We’ve moved our blog to the DHW website. New posts are now available at https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/dhw-voice. See you there!
COVID-19 Q&A: Antibodies and natural immunity are difficult to measure
How long do the antibodies protect you from COVID-19?
Nobody knows if there is a certain level of antibody, or certain types of antibodies (such as neutralizing antibodies) that can predict protection, although antibody levels are used in clinical trials as a way to estimate protection from the vaccines. Antibody levels indicate some immune response to the vaccine. Some studies suggest that at least for the same variant, protection after infection may last for months, but it’s not certain. Some people who get COVID-19 do get it again even after developing antibodies, so protection is not guaranteed.
That’s why we encourage all Idahoans to consider getting vaccinated and boosted. It’s the best protection we have against serious illness and death.Continue reading “COVID-19 Q&A: Antibodies and natural immunity are difficult to measure”
From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Our annual Facts, Figures, & Trends publication that details the department’s work is now available
Every year, we create and distribute our Facts, Figures, & Trends, where you can find robust and detailed information about the work of the department’s eight divisions. The book highlights how our employees live our mission daily: to strengthen the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans.
Facts, Figures, & Trends covers state fiscal year (SFY) 2022, which is from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.
Because of the pandemic, those we serve have become more familiar with the Division of Public Health and how public officials work to support and inform the community and our community partners. However, the department also has seven other divisions that are focused on serving Idahoans or supporting those who serve Idahoans.
In additional to Public Health, the department’s divisions are Medicaid, Family and Community Services, Behavioral Health, Welfare (Self Reliance), Licensing and Certification, Management Services, and Information and Technology Services. Our employees have expertise in accounting, data analytics, healthcare administration, research, epidemiology, toxicology, social work, mental health, nursing, network administration, customer service, communications, program management, and much more. The skills and knowledge of our staff is vast and varied, but all of our employees have one thing in common, their desire to serve the people of Idaho.Continue reading “From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Our annual Facts, Figures, & Trends publication that details the department’s work is now available”
Idaho needs foster families! Can you help?
Idaho has a critical need for foster families so children have a safe and nurturing place to live and go to school while their parents get the help they need to provide a safe place at home. But becoming a foster parent is a big decision, and many people have lots of questions. Here are some of the most common ones.
More information on how to become a foster parent is available on the department’s website or interested people can call 2-1-1 and a foster care representative will contact them.
What does a foster parent do?
When a child cannot live safely at home, temporary foster care is needed. Foster parents are responsible for providing a safe and nurturing living environment while working with the child’s social worker and parents so the family can be safely reunited.Continue reading “Idaho needs foster families! Can you help?”
From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: An update on improving the Developmental Disabilities Crisis System
Making progress toward Strategic Goal 2: Protect children, youth, and vulnerable adults
As part of the department’s mission to strengthen the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans, we strive to consider what this means for all Idahoans, including those with developmental disabilities (DD).
A specific focus we have is how to best serve people with developmental disabilities who are experiencing a crisis, often due to complex needs that can include mental health or medical needs. When these individuals are in crisis, it is essential that they receive services that are person-centered, trauma-informed, and delivered in the least restrictive environment possible. We believe we can improve the Idaho crisis system that serves Idaho’s adults with DD.
The Developmental Disabilities Crisis System Improvement Project is well under way to establish a long-term system of care by July 1, 2022, for people with developmental disabilities who exhibit severe behaviors.Continue reading “From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: An update on improving the Developmental Disabilities Crisis System”
COVID-19 Q&A: Obesity significantly increases risk of severe illness from COVID-19
Obesity is a common and serious disease that puts people at risk for many other serious diseases and increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
- A study of COVID-19 cases shows that hospitalizations, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, need for ventilators, and deaths are higher with a higher body mass index (BMI).
- A higher risk for having to be admitted to the hospital or death was really apparent in those younger than age 65.
- More than 900,000 adult COVID-19 hospitalizations happened in the United States between the beginning of the pandemic and Nov. 18, 2020. Models estimate that 271,800 (30.2 percent) of these hospitalizations were attributed to obesity.
Why focus on obesity when there are other serious chronic health issues that also can make it more likely someone will get seriously ill with COVID-19?
Adults with enough extra weight to be considered obese are more likely to also have additional health issues that make it more likely they will wind up in the hospital or worse if they get sick with COVID-19.
