Monday, September 29, 2014

University of South Alabama Psychology Clinic offering free depression screenings Oct. 9

MOBILE, Ala. -- The University of South Alabama Psychology Clinic will provide free screenings for depression and other mood disorders at the USA Psychology Clinic, 75 South University Blvd., from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 9, as part of National Depression Screening Day.

National Depression Screening Day raises awareness and screens people for depression and mood disorders and allows individuals to identify warning signs and connect with the appropriate treatment resources. Similar to many physical illnesses, early recognition and treatment offers the best opportunity for recovery from mental illness.

National Depression Screening Day, held on Oct. 9 through the nonprofit, Screening for Mental Health, serves as a supportive community initiative to connect the public with mental health screenings. This year’s theme focuses on viewing and treating mental health with the same gravity as physical health. Hundreds of organizations across the country including community centers, hospitals and colleges are hosting National Depression Screening Day screening events. 

“Mental Health deserves the same attention as physical health,” said Dr. Kim Zlomke, director of the USA Psychology Clinic. “We want to raise awareness for mental health disorders and connect community members who may be struggling with depression or other mood disorders with quality, local treatment options.”

Although the screenings are not diagnostic, they will determine if someone is exhibiting symptoms associated with depression and other mood disorders and if they should seek help. In a recent independent study commissioned by the nonprofit Screening for Mental Health, 55 percent of study participants who completed a depression and mood disorder screening sought treatment within three months. The USA Psychological Clinic is a community based clinic that provides psychological and counseling services on an affordable sliding fee scale. More information on the USA Psychology Clinic is available at

The USA Psychology Clinic is also providing free, online screenings for depression and other mood disorders during the month of October at:

Mobile County Health Department HIV Coordinator Diane Glass found her niche in HIV/AIDS education

MOBILE, Ala. -- More than a decade ago, Diane Glass decided it was time to take back her life. Divorced with no job, she took the plunge and enrolled in college. That was in 2002.

At 49, she received tuition assistance to earn an Associate’s Degree at the University of Mobile from a local program. After working for the Mobile County Health Department for a few years, and becoming a Registered Nurse, she is now MCHD’s HIV Coordinator.

“I feel like I found my niche,” Glass said. “I really love teaching. I love going out into the community and educating people about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. It’s very rewarding.”

Glass, who has served in the HIV Coordinator role for two years, was spotlighted by Mobile Works on its Facebook page this week as one of their success stories. One reason her job in public health is meaningful, she said, is because of the opportunities she has every week to change perceptions about HIV/AIDS within the community.

“The education piece is really key because of the lack of understanding about how HIV is transmitted,” Glass said. “I talk about how to protect yourself and empower people to take their health into their own hands.”

On Oct. 7, 2014, Glass will travel to Montgomery to be an exhibitor for HIV/AIDS at The Alabama Youth Council. Young people from across Alabama will gather to promote healthy behaviors among local teens.  Students will be encouraged to take a more active role in the prevention of bullying, HIV/AIDS, STIs, teen pregnancy and other adolescent risk behaviors.

As the HIV Program Coordinator for Public Health Area 11, which is all of Mobile County, Glass also provides education on HIV/AIDS and STDs/HIV testing at homeless shelters, drug and alcohol rehabilitation sites, to Mobile Prison Work Release participants, troubled youth in alternative schools, nursing home employees, at Senior Centers. She performs community outreaches at health fairs, and community events such as National HIV Testing Day and World AIDS Day.

“The state also sends me the names and contact information for those who have been newly diagnosed with HIV in Mobile County,” Glass said. “I confirm they are in care. If they are not, I try to find them and encourage them to get into care.”

Thursday, September 25, 2014

MCHD: Stylishly protecting public health

MOBILE, Alabama -- The '80s brought us Dynasty and Dallas and big hair. It also brought Mobile County Health Department inspectors to local plants to inspect packaged milk for distribution throughout the area. An MCHD employee looks stylish in a paper hat (Thanks Barbers!) as she carefully inspects cartons of white milk. #TBTMCHD Be sure to check us out on Facebook.

Health officials: Rabid raccoon should serve as reminder to use caution with wild animals

MOBILE, Ala. -- A rabid raccoon discovered in the Foley area in Baldwin County has prompted public health officials to issue precautions about rabies prevention in humans and animals. Rabies in wildlife continues to be a public health threat locally and throughout much of Alabama. Raccoons and bats are the primary reservoir species for rabies, but the virus can infect other animals such as dogs, cats, foxes, coyotes, skunks and ferrets. 

“Rabies in raccoons is not really anything new to this area, however, the biggest challenge for rabies control continues to be keeping it out of the domestic animal population," said State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Dee W. Jones.

Raccoons can spread rabies through infected saliva by biting or scratching a pet. An infected pet becomes extremely dangerous for owners, family members, and other animals that come into contact with it. The Alabama Department of Public Health tests animals that have bitten or scratched people or their pets. Each year, approximately 50 samples test positive, with raccoons and bats accounting for the vast majority.

In Baldwin County, since 2011, there have been six positive raccoons, two foxes, and one bat, health officials said.  “It is important to note that the positive samples tested only represent those that exposed a person or an animal, which is a fraction of the total positive animals in the wild.”

Once rabies develops in an animal, it is always considered to be fatal. The good news is that rabies can be prevented in animals by vaccination. Alabama state law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets must be kept current with rabies vaccination. Rabies vaccines are also available for horses and other livestock if recommended by a veterinarian. 

