Friday, December 19, 2014

Jefferson County Supports Nursing Mothers and Breastfeeding

Jefferson County Public Health is committed to promoting and supporting optimal breastfeeding practices toward the ultimate goal of improving the public's health. Public health professionals recommend breast milk exclusively for the first year of an infant’s life due to the health benefits it provides both mothers and infants. In an effort to increase breastfeeding rates throughout the county, Jefferson County Public Health’s WIC (Women, Infants, Children), Facilities and Breastfeeding Support programs have worked together to provide Quiet Rooms where mothers can breastfeed in various locations around the Jefferson County Government Campus. The Quiet Rooms are located in the Jefferson County Public Health Arvada and Lakewood WIC clinics, the Laramie building and the Courts & Administrative building.

Colorado’s breastfeeding law passed in 2008 states, “A mother may breastfeed in any place she has a right to be.” In addition, under the Affordable Care Act, Section 4207 requires employers to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk.” All employers, regardless of their size or number of employees, must comply with the “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law.

Mothers are one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. labor force and several studies have indicated that support for lactation at work benefits not only families, but employers as well by improving productivity; enhancing the employer’s public image; and decreasing absenteeism, health care costs, and employee turnover.

For more information about the quiet rooms or the Jefferson County Public Health Breastfeeding program, please visit the JCPH Breastfeeding Education and Support page or call Kelsey Rivera, RD, IBCLC at 303-239-7139.

What is Emergency Preparedness and Response?

Jefferson County Public Health’s (JCPH) Emergency Preparedness and Response Program works year-round to help prepare the county for any public health threats, from a biological Anthrax attack, to a foodborne outbreak of E. Coli, to a global pandemic. JCPH’s epidemiologists, emergency response planners and health communications team work together to ensure we are prepared and ready to respond.

Disease Detectives

Commonly known as disease detectives, infectious disease epidemiologists investigate infectious disease outbreaks in the community. By investigating outbreaks, epidemiologists can contain the spread of the disease in the population and help prevent a similar outbreak from happening in the future. JCPH’s epidemiologists investigate approximately 25 to 30 outbreaks from Norovirus to E. Coli., and respond to over 150 disease complaints each year.

Every disease outbreak is unique, however most investigations follow the same process. JCPH works in coordination with health and medical systems across the county and throughout Colorado. Working together they use robust surveillance systems to quickly identify potential outbreaks. Diseases that are particularly concerning are classified as reportable conditions. This means that anytime someone is diagnosed with one of these diseases, it must be reported to the local health department. This helps health departments quickly identify potential outbreaks so they can be rapidly contained.

If there is an outbreak, the epidemiologist will start an investigation. The epidemiologist will interview the index case to determine what he or she has been doing, or where they have been and who they’ve come into contact with. This helps to determine how the person may have become infected, and who else they may have infected while they were contagious. This is called contact tracing. The epidemiologist will use the information they gather during contact tracing to develop a scientific hypothesis or explanation about the source of the outbreak. They will research their hypothesis and use their findings to help the health department determine how they will control the outbreak.

Public Health Emergency Response Planners

Public health emergency response planners plan for the worst public health disaster that they can possibly imagine. From a biological anthrax attack to a fictional zombie apocalypse, public health planners work to ensure that the community is prepared for any type of public health disaster. Planners start their work by analyzing the threats to the community so that they know what the most likely potential threats are. They work alongside Emergency Management, Fire Departments, EMS, Law Enforcement Agencies, and Healthcare Agencies to find effective and efficient ways to prepare the community.

Public health planners focus on public health threats and provide expertise about the public health impact of any disaster, such as smoke inhalation during a wildfire. They write plans, train professionals and the public, and conduct drills and exercises to test their plans and their trainings. At the end of the day, emergency response planners create a more prepared community.

Take Steps Now to Eliminate Radon Gas from Your Home . . . January is National Radon Action Month

Jefferson County Public Health encourages all residents to have their homes tested for radon gas, a naturally occurring gas that you can’t see, smell, or taste, but it could be present at a dangerous level in your home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in America and claims the lives of about 500 Coloradans each year.

Elevated levels of radon have been found in homes all across the country. In Colorado, 52 of its 64 counties are at high risk for radon. Due to the gas’s unpredictable nature, two houses right next to each other may have very different radon levels. Testing is the only way to know for certain if you and your loved ones are at risk.

January is an excellent time to test your home. Testing requires all windows and doors be closed, but is simple to do. Residents in Jefferson and Gilpin counties can purchase short-term test kits for $10.00 at Jefferson County Public Health. Visit the Lakewood office at 645 Parfet Street, Lakewood, CO  80215, to pick-up your testing kit. Long-term test kits are also available at local hardware stores, supermarkets and other retail outlets.

