Thursday, December 11, 2014

Utah Named 5th Healthiest State in the Nation

(SALT LAKE CITY) —Utah continued its steady climb toward becoming the healthiest state in the nation with the release of the annual United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings™ report. The report named Utah the 5th healthiest state in the nation, improving on its rank of 6th in 2013 and 7th in 2012.

The report highlighted several strengths that lead to Utah’s ranking, including the lowest rates in the nation for tobacco use (10.3%) and cancer deaths (145.7 deaths per 100,000 residents), and the second-lowest rate in the nation of adult diabetes (7.1%).

“One of our strategic goals is to become the healthiest state in the nation, and I’m pleased that we are continuing to work in that direction,” said David Patton, executive director of the Utah Department of Health. “Utah should be proud of this ranking, it’s evidence that our strong public health and health care systems are doing right by the people of our state.”

Utah was ranked as one of the top five states for several key health indicators, including:
The lowest adult smoking rate in the U.S. at 10.3%;

The lowest prevalence of adult diabetes at 7.1%;

The lowest rate of children living in poverty at 9.2%;

The 2nd lowest rate of preventable hospitalizations;

The 4th lowest rate of obese adults at 24.1%;

The 4th lowest rates of binge drinking, Chlamydia cases, and Salmonella cases; and

The 5th lowest rate of adults reporting “poor physical health” days in the past month.

The report also highlighted several challenges Utah must overcome to achieve its goal of becoming the healthiest state.

“Unfortunately, even in our strengths we find challenges,” Patton said. “Compared to other states our obesity and physical inactivity rates are low, but both rates are trending upward. Obesity can lead to several chronic, deadly diseases; it’s entirely preventable and remains one of the top public health challenges of our time.” 

Other challenges the report highlighted were Utah’s high rate of prescription drug deaths, low immunization rates among teens, and the limited availability of primary care providers.

The state’s lowest rankings were:
46th for prescription drug overdose deaths;

45th for cases of Pertussis, or whooping cough;

44th for teen immunization rates;

44th for the number of primary care physicians;

39th for air pollution.

The entire report is available online at

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Tom Hudachko | Public Information Officer
Utah Department of Health
(o) 801-538-6232
(m) 801-560-4649

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Utah Adolescent Health Varies by Local Health District

(Salt Lake City, UT) – For the first time ever, new, self-reported data show which areas of the state have the healthiest teens. “This is the first time we’ve been able to look at adolescent health by geography,” said Michael Friedrichs, UDOH Epidemiologist. “It’s exciting and incredibly important because school administrators, local health leaders and parents can now better identify the health and safety needs of this population.”  

Report findings have uncovered health problems that vary widely across the state and also within local health districts. For example, in the Weber-Morgan Health District, no indicators ranked better than the state rate. In fact, 11 of the 29 indicators were worse than the state, including: screen time, obesity, family meals, cigarette smoking,  e-cigarette use, exposure to smoking at home, secondhand smoke exposure, current asthma, diabetes, driver texting, and feeling sad or hopeless.

In contrast, in Utah County Health District, only three (asthma management, driver talking on a cell phone, and driver texting) of the 29 indicators were ranked worse than the state, showing that even in relatively healthy communities, health and safety concerns still exist.

The 2013 Utah Adolescent Health Report uses data from the Prevention Needs Assessment (PNA) survey. The PNA surveyed a random sample   of students in grades 8, 10, and 12 in the spring of 2013 on substance abuse, tobacco use, asthma, diabetes, healthy weight, physical activity, nutrition, tanning, violence, and injury. Response was voluntary and parents approve their student/s’ participation.

Other highlights of the report include:
    • Salt Lake County and Tooele County Health Districts had significantly higher rates of psychological distress, making a suicide plan, and attempting suicide compared to the state.
    • One in four Utah students reported having been threatened or harassed over the Internet, by email, or by someone using a cell phone, with the highest prevalence seen in Salt Lake County Health District at 26.8%.
    • At 5.8%, the prevalence of current use of e-cigarettes is higher among Utah students than current cigarette smoking (3.9%). In Weber-Morgan Health District, 20% of the students reported current e-cigarette use.
    • Adolescents in Utah County (65.0%), Wasatch (65.2%), and Weber-Morgan (65.4%) Local Health Districts reported significantly higher rates of riding in a car with a driver who was texting compared to the state (61.3%).
    • Central, Southeastern, Southwest, Tooele County, and TriCounty adolescents reported significantly lower seat belt use compared to the state.

“Opportunities for change exist all around us, from using permanent signs as an easy way to inform parents and visitors that school property is a tobacco-free zone, to ensuring an asthma action plan is completed yearly by parents of children who have asthma,” said Heather Borski, Director, Bureau of Health Promotion, UDOH.
The data are presented in tables, graphs, and maps to help show the percentage of Utah students in grades 8, 10, and 12 who are affected by different health issues and where problems are concentrated in the state.

Topics in the report include:
    • Lifestyles (computer screen time, physical activity, youth obesity, family meals, tanning, tobacco use)
    • Chronic conditions (asthma, diabetes)
    • Violence and injuries (motor vehicle safety, prescription drug abuse, bullying)
    • Mental health (feeling sad or hopeless, psychological distress, suicide)

For a full copy of the 2013 Adolescent Health Report, visit

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Media Contact
Michael Friedrichs
UDOH Epidemiologist

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Tools Launched to Improve Health Services for Diverse Communities

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Utah’s increasingly diverse population poses unique challenges to health care facilities and public health agencies that serve growing numbers of clients and patients. In response to a growing number of requests for assistance, the Utah Department of Health Office of Health Disparities (OHD) has developed a training video and a practical toolkit to help state and local health agencies put into practice a set of national standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS).

To ensure the materials are relevant, the CLAS video and toolkit are based on nationally promoted best practices, as well as Utah-specific information obtained through surveys and interviews with personnel from 36 programs from state and local health departments. The results revealed a significant need for CLAS standards and policies, as only 15% of the surveyed personnel felt their programs were “fully capable” of providing verbal or written language assistance to people with limited-English proficiency (LEP).

Language assistance is only one component covered under CLAS standards, and all health care organizations can benefit from enhancing their culturally- and linguistically-appropriate approaches to staff training, governance, workforce diversity, and policy making.

The CLAS video, “A Class about CLAS”, provides an overview of CLAS themes and features expert commentary and guidance from public health agencies, health care organizations and community-based organizations.

