Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New Data Shows Six People Die Each Week in Utah as a Result of Overdosing on Prescription Opioids

(Salt Lake, UT) – In 2014, 300 individuals died from a prescription drug overdose in Utah. Utah ranks 4th highest in the nation for drug overdose deaths and a campaign is underway to safely dispose of the kinds of drugs that are killing people.

“Our data show that nearly 60 percent of Utahns who were prescribed an opioid in the past year reported that they had leftover medication. Of those with leftover medication, only 27 percent reported disposing it. When improperly stored or disposed of, leftover medications can be dangerous,” said Angela Stander,
Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Prescription Drug Overdose Coordinator. 

The National Take Back Initiative is a nationwide event sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration to encourage people to properly dispose of leftover medications. The UDOH encourages anyone with leftover medications to take them to one of the take back events throughout the state on April 30, 2016. A list of collection sites can be found at

In addition, permanent, year-round disposal sites can be found on the Use Only As Directed website at

In 2014, an average of 24 Utah adults died each month as a result of prescription opioids (14.2 per 100,000 population). Oxycodone drugs accounted for 59.2 percent of all prescription opioid deaths in 2014, followed by methadone at 12.6 percent. Prescription opioids deaths have outnumbered heroin and cocaine deaths combined since 2002.

Additional data from the UDOH shows:

  • Every week in Utah, 10 people die as a result of poisoning; six of which are a direct result of overdosing on prescription opioids.
  • Utah saw a 27.6% decrease in prescription opioid deaths from 2007 to 2010 when the Prescription Pain Medication Program (PPMP) was legislatively established for two years.
Last fall, more than 3,800 federal, state, and local agencies collected 702,365 pounds of unused, expired, or unwanted medications at more than 5,000 collection sites across the United States. The UDOH is urging Utahns to join the National Take Back Initiative on Saturday, April 30 to clean out their medicine cabinets and safely dispose of leftover prescription medications.  

Prescription overdose deaths can be prevented by:

  • Never taking a prescription pain medication not prescribed to you or taking it more often or in higher doses than prescribed.
  • Never sharing prescription pain medications with anyone.
  • Storing medications out of reach with the label attached and the child-resistant cap secured.
  • Keeping track of the number of pills in the bottle so you are immediately aware if any are missing.
  • Disposing of all unused and expired prescription pain medications properly.
Data on the growing prescription drug overdose problem in Utah and ways to prevent it can be found at or  

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

Friday, April 22, 2016

UDOH Kicking Off National Bike Month with New Fix-it Station

WHAT: May is National Bike Month and the Utah Department of Health is celebrating early by opening a new bicycle fix-it station at its main building. The station will be available to employees and the public alike, and offers bicycle parking, as well as tools and an air pump to perform basic bike maintenance and repairs. 

WHY: The UDOH is committed to helping Utah become the healthiest state in the nation. Living an active lifestyle is a key element of achieving that goal. The bike station will help promote a bike-friendly environment, bicycle commuting, and general physical activity for employees and building visitors.

The UDOH Cannon Building is located near a Trax Station and the Jordan River Parkway trail, making it an ideal location for bicycle commuting. The League of American Cyclists also recently awarded the UDOH as a Bicycle Friednly Business with a bronze award.

WHO: UDOH Executive Director Dr. Joe Miner
UDOH Deputy Director Dr. Robert Rolfs
UDOH employees

WHEN: Monday, April 25, 2016
                11 a.m. 

WHERE: Cannon Health Building
                288 North 1460 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 

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

Safe Kids Coalitions Offer Safety Events throughout Utah

(Salt Lake City) – Preventable injuries are the number one cause of death among children ages 0-19. Every year more than 8,000 families in the United States and more than one million families worldwide will lose a child due to a preventable injury. Millions more children are injured in ways that may affect them for a lifetime.

