Archive for the ‘Public Health’ Category
Monday, November 25th, 2013
It’s that time of year again! Cooking meals for friends and family is one of the best parts of the holidays–be sure you know how to do it safely.
The four biggest health issues when preparing a turkey include:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in a microwave oven. It’s also important to be aware that turkeys must be thawed at a safe temperature; between 40 and 140°F is when foodborne bacteria multiply the fastest!
As always, be mindful that preparing raw poultry includes the risk of spreading bacteria. Preparation areas (including hands, utensils, and work surfaces) should always be thoroughly cleaned before and after working with the turkey!
From the CDC: “For optimal safety and uniform doneness, cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish. ” If you decide to cook your stuffing inside the turkey, however, use a food thermometer to make sure it’s been cooked to a safe temperature.
When cooking a turkey, be sure that you use a food thermometer to guarantee that it’s been cooked thoroughly and to a safe temperature (minimum internal temperature of 165°F) . If you are unfamiliar with using a food thermometer, get familiar with them here and learn to calibrate thermometers that haven’t been used in a while.
For more information on food preparation safety, visit the following resources.
Foodsafety.gov — Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
Medline Plus — Food Safety
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service – Leftovers and Food Safety
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — 4 Basic Steps to Food Safety at Home
Monday, October 7th, 2013
October 1-31st is Health Literacy Month! Did you know health literacy goes beyond the ability to read (although reading does play a large role)? Health literacy is the ability to get the health information you need, and to understand it. It is also about using the information to make good decisions about your health and medical care.
Here are some great resources that address health literacy!
MedlinePlus Health Literacy page (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/healthliteracy.html)
- This health topic page from MedlinePlus, a National Library of Medicine resource, not only gives a clear overview of health literacy but also does a nice job of breaking down some of the more specific issues that individuals face. MedlinePlus offers links to tutorials such as “Understanding Medical Words”, ”Creating Easy-to-Read Materials”, and deciphering prescription drug labels.
National Network of Libraries of Medicine Health Literacy Page (http://nnlm.gov/outreach/consumer/hlthlit.html)
- The NN/LM page on health literacy takes the basic information from MedlinePlus one step further. In addition to providing a clear and basic definition, this resource also gives users some statistics regarding the specific populations most affected by low health literacy. Information on research and initiatives being done to improve health literacy is also provided.
NN/LM SCR Health Literacy video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVK9_FkudmQ)
- Created by the NN/LM SCR, this video aims to give a brief overview of health literacy as well as shed light on resources that may be useful when working with low health literacy individuals or groups.
Health Literacy Out Loud (http://www.healthliteracyoutloud.com/)
- From the Health Literacy Out Loud website: “Health Literacy Out Loud (HLOL) podcasts are a lot like radio shows. You can listen in as Helen Osborne interviews those in-the-know about health literacy. You will hear why health literacy matters and learn practical ways to help. Unlike radio shows, you access Health Literacy Out Loud podcasts from the Internet. You simply download the files to a computer, iPod, or other MP3 device and then listen to the podcast whenever, wherever, and however you want.”
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
Although the teach-back method is one typically targeted to health-care providers for their patients, it can be easily adapted to librarians or anyone else in an instructor/student role; in fact, many of you are probably already using it in some way or another.
So what exactly is the teach-back method?
This method of learning is essentially relaying information to someone using plain language and then asking that person to explain the information back, preferably using their own words. By doing this, the person giving the information (whether it be health-care provider or librarian) is ensuring that the patient or student understands the information and is able to retain the information. This is especially crucial for health-care providers; up to 80% of patients forget what their doctor tells them when they leave the office and half of what they do remember is incorrect (“Patients’ memory for medical information.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 2003:96:219-222.). Implementation of the teach-back method can also be supplemented with easy-to-read materials rather than difficult patient education brochures.
For more information on the teach-back method as well as toolkits and training modules, see the following resources:
Teach-back Toolkit: http://www.teachbacktraining.com/
Interactive Teach-back Learning Module: http://teachbacktraining.com/interactive-teach-back-learning-module
North Carolina Program on Health Literacy, Teach-back Method overview: http://www.nchealthliteracy.org/toolkit/tool5.pdf
Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
A new video is available on the NN/LM South Central Region’s YouTube Channel! Created by the NN/LM SCR, this brief video aims to inform viewers of some health literacy basics as well as show viewers how to access easy-to-read material and resources.
To view the video, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVK9_FkudmQ
Monday, September 16th, 2013
In early 2013, President Barack Obama called for a “national conversation to increase understanding about mental health”. To address this need, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, Arne Duncan, launched what is known as the National Dialogue on Mental Health.
