Monday, October 25, 2010

Be safe this Halloween

Halloween will be here this weekend. Here are some tips to make sure it's a healthy, fun holiday.

This Fact Sheet from the American Academy of Pediatrics has a lot of great safety information -- from pumpkin carving to costumes to actual trick-or-treating activities -- in simple bullet points. US CDC and FDA have similar advice.

Check out these resources for additional information:


When purchasing a costume, masks, beards, and wigs, look for the label Flame Resistant. Although this label does not mean these items won't catch fire, it does indicate the items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source. To minimize the risk of contact with candles or other sources of ignition, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.
For more safety information, read this US Consumer Product Safety Commission's Halloween Safety Alert.

Does your costume involve face paint or other makeup? Make sure you check out FDA's website on novelty makeup before you apply it.

Candy and Treats

Some candies have recently been recalled due to allergy and safety concerns. Stay on top of FDA's recalls. Chocolate past its expiration date can cause illness -- check out this article on shelf life.

These Halloween Food Safety Tips for Parents include basis information about inspecting your children's candy and not accepting anything that isn't commercially packaged. It also describes how to avoid bacteria from apple cider and if you go bobbing for apples.

Does your child have nut allergies? Find out how you can make sure Halloween is safe and fun despite allergies.

Do you want to provide more nutritious treats? Here are some excellent ideas from Clemson University Cooperative Extension in South Carolina.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Public Health Updates

· Infectious Disease Conference. Since 1983, Maine CDC’s Division of Infectious Disease has organized an annual infectious disease conference targeting public health issues of emerging concern. This year’s conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. November 9 at the Augusta Civic Center. Health care practitioners, laboratorians, and public health partners are invited to receive current information on surveillance, clinical management and diagnosis, and disease control interventions. The conference will feature cases of interest, epidemiology presentations, and clinical updates. The conference brochure and agenda are now available online. Click here to register.

· Bed Bugs. Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood. Although bed bugs do not transmit disease, infestations are very difficult and expensive to control. Unlike head lice, bed bugs do not live on a person. However, they can hitchhike from one place to another in backpacks, clothing, luggage, books and other items. Maine CDC has established a web page with links to information and a list of resources related to bed bugs following a number of recent calls for consultations. The page is accessible at

· EEE and West Nile Virus. There was unprecedented EEE activity in Maine in 2009. Several surrounding states have already seen EEE and WNV activity this year, including increased risk of EEE in southeastern Massachusetts resulting in aerial spraying in that area (more information can be found at For the most recent surveillance reports on EEE and WNV, visit:

· Animal rabies. Maine CDC provides quarterly updates on animal rabies to veterinarians and other animal health professionals. This update may be used as an educational tool to increase the understanding of pet owners and other members of the public regarding the risk of rabies in Maine and in their communities. The third quarter report can be found here:

· Fingerstick devices and bloodborne pathogens. US CDC has become increasingly concerned about the risks for transmitting hepatitis B virus (HBV) and other bloodborne pathogens to people undergoing fingerstick procedures for blood sampling, such as people with diabetes. As reports of HBV infection outbreaks linked to diabetes have been increasing, CDC issued an important reminder that fingerstick devises should never be used for more than one person ( For more information, visit:

Depression Rates in Maine and US

The current issue of U.S. CDC’s MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) contains updated data on current depression among adults in the United States and for each state. Maine’s rates are listed as: 3.5% reporting major depression; 4.4% reporting some kind of depression; for a total of 7.9% prevalence (or 1 in 13).

These rates are comparable with the U.S. rates of 3.4%, 5.7%, and 9.0% respectively. The link to the full report is: A separate analysis of Maine data indicates that about 20% of adults have been told at one time during their lifetime they are or have been depressed.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Health Reform Update 10/14/10

School-based Health Center Funding Opportunity

US HHS Secretary Sebelius has designated $100 million in new investments from the Affordable Care Act for school-based health centers (SBHCs). The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) expects to award an estimated 200 grants in FY2011 to construct, renovate, or purchase equipment in SBHCs. An eligible applicant must be a school-based health center or sponsoring facility, and should certify that the SBHC site(s) serves children eligible for medical assistance under the state Medicaid plan. The application deadline is December 1.

Recent Health Reform Grants in Maine

· Maine DHHS, Husson College, and the University of New England were awarded a total of $822,796 from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to purchase equipment for training current and future health professionals across disciplines at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate education levels.

