Monday, December 15, 2014

New Tools Launched to Improve Health Services for Diverse Communities

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Utah’s increasingly diverse population poses unique challenges to health care facilities and public health agencies that serve growing numbers of clients and patients. In response to a growing number of requests for assistance, the Utah Department of Health Office of Health Disparities (OHD) has developed a training video and a practical toolkit to help state and local health agencies put into practice a set of national standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS).

To ensure the materials are relevant, the CLAS video and toolkit are based on nationally promoted best practices, as well as on Utah-specific information obtained through surveys and interviews with personnel from 36 programs from state and local health departments. The results revealed a significant need for CLAS standards and policies, as only 15% of the surveyed personnel felt their programs were “fully capable” of providing verbal or written language assistance to people with limited-English proficiency (LEP).

Language assistance is only one component covered under CLAS standards, and all health care organizations can benefit from enhancing their culturally- and linguistically-appropriate approaches to staff training, governance, workforce diversity, and policy  making.

The CLAS video, “A Class about CLAS”, provides an overview of CLAS themes and features expert commentary and guidance from public health agencies, health care organizations and community-based organizations.

To provide practical guidance for anyone interested in implementing CLAS standards, the CLAS Toolkit offers discussion scenarios and highlights real examples of CLAS-related practices and policies now used across Utah. “We believe all health care organizations and public health agencies can benefit from these tools,” said UDOH Office of Health Disparities Outreach Coordinator Jake Fitisemanu, who notes that CLAS standards compliance is mandated for all programs that receive federal funds and all agencies seeking national accreditation.

The CLAS video and toolkit, along with additional CLAS-related resources, are available online for free download at

Winterize to Prevent Falls

Below are five simple steps that YOU can take today to make a big impact on falls for older adults and adults with disabilities in your community:
  1. Raise awareness by posting and disseminating this simple and colorful infographic -- 6 Steps to Prevent a Fall -- from the National Council on Aging.
  2. Check shoes, boots, and assistive devices and be sure that they are “winterized.” 
    1. Ingrid – Ice Gripper Cane Tip is available at Fashionable Canes and Cozy Winters 
    2. Yaktrax Spikeless Ice & Snow Shoe Gripper Sole Covers are at Fashionable Canes
    3. Keen shoes can be found at OnlineShoes
    4. Try this inexpensive way to make wheelchair snow tires
  3. Encourage older adults to carry a Ziploc bag filled with a lightweight kitty litter in their pocket and cast it out ahead of themselves on very slick surfaces. More information about using kitty litter for traction can be found here.
  4. ‘Tis the season for gift giving! Encourage adult children to give fall-proofing holiday gifts to their parents:
    1. Fall alarm systems that are motion triggered without hitting a button
    2. Higher toilets in the home
    3. Replace multifocal glasses with single vision eyeglass lenses
    4. Grab bars in bathroom and next to outside steps or inside thresholds
    5. Install firm stair railings on both sides of stair ways and set automatic lights over stairways and by outside entrances
    6. Cover the entryway to the home and provide a table to set down bags while finding keys
    7. Give tiny flashlights to attach to keys, hats, and coat buttons. Shorter days mean more time in the dark.
  5. Begin to check ALL older adults with the STEADI fall risk screening tool as part of your normal intake and re-evaluation process. You can learn to administer the STEADI screen and you can learn how to use the Otago Fall Prevention Program and other evidence-based falls prevention programs as part of your community-based fall prevention programs.

Help make this season a safe, warm and wonderful one for your patients, your family and your community.

Today is the last day to sign up for health coverage to start on Jan 1, 2015

Deadline: December 15

Attention: Time is almost up! The deadline for coverage starting on January 1 is today, and your application is waiting. 
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Applying only takes a few minutes. A little time now can save you money and give you peace of mind about your health. 
Don’t miss out. Millions of people have found quality coverage through, and nearly 80% of those who signed up last year received financial assistance. 
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The Team

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Governor Herbert Unveils Healthy Utah Plan

Joined by a large group of influential leaders from the government, business, health care, and faith communities, Governor Gary R. Herbert unveiled the details of his Healthy Utah plan. The plan is the governor's alternative to Medicaid expansion and will provide health care coverage for approximately 95,000 Utahns during its first year.

Healthy Utah is built around for central tenets:
  1. Respect the Taxpayer by bringing back to the state's economy taxes Utahns have already paid under the Affordable Care Act to provide health care for the most vulnerable citizens in our state.
  1. Promote Individual Responsibility by using that money that would go into the federal Medicaid program to instead help low-income Utahns purchase private health insurance.
  1. Support Private Markets by requiring that recipients pay premiums and copays and connecting them with an integrated work program that can ultimately reduce their need for public assistance.
  1. Maximize State Flexibility by establishing Healthy Utah as a three-year pilot program, the state is not locked the into a long-term, untested commitment with the federal government. The plan also protects Utah's ability to terminate the program if the federal government fails to meet its funding obligation.

