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Tag Archive | "Kent County Health Department"

Challenges for blind and visually Impaired 


 

Workshop Feb. 20

The ability to see is something that most people take for granted. Vision loss can be devastating as common tasks such as cooking, the ability to drive and reading the mail become difficult.

This can take an emotional toll on a person. The Kent County Disaster Mental Health and Human Services Committee is planning a blind and visually impaired workshop on Friday, February 20, 2015. This interactive workshop is designed to increase awareness of accessibility differences among people who are blind, visually impaired and sighted. Implications for emergency preparedness and response will be explored at the workshop.

Visual impairments are very common and affect all age groups. However, vision loss tends to advance with age. According to CDC, more than one million Americans are legally blind and 12 million are visually impaired. Half of all blindness can be prevented and the risk of blindness can be reduced with early detection and treatment. National and local governments have established programs and regulations to prevent and control visual impairment, as well as developed campaigns with the purpose of educating and creating awareness about the importance of visual function.

“Not all visual impairments are the same, and we need to be prepared for the needs of our community in times of emergency incidents,” explains Adam London, Administrative Health Officer of the Kent County Health Department. “It is important for emergency responders and public health staff to have a solid understanding of the various challenges in our community.”

Several speakers will be at the workshop, including a client advocate from the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a sociology professor from Ferris State University and a safety and security coordinator at Clark Retirement Community.

The workshop is open to all community members, public service workers, local officials and many others. The workshop will be at the Kent County Health Department located at 700 Fuller Avenue NE in Grand Rapids on Friday, February 20, from 1:30-4:30 p.m. If you are interested in attending this workshop, please call Pat Draper at 616-632-7292 to reserve your seat.

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New requirement for unvaccinated children


 

Parents who don’t want to vaccinate their children will need to comply with new state waiver requirements.

The Kent County Health Department has implemented the new state waiver requirements for unvaccinated children, which includes an educational meeting with health department staff. Starting January 1, 2015, parents who do not vaccinate their children must now obtain a certified non-medical waiver from a local health department in order for their children to attend school. All schools and childcare providers will be receiving information on the new rules from the state and here from the Kent County Health Department.

While parents can object to vaccines for religious or medical reasons, Michigan is one of the few states in the country that allows waivers based on philosophical reasons. Michigan has the fourth highest waiver rate in the U.S. “The new requirement assures parents receive credible, scientific information about immunizations in order for their children to attend schools in Michigan,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer of the Kent County Health Department. “Previously, it was too easy for parents to opt-out with little knowledge of the importance of vaccines. The Internet is a great tool for education, but it also allows for myths and misinformation to be spread.”

Fortunately, Kent County schools have one of the best in rates in the state for childhood vaccinations, with only a 3 percent waiver rate in 2014. In one Michigan county that recently dealt with pertussis and measles outbreaks, the waiver rate was 11 percent.

At least one parent refusing vaccine(s) for the child will be required to meet with health department staff for an educational session. Staff will share information about vaccines and the diseases they prevent. Parents refusing to vaccinate children can only sign the current state waiver form, and it may not be altered in any way.

The waiver must be certified by the local health department. The waiver says the parent understands:

The purpose of the recommended vaccination;

The risks and benefits of the recommended vaccination;

The possible consequences of not allowing the child to receive the recommended vaccination, which may include contracting the illness the vaccine is intended to prevent and transmitting the disease to others.

“These educational sessions are meant to educate, not harass, a parent refusing vaccination for their children,” London said. “These sessions will take a small amount of time; a tiny investment that could have life-saving effects on some families.”

Information on the new policy can be found at www.accesskent.com/immunizations under the School/Childcare Resources.

 

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Flu may have contributed to nine deaths in Kent County 


 

The Kent County Health Department announced last week that preliminary testing shows complications from influenza virus may have contributed to nine recent deaths. Six of these deaths were individuals from Kent County; three were from neighboring counties. There are over 1900 reported flu cases in Kent County so far this season.

“Most of the deaths reported to us have been elderly patients with pre-existing medical conditions,” says Adam London, Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recently reported that this year’s flu is particularly hard on older adults. “It is so important for us to check on our elderly family members, friends and neighbors, even if it’s just a daily phone call. We also should remember that the flu can also have a deadly impact on the young and those with compromised immune systems. You can protect others by protecting yourself: get a flu vaccination.”

The total number of flu cases reported to KCHD as of January 10, 2015 was 1,976.  New cases reported during the week ending January 10, 2015 was 355, compared to 581 during the previous week, and 625 during the week ending December 27, 2014.

