Wednesday, September 20, 2017

News from the districts - Downeast

The Downeast Public Health Council identified three primary priorities and one secondary priority for their three-year district public health improvement plan. The council then funded incubator-style proposals to offer smaller amounts of funding to meet specific objectives and outcomes, allowing many district partners to develop pilot projects.

The council funded seventeen projects from February-June 2017. Two of these focused on an assessment of physical activity work in each county and then developing a pilot project. In Washington County, the project was initiating more bicycle mobility and having access to bicycles and safety equipment as well as learning how to maintain a bicycle.

In Hancock County, the project mapped walking trails and neighborhood walks, imprinted them on postcards, and provided smart phone capability in connecting people to these walking sites.

The council also provided a stipend for a Hanley Leadership undergraduate intern to work with district partners on developing a lung cancer outreach campaign.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Early start to flu season in Maine

The flu has officially arrived in Maine for the 2017-2018 season. U.S. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Vaccine for the 2017-2018 flu season has been updated to better match circulating flu viruses.
Disease Surveillance and Reporting
Maine CDC is hosting a “Start of the 2017-18 Influenza Season” conference call at 1:00 p.m. Thursday, September 28. The intent of this call is to provide updates for the season, outline resources available, and remind facilities of the requirements for the flu season. This call is particularly relevant for: infection practitioners, providers, laboratorians, employee health, emergency preparedness, hospital administration, and long term care facilities. Talking points will be distributed after the call, as well as questions and information highlighted on the call.
Lines may be limited, so if multiple people from one location intend to call in, please call in together.
Call in number:  877-455-0244 Code:  6681820529#
For up-to-date information and recommendations on influenza for health professionals, go to
For influenza surveillance information in Maine, go to
2017-2018 Vaccine Information for Providers
Children younger than eight who have never received flu vaccine will need a booster dose no less than 28 days after the first dose of flu vaccine.
Vaccine is open for ordering. Limited supplies of multi-dose vials are available. If interested in ordering multi-dose vials, please call vaccine management at 287-3347.
Influenza vaccine ordered for the 2017/2018 season IS subject to replacement for preventable wastage.
Children under the age of 19 only are eligible for vaccine through the Maine Immunization Program. Repeated fraudulent administration of this public vaccine to individuals 19 years and older will result in a referral to CMS for fraud investigation.
Under Maine statute, all doses of public vaccine administered must be recorded in the Immunization Registry within five working days.
Ordering guidelines:
  • 2017 Provider Agreement must be active
  • Temperatures and inventory reconciliation must be up to date
  • Order only a supply anticipated to be utilized in the next six-week time period
VFC eligibility screening is mandatory for every child and every vaccine. Eligibility screening must be documented in the ImmPact registry.
  • Under 19 years of age
  • Medicaid
  • Uninsured
  • American Indian/Alaska Native

Privately insured children do receive public vaccine; however, they must be documented as Not VFC Eligible in ImmPact.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Knowledge, understanding, and support can save lives

From September 10-16, Maine joins the rest of the United States and the international community in recognizing World Suicide Prevention Week.  World Suicide Prevention Week is an opportunity to learn about the role that all of us can play in preventing suicide and commit to supporting the mental health of our family, friends, and communities.
In 2015, 235 Mainers died by suicide, making suicide was the second-leading cause of death for Maine youth and young adults between the ages of 15-34. Every suicide death or suicide attempt has a ripple effect that stretches far beyond the individual and their family, affecting schools, workplaces, and entire communities. Few of us remain untouched.
But there is good news: suicide is preventable. This year’s theme for World Suicide Prevention Week is “Take a minute, save a life,” reminding us that even small actions can have a big impact on the lives of those who may be struggling. If you suspect someone you know may be at risk of suicide, follow these steps:
  1. Show you care by listening carefully and without judgment.
  2. Ask them if they are thinking about suicide. Be direct and empathetic. (Asking about suicide does not increase the risk of suicide.)
  3. Stay with them (or have another caring person stay with them) while you locate help.
  4. Call the Maine Crisis Hotline (1-888-568-1112) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).
  5. If the person is at immediate risk of harming themselves, call 911.

If you would like to learn more about how you can help prevent suicide in your community or workplace, we invite you to attend one of the many training sessions offered in partnership with the Maine Suicide Prevention Program.  For more information, please contact Sheila Nelson at 207-287-3856 or, or visit the Maine Suicide Prevention Program training website:

Monday, September 4, 2017

Preparedness in the Downeast district

The Downeast District continues to build strong relationships with our emergency preparedness partners through active participation in tabletop exercises.
Bar Harbor Airport held a full-scale airplane in the water scenario with the district liaison working in the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) for the event.
Castine conducted a table top exercise around a hurricane-type event that caused road closures to the peninsula and subsequent damage and contamination to the local drinking water infrastructure. Maine CDC staff provided consultation on boil order procedures and drinking water protocols for home owners and food establishments.
Although not as high a public health concern, both Gouldsboro and Bucksport reviewed their emergency operations plans around dammed waterways and then conducted table top exercises around high precipitation events, causing breaching and damage to the dams and potential flooding impacts on residences, roads, and infrastructure.

All in all, these were great opportunities for regional public health and public safety working with local communities to better prepare for potential realistic emergencies. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Disasters don’t plan ahead. You can.

September is National Preparedness Month. Maine CDC’s Public Health Emergency and Response (PHEP) team provides oversight and coordination of all public health and medical response and recovery resources that are required to reduce and/or prevent loss of life from an infectious disease outbreak, a natural disaster, or an act of terrorism. This is accomplished by activating and staffing the Public Health Emergency Operations Center, which is the central nervous system for all response and recovery activities being conducted by public health and healthcare responders.
In between public health emergencies, the PHEP program is busy preparing for the next emergency by updating emergency operations plans based on lessons learned, facilitating the identification and prioritization of public health threats, facilitating incident management training, developing and facilitating response exercises among with partners statewide, managing response equipment and supply caches, rotating and distributing medical countermeasures, testing emergency communications equipment, and recruiting medical volunteers.

In the past year, the Maine Responds coordinator has recruited 564 medical volunteers, bringing our total number of deployable volunteers to more than 900 individuals. PHEP has developed six new Medical Reserve Corps Units; there is now one in each of the eight public health districts. The Maine Health Alert Network has the highest enrollment numbers (n=15,000) since implementing the HAN system in 2007. PHEP also increased operational ability to safely transport highly infectious disease patients to specialized healthcare facilities to receive appropriate and specialized care.