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Public Health

Personal protective equipment training held for healthcare workers

Ebola trainingThe County of San Bernardino has taken steps to ensure it is prepared to respond to Ebola or other infectious diseases that may arise in the county. Several hospitals and healthcare facilities in the county participated in training today on how to put on and take off personal protective equipment. The County Department of Public Health and Inland Counties Emergency Medical Agency hosted the training which was opened to all healthcare workers.
The goal of the training is to provide healthcare workers an opportunity to practice steps to properly put on and take off required personal protective equipment. The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health has adopted the Cal/OSHA Aerosolized Transmissible Disease Standard, which is the highest standard currently available for healthcare workers to treat infectious patients.
“The health of our residents is always a priority and we strive to be prepared for every scenario. Bringing healthcare workers together for training is a key step in the County’s preparedness efforts”, said County Health Officer Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare.
Should the Ebola virus or any other infectious disease present itself in the County, medical and public health professionals are preparing to stop the spread of the virus by isolating ill patients, protecting healthcare providers, tracing all who may be exposed to ill patients, and further monitoring of contacts if they develop symptoms.

Learn how to prevent lead poisoning

lead poisoningThe Department of Public Health announced plans to commemorate National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 19-25, with a week-long information campaign about childhood lead poisoning.  The campaign theme “Kids Learn Better Lead Free,” will educate families and community members about ways to prevent lead poisoning and the importance of testing children for lead, said Sara Hernandez-Singh of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

Lead poisoning can seriously affect a child’s brain and nervous system. It can cause learning and behavioral problems. A blood lead test is the only way to identify and confirm lead poisoning in children. “The purpose of this campaign is to remind parents that lead poisoning can be detrimental to young children’s health and development. It is important for parents to ask their child’s doctor about lead testing,” stated Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, Health Officer of the Department of Public Health.

In California, children can be exposed to lead by ingesting lead-contaminated dust, paint chips from deteriorating lead-based paint, and lead-contaminated soil. Other sources of lead poisoning include lead dust brought home on parents’ work clothes, certain imported ceramic pottery, and traditional home remedies among others. Imported candies or foods, especially from Mexico, containing chili or tamarind may contain lead. Additionally, activities that involve lead products such as soldering, making stained glass, and handling bullets or fishing sinkers can put children at risk.

All parents and caregivers of young children are invited to contact Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 1-800-722-3777 to learn about the upcoming education campaign and ways to protect their children from this silent and serious environmental disease.

Public Health supports Latino AIDS awareness

AIDS LatinoHIV continues to threaten the health of Hispanics/Latinos in the United States. The Center for Disease Control estimates that approximately 1 in 50 Hispanics/Latinos will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.  Over 8,000 individuals of all races and ethnicities are living with HIV/AIDS within the Counties of San Bernardino and Riverside.

October 15, 2014 is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD).  The 2014 theme is “To End AIDS, Commit to Act”

The County of San Bernardino, Department of Public Health, Ryan White Program, supports NLAAD and according to the County Health Officer, Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, “everyone, especially those at high risk of infection, should be tested.”

HIV testing is more important than ever because 1 in 5 people with HIV are unaware of their HIV status, and almost half of Hispanics/Latinos have never been tested. The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once in their lifetime. Individuals at higher risk should be tested even more frequently, at least annually.

Getting an HIV test has never been easier.  To find an HIV test site near you, please visit: National HIV and STD Testing Resources . Simply enter your zip code and a list of nearby testing suites will be presented.

The President’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy is to reduce new HIV infection rates by 25% by the year 2015. This will take a combination of effort, predominantly increasing HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention efforts by increasing the number of people living with HIV who know their status.

For more information about the Ryan White Program or to find services near you, please call the Ryan White Program office at (909) 387-6492 or visit our website at         http://www.sbcounty.gov/dph/publichealth/programs_services/ryan_white/ryan_white_home.asp.

County, local hospitals prepared for Ebola virus

ebolaSan Bernardino County’s top public health officer told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that even though there are no confirmed cases of Ebola in California, the County is prepared to respond to the virus.

“We know how to stop the spread of diseases such as the Ebola virus,” said Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, Health Officer for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. “I can assure you if and when we have Ebola in this county, it will be handled effectively with no danger to the public.”

On Sept. 18, a meeting was held with hospitals throughout the county, the Inland Counties Emergency Medical Agency and first responders about the Ebola virus and reviewing the infection control process. Fifty percent of the hospitals in the county are prepared to treat patients with Ebola and the rest are prepared to isolate patients suspected of having the virus, Ohikhuare said.

Ebola is an infectious disease caused by the Ebola virus. Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure and include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and abnormal bleeding. There are no specific treatments but supportive therapy can be provided to address bleeding and other complications. The Centers for Disease Control confirmed the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the U.S. on Sept. 30 in a man who traveled to Dallas, Texas from Liberia.

Medical and public health professionals throughout the county are prepared to stop the spread of the virus by isolating ill patients, tracing all who may be exposed to ill patients and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms, Ohikhuare said. Medical workers are trained to wear protective gloves, gowns, facemasks and eye protection. They are expected to report any patient suspected of having the Ebola virus to the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health.

