See below to stay up to date on what we are doing to strengthen public health practice and promote sound public health policy.
Get this: Rosa DeLauro, the brave and beloved 12-term congresswoman from New Haven, will be introducing a bill in the House of Representatives Wednesday that would require a national tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. And it’s about time. You know the big picture, even if you’ve forgotten the details, so I’m going to spare you the stats about obesity and diabetes that have been reiterated here and elsewhere ad infinitum. (If you want a refresher course, see this.) Suffice it to say that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to obesity and diabetes, and that some form of control is needed.
With coalition-building (the American Public Health Association and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, among others, are supporting the SWEET Act), education and continuing research and revelations about the damage wrought by high sugar consumption, we should see increased support for regulation of the marketing and sales of what’s sometimes called “liquid candy.” (New York Times)
This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is hosting public hearings for its Clean Power Plan, which proposed the first-ever nationwide carbon emissions limits for existing power plants. More than 1,500 people were scheduled to testify in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., to debate the rule, which is under a 120-day comment period after its June 2 announcement.
After its release, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced that by 2030 the plan would reduce carbon pollution by 30 percent and smog and soot by 25 percent. (public health newswire)
Those of you tanning or burning your skin this summer should stop undefined seek the shade, wear a hat and some sunscreen and, whatever you do, stay out of indoor tanning salons. It’s a familiar skin-cancer prevention message, but it’s coming from a new source: the office of the U.S. Surgeon General.
The call to action from acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak, released Tuesday, says that skin cancer is a “major public health problem” and that too much exposure to indoor and outdoor ultraviolet light is a major cause. It comes just two months after the Food and Drug Administration announced it will soon require labels on tanning beds and lamps warning against use by anyone younger than 18. (USA Today)
Ebola, the killer of more than 670 people in four West African countries since February, has spread beyond Africa only once. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen now, infectious disease experts warn.
The symptoms appear from two days to three weeks after infection, meaning it’s possible for an infected person who doesn’t feel ill to board a plane, said Ben Neuman, a virologist at the University of Reading in the U.K. Since Ebola in its earliest stages can resemble nothing more than flu, no one else would know either, he said. (Bloomberg)
Addiction and trauma compromise quality of life for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans, and their families: drug or alcohol use was involved in 30 percent of the Army’s suicide deaths from 2003 to 2009 and in more than 45 percent of non-fatal suicide attempts from 2005-2009.
Join Sandra Rasmussen, PhD, RN, LMHC, CAS-F, author of AJN's Distinguished Book of the Year Addiction Treatment: Theory and Practice at Health on the Homefront June 16-17 to discuss a management model health professionals can use to help these men and women improve their health and increase quality of life. Rasmussen is currently an addiction therapist at Williamsville Wellness in Hanover County and teaches graduate students in psychology and public health at Walden University and in counseling psychology at the Chesapeake campus of Cambridge College. She was recognized by the Virginia Public Health Association in 2004 for her “outstanding leadership, commitment and support to the public health of Virginia” and in 2012 received Fellow Status from the American Academy Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders.
Click here for complete details on Health on the Homefront, and be sure to like the event on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @VPHAHomefront.
Dr. Cynthia Romero, MD, former Virginia Health Commissioner and a past-president of the Medical Society of Virginia, will be joining us at Health on the Homefront on June 16-17 for a session titled “Special Considerations for Clinicians Serving Members of the Military and Their Families.” With her background in family practice in the Hampton Roads region and her term as Chief Medical Officer and Vice President for Quality and Medical Affairs at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, Dr. Romero has extensive experience serving the needs of military families and has directly dealt with many of the issues they face.
She has been a strong advocate for her patients and for the medical profession through her leadership roles in multiple professional medical organizations. Dr. Romero has served as President of the Philippine Medical Association of Southeastern Virginia, Inc., the Tidewater Academy of Family Physicians, the Virginia Academy of Family Physicians, the Norfolk Academy of Medicine and, in 2011, she was the President of the Medical Society of Virginia. Her leadership continued during her term as Virginia’s Health Commissioner from January, 2013 through January, 2014. She has been recognized with the Mead Johnson Award by the American Academy of Family Physicians for excellence in clinical medicine and community services.
Dr. Romero was recently appointed Director of EVMS' M. Foscue Brock Institute for Community and Global Health, founded in 2012 to focus on training the next generation of community-minded health professionals. In September 2013 she spoke at UVA's Medical Center Hour on Creating Healthy Communities - check it out here.
At our upcoming conference on June 16-17 in Hampton, entitled Health on the Homefront, the Virginia Public Health Association is honored to welcome Dr. Jan Kemp, RN, PhD as one of our keynote speakers!
Dr. Kemp, a co-author of the 2012 Suicide in the Military Report, is the National Mental Health Program Director for Suicide Prevention and Community Engagement with the Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services. In 2009, Dr. Kemp was a White House Appointee to the Department of Defense Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide by Members of the Armed Forces and in 2010 served on the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. Major honors include the VA Secretary’s Exceptional Service Award in 2007, and she was the Service to America Federal Employee of the Year in 2009. She was featured on “Huffpost Live” speaking about suicide prevention in September.
In her presentation “Veteran Suicide Prevention Strategies,” Dr. Kemp will discuss how communities can provide on‐going support and assistance to Veterans and their families. Gain an overview of current Veteran suicide statistics and data, and review current programs in the VA to work with Veterans and their families. Participants will understand the potential mental health needs of Veterans, appreciate the importance of community based approaches to suicide prevention, and know how to get a Veteran help in a crisis.