The flu can have serious complications for children under the age of five, the elderly, and people with already-weakened immune systems. Signs and symptoms can include:

• Fever

• Chills

• Cough

• Sore throat

• Runny or stuffy nose

• Muscle or body aches

• Headaches

• Fatigue (very tired)

• Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age to protect against flu viruses. The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. The cost of the vaccine ranges from $39-$55; FluMist nasal spray (a live, preservative-free, four strain vaccine) is available for $41.

Children from six months through 18 years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $23. The Health Department can only bill Medicaid and Medicare; private insurance is not accepted. Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted.

To make an appointment at any of their four clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com. Most primary care providers and many local pharmacies also provide influenza vaccinations and can bill private insurance.

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Over 800 cases of confirmed flu in Kent County


 

 

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) has received 813 reports of influenza that were confirmed by rapid tests by health care providers this flu season. Nearly 17 percent of people visiting emergency departments in Kent County last week were suffering from influenza-like illness. This is the highest percentage tracked by KCHD since the H1N1 Influenza season in 2009. From September 1, 2014, through December 22, the number of confirmed cases of flu reported to KCHD was 415.

Flu viruses spread when people with flu cough, sneeze, or even talk. “The virus can live on some surfaces for up to 48 hours,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “If you are sick, stay home until you recover, and limit contact with people who are not sick. The absolute, best protection from the flu is vaccination.”

There is no cure for the flu, but there are anti-viral medications that can help people recover faster if they are taken within the first 24-48 hours of getting sick.

The flu can have serious complications for children under the age of five, the elderly, and people with already-weakened immune systems. Signs and symptoms can include:

• Fever

• Chills

• Cough

• Sore throat

• Runny or stuffy nose

• Muscle or body aches

• Headaches

• Fatigue (very tired)

• Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age to protect against flu viruses.

The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. The cost of the vaccine ranges from $39-$55; FluMist nasal spray (a live, preservative-free, four strain vaccine) is available for $41.

Children from six months through 18 years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $23. The Health Department can only bill Medicaid and Medicare; private insurance is not accepted. Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted. To make an appointment at any of our four clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com.

Most primary care providers and many local pharmacies also provide influenza vaccinations and can bill private insurance.

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Flu illness on rise in Kent County 


N-Flu

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) is seeing more cases of suspected flu reported from area emergency departments and health care providers, in comparison to what is typical this time of year. More than 10 percent of people visiting emergency departments in Kent County last week were suffering from flu-like illness, and 6 out of ten patients presenting with flu-like illness were under the age of 18. So far this season, there have been 74 confirmed cases of flu reported to KCHD, but not every person who is sick with influenza goes to a health care provider or gets tested, so the actual number of illnesses is likely much higher.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu viruses can spread when people with flu cough, sneeze, or even talk. Someone might also get flu by touching a surface or object (like a phone) that has flu virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose. The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and in some cases, it can be deadly.

Signs and symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). Not everyone with flu will experience all of the symptoms.

The flu can have serious complications for children under the age of five, the elderly, and people with already-weakened immune systems. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age to protect against flu viruses. “We know there has been some mutation in the flu virus that was expected for this year when the influenza vaccine was produced,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “But the flu vaccine is still very useful and the best protection you can get against influenza. Even in those cases where people get the flu, the illness is not as severe as it is in those unvaccinated.”

Now is the time to get you and your family vaccinated. It can take about two weeks for the vaccination to become effective. The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. The cost of the vaccine ranges from $39-$55; FluMist nasal spray (a live, preservative-free, four strain vaccine) is available for $41.

Children from six months through eighteen years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $15. The Health Department can only bill Medicaid and Medicare; private insurance is not accepted. Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted. To make an appointment at any of our four clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200.

You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com.

 

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Local agencies train for worldwide Ebola outbreak


 

News came out this week that a second healthcare worker in a Dallas, Texas hospital has tested positive for the Ebola virus, after caring for a man who died there from it last week. So far, it is the only place in the U.S. affected by the virus. However, officials in Kent County aren’t twiddling their thumbs. Instead, they are proactively preparing to combat the threat.

Officials from the City of Grand Rapids, Kent County, area hospitals and first response agencies met Monday to discuss emergency preparedness regarding the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus worldwide. Discussions centered on the virus, transmission, prevention, patient isolation and monitoring, in case there was a patient with Ebola–like symptoms who had travelled to (or had close contact with someone from) the region impacted by Ebola.

