Alaska Health & Social Services Newsletter | December 2018




Welcome from our new DHSS Commissioner

Far too often, we at DHSS find ourselves involved in negative articles or media reports in regards to our department. While continuous improvement in the effectiveness of our services and the support we provide to our clients is important, sometimes our positive accomplishments go unreported or unnoticed. I’d like to address this by sharing some of the successes we’ve recently enjoyed: Click here for full article

Celebrating youth in foster care during the holidays

For some, the holiday season can be rough. This can especially be the case for youth in foster care. Thankfully, there are numerous organizations who work to bring holiday joy to these youth. Throughout the state, staff at the Office of Children’s Services (OCS) work with Alaska Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Guardians ad Litem, community partners and various businesses to maximize gift giving efforts, and to ensure youth receive a special gift for the holidays. Click here for full article

Pioneer Homes honors WWII Veterans on Pearl Harbor Day

Dec. 7 is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, a day to remember all those who fought and died during the Pearl Harbor attack and all veterans who served in World War II. To honor the day, Governor Michael J. Dunleavy issued a Governor’s Procla-mation and the Alaska Pioneer Homes (APH) staff posted a short story on the APH website honoring Alaska Pioneer Homes residents who served in World War II. The story encouraged all of us to thank World War II veterans and listen to their stories while they are still with us. Their stories will be lost forever unless enough of us hear them and pass them on to future generations. According to the National World War II Museum, as of 2018, there are 286 World War II veterans living in Alaska. Of those 286, more than 15 reside in one of the six Alaska Pioneer Homes. Many Alaskans don’t realize this, but one of the homes, the Alaska Veterans and Pioneers Home in Palmer, has 75 percent of its beds designated for veterans. To read the Pearl Harbor story and view photos of some of the veterans who are residing at an Alaska Pioneer Home visit: Click here for full story

Interagency effort launches new statewide food poisoning hotline

Alaskans now have a new hotline to report foodborne illness concerns. Just call or text 907-764-YUCK (9825) from anywhere in Alaska to make a report about a venue outside of the Municipality of Anchorage. If you have a complaint for a venue located in Anchorage, call 343-4200 or submit an online form to the Municipality of Anchorage Food Safety and Sanitation Program. The new statewide hotline is manned by an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) environmental health officer, who gathers information such as illness symptoms, which foods were eaten, and where and when they were eaten. DEC will conduct an investigation for locations outside of Anchorage if needed; all information collected is confidential. 
Click here for full story

Teens and e-cigs

The U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory on Dec. 18 about youth e-cigarette use. Visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website to read the advisory and learn more. The advisory shines attention on the surge in e-cigarette use among youth and urges parents, teachers, health professionals and government agencies to “know the risks, take action and protect our kids.” Click here for full story

DHSS receives recognition from the Alaska State Troopers

The Alaska State Troopers Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit honored DHSS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jay Butler and Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention Director Andy Jones this month with Outstanding Partnership Awards. These special awards recognize the unique partnership between DHSS and the Alaska Department of Public Safety on shared strategies to improve the health and safety of Alaska.

Mumps outbreak has ended

From May 1, 2017 through Sept. 30, 2018, 391 confirmed and probable mumps cases were identified in Alaska; over 90 percent of these cases occurred in Anchorage residents. Four patients were hospitalized, and none died. An Epidemiology Bulletin issued this December provides more details on the largest documented mumps outbreak in Alaska since case reporting records began in the 1970s. Click here for full story



DHSS emergency team coordinates earthquake health needs

State epidemiologists track post-earthquake emergency room visits

Alaskans: Now is the time to prepare for the next disaster

DHSS Survey aims
to better understand
injuries and
improve response

Earthquake waiver extended deadline for Medicaid Part D enrollme

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DHSS divisions produce many reports, updates and bulletins to keep Alaskans informed with the most current health and vital statistics data. Here are some recent reports:

Emergency Department Visits Following the November 30, 2018 Earthquake

Mumps Outbreak
Overview — Alaska,

Updated Public Health Reporting Requirements

2013-2017 Alaska Resident Leading Causes of Death

Pain Management, Opioid Use, and Addiction in Alaska
, this course provides one AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) credit (equivalent to one AMA Category 1 Credit) and is presented by Alaska medical experts in public health, pain management and addiction: Jay Butler, M.D., Josh Stream, M.D., and Joshua Sonkiss, M.D.


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