Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Cancer Data and Prevention Plan Unveiled

(SALT LAKE CITY) – Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Utah. Each year, more than 8,000 Utahns are diagnosed with the disease, and more than 1,900 die from it. In an effort to lower cancer rates and raise screening rates, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) today released the Utah Cancer Small Area Report and Utah’s Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Plan.
The Small Area Report provides a broad overview of the most common types of cancer in the U.S, Utah, and 61 small areas within Utah. This is the first major report from the UDOH that consolidates cancer screening, incidence, and mortality data for small areas in a single source. It has pinpointed higher-than-average cancer rates in several areas of the state, including a high skin cancer rate in Summit County.
“In Utah, we are below the national average in screening for breast, cervical, and prostate cancers – cancers that can be treated more effectively when detected early,” said Robert Rolfs, M.D., M.P.H., State Epidemiologist. “The report is a great way to look at cancer more precisely across the state, which will help decision makers determine how best to allocate limited funds to communities with the greatest need.”
Utah’s Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Plan is a five-year plan created in partnership by the UDOH and the Utah Cancer Action Network (UCAN).  Utah has one of the highest melanoma rates in the nation, and practicing sun-safe behaviors may lower a person’s chances of developing this deadly form of skin cancer. In fact, the plan has already led to the implementation of evidence-based interventions. Several areas throughout the state have launched programs to increase awareness of the dangers of the sun and need for sun safety.
The plan contains the following seven key areas of focus: Cancer Morbidity and Mortality; Advocacy and Public Policy; Primary Prevention and Awareness; Early Detection and Treatment; Survivorship and Quality of Life; Professional Education and Practice; and Data Acquisition, Utilization, and Management. Each of these areas contains goals, objectives, and strategies that aim to decrease the burden of cancer in Utah.
“The goal of UCAN is to educate all Utahns about how to prevent cancer, encourage them to get screened, and ultimately prevent cancer deaths, through collaborative efforts,” said Lynette Hansen, co-chair of UCAN. “We encourage individuals, organizations, and communities across the state to take part in this fight against cancer,” Hansen added. “The plan provides a roadmap to make positive changes and help in this battle.” 
UCAN is a community coalition of more than 150 partners across the state with a vested interest in fighting cancer.
For more information or to view the reports in their entirety, visit www.ucan.cc or http://cancerutah.org/smallAreaReport/.
Media Contact:
Lynne Nilson
Health Program Coordinator
(w) 801-538-7049 (C) 435-640-6147

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Youth Art Show Remembers Tobacco Use Victims

(Salt Lake City) – Anti-tobacco youth groups from across the Wasatch Front have created an art exhibit to memorialize family members and celebrities who won’t be at Thanksgiving dinner this year. Every year, tobacco products kill 1,200 Utahns in ways that are not quick, painless, or glamorous. The exhibit’s focal point is a Thanksgiving table installation and death masks to illustrate the toll of tobacco in Utah. 

The exhibit, Look Who’s Not Coming to Dinner, runs through Saturday, November 26 at the Gray Wall Gallery, 351 West Pierpont Ave. Suite 2B, Salt Lake City. The young artists will be on hand to discuss the project during a reception Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m.

Members of the youth groups crafted death masks -- the centuries-old, multicultural symbol of death -- to represent those who have died from tobacco addiction. The artists include representatives from the Utah Department of Health’s One Good Reason, Salt Lake Valley Health Department’s Teen Advocates Against Tobacco, Utah County Health Department’s Outrage, and the Utah Pride Center.

“Moms and dads, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, and even grandparents have lost their lives due to tobacco addiction,” says Kelcie Langston, One Good Reason Board Member. “We believe we have a responsibility to inform and educate all Utahns about the health risks that Big Tobacco covers up.”

One artist is working to raise awareness about Project SCUM (Sub-Culture Urban Marketing), a marketing tactic Big Tobacco implemented in Castro, a gay neighborhood of San Francisco, in the mid-1990s to gain market share among gay and lesbian youth. It worked too well, as today nearly 60 percent of gay, lesbian, or bisexual teens in the U.S. say they use tobacco and more than 30,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people die each year due to tobacco use. 

“Our installation expresses our feelings about Project SCUM,” says Gabe Stefanson, One Good Reason Board member. “When we buy their product, we are paying the tobacco industry to call us scum. They don’t care that what they are selling is deadly.”

