten-free” food label actually mean? Exactly what it says, as of yesterday. August 5 was the deadline for all U.S. foods bearing a gluten-free label claim to meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final rule covering the issue. The rule sets a gluten limit of less than 20 ppm (parts per million) in foods that carry the label, which is the lowest level that can be detected. The agency issued the rule last August, giving manufacturers one year to bring their product lines into compliance. “Gluten-free” labeling is critical to people with celiac disease, which has no cure and can only be treated through diet. "This standard ’gluten-free’ definition eliminates uncertainty about how food producers label their products. People with celiac disease can rest assured that foods labeled 'gluten-free' meet a clear standard established and enforced by FDA," said Felicia Billingslea, director of FDA's division of food labeling and standards, in a release. Read more on food safety.

Study: Daily Aspirin Linked to Reduction in Risk for Some Cancers
A daily dose of aspirin is linked to a reduction in the risk of developing and dying from colon, stomach and esophageal cancers, according to a new study in the Annals of Oncology. Researchers analyzed the results of available studies, determining “that most people between the ages of 50 and 65 would benefit from a daily aspirin," said lead researcher Jack Cuzick, head of the Center for Cancer Prevention at Queen Mary, University of London, adding, “It looks like if everyone took a daily aspirin, there would be less cancer, and that would far outweigh any side effects.” The most serious side effect associated with aspirin is gastrointestinal bleeding. According to HealthDay, Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, deputy chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, said that while the study does not mean that everyone should be taking aspirin as a cancer-prevention measure, if does mean they should discuss the possibility with their doctors. Read more on cancer.

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Wed, 6 Aug 2014 10:32:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health News roundups Infectious disease Global Health Cancer Food Safety Ebola
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/ebola_update_nihhu.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/ebola_update_nihhu.html <![CDATA[Ebola Update: NIH Testing of a Potential Ebola Vaccine Set to Begin this Fall]]>
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The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the National Institutes of Health, is set to begin an early-stage clinical trial for a vaccine to protect against the Ebola virus. The trial should begin as early as September. The vaccine to be tested was developed by the NIAID’s Group Health Research Center in Seattle and does not contain infectious Ebola virus material. Instead, it’s what is known as an adenovirus vector vaccine containing an insert of two Ebola genes. The vaccine works by entering a cell and delivering the new genetic material, causing a protein expression that activates an immune response in the body. Researchers have seen success with studies in primates.

The vaccine being tested is not the experimental serum that was used on two Ebola-infected health workers recently evacuated from Liberia. In those cases, Samaritan’s Purse, the aid organization that sent the health workers to Africa, contacted officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Liberia to discuss the status of various experimental treatments they had identified through a medical literature search. CDC officials referred them to an NIH scientist in West Africa familiar with experimental treatment candidates who was then able to refer them to pharmaceutical companies working on experimental treatments. The serum being used is made by Mapp Biopharmaceutical of San Diego, Calif.

Read more on NIAID Ebola vaccine research.

>>Bonus Content: The CDC has released a new Ebola infographic.

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>>Bonus Links:

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Tue, 5 Aug 2014 11:49:00 -0400 New Public Health Infectious diseases Research Public health agencies Infectious disease Global Health Vaccines Ebola
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr1.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr1.html <![CDATA[Public Health News Roundup: August 5]]> file

Crowdsourcing Apps as Effective at Experts in Providing Healthy Food Information
Crowdsourcing healthy food information and feedback via smartphone apps can be as effective as working with trained experts, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. Researchers used 450 photos of food/drink uploaded onto the Eatery app by 333 unique users in Europe and the United States, comparing the “healthiness” ratings from the app’s users to those from three public health students training in dietary assessment. The results were similar and both were in line with national dietary guidance. "Crowdsourcing has potential as a way to improve adherence to dietary self-monitoring over a longer period of time," wrote the researchers. "The results of this study found that when basic feedback on diet quality by peer raters is crowdsourced, it is comparable to feedback from expert raters, and that peers can rate both healthy and unhealthy foods in the expected direction.” Read more on nutrition.

HUD: $106M to Improve Home Visiting Programs for Pregnant Women, Parents of Young Children
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded nearly $106 million to expand voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services for pregnant women and the parents of young children. Forty-six states, the District of Columbia and five jurisdictions will share the funding from the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program; home visits have been shown to prevent child abuse and neglect, while promoting childhood health and development. “These awards allow states to reach more parents and families in an effort to improve children’s health while at the same time building essential supports within their communities,” said Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, in a release. Read more on maternal and infant health.

Study: Hepatitis C Could Be ‘Rare’ In the U.S. By 2036
A new computer model indicates that improved medicine and screening regimens could make hepatitis C a “rare” disease in the United States within the next two decades, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Currently approximately one in every 100 people in the United States are infected with the virus, which is a liver infection that can cause fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and other symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The researchers determined that this incidence rate could drop to approximately one in every 1,500 people by 2036 based on current and continuing improvements in treatment, and recommend a greater emphasis on identifying at-risk and infected patients. Read more on infectious disease.

