Protect your skin! Idahoans have a higher melanoma rate than the rest of the United States

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We’ll soon be spending lots of time in the sun, and many of us won’t properly protect ourselves from its damaging rays. As we get ready for the long Memorial Day weekend to kick off our summer, Friday is National Don’t Fry Day, and it’s a good time to make a promise to yourself to be more responsible in the sun this summer. Sunburns add up. Every time you get a sunburn, your risk for skin cancer increases.

Is it really necessary to take precautions if you’re not outside very long?  

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage skin – especially fair skin — in as little as 15 minutes, but it can take up to 12 hours for the full effect to show up. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with melanoma being the deadliest form. Idahoans have a higher rate of melanoma than the national average and one of the highest death rates in the nation. So it’s always important to take precautions in the sun.

Who is most at risk?

Those with fair skin or hair, freckles, and blue eyes are at the highest risk for developing skin cancer, but everyone who spends time outside increases their risk and should make sun safety part of their daily routine. While being sun safe is important, early detection is vital in treating skin cancers, so check your skin regularly and see a doctor if you find anything you’re not sure about. Continue reading

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May is Mental Health Month: Will you help decrease stigma?

Millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition, which is challenging enough. Add to that the stigma associated with mental illness, and it can cause people to avoid help and treatment. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to talk about it and help put an end to the stigma about mental health issues.

How many people really are dealing with a mental illness?

Generally, 1 in 5 adults have a diagnosable mental illness. That makes mental illness more common than cancer, diabetes, or even heart disease, and yet we hear much more about those diseases than we do about mental health. That’s why this month is so important. About half of the adults in the U.S. will develop a mental illness at some point in their lives. Mental illness is normal in our society. It’s also normal to live a life of recovery.

How do you know if someone needs help? What should we look for?

Symptoms for children and adults can vary, but they can include changes in behavior, feeling sad or depressed for a long time, drug or alcohol abuse, changes in eating or sleeping habits, suicidal thoughts, and excessive anger, hostility, or violence. Mental health conditions often appear for the first time during adolescence, but it can happen at any time in a person’s life. Continue reading

DHW learns client data may have been accessed without authorization

The Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) has recently been informed that clients’ personal information contained in a contractor’s employee’s email account may have been accessed without authorization.

OS Inc. provides claims management services to the Department of Health and Welfare.  The access was obtained through an email phishing campaign. At this time, there is no evidence that personal information or financial account information was accessed because of this event. The 2,060 individuals potentially affected by this have been notified by OS with a notice sent by U.S. Postal Service.

“Protecting the personal health and financial information for the people we serve is critical for the Department of Health and Welfare,” said DHW Director Dave Jeppesen. “We are working closely with OS to make sure proper notifications have been sent and that those affected have access to monitoring and assistance to make sure their information is safe. We are also working with OS to make sure this doesn’t happen again. In addition, I’ve asked my staff to evaluate the lessons learned from this incident, so we can apply those to our overall cybersecurity efforts.” Continue reading

If you have plans to travel, please talk to your healthcare provider about measles

Even though health officials in Oregon and Washington have declared the measles outbreak in their states over, measles outbreaks are still happening both in the United States and in other countries. The number of measles cases in the U.S. in the first 4 months of the year is the highest it has been in over 20 years, with more than 700 cases. Measles is one of the most highly contagious diseases in the world, so if you have plans to travel anytime soon, make sure your measles vaccination is up to date.

Tell me how it spreads.

Measles is extremely contagious. Infected people can spread the virus to others beginning around four days before the rash appears, and up to four days after. The measles virus can live for up to two hours on a surface or in the air after an infected person has coughed or sneezed. If other people who are not immune breathe the contaminated air or touch the contaminated surface they can become infected – and about 90 percent of those who aren’t immune will become infected, which is not very good odds!

So vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.

That’s right. Getting an MMR immunization, which protects you against measles, mumps, and rubella, is the best way to protect yourself and your family, as well as your friends and community. Continue reading

Construction to begin on skilled nursing facility at State Hospital South

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is extremely pleased to announce that construction will begin Wednesday, May 8, on the new Syringa Chalet Nursing Facility at State Hospital South, 700 East Alice, Blackfoot.

A groundbreaking ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen and State Hospital South Administrator Jim Price will be in attendance, along with Sen. Steve Bair, R-Blackfoot, Rep. Neil Anderson, R-Blackfoot, Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll, and Idaho Behavioral Health Administrator Ross Edmunds. Light refreshments will be served afterward.

“The nursing home serves as a safety net for the residents, many of whom can’t be treated in other nursing homes around the state and cannot return to their communities,” said Jim Price, administrator for State Hospital South, which operates the skilled nursing facility. “The new facility will be safer and have more capacity as it also preserves a feeling of home for our residents, who are mentally ill and gravely disabled and require skilled nursing care.” Continue reading

Be aware and take precautions: Backyard poultry can carry Salmonella

SalmonellaPoultry_456pxSpring is a great time to replenish your backyard poultry flocks. Keeping backyard poultry can be a great experience for you and your family, and whether you are thinking about buying your first chick or are an experienced backyard poultry enthusiast, you should be aware of the risks of keeping poultry so you know how to keep yourself and your family from getting sick.

What happens when a person is infected with Salmonella?

Salmonella most often causes diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal cramps anywhere from 12-to-72 hours after infection. An infected person can expect to be sick for four to seven days. If you think you or a loved one has a Salmonella infection, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Who is most at risk of contracting Salmonella from poultry?

Babies, the elderly, and anyone with a weakened immune system can get so sick from Salmonella bacteria that they must be hospitalized. Children are likely to get sick for several reasons: their immune systems are still developing, and they are much more likely to snuggle or kiss the chicks and put their fingers in their mouths after touching the birds. Continue reading

Update – Meetings added in Regions 3 and 4: Idaho Child Care Licensing Program to highlight upcoming changes in public meetings starting May 7

The Idaho Child Care Licensing Program is inviting all child care providers and stakeholders to attend a meeting about future changes and updates to Idaho Daycare Licensing requirements.

Licensing staff from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare will provide an update about program changes and welcome comments and feedback about proposed updates to the requirements. The meetings will be informative and conversational for anyone interested in Idaho’s child care licensing requirements.

All child care providers and stakeholders are encouraged to attend an open forum in their region to learn and provide feedback. The changes will impact some city-licensed providers as well. Continue reading