Tuesday, October 18, 2016

“Missing Moments” Families of teen crash victims share their grief

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Car crashes are a leading cause of death for teens in Utah and across the U.S. In 2015, 25 families were devastated to learn that their teenager had been killed in a motor vehicle crash on Utah roads. Today, they shared their stories to encourage others to drive safely.

Emily Roundy’s 15-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, was a passenger in a single vehicle rollover on May 2, 2015. Kaitlyn was with friends when the driver of the vehicle she was riding in swerved to miss a deer. The vehicle rolled off the road into a riverbed. Kaitlyn was not wearing a seat belt. She was ejected from the truck and killed instantly.

“I miss her walking through the front door, lighting up the entire room with her presence,” said Roundy. “Kaitlyn knew to wear her seat belt, but there was one time she didn’t and she was taken from us. Please protect your precious lives and wear a seat belt. Always.”

Teens have the lowest seat belt usage rate of any age group. In 2015, almost 60 percent of all teens killed on Utah roads were not restrained. “The simple decision to choose to wear your seat belt every time you are in a vehicle can and does save lives,” said Carlos Braceras, executive director with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). “If I could change a single behavior of every Utahn, it would be to make sure they are always buckled up, no matter what.”

This is the ninth year the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and UDOT have collected stories of teens killed in motor vehicle crashes. The book will be used by state and local agencies as a prevention tool to help drivers of all ages realize the impact their decisions have on others. The books will also be distributed to high school driver education classes throughout the state.

David “Buddy” Conner lost his 16-year-old sister, Cadee, in a crash on Mountain View Corridor, just a half mile from home. Cadee was a passenger and as the driver started to cross the intersection, the truck she was riding in was hit by cross traffic causing it to roll. “My sister was my best friend. If I could say one thing to other drivers it would be that you need to be aware of others around you on the road. You need to be aware of your surroundings and always be a defensive driver because just like that, you can flip someone’s whole world around. And for us, we don’t have a rewind button.”

Data from the Utah Highway Safety Office show that in 2015 teen drivers were two times more likely to have a contributing factor, such as failing to yield the right of way or speeding, in a fatal crash than drivers of other ages.

“Teen drivers are at a higher risk of crashing than other drivers often due to inexperience,” said Joseph Miner, UDOH executive director. “Policies such as the Utah Graduated Driver License laws are designed to help new drivers learn driving skills over time and gain the experience needed to become safe drivers. These laws as well as prevention efforts by our state and community partners have saved lives.”

“As a representative of those families with their loved ones in the book, we’re here to speak out. We’re speaking out to help other families get the chance to fathom how unacceptable roadway fatalities are. No one has to die on our roads,” said Conner.

To download a copy of the book Missing Moments: Remembering 10 Lives Lost on Utah Roads, visit www.health.utah.gov/vipp or www.dontdrivestupid.com

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Media Contact:

Jenny Johnson
Violence and Injury Prevention Program
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 801-298-1569

Monday, October 17, 2016

NEWS ADVISORY - Families of teen crash victims share their grief


WHAT:    The Utah Department of Health and Utah Department of Transportation will hold a press conference to share stories of families who lost a child in a motor vehicle crash in 2015.

  In 2015, 25 teens were killed on Utah roads. Almost 60% of teen occupants killed were not buckled up. Nationally, crash fatalities are highest for 16 to 17-year-olds within the first six months after getting their license – and remain high through age 24. These families hope that as they share the now ‘missing moments’ in their lives and their messages of safety, that it will motivate others to drive safely.   

   Interviews available include:

  • Edward & Aubrey Conner and David “Buddy” Conner, parents and brother of 16-year-old Cadee Conner, killed in a rollover crash
  • Stu & Christine Anderson, parents of 16-year-old Maylee Anderson, killed after being T-boned by another vehicle
  • Brad & Emily Roundy, parents of 15-year-old Kaitlyn Hansen, killed after being ejected in a single vehicle crash
  • Kristen Bagley, mother of 16-year-old Cheyenne Bagley, killed after being T-boned by another vehicle
  • Dr. Joseph Miner, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Health
  • Carlos Braceras, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Transportation
WHEN:    Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.
WHERE:    Marmalade Library
2nd floor
280 West 500 North
Salt Lake City, UT 84103

Parking available along 300 West and 500 North, as well at the LDS church house on 500 North.


