Never leave a child unattended in a car!

As part of the 52 Weeks of Public Health campaign, the  Department for Public Health, located within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), urges the public to take steps to avoid injury and illness during  periods of extreme summertime heat, particularly dangers associated with leaving children in vehicles.

“Extreme temperatures are cause for concern, so we advise the public to take necessary steps to keep cool and prevent harm,” said Hiram C. Polk Jr., MD, DPH commissioner. “Serious injury – particularly for children exposed to extreme levels of heat – can occur. Everyone should take steps to avoid these dangers.”

According to Kids and Cars, an organization that works to raise awareness of the dangers of leaving children in hot vehicles, 39 children died last year due to heatstroke – medically termed “hyperthermia”.

“We want all our citizens to understand the dangers of extreme heat, particularly the danger of leaving children in hot cars,” continued Dr. Polk. “Not only are extreme temperatures uncomfortable, they also present a significant health danger. This is particularly true for vulnerable populations such as young children and the elderly.”

Several measures are recommended to prevent these types of deaths from occurring. They include:

  • Create reminders.  More than half of child heat stroke deaths occur because parents and caregivers become distracted and exit their vehicle without their child. To help prevent these tragedies parents can:
  • Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or something that is needed at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This will help you see your child when you open the rear door and reach for your belongings.
  • Set the alarm on your cell phone as a reminder to you to drop your child off at day care.
  • Set your computer calendar program to ask, “Did you drop off at day care today?”
  • Establish a plan with your day care that if your child fails to arrive within an agreed upon time, you will be called. Be especially mindful of your child if you change your routine for day care.
  • Don’t underestimate the risk.  The inside of vehicles can quickly heat up, even on relatively cool days, so you should never leave your child alone in a car. Don’t underestimate the risks and leave them even “just for a minute.”
  • Lock cars and trucks. Thirty percent of the recorded heat stroke deaths in the U.S. occur because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle. These deaths can be prevented by simply locking the vehicle doors to help assure that kids don’t enter the vehicles and become trapped.
  • Immediately dial 911 if you see an unattended child in a car.  EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble. The body temperature of children rises three to five times faster than adults. As a result, children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke. Check vehicles and trunks first if a child is missing.

Additional tips are recommended to avoid other heat-related injury and illness:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Increase your normal fluid intake regardless of your activity level. You will need to drink more fluids than your thirst level indicates. This is especially true for people age 65 or older who often have a decreased ability to respond to external temperature changes. In addition, avoid drinking beverages containing alcohol, because they will actually cause you to lose more fluid.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen. Choose lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing. In the hot sun, wear a wide-brimmed hat that will provide shade and keep the head cool. Sunscreen should be SPF 15 or greater and applied 30 minutes before going out into the sun.
  • Stay cool indoors. The most efficient way to beat the heat is to stay in an air-conditioned area. If you do not have an air conditioner, consider visiting a mall or public library.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully. If you must be out in the heat, try to plan your activities so that you are outdoors either before noon or in the evening. Rest periodically so your body’s thermostat will have a chance to recover.
  • Use a buddy system. When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness.
  • Monitor those at high risk. Those at greatest risk of heat-related illness include:
    • Infants and children up to 4 years of age
    • People 65 years of age or older
    • People who are overweight
    • People who overexert during work or exercise
    • People who are ill or on certain medications for blood pressure or diuretics.

Board of Health selects Allen-Bryant as chair for 2017-18

The Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health elected Kacy Allen-Bryant as chair for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which began July 1.

Allen-Bryant, Ph.D.(c), MSN, MPH, RN, is a lecturer for the University of Kentucky College of Nursing, where she engages in community outreach to many organizations, including homeless shelters, day centers for those with mental illnesses, afterschool programs for disadvantaged youth and the public school system. She is also the director of occupational health for KC WELLNESS, INC.

Allen-Bryant received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Public Health and Graduate Certificate in Gerontology from the University of Kentucky. She is also currently in the UK College of Nursing’s Ph.D. program.

Allen-Bryant has worked in the public health field for 17 years, including serving the last eight years on the Board of Health. She chaired the board’s Outcomes and Evaluation Committee and was instrumental in passing a resolution to add electronic cigarettes to Lexington’s smoking ordinance. Allen-Bryant played a vital role in starting the city’s successful needle-exchange program.

Jason Lee, chief financial officer of Community Ventures, will serve as vice-chair for 2017-18. Other board members include: Paula Anderson, Vicki Blevins-Booth, Dr. Lee Dossett, Dr. William Elder, Commissioner Chris Ford, Michael Friesen, Councilmember Jake Gibbs, Mayor Jim Gray, Dr. Mamata Majmundar and Sherelle Roberts Pierre. The board currently has two vacant positions.