To provide practical guidance for anyone interested in implementing CLAS standards, the CLAS Toolkit offers discussion scenarios and highlights real examples of CLAS-related practices and policies now used across Utah. “We believe all health care organizations and public health agencies can benefit from these tools,” said UDOH Office of Health Disparities Outreach Coordinator Jake Fitisemanu, who notes that CLAS standards compliance is mandated for all programs that receive federal funds and all agencies seeking national accreditation.

The CLAS video and toolkit, along with additional CLAS-related resources, are available online for free download at

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Media Contact
Jake Fitisemanu
Outreach Coordinator
Office of Health Disparities

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rural Utahns: What Has Local Health Care Done for You?

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The region’s top rural health official is in Utah this week to recognize the state as a leader in providing quality health care. As part of Utah’s 4th annual Rural Health Week, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Office of Primary Care and Rural Health (OPCRH) is hosting Kim Gillan, regional director for U.S. Health and Human Services. Gillan works with officials across a six-state region on numerous health and social service issues.

Gillan’s visit will include a stop at Heber Valley Medical Center in Heber City. During a brief ceremony, hospital administrator Shawn Morrow will receive a copy of Governor Gary Herbert’s declaration highlighting the importance of rural health care. Morrow will also be given a certificate from OPCRH recognizing overall excellence in patient satisfaction and financial stability, two measures that reflect the state’s top quartile performance among all acute care hospitals in the nation.

This year, Rural Health Week is observed November 16 through November 22. The designation is meant to reinforce a history of broad-based, deep-seated commitment from all sectors to improve the quality of and access to health care for rural Utahns.

Also as part of Rural Health Week, OPCRH is holding its 3rd Annual Utah Rural Photo Contest. Entries should share visually what “rural” means to you. Submissions will be judged on creativity, originality, photo quality, and the picture’s overall appeal.  Photos must be original and taken during 2014.  Photos should be submitted in a .jpg format with a minimum resolution of 1920x1080, and include the photographer’s name, email address, organization name (if applicable) and the title and location of each photo using the entry form found at Prizes will be given for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.  Entries may be e-mailed to Owen Quiñonez at by December 5, 2014.  Winners will be notified by December 15, 2014, and winning photos will be posted on the OPCRH website at

Approximately 24 percent of Utahns live in rural areas and rely on health care professionals close to home to meet their medical needs.  Dr. Don Wood, OPCRH Director, says, “Many people may not know that the care offered in smaller communities is high quality. It can also be more personal, as providers can offer medical services tailored to meet their patients unique needs.”  Wood adds, “Rural medical providers offer exceptional care which is equal to that in more densely populated regions.”

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, OPCRH awards more than $600,000 in grants to rural health organizations to help residents access primary care, mental health and dental services. This funding helps local providers care for Utahns in small communities, which comprise 95% of the state’s land mass. OPCRH also provides hospitals more than $150,000 in Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) grants to improve health care in their communities.

For more information about National Rural Health Day, visit  To learn more about  the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), visit And for more information about the Utah Office of Primary Care and Rural Health, visit

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

Children's Autism Program Opens Enrollment for 25 New Participants

What: The Utah Department of Health’s Medicaid Autism Waiver program will open enrollment today and will accept  applications through Sunday, December 7.  The program provides treatment for approximately 290 children, ages two through six, who are clinically diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  

Why: The program has the funding to provide services to an additional 25 new applicants.  Children currently participating in the program will not need to re-apply.

Who: Children who meet the following requirements may apply:
- Have a clinical diagnosis of ASD
                        - Be a Utah resident and U.S. citizen or legal resident  
                        - Be between 2 and 6 years of age
                        - Meet financial eligibility guidelines for Medicaid, which means the child (not the parents) cannot have more than $2,000 in assets in his/her name

When: The program will accept applications from November 17 through December 7. Applicants are not selected on a first-come, first-served basis.  Once the application period ends, if more than 25 applications are received, random selections will be made by geographical area based upon on each local health district’s population, to ensure statewide access.

Where: Apply online at or print an application and submit it by fax (801-536‐0153) or by mail (UDOH, PO Box 143112, Salt Lake City, UT 84114).

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Utah Vets Battle Back Against Arthritis: Self-management program gets them moving again

(Salt Lake City) – One in three Utah veterans is fighting a home-front battle with arthritis: of the 53,000 Veterans in Utah, more than 17,000 are currently diagnosed with the disease. A published CDC report shows a higher rate among Veterans than civilians that is likely related to joint injuries incurred during their military service.  The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, most often brought on by joint injury and trauma.

Dave Buchholz of Salt Lake City served in the Army Special Forces as part of an Air Force pararescue team in Southeast Asia from 1971 to 1975. He survived land and scuba jumps with 150 pounds of equipment, and even simulated helicopter crashes.  Dave suffers from PTSD and became addicted to pain killers to help manage his chronic pain. The trauma and impact of the jumps took their toll on his lower back, where joint pain and arthritis led to major back surgery in J

“I had an issue acknowledging my pain level.  I even self-medicated a bit with alcohol. It’s been a challenge. I’m pushing 63 years old, and I’ve got to ask myself, ‘How do I want to live the rest of my life?’”

Dave is living a better life today after taking the Living Well with Chronic Conditions self-management course, a scientifically-proven program that can reduce the adverse effects of arthritis (e.g., pain, poor function, depression) and its comorbidities (e.g., heart disease, diabetes). It’s a resource available to all Veterans.

Living Well with Chronic Conditions is a self-management education course offered throughout Utah that teaches people with arthritis and other chronic conditions how to control symptoms and understand how their health problems affect their lives. The course brings together groups of 10-15 participants who meet for two hours a week for six weeks. The courses are run by lay leaders with relevant health problems of their own. The VA Medical Center in Salt Lake City held its first Living Well with Chronic Conditions workshop in March 2013. Dave attended in April of this year.

“I got the most out of the workshop’s group discussions, learning about dealing with chronic pain and how to set goals.”  Dave’s goals were to stay active throughout the day, hitting the gym five times a week to release natural endorphins and help lessen the pain. “The Living Well workshop gave me the motivation to keep going to the gym. Endorphins free up some of the pain, that’s the good side,” he added. “The down side is that you have to overcome the pain to get to the workout.”

Since his back surgery, Dave has beaten his addiction to pain killers and feels well enough to pursue his interest in music by taking drum lessons. “With my history of addiction, alcoholism, PTSD, and chronic pain, I knew I had to do something to get my mind going in the right direction.”

