Friday, October 9, 2015

Take Control of Your Arthritis: 1 out of every 5 Utahns suffer from chronic joint pain

(Salt Lake, UT) – New data released by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) show that one out of every five adults in Utah – more than 400,000 people – have arthritis. Data also show that arthritis is the leading cause of disability and activity limitation in Utah. But the good news is people with arthritis can manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

“Although there is no cure for most types of arthritis, early diagnosis and proper management can greatly improve your quality of life,” said Rebecca Castleton, program manager for the UDOH Arthritis Program.

The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, usually causing joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness. While arthritis can affect anyone, women and those over the age of 45 are at greater risk of developing symptoms. Previous joint injuries, a family history of arthritis, and being overweight also increase your risk of getting arthritis.

Tips to reduce arthritis pain and improve your quality of life include:
  • Keep those joints moving. Research shows that low-impact exercises such as walking, bicycling, and swimming can decrease arthritis pain.
  • Learn how to manage your arthritis. Free self-management education classes, such as Living Well with Chronic Conditions, are available statewide to help people suffering from arthritis learn techniques for managing pain. To find a class near you, visit
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight places more stress on your joints and contributes to joint pain. Losing even 10 pounds can reduce the stress on each knee by up to 40 pounds and the stress on each hip by 30 pounds.
  • Talk to your doctor. Early diagnosis and proper management is important, especially for inflammatory types of arthritis. For example, early use of disease-modifying drugs can change the course of rheumatoid arthritis. If you have symptoms of arthritis, talk to your doctor and begin appropriate treatment as soon as possible.
  • Protect your joints. Learning how to avoid excess stress on your joints will make doing daily tasks easier. For example, using your forearms or palms to carry your grocery bag instead of your fingers can help ease arthritis pain.

October 12, 2015 is World Arthritis Day, a global initiative bringing people together to raise awareness of issues affecting people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. Additional information on World Arthritis Day is available at

For more information about managing your arthritis, including a list of arthritis exercise and self-management classes across the state, visit  

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Media Contact:
Rebecca Castleton
Utah Arthritis Program
(o) 801-538-9340 (m) 253-503-9755

Monday, October 5, 2015

UDOH Releases Annual Report on Healthcare-associated Infections

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has released the 2014 hospital-specific report of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in licensed hospitals.* The report provides information on specific types of HAIs that are reportable in Utah, including central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs), surgical site infections (SSIs) associated with colon surgeries and abdominal hysterectomies, Clostridium difficile (C. diff), and Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia infections.

Utah State regulation (Rule 386‐705, Epidemiology, Healthcare-associated Infection) requires the UDOH to collect and report data on HAIs. The Utah data are self-reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) by each facility that is required to report HAIs by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
  • Overall results from 2014 show that Utah had significantly fewer CLABSIs than the national rate, but significantly more CAUTIs and colon SSIs than the national rate.
  • Utah inpatient rehabilitation facilities had significantly more CAUTIs than the national rate.
  • Utah long-term acute care facilities had significantly fewer CAUTIs than the national rate.
  • There was not a significant difference from the national rate for SSIs associated with abdominal hysterectomies.
  • Utah acute care facilities had significantly fewer C. difficile infections compared to the national rate.
  • Utah acute care facilities had significantly fewer MRSA bacteremia infections compared to the national rate.
Dr. Allyn Nakashima, UDOH State Epidemiologist says, “Utah continues to see improvement in reducing HAIs. We encourage collaborations among all healthcare facilities across the state to identify “best practices” in infection control to further reduce HAIs.”

The Healthcare-associated Infections Annual Report includes a full year of reported HAI data for 2014. Annual reports are published every October. The reports contain information for all infections required to be reported to NHSN by CMS according to the CMS Healthcare Facility HAI Reporting Requirements timeline. To read the entire HAI Report, visit

*Licensed hospitals include acute care, long-term acute care, critical access, rehabilitation, psychiatric, government and children’s hospitals.


