wyoming department of health

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The Wyoming Department of Health will be using a national advertising campaign to assist with state efforts to combat opioid abuse. State Epidemiologist Alexia Harrist said the campaign from the Centers for Disease Control tells stories of abuse and addiction.

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The Wyoming Department of Health has added two vaccines to the list of those required for children to attend school or daycare in the state. One of the two is a vaccine for rotavirus, which affects the stomach and intestines. According to State Epidemiologist Alexia Harrist, the rotavirus vaccine can only be given to babies younger than eight months old.

Wyoming Department of Health

The Wyoming Department of Health recently rolled out a new mobile phone app intended to provide health tracking and management tools to families across Wyoming. The app’s features include height and weight trackers, as well as feeding and growth trackers for pregnant moms and newborns. By entering their zip code, residents can also access local resources. 

Dr. James Bush, Wyoming’s Medicaid director, said the app initially began as a project solely for pregnant women, but has since expanded, and is designed to work well for Wyomingites from all stages of life.

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Radon is the second most common cause of lung cancer in the state after smoking, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that exists in nature.

"When uranium breaks down in the soil, radon is a by-product, and radon can get into your home through cracks or your plumbing, or any space that allows air to enter your home," said Integrated Cancer Services Program Outreach Coordinator Allie Bain.

Wyoming Department of Health

Nearly 3,000 kids in Wyoming have access to a highly subsidized health insurance through a program called Kid Care CHIP operated by the Wyoming Department of Health. Those kids could lose that coverage as soon as April, if Congress does not re-authorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan.

 

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Flu numbers are rising in Wyoming, with the highest levels reported in the southwestern corner of the state.

The Wyoming Department of Health’s Kim Deti said people should keep common-sense measures in mind to help slow or prevent spreading the flu.

That includes frequently washing your hands, staying home if you’re sick, and using your sleeve or a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. Flu season runs from October through May, so Deti said it’s likely not quite peak flu season.

Office of Governor Matt Mead

Governor Matt Mead presented his budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year to the legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee Monday. The budget largely calls for reversing cuts to social services that Mead said have been in effect for long enough to hurt agencies’ ability to deliver services.

Mead wants to increase the Department of Health’s budget by $48 million. But he also rejected some of the department’s recommendations for spending reductions, like privatizing the Wyoming Retirement Center and Pioneer Home, an assisted living facility.

National Public Health Information Coalition

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. For parents with kids headed off to school, that means it’s time to make sure they’re up to date on their vaccines.

 

Every school and childcare facility in Wyoming requires kids to have certain vaccines like tetanus and hepatitis B. Kim Deti with the Wyoming Department of Health said if children are not up to date they can be asked to stay home from school.

 

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Tick-borne illnesses can be dangerous. That’s why it is a good idea to watch out for ticks when you are outside this summer.  

Ticks in Wyoming do not carry Lyme disease as they do in eastern states, but they can spread Tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Colorado Tick Fever. Katie Brian, an epidemiologist for the state health department, recommends seeing a doctor if you’re having abnormal fatigue, headaches, fever, nausea, or rashes after a tick bite. Brian said her office hasn’t heard of any cases so far this year, but she expects to as the summer continues.  

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Wyoming’s cases of sexually transmitted diseases have been increasing in recent years and a recent update shows that, despite efforts of health care providers, it’s still a concern. Courtney Smith is the Communicable Disease Program Manager for the Wyoming Department of Health. She tells Bob Beck that they have one key area of concern. 

 

SageWest Health Care

Patients of SageWest Health Care in Lander who had surgery between December 2013 and October 2016 could have been exposed to non-sterile surgical equipment.

The Department of Health investigated the hospital four different times over the past three years, after surgeons reported visibly contaminated surgical instruments that were supposed to be sterile.

Recover Wyoming

Earlier this month, authors in a new anthology on drug and alcohol recovery in Wyoming presented their work in Cheyenne.         

Laura Griffith is the founder of Recover Wyoming in Cheyenne and a former Wyoming Department of Health Treatment Manager. In the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Division, Griffith took part in a special training called the Emerging Leaders of Recovery. 

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The Wyoming Department of Health is asking for public input on tobacco sales violations, especially businesses selling to people under the age of 18. According to the national standard, each state is expected to keep the number of tobacco venders that have violated the laws below 20 percent.

According Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center’s Laran Despain, Wyoming’s violation rate since 2000 has been well below that with an average of 8 percent.

Wyoming saw higher rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and other sexual transmitted diseases in 2015 compared to reports from the previous year, according to recent data released by the Department of Health.

The report shows a 3 percent increase in chlamydia cases and a 150 percent rise in gonorrhea. Young people aged 15 to 24 accounted for a majority of these infections, which health officials say can have lasting health impacts.

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A Campbell County woman caught the Zika virus while traveling outside the country, and after her return started showing symptoms like fever, rash and joint paint. Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti says Wyoming was one of the last states to report a case.

The virus spreads through a certain type of mosquito, but Deti says those mosquitos cannot survive in Wyoming.

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Due to Wyoming’s economic downturn, a number of state agencies have been required to cut their budgets to make up for a revenue shortfall that could reach $300 million. Among the cuts is $1 million that the Wyoming Department of Corrections uses for substance abuse treatment. 