Safe Kids Utah will join the nationwide Safe Kids Day celebration throughout April and May to teach parents and caregivers how to keep their children safe at home, play, and on the road. “As part of Safe Kids Day, we ask every family to join the #MyHigh5 campaign and choose five things that they can do to keep their family safe, like installing smoke alarms or getting a car seat installed correctly,” said Cambree Applegate, Director of Safe Kids Utah.

As part of the celebration, local Safe Kids coalitions will offer free safety events and car seat checkpoints throughout the state. Events will be held:
  • Tuesday, April 26 – Car seat checkpoint from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Duane’s Food Town (400 S Main St, Fillmore)
  • Wednesday, April 27 – Car seat checkpoint from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Mike’s Food Town (270 N Main St, Beaver)
  • Saturday, April 30 – Car seat checkpoint from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cedar City Middle School (2215 W Royal Hunte Dr, Cedar City)
  • Saturday, April 30 – Car seat safety booth from 10 1 p.m. at the Logan City Rec. Center (195 S 100 W, Logan)
  • Wednesday, May 4 –  Booster seat education from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in local pre-schools (395 East Center Street, Moab)
  • Friday, May 6 – Car seat checkpoint, helmet raffle, and a barbeque from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Gus Paulos Chevrolet (4050 3500 S, West Valley City)
  • Friday, May 6 – Car seat checkpoint from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Mt. Nebo Market (965 N Main St, Nephi)
  • Saturday, May 7 – OHV education course for ages 8+ starting at 9 a.m. at the Sheriff’s Office in Hurricane Utah (750 South 5300 West, Hurricane)
  • Saturday , May 7 – Safe Kids Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Legacy Events Center (151 S 1100 W, Farmington)
  • Saturday, May 14 – Safe Kids Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Newgate Mall (3651 Wall Ave, Ogden)
  • Tuesday, May 17 – Health and safety fair from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Southfield Park (1200 W Midway Lane, Heber City)
  • Friday, May 27 – Bicycle safety clinic from 12:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Trailside Park (5715 Trailside Drive, Park City)
  • Saturday, June 4 – Health and safety fair along with car seat inspection from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Macey’s (972 N Main St, Tooele)
  • Saturday, June 11 – Safety fair from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Riverton Hospital (3741 12600 S, Riverton)
  • Thursday, June 16 – Car seat checkpoint from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Timpanogos Hospital (750 W 800 N, Orem)
“Safe Kids Day has one simple, but critical goal – working together as a community to raise awareness about preventable injuries so kids can grow up to do all the great things kids were meant to do,” said Applegate. “These events are a time to celebrate kids and make learning about safety fun.” 

For more information about preventing child injuries and Safe Kids Utah, visit

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Media Contact:
Cambree Applegate
Safe Kids Utah
(o) 801-538-6852 (m) 435-862-8773

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Community Health Workers Fly Under the Radar to Fill a Critical Role in Healthcare

(Salt Lake City, UT) – You may know them as a health advisor, advocate, promotora, or even a health navigator, but what all Community Health Workers (CHWs) have in common is the trust of the people they serve. CHWs are skilled laypeople who share similar life circumstances or shared cultures with their clients. They act as a liaison between their community and health and social services, assisting and educating the people they serve to live the healthiest lives possible.

You’ll find these talented, caring individuals in a variety of settings and positions throughout Utah working as paid staff or volunteers. Whether it’s helping at-risk pregnant women, aging seniors, or recovering addicts, the goal is helping individuals deal with and overcome their own health challenges.

"Patients struggle to access healthcare because of language barriers, cultural issues, or financial challenges,” said Anna Guymon, Community Health Worker Specialist with the Utah Department of Health. “Often these challenges are concentrated in low-income communities. Since, CHWs come from similar neighborhoods, speak the same language, and share the culture, they are able to connect with these patients on a level others in healthcare can’t."

