Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New Report Highlights Utah’s Top Languages

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) recently released a new report listing the top 20 languages spoken in Utah. Reports for the six most populated counties in the state – Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, Washington, and Weber counties – were also released and list the top 15 languages spoken in these counties.

According to the 2010-2014 American Community Survey, one in seven Utah residents speaks a language other than English at home and one-third of these speak English less than very well. The reports are intended to assist agencies providing health programs and services to limited English proficient (LEP) clients and patients.

The top five languages spoken in Utah are English, Spanish, Chinese, German, and Navajo.

“People may be surprised by the diversity of languages spoken in our state. We hope the reports bring attention to the language barriers faced by many of our fellow Utahns as they try to navigate the healthcare system,” said Brittney Okada, with the UDOH Office of Health Disparities

The reports are intended to help healthcare providers better comply with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) standards. The CLAS guidelines were developed to ensure the delivery of culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare and services.

“The reports can help providers and health programs better understand their patient and client population, plan for language services, evaluate their current language services, and improve patient and client interactions,” said Okada. “Effective and meaningful communication is essential to health services.”

The Utah Language Data Report and six county language reports can be found at under Translation and Interpretation Resources.

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Media Contact:
Brittney Okada
UDOH Office of Health Disparities
(385) 315-0220

Monday, November 21, 2016

Traveling to a Warmer Climate for the Holidays?

(Salt Lake City, UT) – While mosquito season has wrapped up in Utah and most other states that experience freezing temperatures in the winter, active Zika virus transmission is still occurring in many areas around the world. If you’re planning on leaving the snow and cold weather behind for the holiday season, Utah public health officials encourage you to thoroughly research the area you’re planning to visit. And, a good place to start is with information available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. The CDC maintains a list of the countries with active Zika transmission at

“We are receiving calls from people going on cruises to the Caribbean wondering about Zika,” said Julia Robertson, with the Utah Department of Health. “People need to remember that Zika is still active in the Caribbean and other parts of the world and need to prepare for those trips accordingly if they chose to travel to those areas,” added Robertson.

Zika virus is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). Travelers heading to warmer climates where those mosquitoes continue to be very active are encouraged to pack accordingly to prevent mosquito bites.  Pack clothing that will protect you from mosquito bites including, long-sleeved shirts and long pants sprayed with permethrin, enough EPA-approved insect repellent with DEET for everyone travelling to last your entire trip, and condoms to protect you and your partner.

Most people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. But a pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus that can result in severe birth defects, such as microcephaly (small head and brain) and other severe brain defects that may lead to long-term developmental problems. Infection during pregnancy can also increase the chance for miscarriage, eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth. 

It is not yet known how often Zika infected pregnancies will result in problems. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus, and no specific medical treatment for those who are infected.
The CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:
Women who are pregnant:
If you or your partner live in or have traveled to a Zika-affected area, either use condoms (or other barriers to prevent infection) or do not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during your pregnancy.
Women who are trying to become pregnant:
Before you or your partner travel to or after returning from a Zika-affected area, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.
If you have had possible exposure through recent travel or unprotected sex with a partner infected with Zika virus:
Zika symptoms – Wait at least 6 months after your symptoms start before trying to get pregnant.
No Zika symptoms – Wait at least 8 weeks after you may have been exposed to Zika before trying to get pregnant.

For women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant and have questions about Zika virus, contact the MotherToBaby program at 1-800-822-2229, text 855-999-3525, chat live or email, or visit

Media Contact
Charla Haley

Monday, November 14, 2016

Recognizing the Critical Health Care Provided by Rural Hospitals

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Since 2010, 71 rural hospitals across the country have closed, in part due to changes in policies which tend to reward hospitals that do a large volume of business. Fortunately, Utah’s rural hospitals have managed to escape a similar fate.

“Utah is one of the states in which a rural hospital has never closed,” said Dr. Don Wood, Director of the Office of Primary Care and Rural Health (OPCRH) Utah Department of Health (UDOH). “The hospitals and providers serving Utah’s small towns, farming communities, and frontier areas work hand-in-hand to address their health issues, and they provide some of the best medical services in America,”  added Wood.

Due to the critical services that are provided in Utah’s rural communities, Utah Governor Gary Herbert has declared November 13 - 19, 2016 as Rural Health Week in Utah, and the Office of Primary Care and Rural Health is celebrating with several activities, including its annual Rural Photo Contest (information on the contest can be found at and e-book Utah Community Star Stories. Through the declaration, the Governor calls for increased promotion and enhanced collaborative efforts to continue to improve the health of those who live, work, and play in rural Utah. 

