Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Influenza Vaccinations Continue to Increase Among Utah Healthcare Workers

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) released the annual Healthcare Worker (HCW) Influenza Vaccination Coverage Report for HCWs in licensed* Utah hospitals. The report shows healthcare worker coverage rates have consistently increased, from 75.5 percent in 2008 to 96.7 percent in 2015.

The report lists all reporting licensed Utah hospitals, along with their influenza vaccination rates for hospital HCWs, for the 2014-2015 influenza season. It is available on the UDOH Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) website at

“Influenza is a serious infection, and unvaccinated healthcare workers who become infected can put patients at risk for serious complications,” said Sherry Varley, HAI Program Manager, UDOH.

The UDOH and UHIP GC recognize that influenza vaccination of healthcare personnel is a critical patient safety practice. Both agree that compulsory influenza vaccination for HCWs should be implemented in all healthcare facilities unless a healthcare facility has achieved a vaccination rate of 95 percent or greater by some other means.

In November 2007, the UDOH adopted a Healthcare Associated Infections reporting rule (Rule‐386‐705, Epidemiology, Healthcare Associated Infection). This rule requires that hospitals report healthcare worker influenza vaccination rates.

This report was developed by the UDOH in partnership with the Utah Healthcare Infection Prevention Governance Committee (UHIP GC). It will allow Utahns to compare influenza vaccination rates for healthcare workers among licensed hospitals in Utah.

In April 2011, the UHIP GC recommended that all healthcare delivery facilities in
Utah implement a policy of compulsory annual influenza vaccination for all healthcare personnel. While Utah hospitals are not required to have mandatory influenza vaccination programs for healthcare workers, 78 percent of Utah healthcare facilities that reported have compulsory programs in place; and of those, 96 percent have HCW influenza vaccination rates of 90 percent or greater. “It is clear that facilities that implement compulsory influenza vaccination policies for employees have higher HCW influenza vaccination rates than those who do not,” said Varley. Healthcare organizations that do not have an effective HCW influenza vaccination policy are strongly encouraged to develop one.

Visit for more information about UHIP GC members.

*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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Safe Kids Coalitions Offer Safety Information Throughout Utah

(Salt Lake City) – In Utah, more kids ages 0-19 die each year from preventable injuries than from any other cause. Between 2011-2013 there was an average of 78 deaths each year among kids 0-19 in Utah. Nationwide, more than 8,000 families will lose a child to a preventable injury this year; and worldwide, more than one million families will suffer the same tragedy. Millions more children will be injured in ways that will affect them for a lifetime. 

Safe Kids Utah is participating in a nationwide celebration during April and May that includes more than 175 events nationwide aimed at promoting safety and preventing injuries. Here in Utah, Safe Kids coalitions across the state will participate in several events focused on preventing injuries and saving lives. Utah’s events will focus on preventing head injuries through helmet use and education on how to recognize the signs of a brain injury.

“Safe Kids Day has one simple, but critical goal: working together as a community to raise awareness about preventable injuries so kids can grow up to do all the great things kids were meant to do,” says Cambree Applegate, Coordinator of Safe Kids Utah. “These events are a time to celebrate kids and make learning about preventable injuries fun.”   

Events will be held:

