What Happened to H1N1?
April 5, 2010
The world hasn’t seen the last of H1N1, says Director of Grand County Public Health Brene Belew-LaDue. “This fall, the H1N1 virus will be included in the seasonal flu vaccine so people will only have to get one, instead of two shots like this year.” Thanks in part to an aggressive immunization campaign, the H1N1 flu was fairly mild. Public Health rolled out 1,100 doses of flu vaccine to providers, and organized 71 community and office H1N1 clinics, plus 14 school vaccination clinics. Grand County Public Health increases awareness Grand County Public Health nurses have given 3,798 H1N1 flu shots since October 2009.”For many people, the H1N1 outbreak was their introduction to Grand County Public Health and the role we play,” says Director Brene Belew-LaDue. During National Public Health Week, April 5 to 9, Grand County wants to raise awareness of how public health protects everyone’s safety and well-being.”Public health ultimately is your health,” says Belew-LaDue. It safeguards the community against health crises including contagious, preventable diseases; food and water borne illnesses; and natural disasters.National Public Health Week is sponsored by the American Public Health Association (APHA). This year, APHA has issued a call for America to become the healthiest nation in one generation – one community at a time.Though the United States spends more money on health care than any other country, APHA statistics indicate the nation’s health is in poor shape. Nearly one in three children are overweight or obese; 46 million Americans do not have health insurance; nearly 900,000 people die from preventable causes each year; and, for the first time, American children may live shorter lives than their parents.Promoting a healthier community, the team of registered nurses and administrators at Grand County Public Health provide the following services:• Flu shots and immunizations• Communicable/infectious disease & pandemic flu control• Child health services• Free developmental screenings for children ages birth to 4.5 years• WIC (Women, Infants & Children supplemental nutrition)• Breastfeeding education and support• Health care referrals (well-child checks, developmental concerns, etc.)• Childcare center nurse consultations• Disaster planning & emergency response• Nutrition education• Newborn home visits • Pregnancy education & prenatal careGrand County Public Health has added new programs over the years such as the NACO discount prescription cards; Cavity Free at 3; and Reach out and Read. For more information on Grand County Public Health, please see http://www.co.grand.co.us/publichealth.html, or call 970-725-3288.Helping a hurting Grand CountyThe phone calls are sobering. People have lost their jobs and insurance. They need urgent medical care for themselves or their children. There is no money for utility bills, rent or groceries. They have no place left to turn. The call volume is up at Grand County Public Health. Registered nurses at Public Health give referrals to medical providers that see uninsured patients or take Medicaid or CHP+, a state-sponsored program for low-income children. They also pre-screen for emergency Medicaid eligibility.Because Grand County has no community clinic, there are few options for low-income patients without insurance. In Grand County, two innovative medical voucher programs help fill the gap.ACHES and PAINS provide money on a case-by-case basis to help defer the cost of urgent, non-emergency room expenses for children and adults. The programs are administered by Grand County Public Health and the Grand County Rural Health Network. In 2009, Public Health provided vouchers to 42 adults and 52 children out of the 140 vouchers given. Over the last three months, Public Health has already provided 25 vouchers. Applicants must be screened by a Public Health or school nurse, meet income requirements, and be uninsured without Medicaid or CHP+. “We have seen a dramatic increase in ACHES and PAINS calls since the beginning of the year,” explains Grand County Public Health Director Brene Belew-LaDue. “People are stressed out. They have lost their jobs. Their kids are sick. They don’t have money for food or utility bills, and the stress tends to make them even sicker.”There also has been an increase in people looking for other assistance. Grand County Public Health administers the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program which provides checks for specific healthy foods to pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children under five. Over the last five years, Grand County WIC averaged a caseload of 135 families. In 2010, the program has ballooned to 165 – a 22 percent increase. To be eligible for WIC, household gross income cannot exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty standards: $26,955 for a family of two, or $40,793 for a family of four. If you would like information on how Grand County Public Health can assist you and your family, please see http://www.co.grand.co.us/publichealth.html, or call 970-725-3288.