3 Reasons Why Handwashing Should Matter to You

Unseen woman washing her hands with soap in a sink.

Most of us are familiar with the parental-like voice in the back of our minds that helps guide our decision-making—asking us questions like, “Have you called your grandmother lately?” For many that voice serves as a gentle, yet constant reminder to wash our hands.

Handwashing with soap and water is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to loved ones. Many diseases are spread by not cleaning your hands properly after touching contaminated objects or surfaces. And although not all germs are bad, illness can occur when harmful germs enter our bodies through the eyes, nose, and mouth. That’s why it is critical to wash hands at key times, such as after a flood or during a flu pandemic, when germs can be passed from person to person and make others sick.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them, however during a disaster clean, running water may not be available. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.

Here are three key reasons why you should always care about handwashing:Your hands carry germs you can't see. Wash your hands.

  1. Handwashing can keep children healthy and in school. Handwashing education can reduce the number of young children who get sick and help prevent school absenteeism.
  2. Handwashing can help prevent illness. Getting a yearly flu vaccine is the most important action you can take to protect yourself from flu. Besides getting a flu vaccine, CDC recommends everyday preventive actions including frequent handwashing with soap and water.
  3. Handwashing is easy! Effective handwashing is a practical skill that you can easily learn, teach to others, and practice every day to prepare for an emergency. It takes around 20 seconds, and can be done in five simple steps:
    1. Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap
    2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap
    3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice
    4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water
    5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air-dry them

Promote Handwashing in Your Community

Global Handwashing Day is celebrated annually on October 15 to promote handwashing with soap as an easy and affordable way to prevent disease in communities around the world. This year’s theme, “Clean Hands—A Recipe for Health,” calls attention to the importance of handwashing at key times, such as before eating or feeding others, and before, during, and after preparing food.

Learn how you can get involved and promote handwashing at home, your child’s school or daycare, and your local community:

  • Tune in to CDC’s Facebook Live on October 15 at 11 a.m. EDT. During this presentation, a CDC expert will talk about the importance of handwashing and give a live handwashing demonstration on how to properly wash hands with soap and water.
  • Join CDC’s handwashing social media campaign. Post a photo of yourself or others showing your clean hands. Use the hashtags #HandwashingHeroes and #PrepYourHealth.
  • Promote on social media. Create your own messages or share some our sample social media messages. Use the #GlobalHandwashingDay hashtag.
  • Share health promotion resources. CDC has developed a variety of shareable promotion materials, including web-ready buttons, animated images, and fact sheets on handwashing.
  • Order free posters. Display handwashing posters in highly visible areas, such as schools, work areas, and restrooms.
  • Use web content syndication. Add the latest content from CDC’s Handwashing website to your organization’s website. The content is automatically updated when CDC updates it, so your content will always be accurate and current.

APHL and Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network Reaffirm Cross-border Partnership with MOU

APHL and Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network Reaffirm Cross-border Partnership with MOU | www.APHLblog.org

Recently APHL and the Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network (CPHLN) signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) that reaffirms their long-standing collaboration and updates the specifics of the MOU. Executive Director Scott Becker, MS, and President Joanne Bartkus, PhD, traveled to the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg, MB, to formalize the agreement with the Scientific Director General of the NML and federal co-chair of CPHLN Matthew W. Gilmour, PhD., and current provincial co-chair Paul Van Caeseele, MD.

To hear more about this cross-border partnership, APHL spoke with Theodore Kuschak, PhD, Director, Office of Networks and Resilience Development, National Microbiology Laboratory, and CPHLN secretariat member, and Graham Tipples, PhD, Medical-Scientific Director of the Provincial Public Health Laboratory in Alberta, and past provincial co-chair of CPHLN.

What prompted APHL and CPHLN to establish the first Canada-US MOU in 2004?

Kuschak: I was hired in 2003 to lead the CPHLN and met Scott Becker at a meeting in Toronto a week later. We started talking and came up with the idea for an MOU as a way to formalize the relationship between our two networks. We’ve maintained an MOU from 2004 to this date, with modifications and re-signing in 2008, 2011 and now in 2018.