Dave will be a grandfather for the first time in January. “That’s very motivational for me,” he explains.  “I’m not one who likes to complain. I’m really pleased with the health care I’ve received through the VA. They are great.”

If you are interested in improving the quality of life for a Veteran you know, you can help by letting him or her know about the free Living Well with Chronic Conditions self-management education classes.

For more information about how to manage your arthritis, visit, or contact Christine Weiss, UDOH, at (801) 538-9458 or To sign up for a class at the Salt Lake City VA Medical Center, contact Joan Heusser at 801-582-1565, ext 4246, or

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Media Contact:
Christine Weiss
UDOH Arthritis Program
(o) 801-538-9458 (m) 801-471-8073

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pacific Islanders Admit to, Take On Poor Health Status

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Beginning Monday, November 10, the UDOH Office of Health Disparities (OHD) will join local community groups and sponsors in the state’s largest health initiative to address alarming health problems among Utah’s Pacific Islanders. In response to some of Utah’s highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and infant mortality, the Utah Pacific Islander Coalition (UPIHC) has coordinated a series of health promotion events from Salt Lake City to St. George. 

At UPIHC’s request, Governor Gary Herbert has declared the second week in November as Utah Pacific Islander Health Week, which has been observed through events like health fairs, free fitness programs, CPR classes, senior citizen luncheons, and community forums featuring Pacific Islander health advocates like Sione and Filipe Fa, former contestants on television’s The Biggest Loser

The Office of Health Disparities has collaborated with UPIHC since 2011 and actively provides technical assistance to Pacific Islander non-profit agencies like The Queen Center, National Tongan American Community, and Hui Hawai’i o Utah Hawaiian Civic Club. Queen Center executive director Joyce AhYou says holding Health Week in November is intentional. “It builds momentum before the holiday feasting season begins, to encourage ourselves to make healthier choices.” OHD director Dulce Díez praises the local Pacific Islander community for their proactive approach to addressing their own health issues – including infant mortality, diabetes, and obesity rates that were reported in 2011 as being twice as high as the rest of the state. 

UT PI Health Week kicks off on Monday, November 10 with the Pacific Family Health Expo from 6:00-8:30 pm at the Sorenson Multicultural Center at 855 W. 1300 S. in Salt Lake City. The Expo will feature a variety of activity stations, fitness demonstrations, information booths, and free services including health insurance enrollment help and screenings for cholesterol, visual acuity and glaucoma, blood pressure, and diabetes. The Expo is free, including a light dinner, and open to the public with activities for all ages.

The full schedule of Health Week events is available at The UPIHC can be reached for questions at

Utah Pacific Islander Health Week is the largest event of its kind in the Intermountain region, drawing over 1,100 attendees in 2013. According to Kava Talks founder, Susi Feltch-Malohifo‘ou, “This year’s Health Week is going to be bigger and better than previous years and this kind of growth and increased interest and investment in our community health is exactly what we want to see.”

The 3rd Annual Utah Pacific Islander Health Week is made possible through the support of UPIHC member organizations, SelectHealth, Molina Healthcare, The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH), Health Choice Utah, and the UDOH Office of Health Disparities.

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Media Contact:
Jacob Fitisemanu, Jr.
Outreach Coordinator

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New Newborn Screening Test IDs Rare, Sometimes Fatal Condition in Utah Baby

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Jody Bell and Logan Hauenstein are hoping they can bring their newborn infant home by Christmas. Their daughter, now 6 weeks old, was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) through the Utah Newborn Screening Program. Babies with SCID appear normal at birth but cannot fight infections and may die within the first year of life without treatment. If SCID is diagnosed early, before the onset of infections, a bone marrow transplant can successfully treat the disorder and with fewer complications.

Prior to newborn screening, infants with SCID with no family history of the disease had been diagnosed only after developing serious infections. Currently, 23 states have adopted the T-cell receptor excision circle (TREC) assay as part of their routine newborn screening programs. Utah began screening for SCID on July 1, 2013 and has screened approximately 61,000 newborns for SCID to date. The prevalence of SCID was thought to be 1:100,000; however, through newborn screening, more children are being diagnosed and the prevalence appears to be closer to 1:50,000.

The absence of T-cells and antibody immunity prevents infants from being able to fight severe infections; they develop diarrhea and failure to thrive. These were the problems that brought infants with SCID to medical attention before screening was implemented.

Population-based newborn screening is different from diagnostic testing done by providers confronted with a known or suspected disorder in their practice. Screening tests are performed on a large scale in centralized state public health laboratories that use blood from a heel stick that is spotted onto filter paper and dried, as first developed in 1963 by Robert Guthrie for population-
based testing of newborns for phenylketonuria. These dried blood spots (DBS) can be handled by

automated testing and tracking methods, enabling state laboratories to run thousands of samples at a time. Including SCID, there are 38 disorders on the Utah’s Newborn Screening Panel. A rigorous review is performed prior to the addition of a disorder. These disorders, as with SCID, allow for early diagnosis, treatment and successful outcomes.

For SCID, it is important to have an early diagnosis in order to avoid contact with non-family members and reduce the chances of an infection. Even something as simple as a cold can be devastating for these infants.

As for Jody and Logan, their daughter has been in isolation at Primary Children’s Hospital since she was only a few days old, awaiting a bone marrow transplant. Neither parent was a match for their daughter, but an anonymous donor who does match is ready to donate when physicians give the go-ahead. In addition to getting all babies’ newborn screens completed, Jody and Logan encourage everyone to register on the Be the Match donor website for others who may be in need of a transplant.

Note: The family, medical providers and newborn screening program staff will be available to answer questions Thursday, October 23, 2014 from 2:00-2:30 PM at the Utah Department of Health CSCHN Building, 44 Mario Capecchi Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Media Contacts
Cyndi Bemis
Office of Public Information and Marketing
(o) 801-538-6348 (m) 801-538-6348
Kim Hart
Newborn Screening Program

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Life After Brain Injury: Conference gives TBI sufferers, families hope

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Every day in Utah, 54 people are treated in and released from an emergency room due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Another eight are hospitalized or die each day from a TBI.  In Utah, the leading causes of TBI are falls, car crashes, and bicycle crashes.

“Traumatic brain injuries can dramatically impact a person’s life,” said Trisha Keller, Manager, Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Violence and Injury Prevention Program. “TBIs can affect a person’s ability to work, his or her short- and long-term memory, as well as vision, sleep, mood, and movement. The real tragedy is that most TBIs are preventable.”

