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

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Documentary Shines Light on Darkness of Postpartum Depression

What:  Startling new documentary on postpartum depression premieres in Salt Lake City.

Why:   Having a baby is supposed to be the happiest time in a woman’s life. Instead, for one in seven Utah women, postpartum depression makes the months -- and sometimes years -- after a woman gives birth a dark and dangerous time for mom and baby. This documentary shines a light on postpartum depression and encourages understanding of and treatment for this all-too-common condition.
Who:   A representative from the Utah Maternal Mental Health Collaborative                         
           A Utah mother affected by crippling postpartum depression
When:  Thursday, May 14, 7 p.m.

Where:  Salt Lake City Public Library
210 East 400 South, SLC, UT 84111

Note:    Because the theater doors will close at promptly 7:00 p.m., speakers will be available before the screening from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m.
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For information, contact:
Cyndi Bemis, Marketing and Outreach Specialist
MotherToBaby/Pregnancy Risk Line
(o) 801-538-6924
(m) 801-550-4428

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Common Sense Practices to Avoid Rabies Exposure

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Every year, it is estimated that 40,000 people receive a rabies prevention treatment called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) due to a potential exposure to rabies. Nearly all of the rabid animals reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) occur in wild animals such as bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes. These animals, including bats, are considered high risk for carrying rabies.  In Utah, bats are the primary carrier of the rabies virus.  However, since rabies is considered 100% fatal once symptoms develop, all potential exposures must be taken seriously.  Not all animal exposures will require PEP.  Unfortunately, most people are given PEP due to close contact with domestic animals, such as cats or dogs. Knowing how to prevent rabies can reduce your risks and save pets from unnecessary grief.

Rabies is spread through the saliva, usually through a bite.  Any time a pet catches, plays with, or even touches a bat or other high-risk animal there is a risk of rabies being spread to the pet.  Because it takes time for the disease to become apparent, pets that are not vaccinated or have a lapsed vaccine status are either euthanized or held at an approved facility for six months—which can cost the owner thousands of dollars.   Additionally, people who are exposed to rabies must undergo a series of injections (PEP) to prevent the deadly disease. 

The Utah Department of Health and local health departments urge all Utahns to avoid the heartache of unnecessarily euthanizing pets and undergoing rabies treatment by ensuring their pets’ rabies vaccines are up-to-date. Utah law requires all domestic dogs, cats and ferrets receive the rabies vaccine. Pet owners are encouraged to check with their veterinarian for information on rabies vaccine.

In addition to vaccinating your pets, following these guidelines can help reduce your risk for getting rabies.
Keep your pets confined. Keep your pets inside and supervise them when outside. This will help keep your pets from coming in contact with wild animals.
Report stray animals to local authorities. Call your local animal control officials to report stray dogs and cats.
Don't approach wild animals. Wild animals with rabies may seem unafraid of people. It's not normal for a wild animal to be friendly with people, so stay away from any animal that seems unafraid. If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to animal control.
Keep bats out of your home. Seal any cracks and gaps where bats can enter your home. If you know you have bats in your home, work with a local expert to find ways to keep bats out or contact the Utah Division of Wildlife Services.
Consider the rabies pre-exposure vaccine if you're traveling. If you're traveling to a country where rabies is common and you'll be there for an extended period of time, ask your doctor whether you should receive the rabies vaccine.
Take action if you are bitten. If you are bitten by any animal (domestic or wild), immediately wash the wound well with soap and water and see a health care provider. Contact animal control if you are bitten by an animal, to assist in capturing the animal for observation or rabies testing.

In domestic animals, signs of rabies include: 
behavior changes  
general sickness 
trouble swallowing 
an increase in drool or saliva 
biting at everything, if excited

For more information on rabies, visit

Media Contact:
Rebecca Ward 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Newborn Screening Program Receives Governor’s Award

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Within the first few days of their lives, the Utah Department of Health’s (UDOH) Newborn Screening Program tests all babies born in the state for 38 different disorders. Newborn screening saves lives, and is critically dependent on timeliness. Today, Governor Gary R. Herbert honored the newborn screening team with the Governor’s Award for Excellence for their efforts in improving timeliness and other operational improvements.

Hospitals collect blood samples from each newborn within a day or two of their birth and deliver the samples to the Utah Public Health Laboratory (UPHL) for testing. The Newborn Screening Program reports results back to the hospital within five days of a baby’s life. Some of the disorders, if not discovered within the first several days of a baby’s life, are fatal. 