“It’s important that over the holidays we remember those who have lost their lives, as well as those who are suffering because of the tobacco industry,” continues Langston. “We hope our art show will help people realize Big Tobacco is taking advantage of them. We want to help people take steps toward quitting so that next Thanksgiving, and for many years to come, they are able to spend the holidays with their loved ones.”  

Tobacco use is the single greatest cause of preventable death in Utah, claiming more lives than car crashes, murder, suicide, AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, and fires combined. For more information, or help quitting, visit http://www.onegoodreason.net/ or http://www.tobaccofreeutah.org/. 

For more information, contact:
Andrea Kofoed
UDOH One Good Reason Coordinator
801-538-7085 (desk)
801-836-4066 (mobile)

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Friday, November 18, 2011

UDOH Debuts Health Videos for Minorities

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH), Office of Health Disparities Reduction (OHD) has created new health education videos featuring diverse Utah communities titled For Me, For Us.  The videos are available in English, Spanish, Samoan, and Tongan and address access to health care, infant mortality, and obesity. Different versions are designed for Utah’s African American, Hispanic/Latino and Pacific Islander communities and feature local Utahns from these racial/ethnic groups. 
Utah minority groups face unique health challenges. African American and Pacific Islander babies are significantly more likely to die before their first birthday than infants statewide. Hispanics are less likely to have access to needed medical care than any other Utah racial/ethnic group. All three of these groups have higher obesity rates than the statewide population. The new DVDs address these issues in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.
“This is part of the Department’s commitment to helping Utahns become the healthiest people in the nation, by eliminating health disparities and achieving health equity for all our citizens,” said Marc E. Babitz, MD, Director, UDOH Division of Family Health and Preparedness.
Utah community members who screened the videos had rave reviews.  Jacob Fitisemanu, an OHD Advisory Board member, shared the video with his family. 
“Some of them were really touched, wiping a tear once or twice during the video, because they thought it really spoke to their heart in a way that a doctor or school presenter had never been able to reach them before,” he reported.  “I didn't expect that emotional response, but it resonated so well to see people like them speaking in their language and they were very impressed.”
“My family loved it,” said Joyce Ah You of the Queen Center. “My daughters were so impressed with the way the messages were conveyed.  The filmmaker did an outstanding job speaking to the Pacific Islander community. What a wonderful project,” she added.
The videos include tips like how to prepare lower-fat, higher-fiber meals, taking care of your body during pregnancy, and pregnancy spacing. They also remind viewers that everyone should get an annual checkup, even if they're feeling healthy, because many common diseases often have no symptoms. They will be distributed to health care and community-based organizations to show in their waiting rooms or at community events.  Copies will also be sent to churches and posted on YouTube.
The videos were recorded in Salt Lake, Summit, and Weber counties in partnership with local community-based organizations: the People's Health Clinic, Project Success, and the Queen Center.  The videos were produced by Williams Visual Digital Films and Imaging.
Media Contact:
April Young Bennett
Office of Health Disparities
(801) 703-0127

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Making Pedestrians and Bicyclists a Priority

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Sharing roads with pedestrians and bicyclists is the focus of the new Utah Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan Design Guide. Representatives from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH), Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRA), and Utah Transit Authority (UTA), among other partners, worked together to create the guide.
“This tool will help city planners and engineers design healthy transportation choices based on community-identified needs and goals,” said Brett McIff, UDOH Physical Activity Coordinator. “The bottom line is, everyone is a pedestrian at some point in their day, and we believe these plans will improve their quality of life by building environments that facilitate walking and biking,” said McIff.
Some cities around the state have already implemented or are developing similar plans. Orem and Salt Lake City have comprehensive plans focusing on bicycle and pedestrian transportation. Salt Lake City has received national attention because of its efforts, which include Complete Streets ordinances that encourage consideration of all modes of transportation for users of all ages and abilities.
“Active transportation like walking and cycling provides many benefits, including less traffic congestion, fewer road repair needs, an increase in community economic development, and a cleaner environment,” said McIff.  “But the real benefit is that people who are active tend to be healthier than people who are inactive.”
The Utah Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan Design Guide was made possible by funding from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Utah Department of Health. 
Media Contacts:
Tania J. Charette. MPH, CHES
Media Coordinator
(801) 538-6423 (office)
Brett McIff, PhD
PA Coordinator
(801) 915-9942 (cell)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