The Brain Injury Alliance of Utah (BIAU) is sponsoring the 25th Annual Families and Professionals Conference this week to help family members and health care providers better understand how to help those suffering from a TBI. “Life Will Go On” is the theme for this year’s conference, which will focus on helping individuals transition back to school and work.

The conference will be held Friday, October 24, 2014 at the Ogden Eccles Conference Center in Ogden, Utah.

Among the conference keynote speakers is Dr. Debra Braunling-McMorrow, President and CEO of Learning Services, a national leader in post-TBI neuro-rehabilitation. Braunling-McMorrow has more than 25 years’ experience in the brain injury field and will discuss some of the hidden issues and long-term consequences of brain injury.

Other conference topics will include neuroplasticity and how to teach the brain new tricks, managing brain injury in medical settings, brain injury and aging, executive function, meditation and relaxation techniques, and everything you need to know about guardianship.

To register for the BIAU Conference visit
Find more TBI-related data, resources, and information about Utah’s TBI Fund for survivors at

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Media Contact:
Jenny Johnson
UDOH Violence & Injury Prevention Program
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 801-298-1569

Monday, October 20, 2014

'Share the Memories' - Families of Teen Crash Victims Share Their Grief

(Salt Lake City, UT). Car crashes are the number one cause of death for teens across the U.S. In 2013, 18 families were devastated to learn that their teenager had been killed in a motor vehicle incident on Utah roads. Today, they shared their stories to encourage others to drive safely and buckle up.

Melissa Brown’s 16-year-old daughter, Amanda, was a passenger in a single vehicle rollover on June 28, 2013. Amanda was with two friends when the driver of the pickup truck she was riding in overcorrected and lost control. The truck rolled down an embankment six times. None of the teens were wearing a seat belt. Amanda and her friend, Tyler Stuart, were both ejected and the 18-year-old driver suffered a broken back. Tyler died instantly, while Amanda suffered severe head trauma and died a few days later.

“We miss her and love her so much,” said Brown. “This is a sad tragedy that changed three families’ lives forever. As parents, the most important thing we can do is to talk to our teens about wearing their seat belts.”

Teens have the lowest seat belt usage rate of any age group. In 2013, nearly three-fourths of all teens killed on Utah roads were not restrained. “The simple decision to choose to wear your seat belt every time you are in a vehicle can and does save lives,” said Carlos Braceras, UDOT Executive Director. “If I could change a single behavior of every Utahn, it would be to make sure they are always buckled up, no matter what.”

This is the seventh year the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) have collected stories of teens killed in motor vehicle crashes. The book

will be used by state and local agencies as a prevention tool to help young drivers realize the
impact their decisions have on others. The books will also be distributed to high school driver education classes in the state.

Joycelyn Weese lost her 18-year-old son, Devereaux (Dev), in an auto-pedestrian crash. Dev was hit and killed as he crossed the street on his bicycle. The driver was distracted by a cell phone.  “My son lost his life because someone thought their phone was more important than paying attention to the road,” said Weese. “No phone call or text is worth taking someone else’s life.”

Data from the Utah Highway Safety Office show that in 2013, 23 teen drivers were involved in a fatal crash, killing more than two dozen people, including six of the teen drivers. Teen drivers were also 1.3 times more likely to have a contributing factor, such as speeding, in a fatal crash than drivers of other ages.

“Policies such as Utah’s Graduated Driver Licensing laws and efforts by our state and community partners have saved lives,” said David Patton, UDOH Executive Director. “In 2012, for the first time in more than a decade, teen drivers did not have the highest crash rates. We are making a difference and the goal of zero fatalities on Utah roads is within reach.”

“The book we’ve compiled shows the ripple effect our driving decisions can have on our families, friends, and communities,” said Jenny Johnson, UDOH Violence and Injury Prevention Program. “These teens’ memories will live on, and their stories will not be forgotten.”

To download a copy of the book Share the Memories: Remembering 10 Lives Lost on Utah Roads, visit or

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Media Contact:
Jenny Johnson
Utah Department of Health
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 801-298-1569

Friday, October 10, 2014

Newborn Found in California Dumpster a Reminder of Utah Safe Haven Law

(Salt Lake City, UT) –The Utah Department of Health’s Newborn Safe Haven program is asking everyone to make the right decision to get newborns to a safe place. Passed in 2001, the Safe Haven law allows mothers to anonymously drop off their babies at any Utah hospital, no questions asked, and no police.

“Fortunately, the newborn found in California was healthy and is now safe,” said Utah Rep. Patrice Arent, sponsor of the legislation passed in Utah. “But this is a reminder that every state has a safe haven program. There is no reason a newborn should be left in a dumpster. This life-saving law protects not only newborns, but the identity of anyone who safely drops off a baby at a hospital.”

The Utah Safe Haven hotline number is 866-458-0058 and is staffed 24/7.  For more information, please visit The website offers details on the law, provides helpful answers to frequently asked questions, and contact information for hospitals and crisis and respite nurseries across Utah.

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Media Contacts:
Cyndi Bemis
Public Information Specialist
Utah Department of Health
(o) 538-6348 (m) 801-865-0648
Rep. Patrice Arent
Chair, Utah Newborn Safe Haven Advisory Cmte.
(801) 889-7849

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

UDOH Releases Annual Report on Healthcare-associated Infections

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has released the 2013 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 2013 show that Utah had significantly fewer CLABSIs than the national rate, but significantly more CAUTIs and colon SSIs 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.
•   Because 2013 was the first year long-term acute care and inpatient rehabilitation facilities provided CLABSI and CAUTI data to NHSN, there is currently insufficient data to establish a national comparison.

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 2013. 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. 

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Media Contact:
Rebecca Ward
(o) 801-538-6348 (m) 801-352-1270

Monday, October 6, 2014

41,000 More Utahns Had Health Insurance in 2013

(Salt Lake City, UT) – New data from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) show that 335,700 Utahns, or 11.6 percent of the total population, did not have health insurance during 2013. The figure represents a decrease in the uninsured by 40,900 people compared to 2012.

The estimates come 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.

The data show that adults between the ages of 19 and 64 with incomes less than 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), the population targeted by Gov. Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan, continue to be uninsured at a much higher rate than the rest of the Utah population. Of adults in the Healthy Utah population, 33.5 percent were uninsured in 2013.

Estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) also show there were fewer people in the Healthy Utah target population during 2013 compared to 2012 (309,600 compared to 323,100).

