Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Nutrition Label Changes

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized the new nutrition facts label for packaged foods to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. Among the changes to help consumers is the addition of grams of added sugars below "Total Sugars." Manufacturers will need to use the new label by July 26, 2018, although manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year.

For more information, go to http://go.usa.gov/xqZzA

Monday, June 27, 2016

Maine Immunization Champion Announced

U.S. CDC has named Jeri Greenwell of Bethel as Maine’s 2016 Childhood Immunization Champion for her outstanding efforts to promote childhood immunizations.
Greenwell has made it her life’s mission to improve awareness about vaccine-preventable diseases. She has developed relationships with political leaders from both sides of the aisle, spoken with many about the importance of vaccination and has met with various groups and individuals to provide education.  In addition, Greenwell has coordinated school-based activities with school nurses, students and parents to support on-time immunizations.
Greenwell’s passion and commitment to children’s health is driven by her family’s personal tragedy.  In 2003, her son, Jerry, awoke with flu-like symptoms and by evening, he was admitted to the hospital in critical condition.  Despite aggressive, round-the-clock care, Jerry died from meningococcal meningitis with this family by his side.  This disease is preventable through immunization.
“Only those who have experienced their child or loved one suffering from the devastating consequences of a vaccine-preventable disease can truly comprehend the impact it has on a family or parent,’’ said Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew. “Jeri has been a tireless advocate for childhood immunization and has turned her grief into positive action.”
Each year during National Infant Immunization Week, the U.S. CDC and its CDC Foundation honor health professionals and community leaders from around the country with the CDC Childhood Immunization Champion awards. These awards acknowledge the outstanding efforts of those individuals who strive to ensure that children in their communities are fully immunized against 14 preventable diseases before age two.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Maine CDC Earns National Public Health Accreditation

Maine CDC has earned public health accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB).  Maine CDC joins 18 other state health departments that have achieved this distinction.  Fewer than 200 health departments across the nation are accredited.
The PHAB’s goal is to improve and protect public health by transforming the quality and performance of public health departments.  This national program, jointly supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation establishes rigorous standards that foster continuous quality improvement and excellence.  To earn accreditation, a health department must undergo a multi-faceted, peer-reviewed assessment process to ensure it meets or exceeds these quality standards and measures.   Maine CDC has been working toward accreditation over the last several years.
The PHAB standards cover a dozen different domains including public health assessments, investigation and surveillance, communication and education, community collaboration, policies and planning, enforcement of public health laws, workforce capacity, leadership and process improvement.  A full list of the domains and the multiple standards associated with them can be found at http://www.phaboard.org/wp-content/uploads/PHABSM_WEB_LR1.pdf.
Maine’s accreditation is in effect for five years.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Maine CDC Announces New Leadership

Last month, Maine CDC announced a change in leadership that will provide both strong operational leadership and clinical expertise to the CDC and position it for continued success.
Sheryl Peavey has been appointed the Chief Operating Officer (COO), and Dr. Christopher Pezzullo has been named the State Health Officer.  The COO will be responsible for day-to-day operational decision-making, while the State Health Officer’s clinical expertise will inform decisions affecting public health for the Maine CDC and the DHHS.  Both positions will report directly to DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew.  Former Maine CDC Director Kenneth Albert resigned to take a job in the private sector.
Prior to this appointment, Peavey served as DHHS’ Director of Strategic Reform. She has played an integral role in budget development, contract evaluation, competitive procurement, Request for Proposal review and development, performance measurement, grant approval and quality improvement for the Maine CDC and other DHHS offices since 2013. While in this role, she represented Maine at the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget’s Achieving Results in State Government Summit in Utah.
Peavey is a graduate of Brandeis University as well as a member of the Phi Class of Leadership Maine, a program of the Maine Development Foundation.  Since 2009, she has served continuous terms as an elected member of her town’s Budget Committee.   Her experience over a 12-year career in State government that focused on developing coordinated and integrated programs and systems across all of DHHS has positioned her to provide strong stewardship of public funds as we seek to achieve measurable outcomes that preserve, promote and protect the health of all Maine people.
Dr. Pezzullo has been practicing medicine for nearly 20 years in Maine as a pediatrician He’s a graduate of the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine and has been recognized as a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics and the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners. 
He became DHHS’ Chief Health Officer in 2014. During the last year, Dr. Pezzullo has been a driving force behind the Department’s efforts to address the public health epidemic of opioid and opiate use.  He has informed new laws that lower prescribing duration and prescription strength, supported the required use of the Prescription Monitoring Program and assisted in the development and creation of a new pilot project to test Vivitrol to combat addiction.
Dr. Pezzullo joined Maine CDC as the Medical Director of the Division of Population Health in 2012.  Prior to joining State government, he was the Chief Medical Officer for University Health Care from 2008 to 2012.
Dr. Pezzullo was also recently named the Maine Osteopathic Association’s Physician of the Year.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Health Risk from Browntail Moths