Media Contact:

Jenny Johnson
(o) 801-538-9416
(m) 385-290-7826

Friday, October 14, 2016

Seeking Answers for Parkinson Disease: Registry aims to find genetic, environmental clues

(Salt Lake City, UT) – In March 2015, the Utah Department of Health issued a rule that required health care providers to report cases of Parkinson disease and related movement disorders via the Utah Parkinson Disease Registry. Now, more than a year later, 1,566 Utahns with Parkinson’s disease (PD) have joined the registry, sharing valuable information about their diagnosis.

“The Utah Parkinson Disease Registry is one of the first computerized registries of its kind in the country,” said Allyn Nakashima, state epidemiologist at the UDOH. “Public health surveillance of this kind is absolutely critical for not only understanding the genetic and environmental causes of PD, but to better understand the extent of the disease across the state and across different populations.” Although the registry is a collaborative effort with the University of Utah Department of Neurology and the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, the UDOH will make registry data available to all interested researchers.

Parkinson disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative brain disorder following Alzheimer’s disease, yet basic information about it is missing such as whether it affects certain populations differently. PD often begins with tremors but over time can lead to muscle rigidity; and difficulty walking, talking, and completing simple daily tasks. The disease affects one in 100 persons over the age of 65 years. While there is no known cure for PD, advances in research are raising realistic hopes of halting progression, restoring function, and even preventing the disease altogether.

To date, approximately 21 percent of registrants reported symptoms of PD at age 50 or younger. Nationally, most individuals with PD are age 60 or older at the time of diagnosis. In Utah, among those in the registry, the average age of diagnosis was 64 years of age. Data from the registry showed the time from symptom onset to diagnosis was nearly three years. Although comparisons with other states about onset of symptoms to diagnosis is difficult to obtain, this time span was much longer than expected.

Rebecca Starks, outreach director for the Mountain West Parkinson Initiative at the UofU Department of Neurology encourages individuals living with PD or their families and caregivers to participate in the Utah PD Registry. “You don’t have to wait for your health care provider to enter your information in the registry. By participating, you are helping to provide important clues about the causes of the disease as well as helping to ensure adequate health care resources are available for all individuals impacted by PD.”

To report a diagnosis of PD visit, http://updr.org. Reporting by patients themselves is encouraged, but voluntary. The registry collects some identifying information in order to avoid double reporting by health care providers and patients. The form collects information such as demographic data, current address, birth data, and residence history. It is basic and should only take a few minutes to complete.

Individuals and families who want to learn more about PD including the latest treatment and medication options available, caregiving issues, and exercise programs designed specifically for those living with PD, may attend the Utah Parkinson Disease Symposium on Saturday, October 22, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. More information is available at the Mountain West Parkinson Initiative website, http://www.mwparkinson.org/

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Media Contact:
Jenny Johnson, UDOH
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 385-290-7826
Rebecca Starks, UofU
(o) 801-585-2354

Friday, September 23, 2016

Report Illustrates Critical Shortage of Nurses in Utah Schools

(Salt Lake City, UT) – A new report from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) indicates the state does not meet the national recommendation of one school nurse for every 750 healthy students, or even one nurse for every school. In fact, the state’s ratio of one school nurse for every 4,318 students is one of the lowest in the country.

“Ideally, each student would have daily access to a school nurse, which can improve students’ health, safety, and their abilities to learn. But the bottom line is that Utah is woefully understaffed when it comes to nurses in the schools,” said BettySue Hinkson, school nurse consultant for the UDOH.

Over the past year the focus has been moving away from ratios in preference to student acuity, social determinants of the community, and health disparities. However there remains a heavy emphasis on student to nurse ratios, and according to the report, for each school in Utah to have a nurse, the state would need an additional 959 more school nurses at an estimated cost of $91 million dollars. To meet the national recommendation of one nurse for every 750 students, $68 million would be needed.