“It’s encouraging that we’ve seen the number of uninsured Utahns decline in the past year,” said UDOH Executive Director David Patton. “By implementing the governor’s Healthy Utah Plan we can make an even bigger difference, and begin to provide health care coverage for more of those who really need it.”

Healthy Utah is Gov. Herbert’s alternative to Medicaid expansion and would provide health care coverage through the private market to approximately 92,000 Utahns by the end of 2015. The plan still needs approval from the federal government and the Utah State Legislature.

Other findings from the new data include:

•   The drop in the uninsured rate may be due to Utah’s improving economy and declining unemployment rate. The number of adults ages 19-64 who were employed full time in 2013 rose by 24,300 compared to 2012, while the number of uninsured adults in this population fell by 18,400.

•   The percentage of uninsured adults ages 27-34 fell dramatically, from 26.1 percent of this population in 2012 to 19.5 percent in 2013.

•   Changes from the Affordable Care Act that allow married children to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they’re 26 years old appear to be having a positive impact. In 2010, nearly 29 percent (110,700 people) of this population was uninsured; in 2013 that fell to 18.4 percent (68,500 people).

•   There was a slight decrease in the number of children ages 0-18 living under 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. In 2012 there were 393,900 children in this population. According to ACS estimates, the number fell to 367,800 in 2013. However, the percentage of those children without insurance increased from 13.1% (31,400) in 2012 to 14.5% (39,700) in 2013.

The source of the data, the BRFSS, is a household health survey overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and conducted by individual state health departments.  Poverty estimates are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.  Additional data on the estimated number of uninsured Utahns can be found by clicking here.

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Media Contact:
Tom Hudachko
Public Information Officer

Thursday, October 2, 2014

All Utah Newborns Now Screened for Critical Congenital Heart Disease

(Salt Lake City, UT) As of October 1, 2014, a new Utah law requires every newborn infant born in the state to be screened for critical congenital heart disease or CCHD. Utah joins 38 other states that require this pulse oximetry screening to detect a CCHD shortly after birth.

 Every year in Utah, an estimated 64 babies are born with critical congenital heart disease. CCHDs are a group of heart conditions that can go undiagnosed in the newborn period. If not diagnosed soon after birth, CCHD can lead to serious medical problems or even death. 

The screening takes just minutes and senses the oxygen saturation by placing a soft probe on the infant’s hand and foot.  Low saturation values can signal a problem. “This simple, non-invasive screening can save lives,” said Dr. Harper Randall, Medical Director over the newborn screening programs at the Utah Department of Health. Data from the Utah Birth Defect Network show that CCHDs occur in roughly 12 of every 10,000 babies, or one in every 835 births in Utah.  While many cases are diagnosed prenatally by ultrasound, those that are not may be identified through screening soon after birth.

“'We're so fortunate to live in an era where we can screen effectively for a greater number of diseases, said Dr. Paul Wirkus, Community Pediatrician with Cottonwood Pediatrics. “The earlier we find serious conditions with preventable consequences, the more effective our interventions can be.  Newborn screening of all types has made the world a safer place for children," Wirkus said.

During the 2013 legislative session, Representative Paul Ray introduced House Bill 276 to help ensure that all babies born in Utah receive the potentially life-saving screening. 

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH), in collaboration with the University of Utah, began a demonstration project two years ago to pilot CCHD screening at two hospitals. When the demonstration project began, a minority of Utah birthing facilities were screening for CCHD. UDOH has provided birthing facilities with educational material and training opportunities, which has contributed to the majority of birthing facilities in Utah screening for CCHD well before the mandated start date of October 1.

For more information on CCHD, visit  or call the Utah CCHD Screening Project office at 1-866-818-7096.

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Media Contact:
Amy Nance 
Program Manager

Thursday, September 25, 2014

New Weapon in War Against Rx Drug Overdoses

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Every month, 21 Utah adults die as a result of prescription pain medications.  At third highest in the state, Downtown Ogden sees 29.6 deaths per 100,000 population. To combat the rising number of prescription pain medication overdoses in the Weber-Morgan area, officials from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH), Weber Human Services (WHS), and the Weber-Morgan Health Department (WMHD) have released a new toolkit to help community leaders and citizens prevent these tragedies.

“Over the past decade, prescription opioids have been responsible for more drug deaths in Utah than all other drug categories, including heroin and cocaine combined,” said Anna Fondario, UDOH epidemiologist. “This is a very real epidemic, and it warrants a strong public health response. If we work together, we have the power to save lives."

The toolkit was specifically designed to meet the needs of the Downtown Ogden area. In addition to local and national data, the kit includes information on: effective state policies; signs and symptoms of abuse; prevention tips for community leaders, parents, schools, health care providers, and law enforcement; recommendations for the safe use, storage, and disposal of medications; how to work with the media; and a list of Ogden-area resources such as locations of permanent drop-off sites and substance abuse treatment centers.

Another critical feature is a wallet-size card that explains what to do in case of an overdose and how to administer naloxone, a lifesaving rescue medication that can immediately reverse opioid overdoses.
“We look forward to using and sharing this toolkit,” said Brian Bennion, Executive Director, WMHD. “It will be a great resource as we look for ways to tackle the epidemic of opioid-related abuse and deaths in our community.”

Additional UDOH data show:

•   Utah ranks 5th in the nation for drug poisoning deaths; 49 Utahns die as a result of drug poisoning each month (1 death every 15 hours), and 75% of the deaths involve opioids such as oxycodone, methadone, and hydrocodone.
•   24.5% of Utahns reported using some type of prescribed opioid during the previous year. (Source: 2008 UDOH Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System)
•    2.6% of students in grades 8, 10, and 12 reported that they had used prescription drugs in the past 30 days that were not prescribed to them by a doctor. (Source: 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey)
•    From 2009-2012, the top five circumstances observed in prescription pain medication deaths in Utah were substance abuse problem (73.1%), physical health problem (67.7%), current mental health problem (65.5%), alcohol dependence/problem (19.4%), and history of suicide attempts (12.7%).

“We continue to see a rise in both the number of individuals entering treatment for prescription drug abuse and the severity of the problems presented by these individuals. It impacts nearly every aspect of their lives. We believe this toolkit can help slow or even reverse these troubling trends,” said Darin Carver, spokesperson for WHS.

