Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Utah Department of Health Funds Community Cancer Projects

(Salt Lake City)  Fifteen groups will benefit from mini-grants to launch cancer prevention and control efforts. The Utah Department of Health Cancer Control Program (UCCP) has awarded the grants to support projects and studies that include radon exposure; breast, colorectal, and skin cancer; lung cancer screening; patient navigation among minority populations; and cancer survivorship, among others.
Each grant is worth up to $5,000 per project for fiscal year July 2013-June 2014. All projects support the goals established in Utah’s Cancer Prevention and Control Plan (UCPCP), 2011-2015, which include reducing the number of new cancer cases, increasing cancer screenings, and improving survivors’ quality of life.
Mountain West Society for Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (MWSGNA) will use its grant to host a one-day conference to educate nurses and other staff on colorectal cancer. The Society will also teach staff from more than 100 clinics how to increase screening rates.
“As a nursing organization that focuses on gastrointestinal health, this grant will help us help patients understand the importance of screening,” said Anne Jackson, MWSGNA Board Member.
Huntsman Cancer Institute's (HCI) Public Outreach Program also received a grant.
“Huntsman Cancer Institute will use its grant to provide continuing medical education to primary care providers about the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) new lung cancer screening guidelines,” said Lori Maness, Public Outreach Coordinator at HCI. 
“Many doctors aren’t yet aware of the new guidelines and which patients can benefit from screening. The program will include a live class and online video, as well as printed materials,” Maness added.
UCCP Manager Kathryn Rowley says the grants all play a role in the state’s ongoing cancer battle. “Giving these funds to help our partners implement evidence-based strategies is critical to efforts to reduce the number of new cancer cases and cancer-related deaths,” said Rowley. “Distributing the funds at the community level ensures we will reach a broad cross-section of the population.”
All grant recipients are members of, or affiliated with, the Utah Cancer Action Network (UCAN). UCAN is a coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to reducing the burden of cancer in Utah. Members of UCAN help to review and score grant applications.
 The following organizations will receive grants: Cancer Wellness House (including one on behalf of the UCAN Survivorship and Quality of Life Implementation Team), Habitat for Humanity of Utah County, Huntsman Cancer Institute, Jewish Family Service, Maliheh Free Clinic (on behalf of the Utah Mammography Action Coalition), Mountain West Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, Bear River Health Department, Central Utah Public Health District, Davis County Health Department, Tooele County Health Department, Utah County Health Department, and Wasatch County Health Department.
For a description of the projects that will be funded this year, please visit www.ucan.cc/grantrecipients2014.
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Media Contact:
Brenda Nelson
Public Education Specialist
(o) 801-538-6189 (m) 435-849-1759

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Medicaid Expansion Options Community Workgroup to Meet

What:  The Medicaid Expansion Options Community Workgroup will hold its fifth meeting to continue to explore the state’s options regarding a potential expansion of the Medicaid program under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Why:   The workgroup will receive updates from subgroups, and representatives from Public Consulting Group will provide a presentation on the recently- completed Medicaid expansion cost and benefit analysis.  The full agenda is available here: http://www.utah.gov/pmn/sitemap/notice/166355.html
Who:   The workgroup is comprised of business, community and government leaders, legislators, advocates for low-income individuals and families, and other stakeholders from the health care industry.
When: Thursday, June 20, 2013
            1:30 p.m.

Where:   Utah State Capitol complex
   Room 210 – Senate building 

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Media Contact:
Tom Hudachko
Utah Department of Health, PIO
(o) 801-538-6232
(m) 801-560-4649

Monday, June 17, 2013

Children's Autism Program Now Accepting New Applications

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health’s (UDOH) Medicaid Autism Waiver Program opens for enrollment today and will accept applications until Friday, July 12 to fill 35 openings in the program.  The program was funded as a pilot project during the 2012 legislative session to provide treatment for approximately 250 children, ages two through six, who are clinically-diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 

Applications for the program are available online at http://health.utah.gov/autismwaiver. The program, which launched late last year, has already received feedback from grateful parents recognizing the successes of their young children. “Our family feels so blessed to be part of the Autism Waiver Program,” said one Utah mother.  “Our son, who is almost six years old, has been receiving behavioral services since February and we are so happy with the progress he has made. This program has let us see his strengths and not focus on the weaknesses.  The doors that have been opened in his brain have built his confidence tremendously.” 

The program provides intensive individual support for children with ASD, as well as respite care for families. Data have shown that early, intensive treatment gives children with ASD the best chance to reach their full potential. 