Extra weight puts extra strain on our bodies, and it’s important for people to know that so they can make well-informed decisions about how to continue to protect themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), having obesity may triple the risk of hospitalization due to a COVID-19 infection.Continue reading “COVID-19 Q&A: Obesity significantly increases risk of severe illness from COVID-19”
From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving
These past 20 months have been overwhelmingly difficult due to the impact of the pandemic. Everyone has given up something for the greater good, and we all have worked together to slow the spread of COVID-19.
It’s easy to go down a path of negativity, to focus on the impact of the pandemic, the loss of life, and the stress this has caused all Idahoans.
However, I am cautiously optimistic about the light I see at the end of the tunnel. COVID-19 trends are going in the right direction with fewer cases, hospitalizations, and a decrease in percent positivity in most regions of Idaho.
As we approach this season of gratitude, this week dedicated to giving thanks, I am thankful for the healthcare workers, teachers and students, families, business owners, public health officials, and the many others in Idaho who have stood together against this pandemic. You are appreciated.
Finally, during this season of thanks, I would encourage all of you to take time to recharge, spend time with your families, and do those things that bring you joy. I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.Continue reading “From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving”
COVID-19 Q&A: Vaccines are safe and recommended for pregnant women
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends COVID-19 vaccination for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or who want to become pregnant in the future. Women who have questions about this should discuss their concerns with their healthcare providers. In the meantime, here are some common questions and answers.
Why is it so important for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or who want to become pregnant in the future, to get vaccinated?
Pregnant and recently pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with women who are not pregnant. (Severe illness requires hospitalization, intensive care, a ventilator, or special equipment to breathe, or results in death.) Pregnant women with COVID-19 are also at increased risk of preterm birth and might be at increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes, compared with pregnant women without COVID-19.
Is there a possibility the COVID-19 vaccine would keep a woman from getting pregnant?
There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with conception or pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. During vaccine trials, the rate of pregnancy among women who received the COVID-19 vaccine was the same as the rate among women who got a placebo vaccine. There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.Continue reading “COVID-19 Q&A: Vaccines are safe and recommended for pregnant women”
From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: When will Idaho exit crisis standards of care; encouraging pregnant women to choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine
When will Idaho be able to exit crisis standards of care?
That is a question I receive quite frequently. When Gov. Brad Little and I answered questions through the AARP Town Hall earlier this week, several people asked us about this and shared stories of postponed surgeries and delayed healthcare that caused them frustration and distress. That is not what anyone wants. We all want healthcare availability to return to normal.
The short answer to that question is that Idaho will deactivate crisis standards of care when the surge of COVID-19 patients ends and the number of patients no longer exceeds the healthcare resources available.
Below are a few examples that will let us know we can leave crisis standards of care:
- Non-clinical or non-traditional spaces or rooms are no longer being used to care for patients in hospital and healthcare systems settings
- Patients who should be admitted to the hospital are admitted to traditional hospital rooms, and are no longer being kept for long periods in emergency rooms
- Instead of large hospitals transferring patients to small hospitals, we can return to normal where small hospitals can transfer critical care patients to large hospitals as needed
- At least some postponed, less critical surgeries can continue (we are starting to see this happen in some hospitals in Idaho)
- Staff-to-patient ratios can return to normal
- The trend of new cases and hospitalizations continues to decline
When the situation changes in Idaho, crisis standards of care will be deactivated, and the public will be informed immediately.Continue reading “From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: When will Idaho exit crisis standards of care; encouraging pregnant women to choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine”
From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Making progress toward our Strategic Goal 1 to ensure affordable, available healthcare that works
The Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) is pleased to announce the launch of a groundbreaking program, designed to change how Medicaid pays for healthcare. This long-awaited, trailblazing program called “Healthy Connections Value Care” is a collaboration between DHW and healthcare providers that seeks to make sure Idahoans have access to healthcare that makes them healthier. It is designed to turn around the system where Medicaid pays for medical procedures, community-based services, and supports for people with disabilities, but does not link payments to actual health outcomes for the people we serve.
By contrast, the Healthy Connections Value Care program rewards healthcare providers when they provide high-quality and cost-effective healthcare. These hospitals and primary care providers, called Value Care Organizations (VCOs), work together with DHW to keep healthcare costs in check. Part of the deal is that VCOs agree that if their healthcare costs exceed a target they will return a portion of that money to the Idaho Medicaid program. This approach incentivizes healthcare providers to deliver quality healthcare that is also a good value for state taxpayers. Ultimately, we anticipate a win-win outcome for both Medicaid participants and providers.Continue reading “From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Making progress toward our Strategic Goal 1 to ensure affordable, available healthcare that works”