Actually, our Canadian laboratory organization precedes 2004, going back all the way to 1947 when provincial lab directors created a Technical Advisory Committee to advise the national lab. This group disintegrated in the late 1990s, but resurfaced as the CPHLN after the 9/11 and anthrax attacks. CPHLN member labs collaborate and assist each other, much as public health labs do in the US. All provincial and federal CPHLN labs operate on an equal footing, which makes the network unique.

How does the MOU benefit CPHLN and its member laboratories?

Kuschak: The MOU enables our provincial labs to break through the governmental hierarchy and interact directly with state public health labs. If a provincial lab director has a particular challenge, he or she can be linked through APHL to a state lab director who is dealing with the same issue. Additionally, the MOU makes it easier to obtain approval for travel and for other collaborative activities to support our partnership.

More broadly, the CPHLN-APHL relationship facilitates collaboration on technical issues, interventions like exchange of information, knowledge, and participation in APHL board of directors meetings, annual meetings, and other activities.

CPHLN also benefits from APHL’s work to develop standards, guidelines and tools to strengthen laboratory practice. For instance, we’ve adapted the Core Functions of Public Health Laboratories and worked with APHL to develop the Laboratory Assessment Tool for use by all public health labs.

How does this cross-border laboratory partnership benefit the public’s health?

Kuschak: It makes such a difference to have long-established personal relationships on both sides of the border.  We can pick up the phone and get answers from each other when we need them. As a result, we can respond more quickly to events – and the faster we respond, the sooner our data is available to guide patient care.

Tipples: The ongoing exchange between the two networks also helps to ensure the consistency of lab diagnostics and surveillance in support of patient care and public health action. This is vital considering the number of people who cross the Canada-US border daily.

How does the APHL/CPHLN collaboration support public health emergency preparedness?

Tipples: It’s often said that emerging diseases know no borders. A disease threat in the US is a threat in Canada as well. We participate in PulseNet and other international disease surveillance systems such as influenza and measles. Occasionally, specimens from Canada go to CDC for analysis if we lack the capability, as occurred very early on during the Zika outbreak.

Kuschak: Our US network partners are always ready to help in an emergency. In 2014 we wanted to know what was happening with Ebola testing in Texas. If we’d contacted the state health laboratory, they would have said, “Who are you?” Instead we called Scott [Becker] and he got back to us within a day with the information we needed.

Here’s another example: Many years ago I was at APHL’s old offices in downtown DC when I got a call from Frank Plummer, who was then the director general of our national lab. Frank explained that there had been an issue with a proficiency panel distributed by a diagnostics company to labs in the US and Canada. The panel included a particularly concerning pathogen strain. I asked, and received approval, to share this news with Scott so that he could alert APHL member labs. I then had to get on the phone to tell our provincial labs to handle the panel with appropriate bio safety precautions. Scott set me up with an office and a phone, and offered to get me anything I needed, including lunch. You can’t beat that kind of support!

Do you foresee opportunities to expand the APHL/CPHLN partnership? 

Tipples: Collaboration between the two networks has expanded already. As a member of APHL’s Training and Workforce Development Committee, I’ve had a chance to assist with development of the new DrPH in Public Health Laboratory Science and Practice program, designed to address the shortage of CLIA laboratory directors. I was also able to pull in the NML’s talented lead bioinformatician to contribute to the development of the bioinformatics component of the curriculum.

And as of 2017, there’s a place reserved for a Canadian in APHL’s Emerging Leader Program. We’re excited to have CPHLN represented in this excellent leadership development program.

Kuschak: Our public health agency has asked for more lab involvement in shaping nation-wide health planning. We’ll be collaborating on development of a national strategy for preparedness and response to viral hemorrhagic fevers, development of a public health genomics strategy for Canada, and other work. As we move forward with this and similar initiatives, you can be sure that we’ll be on the phone once again with our American colleagues.

 

The post APHL and Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network Reaffirm Cross-border Partnership with MOU appeared first on APHL Lab Blog.

The Power of Preparedness: Prepare Your Health

Group of people kneeling around a CPR dummy.

The devastating hurricanes of 2017 reminded us how important it is to prepare for disasters. These potentially life-threatening situations have real impacts on personal and public health. During Hurricane Irma, existing medical conditions and power outages increased the likelihood of death. Being prepared with supplies and an Emergency Action Plan can help you protect the health of your family until help arrives.