UDOH, Subway Partner to Encourage Utahns to Give Up Tobacco

(Salt Lake City) – In celebration of the 36th annual Great American Smoke Out (GASO), the Utah Tobacco Quit Line and all Utah Subway restaurants are partnering once again in an effort to encourage Utahns to give up tobacco “cold turkey.”
The event kicks off Thursday, November 17 at Valley Fair Mall (3601 S. 2700 W., West Valley City). From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. that day, the Utah Tobacco Quit Line and Subway will be giving out free, six-inch turkey subs to anyone who stops by and pledges to quit smoking. Additionally, anyone who calls the Utah Tobacco Quit Line (1.800.QUIT NOW) between November 17 and 25 will receive expert help quitting tobacco, as well as a smoking cessation kit containing a card good for a free six-inch sub at any Subway restaurant in Utah.
“As part of the Great American Smokeout, we want to encourage smokers to make a plan to quit,” said David Neville, media coordinator, Utah Tobacco Quit Line. “One of the best ways to improve your health is by quitting tobacco.”
“Subway is excited to be a part of the Great American Smoke Out this year,” said Trent Evans, Subway spokesperson. “One of our key messages is the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, and encouraging smokers to quit falls right in line with that message.”
For information on quitting, call the Utah Tobacco Quit Line at 1.800.QUIT.NOW or visit Utah QuitNet at www.UtahQuitNet.com.
Media Contact:
David Neville
Tobacco Prevention and Control Program
(o) 801-538-6917  (c) 801-386-1316

Monday, November 14, 2011

National Rural Health Day - Celebrating the Power of Rural Utah

(Salt Lake City, UT) – For the first time ever, on November 17, 2011, the nation is recognizing the importance of rural health by celebrating National Rural Health Day.  In Utah, Governor Gary Herbert named October Rural Health Month and Rural Health Practitioner Recognition Month.  The designation is aimed at reinforcing the commitment from all sectors to improve access to and quality of health service in Utah’s rural communities.
Teryl Eisinger, Director of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) explains, “Today more than ever, rural communities must tackle accessibility issues, a lack of health care providers, the needs of an aging population suffering from a greater number of chronic conditions, and larger percentages of uninsured and under-insured citizens.” 
Utah statistics underscore the need to focus on small communities.  One in every four Utahns lives in a rural (more than six but fewer than 100 people per square mile) or frontier (six or fewer people per square mile) county. Of Utah’s 29 counties, four are urban, 12 are rural, and 13 are frontier.
Events recognizing National Rural Health Day and “Celebrating the Power of Rural” are planned throughout the nation. In Utah, the Tooele County Health Department (TCHD) is presenting TOP Star (Targeting Obesity in Preschool and Child Care Settings) workshops at Kids R People Too Day Care in Wendover, UT on November 17 and 18, 2011 for day care staff members. The workshops will address childhood obesity, nutrition in child care settings, and personal health. For more information on this program, visit http://health.utah.gov/obesity/pages/TOPSTAR.php.
In Summit County, the Summit County Health Department will promote National Rural Health Awareness Day using local media.
The Utah State Office of Primary Care and Rural Health will hold a seminar on Diabetes and Rural Communities presented by Eileen DeLeeuw, MS, RD, CDE, Diabetes Coalition Coordinator, Tooele County Health Department. The seminar will be held November 17, 2011, from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm at 3760 S. Highland Dr., 5th Floor Board Room. The seminar will also be available online. To register for the online presentation, email oquinone@utah.gov or call 801-273-6620 with your name, organization name, and telephone number.
All 50 states maintain a State Office of Rural Health (SORH) to foster relationships, disseminate information, and provide technical assistance that improves access to, and quality of, health care for its rural citizens. As Utah’s SORH, the Utah Office of Primary Care and Rural Health (OPCRH) contributes $540,000 in grants to rural health organizations to support access to primary care, mental health, and dental care. Additionally, OPCRH provides more than $160,000 in grants to rural hospitals to support projects to improve health care in their communities.
For more information about National Rural Health Day, visit www.celebratepowerofrural.org. To learn more about NOSORH, visit www.nosorh.org. And for more information about the Utah Office of Primary Care and Rural Health, visit http://health.utah.gov/primarycare/ or contact Owen Quinonez, Community Health Specialist, at oquinone@utah.gov or by phone at 801-273-6620.
Media Contact:
Owen Quinonez
Community Health Specialist
(801) 273-6620

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Community Service for Health Care Coverage - Public Input Needed

