Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Quality of life: Hundreds gathered for Crepe Myrtle Trail Bike Ride in Arlington Park

MOBILE, Ala.. -- Hundreds of local residents, including Mobile County Health Department staff members, gathered Saturday morning at Arlington Park near downtown Mobile for the Crepe Myrtle Trail Bike Ride. The event offered an historic opportunity to ride the east side of Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, on the water side of the runway.

What made the ride special is that it's the only time during the year for bikers to have access to the original Crepe Myrtle Trail. Access is granted and gates are opened for the event that takes place across some privately-owned land.

Fun and educational talks about the Crepe Myrtle Trail and the Mobile Tensaw Delta Estuary were featured during the family-friendly event.

Those who took part in the 12-mile group ride said it's a unique experience that offers beautiful views of Mobile Bay.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Strategies for lowering the teen pregnancy rate discussed at Thursday forum in Mobile

Nearly two dozen community partners gathered Thursday in to talk about
the strides made in lowering the teen pregnancy rate in Mobile County since 2010 and
future steps to take to continue to lower the number of births to teens by 2016.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Teen pregnancy prevention strategies topic of community forum May 14 in Mobile

Members of Think Teen'sYouth Leadership Team pose for a photo in Mobile.

MOBILE, Ala. – The Mobile County Health Department’s ThinkTeen initiative is presenting a community discussion on Thursday, May 14, called “Destination Collaboration” that focuses on celebrating the strides made in lowering the occurrence of teen pregnancies in Mobile County. Goals also will be set to further reduce the number of births to teen mothers in the area, organizers said.
The panel discussion will be from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. May 14, 2015, at Junior League Headquarters on Sage Avenue in Midtown Mobile.

In 2010, 786 teen births occurred in Mobile County. Three years later, in 2013, that number decreased to 667. Now, the Mobile County Health Department's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, ThinkTeen, wants to engage the community in helping to reduce the number of births by 50 percent.

The collaborative discussion will be led by Suzette Brann, Associate Director of Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Advocates for Youth. A panel discussion will follow Brann’s remarks. The panel includes: Dr. Carl Cunningham Jr. of the University of South Alabama; Pebbles King with the Mobile County Health Department (MCHD); Dr. Jackie Gonner of USA; Mechelle Spriggs with Mobile County Public Schools; Dr. Angelia Lewis with MCHD’s Family Health division and a member of the Youth Leadership Team.

Although teen pregnancy rates have declined, Alabama still has one of the highest rates in teen pregnancy in the U.S. and Mobile County has the second highest rate among the three largest counties in Alabama.

Teen pregnancies affect the entire community. In 2010, teen pregnancy and childbirth accounted for at least $9.4 billion in costs to U.S. taxpayers for increased health care and foster care, increased incarceration rates among children of teen parents and lost tax revenue because of lower educational attainment and income among teen mothers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school drop-out rates among girls. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age, versus approximately 90% of women who had not given birth during adolescence.

For more information, visit www.thinkteen.org , @thinkteenmc or call 251.690.7334.

Caring for the sick: Nurses celebrated by Mobile County Health Department and Family Health

MOBILE, Ala. -- The Mobile County Health Department and Family Health, its primary care division, has been celebrating the men and women who work to ensure all patients and clients receive the best care possible at Alabama’s oldest public health agency.

“It takes a very special person to care for others,” said Denise Peele, Medical Staff Coordinator at MCHD. “It’s a selfless profession. Our nurses and medical assistants do it with grace, strength and compassion. I think they are all fabulous!”

Peele, along with assistance from staff members Laura Stuart and Dorothy McBride, distributed more than 110 Nurse’s Week goodie bags to MCHD and Family Health nurses. Stuart also baked cookies in the shape of nurses hats for the bags, while staff at Remington, Fortis and Virginia College graciously donated other items, Peele said.

Banners commemorating the week are now hanging throughout the agency, including a bright sign at the front of the Health Department’s Bayou Street location in downtown Mobile.

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. These permanent dates help to position National Nurses Week as an established recognition event.  The nursing profession has been supported and promoted by the American Nurses Association (ANA) since 1896. In 2015, MCHD employed approximately 130 nurses and medical assistants.

While nurses have been around much longer, it wasn’t until 1954 that National Nurses Week was observed from October 11 - 16. The year of the observance marked the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Violent behavior: Mobile area home to nearly half of all spice-related hospital visits since March 15

MOBILE, Ala. -- The Alabama Department of Public Health continues to receive reports of  increases in emergency calls, and state hospitals have reported five deaths and a surge in emergency room visits by patients presenting with symptoms consistent with exposure to synthetic substances commonly referred to as “Spice.”

Between March 15 and May 4, 2015, at least 932 patients who have ingested or smoked these substances have been seen, 196 patients have been hospitalized, and at least five have died, state health officials said Monday. Those hospitalized ranged in age from their early teens through their sixties.

Almost half of all cases -- some 466  -- have been in Public Health Area 11, which is Mobile County, state records show. Those cases occurred at five hospitals. Two Baldwin County hospitals reported an additional 38 spice-related cases during the same time period.

Health care providers statewide have been asked to consider exposure to synthetic cannabinoids as a possibility for patients presenting with severe illness. Certain hospital emergency rooms have been asked to provide weekly reports of numbers and ages of affected patients to the ADPH Epidemiology Division. These reports are collected weekly.

