Project Filter offers a year’s worth of diapers and wipes to moms (and others) who quit tobacco

What is the Diapers and Wipes Program?

The Diapers and Wipes Program is offered through the Department of Health and Welfare’s Tobacco Prevention and Control program – Project Filter – which helps people quit tobacco. Anyone who wants to quit smoking, vaping, and chewing for good, and who lives with a baby can apply. Those who are eligible will receive up to 12 months’ worth of free diapers and wipes at the same time they change their lives for the better by quitting tobacco.

Who is eligible?

Pregnant women, and moms and anyone who lives with a baby less than a year old who wants to quit. This includes dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and older siblings – as long as they all live in the same home as the baby.

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An update from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Working to reduce Idaho’s suicide rate

DHW’s Living Strategic Plan: A year of progress toward Goal 3 – Help Idahoans become as healthy and self-sufficient as possible

As the department continues to develop our next five-year strategic plan, we have also been able to take a few moments to reflect on the journey behind us. We are proud to share the work we have accomplished, despite the challenges over the past year.

Today’s post is the third in a four-part series highlighting the department’s progress toward our mission and the goals we have committed to in our strategic plan. In this blog post, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight some of the key achievements over the past year as part of “Strategic Goal 3: Help Idahoans become as healthy and self-sufficient as possible.” This includes work on one of our most urgent priorities: reducing suicide in Idaho. We are also engaging in two areas of groundbreaking preventative work that will help Idahoans live their best lives decades down the road.

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Rabies in Idaho: Would you know what to do if you find a bat?

Idaho public health officials have gotten reports of two rabid bats in Bonneville and Payette counties, which are Idaho’s first for this summer. Would you know what to do if you found a bat that might be carrying rabies?

What should I do if I find a bat?

The most common ways people encounter bats are after a pet brings one into the home or a bat enters a home through a small opening or open windows or doors. If you can safely avoid the bat, open windows and close doors to the rest of the house, leave it alone and it will likely go away on its own. If you find a bat outside, avoid it and leave it alone and make sure pets, livestock and others also avoid it. If you are bitten or scratched, seek medical attention. Teach children to avoid bats and to let an adult know if they find one.

What if I wake up in there is a bat in the room I was sleeping in?

If you wake up to find a bat in the room and are not be sure whether you might have been bitten or scratched as you slept, a healthcare provider should be consulted immediately. Bats have very small teeth, and it’s difficult to tell outright if you have been bitten or scratched.

What is normal bat behavior?

Bats are generally most active at night. You might see a bat during the day, but that doesn’t mean they are sick. Bats migrate into Idaho every spring, and sometimes they just need to rest along their journey and hang out on the side of a building or a tree. Just leave them alone and they will go on their way when they are ready.

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An update from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: We are focused on protecting our children, youth, and vulnerable adults

DHW’s Living Strategic Plan: A year of progress toward Goal 2 – Protecting children, youth, and vulnerable adults

As the department continues to develop our five-year Strategic Plan, which we will submit to the Division of Financial Management in July, we have also been able to take a few moments to reflect on the journey behind us. When we look over the completed tasks and challenges overcome over the past year, we feel we have cause to celebrate how far we have come in helping Idahoans to live their best lives.

Today’s post is the second in a four-part series highlighting the department’s progress toward our mission and the goals we have committed to in our Strategic Plan. In this blog post, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight some of the key achievements over the past year that have been accomplished as part of Strategic Goal 2: Protect children, youth, and vulnerable adults. In a difficult year, the importance of this goal has never been more apparent. Our staff have worked diligently to make sure that Idaho’s children, youth, and vulnerable adults are protected – especially during such a challenging time for all of us.

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From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: A year of progress toward affordable, available healthcare that works

DHW’s Living Strategic Plan: A year of progress toward ensuring affordable, available healthcare that works

Each year, the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW), along with all other State of Idaho agencies, submits a five-year Strategic Plan to the Division of Financial Management. Our Strategic Plan is our roadmap. We use it as a tool to define and share who we are as an agency, what our goals are, and how we plan to get there. We are currently in the process of making our final reflections on our 2021 – 2025 plan, as we work toward the publication of our 2022 – 2026 Strategic Plan in July.

Over the past year, we have worked hard to take our roadmap one step further in our mission of strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. We have reimagined our Strategic Plan as a “living” document – imagine, rather than the old days of a printed MapQuest page, we are now in the age of a GPS Google Map that follows our progress in real time and allows us to problem-solve and find new opportunities as we move forward on our journey.

The department’s leadership team has led this effort towards a living Strategic Plan by never letting the dust settle; we take our plan off the shelf each week to review our progress as a department, and we work as a team to set and achieve ambitious accountability targets throughout the year.

In this blog post, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight and celebrate some of the key achievements over the past year that have been accomplished as part of the first of our four strategic goals. Throughout June, I will continue this reflection with blog posts focusing on our second, third, and fourth strategic goals.