“This meeting brought key first responders and healthcare providers to the same table to discuss our preparedness plans with county and city officials,” said Jack Stewart, Emergency Management Coordinator. “We need to be able to respond quickly, while making sure we are protecting our front-line personnel and others.”

The meeting resulted in a decision to reestablish the Metropolitan Medical Response System, which will ensure a coordinated effort.

The meeting included representatives of Emergency Management, the Grand Rapids City Manager’s Office, Grand Rapids Police Department, Grand Rapids Fire Department, Kent County Health Department, Kent County Administrator’s Office, Kent County EMS, Spectrum Health, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, and Metro Health Hospital.

“We are working to bring all of the right people to the table to discuss this emerging health threat,” said  Greg Sundstrom, Grand Rapids City Manager. “Knowing who to call before an emergency helps us provide the most successful response we can.”

The Kent County Health Department has provided guidance to area health care providers, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) direction. “The region’s top emergency and medical professionals are making sure all providers have the right information and tools,” said Dan Koorndyk, Chair of the Kent County Board of Commissioners. “This type of cooperation ensures that our team is always prepared and informed.”

Area hospitals are continuously training for the unexpected. “We welcome the opportunity to work with our Kent County partners on this issue,” Michael Kramer, MD, Spectrum Health Senior Vice President & Chief Quality

Officer. “Spectrum Health is committed to providing all available assistance to our partners to educate and protect our community and health care workers.”

“As a community well-known for its collaboration, West Michigan’s health care providers and key stakeholders are preparing as best as we can, focusing on education, awareness and monitoring to prevent Ebola from occurring within our region,” said Mary Neuman, RN, BSN, MM, CIC, Director of Infection Control at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. “All these pieces to keep our community safe will require constant and open communication among our health care systems.”

“By working together with the Kent County Health Department and area hospitals and using CDC guidelines, we are able to share best practices that truly benefit our community,” said Svetlana Dembitskaya, Metro Health chief operating officer. “Our community can rest assured that we are working together to provide the high quality care West Michigan residents expect and deserve.”

Ebola is a severe, often fatal disease in humans. The CDC continues to issue regular updates to state and local authorities. The outbreak continues to affect several countries in West Africa: Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.

Currently, those at highest risk include healthcare workers and the family and friends of a person infected with Ebola. A person infected with Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear, which can take up to 21 days.

Signs and symptoms of Ebola are flu-like in nature. They typically include:

Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)

Severe headache

Muscle pain

Vomiting

Diarrhea

Stomach pain

Unexplained bleeding or bruising

No one in Kent County has met the criteria for testing at this time, and no cases of Ebola have been confirmed in Michigan.

 

 

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Man in Texas dies from Ebola virus


 

Health Department & Emergency Management monitors Ebola situation 

 

GRAND RAPIDS – The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) and Kent County Emergency Management (KCEM) continues to monitor the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the case in Texas, where a man from Liberia who came to the U.S. died from Ebola Wednesday. Ebola is a severe, often fatal disease in humans. KCHD and KCEM are regularly receiving updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on this emerging outbreak.

The outbreak involves several countries in West Africa: Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria. Currently, those at highest risk include healthcare workers and the family and friends of a person infected with Ebola. Area health care providers have received information from the KCHD based on CDC guidance.

“The death in Texas today is a tragic reminder that Ebola is a serious illness,” said Adam London, Health Officer of the Kent County Health Department. “But it also has been an excellent reminder of how well our public health system works in the United States. There have been no additional reports of illness as a result of this one case at this time, because of the emergency response and precautions taken by health care providers and epidemiologists.”

“The level of cooperation and information-sharing between emergency agencies helps keep local municipalities like Kent County informed and well-prepared,” said Jack Stewart, Emergency Management Coordinator for Kent County. “Keeping community leaders, first responders and our local emergency departments updated has been our top priority.”

A person infected with Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear, which can take up to 21 days. Signs and symptoms of Ebola are quite flu-like in nature. They typically include:

Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)

Severe headache

Muscle pain

Vomiting

Diarrhea

Stomach pain

Unexplained bleeding or bruising

No one in Kent County has met the criteria for testing at this time, and no cases of Ebola have been confirmed in Michigan.

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Where to get a flu shot


 

 

The Kent County Health Department offers four locations:

  • Fuller – 700 Fuller Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • North County – 4388 14 Mile Rd NE, Rockford, MI 49341
  • Sheldon – 121 Franklin SE, Ste. 130, Grand Rapids, MI 49507
  • South – 4700 Kalamazoo Ave SE, Kentwood, MI 49508

Call (616) 632-7200 weekdays from 8-12 or 1-5 to make your appointment.

