Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Colorado ‘Tummy Mommy’ Story May Cause Confusion

(Salt Lake City, UT) – A Colorado girl who was adopted through that state’s Safe Haven law is garnering national attention with her search for her “tummy mommy.”

Unable to raise her, Halle Burke’s biological mother turned to Colorado’s Safe Haven law and handed over the infant to firefighters shortly after her birth in 2003. A loving family adopted and raised Halle. The girl is now looking for her birth mother to tell her ‘thanks’ for making the decision to safely drop her off.  Halle wants her birth mother to know she has a wonderful life thanks to her selfless act to give her up.

Halle’s story is an example of how Newborn Safe Haven laws can help moms and babies. But the Utah Department of Health and the Utah Fire Marshal want to remind moms that Utah’s Newborn Safe Haven law only allows moms to drop off babies in hospitals. 

“This story has a nice outcome,” says, Coy Porter, Utah’s Fire Marshal, “but Utah has many rural fire stations and many lack the personnel to cover stations every hour, every day.” He added, “It would be tragic if a baby was left, unattended at a fire station. People must understand dropping off a newborn must be done at a Utah hospital.”

Passed in 2001, the Utah Newborn Safe Haven law allows anyone to anonymously drop off a newborn at any Utah hospital with emergency medical services, no questions, no police and no judgment. 

“Every state has a newborn safe haven program,” said Utah Rep. Patrice Arent, sponsor of the legislation passed in Utah. “And each state has safe drop off locations. We want to make sure newborns are not left in unsafe places like garbage cans and that newborns end up with a loving family.  As Fire Marshal Porter stated, in Utah there are many fire stations in rural areas that are not always staffed 24/7.  For that reason, fire stations were not included in the legislation as drop off locations.  We also want to assure anyone thinking of dropping off a newborn that their identity will be kept confidential by hospital staff.”   
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, lists contact information for hospitals, and provides a link to crisis and respite nurseries across Utah.

Media Contacts
Julia Robertson
Program Coordinator 
Utah Department of Health
Rep. Patrice Arent
UNSH Advisory Committee 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Top 10 Summer Safety Tips to Help Kids Have Fun and Stay Injury-Free

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Summer is one of the most exciting times of the year for kids, but it’s also a time when kids are most at-risk for serious injuries. The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and Safe Kids Utah encourage parents and caregivers to be prepared with simple safety tips to keep kids safe and having fun.

“The summer is a great time to connect with family and friends and spend time outdoors, hanging out by the pool or riding bikes around the neighborhood,” said Cambree Applegate, Safe Kids Utah coordinator. “But with all these activities come safety risks that we may not always think about. For example, two-thirds of drowning deaths occur in the summer, between May and August, and most commonly on the weekends.” 

The UDOH and Safe Kids Utah recommend the following 10 tips to keep kids safe this summer:

1. Use the Water Watcher strategy. One of the most common drowning scenarios involves an under-supervised child wandering off during a weekend family gathering – with several adults present but none designated as the official “child watcher” – and then falling into an open body of water, such as a stream or pool. Use the Water Watcher card strategy by designating an adult as the Water Watcher for a certain amount of time (such as 15-minute periods). The designated Water Watcher is given the Water Watcher card and is responsible to watch kids in the water for the set time period.  
2. Educate your children about swimming safety. Every child is different, so enroll children in swimming lessons when you feel they are ready. Whether swimming in a backyard pool or in a lake, teach children to swim with an adult. Older, more experienced swimmers should still swim with a partner every time.
3. Learn CPR. Learning infant and child CPR will give you tremendous peace of mind if something does happen– and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better. 
4. Use appropriate car seats and buckle up every ride. Make sure children are riding in the appropriate car seat or booster seat and that everyone else in the car is wearing seat belts.
5. Wear life jackets. Everyone should wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard while on boats, around open bodies of water, or when participating in water sports. 
6. Drink water during sports. Have your kids bring a water bottle to practice and games and drink plenty of water before, during, and after play. This is especially important in summer months to avoid dehydration.
7. Set up your grill with safety in mind. Use long-handled grilling tools and position your grill well away from siding, deck railings, and overhanging branches, while keeping a safe distance from play areas and foot traffic. Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill so it cannot be ignited by heat. 
8. Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. It can be tempting to leave a child alone in a car for a few minutes, but it can cause serious injury or even death in a matter of minutes. Reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke by remembering to ACT – avoid heatstroke, create reminders, and take action if you see a child left alone.  
9. Wear a helmet for biking and other wheeled sports. Helmets are the single most effective safety device to reduce head injury and death from bike crashes. Kids should wear a helmet when riding a scooter, skating, skateboarding, or biking.
10. Wear a helmet and other appropriate safety gear while riding Off Highway Vehicles (OHV).  With so many trails and fun areas to explore, ATVs and other OHVs can be a lot of fun to ride during the summer.  Making sure to wear a helmet and other safety gear (like gloves, boots, pants and long sleeved shirt) is important to make sure you stay safe on the trails.