Media Contact:
Rebecca Ward
(o) 801-538-6682 
(c) 801-352-1270

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Medically Complex Children’s Waiver Now Accepting New Applicants

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health’s (UDOH) Medically Complex Children’s Waiver will open enrollment today for the first time after being authorized by the Utah State Legislature in the 2015 General Session (H.B. 199). The program will accept applications through Thursday, October 29. This program is intended to serve children with disabilities and complex medical conditions, providing them access to respite services, as well as traditional Medicaid services. The waiver was designed as a pilot program authorized to run through June 30, 2018 and serve approximately 165 children, from birth through age 18.

In order to qualify for the Medically Complex Children’s Waiver, the child must:
Be age 0-18
Have three or more specialty physicians
Have three or more organ systems involvement
Demonstrate a level of medical complexity based on a combination of need for device-based supports, high utilization of medical therapies, and treatments and frequent need for medical intervention
Have a disability determined by the Social Security Administration or the State Medical Review Board

Unlike traditional Medicaid, only the child’s income and assets are considered when determining the child’s eligibility for this program; the parent’s income and assets are not considered.  Children currently enrolled in traditional Medicaid will not be automatically eligible for the program and will also need to apply.

Applicants will not be selected for enrollment on a first-come-first-served basis. Once the application period ends, if more than 165 applications are received, UDOH clinical staff will review the applications and base entrance into the program on the highest medical complexity and critical needs of the family, as identified through the application process.  

To apply for the program, applications must be received by the end of day on Thursday, October 29. Applications can be submitted online at Parents may also print the application and submit it by fax (801-323-1593) or by mail (UDOH, Medically Complex Children’s waiver, Division of Medicaid and Health Financing, PO Box 143112, Salt Lake City, UT 84114-3112).

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Media Contact:
Kolbi Young, Utah Department of Health
(o) 801-538-6847
(m) 801-231-6350

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Utahns Urged to Rid Homes of Leftover Medications

(Salt Lake, UT) – Utah ranks 5th highest in the nation for drug overdose deaths and a campaign is underway to safely dispose of the kinds of drugs that are killing people. The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) is urging Utahns to take advantage of the National Take Back Initiative on Saturday, September 26th to clean out medicine cabinets and safely dispose of leftover prescription medications. 

Preliminary data showed that in 2014, 344 individuals died from a prescription drug overdose in Utah; an average of 29 people each month.  Most of the prescription drug overdoses (84.0%) involved prescription pain medications. The most common prescription pain medications involved in these deaths are oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl. Over the past decade, prescription pain medications have been responsible for more drug deaths in our state than all other drug categories, including heroin and cocaine, combined.

“This is a very real epidemic, and it warrants a strong public health response," said Anna Fondario, UDOH Injury Epidemiologist. “These deaths can be prevented. Educational programs for those at greatest risk, improved clinical care, ongoing data collection efforts to inform prevention and intervention programs, and strong policies have been shown to be effective in curbing this crisis."

The 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey found that 68.3% of Utahns who used prescription pain medications in the past year reported that they kept leftover prescription pain medications in their homes. Additionally, 74.3% of Utahns who used prescription pain medications that were not prescribed to them reported getting them from a family member or friend. When improperly stored or disposed of, leftover medications can be dangerous.

The National Take Back Initiative is a nationwide event sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration to encourage people to properly dispose of leftover medications. Take-back events will be held across the state from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 26th. To find a take-back event, visit 

Permanent collection bins area also available in locations across the state for safe and legal disposal. To find a permanent disposal site, visit Use Only As Directed at

Prescription overdose deaths can be prevented. Tips include:
  • Never take prescription pain medications that are not prescribed to you.
  • Never take prescription pain medications more often or in higher doses than prescribed.
  • Never drink alcoholic beverages while taking prescription pain medications.
  • Never share prescription pain medications with anyone. Besides being dangerous, it’s also a felony.
  • Taking prescription pain medications with other depressants, such as anti-anxiety medications, sleep aids, or cold medicine, can be dangerous.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about ALL medicines and supplements you take.
To learn how to prevent prescription drug misuse, abuse, and overdose, visit or    