At our upcoming conference on June 16-17 in Hampton, entitled Health on the Homefront, the Virginia Public Health Association will be deeply honored to welcome Retired Major General Mark Graham and Mrs. Carol Graham (pictured at right) as our keynote speakers. Their presentation, Our Sons Died Fighting Different Battles: One Family’s Story, will address the stigma surrounding mental health, raise awareness of the warning signs and risk factors for suicide, and discuss real life coping strategies. In a speech at Fort Knox in 2009, Major General Graham stated, “From our personal tragedies, my wife Carol and our daughter Melanie and I have come to realize that in order to survive, we had to use our brokenness to reach out and openly share our story and try to give hope to others…As an Army and as a nation, we must get in front of suicide, work to prevent it by action, not just figure it out after the fact…We have pledged to use Kevin’s death to raise awareness in the military to the dangers of untreated depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and other mental health issues.” (Rose, M. (2009, Winter). Major General Mark Graham: A legacy of hope. T.A.P.S. Magazine, 15(4).)
In 2003 the Grahams’ son Kevin, a senior ROTC cadet at the University of Kentucky, died by suicide in the apartment he shared with his two siblings. Seven months after Kevin’s death, his brother - the Grahams’ eldest son - 2nd Lt. Jeffrey Graham, was killed in Iraq by an improvised explosive devise (IED). Jeffrey died with Kevin’s driver’s license in his pocket. Since that time, Major General Graham and his wife, Carol, have been tireless champions of military and civilian efforts to promote mental health and suicide-prevention awareness, and to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health care. Their personal tragedy and dedication to honoring their sons (both pictured at left) have been widely documented in the media.
Major General Mark Graham has had a distinguished thirty-five year career with the military, retiring from the US Army in 2012. His final position was as the Director, U.S. Army Forces Command, where he oversaw the plans, operations and training for Army forces stationed in the Continental United States and ensured conventional forces were prepared for worldwide deployment and combat. Major General Graham’s numerous military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal.
Mrs. Carol Graham is nationally recognized for her efforts in suicide prevention and mental health. She has received numerous awards and other recognition including the President of the United States ‘Call to Service’ Award, Governor’s Commendation (State of Oklahoma) for Suicide Prevention and Depression Awareness; the Texas Governor’s “Yellow Rose of Texas” award; US Army Forces Command’s Commander’s Award; US Forces Command Well Being Award; Secretary of the Army Public Service Award; the 2009 Suicide Prevention Advocacy Recognition in Kentucky (SPARK) Award; and the Shining Lights of Hope Award of the Carson J. Spencer Foundation.
Click here for complete details on Health on the Homefront, and be sure to like the event on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @VPHAHomefront.
The Virginia Department of Health announced today that a portion of the Rappahannock River will be closed to shellfish harvesting due to flooding. The emergency closure is effective May 1 through May 15, 2014, though the area may be reopened earlier if water quality monitoring results indicate that the area is no longer unsafe.
Maps of the affected areas are posted on the Division of Shellfish Sanitation’s home page at www.vdh.virginia.gov/EnvironmentalHealth/Shellfish/. The affected shellfish are bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams, but not crabs or fin fish.
“Monitoring shellfish harvesting beds is an important means to protect the health of Virginians,” said State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH, FAAFP. “We watch shellfish beds for contaminants after major storms to ensure any seafood harvested there does not contain harmful substances that will make consumers of these shellfish ill.”
Heavy rainfall in a portion of western Virginia with the ensuing runoff may have washed animal waste and human sewage into the rivers. Due to potential microbiological and chemical pollution hazards, shellfish taken from areas affected by the emergency closure are currently unacceptable for consumption.
Ingesting shellfish taken from the closed areas at this time could cause gastrointestinal illnesses including norovirus, hepatitis A and shigellosis.
For more information on shellfish closures, see the frequently asked questions on shellfish condemnations at www.vdh.virginia.gov/EnvironmentalHealth/Shellfish/faq/.
Today, as part of the Obama administration’s work to make our health care system more transparent, affordable, and accountable, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the release of new, privacy-protected data on services and procedures provided to Medicare beneficiaries by physicians and other health care professionals. The new data also show payment and submitted charges, or bills, for those services and procedures by provider.
“Currently, consumers have limited information about how physicians and other health care professionals practice medicine,” said Secretary Sebelius “This data will help fill that gap by offering insight into the Medicare portion of a physician’s practice. The data released today afford researchers, policymakers and the public a new window into health care spending and physician practice patterns.”
The new data set has information for over 880,000 distinct health care providers who collectively received $77 billion in Medicare payments in 2012, under the Medicare Part B Fee-For-Service program. With this data, it will be possible to conduct a wide range of analyses that compare 6,000 different types of services and procedures provided, as well as payments received by individual health care providers.
The information also allows comparisons by physician, specialty, location, the types of medical service and procedures delivered, Medicare payment, and submitted charges. Physicians and other health care professionals determine what they will charge for services and procedures provided to patients and these “charges” are the amount the physician or health care professional generally bills for the service or procedure.
"Data transparency is a key aspect of transformation of the health care delivery system,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “While there’s more work ahead, this data release will help beneficiaries and consumers better understand how care is delivered through the Medicare program.”
Last May, CMS released hospital charge data allowing consumers to compare what hospitals charge for common inpatient and outpatient services across the country.
To view the physician dataset, please visit: http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/Medicare-Provider-Charge-Data/Physician-and-Other-Supplier.html
Full Press Release
VPHA • Richmond, Virginia