The National Take Back Initiative is a nationwide event sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to encourage people to properly dispose of leftover medications. The UDOH, WHS, and WMHD encourage anyone with leftover prescription drugs to take them to one of the Take Back events throughout the state on Saturday, September 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A list of disposal locations can be found at

For information on the safe use, storage, and disposal of prescription pain medications visit

To download the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Toolkit visit

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Media Contact:
Jenny Johnson
Violence and Injury Prevention Program 
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 801-298-1569

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

UDOH Honored as a Bicycle-Friendly Business

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Today, the League of American Bicyclists recognized the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) with a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Business℠ (BFB) award, joining more than 800 visionary businesses from across the country.

The UDOH was honored for promoting biking as a way to improve employee health and productivity by increasing physical activity levels and enhancing mental well-being. As the state’s leading health entity, the focus on biking sets the example for other businesses.

As a result of this designation, the UDOH is able to receive technical assistance on how to improve its standing. “It is our hope to share what we learn through this experience with other agencies and organizations throughout the state,” said Tania Charette, Health Program Specialist, UDOH.

To earn the designation, UDOH completed a detailed assessment outlining everything the Department has implemented throughout the years to encourage employees to bike to work. Most important have been a policy encouraging use of transit during red air days, including bicycling, and construction of secure areas to store bicycles.

"I love that UDOH not only supports my desire to ride to work, but actually makes it easy. It helps me to stay healthy and I feel more productive when I do it," said UDOH employee Brad Belnap.

The League of American Bicyclists is leading the movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.

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Media Contact:
Tania J. Charette, MPH, CHES
Health Program Specialist
(801) 721-4723

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Health Officials to Brief Media on State’s First Confirmed Cases of Enterovirus D68

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Test results returned today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed the presence of Enterovirus D68 in Utah. The positive results showed up in 12 of 22 samples sent to the CDC from Primary Children’s Hospital.

Officials from the Utah Department of Health and Primary Children’s Hospital will be available to answer questions from the media at 2:00 p.m. at the education center at the Eccles Primary Children’s Outpatient Building, located directly across the street from Primary Children’s Hospital.

“In addition to the 12 positive samples, Primary Children’s had 37 rhino/enterovirus positive admissions in the past week, and 10 of those were admitted to the Pediatriac ICU,” says Dr. Andrew Pavia, the hospital’s division chief of pediatric infectious diseases. “The rate of increase may be slowing but we don’t think we have passed the peak of the outbreak.”

Health care professionals in the U.S. are not required to report known or suspected cases of EV-D68 infection to health department because it is not a reportable disease in the United States. And, the CDC does not have a surveillance system that specifically collects information on EV-D68 infections. Utah health officials continue to work with the CDC, hospitals, and the health care community to closely monitor the situation.

Enteroviruses are transmitted through close contact with an infected person, or by touching objects or surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.

Since there is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections, Dr. Allyn Nakashima, State Epidemiologist, Utah Department of Health (UDOH) says, “It’s important to remember that the best way to prevent spread of this severe respiratory illness is by practicing proper hygiene.” There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections other than management of symptoms, and no specific anti-viral medications currently available for this purpose.

Take steps to protect yourself and others from respiratory infections such as:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
Use the same precautions you would use to prevent the spread of influenza.

These prevention steps are especially important for individuals or persons with family members who are infants, or who have chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems. Symptoms of enterovirus illness can include fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and body aches.

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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.   

Primary Children’s is a 289-bed full-service pediatric hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is the only children’s hospital in the Intermountain West equipped and staffed to treat the most seriously ill and injured children and infants, and is verified as a pediatric Trauma I Center. It is owned by Intermountain Healthcare, a not-for-profit hospital system, and is affiliated with the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Media Contacts:
Rebecca Ward, UDOH

Bonnie Midget, Primary Children’s Hospital
(o) 801-662-6590 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Falls a Major Risk for Injury, Death Among Seniors

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Every day, an average of eight Utahns ages 65 and older are hospitalized for injuries due to a fall. In 2012, there were 3,183 fall-related hospitalizations among older Utahns, costing more than $95 million in treatment charges.  The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) reminds everyone that injuries from falls are largely preventable. 

“Falls are not a normal part of aging,” said Trisha Keller, Program Manager, UDOH Violence and Injury Prevention Program. “Most falls are preventable if we can help older adults learn what hazards to remove from their homes and help them increase their strength and balance.”

Agencies across the Wasatch Front will host free events to help seniors remain active and reduce their risk of falling. Activities include one-mile walks, bingo games, health screenings, fitness demonstrations, and medication reviews. Events will be held at the following Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services Senior Centers:

Monday, Sept. 22 – Walk and health fair from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Taylorsville Senior Center (4743 S. Plymouth View Drive, Taylorsville)
Monday, Sept. 22 – Walk and super bingo from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  at the Columbus Senior Center (2531 South 400 East, Salt Lake City)
Tuesday, Sept. 23 – Walk and health fair from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Millcreek Senior Center (2266 E. Evergreen Avenue, Salt Lake City)
Tuesday, Sept. 23 – Walk and lunch from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. at the  Liberty Senior Center (251 East 700 South, Salt Lake City)
Tuesday, Sept. 23 – Walk and scavenger hunt from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Draper Senior Center (1148 East Pioneer Road, Draper)
Friday, Sept. 26 – Walk and health screenings from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the Sandy Senior Center (9310 South 1300 East, Sandy)

Davis County facilities include:

Tuesday, Sept. 23 – Walk from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Autumn Glow Senior Activity Center (81 East Center Street, Kaysville)
Tuesday, Sept. 23 – Walk from 11 a.m. to 12 noon at the North Davis Senior Activity Center (42 South State Street, Clearfield)
Tuesday, Sept. 23 – Walk from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Golden Years Senior Activity Center (726 South 100 East, Bountiful)

“Our goal is to help our citizens remain independent and healthy,” said Jessica Hardcastle, a health educator at the Davis County Health Department. “Even minor falls can have a dramatic impact on a person’s well-being and sense of safety.”

“Every year an average of 145 Utah seniors die from complications of a fall,” said Nichole Shepard, Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services.  “One fall can be the beginning of a downward health spiral that can include limited mobility, dementia from a head injury, and complications from major surgeries like blood clots and seizures.”

The UDOH recommends four basic steps to reduce the risk of falls:
Begin a regular exercise program. Exercise improves strength and balance, as well as coordination.
Have your health care provider review your medicines. Some medicines or combinations of medicines can make you sleepy or dizzy and cause you to fall.
Have your vision checked. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year. Poor vision can increase your chances of falling.
Make your home safer. Remove tripping hazards like throw rugs and clutter in walkways and stairs. Install grab bars next to your toilet and shower. 