Wednesday, April 22 – Community Safety and Grandparents Event from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Castleview Hospital (300 Hospital Drive, Price)
Thursday, April 23 – Car Seat Checkpoint from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Redwood Recreation Center (3060 Lester Street, Salt Lake City)
Saturday, April 25 – Safe Kids Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Newgate Mall in Ogden (36th St. and Wall Avenue, Ogden)
Saturday, April 25 – Safety Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at La Verkin City Park (300 North State Street, La Verkin)
Saturday, April 25 – Safe Kids Recycling Round-Up from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Harmon’s South Jordan (10507 South Redwood Road, South Jordan)
Saturday, May 2 – UTA Bike Day with the Mayor of Springville City starting at 9:30 a.m. at Springville Civic Center (110 South Main Street, Springville)  
Saturday, May 2 – Safe Kids Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Davis County Legacy Events Center at the county’s fairgrounds (151 South 1100 West, Farmington)
Friday, May 8 – Car seat checkpoint from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Mt. Nebo Market (965 North Main St. Nephi)
Saturday, May 9 – Smithfield Health Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Forrester Acres (100 North 500 West, Smithfield)
Saturday, May 9 – Safe Kids Health and Safety Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Southfield Park (1200 West Midway Lane, Heber)
Saturday, May 9 – UTA Bike Day with the Mayor of Orem City from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Palisade Park (850 North Palisade Drive (1300 East))
Saturday, May 9 – Car Seat Checkpoint from 10 a.m. to noon at Mountainlands Community Health Clinic (589 South State Street, Provo)
Tuesday, May 12 – UTA Bike to Work Day in Provo City from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at Historic County Courthouse west lawn (University Avenue and Center Street, Provo)
Wednesday, May 27  – Safety Day from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at South Summit Elementary School (535 East 300 South, Kamas)
Saturday, May, 30  – Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Safety from 10 a.m. to noon at Weller Recreation (936 West Highway 248, Kamas)
Saturday, June 6 – Tooele Health and Safety Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Macey’s (972 North Main Street, Tooele)
Saturday, June 13 – Community Health Fair from 9 a.m. to noon at Riverton Hospital (3773 West 12600 South, Riverton)

For more information on preventing head injuries and other accidental injuries go to

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Media Contact:
Cambree Applegate
Safe Kids Utah Coordinator

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Huntsman Sentencing a Reminder of 'Safe Haven' for Newborns

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The sentencing yesterday of Megan Huntsman, who took the lives of her six newborns following their births, is a tragedy that could have been prevented by knowing the resources that are available in communities throughout Utah. It is never too late to remind women and girls that there is help for unwanted and unintended pregnancies. 

“The very sad story of Megan Huntsman doesn’t have to happen,” said Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake who sponsored the Safe Have legislation in 2001. “Safe Haven is an important law that saves babies’ lives by allowing a new mother to drop off her baby at any hospital, no questions asked. The infant will be cared for and placed in foster care until adopted.”

”Mothers need to know the importance of getting services for drug and alcohol dependence,” says Julia Robertson, Manager of the Utah Department of Health’s Safe Haven program. “The state’s local health departments are excellent resources for treatment,” she added. 

In addition to receiving newborns, Utah hospitals with emergency rooms are required to deliver a baby if a mother comes to the facility saying she wants to have her baby there and then relinquish custody.

Since 2001, dozens of newborns have been saved by courageous mothers who chose to give their children a better chance at life through the Safe Haven law. Families should also be aware of crisis nurseries throughout the state that can be found by calling 2-1-1.   For more information, visit 

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Media Contacts:
Cyndi Bemis, UDOH

Rep. Patrice Arent

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

30 Years of Advancing Health Equity

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health Office of Health Disparities (OHD) is commemorating National Minority Health Month throughout April with a series of community-based programs that include preventive screenings and a new birth outcomes pilot program that highlights health disparities affecting the growing number vulnerable populations.

OHD has partnered with three community agencies in Provo and Salt Lake City – Centro Hispano, Hui Hawai‘i o Utah Hawaiian Civic Club, and the Somali Community Self-Management Agency – to provide free screenings for cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure at sites in Salt Lake City, West Valley City, and Provo.  
The OHD also recently partnered with the Queen Center on a pilot program to address the high infant mortality rate among Utah Pacific Islanders. This program is the first of its kind in the state to offer culturally responsive workshops and activities to teach Pacific Islander families about the seriousness of infant mortality. The program also educates participants about factors that help promote healthy pregnancies and births, including prenatal care, maternal wellness, family communication, and stress management.

According to facilitators and more than 30 participants, the six-week pilot program was a success. The OHD focus going forward will be to collaborate with the Bureau of Maternal and Infant Health to improve upon and expand similar interventions with Pacific Islander communities.   
The theme of this year’s National Minority Health Month is “30 Years of Advancing Health Equity,” which highlights the first US Department of Health and Human Services report on minority health, known as the “Heckler Report,” in 1985.

More information on National Minority Health Month can be found at

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The mission of the Utah Department of Health is to protect the public's health through
preventing avoidable illness, injury, disability and premature death, assuring access to
affordable, quality health care, and promoting healthy lifestyles.

Media Contact:
Jake Fitisemanu
Office of Health Disparities
Outreach Coordinator