For more information on keeping your kids safe this summer, visit or

About Safe Kids Utah
Safe Kids Utah works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the number one cause of death for children in the United States.  

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Media Contact:
Cambree Applegate
Safe Kids Utah Coordinator

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Recognizing the Importance of Emergency Pediatric Care

(Salt Lake City, Utah) – Children and adolescents make up 31% of Utah’s population and when injury or illness occurs, specialized EMS training and equipment is needed to care for them. In noting that important contribution to society, Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert has named May 20, 2015 as Utah Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Recognition Day. Jolene Whitney, Program Manager for the EMSC program in the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) says, “The purpose of the annual EMS for Children Day celebration is to raise awareness about the need to improve and expand specialized care for children in the prehospital and acute care settings.”

The prehospital treatment of pediatric patients can mean the difference between life and death of a child. For example, respiratory problems with pediatric patients are treated very differently than adults. Whitney says, “Kids are not little adults and the cause of pediatric respiratory distress is different, the proper medication dosage for children is weight based, and the way you treat them is often different than how you approach an adult.” And, for most prehospital providers, treating a pediatric patient is a rare event, which makes caring for them very intimidating. Training becomes that much more important.

EMSC also sponsors a free program for parents of children with special health care needs. These children have complicated health problems and it’s critical that first responders have access to specific information when they respond to an emergency involving these kids. The Children’s Health Information Red Pack (CHIRP) program works to ensure that information is readily available. CHIRP Program Director and EMSC Clinical Nurse Consultant, Tia Dalrymple, explains parents are able to register their child online, ensuring that up-to-date information is available for EMS providers if a parent must call 9-1-1 for their child with special health care needs.  Dalrymple says, “The overall program objective is to improve the care of a child with special health care needs in their moment of need.” More information can be found at

Media Contact:
Charla Haley
Risk Communication Specialist
Office: (801) 273-4178

Monday, May 18, 2015

Redesign of Hospital Comparison Tool Eases Care Option Navigation

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has released a redesigned Utah Hospital Comparison tool (  The updated tool introduces CMS nursing home quality reports for 99 certified nursing care facilities, CMS physician profile and location reports for 6,700 physicians, and enables consumers to trend        year-over-year hospital utilization data for the most recent five years. In addition, this tool includes a short video located on the main page to guide consumers about effective ways to use health care quality reports. Consumers will also find a safe surgery infographic, which provides engaging, easy-to-understand, and shareable information on safe surgery.

For this release, local health departments (LHD) were added to the tool so that rates of conditions and procedures are now provided at the state, county, and local levels, including information on the number of hospital stays and charges or costs for hospital stays.

The hospital comparison tool for reporting supports the UDOH’s mission to improve the quality, accessibility, safety, efficiency, and cost transparency of health care for all Americans. To produce health care reports, the tool draws from local inpatient hospital discharge data; evidence-based measure results from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital Compare data, including the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) patient experience survey; and pre-calculated AHRQ Quality Indicator™ (QI) results.

This tool enables consumers and other decision makers to easily compare Utah's hospitals in selected treatment areas based on cost, quality, and patient safety. Health care professionals, policy-makers, and legislators can use the tool to provide data for discussions about ways to increase the quality and safety of health care while lowering costs. For example, 
In reference to surgical patient safety, Utah performed better than the national average on how often patients in the hospital had to use a breathing machine after surgery because they could not breathe on their own.
When looking at heart surgeries and recommended care, Utah is a leader in low rates of how often hospitals use a procedure to find blocked blood vessels in the heart on both sides of the heart instead of on only one side. Doing this procedure on both sides of the heart often leads to more complications.  
Across the majority of health conditions and topics, Utah remains below the national average on mean costs associated with service use rates.
Taking a closer look at one of the major diagnostic categories, Diseases & Disorders of the Female Reproductive System (MDC 13), reveals that although the total number of discharges over the past five years have steadily decreased by county, the mean cost in dollars has steadily risen. 