September is National Preparedness Month (#NatlPrep), and the perfect time of year to remind people of The Power of Preparedness. This year’s call-to-action of Prepare Your Health (#PrepYourHealth) and four weekly themes highlight the roles that individuals, state and local public health, and CDC play in creating community health resilience. It takes everyone “pulling in the same direction” to create families, communities, and a nation that can withstand, adapt to, and recover from personal and public health emergencies.

The first week focuses on personal preparedness, and the importance of nonperishable food, safe water, basic supplies, and the personal items you need to protect your health until help arrives.

Personal needs

A large-scale disaster or unexpected emergency can limit your access to food, safe water, and medical supplies for days or weeks. However, nearly half of adults in the U.S. do not have an emergency kit for their home; they don’t have the provisions, supplies, and equipment necessary to protect the health of their families in a disaster. This list will get you started:

  • Special foods—such as nutrition drinks—for people with dietary restrictions, food sensitivities and allergies, and medical conditions such as diabetes.
  • Prescription eyeglasses, contacts and lens solution
  • Medical alert identification bracelet or necklace
  • Change of clothes
  • Emergency tools (e.g., manual can opener; multi-use tool; plastic sheeting; etc.)
  • Durable medical equipment (e.g., walkers; nebulizers; glucose meters; etc.)
  • Medical supplies, including first aid kit
  • Pet supplies
  • Baby and childcare supplies

Prescriptions

The hands of an elderly man holding a pill organizer

Many people need daily medications and medical equipment. Nearly half of Americans take at least one prescription drug, and a quarter of Americans take three or more medications. A large-scale natural disaster, like a hurricane, could make it difficult to get prescription and over-the-counter medicines.  You and your family may need to rely on a prepared emergency supply. There are some basics to include:

  • A 7 to 10 day supply of prescription medications stored in a waterproof container.
  • An up-to-date list of all prescription medications, including dosage and the names of their generic equivalents, medical supply needs, and known allergies.
  • Over-the-counter medications, including pain and fever relievers, diuretics, antihistamines, and antidiarrheal medications stored in labeled, childproof containers.
  • A cooler and chemical ice packs for storing and keeping medicines cold in a power outage.

Paperwork

Over half of Americans do not have copies of important personal paperwork. Collect and protect documents such as insurance forms, and medical, vital, and immunization records. Here are some of the basics:

  • Health insurance and prescription cards
  • Shot records
  • Living wills and power of attorney forms
  • Vital records (e.g., birth and death certificates; adoption records)
  • User manuals, model and serial numbers, and contact information for the manufacturer of medical devices (e.g., blood glucose meters; nebulizers)
  • Hardcopies of your Emergency Action Plan

Power sources

A portable generator sitting outside in the snow.

A power outage can close pharmacies, disrupt medical services, and can be life threatening for over 2.5 million people who rely on electricity-dependent medical equipment. Be ready for a lengthy blackout with an emergency power plan and back up. You will need alternative power sources for your cellphone, refrigerator , and medical equipment. Here’s a checklist:

  • Extra batteries, including those for hearing aids, in standards sizes (e.g., AA and AAA)
  • Fully-charged rechargeable batteries for motorized scooters
  • Hand-crank radio with USB ports
  • Car chargers for electronic devices, including cell phones and breast pumps
  • A generator

Practical skills

Finally, it’s important to know some basic do-it-yourself skills to stay healthy and safe until help arrives. Here are the basics to get you started:

  • Call 911 in a life-threatening emergency
  • Get trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). If you do not know CPR, you can give hands-only CPR—uninterrupted chest compressions of 100 to 120 a minute—until help arrives.
  • Learn how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).
  • Learn Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your family, and others from getting sick.

The good news is that it is never too late to prepare for a public health emergency. You can take actions, make healthy choices, and download free resources to help you prepare for, adapt to, and cope with adversity.

Lab Culture Ep. 16: Informatics, health equity and bat snuggles

Lab Culture Ep. 16: Informatics, health equity and bat snuggles | www.APHLblog.org

Joanne Bartkus, APHL’s board president and director of the Public Health Laboratory at the Minnesota Department of Health, sat down with Scott Becker, our executive director, and Gynene Sullivan, editor of Lab Matters magazine, to talk about priorities for the year. Their conversation ranged from informatics to health equity to… snuggling with a bat?!