· Maine was one of 20 states funded to strengthen Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) Options Counseling and Assistance Programs for community-based health and long-term care services. Options counseling programs help people understand, evaluate, and manage the full range of services and supports available in their community.

· Maine was one of 16 states funded to coordinate and continue to encourage evidence-based care transition models which help older persons or persons with disabilities remain in their own homes after a hospital, rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility stay. These grants will help break the cycle of readmission to the hospital that occurs when an individual is discharged into the community without the social services and supports they need.

· The University of New England in Biddeford was awarded $990,000 to fund its primary care physician assistant training program by providing student stipends.

· Maine DHHS was awarded $747,632 to develop and evaluate a competency-based uniform curriculum to train qualified personal and home care aides. Personal and home care aides (PHCAs) are projected to be the fourth-fastest growing direct care occupation in the United States between 2008 and 2018. Maine is one of six states participating in the 3-year project.

· The Maine Jobs Council was awarded a $150,000 planning grant to assess the state’s current health workforce. These activities are expected to result in a 10 to 25 percent increase in the primary care health workforce over a 10-year period.

· Maine CDC was awarded $250,000 for a personal responsibility education program as part of $155 million in national teen pregnancy prevention grants.

· US HHS awarded nearly $49 million to help plan for the establishment of health insurance exchanges, a key part of the Affordable Care Act set to begin in 2014. In Maine, the Governor’s Office of Health Policy and Finance was awarded $1 million to support the development and implementation plan for the Exchange.

· US HHS awarded $727 million in Affordable Care Act funds to 143 community health centers to address pressing construction and renovation needs and expand access to quality health care. The following table shows the 19 Maine health centers that received a total of almost $20 million:

Health Center Grantee Name


Total Award

Bucksport Regional HC



City of Portland Maine



DFD Russell Medical Center



Eastport Health Care, Inc.



Fish River Rural Health

Eagle Lake


Harrington Family HC



Health Access Network, Inc.



Healthreach Community HC



Islands Community Medical Services, Inc



Katahdin Valley HC



Maine Migrant Programs, Inc.



Maine Primary Care Association



Penobscot Community HC, Inc.



Pines Health Services



Regional Medical Center at Lubec, Inc.



Sacopee Valley HC



Sebasticook Family Doctors



St. Croix Regional Family HC



York County Community Action Corporation



Other Health Reform News

People who retire early often have a difficult time finding affordable coverage, and are too young to be eligible for Medicare. But today, more early retirees can rest easier knowing that their health security won’t be compromised by their early retirement after today’s announcement that more employers and unions will participate in HHS’s Early Retiree Reinsurance Program. For more information:

This web site lets you search your insurance options:

For more information about Health Reform in Maine, visit the Governor’s Office of Health Policy and Finance’s web site:

Maine Influenza Update 10/14/10

Flu information for the general public

The first and most important step in protecting against the flu is to get a flu vaccination each season. US CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated against the flu this year. Vaccine is already available in many places – you can check listings by zip code at – and it will provide protection through the entire flu season.

The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against:

· an influenza type A H3N2 virus,

· an influenza type B virus, and

· the 2009 H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season.

You need to get the 2010-11 seasonal flu vaccine even if you got the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine last season.

While there is a universal vaccination recommendation this season, it continues to be especially important that people at increased risk of serious flu complications get vaccinated against the flu. This includes:

· older people,

· young children,

· people with chronic lung disease (such as asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurologic conditions, and certain other long-term health conditions,

· pregnant women, as well as

· American Indians and Alaska Natives, and

· people who are morbidly obese (defined as Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more)

Over the years, hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. have safely received seasonal flu vaccines. Last flu season, about 80 million people in the U.S. also received the vaccine made to protect against the 2009 H1N1 virus, and the vaccine’s safety was similar to that of seasonal flu vaccines. Over the last 50 years, flu vaccines have been shown to be safe. Every year, CDC works closely with FDA, health care providers, state and local health departments, and other partners to ensure the highest safety standards for flu vaccines. CDC also works closely with FDA to ensure systems are in place to promptly detect unexpected health problems following vaccination.