For more information on radon, radon testing, and radon mitigation call 1-800-846-3986 or JCPH Environmental Specialist John Moody at 303-271-5714.

Resources:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year as an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for the people living with HIV, and to commemorate those that have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half a million people have died of AIDS in the U.S. since the beginning of the HIV and AIDS epidemic– that is equivalent to the entire population of Jefferson County.

Did You Know?
  • More than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 6 (15.8%) are unaware of their infection.
  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, particularly young black/African American MSM, are most seriously affected by HIV.
  • By race, blacks/African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV. 
CDC estimates that 1,144,500 persons aged 13 years and older in the U.S. are living with HIV infection, including 180,900 (15.8%) who are unaware of their infection. That means the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS is still very much present. So, this December 1st, Put the Red Ribbon back on and join in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Resources:

Jefferson County Public Health offers screening, diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) at our Arvada and Lakewood locations. If you have ever had a sexually transmitted disease, you may be at risk for HIV infection. JCPH also offers anonymous and confidential HIV counseling and testing. For more information or to make an appointment, call: (303) 232-7078. Also, download the JCPH HIV Testing and Counseling brochure.

For more statistics and information, visit CDC’s HIV in the United States page.

Think Toy Safety

Picking the perfect toy for that special child in your life can be fun. Knowing that the toy is safe and won’t cause a tragic injury is priceless. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an independent federal regulatory agency created to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with some 15,000 types of consumer products, including toys. Choking on small parts, small balls and balloons remains a leading cause of toy-related deaths and injuries. Here are some tips to help you with your toy selection: Think Toy Safety

Think about toy safety when shopping for the holidays. Buy toys that are right for the child's age, interests and skill levels.
Look for labels to help you judge which toys might not be safe, especially for infants and children under age three. The law bans small parts in toys for children under three and requires an explicit, prominent warning label on toys with small parts for children between the ages of three and six. In addition, balls with a diameter smaller than 1.75 inches are banned for children under three years old.

Resources:

Everyone and Every System has a Role in Creating a Healthier Jefferson County

Public Health Thanks Jefferson County Hospitals for Encouraging Healthy Food and Beverage Consumption

Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) applauds Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge and St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood for their involvement in the Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact. Compact members agree to promote healthy food and beverage options in cafeterias, vending machines, and patient menus, and/or support new moms with breastfeeding.

The Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact is an excellent example of how Jefferson County systems are working together to create healthier people in healthier places. JCPH’s executive director, Dr. Mark B. Johnson said, “Lutheran Medical Center and St. Anthony Hospital continue to demonstrate their commitment to the health and wellbeing of their staff and patients by encouraging healthy food and beverage consumption. We are happy to be able to partner with both hospitals in building a healthier Jefferson County.”

Both hospitals chose to reduce sugar-sweetened beverages to provide a healthier environment for patients and their families, staff and visitors. Joining the Compact allows the hospitals to work with state and local health departments and other Colorado hospitals to implement the best practices in hospital nutrition and breastfeeding support.

While Colorado is the leanest state in the nation, one in five Colorado adults and one in seven Colorado children are obese. Obesity puts people at risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Coloradans spend more than $1 billion each year on obesity-related health care. Public health professionals point out that hospitals can play a critical role in reducing obesity by working with the health department and other hospitals in the compact to develop best practices in hospital nutrition and breastfeeding. Jefferson County’s Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) and accompanying comprehensive community health assessment completed in 2013 identified physical inactivity, poor diet and psychosocial stressors as the highest priority areas to address in the county. JCPH continues to encourage multi-sector partnerships to promote health and wellness and remove barriers to healthy living.




Healthy Holiday Season: Wash your Hands & Stay Home if You Are Sick!

Wash, Wash, Wash and Wash again! December 7-13, 2014 is National Handwashing Week. It’s the time of year for parties, get-togethers and holiday celebrations. It’s also flu season, and a common time for the spread of disease and illness. The Colorado cold keeps our windows and doors closed, creating an atmosphere for germs to collect and hide. Here is a cheat sheet on the 7 Germiest Places and Things to clean before the holidays.

Following basic public health practices during the holidays, such as washing your hands, can effectively stop the spread of germs and many diseases.

When should you wash your hands?
  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

What is the right way to wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Resources:

Stay Home if You’re Sick (poster); Wash Your Hands (brochure); JCPH Flu shots (web page) Stop the spread of germs (web page). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also offers an excellent Feature on Handwashing, or visit the CDC Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives page.