The Ebola virus cannot be transmitted through the air, food or water. The virus is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person with symptoms or through exposure to objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated. People who do not have symptoms are not contagious. People at the highest risk for Ebola are health care workers and family and friends of infected patients.

For additional resources on Ebola visit http://www.cdc.gov/ or contact the Communicable Disease Section (CDS) at 1-800-722-4794. Continuous health information can be found on the CDS Facebook page at http://www.facebook/CommunicableDiseaseSection or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SBCOUNTYHS.

Heat advisory issued in San Bernardino County

Rising TemperatureWith above average temperatures expected, the County of San Bernardino Health Officer Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare has issued a heat advisory for residents. High temperature above 100 degrees forecasted for the inland valleys, mountains and desert regions are expected to continue into early next week. Residents are urged to take precautions that will help prevent heat-related illness.

High or unusually hot temperatures can affect your health. Most vulnerable are the elderly, those who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, the homeless or poor, and people with chronic medical conditions.

Take the necessary precautions to prevent serious health effects such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke by following the tips below.

Stay cool

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings.
  • Find an air-conditioned Cooling Center open to the public by dialing the United Way’s toll-free resource telephone line at 2-1-1, or online at www.coolingsb.org
  • Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
  • Limit outdoor activity, especially midday when it is the hottest part of the day, and avoid direct sunlight.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths to lower your body temperature.
  • Check on at-risk friends, family and neighbors at least twice a day.

Stay hydrated

  • Drink more than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Drink from two to four cups of water every hour while working
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.
  • Make sure your family, friends and neighbors are drinking enough water.

For more information on the extreme heat visit the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health website at http://www.sbcounty.gov/dph/publichealth/ph_divisions/preparedness_response/natural_disasters.asp

Or visit the California Department of Public Health website at: http://www.bepreparedcalifornia.ca.gov/BeInformed/NaturalDisasters/ExtremeHeat/Pages/ExtremeHeat.aspx

First human cases of West Nile Virus in San Bernardino County

westnilevirusTwo human cases of West Nile Virus have been confirmed in the County of San Bernardino. These are the first confirmed human cases within the County this year. At this time last year, the County had a total of three confirmed cases and one death due to West Nile Virus. As of August 13, 2014, the California Department of Public Health has confirmed a total of 57 human cases and two deaths within the state due to West Nile Virus infection.

“We strongly encourage the public to be aware of the WNV activity in your area and take action to protect yourself and your family by taking appropriate precautionary measures,” said Maxwell Ohikhuare, M.D., County of San Bernardino Health Officer. “People over 50 years old should be especially cautious, as they are more likely to develop serious illness if they contract WNV.”

West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Signs and symptoms of West Nile Virus may include fever, body aches, rash, nausea, vomiting and headache. Most people infected with the virus have no symptoms. However, some people may develop severe symptoms which can lead to brain inflammation or paralysis. The most effective way to avoid West Nile Virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites.

County of San Bernardino citizens can protect themselves from mosquito bites by taking the following precautions:

  • DAWN and DUSK – Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active.
  • DRESS – Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts that are loose fitting and light colored.
  • DRAIN – Remove or drain all standing water around your property where mosquitoes lay eggs (birdbaths, ponds, old tires, buckets, clogged gutters or puddles from leaky sprinklers).
  • DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET.   When using DEET, be sure to read and follow the label instructions.
  • DOORS – Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.  Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes to prevent mosquitoes from entering the home.

The public can participate in the West Nile Virus surveillance program by reporting dead birds to the State West Nile Virus toll-free hotline at (877) WNV – BIRD (968-2473) or at www.westnile.ca.gov.

For more information on West Nile Virus, visit the Mosquito and Vector Control Program at www.sbcounty.gov/dehs, or call the Communicable Disease Section (CDS) at 1 (800) 722-4794. Continuous health information on West Nile Virus and other health topics can be found on the CDS Facebook page at http://www.facebook/CommunicableDiseaseSection .

Primary care services expanded in the High Desert

adelantohealthcenterThe Department of Public Health is holding a grand opening at the Adelanto Health Center to celebrate its relocation to a new building.

The grand opening will be held on Thursday, August 14, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at 11336 Bartlett Avenue, Suite 11 Adelanto CA, 92301. Residents are encouraged to come and learn about services provided at the health center and get a chance to meet First District Board of Supervisor Robert A. Lovingood.

The Adelanto Health Center, recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration as a federally qualified health center, was originally a school-based clinic located at the Westside Park Elementary School in Adelanto. The Health Center was recently relocated to a larger, more accessible building on Bartlett Avenue. Clinical services at the new building began April 1, 2014. Along with the Hesperia Health Center, also operated by the Department of Public Health, it is one of only two federally qualified health centers fully serving the High Desert region.

“This larger, more accessible site will allow the department to expand access to preventive and primary care services for the uninsured and underinsured residents,” stated Dr. Meaghan Ellis, Chief of Community Health Services/Health Center Director.