“Students are best able to achieve their educational potential when they are healthy. And for many kids, a school nurse is the only healthcare provider they see on a regular basis,” said Hinkson.

Many students have chronic health conditions which need may need interventions while at school. During the 2015-2016 school year, school nurses were responsible for the care of 21,455 students with asthma; 9,606 students with severe and extreme allergic reactions; 2,057 students with diabetes, and 2,372 students with a seizure diagnosis. Many of which had individualized healthcare plans (IHP) and emergency action plans (EAP) as well as a need for medication at school, such as an inhaler, glucagon, or epinephrine, in case of emergencies.

School nurses perform a variety of duties, such as helping students manage chronic health conditions; providing direct care; administering medications to students; developing IHPs and EAPs; training staff and students on a variety of topics from maturation to how to respond to anaphylaxis; and providing vision, dental, hearing, and scoliosis screenings. School nurses also provide essential care for medically complex, medically fragile, and nursing-dependent students.

To download a copy of the 2015-2016 Nursing Services in Utah Public Schools report, visit http://choosehealth.utah.gov/prek-12/school-nurses/data.php.

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Media Contact:
Dave Mecham
(801) 538-6654

Thursday, September 22, 2016

1 out of 3 Utah Adults Aged 65+ Will Fall This Year

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Every 58 minutes in Utah, emergency medical services personnel are dispatched to the residence of an older adult because of a fall. That means, that every week 179 Utahns aged 65 and older are treated in an emergency department. Sixty-one of them require hospitalization and three die, all due to complications related to a fall. The sad part is, falling does not have to be a normal part of aging.

“Older adults want to stay active, independent, and safe in their homes, but many worry about their risk of falling,” said Sally Aerts, falls prevention specialist with the Utah Department of Health (UDOH). “In fact, one out of three older adults will fall at least once this year. But falling is not a normal part of aging and older adults have the power to prevent a fall.”

Data from the UDOH show that falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injury-related hospital admissions in Utah, costing more than $104 billion in 2013 alone. Sixty-eight percent of Utahns aged 65 and older who fell sustained a fracture of some kind (nearly one-fourth of these were hip fractures). Other common injuries resulting from falls include: traumatic brain injuries (17%), spinal fractures (12.1%), and broken ribs (7.3%).

“Our goal is to help seniors remain healthy and independent. One fall can be the beginning of a downward health spiral that may include limited mobility, dementia from a head injury, and complications from major surgeries like blood clots and seizures. Even minor falls can impact a person’s sense of safety and well-being,” commented Aerts.

The majority of older adult falls which require hospitalization happened in the home, with 22.0% occurring in the bathroom, 14.7% in the bedroom, and 10.4% of falls occurring in the kitchen.

However, most falls are preventable when older adults remove hazards from their homes and increase their strength and balance. The UDOH recommends six basic steps to reduce the risk of falls:
  • Begin a regular exercise program. Exercise improves strength and balance, as well as coordination. Many of the state’s local Area Agencies on Aging and local health departments offer classes specifically designed to reduce the risk of falling. To sign up for a free class near you, call 888-222- 2542 or visit www.livingwell.utah.gov.
  • Make your home safer. Remove tripping hazards like throw rugs and clutter in walkways and stairs. Install grab bars next to your toilet and shower.
  • Talk to your health care provider. Ask your doctor if you are at risk of falling. Your doctor also needs to know if you’ve fallen in the past so he or she can help you determine what prevention steps are needed to stay independent.
  • Have your health care provider review your medicines. Some medicines or combinations of medicines can make you sleepy or dizzy and cause you to fall.
  • Have your vision and hearing checked. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year. Poor vision can increase your chances of falling. It’s also important that you can hear properly, as your eyes and ears are key to keeping on your feet.
  • Talk to your family members. Remember, falls aren’t just a seniors’ issue. Ask your family and friends for help in taking simple steps to stay safe.
Utah will join 48 other states in recognizing September 22, 2016 as Falls Prevention Awareness Day. For more information about how to prevent older adult falls, visit http://www.health.utah.gov/vipp/older-adults/falls/.

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Media Contact:
Katie McMinn
Violence & Injury Prevention Program
(o) 801-538-6156