To enroll in the program, applications must be received by Friday, July 12. Applications can be submitted online at www.health.utah.gov/autismwaiver. Parents can also print the application and submit it by fax (801-536‐0153) or by mail (UDOH, PO Box 143112, Salt Lake City, UT 84114).

Applicants are not selected on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the application period ends, if more than 35 applications are received, UDOH staff will assign a randomly-generated ranking to each eligible applicant. In order to ensure statewide access, program openings will be assigned geographically by local health district based on each district’s population. Children currently participating in the program will not need to re-apply. 

To be eligible for the program, a child must be a Utah resident with a date of birth between January 1, 2007 and July 31, 2011. The child must also not have assets (bank accounts, trust funds, etc.) of more than $2,000 in his or her name. Unlike traditional Medicaid, a parent’s income and assets are not considered when determining the child’s eligibility. Children currently enrolled in traditional Medicaid will not be automatically eligible for the program and will need to apply. 

Another Utah mother of a three-year-old son added, “Within the last six months he has begun speaking and gives out hugs frequently.  Most people now have no idea he has autism.  They just see a kind, loving, handsome, intelligent boy with a bright future.”

Media Contact:
Kolbi Young
Public Relations and Marketing
Utah Department of Health
801.538.6847 (office)
801.231.6350 (cell)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Underserved Communities Offered Free Health Screenings

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Throughout the summer, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH), Office of Health Disparities (OHD) will partner with community groups and clinics to screen underserved Utahns for health risks. If problems are uncovered, volunteers will help participants find affordable primary care. 

The OHD Bridging Communities and Clinics (BCC) Outreach Team will offer screenings for blood glucose and cholesterol, hypertension, body mass index, and other health risk factors at several events hosted by multicultural, community-based organizations. In addition, local clinics that offer free, reduced-cost, or income-based primary care services partner with BCC to then address any health problems identified through the screenings. Eligibility workers will also be on hand to help qualified individuals apply for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) if needed.

The BCC model was launched last year as a pilot project that included 24 outreach events through a network of 12 referral clinics and 22 community partners, for a total of 883 screenings. Click here to see a complete report on the 2012 BCC pilot project.

Leaders of the underserved communities called the outreach effort a great success. "We are very thankful for the support of the Bridging Communities and Clinics program as we ensure that more members of the Latino community in Utah have access to appropriate health services." said Luis Garza, Director, Comunidades Unidas. 

Ivoni Nash of the National Tongan American Society agrees. "All the screenings that BCC offers are urgently needed by our people,” Nash said. “But many do not know where to go and this program gives them referrals to a clinic so they can get the help they need."

Interns studying in health sciences fields will conduct the screenings this summer. Many have multicultural backgrounds and speak more than one language. Dulce Lisle, a BCC intern, said, “I am thrilled to be a part of this program because it feels like we're really making a difference for these communities that need health care so badly."

The screening events begin this Thursday, June 13. Click here for a complete event schedule.

Media Contact:
Jake Fitisemanu
(o) 801-273-4136
(m) 801-259-8700

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Utah Confirms Four Cases of Hepatitis A Associated with National Outbreak

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Utah public health officials have identified four Utahns who became ill with hepatitis A and reported eating a frozen berry blend food product. The onset dates of illness range from mid-March to mid-May.  None of the individuals were hospitalized and all have recovered.

The frozen berries, sold in all 10 Utah Costco stores, were identified as Oregon-based Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend containing berries from multiple locations (Argentina, Chile and Turkey).  Townsend Farms has voluntarily recalled the product and it has been removed from store shelves in Utah.  

Consumers are being told not to eat the product and to throw away any remaining berries,  even if someone in the household ate the product without becoming ill.

If you ate any of the product and haven’t been vaccinated against hepatitis A, contact your health care provider of local health department to find out if you should be vaccinated or receive immune globulin (IG). To be effective, IG should be given within the first two weeks after exposure. The hepatitis A vaccine can be given to persons one year of age through 40 years of age. 

Contact your health care provider right away if you develop any of these symptoms:
Yellow eyes or skin
Abdominal pain
Pale stools
Dark urine

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that usually occurs when an infected food handler prepares food without appropriate hand hygiene. But, food contaminated with hepatitis A virus, as is suspected in this outbreak, can cause illness among people who eat or handle the food. While hepatitis A can cause severe sickness, nearly all who get hepatitis A recover completely with no lasting liver damage.

As of June 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had identified 49 people in seven states believed to have contracted the disease from the Costco product.  Those states include: Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, California, Hawaii and Utah.  

Media Contact:
Rebecca L. Ward