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Tue, 5 Aug 2014 10:32:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health Nutrition News roundups Maternal and Infant Health Infectious disease
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/total_worker_health.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/total_worker_health.html <![CDATA[Total Worker Health: Getting and Staying Healthy in the Workplace]]>
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For the last several years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been promoting a concept called “Total Worker Health,” which combines safety programs to prevent accidents on the job with health promotion programs such as smoking cessation. The idea is that emerging evidence recognizes that both work-related factors and health factors that are often beyond the workplace together contribute to many health and safety problems for employees and their families.

A new report in the CDC’s latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) shows why the combination can be critical, finding that the risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke is higher for blue-collar and service workers than it is for white-collar workers. Studies have suggested that before, but the new MMWR recommends strategies that companies can implement to reduce that risk.

In the new report, CDC researcher Sarah Luckhaupt, MD, analyzed National Health Interview Survey data for 2008-2012. She found that the prevalence of a history of CHD or stroke among people ages 18 to 55 was 1.9 percent for employed adults, but among the employed the risk was 40 percent higher in blue-collar workers (e.g. construction workers and truck drivers) and 53 percent higher in service workers (e.g. hairdressers and restaurant servers). Luckhaupt says that job stress, shift work, exposure to particulate matter, noise and secondhand smoke are all likely contributing factors to the higher rates of CHD and stroke.

In a conversation with NewPublicHealth, Luckhaupt said that employers can help improve the health profiles of employees by using the Total Worker Health program, launched by CDC and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health three years ago as a guideline for workplace wellness programs. CDC now publishes quarterly reports on effective Total Worker Health programs established by employers across the United States. Recent examples include:

  • Live Well/Work Well at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in N.H., which aims to improve worker safety and health at the medical center.
  • Hearing loss prevention at the Domtar Paper Company in Kingsport, Tenn., and the 3M manufacturing plant in Hutchinson, Minn., which address both noise reduction exposure on the job and in the community.
  • A “Culture of Health” at Lincoln Industries, a manufacturing factory in Lincoln, Neb., which includes companywide stretching for 15 minutes every day to help prepare the muscles that will be used on the job; massage therapists who assess and treat people who may be at risk for injury; an on-site clinic for health maintenance, wellness coaching and acute care; counseling and support programs; and social and fitness events.
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Mon, 4 Aug 2014 12:17:00 -0400 New Public Health Business Work environment Business Community Health Culture of Health
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr0.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr0.html <![CDATA[Public Health News Roundup: August 4]]> file

EBOLA UPDATE: Nigeria Confirms Second Ebola Case
(NewPublicHealth is monitoring the public health crisis in West Africa.)
Nigeria today confirmed its second case of Ebola amidst an epidemic that has so far killed more than 700 people in West Africa. Liberia has also ordered the cremation of all bodies of people who die from Ebola, in response to communities concerned over having the bodies buried nearby. However, even as the virus continues to spread in West Africa, Anthony S. Fauci, MD, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has told NBC that the risk posed by the return of the Ebola-infected health workers to the United States is "infinitesimally small.” The second U.S. patient is scheduled to arrive for treatment tomorrow. Read more on infectious disease.

HHS: New Committee to Advise on Children’s Health During Disasters
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced the formation of a new federal committee to advise on children’s health issues during natural and manmade disasters. The National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters’ contributions will include comprehensive planning and policies to meet kids’ health needs before, during and after disasters and other public health emergencies. The committee, formed under the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013, includes 15 members selected from 82 nominations. Seven are from outside the federal government and 8 are from within (the full list is available here). "Ensuring the safety and well-being of our nation's children in the wake of disasters is vital to building resilience in every community,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, in a release. “We look forward to working with the committee toward this common goal." Read more on disasters.

Toledo Lifts Ban on Drinking Water; 400,000 Residents Affected Over the Weekend
The town of Toledo, Ohio, has lifted the ban on drinking water implemented over the weekend after dangerously high levels of algae were found in Lake Erie. The Great Lake provides much of the area’s drinking water. Approximately 400,000 residents were affected by the ban. Read more on water and air quality.

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Mon, 4 Aug 2014 10:29:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health News roundups Global Health Infectious disease Water and air quality Preparedness Pediatrics Disasters Ebola
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/faces_of_public_heal.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/faces_of_public_heal.html <![CDATA[Faces of Public Health: Bill Kohl, PhD]]> file

Harold W. “Bill” Kohl, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health is in the midst of a three-year appointment to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN) Science Board. Kohl’s role is to provide recommendations in the areas of program development and evaluation, which is critical to the Council’s mission to engage, educate and empower all Americans across to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and good nutrition. During his time at the School of Public Health, Kohl has been researching effective uses of social networking to create demand for healthy lifestyles among youth and working with organizations to promote disease prevention, physical activity and exercise as a health priority.

NewPublicHealth recently spoke with Kohl about the work of the President’s Council.

NewPublicHealth: Is the current mission of the President’s Council different than it was in the past?

Bill Kohl: There has been a shift. The President’s Council started in the 1950s as the result of a small study that suggested that American kids are not as fit as kids in Eastern bloc countries—Russia, primarily. The President’s Council started under President Eisenhower and then President Kennedy’s administrating sought to increase kids’ fitness by doing fitness testing in schools and promoting physical activity and physical education.