Utah will join 48 other states in recognizing September 23, 2014 as Falls Prevention Awareness Day. For more information about how to prevent older adult falls, visit

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Media Contact:
Cyndi Bemis
Utah Department of Health
(o) 801-538-6348
(m) 801-865-0648

Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Data Reveal Health Problems, Risks by Neighborhood

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Data from a new Utah Department of Health (UDOH) report are being used to identify links between risk and health problems that impact “small areas” across the state. 

“Small areas” refers to a set of 63 geographic locales in Utah grouped by ZIP code and according to similar population sizes and political boundaries. These areas are especially useful for assessing health needs at the community level and targeting programs to those at greatest risk for injury and poor health outcomes. 

“This is the first time our department has put together a report with such a broad set of health indicators by Utah Small Areas,” said Michael Friedrichs, UDOH epidemiologist. “The indicators were chosen because they relate to long-term health outcomes in our state’s chronic disease and health promotion plan, and are critical to improving Utahns’ overall health.” 

The report identified six communities with both significantly higher rates of asthma emergency department visits and adults exposed to secondhand smoke. The areas include Kearns, Downtown Salt Lake City, Glendale, South Salt Lake, West Valley East, and Ben Lomond. Conversely, the same pattern was true for 10 small areas with significantly lower asthma ED visits and a lower percentage of adults exposed to secondhand smoke (Cache County Other/Rich County, Bountiful, Farmington/Centerville, Riverton/Draper, South Jordan, Cedar City, Summit County, American Fork/Alpine, Springville/Spanish Fork, and Utah County South). 

We know from national studies that environmental triggers like secondhand smoke play an important role in asthma severity and management,” said Lori Mau, UDOH Asthma Program. “The data underscore why it’s important to identify and control multiple asthma triggers at the same time, rather than focusing on just one management strategy,” Mau added. 

Tobacco use in Utah was also studied. “Even though Utah has the lowest smoking rate in the nation, we still have more than 200,000 tobacco users,” said Adam Bramwell, UDOH Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. “The report is incredibly important to our smoking cessation efforts, as it shows right where tobacco users live. Now we’ll use the information to connect those residents to Utah’s many tobacco cessation resources available at our new website,” Bramwell said.

The report summarizes data on 17 different topics presented in tables, graphs, and maps to help the reader see where health problems are concentrated and how they may impact each other. Topics in the report include:

Prescription Opioid Deaths
Cancer Deaths
Cardiovascular Disease Deaths
Current Adult Cigarette Smokers
Adult Secondhand Smoke Exposure
Obese Adults
Physically Active Adults
Fall Hospitalizations, Ages 65+
Infants Receiving First Trimester Prenatal Care
Female Breast Cancer Screenings, Ages 40+
Colon Cancer Screenings, Ages 50+
Pre-diabetic Adults
Adults Controlling High Blood Pressure
Diabetic Adults Receiving Diabetes Education
Asthma Emergency Department Visits
Adults with Arthritis Limited by Arthritis 
For a full copy of the Bureau of Health Promotion Small Area Report, visit

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Media Contacts:

Michael Friedrichs (o) 801-538-6244 
Adam Bramwell (m) 801-380-0780

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Utah Teens Tanning Less

Salt Lake City – The Utah Department of Health recently published an article in the Journal of Skin Cancer regarding the effectiveness of mandated restrictions on youth tanning across the state.  Passed in 2012, Senate Bill 41 requires all minors to have parental consent or a physician’s note each time they visit an indoor tanning salon.

An evaluation of Utah students in grades 8, 10, and 12 who reported using an indoor tanning device in the year before the law went into effect and again the year after suggests the restrictions contributed to a significant reduction in self-reported indoor tanning. The 2013 rate of 7.7% is a 36 percent drop from the 2011 rate of 12%.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation, including that from indoor tanning devices, is known to cause melanoma. Utah’s 2006-2010 melanoma incidence is 61% higher than the national rate, at 31 per 100,000 people and 19.3 per 100,000 people, respectively. Using indoor tanning devices during the teenage and young adult years significantly increases the risk of developing melanoma, which is one of the most common types of cancer among older teens and young adults.

The evaluation also analyzed characteristics of Utah teens who continued to use indoor tanning devices in 2013 despite the more restrictive regulations. It found that teen girls, older teens, and teens who use tobacco and alcohol were the most likely to continue tanning. Data were collected through the Utah Department of Human Services’ 2011 and 2013 Prevention Needs Assessment surveys.

While results of the study should be interpreted with caution due to limitations of the survey data and the potential effect of other ongoing sun safety campaigns, the findings do suggest that passage of the more restrictive regulations played a role in significantly reducing teen tanning in a relatively short period of time. Efforts to enforce tanning regulations and behavioral risk interventions may further reduce the numbers of teens who report using indoor tanning devices.

The article may be accessed online at
For more information on skin cancer prevention and education, visit


Media Contact:
Brenda Nelson
Media Coordinator
801-538-6189 (o) 435-849-1759 (m)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Safe Kids Coalitions Offer Free Car Seat Inspections During Child Passenger Safety Week

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Safe Kids Utah urges parents and caregivers to make sure their car seats and booster seats are properly installed during National Child Passenger Safety Week, September 14-20.  Motor vehicle crashes 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 in a crash by as much as 71 percent,” said Cambree Applegate, Safe Kids Utah Coordinator.

Car seat inspections offer drivers and caregivers the chance to get assistance and guidance from certified car seat technicians on how to properly install their child safety and booster seats.  “Car seats are complicated!” said Applegate. “But we know parents and caregivers want what is best for the ones they love, so taking just a few minutes to get your car seats checked is a simple way help keep children safe on the road.”

