Russ Barron named to succeed Director Armstrong at Idaho Health and Welfare

(Boise) — Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced the appointment today of Russ Barron, deputy director and a longtime administrator at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, to become director of the State’s largest agency with the previously announced June 30 retirement of Director Richard Armstrong.

Russ Barron

Russ Barron

Barron, who lives in Emmett, has been deputy director since April 2014, overseeing Health and Welfare’s regional directors and the divisions of Welfare and Family and Community Services. He previously was Division of Welfare administrator, statewide program manager for the Child Support Program, Child Support policy manager, financial institution data match coordinator for the Child Support Program, and a self-reliance specialist for the Child Support Program.  Continue reading

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Free workshops offer step-by-step instructions on how to keep radon out of your home

Banner_RadonClass_2017 (002)Radon is odorless, tasteless, and invisible, so it’s impossible to know without testing if the gas is in your home. Every county in Idaho contains homes that have high levels of radon, so it’s important to know how to keep it out of your home.

During May, homeowners, contractors, and remodelers can learn how to keep the cancer-causing gas out of homes in free workshops at various locations around the state.

The two-hour interactive workshop will explain what radon is, how it enters homes, and what can be done to help prevent excessive amounts of the gas from getting into homes. Exposure to radon gas can increase your risk for lung cancer, particularly if you smoke. Continue reading

Increase in deaths prompts warning for people to take precautions against the flu 

Flu deaths are on the rise across Idaho, with this year’s influenza season shaping up to be one of the most severe in recent memory.

“We are aware of 47 influenza-related deaths in Idaho so far this season, which includes 36 verified flu deaths and 11 current reports that are in the process of verification,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, state influenza surveillance coordinator. “This is one of the most severe flu seasons in the state since 2000.”  Continue reading

(Updated with links to handouts) DHW to begin budget presentations this morning in JFAC

Department of Health and Welfare will kick off Health and Human Services Week with its budget presentations at 8 a.m. Monday in the meeting chambers of the Joint Appropriations-Finance Committee (JFAC) in the Idaho Statehouse. DHW leadership will present the governor’s budget recommendations for the department, starting with a department overview from DHW Director Richard Armstrong. Continue reading

Idaho is Committed to Improving Medicaid Transportation

During the legislative hearing today for the Idaho House and Senate Health and Welfare committees, a number of individuals voiced concerns about the performance of Idaho Medicaid’s contracted non-emergency medical transportation broker, Veyo, and their contracted drivers.

Veyo ensures that transportation is provided for Medicaid participants to medical appointments and other Medicaid benefits.  Veyo centrally coordinates requests for transportation from Medicaid participants and assigns them to a network of transportation providers.  Veyo took over the brokerage contract from American Medical Response in July of 2016.  Medicaid’s responsibility is to monitor this contract and ensure that it is working as intended and with a high level of responsible service.

A change this big is never easy.  Veyo and their provider network initially struggled with the switch.  Medicaid responded by working closely with Veyo, transportation providers and community advocates to identify, target, and address areas for performance improvement.    Continue reading

Rotavirus disease can be serious for babies and young children

As if we don’t have enough to worry about with cold and flu viruses, we also have something called rotavirus disease to consider. It is easily spread among babies and young children, especially now, and it can be quite serious and even result in hospitalization. Western states, including Idaho, are seeing more cases of rotavirus disease right now, so it’s a good time to learn the symptoms and what can be done about it.

What are the symptoms?

It generally takes about two days for symptoms to develop. They include watery diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. The vomiting and diarrhea can last from three to eight days. Other symptoms can include a loss of appetite and dehydration. And even though now is a common time to become infected, it can be spread at any time of the year. Continue reading