The Board of Health meets the second Monday of every month at 5:45 p.m. at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, 650 Newtown Pike.

For additional information, like the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LFCHD, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/LFCHD and Instagram at @lexpublichealth.

Beat the rush for school immunizations!

Fayette County students entering kindergarten and sixth grades are required to receive certain vaccinations. To beat the rush, the health department is offering low-cost immunizations.

Shots are available by appointment 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Thursday until Aug. 3 at the Public Health Clinic at 650 Newtown Pike. To schedule an appointment or for more information about the immunizations, please call (859) 288-2483.

When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk and can spread diseases to others in their classrooms and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions.

LFCHD to host Community Farmers’ Market

Healthy food options will soon be a bit easier thanks to the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department and the city’s two farmers’ markets.

Starting next week, the health department will bring farmers from the Bluegrass Farmers’ Market and the Lexington Farmers’ Market together to give health department patients, clients, visitors and staff, as well as the entire community, a chance to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. The LFCHD Community Farmers’ Market will be held:

  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. June 28, 650 Newtown Pike (main health department location)
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. July 5, 2433 Regency Road (health department’s south location)
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. July 12, 650 Newtown Pike
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. July 19, 2433 Regency Road
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. July 26, 650 Newtown Pike.

“Public Health is about the prevention of diseases and the promotion of good health,” LFCHD spokesman Kevin Hall said. “By bringing both farmers’ markets together for our staff, clients and neighborhoods, we are able to give better access to fresh fruits and vegetables and help educate customers on how to use them to improve their diet. Our Community Farmers’ Market will let us continue to help Lexington be well.”

The 650 Newtown Pike location will offer a variety of items from 4-6 farmers, and the 2433 Regency Road location will feature 2-4 farmers. “Both sites are open to everyone, and we encourage Lexington residents to take part,” Hall said. “If you’ve never visited your health department, this is a good chance to see Public Health in action.”

While some vendors may accept other forms of payment, participants are encouraged to bring cash for payment.

Fireworks safety tips

Remember, fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries. You can help us prevent fireworks-related injuries and deaths. Follow these safety tips when using fireworks:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Diabetes program earns national accreditation

LFCHD’s “Healthy Living with Diabetes” program received national accreditation from the American Association of Diabetes Educators. This will allow people with diabetes in Fayette County to received increased access to quality diabetes education services. The application process took more than a year to complete national standards.

Congratulations to Melissa Smith, Nancy Hiner, Laura Martinez, Carol Hisle, Tara Mason and Tami Ross for this exciting honor!

Find out more:

New cases of mumps reported in Lexington

Mumps has recently been identified as the cause of illness in two Fayette County residents. These are the first laboratory-confirmed cases of mumps in the community this year.

Mumps is a rare but contagious disease spread through coughing and sneezing. Mumps usually causes the following symptoms for about 7-10 days: swollen glands in the cheek and jaw area, fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite. If you or someone in your family has these symptoms, please contact your medical provider and stay home from work/school and other people for five days after the start of the symptoms.

The best way to protect against mumps is to get the measles-mumps-rubella vaccination, also called the MMR shot. Doctors recommend that all children get two doses of the MMR vaccine, one at ages 12-15 months, the next at 4-6 years. Check with your doctor’s office about the MMR vaccine. The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department has some MMR vaccine available for those who qualify through the Vaccines for Children Program. Please call the Public Health Clinic at 859-288-2483 to find out if you qualify.

Proper hygiene can also help prevent the spread of mumps. Wash your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

For additional information, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LFCHD, on Twitter at twitter.com/LFCHD or on Instagram @lexpublichealth.

Reginald Thomas named 2017 Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s Board of Health selected Kentucky State Sen. Reginald Thomas as the 2017 Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero. The award is given annually to individuals who have demonstrated their dedication to improving the health of Lexington residents. The winner is announced each April as part of National Public Health Week (April 3-9, 2017).

Thomas, who represents part of Fayette County in the state senate, is a public health advocate through his actions statewide, including co-sponsoring legislation to teach high school students CPR, supporting rights of breastfeeding mothers and protecting children and adults against abuse, neglect and exploitation. He has supported bills offering better services for autistic individuals, gaining rights for child care centers to administer epinephrine injections for allergic reactions and removing barriers to colorectal screenings.

Thomas has also worked closely with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department for information to help shape statutes and regulations to improve the health and well-being of Kentuckians.

He is an active community member in Lexington, serving or having served on the boards of the Lexington Actors Guild, the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Kentucky Conference of Community and Justice, Bluegrass Community and Technical College and Commerce Lexington. He is a graduate of Bryan Station High School, Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School. He and his late wife Lynda have three children and one granddaughter.

Thomas “is a selfless advocate of protecting and prospering the health and well-being for all members of Lexington and Fayette County,” states the award nomination. “He is a true champion for public health.”