Joanne Bartkus, PhD, D(ABMM)
Director, Public Health Laboratory, Minnesota Department of Health

Scott J. Becker, MS
Executive director, Association Public Health Laboratories​
@ScottJBecker

Links:

Lab Matters

Lab Matters — Android app

Lab Matters — iTunes app

APHL Board of Directors

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The Sickness Lurking Beneath World Cup Fever

  The Sickness Lurking Beneath World Cup Fever Posted August 16, 2018 by Dean Schillinger post-info While watching the World Cup, Dean Schillinger was reminded of the ongoing back-and-forth matchup between the soda industry and public

Arizona’s ERIC Program Works to Improve Access to Emergency Information

Emergency Response Interpreters Credentialing (ERIC) program interpreter, Beth Kovatch, works with the Operations Section of the Southwest Incident Management Team 1 on the Tinder Fire to record an accessible video updating the public on the the status of the wildfire.

Vicki Bond is not surprised at how hot, but at how cold the temperatures can get out on a wildfire. “I’ve worked on responses to more wildfires in freezing temperatures than in extreme heat,” she says.

Coincidentally, making sure people aren’t left out in the cold in an emergency is why she has so much experience with the weather.

Bond works for the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA) as a licensed American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter and deployment coordinator for the Emergency Response Interpreters Credentialing (ERIC) program. She helps prepare licensed ASL interpreters and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) captioners to deploy for emergencies throughout the state.

ERIC interpreters and captioners work alongside communicators to interpret and transcribe information presented at community meetings and media briefings, on websites and social media, and in evacuation shelters for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

“The goal of the ERIC program,” said Bond, “is to ensure deaf and hard of hearing community members have access to critical information during emergencies and disasters in the State of Arizona.”

People in Arizona are at risk from a variety of hazards, including extreme heat, floods, and wildfire. More than 1,500 wildfires occur in Arizona each year.

Trial by Fire

Group photo of participants in the Emergency Response Interpreters Credentialing Program
The ERIC team is made up of American Sign Language Interpreters, Certified Deaf Interpreters, and Communication Access Real-time Translation captioners.

The pilot of the ERIC program was a literal trial by fire. In 2017, ERIC interpreters and CART providers deployed in response to one flood and nine wildfires, where long hours, limited supplies, and sleeping in tents are the rule, not the exception.

The ERIC staff of five captioners, 15 interpreters, and three certified deaf interpreters deployed to two major fires this season–the Tinder Fire and the Rattlesnake Fire in April—and, most recently, supported Coconino County’s response to flooding east of the City of Flagstaff.

ERIC staff have not worked with a public health department on an exercise or real-life emergency, such as a Point of Distribution (or POD) drill or activation as of yet, but Bond anticipates “many more” deployments with the recent enactment of State of Arizona Senate Bill 1296, which is meant to improve the accessbility of emergency communication.

Bond hopes the early success of the ERIC progam will help highlight the need for ASL translators and CART captioners on all emergencies.

Know Your Community

It is not a matter of if you will need an interpreter and captioner, but when you will need them. In Arizona, an estimated 1.1 million people are hard of hearing, and over 20,000 people are culturally deaf and use ASL as their primary language.

Public health and emergency management agencies can use tools like Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) surveys to assess local health and communication needs, and collect data that can help emergency planners know when to request resources like interpreters and captioners. The earlier the better in most cases.

Think Accessibility

In today’s “digital first” world, where half of visitors to CDC.gov come on mobile devices first, it is important to think about accessibility throughout the process of creating content, from conceptualization to publication.

Small print, videos without captions, and the use of long and technical language in printed materials and on websites are barriers to communication and possible violations of federal and state laws. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and other laws like it help protect people who have disabilities that affect their ability to hear, speak, read, write, and understand information.

Here are 5 ways to create web and social media content that is useful, usable, and accessible:

  1. Add alternate text (or AltText) to images.
  2. Caption social media video and web video.
  3. Provide transcripts for videos and podcasts, and interpreters for livestreams.
  4. Improve the readability of print materials with large text.
  5. Write in plain language to increase understanding of your message.