Update on state-supplied vaccine distribution

Most influenza vaccine arrives in Maine through private sector channels, but some federal and state funds allow Maine CDC to purchase flu vaccine for some populations in Maine such as pregnant women, those in nursing homes, K-12 school children and their teachers and other staff, all other children, homeless people,, and people served by municipal and tribal health departments. Maine CDC will be distributing a total this year of about 290,000 doses of influenza vaccine, with over half of it having already arrived.

Doses Approved for Shipment as of Oct. 4:



Children ages 6 months to 18 years




Nursing homes and long-term care facilities




* This includes doses shipped to both schools and private health care providers.

Number of schools that have received flu vaccine so far: 156

Number of doses distributed to schools so far: 49,090

All health care providers who have fulfilled the requirements in their provider agreements have received some vaccine toward their orders. If you are a provider who has not yet received vaccine, ensure that you have submitted all the appropriate paperwork and temperature logs.

Billing for state-supplied flu vaccine administration

Providers who receive state-supplied vaccine may not bill insurance for the cost of the vaccine itself. However, it is reasonable and allowable to bill insurance or charge for an administration fee for the administering the state-supplied vaccine in some circumstances, provided that:

  1. MaineCare eligible children are not charged an out of pocket administration fee;
  2. Administration fees do not exceed the regional Medicare maximum ($14.37/vaccine administration); and
  3. No one is denied vaccine because of their inability to pay an administration fee.

Maine CDC and the Office of MaineCare Services have worked together to enable roster billing for administration fees provided to MaineCare-eligible individuals. The ability to roster bill through ImmPact2 will be available October 18. For more information:

Due to the large number of private insurers, Maine CDC has not been able to arrange for roster billing arrangements with private insurers. For more information on how to bill private insurers for flu vaccine administration, contact the insurer directly.

School-based Flu Vaccine Clinics

The governor has issued an executive order to provide certain liability protections to volunteer health care workers who register with Maine Emergency Management Agency and participate in school-based flu vaccine clinics. To register, visit

Maine CDC has posted materials – including registration forms, consent forms, sample protocols, and a copy of the governor’s executive order – at:

Flu Information for Health Care Workers (HCW)

Flu can spread rapidly in health care settings. Vaccination is the first and most important step all Health Care Workers (HCW) can take to protect against the flu. HCW include all people whose occupational activities involve contact with patients or contaminated material in health care settings, including home health care or clinical laboratory settings. This includes those who do not provide direct patient care, but have patient contact as well as those working in clinical settings within non-health care institutions, such as school nurses or those staffing clinics in correctional facilities. For more information on who is considered a Health Care Worker and why HCW should get vaccinated against the flu, see our new Health Care Workers and Flu web site at

US CDC, Maine CDC, and other professional groups recommend that all Health Care Workers get annual influenza vaccine. However, fewer than half of HCW nationwide get the flu vaccine. With the emergence of the pandemic H1N1 flu in 2009, Maine CDC required health care facilities to report the rate of their workers vaccinated against H1N1. For these rates and other information, please see our Current Messages to Health Care Providers at

Maine CDC has also issued a health alert ( for health care providers to provide information and guidance for the 2010-2011 flu season.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Importance of Influenza Vaccination Among Health Care Workers in Maine

Preventing transmission of influenza in healthcare settings requires a multifaceted approach that includes rapid identification of patients with influenza and institution of precautions, using masks where appropriate, keeping ill visitors away, emphasizing hand hygiene to prevent the spread of influenza, and using respiratory etiquette. In addition, all health care workers should be vaccinated against influenza virus.

Who is a Health Care Worker?

Health Care Workers (HCW) are personnel who work in acute care hospitals, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, physician offices, urgent care centers, outpatient clinics, and home health care agencies. Those working in clinical settings within non-health care institutions, such as school nurses or those staffing clinics in correctional facilities are also considered HCW.

HCW include all people whose occupational activities involve contact with patients or contaminated material in health care settings, including home health care or clinical laboratory settings. This includes those who do not provide direct patient care, but have patient contact, such as personnel involved in dietary and housekeeping services. HCW include all contractors, clinicians, volunteers, students, trainees, clergy, and others who come in contact with patients.

Why should Health Care Workers get vaccinated against the flu?

HCW have a special role in the fight against influenza.

    1. By getting vaccinated themselves, HCW can protect their health, their families’ health, and the health of their patients.
    2. Encouraging vaccination of vulnerable patients can protect them from the flu.
    3. High rates of vaccination among HCW have been linked to improved patient outcomes and reduced absenteeism and flu infection among staff.