As part of Utah Rural Health Week, UDOH will recognize three Utah rural hospitals that have ranked nationally for the quality of the services provided during the year. Those facilities
include Gunnison Valley Hospital in Gunnison, Utah, Milford Valley Memorial Hospital in Milford, Utah, and San Juan Hospital in Monticello, Utah. They are being recognized for their outstanding patient care.OPCRH offers programs that support the financial stability and improved quality of services in rural areas, particularly among Critical Access Hospitals (hospitals with up to 25 beds), Small Rural Hospitals (hospitals with up to 49 beds), Rural Health Clinics (primary care access points, especially for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries). One of these programs is the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program, which aims to improve quality of care and financial stability of hospitals and prevent closures.

For more information about rural health in Utah visit

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Media Contact:
Owen Quinonez
Community Health Specialist
Office (801) 273-6620
Cell (801) 560-5935

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

SUBWAY® Restaurants Participate in Great American Smokeout: College students in Utah encouraged to support tobacco-free campus policies

(Salt Lake City, UT) – As part of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and local SUBWAY® restaurants are partnering to end tobacco use at Westminster College on Thursday, November 17.

Beginning at noon, representatives from the Utah way to quit tobacco cessation campaign will be encouraging students to quit tobacco cold turkey. Local SUBWAY® restaurants will also be passing out classic 6-inch turkey subs to students who pledge their support of a smoke-free campus policy.

“This year we’re encouraging the Westminster campus to go tobacco-free,” said Brittany Karzen of the UDOH. “Currently, Dixie State and BYU are the only smoke-free campuses in Utah and we would like to see Westminster College make the same decision.”

"Subway is excited to partner with the Utah Department of Health and be part of the Great American Smokeout again this year," said Jack Bickmore, local SUBWAY restaurant owner. "One thing we value at Subway is the importance of living a healthy lifestyle."

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 200,000 Utahns use tobacco; 9,600 of those are youth under the age of 18. Tobacco users in Utah can find free tips and advice on how to quit at

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Media Contact:
Brittany Karzen
(o) 801-538-6917
(m) 714-267-3679

Monday, November 7, 2016

Utah’s Uninsured Rate at Lowest Point in a Decade

(Salt Lake City, UT) – New data from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) show 8.8 percent of Utahns (265,100 residents) did not have health insurance during 2015. The figure represents the lowest uninsured rate Utah has experienced in more than a decade.

The estimate comes from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a state-based cell and landline telephone survey that measures key public health indicators, including health care coverage.  

“There are likely several factors that have lead Utah to this point,” said UDOH Executive Director Dr. Joseph Miner. “The state’s healthy economy and low unemployment rate certainly play a role. Changes in health insurance that allowed more young adults to remain on their parents’ health plan and that offered health insurance subsidies to some lower-income families appear to be having a positive effect on the uninsured rate as well.”

 The 2015 data show a continued decrease in the number of uninsured Utahns between the ages of 19-26. In 2011, 23.6 percent of these residents did not have insurance, but last year that number had decreased to just 12 percent.

The number of uninsured Utahns who fit into the population targeted for Medicaid expansion, those between the ages of 19-64 who earn between 0-138 percent of the federal poverty level, has also decreased over the past several years. In 2011, 43 percent of these residents were uninsured, compared to 30 percent in 2015. Despite the improvement, this population’s uninsured rate is still much higher than other populations measured in the survey.
Access to health care is an important contributor to an individual’s overall health, but other factors, such as utilizing preventive and primary care and affordability are important as well.

“Utahns need to take the simple, yet critical, steps that can contribute greatly to their health,” said Dr. Miner. “Simply enrolling in a health care plan will not keep you healthy. But utilizing services like immunizations, cancer screenings, and annual physical exams will go a long way in preventing sickness and disease.” 

BRFSS health insurance data are based on a sample of approximately 5,000 Utah residents who were questioned about their insurance status. Several other surveys collect similar data, and rates may vary based on survey methodology and targeted populations.

Additional data on the estimated number of uninsured Utahns can be found by clicking here.  

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Media Contact:
Tom Hudachko
Utah Department of Health
(o) 801.538.6232
(m) 801.560.4649

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Utah Hospitals Show Some Improvement on ​ Healthcare-associated Infections

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has released the 2015 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).

Compared to national baseline data, patients in Utah facilities that reported 2015 HAI data to NHSN experienced:

51% fewer CLABSI
15% fewer CAUTI
9% more surgical site infections within 30 days of colon surgery
11% more surgical site infections within 30 days of abdominal hysterectomy
22% fewer C. difficile infections
35% fewer MRSA bacteremia infections.