Related resources:

Other Public Health Matters posts you might like:

10 Health Literacy Tips for Reporting Data

A social worker and senior woman seated on a couch, looking at a tablet device.

We live in a complex world. Just as humans have left an impact on the environment, the environment also leaves an impact on us. Being exposed to certain physical and social environmental factors, like chemicals in the water, secondhand smoke, or poverty, can affect our health.

Understanding oral health data in MinnesotaCDC’s National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program helps to better understand the connections between our health and the environment by bringing together data and information about the population, the environment and related health effects.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Oral Health Program is committed to communicating data in a way that is understandable and easy to use. As part of the CDC’s Tracking Program, the MN Tracking Program allows us to do that by hosting our Minnesota Oral Health Statistics System (MNOHSS) data on the Minnesota Public Health Data Access portal.

The MN Data Access portal allows users to quickly find, interact, download, and visualize data through charts, infographics and maps. We also have been able to shed light on oral health disparities and use chronic disease data about diabetes, heart disease and cancer from the portal to look at shared risk factors with dental disease.

Oral health is key to overall health and the MN Public Health Data Access portal has brought greater visibility to this hidden chronic disease.

Taking health literacy into account

Nearly 90% of people struggle to understand health communication messages. This means that the data and reports we publish from our data tracking systems should take health literacy into account and provide health information that is easy to find, understand, evaluate, communicate, and use. Based on my experience, I have compiled 10 easy ways you can consider health literacy when you’re reporting data.

 

  1. Consider audience and outcome. Think about what actions or interventions you are hoping to achieve from your data and who needs to know about the data in order to make those changes. Your data should be presented in a way that is understandable, relevant and action-oriented for your target audience. This could include the media, policymakers, educators, researchers, students, clinicians and other health professionals, as well as the general public.

 

  1. Use storytelling to convey key messages. Think about your favorite novel, television show, or website. What keeps your attention and motivates you to tune in for more? I am learning a lot from communications and behavior change theories and from professionals such as Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Alan Alda, and Dr. Randy Olson who are able to bring science to life through storytelling. Communicating data is a science, as well as an art. We can all take cues from Hollywood’s narrative structure to tell compelling stories that humanize our data and drive action.

 

  1. Reach people where they are. Research your target audience to find the best outreach strategies. You will need to use different strategies depending on their existing level of knowledge, motivating factors, and whether or not they are information seekers and early adopters. Does your audience prefer to receive information verbally (e.g. town hall meeting, webinar, television, radio or podcast), in writing (e.g. website, data brief, social media), or both? As an example, the Minnesota Department of Health’s MN Tracking Program developed a social media campaign that communicates data on the MN Public Health Data Access portal — Land of Healthy Kids — targeting public health professionals, schools, parents/guardians and caregivers of school age children.

 

  1. Make data digestible. When communicating your findings present data in bites, snacks, and meals. Not everyone who looks at your data is going to have the time or expertise to read your entire report so you need to make sure they can find information that is relevant and understandable.
    • Bite: Use anchors and headers to help users quickly find data and information. Brief headers that use a declarative statement to interpret a chart or map helps with data literacy.
    • Snack: Develop simple charts and maps with clear titles, legends, and axes. Charts and maps should be standalone features that do not require additional text to understand. They should communicate the who, what, where and when of the data you are presenting. Do not overwhelm viewers with p-values and confidence intervals. These can be added to accompanying tables and information pages.
    • Meal: Tables, data downloads, and information pages should be added for researchers, health professionals, and those who want to dig deeper into the data. You might include additional information about study design, sample and weighting methodologies, indicator definitions, sample or population size, confidence intervals, unreliable estimates or data suppression to help this audience to further analyze and interpret the data.

 

  1. Numbers count. Adults in the United States have lower numeracy skills than adults in other developed countries. Many do not understand percentages or ratios, have difficulty making comparisons (across years, geographies, or against a target goal), and do not know the difference between absolute versus relative risk. Dashboards, infographics or icon arrays, risk tables, ladders and scales help to visually display data, the magnitude of effect or risk, and can help individuals make comparisons if presented on the same scale.