Libraries are being encouraged to partner with Creating Community Solutions, part of the National Dialogue intended to increase mental health awareness at a local level, and host events that will bring community members together to participate in open-discussions about mental health. The American Library Association Center for Civic Life is partnering with a number of other civic groups on this initiative including America Speaks, the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD), the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD),Everyday Democracy, and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC) and already positive outcomes are being reported (see results of the day-long event in Sacramento, California-http://creatingcommunitysolutions.org/outcomes/creating-community-solutions-sacramento-ca).
In addition to hosting or participating in events, libraries can use many of the tools available on the Creating Community Solutions website. These tools include a mental health press kit, social media toolkit, several documents on facilitating community dialogue, recorded webinars to assist in training and preparation, as well as information briefs and planning guides developed by Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
To find more information about Creating Community Solutions and how libraries are participating, visit the following websites.
Programming Librarian – Libraries Join the National Conversation about Mental Health: http://www.programminglibrarian.org/blog/2013/august-2013/join-the-national-conversation-about-mental-health.html#.UhJ3b5Ksg6k
Creating Community Solutions website: http://creatingcommunitysolutions.org/
Thursday, September 12th, 2013
According to a report from Reuters, in the past year, close to 2,000 cases of pertussis (also known as whooping cough) have been reported in Texas alone. Because pertussis is highly infectious and can cause serious problems in infants—especially those under four months of age and therefore unable to be vaccinated—and children, these numbers are of great concern to doctors and health officials alike.
Early signs of whooping cough infection include runny nose, low-grade fever, apnea, and a mild cough. After 1-2 weeks, the symptoms worsen into fits of rapid coughing followed by the tell-tale high pitched “whoop”, vomiting, and extreme exhaustion.
Although most common (and dangerous) in infants and children, teens and adults can become infected as well. The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated and keep those that are contagious away from others. Boosters—called DTaP and protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis—are available for all ages and are especially recommended for those who come into contact regularly with infants.
For more information on prevention and treatment of whooping cough, visit the following:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—Pertussis (Whooping Cough): http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/index.html
MedlinePlus—Whooping Cough health topic page: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/whoopingcough.html
Reuters—Whooping Cough Reaches Epidemic Level in Texas: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/06/us-usa-health-texas-idUSBRE98502A20130906
Monday, September 9th, 2013
At the beginning of hurricane season, we mentioned some resources to help prepare for the worst but in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency situation, it’s also important to have an emergency plan in place for pets!
The American Red Cross recommends taking the following steps to ensure pet safety during a disaster:
Keep your pet’s essential supplies in sturdy containers that can be easily accessed and carried (a duffle bag or covered trash containers, for example). Your pet emergency preparedness kit should include:
• Medications and medical records (stored in a waterproof container) and a First Aid kit.
• Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can’t escape.
• Current photos of your pets in case they get lost.
• Food, drinkable water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and manual can opener.
• Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
• Pet bed or toys if easily transportable.
It’s also important to remember that should the need to evacuate arise, plan to take your pet with you or board them somewhere safe. Be sure to become familiar with nearby evacuation shelters that allow you to bring animals and be aware of the health risks involved when sheltering somewhere that allows a large number of animals and people in one location (See link to CDC’s Animals in Public Evacuation Centers).
For more information and resources:
American Red Cross – Plan and Prepare – Pets: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/pets
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Emergency Preparedness and Response – Animals in Public Evacuation Centers: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/animalspubevac.asp
Ready.gov – Make a Plan – Caring for Animals: http://www.ready.gov/caring-animals
Disaster Information Management Resource Center – Disasters – Animals in Disasters: http://disaster.nlm.nih.gov/enviro/animals.html
Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
As part of National Preparedness Month, the Red Cross has created a great video with tips on what to include in a disaster supplies kit (along with good examples of what should be left out!): The Kit You Don’t Want to Have: National Preparedness Month.
Even though the video takes a humorous approach to educating the public, it also does a good job of highlighting the importance of being prepared. Although the contents of a disaster supplies kit may vary, depending on the type of disaster common to your geographical area, there are some basic supplies every kit should include:
- Water— a good, general rule of thumb is one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
- Food— the best foods to add to your kit are non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
- Flashlight with fresh batteries
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
- Extra batteries—these should be of various sizes, depending on the items for which you need them
- First aid kit – items in a first aid kid can vary; for a good break down of what you should include, see the Red Cross’ Anatomy of a First Aid Kit
- Medications (7-day supply) and any accompanying medical items
- Multi-purpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers (including car chargers, if you have them)
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Emergency blanket
- Map(s) of the area—don’t rely on your cell phone or GPS device for this! During a disaster or emergency situation, internet access and connectivity is limited and may not be available to you.
When putting together your disaster supplies kit, be sure that you put into consideration the needs of every family member–including babies and pets! If you know that you might be hosting friends and family during a disaster, keep that in mind as well when purchasing/storing water and food. For more ideas and resources on putting together a disaster kit, see the list below.