At the same time, the Wyoming Department of Health is cutting funding for local substance abuse treatment. Some worry the cuts could harm those in and out of the prison system.

Bob Beck, Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming’s Title 25 program is $13 million dollars over budget and a group of legislators and others were told this week that reforms and policy changes are needed to slow down that spending. 

Title 25 covers court ordered hospitalizations for mental health and substance abuse patients. The state hospital doesn’t have enough beds to house those who need services, so the state has to pay private providers for that care. Natrona, Fremont, and Sweetwater County are driving the costs.  

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Wyoming Department of Health officials say Wyoming’s relatively high elevation could put people here more at risk for skin cancer.

“The thought process may be something closer to ‘Oh, I’m just going to go for a 30-minute run,’”said Morgan Powell with Wyoming Integrated Cancer Services. “But what they don’t realize is that the sun can damage our skin in as little as 15 minutes at our altitude.”

Bob Beck, Wyoming Public Radio

Due to declining revenues the Wyoming Department of Health has been told to cut $90 million from its budget, that’s a nine percent reduction, the largest cut faced by any state agency. It will impact the two year budget that begins July first.

Director Tom Forslund said the loss of state funds also means the Department will lose an additional $43 million in federal matching money. Had the legislature voted to expand Medicaid it would have softened the blow, especially since the Department could shift some money from its budget to pay upfront costs. 

Bob Beck

 

Due to a massive drop in projected revenues, the Governor is trying to cut spending for the next two-year budget cycle by eight percent. He said he is trying to cut spending levels back to where they were ten years ago.

The University of Wyoming has already started working on a cut of near 40 million dollars and the largest cut will likely come from the Wyoming Department of Health. Tom Forslund is the Director of the Department and Bob Beck met with him in Cheyenne to discuss what that kind of cut means.

Wyoming Department of Health

The Wyoming Department of Health has received a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help expand treatment for prescription drug and heroin abuse in the state. The administration has flagged Wyoming as an at-risk state due to recent increases in heroin and other opioid use among the state's residents.

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The Wyoming Department of Health has reported an increase in flu activity, and is encouraging residents to take steps to avoid spreading the virus or becoming ill.

Kim Deti, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health, says that last year’s season was especially severe with 29 influenza-related deaths reported in Wyoming. She also says that it is not too late to get the vaccine, since the timing of peak flu activity can vary from season to season.

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Teton County has seen a big uptick recently in cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

Health officials have confirmed eight cases in the county this year, which represents one third of those in Wyoming.

Whooping cough is a bacterial disease that’s easily transmitted from person to person. Teton County Public Health Officer Travis Riddell says it’s hard to diagnose and especially dangerous for infants.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the American Cancer Society has introduced new guidelines for breast cancer screening. It now recommends people get mammograms at age 45 instead of 40.

Morgan Powell is the outreach coordinator for the Wyoming Department of Health’s Integrated Cancer Services. She says Wyoming recommends starting at age 50, the same as the US Preventative Services.

Still, "There are exceptions to every rule," says Powell. "If there are signs and symptoms of Breast Cancer, that absolutely makes you a priority for the program."

Wyoming Department of Health

State officials say this has been Wyoming’s worst year on record for human cases of the disease Tularemia, or rabbit fever. Tularemia is a bacterial disease that is passed to humans by animals, insects, untreated water, and even contaminated dust. Once you have the disease, symptoms can include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, ulcers, and diarrhea.

Wyoming Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti says they have not pinpointed any one factor leading to the uptick in reports.

health.wyo.gov

Wyoming residents are being asked to discuss ways cancer can be better detected and treated at a meeting today in Casper. 

Julie Tarbuck oversees Wyoming’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. Tarbuck says they are developing the next State Cancer Control plan and they want to develop new ways to address everything from diagnosis to quality of life.

She says overcoming the challenges faced by those in rural parts of the state remains an issue. For instance, Tarbuck says the lack of health care providers makes detection difficult.         

A Montana company called Health Management Services will step in and take over operations of a nursing home in Saratoga that was slated to shut down. 

The Deseret Health group had planned to close the nursing home in Saratoga and another one in Rock Springs that was sold last week. Both facilities will remain open after the Wyoming Department of Health stepped in and brokered the deals for both facilities. 

EmpRes Healthcare

Washington-based EmpRes Healthcare Management has committed to a lease on Rock Spring’s troubled nursing home.

The home’s former owner, Deseret Health Group, abruptly announced its closure and cut off its access to funds last week. Nursing Home Director of Nursing Karen Muto says they got the call that EmpRes was stepping in Tuesday afternoon.

"Right away we called the staff together as well as the residents to make the announcement," she said by phone. "You could not believe how happy everyone was. Everybody was crying, they were so happy."

The State of Wyoming has delayed the transfer of residents from two troubled nursing homes after learning that two private companies are considering purchasing them. The state was contacted by the companies over the weekend.

Wyoming took over operations of nursing home facilities in Saratoga and Rock Springs after Deseret Health Group said it was promptly closing the homes due to financial difficulties. State Health Department Director Tom Forslund says they were looking to place residents of the facilities into new nursing homes. 

The Wyoming Department of Health is taking over private nursing homes in Rock Springs and Saratoga after their parent company, Deseret Health Group, abruptly announced their closure.

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