Category Archives: Live Well Stories

Addressing Tobacco Use in Allegheny County and Southwestern Pennsylvania

The Great American Smoke Out is an annual national tobacco awareness holiday sponsored by the American Cancer Society. It is designed to encourage thousands of smokers to begin “Day 1” of their quitting journey on the third Thursday of November. Throughout Allegheny County and Southwestern Pennsylvania, Adagio Health is there to help smokers quit and live longer, healthier lives.

Tobacco Free Adagio Health is working throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania to reduce smoking rates, educate on the harmful impacts of tobacco and nicotine, and provide assistance in developing policies to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in spaces where people live, work and play. Tobacco, and smoke-free workplace, multi-unit housing, and parks and playground policy initiatives are key strategies to influence community norms around smoking and tobacco use.

Certified tobacco treatment specialists are available to provide in-person, virtual, individual or group cessation counseling and access to free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), including patches, gum, and lozenges.

Tobacco Free Adagio Health engages with schools to promote programming and interventions to educate and support youth in efforts to stop smoking, or to never start. Tobacco Resistance Units are student-centered groups designed to promote tobacco-free lifestyles, teach youth about advocacy and leadership, and help them to engage with their peers to educate them on the risks of tobacco use and nicotine dependence.

For more information on tobacco-free policy work, tobacco cessation and counseling programs, or how to start a TRU group at your school, email: tfah@adagiohealth.org 

For more information, please visit www.adagiohealth.org or call 1-800-215-7494.

Pittsburgh Langley Holds Walk to School Day Event

Pittsburgh Langley Holds Walk to School Day Event

 

Walk to school dayThe 26th Annual National Walk to School Day was held on October 6 at Pittsburgh Langley K-8.

National Walk to School Day promotes safe, active transportation. Active transportation is a way of getting around that is powered by human energy, specifically walking and biking. Along with providing a safe space for children and their families to walk to school, the day is about partnering with local law enforcement to draw attention to road safety. This includes speed restrictions near school routes and restructuring carpool line traffic flows to reduce conflicts with walking students, among other safety improvements.

The event was organized by Safe Kids Allegheny, a local coalition of Safe Kids Worldwide led by UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The Allegheny County Health Department Injury Prevention Program are members and participate in Safe Kids activities as well. Safe Kids Allegheny Coalition members include state, local and college police officers. This is the 10th year that the Injury Prevention program has participated in the event.

On the day of the event, Safe Kids Allegheny worked with community partners and the Pitt Police Community Programs Unit. Volunteers were stationed at strategic positions where it was safest for students and their guardians to walk. They also walked with students and observed their behavior. The goal of the day was to ensure a safe crossing experience within the designated crossing areas and to avoid any no cross areas.

Visit the Safe Kids Allegheny County website for more information.

walk to school 3

September is National Food Safety Education Month

It’s a great time to freshen up on food safety practices and educate yourself about preventing food poisoning.

Each year, about 1 in 6 Americans get a foodborne illness. While only a small percentage of these illnesses are the result of identified foodborne outbreaks (two or more similar illnesses result from eating the same food), most could be avoided with increased attention to safe food handling.

Consumers play an important role in food safety and preventing food poisoning. When preparing and handling food, keep these four steps in mind to help prevent foodborne illness:

  • Clean: Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces often when you cook
  • Separate: Raw meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs can spread germs. Separate them from cooked food and fresh produce.
  • Cook: Use a food thermometer to make sure food is cooked to an internal temperature that kills germs.
  • Chill: Refrigerate perishable foods: (food likely to spoil or go bad quickly) and leftovers within 2 hours, or within 1 hour if the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F (like might happen in a hot car or at a summer picnic)

 

While anyone can get sick from food poisoning, these tips are particularly important for those who are more likely to respond with a serious illness, including:

  • Adults 65 or older
  • Children younger than 5
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Pregnant people

The Health Department also has an important role in preventing illness from food. Its Food Safety Program permits and inspects approximately 8,500 permanent food operations across the county. These include restaurants, retail markets, food processing facilities, caterers, warehouses, mobile vendors, festivals, farmers markets, school cafeterias and nursing homes.