Executive Director Dr. David Patton joined Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox in presenting the plan to members of the State Legislature's Health System Reform Task Force. The plan now must be approved by the Legislature, which is scheduled to address the issue in its upcoming session that begins next month.

To read the entire Healthy Utah plan, click here.

Utah Named 5th Healthiest State in Nation

Utah continued its steady climb toward achieving the UDOH strategic goal of becoming the healthiest state in the nation with the release of the annual United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings™ report. The report named Utah the 5th healthiest state in the nation, improving on its rank of 6th in 2013 and 7th in 2012.

The report highlighted several strengths that lead to Utah’s ranking, including the lowest rates in the nation for tobacco use (10.3 percent) and cancer deaths (145.7 deaths per 100,000 residents), and the second-lowest rate in the nation of adult diabetes (7.1 percent).

Utah was ranked as one of the top five states for several key health indicators, including:
  • The lowest adult smoking rate in the U.S. at 10.3%
  • The lowest prevalence of adult diabetes at 7.1%
  • The lowest cancer death rate
  • The 2nd lowest rate of preventable hospitalizations
  • The 4th lowest rate of obese adults at 24.1%
  • The 5th lowest rate of adults reporting “poor physical health” days in the past month
The report also highlighted several challenges Utah must overcome to achieve its goal of becoming the healthiest state. Utah ranked low in the following categories:
  • 46th for prescription drug overdose deaths
  • 45th for cases of Pertussis, or whooping cough
  • 44th for teen immunization rates
  • 44th for the number of primary care physicians
  • 39th for air pollution

To read the entire report, and see how Utah stacked up against other states, visit the United Health Foundation's website.

Utah receives funding to reward and expand community health centers

HHS awards $36.3 million in Affordable Care Act funding to reward and expand quality improvement in health centers 

Utah Award Amounts

Total Quality Improvement Awards to Utah: 11 totaling $295,869
EHR Reporter 1 Awards: 4 awards totaling $60,000
Clinical Quality Improver 2 Awards: 11 awards totaling $149,058
Health Center Quality Leader 3 Awards: 3 awards totaling $86,810
National Quality Leader 4 Awards: 0 awards totaling $0

Contact: HHS Press Office

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell today announced $36.3 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 1,113 health centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and seven U.S. Territories to recognize health center quality improvement achievements and invest in ongoing quality improvement activities. The health centers receiving awards today are proven leaders in areas such as chronic disease management, preventive care and the use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to report quality data.

“This funding rewards health centers that have a proven track record in clinical quality improvement, which translates to better patient care, and it allows them to expand and improve their systems and infrastructure to bring the highest quality primary care services to the communities they serve,” said Secretary Burwell. “With these funds, health centers in all 50 states will continue to provide access to high quality, comprehensive primary and preventive health care to the patients that need it the most.”

Health centers receiving these funds are being recognized for high levels of quality performance in one or more of the following four categories.
  • Health center quality leaders received awards if they were among the top 30 percent of all health centers that achieved the best overall clinical outcomes, demonstrating their ability to focus on quality in all aspects of their clinical operations; 361 health centers received funding in this category for approximately $11.2 million dollars.
  • National quality leaders received awards for exceeding national clinical benchmarks (Healthy People 2020 objectives and health center national averages) for chronic disease management, preventive care, and perinatal/prenatal care, demonstrating the critical role that health centers play in promoting higher quality health care nationwide; 57 health centers received funding in this category for approximately $2.5 million dollars.
  • Clinical quality improvers received awards if they demonstrated at least a 10 percent improvement in clinical quality measures between 2012 and 2013, showing a significant improvement in the health of the patients they serve; 1,058 health centers received funding in this category for approximately $17.7 million dollars.
  • Electronic Health Record reporters received funding if they used EHRs to report clinical quality measure data on all of their patients, a key transformational step in driving quality improvement for all health center patients across the nation; 332 health centers received funding in this category for approximately $4.9 million dollars.
“These funds reward and support those health centers that have taken steps to achieve the highest levels of clinical quality performance and improvement,” said Health and Resources Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N.
Nearly 1,300 HRSA-supported health centers operate more than 9,200 service delivery sites that provide care to nearly 22 million patients in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin.
For a list of FY 2015 Quality Improvement Awards recipients, visit
To learn more about the Affordable Care Act and Community Health Centers, visit
To learn more about HRSA’s Community Health Center Program, visit
To find a health center in your area, visit

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Only 6 days until the Dec 15 deadline

Attention: Time is running out! There are only 6 days remaining to enroll in a Marketplace plan for coverage starting on January 1st.
On, compare plans side-by-side to find one that fits your needs and budget. Like Carlos, you may even qualify for lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
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Carlos enrolled in a health insurance plan on and only pays $20 a month! For 2014, 8 out of 10 people who signed up for health insurance on got help paying for their costs.
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Don’t delay and visit to see your potential savings.
The Team