The Adelanto Health Center provides an array of primary care, mental health, and dental services. Services include health screening, referral services, immunizations, management of acute and chronic diseases, and preventive health education. The Adelanto Health Center also provides other services, including Every Woman Counts and reproductive health services.

For more information or to access public health services contact the Department of Public Health at (800) 782-4264 or visit our website at www.sbcounty.gov/dph.

Celebrate National Health Center Week at County health centers

Caduceus with First-aid KitThe Department of Public Health Clinic Operations will commemorate National Health Center Week with events at the new Adelanto Health Center on Tuesday August 12 and Thursday August 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and at the Hesperia Health Center on Wednesday, August 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  There will be resource tables, nutritional demonstrations, free incentives, a visit from The Arrowhead Regional Medical Center Breathmobile®, and more!

In addition to providing patient-centered quality care, America’s health centers, like those in Hesperia and Adelanto, serve as local solutions for affordable and accessible health care by:

  • Reducing ethnic and income health disparities nationwide, even in the poorest and most challenged communities
  • Producing $24 billion in annual health system savings
  • Reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary visits to the ER
  • Generating a system of preventive medicine that patients use regularly to stay healthy, thus saving lives

The theme for this year’s National Health Center Week is “Celebrating America’s Health Centers: Local Engines for Healthier Communities.”

“Our health centers provide our community members the ability to take charge of their health by expanding their health knowledge base,” said Dr. Meaghan Ellis, Chief of Community Health Services/Health Center Director. “It is our intention that when a client seeks care from us they will not only feel better, but will also leave with educational tools they themselves can use to improve their health and wellbeing. We provide a range of services onsite – primary care services, pediatrics, immunizations, TB screening, HIV care, even mental health services, all under one roof.”

Please join us at the Hesperia Health Center, 16453 Bear Valley Road and the Adelanto Health Center, 11336 Bartlett Avenue, to celebrate the vital work of our health centers.

For more information on our health centers and National Health Center Week, contact the Department of Public Health, Clinic Operations at (800) 722-4777 or visit  http://www.sbcounty.gov/dph.

Free HIV testing available

SBCDPH-logoThe 20th Annual National HIV Testing Day is Friday, June 27, 2014.  With an estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV and one in six unaware of their infection in the United States, this testing initiative’s message “Take the Test, Take Control” is a giant step in the right direction toward an AIDS-free generation.

The County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health Clinic Operations is hosting its annual free HIV testing event on Friday, June 27, 2014. The event will be at the corner of Baseline Avenue and “F” Street, in the city of San Bernardino from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

One of the goals of President Obama’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy is to reduce new HIV infection rates by 25% by the year 2015. This will take a combination of strategies: increasing HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention efforts in our communities, and increasing the number of people living with HIV who know their status. Although great strides have been made in the prevention of the spread of HIV, according to the 2010 AIDS Surveillance Report by the California Office of AIDS, there are up to 7,000 new cases of HIV in the state each year.

“Early HIV diagnosis is critical, so people who are infected can fully benefit from available life-saving treatments,” said Maxwell Ohikhuare, M.D., County of San Bernardino Health Officer. “Finding out whether you are infected with HIV is the first step to improving your health, and the health of your community.”

On June 27, 2014 HIV Testing counselors will be available to provide free testing and prizes, as well as answer any questions regarding HIV to community members who would like to know their HIV status. The Department’s Clinic Operations section provides conventional HIV antibody testing at all public health clinic locations.  Additionally, rapid HIV testing which provides results in 20 minutes is offered via a mobile testing unit at various alternative testing sites throughout the County of San Bernardino.

For more information on National HIV Testing Day events or about HIV/AIDS and testing, call the County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health, AIDS program at (800) 255-6560, or Clinic Operations at (800) 722-4777.

Heat advisory issued for San Bernardino County

Rising TemperatureCounty Health Officer Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare has issued a heat advisory for San Bernardino County, due to high temperature forecasts for the inland and desert regions. Residents are urged to take precautions that will prevent heat-related illness.

High or unusually hot temperatures can affect your health. Most vulnerable are the elderly, those who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, the homeless or poor, and people with a chronic medical condition.

Take the necessary precautions to prevent serious health effects such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke by following the tips below.

Stay cool

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings.
  • Find an air-conditioned Cooling Center open to the public by dialing the United Way’s toll-free resource telephone line at 2-1-1, or online at www.coolingsb.org
  • Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
  • Limit outdoor activity, especially midday when it is the hottest part of the day, and avoid direct sunlight.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths to lower your body temperature.
  • Check on at-risk friends, family and neighbors at least twice a day.

Stay hydrated

  • Drink more than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Drink from two to four cups of water every hour while working
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.
  • Make sure your family, friends and neighbors are drinking enough water.

For more information on the extreme heat visit the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health website at http://www.sbcounty.gov/dph/publichealth/ph_divisions/preparedness_response/natural_disasters.asp

Or visit the California Department of Public Health website at: http://www.bepreparedcalifornia.ca.gov/BeInformed/NaturalDisasters/ExtremeHeat/Pages/ExtremeHeat.aspx

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