In addition to vaccinating animals, the following precautions should be taken to avoid possible exposure to rabies:
·         Don’t go near domestic animals that are acting in a strange or unusual manner.
·         Instruct children not to go near any non-domesticated animal regardless of its behavior.
·         Advise children to tell an adult if they are bitten or scratched by an animal.
·         Never touch a bat, and contact the county health department if you suspect a bat has been in contact with sleeping adults, unattended children, or pets.

A person who is bitten or scratched by an animal should wash wounds immediately with mild soap and water, apply first aid, and seek medical attention or contact the county health department as soon as possible.  Rabies is preventable in humans exposed to a positive animal if special medical treatment is provided in a timely manner.

For more information, contact the Alabama Department of Public Health, Bureau of Communicable Disease, Division of Epidemiology, at 1-800-338-8734 or the Baldwin County Health Department at (251) 972-6834.

Healthy eating habits topic of student-produced Kinect 6 Extreme video series in Mobile

Mobile County Health Department Social and Nutritional Programs staff members
Rachel Myers and Dana Herazo pick up healthy snacks after the premier of the
Kinect Extreme 6 video series at the Crescent Theater in downtown Mobile on Sept. 20, 2014.
MOBILE, Alabama -- Dozens gathered on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, for the premier of Kinect Extreme 6, a series of short videos starring local public school students presented at the Crescent Theater in downtown Mobile.  With messages about healthy eating and exercise habits, the audience watched as the local teens acted out real-life situations that offered suggestions on how to make better nutritional choices.

The Kinect Extreme 6 series is a project of the Junior League of Mobile and the Mobile County Public School System, in collaboration with the Mobile County Health Department and the University of South Alabama. In August, MCHD Social and Nutritional Programs staff members visited three area middle schools to weigh and measure more than 550 sixth-grade students as part of an initiative with other agencies to determine the extent of obesity challenges facing area youth.

MCHD has partnered with Junior League of Mobile, the University of South Alabama and the Mobile County Public School System to conduct an assessment study to determine the outcome of evidence-based nutritional and fitness program intervention in sixth-grade students in Mobile County.
"We are working together to combat unhealthy eating," said Tabitha Olzinski, the Nutrition and Assessment Chair for Junior League of Mobile. "Middle school is a time when students really start making their own choices about what they want to eat. We want to help them learn about healthier options."

The assessment will be created by compiling data taken from sixth-grade students and implementing evidence-based programs at three local middle schools. Data collection methods include pre and post participant surveys to gauge nutrition knowledge, demographics, nutrition choices and weight measurement assessments.

Junior League of Mobile will implement the nutrition and fitness program at two area middle schools to students who have permission from their parents to take part. JLM also will implement an evidence-based program called Planet Health through the JLM Kids in the Kitchen program at a third middle school.  The student-produced videos will be shown to students at some of the schools taking part in the project.

Tobacco free: Mobile County Health Department commends CVS on ditching tobacco

MOBILE, Alabama. -- The Mobile County Health Department would like to congratulate the CVS Caremark Corporation, owner of CVS pharmacies, on its decision to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at all of its locations by October 1 of this year.

“We are delighted to have such an innovative business as part of the landscape here in Mobile County,” said Dr. Bernard H. Eichold, Health Officer of the Mobile County Health Department. “Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and exposure to secondhand smoke is a preventable cause of significant morbidity and mortality.”

CVS Caremark Corp. announced in February, 2014, it would end sales of all tobacco products by October. The company met the goal a month early, according to media reports, declaring that all tobacco products were out of stores on Sept. 3, 2014. The parent company also announced a name change to CVS Health, to more accurately reflect the vision of the business.

“We hope more pharmacies will follow the lead of CVS as Americans try to kick the tobacco habit,” Eichold said. “Eventually, we want to see every business in Mobile become smoke-free.”

Friday, September 12, 2014

Making the community a healthier place for babies topic of Friday workshop in Mobile

Mobile, Ala. -- An Infant Mortality Conference presented by the Alabama Baby Coalition and the Mobile County Health Department was held Friday, Sept. 12, 2014, at the American Red Cross Headquarters in Mobile. More than 130 participants took part in the day-long seminar.

MCHD's Tony Bondora, who is the ABC coordinator, led the state conference that offers a chance for health care workers and others interested in the health of children to gather and share effective strategies for saving more babies. A presentation was given on the centering pregnancy initiative, which offers expectant mothers at risk for a poor birth outcome the opportunity to join a group of women with similar due dates for monthly visits with a health care provider.   

The Alabama Baby Coalition held the infant mortality workshop in conjunction with National Infant Mortality Awareness Month. In Mobile County in 2013, 54 infants died before their first birthday, at a rate of 9.7 per 1,000 births. That figure represents an improvement from 2012 when 60 Mobile County infants died before their first birthday, at a rate of 10.9 per 1,000 live births, health data shows.

Alabama’s infant mortality rate of 8.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013 is lower than the 8.9 rate recorded in 2012. In 2013, there were 58,182 live births in Alabama and the infant mortality rate represents the deaths of 500 of these infants who did not reach their first birthday.

Research indicates that babies born before 37 weeks of gestation face a higher risk of health problems. The percent of births at less than 37 weeks in Alabama has been trending down steadily to 11.8 percent of all live births in 2013. This compares to 13.4 percent in 2005. Low birth weight infants, defined as those weighing less than 2,500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces) were almost 20 times more likely to die than infants of normal weight. Ten percent of births in 2013 were of low weight.