US CDC, Maine CDC, and other professional groups recommend that all HCW get annual influenza vaccine. However, fewer than half of HCW nationwide get the flu vaccine. With the emergence of the pandemic H1N1 flu in 2009, Maine CDC required health care facilities to report the rate of their workers vaccinated against H1N1. The rates for hospitals, home health, long-term care facilities, and other providers are listed in the following tables.

Hospital Vaccination 2009 H1N1 Influenza Vaccination Rates



Vaccination rate between 75% and 100%

Calais Regional Hospital (76%)

Cary Medical Center (80%)

MaineGeneral - Augusta Campus (76%)

MaineGeneral - Waterville Campus (81%)

Northern Maine Medical Center (75%)

Penobscot Valley Hospital (97%)

Sebasticook Valley Hospital (93%)

Vaccination rate between 50% and 74%

Blue Hill Memorial Hospital (55%)

Bridgton Hospital (69%)

Down East Community Hospital (58%)

Eastern Maine Medical Center (65%)

Houlton Regional Hospital (70%)

Inland Hospital (50%)

Maine Coast Memorial Hospital (63%)

Maine Medical Center (66%)

Mayo Regional Hospital (60%)

Mercy Hospital (59%)

Mid Coast Hospital (69%)

Millinocket Regional Hospital (73%)

Parkview Adventist Medical Center (63%)

Redington Fairview General Hospital (60%)

Rumford Hospital (72%)

Southern Maine Medical Center (64%)

St. Joseph Health Care (70%)

St. Mary's Health System (52%)

The Aroostook Medical Center (50%)

Waldo County General Hospital (57%)

York Hospital (54%)

Vaccination rate less than 50% or no reported rate

Central Maine Medical Center (NR)

Charles A. Dean (25%)

Franklin Memorial Hospital (NR)

Goodall Hospital (0%)

Miles Memorial Hospital (NR)

Penobscot Bay Medical Center (NR)

Spring Harbor Hospital (48%)

St. Andrews Hospital (NR)

Non-Hospital Health Care Facility 2009 H1N1 Influenza Vaccination Rates



Vaccination rate between 75% and 100%

Bridgton Health Care Center (89%)

Calais Regional Hospital Home Health (83%)

HealthReach Network (79%)

KVCAP Family Planning (80%)

MaineGeneral – Glenridge (75%)

MaineGeneral - Gray Birch (76%)

MaineGeneral - Inn @ City Hall (90%)

MaineGeneral Rehab & Nursing Care (77%)

Professional Home Nursing (89%)

Vaccination rate between 50% and 74%

Acadia Hospital (50%)

Ash Street (73%)

Clover Manor Inc (55%)

Downeast Health Services (58%)

Family Planning Association of Maine (55%)

Fryeburg Health Care & Residential Center (61%)

Home Health Visiting Nurses (62%)

Jackman Region Health Center (67%)

Katherine Brown Home (56%)

Klearview Manor (59%)

Lincoln County Health Care (59%)

Madigan Estates N.H. (53%)

Madigan Home Health Care (67%)

Maine Veteran's Home- Caribou (56%)

Mount Desert Nursing Association (67%)

Pine Point Center (51%)

Riverview Psychiatric Center (61%)

Sanfield Rehab & Living Center (73%)

South Portland Nursing (72%)

Stephen's Memorial Hospital (74%)

Vaccination rate less than 50%

Accent HealthCare Services (0%)

Accomplished Professionals (0%)

Anytime Servies for Seniors Inc. (0%)

Apria Healthcare (18%)

Aroostook Home Health Services – Caribou (23%)

Aroostook Home Health Services - Fort Kent (10%)

Aroostook Home Health Services Houlton (22%)

Ask for Home Care (12%)

Assistance Plus (0%)

Atlantic Home Health Inc. (0%)

Atlantic Rehab Nursing Center (0%)

Augusta Rehab Center (20%)

Bangor Nursing Rehab Center (16%)

Beacon Hospice (0%)

Borderview Rehab & Living Center (16%)

Brewer Rehab & Living Center (0%)

Caribou Rehab and Nursing (45%)

Caring Way Inc. (0%)

Casa ICF (35%)

Coastal Manor (2%)