That wound its way through the ‘60s and ‘70s. Then in the ‘80s there was a much bigger rush to health-related physical fitness rather than skill-related fitness activities—things that you can actually change and that are related to health outcomes compared to fitness skills you might be born with, such as the ability to run a 50-yard dash.

Then, most recently, the Council has included nutrition in his mission and been renamed.

NPH: How does your background inform your new role?

Kohl: As chair of the science board, my job is to make sure that the President’s Council has the most up-to-date science that’s relevant to its mission and advancing initiatives that are evidence-based.

I continue to push the platform that physical inactivity is every bit as much of a health problem—not just for children, but for adults and older adults—as other critical health issues, such as cigarette smoking. In fact, some very recent data published in a special series of the Lancet a couple of years ago bear that out on a population level—that physical inactivity is every bit a public health problem. It’s been called a pandemic since it has reached across the world, as tobacco use has, and it has to be a major part of not just obesity treatment and prevention, but a standalone issue.

NPH: What role does physical activity play in a Culture of Health?

Kohl: I do think we have to reframe the issue as cultural one, just as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation does in its efforts to create a culture of health in the United States. We can’t just change one thing and then call it a day and declare victory. We have to create this Culture of Health that, particularly from a physical activity standpoint, makes the active choice the easy choice rather than the more difficult choice.

We’ve done a very good job at engineering physical activity out of our daily lives. From the moment we get up to the moment we go to bed, many, many people don’t have to be physically active at all unless it’s the minimal moving themselves around and that, I think, is one of the Culture of Health things that needs to be changed.

NPH: Is there an innovation you’d point to from a group or community that is doing a good job of going from inactivity to greater activity?

Kohl: Specifically in schools we’re starting to see some innovation. The Institute of Medicine just published last year—with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—a report on what schools can do to promote physical activity for children. The idea is that even beyond physical education, the school can become a hub for children to get 60 minutes a day of physical activity—before school, after school, during school, PE, sports, active transportation and so forth—and so the Culture of Health is and innovation that schools can be a part of.

The Miami-Dade School District is one example. Its supervisor, Dr. Jane Greenberg, who is actually on the President’s Council, has created some of these innovations so that, particularly in the face of budget cuts, they’re able to create a school as the hub or a whole school approach to helping kids not just be more active during physical education, but to actually get the recommended 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day.

I think the evidence that has emerged in the last 20 years really points to physical inactivity as its own public health problem, not just a problem that’s wrapped up in obesity or other kinds of things. There are 20 to 25 different disease outcomes right now that physical inactivity is related to. That, I think, is a critical thing to get across. I think we’re facing a real problem in the next some years if we don’t do something about this nationally as well as globally. 

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Fri, 1 Aug 2014 13:27:00 -0400 New Public Health Physical activity Physical activity policy Faces of Public Health Physical activity Pediatrics Q&A
http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr.html http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2014/08/public_health_newsr.html <![CDATA[Public Health News Roundup: August 1]]> file

EBOLA UPDATE: CDC Issues Travel Warning for Three African Countries
(NewPublicHealth is monitoring the public health crisis in West Africa)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Warning for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, calling for Americans to avoid nonessential travel to the West African countries due to the growing Ebola outbreak. CDC officials are also on the ground:

  • Tracking the epidemic including using real-time data to improve response
  • Improving case finding
  • Improving contact tracing
  • Improving infection control
  • Improving health communication
  • Advising embassies
  • Coordinating with the World Health Organization and other partners
  • Strengthening Ministries of Health and helping them establish emergency management systems

“This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history. Far too many lives have been lost already,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “It will take many months, and it won’t be easy, but Ebola can be stopped. We know what needs to be done. CDC is surging our response, sending 50 additional disease control experts to the region in the next 30 days.” Read more on global health.

FDA Takes Steps to Improve Diagnostic Testing
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking new steps to ensure that patients have access to accurate, consistent and reliable diagnostic testing. The agency announced today that it was issuing a final guidance on the development, review and approval or clearance of companion diagnostics, which are used to determine whether patients should receive certain drugs. The FDA is also notifying Congress that it will publish a proposed risk-based oversight framework for laboratory developed tests. “Ensuring that doctors and patients have access to safe, accurate and reliable diagnostic tests to help guide treatment decisions is a priority for the FDA,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, in a release. “Inaccurate test results could cause patients to seek unnecessary treatment or delay and sometimes forgo treatment altogether.” Read more on the FDA.

CDC: New Online Resource on Opportunities in U.S. Health System
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support (OSTLTS) has launched a new website, Health System Transformation and Improvement Resources for Health Departments, to provide information, resources and training opportunities related to ongoing efforts to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the U.S. health system. This includes the public health, health care, insurance and other sectors. Topics covered by the new site range from shared services, community benefit assessment and accountable care organizations to public health law, workforce, return on investment and financing. Read more on access to health care.

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Fri, 1 Aug 2014 10:42:00 -0400 New Public Health Public health News roundups Global Health Infectious disease Access to Health Care Food and Drug Administration Ebola