The browntail moth caterpillar has tiny poisonous hairs that cause a rash similar to poison ivy on sensitive individuals that will usually last for a few hours up to several days. On some sensitive individuals, the rash can be severe and last for several weeks. People may develop a rash from direct contact with the caterpillar or indirectly from contact with airborne hairs. The rash results from both a chemical reaction to a toxin in the hairs and a physical irritation as the barbed hairs become embedded in the skin. Respiratory distress from inhaling the hairs can be serious. 
Caterpillars are active from April to late June. Hairs remain toxic throughout the summer but get washed into the soil and are less of a problem over time. 
The Maine Forest Service is receiving increased reports of caterpillars and their webs. Maine has known populations of browntail moths in Bowdoinham, Bath, Topsham, West Bath, Woolwich (Sagadahoc County) Brunswick, Freeport and Harpswell (Cumberland County) this year. The infestation is expanding south into Yarmouth and Cumberland (Cumberland County) and east into Wiscasset, Edgecomb and Boothbay (Lincoln County) and beyond. 
The Maine Forest Service has seen pockets of infestation, some of them heavy, in other locations from Turner (Androscoggin County) to Waterville (Kennebec County) to Bristol (Lincoln County) to Kittery (York County). 
Browntail moth control may be occurring in certain areas, but the risk to the public remains high in affected areas. 
Recommendations to reduce exposure: 
  • Avoid places heavily infested by caterpillars.
  • Take a cool shower and change clothes after any activity that might involve contact with browntail moth hairs.
  • Dry laundry inside during June and July to avoid having the hair become impregnated in clothing.
  • Wear respirator, goggles and coveralls tightly closed at neck, wrists and ankles when performing activities that stir up caterpillar hairs such as mowing, raking, weed whacking and removing pupal webbing from eaves and boats. Perform these tasks on damp days or wet down material with a hose to help keep the hairs from becoming airborne. 
For more information:

Thursday, June 9, 2016

New Asthma Action Plan Available for EMR

The Maine CDC Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Program has two new Asthma Action Plans available on its website – a pediatric and an adult plan. These plans were developed as a collaborative effort by clinical staff (primary and specialty care) at MaineHealth and incorporates feedback from the Maine Asthma Coalition, the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Maine Association of School Nurses. 
The plans comply with Meaningful Use reporting requirements and Maine’s statute “An Act To Authorize Certain School Children To Carry Emergency Medication On Their Persons.” School nurses utilize Asthma Action Plans as an important tool to help their students with asthma.  A uniform plan will improve ease of use for providers, parents and school nurses.  
The plans are available by clicking here. They can be scanned or imported into the electronic medical record or printed.
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute states that a written Asthma Action Plan is one of the most effective methods to help patients manage their disease. Utilizing one form across practices and hospitals to treat people with asthma will improve coordination and quality of care.
The Maine CDC Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Program continues to provide paper copies of the Maine Asthma Coalition’s pediatric Asthma Action Plan.