“Utah continues to see improvement in reducing HAIs in areas such as CLABSI and CAUTI, but lags behind in surgical site infections associated with colon surgery and abdominal hysterectomy,”
​ ​
says Karen Singson, HAI Program Manager. “UDOH continues to work with facilities to ensure accurate reporting and focus on prevention strategies to reduce the potential for HAIs.”
The annual HAI report contains 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,

Patients can decrease the potential for contracting an HAI by following these recommendations:

Speak up for your care. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your care so that you may fully understand your treatment plan and expected outcomes. You will be able to recover easier, and your family and friends can be more helpful, if you know what is to be expected.
If you have an intravenous catheter, keep the skin around the dressing clean and dry. Tell your nurse promptly if the dressing works loose or gets wet.
Likewise, if you have a dressing on a wound, let your nurse know promptly if it works loose or gets wet.
If you have any type of catheter or drainage tube, let your nurse know promptly if it becomes loose or dislodged.
If you are having surgery, ask if you should shower with a germ-killing soap ahead of time.
Clean your hands properly and make sure everyone else around you does too.
If your room looks dirty, ask to have it cleaned.
Every day, ask if you still need your catheter or other device.
Ask about safe injection practices: One Needle, One Syringe, Only One Time.
Take medications only as directed.
If possible, ask your friends and relatives not to visit if they feel ill.

For more information about HAIs, 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
(m) 801.352.1270

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Funding Provided to Help Communities Stop Sexual Violence: One in three Utah women experience sexual violence in their lifetime

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Studies in Utah indicate that one in three women will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime and that one in eight women and one in 50 men will experience rape. The costs resulting from sexual violence during a one-year period totaled nearly $5 billion, or approximately $1,700 per Utah resident. The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) recently awarded nearly $550,000 to 21 agencies across the state to implement primary prevention activities for sexual violence.

“Primary prevention aims to stop violence before it starts by addressing root causes, risk and protective factors, and instilling skills in young people that prepare them for healthy, positive relationships and interactions throughout their lives,” said Megan Waters, violence prevention specialist with the UDOH.

The one-time, one-year funding was appropriated during the 2016 Utah General Legislative Session to the UDOH from the Utah Department of Workforce Services’ Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program. This funding, in combination with the state’s current Rape Prevention and Education Program funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has made it possible to extend the availability of sexual violence prevention programming to 28 of the 29 counties in Utah. Agencies receiving the TANF funding include:
  • Citizens Against Physical and Sexual Abuse (CAPSA)
  • The Family Place
  • New Hope Crisis Center
  • Your Community Connection (YCC)
  • Weber State University
  • Davis Applied Technology College
  • The Confederated Tribe of the Goshute Reservation
  • Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake
  • The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake
  • Pacific Islander Knowledge 2 Action Resources (PIK2AR)
  • Rape Recovery Center
  • South Valley Services
  • Talk to a SurvivorPeace House
  • Tricounty Health Department
  • Carbon County Family Support Center
  • Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center
  • DOVE Center
  • The Utah Navajo Health System
  • Restoring Ancestral Winds
  • Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA)
  • Prevent Child Abuse Utah
One example of how the funding is making a difference is through the Safe Dates program. Safe Dates is an evidence-based program designed to help teens recognize the difference between caring, supportive relationships and controlling, manipulative, or abusive ones. “For many of our teens, violence and abuse are unfortunately a part of their everyday lives,” said LeAnn Saldivar, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake. “This funding is critical in helping our teens learn healthy and safe relationship skills; habits that they will carry with them into adulthood.”

One participant of the program who had a prior history of violence with gangs, law enforcement, and his own family has since graduated high school and come into good standing with the courts system – all things he once thought impossible. “We see first-hand the difference these programs make for our youth, leading them away from dangerous situations and on a path for a better future,” said Saldivar. With the funding, Safe Dates can now be used in all of the Boys & Girls Club teen centers in Salt Lake and Tooele counties.

The funded projects will bring primary prevention programs to underserved communities at high risk for sexual violence, including rural and frontier areas, tribal members, and LGBTQ+ communities. In addition, the funding supports the mandatory child sexual abuse prevention education that school districts must implement.

To learn more about the funded projects or for information on sexual violence prevention, visit

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Media Contact:
Katie McMinn
Violence & Injury Prevention Program
(o) 801-538-6156 (m) 801-856-6697