American Red Cross – Plan and Prepare – Get a Survival Kit : http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit
Ready.gov (Federal Emergency Management Agency) – Build a Kit: http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Emergency Preparedness and Response – Gather Emergency Supplies: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/preparedness/kit/disasters/index.asp
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Emergency Preparedness and Response – Information for Pregnant Women: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/pregnantfactsheet.asp
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Disaster Preparedness for your Pet: http://www.cdc.gov/features/Petsanddisasters/ as well as a checklist of items for a kit (cat and dog): http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/resources/pet-preparedness.pdf
Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
Guest Author: Maureen “Molly Knapp, Research Support & Education Librarian at Tulane University Rudolph Matas Library of the Health Sciences
In December 2012 I had the opportunity to attend the mHealth Summit in Washington, DC, thanks to the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, South Central Region’s (NN/LM SCR’s) Professional Development Award. The mHealth Summit is an annual event sponsored by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), with strategic support from mHIMSS (a division of HIMSS interested in mobile tech), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the mHealth Alliance (an international group with a global focus on the use of mobile devices in health care).
So what is mHealth, you wonder? According to the mHealth Alliance FAQ page:
Mobile Health, or mHealth, can be defined as medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, tablets, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other wireless devices.
Some uses of mHealth include:
• Education and Awareness – Messaging in support of public health and behavioral change campaigns
• Diagnostic and Treatment Support – Mobile phone as point-of-care device
• Disease and Epidemic Outbreak Tracking – Sending and receiving data on disease incidence, outbreaks and public health emergencies
• Supply Chain Management – Using mobile solution to improve stock-outs and combat counterfeiting
• Remote Data Collection – Collecting real-time patient data with mobile applications
• Remote Monitoring – Maintaining care giver appointments or ensuring medication regime adherence
• Healthcare Worker Communication and Training – Connecting health workers with sources of information
Rest assured, all of these topics and more were addressed at the 2012 mHealth Summit. One of the more provocative keynote sessions I attended was Vinod Khosla’s “Can we have Health and Healthcare without Doctors?” Khosla is a venture capitalist and co-founder of Sun Microsystems. His answer – yes – is detailed in the article “Technology will replace 80% of what doctors do“.
Another interesting panel discussion addressed patient advocacy, featuring Donna Cryer, president & CEO of the American Liver Foundation (@DCpatient) & and Mary Anne Sterling (@SterlingHIT), a health IT consultant and family caregiver. (On a side note, there is a growing role for librarians in patient advocacy, as future MLA programming may soon reveal.)
My favorite, final ‘find’ of the summit was in the Gaming Pavilion in the exhibit hall. There I discovered Tiltfactor Games, specifically a game called ZombiePox, which explores group immunity and the need to vaccinate…WITH ZOMBIES. Tiltfactor was demoing an iPad version of the game, which is unavailable at this time. (Perhaps it was too infected?) With gamification a growing trend in libraries, awareness of companies providing educational, health related games is definitely relevant for collection development. (Also: zombies.)
Overall, the mHealth Summit was heavier on entrepreneurship and investment opportunities and lighter on science. I attended several contributed paper sessions that were hit and miss. Honestly, I don’t know that many librarians would find this type of summit useful to their everyday practice, as it was geared more towards bringing together business and industry. However, for those interested in trends in mobile health technologies and its application to public health and health care, or those who have a really cool app or website in need of a wealthy investor, the mHealth Summit is definitely your scene.
Monday, September 2nd, 2013
This September marks the 10-year-anniversary of National Preparedness Month (NPM)! Since its inception in 2004, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has partnered with other government organizations (such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in an effort to encourage communities and individuals to be prepared for the worst in emergency situations.
As one part of FEMA’s NPM initiative, the National Preparedness Community website offers a multitude of resources for users and community members. Included on the website is a tool-kit with marketing information and a comprehensive list of NPM videos, PDFs, and webpages. In addition, users can use the National Preparedness Community website to find NPM events happening in their area or register for free with the community and access additional resources, such as discussion forums and region-specific activity.
In addition to the National Preparedness Community website, the American Public Health Association (APHA) will be celebrating Get Ready Day on September 17th as part of NPM. The Get Ready website contains many fun and education resources for a variety of users and communities. These resources include factsheets, videos, podcasts, and other disaster preparedness-themed media for marketing use.
Additional information on National Preparedness Month can be found on these websites:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Be Ready! : http://www.cdc.gov/features/BeReady/index.html
National Library of Medicine Disaster Information Management and Resource Center homepage : http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/dimrc.html
APHA Get Ready : http://www.getreadyforflu.org/newsite.htm
Ready.gov (from FEMA) : http://www.ready.gov//www.getreadyforflu.org/newsite.htm