A 2014 evaluation of the program, lead by Newborn Screening Laboratory Director Dr. Andy Rohrwasser, discovered some samples weren’t being shipped to the lab in a timely enough manner to allow results to be reported back to hospitals within five days. 

“The evaluation highlighted areas where we could make significant improvements in sample transport and laboratory efficiency,” Rohrwasser said. “It wasn’t rocket science to see that we could do much better.”

The program entered into a partnership with FedEx and the Utah Hospital Association to ensure all samples, especially from small and rural from hospitals, would be received within three days – and at no cost to the hospital. 

“Newborn screening is truly life-saving for babies born with certain disorders,” said UPHL Director Dr. Robyn Atkinson. “It shouldn’t matter where in Utah a baby is born, or at what hospital, all babies should be screened as quickly as possible so they can receive the treatment they need.”

The improvement has already resulted in at least one success story: Within several days of the program’s implementation a baby born in a rural hospital was identified as having a life-threatening metabolic disorder. Through prompt screening, the disorder was treated and the baby is thriving. Without the timely screening, the baby most likely would not have survived.

Data from the program tell a similar story. Prior to the FedEx partnership, nearly 34% of newborn screening samples were being received within 4-7 days of birth. Following implementation of the program, that rate has dropped nearly in half to 19% and the overall average transport time has improved to less than 1.5 days.

In addition to the FedEx partnership, the Newborn Screening Program has also moved to a 7-day operations schedule to further accelerate the screening of newborns. This major task was accomplished through reallocation of resources and without the need for additional funding. The program now receives samples and releases results on Saturdays, and also tests samples on Sundays. 

“I applaud the governor for honoring the good work that goes on in state government,” Atkinson said. “This is a great example of how a process improvement project can have a real and lasting impact on Utah residents.” Nationally, the team’s improvement efforts have received attention for its evidence based strategy and implementation approach. 

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Media Contact:
Charla Haley, Public Information Specialist
(o) 801-273-4178
(m) 801-230-5927

Monday, May 4, 2015

Recent Travelers to Tulum, Mexico Encouraged to Get Vaccinated

(Salt Lake City, UT) – As of May 1, 2015, a total of 31 cases of hepatitis A, including one in a Utah resident, have been reported in U.S. travelers who visited Tulum, Mexico between January 5, 2015, and March 20, 2015. In order to prevent infection, CDC is recommending that all travelers who have visited Tulum in the last 14 days talk to their health care provider about receiving hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin, which can prevent or reduce the symptoms of hepatitis A if given within 14 days of exposure.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection that affects the liver. Symptoms usually appear 15-50 days after exposure and include jaundice (yellow eyes or skin), dark urine, fever, extreme fatigue, nausea and abdominal pain. Symptoms tend to be more severe in adults than in children. Most patients completely recover but symptoms may last for weeks to months. Severe liver failure and death are rare and are more common in older patients. The disease is usually acquired through eating or drinking contaminated food or water. The disease can also be spread from person-to-person.

Utahns planning travel to Mexico or other countries where hepatitis A is common, should consider receiving hepatitis A vaccine before travel. The vaccine, which has been part of routine childhood immunizations since 2005, is given in 2 doses, 6 months apart and is nearly 100% effective. Vaccine is available through health care providers, local health department clinics, and pharmacies. 

Travelers to Mexico and other developing countries should also follow precautions to avoid exposure to hepatitis A and other food and waterborne infections. These precautions include eating only fruits and vegetables you have washed in clean water or peeled yourself, pasteurized dairy products and food that is cooked and served hot. Travelers should avoid eating food from street vendors, raw or soft-cooked (runny) eggs, raw or undercooked (rare) meat, fish or other 
seafood, unwashed or unpeeled fruits or vegetables, condiments (such as salsa) made with fresh ingredients, salads, unpasteurized dairy products and “bushmeat” (monkeys, bats, or other wild game). Travelers should only drink bottled water or carbonated drinks purchased in sealed containers or water that has been disinfected (boiled, filtered, treated), hot coffee or tea, or pasteurized milk, and should only use ice made from treated water. Travelers should also frequently wash their hands with soap and running water and use hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available.

Recent travelers who are sick and think they may have hepatitis A should contact a health care provider and ask if they should be tested. A blood test is necessary to diagnose hepatitis A. There is no specific treatment for the disease, but many patients need IV rehydration and medical monitoring. Persons who are experiencing symptoms of hepatitis A should not prepare or serve food to other people.

More information about the outbreak is available at Persons with questions about hepatitis A should contact their health care provider or local health department.

Media Contact:
Charla Haley