State public health officials said patients are taking the poisonous substances alone and also in combination with other drugs. State surveillance began on April 15, 2015, and prior to that date Alabama hospitals provided approximate date ranges and numbers of patients seen.

Users not only harm themselves but pose a threat to others. “We have been informed about how violent people under the influence of synthetic cannabinoids can be not only posing a danger to themselves but also to those around them,” said Dr. Mary McIntyre, Assistant State Health Officer, in a written release. “Their behavior may be bizarre and violent. If you encounter someone you suspect is under the influence of spice, call 911 at once.”
Symptoms spice users exhibit include the following:
•Severe agitation, hyperactivity and anxiety
•Racing heartbeat and elevated blood pressure
•Muscle spasms, seizures and tremors
•Intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes
Users of synthetic drugs can experience these symptoms or others, with varying intensity. Because there is no control of the types or amount of chemicals contained, users have no way of knowing what they are ingesting. Analyses done in other states have shown not only the presence of synthetic cannabinoids but other chemicals including amphetamines and methamphetamine, cocaine, and Lovamisole (an animal dewormer), creating a toxic combination for users.

According to state health officials, the designer drug substances consist of dried plant material sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids and various mixtures of other unknown chemicals including pesticides and rat poison. The chemical compounds reportedly stimulate the same brain areas affected by marijuana, and they have a high potential for abuse. Users may opt for these drug alternatives because they mistakenly believe the substances are safe. Names for synthetic cannabinoids include Spice, K2, Spice Gold, Sence, Genie, Zohai, Yucatan Fire, Smoke, Black Mamba and Skunk.

Creek Fest 2015 showcased the natural beauty of Three Mile Creek and Tricentennial Park

Area Girl Scouts try their hand at cane pole fishing on Saturday, May 9, 2015,
during Creek Fest's Cane Pole Fishing Tournament at Tricentennial Park
off Stanton Road in Midtown Mobile.

MOBILE, Ala. -- Hundreds of local residents came out for the inaugural Creek Fest at Tricentennial Park in Midtown Mobile on Saturday, May 9, 2015. Creek Fest was created as a family-friendly celebration marking the revival of Three Mile Creek in Mobile.

Creek Fest included a Cane Pole Fishing Tournament for those 16 and younger. More than 24 fish were caught during the afternoon event, including bream and goggle eyes, organizers said. The fish, and a few turtles, were caught, recorded and then released.

Destiny Russell took home the prize for the largest bream in the inaugural Creek Fest Cane Pole Fishing Tournament. Other winners were Sarah Frances Warren for the most unusual catch, Charlie Smith for the smallest bream, Miles Cummings for the second largest bream and Marshall Cummings for the largest Goggle Eye.

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from across the Gulf Coast also gathered at Creek Fest 2015 to earn merit badges and volunteer their time. Girl Scouts who attended the event earned a special Creek Fest Badge.

The idea for the celebration came from Women Making a Difference, a Public Health Advisory Board of the Mobile County Health Department. The board received grant funding of nearly $220,000 from the Sybil Smith Charitable Trust to make improvement to an area of Three Mile Creek in Midtown Mobile.

Destiny Russell, left, took home the prize for the largest bream
caught during Creek Fest's Cane Pole Fishing Tourament on
May 9, 2015 at Tricentennial Park.
The funds will be combined with others from the city of Mobile to create a kayak launch and about three miles of trails and paths along a section of Three Mile Creek near Lake Drive Tricentennial Park off Stanton Road. Dozens of community partners came together in recent months to take Creek Fest from a board room idea to the grass roots events held Saturday in Mobile.

It took a devoted team of community partners to make the inagural event a success. Partners includes: Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, Mobile Baykeeper, the Mobile County Health Department, Keep Mobile Beautiful, Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Gulf Quest, Mobile Area Wwater and Sewer System, ADEM, Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, Lowes, 5 Rivers Delta Resources, USA Women’s & Children’s Hospital, Mobile Infirmary, The City of Mobile, The Mobile Bay Bears, Alabama Division of Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries and Women Making A Difference.



Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mobile County Health Department Spring training highlighted team-building and customer service

Team building activities can be tons of fun. WIC staff members won
 first place in the Big Top Games and also for best costume on May 1, 2015.
Members of MCHD's Inspection Services division prepare to dominate the Big Top Games on May 1, 2015.
More than 400 MCHD staff members gathered at The Bright Spot for spring training.
Under the Big Top training on May 1, 2015, included
 presentations from more than 40 MCHD and Family
 Health staff members on the more than 45
 programs and services offered through the agency.
Valencia Patterson, an administrator with Family Health, dressed up for the training event.
Some MCHD staff members brought trophies from last year to rekindle friendly competition.
These MCHD and Family Health ladies, also known as the Lolly Pop Kids, played a mean game of volleyball.
This health inspector was smiling on the inside.
Prizes were awarded for first, second and third place, as well
as for Best Costume in the Big Top Games.
The Bright Spot was the setting for MCHD's Under the Big Top annual spring training held on May 1, 2015.
The Shark Tank skit. MCHD leaders and staff took part in a skit to emphasize
the importance of customer service essentials in the workplace. They're in!