Free car seat checks will be held across Utah during National Child Passenger Safety Week.  Each event will have certified technicians on site to help parents ensure their seats are installed correctly. Technicians will also talk about steps to take as their child grows and best practices to make sure their child is as safe as possible while riding in the car.  Events will be held:

Monday, Sept. 15 – Information booth from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Wasatch High School (930 South 500 East, Heber)
Tuesday, Sept. 16 – Car seat checkpoint from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Hansen Motor Company (1175 South 500 West, Brigham City)
Tuesday, Sept. 16 – Car seat checks and information booth from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club of South Valley (244 East Myrtle Avenue, Murray)
Wednesday, Sept. 17 – Car seat checkpoint from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Northwest Recreation Center (1300 West 300 North, Salt Lake City)
Wednesday, Sept. 17 – Car seat checkpoint from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at High Country Auto
(275 North Main, Richfield)
Thursday, Sept. 18 – Car seat checkpoint from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Tooele City Library (123 West Vine Street, Tooele)
Thursday, Sept. 18 – Car seat checkpoint from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Farmington Old Navy (270 North East Promontory, Farmington)
Thursday, Sept. 18 – Car seat checkpoint from 2 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Primary Children’s Riverton Outpatient Services (3773 West 12600 South, Riverton)
Thursday, Sept. 18 – Car seat class from 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. at Utah County Health Department (151 South University Avenue, Suite 2601, Provo)
Thursday, Sept. 18 – Car seat checks from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Wasatch County Health Department (55 South 500 East, Heber)
Friday, Sept. 19 – Car seat checkpoint from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Ogden Costco (3656 Wall Avenue, Ogden)
Saturday, Sept. 20 – Car seat checkpoint from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Park City Walmart (6545 North Landmark Drive, Park City)
Saturday, Sept. 20 – Car seat checkpoint from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Jordan Landing Old Navy (7113 Plaza Center Drive, West Jordan)
Thursday, Sept. 25 – Car seat checkpoint from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Price Fire Station (87 North 200 East, Price)

For more information on child passenger safety and tips for keeping your kids safe while in the car, visit

Thursday, September 11, 2014

CDC Funds 32 States to Collect Data on Violent Deaths

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that Utah will be one of 32 states to receive more than $1 million over the next five years to collect and link data on violent deaths through the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS).  

The NVDRS is a surveillance system that collects detailed facts from multiple sources such as death certificates, medical examiner records, police and crime lab records, and supplemental homicide reports. It also serves as Utah’s suicide surveillance system, providing critical information on circumstances surrounding suicide deaths which has been used in the state’s many suicide prevention efforts over the past several years. 

Violent deaths include homicides, suicides, deaths of undetermined intent, unintentional firearm-related deaths, and deaths where individuals are killed by law enforcement in the line of duty. In Utah, 879 individuals died from violent deaths in 2013*. Of these deaths, 579 (65.9%) were due to suicide, 246 (28.0%) were undetermined deaths (primarily due to drug overdoses), and 54 (6.1%) were homicides. 

“These data give us a more complete picture of the deaths, including details about victims and suspects, their relationships, important circumstances that contributed to a death, and weapons used,” said Anna Fondario, Utah Department of Health epidemiologist. “Knowing the who, when, where, and how these deaths occurred gives us insights to help prevent them from happening again.” 

Utah was first funded in 2004 and began data collection in 2005. The state has remained committed to tracking violent deaths and the circumstances surrounding them. 

Utah won the “Excellence in Collecting the Most Timely and Complete Violent Death Data” for participation in NVDRS in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Utah was also honored with the “Innovative Initiative of the Year” award from the Safe States Alliance for integrating unintentional drug overdose deaths into the NVDRS. 

For a list of all NVDRS-funded states, visit

For more information about violent deaths in Utah, visit   

*2013 data are preliminary and include occurrent deaths (i.e., all individuals who died in Utah, whether or not they were a resident of Utah).

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Media Contact:
Jenny Johnson
(o) 801-538-9416
(m) 801-298-1569

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New Website Helps Utahns Live Violence- and Injury-free Lives

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Did you know that injuries are the leading cause of death for Utahns ages 1-44? The next time you wonder about how to keep your family safe, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) wants you to visit its new injury prevention website. The website features safety tips and data on a variety of topics including suicide, prescription drug overdoses, and sports concussions.

“For more than 30 years, our program has worked tirelessly to eliminate the needless suffering and death from injuries and violence,” said Trisha Keller, Program Manager for the UDOH Violence and Injury Prevention Program. “We are thrilled to have a more up-to-date website that shows the personal side of these topics and helps people live safer lives.”

Injuries can have a dramatic impact on a person’s ability to lead an active, fulfilling life. Every day in Utah:

•    4 people die from injury or violence (1,829 deaths ⃰ );
•    31 are hospitalized due to injury or violence (12,280 hospitalizations⃰ ); and
•    444 are seen in an emergency department due to injury or violence (154,047 visits⃰ )

In 2012, the top five injury-related causes of death in Utah were suicides, poisonings, falls, motor vehicle traffic crashes, and unintentional suffocations. The rate of injury deaths in Utah increased significantly from 2010 to 2012 (65.3 per 100,000 and 72.3 per 100,000, respectively). Research shows that most injuries are predictable and preventable.

The new website,, features 20 violence and injury topics that impact individuals across their lifetime. Stories and quotes from Utahns impacted by injuries and violence are also highlighted on the new website. The most recent data, prevention tips, and resources are provided for each topic, which include:

Bicycle Safety
Child Fatalities
Child Maltreatment
Child Passenger Safety
Dating Violence
Domestic Violence
Infant Sleep
Motor Vehicle Crashes
Pedestrian Safety
Prescription Drug Overdoses
Rape and Sexual Assault
Sports Concussions
Safe Kids Utah
Student Injuries
Teen Driving
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Violent Deaths
Youth Suicide

The new website is structured by lifespan and broken down into four age groups: Children (ages 0-14), Teens and Young Adults (ages 15-24), Adults (25-64), and Older Adults (ages 65+). “We’ve categorized these topics in age groups so the public can find information applicable to their own lives more easily,” said Katie McMinn, UDOH Violence Prevention Specialist.

The new injury prevention website is available at

⃰  2012 data

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Monday, September 8, 2014

September is Healthy Family Meals Month

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Utah Governor Gary Herbert has signed a declaration promoting  the importance and benefits of family meals, and is inviting Utahns to eat together as a family at least once a week during this month. To read the declaration go to

“The Governor has the right idea,” says Tania Charette, Health Program Specialist, Utah Department of Health. “Children who are engaged with their parents through supportive activities like frequent family meals are less likely to use harmful substances, more likely to be successful in school, and have higher self-esteem and lower obesity rates.” Studies show having meals together also helps children’s mental and behavioral health, communication skills, and leads them down a path to a lifetime of healthier eating habits.

To celebrate the declaration, the Utah Department of Health, Utah’s Local Health Departments, and other community partners like Intermountain LiVe Well, support the  new website. The site features healthful recipes and opportunities to win prizes.

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Media Contact:
Tania Charette