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) invites public input as the State embarks on another effort to transform Medicaid.  If approved by the federal government, the new pilot program will require a select group of fewer than 100 Medicaid enrollees to give service to the community in exchange for their health program benefit. 
Medicaid is committed to a public process in the development and implementation of the proposed initiative.  Members of the public are invited to come to the following meetings to provide their input:
Informal Public Work Group
Thursday, Nov. 10, 3:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Cannon Health Building (288 North 1460 West, Salt Lake City), Room 128

Formal Public Hearing
Thursday, Nov. 17, 3:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Cannon Health Building (288 North 1460 West, Salt Lake City), Room 125

House Bill 211 (2011), sponsored by Rep. Ronda Menlove, directed UDOH to develop this pilot program and submit a waiver amendment to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  If approved, the amendment will allow the State to modify enrollment rules for the Primary Care Network (PCN), which will create a new eligibility group for the pilot participants.  Applications will be accepted only during open enrollment periods and approved applicants will receive the same medical benefits afforded to other PCN clients. 
Medicaid officials believe the service donation will help build a sense of contribution to the program and enhance the client’s experience. The waiver application will be available for review and comment on November 15, 2011 at http://health.utah.gov/medicaid/HB211proposal.htm.
In addition to providing comment during the public hearings, written comments will also be accepted through December 2, 2011.  Comments may be submitted to the Utah Department of Health, Division of Medicaid and Health Financing, PO Box 143102, Salt Lake City, UT 84114-3102 or to cdevashrayee@utah.gov.   
Media Contact:
Kolbi Young
Public Relations Coordinator
(801) 538-6847 office
(801) 231-6350 cell

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Learn the Signs and Symptoms of Juvenile Diabetes

(SALT LAKE CITY) – As part of National Diabetes Awareness Month, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) is urging parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children.
Type 1 diabetes can occur in any child at any age, even in babies and toddlers. Often, the symptoms go unrecognized and the disease is only diagnosed when the child becomes critically ill with a potentially life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is highly preventable. The sooner it is known, the sooner appropriate treatment can be administered.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children can include any of the following:
     Feeling very thirsty all the time
     Passing urine very frequently and wetting the bed
     Weight loss
     Excessive, unexplained tiredness
     Blurred vision
     Sweet or fruity-smelling breath.

The UDOH has partnered with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) in Salt Lake City to help raise awareness of the symptoms associated with type 1 diabetes.
“With National Diabetes Month we have a valuable opportunity to educate parents about the symptoms of type 1,” said Laura Western, executive director of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in Salt Lake City.  “It is our job to not only support families living with this devastating disease but to also teach the community critical diabetes warning signs so children don’t go undiagnosed for months, becoming dangerously ill,’ Western added.  “You can live a normal life with this chronic illness, but the first obstacle to overcome is being diagnosed.”
Diabetes is a way of life for the Weeks family of West Jordan. Two of their three children have type 1, also called juvenile diabetes. The family learned that Tyson, now four years old, had diabetes when he was just two. Seven-year-old Brooklyn was diagnosed at the age of four.
“Brooklyn became very thirsty and was constantly making trips to the bathroom,” said her mom, Shannon. “When she started having two or three accidents at night, we knew something was wrong, but didn’t know enough about diabetes to put two and two together.”
And Brooklyn had other symptoms: mood swings, dry, itchy skin, sweet-smelling breath, and weight loss. She was very sick. One trip to the doctor, and a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes would change their lives. The Weeks family took a crash course in learning how to help their daughter live with the disease.
That knowledge helped the Weeks family recognize symptoms in two-year-old Tyson very early, before he became as ill as Brooklyn was.
“There is nothing I did wrong for my kids to get diabetes. It had nothing to do with diet or exercise. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease that couldn’t be prevented,” says Shannon.
The ADA offers a service called Family Link, a volunteer-led program that allows families living with diabetes to get to know other families with the same conditions. The ADA also offers Safe at School trainings that teach parents what their child’s rights are while attending school. 
Jennifer Jacobson of the UDOH Diabetes Program says, “While nothing can stop the onset of type 1 diabetes, better awareness of the signs and symptoms can help parents recognize it so doctors can diagnosis it early, before a child faces a life-or-death crisis.”
For more information about type 1 diabetes, visit http://health.utah.gov/diabetes/.
Media Contact:
Jennifer Jacobson, BS
Marketing Coordinator
Diabetes Prevention and Control Program
(o) 801-538-6248  (m) 801-598-9599