Hospital comparison information is released annually as required by the Utah Health Data Authority Act, Title 26 Chapter 33a, with the goals of improving transparency, helping the public choose hospitals for various services, and ultimately improving quality of health care. In the future, the UDOH will be releasing separate web sites for consumers versus hospital administrators, researchers and analysts, and policy makers. The UDOH also plans to incorporate Emergency Department data into the hospital comparison tool in the next year.

The comparison tool is generated by MONAHRQ, which stands for “My Own Network powered by AHRQ, a web development tool created by the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  The information available in the MONAHRQ system is based on admission rates and pre-calculated AHRQ Quality Indicator measures (QIs) derived from local hospital discharge data.  The AHRQ QIs are a series of standardized measures that highlight potential health care safety and quality concerns. 

Media Contact:
Kimberly Partain McNamara, M.S.
Senior Business Analyst
801-538-9179 (office)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Postpartum Depression a Threat to Utah Moms, Babies


(Salt Lake City, UT)  –   “Anxiety. Rage. Bad Mom. Guilt. Repeat.” “Engulfing fear – desiring my own death.” “Deep, dark, alienating and lonely place.” 

These are just some of the responses from new mothers who were asked to describe their experience with postpartum depression (PPD) in six words. They are heartbreaking, yet illuminating cries for help.

Thursday evening, May 14, the Utah Maternal Mental Health Collaborative (UMMHC) and partners will sponsor a free premiere screening of a revealing new documentary about Pregnancy and Postpartum Depression and Anxiety (PPD), Dark Side of the Full Moon. 

“This is a story that needs to be told,” said Marc Babitz, M.D., Director, UDOH Division of Family Health and Preparedness. “PPD is among the most common complications of childbirth and can affect mothers to the point that they cannot care for their newborns or even themselves,” Babitz added.

A UDOH survey of new moms found that one in seven (13.8 percent) reported experiencing postpartum depression. The condition can impact a mother’s ability to bond with her baby, strain family relationships, lead to long-term mental health issues when untreated, and even affect the newborn’s cognitive development. Suicide remains the second leading cause of death in the first year postpartum. Nationally, an estimated 1.3 million mothers are affected by PPD each year. 

“The prevalence and impact of maternal mood and anxiety disorders is a public health crisis,” says Amy-Rose White, LCSW, Executive Director and founder of the Utah Maternal Mental Health Collaborative. “Every woman deserves to be given information about risk, prevention, and treatment resources at every stage of pregnancy and throughout their child’s first year,” she added. “Also, PPD is a misnomer. It’s really an agitated depression more often experienced as anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. Most moms with severe depression or anxiety are still able take good care of their children, which is why we call them ‘hidden illnesses’. If a mom looks good, often no one knows or asks,” White added.

Dark Side of the Full Moon will premiere at the Salt Lake City Library, 210 East 400 South, Thursday, May 14 promptly at 7 p.m. The 72-minute documentary tells the dramatic, true stories of two mothers who experienced roadblocks to health care. The film confronts the system and explores why so many women fall through the cracks. The film will be followed by a 30-minute community discussion. Nursing babies in arms are welcome. To view a 6-minute trailer, click here. 

Signs and symptoms of pregnancy and postpartum depression include sleep disturbances, feelings of anxiety, anger, irritability, guilt, self-blame and fear. Many women withdraw from family and friends and think about hurting themselves or the baby. Depression or anxiety can be part of other postpartum mental health conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Children of mothers with PPD can become withdrawn or irritable, display behavioral problems, and have a higher risk of anxiety disorders and major depression in childhood and adolescence. 

Sponsors of Dark Side of the Full Moon are Intermountain Medical Center, The Healing Group, BetterBirth LLC, BirthCare HealthCare, and the Community School of Midwifery. 

Note: The film is intended for mature audiences as there are sensitive scenes that may be upsetting for some viewers.

MEDIA NOTE: Due to Salt Lake City Library scheduling needs, Amy-Rose White and Utah mothers who have experienced postpartum depression will be available for interviews at the Salt Lake City Library prior to the screening from 6:15-6:45 p.m. 

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Media Contact:
Cyndi Bemis, Marketing & Outreach
Pregnancy Risk Line /MotherToBaby
(o) 801-550-4228