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Media Contact:
Anna Fondario
Violence & Injury Prevention Program
(o) 801-538-6201 (m) 801-499-1074

Friday, September 11, 2015

Safe Kids Coalitions Offer Free Car Seat Checks: September 13-19 is National Child Passenger Safety Week

(Salt Lake City, UT) –Safe Kids Utah in partnership with the Utah Department of Health and the Utah Department of Transportation urge parents and caregivers to make sure their car seats and booster seats are registered and properly installed.  Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the United States. Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent.

“Registering car seats and boosters is a simple, easy way for parents to stay updated on their children’s safety seats,” said Cambree Applegate, Safe Kids Utah Coordinator. “By registering, if there are any recalls on the product, the company will be able to notify the buyer. In doing so, many children’s lives may be saved.” 

Car seat checkpoints offer drivers the chance to receive assistance and guidance from certified child passenger safety (CPS) technicians regarding proper installation of their car seats and booster seats. “Car seats are complicated. We know parents and caregivers want what is best for their kids,” said Applegate. “Taking a few minutes out of your day to get your car seats checked is a simple way to ensure your children are travelling safely in the car.”

Free car seat checks will be held across Utah during September.  Each event will have certified CPS technicians on site to help parents ensure their car seats are installed correctly.  Technicians will also talk with parents and caregivers about which car seats and booster seats will work best as their child grows.  Events will be held:
  • Friday, Sept. 11 – Car seat checkpoint from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Murray Fresh Market (5632 South 900 East, Murray, UT 84121).
  • Tuesday, Sept. 15 – Car seat class from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Weber-Morgan Health Department (477 23rd Street, Ogden). Call 801-399-7186 or email to make an appointment.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 16 – Car seat checkpoint from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Anna Smith Elementary (731 Aria Blvd., Wendover).
  • Thursday, Sept. 17 – Car seat checkpoint from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Andy’s Market (515 North Main, Monroe).
  • Thursday, Sept. 17 – Car seat checkpoint from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Hansen Motors (1175 South Commerce Way, Brigham City).
  • Thursday, Sept. 17 – Car seat checkpoint from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Summit County Health Department (650 Round Valley Drive, Park City).  Call 435-333-1500 to make an appointment.
  • Thursday, Sep. 17 – Car seat checkpoint from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Riverton Hospital, Primary Children’s Outpatient Clinic (3741 West 12600 South, Riverton)
  • Saturday, Sept. 19 – Car seat checkpoint from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Davis Hospital (1600 West Antelope Drive, Layton).
  • Saturday, Sept. 19 – Car seat checkpoint from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Mountain View Hospital (1000 East 100 North, Payson).
  • Monday, Sept. 21 – Preparedness Fair with car seat information from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Wasatch High School (930 South 500 East, Heber).
  • Thursday, Sept. 24 – Car seat checkpoint from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Northwest Recreation Center (1300 West 300 North, Salt Lake City).
  • Friday, Sept. 25 – Car seat checkpoint from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Moab City Market (425 South Main Street, Moab).
  • Saturday, Sept. 26 – Car seat checkpoint from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the K-Mart in Richfield (1080 South Highway 118, Richfield).
  • Tuesday, Sept. 29 – Car seat checkpoint from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Weber-Morgan Health Department (477 23rd Street, Ogden). Call 801-399-7186 or email to make an appointment.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 30 – Car seat checkpoint from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Droubay Chevrolet Buick (348 West Main Street, Delta).
For more information on which car seat is right for your child, visit

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Media Contact:
Cambree Applegate
Safe Kids Utah Coordinator
(o) 801-538-6852 (m) 435-862-8773