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As Idaho rebounds from pandemic, effects on mental health, substance use remain

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. More than a year after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Idaho has reached Stage 4 of the Idaho Rebounds reopening guidelines, Idahoans are still struggling from stress and feel overwhelmed by the trauma that the pandemic brought.

A survey of adults conducted in 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed nearly double the rates of self-reported behavioral health symptoms than would have been expected before the pandemic, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, including:

  • 31 percent of respondents reported symptoms of anxiety or depression
  • 13 percent reported having started or increased substance use
  • 26 percent reported stress-related symptoms
  • 11 percent reported having serious thoughts of suicide in the past 30 days

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Division of Behavioral Health provides a range of services for eligible people struggling with mental illness or addiction (substance use disorder) issues, including specific programs for people impacted directly or indirectly by the pandemic.

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An update from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: A time to celebrate

I want to publicly congratulate Lori Wolff on her new appointment by Gov. Brad Little to be the administrator for the Idaho Division of Human Resources. Lori is currently a deputy director in the Department of Health and Welfare. She has had several very important roles at DHW since she started with the department 18 years ago. We can point to many accomplishments for the people of Idaho that are linked directly back to her vision, guidance, and work, but I’ll highlight just one specifically.

The eligibility process – where someone in crisis must prove income and other requirements for certain benefit programs – historically had been arduous in Idaho and it still is in many states. Because of Lori’s leadership, persistence, expertise, and guidance, Idaho has an eligibility process that is so efficient that people who walk into a DHW office lobby with a need for assistance can often walk back out those doors the same day with a decision and access to those benefits. If a decision cannot be reached the same day, it’s almost always within two days.

The state of Idaho is one of only a few states that streamlines the eligibility process for programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, TANF, and others, so there is no need for someone to be evaluated multiple times for eligibility for each individual program. They are evaluated once, and then can access those services so they can start working toward self-reliance as quickly as possible. In other states, the wait can be up to 30 days.

We will miss Lori at DHW, but I am sure she will be great in her new role at DHR. I am looking forward to seeing the new ways she will have an impact on helping Idahoans live their best lives.

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COVID-19 Q&A: Vaccine for 12-15 year-olds

When can a 12-15 year-old receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

Today! Or whenever it’s convenient. As of May 12, 2021, adolescents 12-15 years old can receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines are given in the same dosage as for adults: two 0.3 mL doses of vaccine 21 days apart.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective for adolescents 12-15?  

Yes. COVID-19 vaccine has been administered during clinical trials to more than 1,000 adolescents ages 12-15 years old. None of the adolescents in the phase 3 clinical trials had unusual or severe reactions to the vaccine. Of those in the trial who received the vaccine, zero adolescents contracted COVID-19, while 18 adolescents in the placebo group contracted COVID-19.

What are the most likely side effects for adolescents?

The most common side effects of the vaccine among adolescents were similar to those for older adolescents and adults: sore arm at the injection site, swollen lymph nodes, headache, chills, mild fever, and fatigue. Over the counter medications can be given to adolescents after their vaccine to alleviate these symptoms, if they occur.

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A message from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Help and treatment is available.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a behavioral health crisis such as suicidal thoughts or withdrawal from drugs, behavioral health crisis phone lines and community crisis centers are available to help.

We are focused on behavioral health in Idaho.

If there was ever a time that tested our collective mental health, it has been during this global pandemic. The pandemic has intensified feelings of isolation and anxiety.

Life is hard enough, and COVID-19 didn’t make it any easier. May is the time for us to raise awareness, and Idaho is committed to helping people with mental or behavioral health issues.

In February 2020, Gov. Brad Little, all five Idaho Supreme Court Justices, and the Idaho Legislature signed documents (the Governor’s Executive Order, the Supreme Court Proclamation and Order, and the legislative Concurrent Resolution) establishing and supporting the Idaho Behavioral Health Council, a new three-branch approach to improve care for Idahoans with mental health and substance use disorders.

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COVID-19 Q&A: Traveling during the pandemic

As summer approaches, and beaches and campsites beckon, it’s still important to keep in mind that we are not out of the woods yet as far as the pandemic goes. Travel is possible, with a little homework ahead of time and adherence to precautions to avoid spreading COVID-19.

However, please don’t travel if you were recently exposed to COVID-19you are sick, you test positive for COVID-19, or you are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test. And please don’t travel with someone who is sick.

Q: Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine while I’m in Idaho for vacation?

A: Yes – Idaho has lifted its restriction that people have to live or work in the state to get vaccinated. Everyone ages 16 and older can get vaccinated in Idaho, regardless of where they live or work. Vaccine eligibility is expected to be expanded to include 12-15 year-olds later this week,

Q: What if I am not yet fully vaccinated or vaccinated at all and must travel?  

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated, because travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.

For those who are not fully vaccinated and must travel, the CDC recommends the following steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  • Before you travel:
    • Get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before your trip. Don’t travel if the test is positive.
  • While you are traveling:
    • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth. Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
    • Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you.
    • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • After you travel:
    • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
      • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
      • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
    • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
    • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
    • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
    • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements.
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