News Release: DHW reports first flu-related deaths

NEWS RELEASE–FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE          Date: Dec. 23, 2019

Contact:  Lori Gilbert
Communications Specialist
(208) 334-0668

DHW reports first flu-related deaths this season

The first two deaths among Idaho residents this influenza season have been reported to the Department of Health and Welfare. Two women in northern Idaho, both over the age of 70 years, died from flu-related causes.

“The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is reminding residents that flu can be serious,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, the Idaho Influenza Surveillance Coordinator. “Although these deaths occurred in northern Idaho, influenza activity is on the rise statewide. One important prevention measure for Idahoans is to get an annual flu shot.”

Local public health officials in Idaho are also responding to outbreaks of influenza among residents of assisted-living and long-term care facilities in several communities throughout the state. Influenza can spread rapidly in residential facilities. It’s important that the people who live there, their caregivers, staff, and visitors are all vaccinated and follow good hand-washing and sanitation practices to prevent spreading flu.

Influenza is contagious, causing respiratory illness in 5 to 20 percent of the population every year. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, or fatigue. Although most people who get influenza recover after a few days, some people may develop serious complications. The good news is that flu can be prevented.

Everyone over six months of age should get an annual influenza vaccine. Getting the flu shot every year is especially important for people at higher risk for serious flu-related complications including people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, young children, and anyone 65 years of age or older. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to determine which flu vaccine is best for you.

During the four previous seasons in Idaho (2014/15 through 2018/19) an average of 64 influenza-related deaths occurred, with most deaths occurring among people over 70 years of age.

Dr. Tengelsen advises people to take these precautions to limit the spread of flu:

  • Wash your hands frequently. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth until you have washed your hands.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, eat nutritious foods, and be physically active to stay healthy.
  • Avoid people who appear sick.
  • Stay home from work or school when sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.

 

For information about influenza and how to stay healthy, please visit www.cdc.gov/flu or http://flu.idaho.gov

Idaho Child Support Services: ‘Let’s do the right thing for the family’

IDHW Innovation

The new customer experience

It seems we all know someone who has been involved with child support in one way or another – a close friend, a neighbor, an acquaintance, a co-worker, or even ourselves. Most of us understand all too well that being involved in a child support case is a delicate situation to navigate. However, in years past, it has been challenging for customers to call in and get the information they need in a timely manner.

On the other side of the process, it has been challenging for Child Support Services (CSS) to provide our customers with the help they need the first time, without transferring them from person to person. So, to better support our customers, CSS employees have made big changes to the way we do our work. We have created a new customer experience to better serve all of our customers, and we are now equipped to provide families with the information they need, when they need it. Continue reading “Idaho Child Support Services: ‘Let’s do the right thing for the family’”

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

High radon levels in Idaho can put your health at risk – order a test kit today

High radon levels have been found in homes in every Idaho county. Radon, which is odorless, tasteless, and invisible, is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, behind smoking, and is a serious health threat in Idaho. Nearly 40 percent of Idaho homes tested for radon have higher-than-recommended levels.

“Since we know radon causes lung cancer, we recommend that you test your home to learn if it has high levels of this harmful gas,” said Dr. Colby Adams, environmental health director for DHW’s Division of Public Health. “Testing a home for radon is easy and inexpensive. Home radon levels are higher during winter months, which is why January is National Radon Action Month and a good time to test. If testing reveals that your home has high radon levels, you can take steps to remove the gas and protect you and your family.” Continue reading “High radon levels in Idaho can put your health at risk – order a test kit today”

Effective Oct. 1, healthcare services delivered by in-state psychiatric residential treatment facilities will be reimbursable for eligible Medicaid beneficiaries

Effective October 1, 2018, Teton Peaks, a division of the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, will begin providing Medicaid reimbursable services as a certified in-state Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF).

These services are intended to help Idaho and PRTF’s improve healthcare delivery systems for Medicaid beneficiaries by allowing in-state access to care, strengthening continuity of care, and improving population health. Here is the legal notice:  Continue reading “Effective Oct. 1, healthcare services delivered by in-state psychiatric residential treatment facilities will be reimbursable for eligible Medicaid beneficiaries”

September is Sepsis Awareness Month – Spot the signs to get ahead of sepsis

Sepsis_Statistic_Twitter_v3

Sepsis is the body’s extreme reaction to any infection. It is a medical emergency that affects at least 1.7 million people each year in the United States and kills nearly 270,000.  Early detection offers the best chance for survival and can limit life-long complications. Otherwise, it can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and even death. This month is Sepsis Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to get ahead of sepsis by learning the risks and how to avoid them. Continue reading “September is Sepsis Awareness Month – Spot the signs to get ahead of sepsis”

Back-to-school: What vaccines do your kids (and you!) need?

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August is National Immunization Awareness Month, so with summer winding down and kids heading back to school, be sure to check immunization requirements, especially for kindergartners and seventh graders. It’s also a good time to check records for everyone in your family, including adults. Getting immunized is a safe and important step to protecting our families and ourselves against serious and even deadly diseases throughout our lives. Continue reading “Back-to-school: What vaccines do your kids (and you!) need?”

S. Idaho plague case a reminder to safely enjoy outdoor recreation

Ground squirrel

A child in southern Idaho’s Elmore County is recovering from the bacterial disease of plague, the first confirmed human case of plague identified in the state since 1992. Epidemiologists with the Central District Health Department said today (June 12, 2018) it is not known whether the child was exposed to plague in Idaho or during a recent trip to Oregon. Plague has historically been found in wildlife in both states. Continue reading “S. Idaho plague case a reminder to safely enjoy outdoor recreation”

Russ Barron

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

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