Fees: $39-$55 for injectable vaccine and $41 for FluMist (nasal).

They will bill Medicaid and Medicare for adults and children, but they do not bill private insurance. Children 18 years and under may qualify for free or reduced cost vaccine. Qualifying for this special program will be assessed at your appointment.

Flu shots are also available at area pharmacies:

  • Rite Aid 4166 17 Mile Road Ne, Cedar Springs, 696-9040

Vaccines: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, HPV, Meningococcal, MMR, Pneumococcal, Shingles/zoster, Td, Tdap, Varicella

  • Meijer 3700 17 Mile Rd Ne, Cedar Springs, 696-4610

Vaccines: Flu Nasal Spray ($32.99), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, High-Dose Flu Shot, HPV, Meningococcal, MMR, Pneumococcal, Quadrivalent Flu Shot ($32.99), Shingles/zoster, Td, Tdap, Trivalent Flu Shot ($27.99), Varicella

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Community health forum


March 27 6-8 p.m. at Metro Health in Cedar Springs

N-Kent-County-logo

The Kent County Health Department needs your help! The Health Department is currently conducting a Community Health Needs Assessment to identify strengths, weaknesses, and the health concerns of several communities within Kent County. Our Cedar Springs area meeting takes place on March 27, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Metro Health, on White Creek (near Save A Lot) in Cedar Springs, and is currently lacking in participation. We need your help to spread the word! The community health forum is open to men, women, and children alike; every person in attendance will receive a meal and be entered into a drawing for one of several $25.00 Meijer gift cards.

This community health forum is crucial to the success and health improvement of Cedar Springs.  We encourage you to participate and hope that you’ll tell others within your organization, social circles, etc.  The greater the participation we see within the community the better we can assess health and work to improve.

To Sign-Up For One Of Our Forums, Please Follow The Directions Below:

1. Visit Our Website:  www.KentCountyCHNA.org

2. Select The ‘Meetings’ Tab.

3. Scroll Down The Page To Find A Meeting Near You.

4. When You’ve Found Your Community Meeting, Scroll To The Bottom Of The Page.

5. Select The Link “RSVP To A Meeting Near You” and complete the survey.

 

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Stomach illness on the rise in Kent County


 

GRAND RAPIDS – Reports of stomach illness to the Kent County Health Department have health officials reminding everyone to practice good hygiene to prevent the further spread of sickness. For the week ending March 8, 2014, gastrointestinal illness (vomiting and/or diarrhea) complaints are being reported to local medical emergency departments at a rate that is higher (16.9%) than the four year average for this time of year (14.9%).

Communicable Disease staff at KCHD has been in contact with local emergency departments as well as people impacted by the illness. The increase also prompted an alert, sent to food establishments, to be diligent regarding the health and hygiene of their food employees; to use proper cleaning procedures and reinforce proper protocol if someone on their staff or in their facility is ill. If you work in the food service industry, in a cafeteria, or in a restaurant, and you are ill, stay home until you recover. The Michigan Food Code requires food employees to be symptom-free from diarrhea or vomiting for a minimum of 24 hours before returning to work.

Many of the complaints exhibit symptoms consistent with norovirus infection, a highly contagious, easily transmitted illness.

“If you or someone in your family is suffering from vomiting or diarrhea, avoid contact with those who are not ill,” said Adam London, Health Officer of the Kent County Health Department. “Although a surface may not be visibly soiled, the virus can live on this surface for long periods of time if not properly cleaned.”

If possible, infected individuals should use one bathroom while uninfected individuals use another. The infected person should use disposable paper towel to dry their hands after washing, to prevent the virus from spreading.

Be sure to clean that bathroom (and any other potentially contaminated areas) with a chlorine bleach solution, mixing ¼ cup of bleach with one gallon of water.

Other tips:

1. Wash hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and before, during and after preparing food:

• Rub your hands together to lather the soap, and be sure to really scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

• Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.

• Rinse your hands well under running water.

• Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dry them.

• After drying, use another clean paper towel to open the door, and then dispose of it.

2. If you have been suffering from vomiting or diarrhea, remain at home until symptoms subside.

3. Don’t prepare food for anyone else until you haven’t had symptoms for 24 hours or more.

4. If sharing food, don’t use bare hands when handling foods, and use utensils to transfer food from container to plate.

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