Many partners have come together to create a coalition to provide CHWs with training, and additional resources. “Intermountain is excited to support this effort,” said Jessica Strong, CHW Project Consultant for Intermountain Healthcare. Intermountain will provide $1.2 million over the next three years to these efforts. “As a not-for-profit healthcare system, Intermountain Healthcare’s priority is to improve health in the communities we serve, and know that building partnerships and developing resources such as the CHW project will go a long way towards that goal.”

What makes CHWs so valuable?
  • CHWs can help reduce the overall cost of healthcare in Utah by emphasizing prevention and teaching the proper use of healthcare services.
  • Studies show that programs utilizing CHWs have improved patient health behaviors and outcomes such as greater patient health knowledge.
  • CHWs assist traditionally underserved individuals to receive proper healthcare. Healthcare providers can benefit from the skills, community knowledge, and cultural literacy CHWs offer which can help them to connect better with their patients.
In an effort to better organize and prepare CHWs for the future healthcare needs of the state, a pre-conference session focused on CHWs will be held as part of the Utah Public Health Association's annual conference on Monday, April 11 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City. For more information visit

For more information on CHWs in Utah, visit

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Media Contact:
Dave Mecham
 (801) 538-6654

Monday, April 4, 2016

UDOH Issues Results of Hepatitis C Investigation

(Salt Lake City, Utah) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) today announced the on-going investigation of a hepatitis C outbreak associated with a health care worker who was employed at two northern Utah hospitals has identified the following:

Patients Notified of Potential Exposure
Patients Tested
Confirmed Cases of Hepatitis C, Genotype 2b
McKay-Dee Hospital
Davis Hospital

Hepatitis C can be divided into several distinct genotypes based on genetic markers of the virus. The genotype associated with this outbreak was identified as 2b, and the UDOH focused its investigation on finding cases with a matching genotype.

Of the 15 genotype 2b cases from McKay-Dee Hospital, one is the original case, one is the health care worker, and six were found to be infected with hepatitis C prior to the investigation. Three of those six were known to be infected with genotype 2b prior to the investigation.

In addition to the 16 total genotype 2b cases, the investigation also identified 37 cases of hepatitis C with other genotypes. These additional cases are not considered to be associated with this investigation. Seven cases are currently pending genotype results.

“This investigation should show Utah residents their public health system is serving them well,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, a CDC epidemiologist stationed at the UDOH. “By partnering with the two hospitals we were able to identify an infectious health care worker, establish that the worker may have exposed patients, test those patients, and provide them with testing results. Everyone working on this outbreak should be proud of these accomplishments.”

Dr. Dunn will be available for media interviews today at 10:30 a.m. at the Cannon Health Building, 288 North 1460 West, Salt Lake City, room 125.

The UDOH launched the investigation in 2015 after tracing the likely exposure of a hepatitis C case to McKay-Dee Hospital. The investigation found a link to a health care worker who was infected with hepatitis C and was discovered to be taking drugs intended for patients and using them for other purposes. The scope of the investigation broadened after discovering the same health care worker was also previously employed at nearby Davis Hospital and Medical Center, and had admitted to engaging in similar behavior there.

“This investigation has been a massive undertaking for both the hospitals and for public health,” said Dunn. “We commend the hospitals for doing the right thing and ensuring their patients were alerted to the situation and provided free testing and access to treatment where necessary.”

Despite these efforts, there are many individuals who may have been exposed who have still not been tested. Both hospitals will continue to offer free testing to any patients who were notified of their potential exposure; and both continue to strongly recommend testing for those who haven’t yet been tested.

Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver that can cause both short and long-term illness. Symptoms can range from nausea, fever, joint pain, jaundice, cancer or death if left untreated. The disease is spread when the blood of an infected person enters the body of someone who is not infected. The majority of people infected with hepatitis C have no symptoms for up to 25 years.

For more information on this outbreak, and on hepatitis C, visit the UDOH web site at

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Media Contact:
Tom Hudachko
Utah Department of Health