 

  1. Think about accessibility. To ensure everyone has the same access to your data, familiarize yourself with 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology. People with visual, auditory, and motor skill impairments may not be able to access information on the web, even using assistive devices. Simple modifications can make a big difference, such as:

 

  1. Report data in meaningful, culturally, and linguistically appropriate way. Analyzing and presenting data by geography, sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), age, race/ethnicity, preferred language, disability, and chronic disease status helps to identify health disparities and prioritize resources. This should be done in concert with the affected community to ensure that data is collected, analyzed, interpreted, and reported accurately, meaningfully and in a culturally and linguistically appropriate way.

 

  1. Conduct audience testing. The best way to ensure your data can be found, accessed, and understood is to test your communication product with your target audience. Generally 5-8 people will suffice. The key is to make sure the group is representative.
    • Usability testing identifies whether or not your audience can find data and information, successfully complete specified tasks, and helps you to understand how your audience searches for information or completes tasks. You can also observe how long it takes them to complete tasks and determine ways to modify or enhance user experience.
    • Accessibility testing determines whether or not online content is 508 compliant. Using a screen reader or only a keyboard (not mouse), can you still navigate and access web content? Consider testing products with individuals who use assistive devices.
    • Health literacy testing identifies whether or not your data and information is understandable. Can your audience easily interpret the data in charts, tables, and maps? Is your narrative description of the data clear?

 

  1. Evaluate your work. To improve future communication about data, you should always evaluate your work.
    • Web and digital analytics applications allow you to monitor audience reach and user engagement. They can help you set goals, tell you what search engine terms are common, and whether or not users are accessing your page directly or are being directed from a different website. It can also tell you which pages are popular and which are not. Infrequent traffic or high bounce rates on a particular page may indicate lack of interest, lack of awareness, or perhaps a usability or health literacy issue.
    • Track different modes of communications. How many presentations, webinars, social media posts, etc. have you delivered in a specified amount of time? Who was the audience? Are there groups you have not yet reached?
    • Monitor how your data is being used. User surveys, in-person interviews, and external communications such as articles, reports, website links, and social media posts can tell you how your data is being used and if it is being used appropriately.

 

  1. Share best practices. Talking and listening to others is a great way to discuss new methods, share resources, and spark inspiration.
    • Join professional organizations and working groups on surveillance, epidemiology, and health literacy and discuss the importance of data literacy.
    • Engage with programs, like CDC’s Tracking Program, who use health literacy and numeracy principles to inform how they communicate about data.

Communicating data can be difficult and takes time and practice. But remember, we all appreciate clear communication. When you address health literacy, you improve data quality and consumer satisfaction and make data truly accessible to everybody.

The Minnesota Public Health Data Access portal is managed by the Minnesota Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (MN Tracking). MN Tracking is part of the CDC’s National Environmental Health Public Health Tracking Program, which collects, integrates, and analyzes environmental hazard and public health data from a nationwide network of partners.

Learn more

The Communication Research and Evaluation blog series highlights innovative research and evaluation methods used at CDC to improve behavior change campaigns.

APHL Receives $7.5 Million Award to Strengthen Newborn Screening Systems

APHL Receives $7.5 Million Award to Strengthen Newborn Screening Systems | www.APHLblog.org

Congratulations to APHL’s Newborn Screening and Genetics team and the NewSTEPs team! Below is the official announcement of the award.

The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) has been awarded a five-year cooperative agreement of up to $7.5 million by the Genetic Services Branch of the US Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to maintain and manage the Newborn Screening Technical assistance and Evaluation Program (NewSTEPs). A component of the APHL Newborn Screening and Genetics Program, NewSTEPs provides quality improvement initiatives to strengthen newborn screening systems, a data repository, technical assistance and resources to state newborn screening programs and stakeholders.

“We are honored to receive this award,” said Jelili Ojodu, director of APHL’s Newborn Screening and Genetics Program and director of NewSTEPs. “This funding will allow us to continue provide states with robust and comprehensive tools that will allow them to improve the efficiency of the services they provide to newborn babies.”

Named one of the ten greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, newborn screening saves or improves the lives of more than 12,000 babies annually in the US. For babies who test positive for one of the genetic, metabolic, heart or hearing conditions, newborn screening can prevent serious health problems or even death.

NewSTEPs helps facilitate newborn screening initiatives and improve programmatic outcomes to enhance the quality of the newborn screening system through data driven quality improvements.