Community Health & Counseling Services (8%)

Courtland Rehab & Living Center (15%)

Cummings Health Care Facility (0%)

Danforth Habilitation Association (9%)

Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center (45%)

Durgin Pines (0%)

Eastern Maine Home Care (3%)

Eastern Maine Home Care/ VNA (3%)

Eastside Rehab & Living Center (0%)

Falmouth By The Sea (15%)

Forest Springs (0%)

Forest Springs Community Living Assoc. (9%)

Freeport Nursing & Rehab Center (7%)

Genesis Healthcare- Marshwood Center (43%)

Gentiva Health Services (22%)

Gentiva Home Health (29%)

Gorham House (0%)

Granite Hill Estates (49%)

Greenwood Center (0%)

Harmony (0%)

Harmony Community Living Association (13%)

Harris House (24%)

Hibbard Nursing Home Inc. (2%)

Highview Rehab & Living Center (0%)

Home, Hope, and Healing Inc. (0%)

Independent Health Care Services (0%)

Katahdin Nursing Home (0%)

Kennebec Nursing & Rehab Center (0%)

Ledgeview Living Center (5%)

Maine Medical Partners (34%)

Maine Veteran’s Home – Augusta (36%)

Maine Veteran’s Home – Bangor (0%)

Maine Veteran’s Home – Machias (0%)

Maine Veteran’s Home – Scarborough (0%)

Maine Veteran's Home - South Paris (33%)

Market Square Nursing Facility (44%)

Marsh River Group Home (0%)

Marshall HealthCare (0%)

Maxim Healthcare Services (15%)

Mount Desert Island Hospital (46%)

Mount St. Joseph (35%)

MSMF (39%)

Narraguagus Bay Health Care (0%)

New England Rehab Hospital (46%)

Oak Grove Center (0%)

Oceanview Nursing Home & Res Care (0%)

Odd Fellows HCC (27%)

Orchard Park Rehab & Living Center (33%)

Orono Commons (41%)

Piper Shores (0%)

Presque Isle Rehab & Nursing Center (33%)

Professional Relief Nurses (0%)

River Ridge (0%)

Rumford Community Home (2%)

Schooner Retirement Community Inc. (21%)

Sedgewood Commons (0%)

SMMC Visiting Nurses (28%)

Somerset Rehab & Living Center (0%)

Sonogee Rehab & Living Center (0%)

Springbrook Center (0%)

St. Andre Health Care (47%)

St. Joseph Nursing Home (0%)

St. Jospeh's Manor (26%)

Sunrise Care Facility (25%)

Tall Pines Rehab & Living Center (0%)

Teakwood (29%)

Tebolt & Bolduc Inc. (0%)

The Cedars (0%)

Treat Falls House (2%)

Valley Home Health Services – Caribou (31%)

Valley Home Health Services – Fort Kent (10%)

Valley Home Health Services – Houlton (10%)

Varney Crossing Nursing Care Center (0%)

Westgate Manor (36%)

Windward Gardens (32%)

Winthrop Manor Inc. (0%)

No reported rate

Amenity Manor

Barron Center

Brentwood Rehab & Nursing Center

Cedar Ridge Center

Cedars Nursing Care Center

Collier's Rehab & Nursing Center

Colonial Health Care

Country Manor Nursing Home

Cove's Edge

Dexter Health Care

Eastport Memorial Nursing Home

Edgewood Rehab & Living Center

Evergreen Manor

Forest Hill Manor

Gardiner Health Care Facility

Gregory Wing of St. Andrews Village

Harbor Hill Center

Hawthorne House

Heritage Rehab & Living Center

Island Nursing Home

Knox Center for Long Term Care


Ledgewood Manor

Maplecrest Rehab & Living Center

Marshwood Center

Mercy Home

Mid Coast Senior Health Center

Montello Manor

Mountain Heights Health Care Facility

Norway Rehab & Living Center

Penobscot Nursing Home

Ross Manor

Russell Park Rehab & Living Center

Sandy River Center

Seal Rock Health Care

Seaside Rehab & Health Care

Sebasticook Valley Health Care

St. Mary's D'Youville Pavilion

Stillwater Health Care

The Commons at Tall Pines

The Gardens

The Newton Center for Rehab & Nursing Care

Victorian Villa

Winship Green Nursing Center

Woodlawn Rehab & Nursing Center