Thomas will be recognized at the April 27 Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council meeting. He will also be honored at the May 8 Board of Health meeting held at 5:45 p.m. at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, 650 Newtown Pike.

Previously known as the Public Health Hero Award, the Board of Health renamed the award in 2016 in memory of the late Dr. Rice C. Leach, Lexington’s former Commissioner of Health who spent more than 50 years as a public health physician. Leach died April 1, 2016.

Past winners include Dr. Susan Pollack and Marian F. Guinn (2015), the Rev. Willis Polk and baby Health Service (2014), Anita Courtney and Teens Against Tobacco Use (2013); Vickie Blevins and Jay McChord (2012); Jill Chenault-Wilson and Dr. Malkanthie McCormick (2011); Dr. Jay Perman (2010); the Lexington Lions Club (2009); Dr. David Stevens and the late Dr. Doane Fischer (2008); Dr. Ellen Hahn, Mary Alice Pratt and Therese Moseley (2007); Dr. Andrew Moore and Rosa Martin (2006); Jan Brucato and Dragana Zaimovic (2005); and Dr. John Michael Moore, Ellen Parks and Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (2004). Dr. Robert Lam received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

For additional information, like the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LFCHD, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/LFCHD and Instagram at @lexpublichealth.

Be sure to listen to our Healthy Times radio interview with Reggie Thomas to hear more from the 2017 Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero!

Health department mosquito control program to focus on education, trapping

This summer, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department plans to control mosquito populations in the community by bringing increased focus to eliminating standing water and preventing mosquito larvae from hatching. At the same time, the department will use mosquito trapping to identify areas where spraying for adult mosquitos would be most useful.

The health department has surveyed Lexington neighborhoods to identify and treat large areas of standing water that can serve as prime locations for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Elimination of standing water is the ultimate goal, but in places where puddles exist, the water can be treated to kill mosquito larvae with a chemical called a larvicide.

“We are increasing activities to kill mosquito larvae in areas where standing water cannot be drained,” said Luke Mathis, Environmental Health and Preparedness team leader at LFCHD.  “Targeting immature mosquitoes is a more effective control strategy as it stops mosquitoes from developing into adults that can feed on humans and transmit mosquito-borne diseases like Zika and West Nile.”

The health department will no longer conduct routine mosquito spraying for adult mosquitoes throughout the city on a regular cycle. Instead, mosquito traps will be placed in potential problem areas. If a certain threshold of mosquito activity is reached, the department will conduct targeted spraying in the appropriate areas. Those areas will be announced via the health department’s website, www.lexingtonhealthdepartment.org, and social media pages.

For spraying, the health department uses Duet, an EPA-approved agent that features a component that stimulates resting mosquitoes in trees and foliage, causing them to fly into the air and come into contact with the spray’s mosquito-killing agent, sumithrin. Duet has been rigorously tested for human and animal safety and is registered for outdoor residential and recreational areas.

Lexington residents can also take steps at home to fight mosquitoes:

Mosquito-proof your home and yard. Fix or install window and door screens. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing waterCover or eliminate empty containers with standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of items such as tires, buckets, barrels and cans. Refresh the water in your pet’s water dishes and birdbaths at least every five to seven days.

Be aware of peak mosquito activity times. The twilight hours around dusk and dawn are times of peak mosquito activity. Use insect repellent when outdoors especially during peak activity times, including early morning hours. Look for EPA-labeled repellents containing active ingredients, such as DEET, Picaridin (KBR3023) or oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane 3,8-diol). Apply repellent according to label instructions. When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks outdoors. Mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent helps prevent bites.

“The battle against mosquitoes starts at every residence in Fayette County,” Mathis said. “By eliminating standing water, even something as small a capful of rain in your yard, you can remove areas for mosquitoes to lay eggs. It’s important for people to walk around their homes to see what they can do to help curb the mosquito population.”

To report a standing water problem in your neighborhood, please call the health department’s Environmental Health section at (859) 231-9791. For additional information, like the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LFCHD, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/LFCHD and Instagram at @lexpublichealth.

Now Offering Family Planning

Our Public Health Clinic provides family planning services. Services are confidential and are available for uninsured and underinsured. Same day appointments and limited walk-in availability! Clinic hours are Monday, Wednesday & Thursday: 8 a.m.-4:30  p.m., Tuesday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. For more information call 859-288-2483 option 2.

Presumptive eligibility is a process that offers prenatal care services to pregnant women while their Medicaid applications are pending. The goal is to offer health care to women early in their pregnancies so they stay healthy and have healthy babies.

Family planning offers confidential services to men and women, providing services including birth control, pregnancy testing and counseling, Pap testing, pelvic exams and education and counseling.