 

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This project is 100% supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,500,000. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) works to strengthen laboratory systems serving the public’s health in the US and globally. APHL’s member laboratories protect the public’s health by monitoring and detecting infectious and foodborne diseases, environmental contaminants, terrorist agents, genetic disorders in newborns and other diverse health threats.

The post APHL Receives $7.5 Million Award to Strengthen Newborn Screening Systems appeared first on APHL Lab Blog.

Using Trauma-Informed Care to Guide Emergency Preparedness and Response

Exposure to a traumatic event or set of circumstances can negatively affect a person’s mental, physical, social, emotional or spiritual well-being for a long time after the initial incident. We know that not all individuals respond to trauma in the same way and we know that individuals with a history of trauma, especially childhood trauma, are more likely to experience psychological distress and are at increased risk for the development of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with future exposure to trauma.

The chemicals in our bodies change during stressful or traumatic situationsEmergency responders are vulnerable to trauma during or after a disaster the same as survivors. Hazardous work conditions, being away from family, and exposure to human suffering can cause new and intensify existing feelings of stress, anxiety, grief, and worry in responders.

When the body is threatened, stress hormones are released to help you survive (fight or flight response). These hormones cause our bodies to minimize non-essential tasks, including growth, reproduction, and immune function and to maximize body functions that are necessary to prepare the body to fight or flee from a stressor.  Functions such as breathing, heart rate and alertness are useful for the body to survive the stress.   If someone is regularly exposed to trauma, stress hormones are repeatedly released and the brain can become exposed to these powerful stress hormones that would normally be present in the body for short periods of time. Over time repeated exposure to stress may cause your body’s natural stress response system to malfunction and can result in potentially unhealthy mental and physical responses to current or future stress.  These responses can include irritability, emotional reactivity, intrusive thoughts about the event, emotional numbing and avoidance, loss of one’s sense of safety, or diminished capacity to trust others.

Exposure to trauma can affect a person’s normal coping and stress management skills.  A person’s mental health during an emergency may be impacted by:

  • Direct exposure to the disaster, such as being evacuated or witnessing others (including family members) in life-threatening situations
  • Prior experience with and exposure to trauma
  • Pre-existing conditions, such as mental health conditions
  • Socioeconomic factors, such as family resources available
  • Family variables, for example, how parents react

Take trauma into account when responding to emergencies

When someone has experienced trauma, he or she can be re-traumatized if emergency medical service providers, healthcare professionals, and community service providers are not aware of and sensitive to the possibility of re-traumatization. Emergency responders should be aware that individuals and communities may have experienced a variety of traumas in their lives and need to consider a survivor’s physical, psychological, and emotional safety and well-being after a disaster.

Trauma-informed organizations and emergency responders need to be sensitive to the potential impact that widespread trauma can have on individuals. An essential underpinning of trauma informed care and approach is the awareness that procedures and interactions can be re-traumatizing.

Training emergency responders in trauma-informed care

The CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) collaborated with SAMHSA to develop a trauma-informed care training for CDC. Working with Mary Blake (SAMHSA) and the Technical Assistance Center, SAMHSA’s National Center for Trauma-Informed Care (NCTIC) developed and led a new training for OPHPR employees about the role of trauma-informed care during public health emergencies. The training aimed to increase responder awareness of the impact that trauma can have in the communities where they work. Participants learned the six principles that guide a trauma-informed approach, including:

  1. Safety
  2. Trustworthiness and transparency
  3. Peer support
  4. Collaboration and mutuality
  5. Empowerment, voice and choice
  6. Cultural, historical, and gender issues

Adopting a trauma-informed approach is not accomplished through any single particular technique or checklist. It requires constant attention, caring awareness, sensitivity and it may require a cultural change at an organizational level. On-going internal organizational assessment and quality improvement, as well as engagement with community stakeholders, will help to imbed this approach which can be augmented with organizational development and practice improvement. The training provided by OPHPR and NCTIC was the first step for CDC to view emergency preparedness and response through a trauma-informed lens.

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The Power of the Pediatrician’s Voice: Reflections on PAS 2018

The Power of the Pediatrician’s Voice: Reflections on PAS 2018   post-info Organizers and award recipients from the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting provide their impressions of this year’s meeting. The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting, held