Food Safety protects public health by ensuring that food operations are storing, handling, and preparing food safely. This is done through:

  • Conducting inspections
  • Investigating complaints
  • Responding to emergency conditions
  • Offering training and testing to become a Certified Food Protection Manager
  • Providing plan review services to people wanting to open a food facility
  • Responding to questions

 

For more information about food safety and preventing foodborne illnesses, sign up for our November Live Well Speaker Series on Tuesday, November 15 from 10-11 a.m. on Microsoft Teams.

A member of the ACHD Food Safety Program will present tips for the holidays and provide a sneak peak of the Allegheny County’s Food Safety Rules and Regulations (Article III) updates.  Sign up for the November Speaker Series.

ACHD Promotes Programs at the Health and Safety Fair

Allegheny County held its annual Health and Safety Fair on Wednesday, July 20, in the Courthouse courtyard in Pittsburgh. The fair is held to promote health and safety for county employees and is a good way to connect individuals with various county services.

Programs in attendance from the Health Department included the Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Vector Control, STD/HIV Prevention and Overdose Prevention. Each program provided resources to help promote their individual programs and better the health and well-being of attendees. Attendees were given tick kits from Vector Control, Narcan from the Overdose Prevention, condoms from STD/HIV Prevention, education about car seat safety from Injury Prevention and healthy eating tips with MyPlate giveaways from the Chronic Disease Program.

A Matter of Balance – Classes Held Locally at Bennett Place

Classes for Seniors at Bennett PlaceMany seniors experience a fear of falling. People who develop this fear often limit their activities, which can result in physical weakness, making the risk of falling even greater. The Allegheny County Health Department’s (ACHD) Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention program is implementing an evidence-based program called A Matter of Balance (MOB) for seniors. The program is designed to reduce the fear of falling and increase activity levels.

Since the lifting of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on senior living facilities, the Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Program facilitated its first MOB class last May at the Bennett Place Living Community.

The class consisted of 10 seniors from both the Bennett Place Living Community and the surrounding Homewood neighborhood. The class also utilized students in both the Occupational Therapy doctoral program and the Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling master’s program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. The students assisted with the facilitation of the class and interacted with the seniors.

The participants learned:

  • Falls are controllable
  • Physical activity is attainable for all ages
  • How to make changes to reduce fall risk at home
  • Exercises to increase strength and balance

The seniors enjoyed the class and their interactions with the students. We hope to hold another similar class in fall 2022. For more information on the A Matter of Balance program, view the informational video here.

AARP Partners with Alzheimer’s Association for Pittsburgh Summit on Alzheimer’s & Dementia

A Collaborative Community Conversation for the African American Community

In honor of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pittsburgh Chapter partnered with AARP for a summit that addressed how Alzheimer’s and other dementia impacts the Black community and ways to address it in the area. The event was held on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at the Hosanna House. The Allegheny County Health Department attended this event to show support for the community and to provide resources to those in attendance.

According to the 2022 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures Report, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic American seniors are more likely than their white counterparts to have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Research hasn’t identified the cause but higher rates of cardiovascular, heart and blood vessels, disease may play a role. Some studies indicate that after correcting for overall health and socioeconomic status, these differences disappear. During the month of June, Alzheimer’s and Brain Health Awareness Month the Alzheimer’s Association wants to amplify the message that this is not just an aging issue, but a lifespan one that should be addressed in the way we address other chronic diseases. Alzheimer’s is a public health crisis that takes a physical, emotional, and financial toll, and as with any such crisis, there are potential ways to intervene and implement public health best practices to improve lives.

Only 20 percent of Black Americans say they have no barriers to excellent care and support for Alzheimer’s or other dementias. The summit on included experts speaking about different facets of the disease, as well as caregivers sharing firsthand experiences.

June is Alzheimer's Awareness Month

“This summit showed the importance of healthy aging and preventing chronic diseases in relation to preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia,” said Dr. Debra Bogen who attended the event. “The Alzheimer’s Association is an active Live Well Allegheny Community Partner and they provide valuable resources and information to help all Allegheny County residents live long and healthy lives.”

If you are interested in learning how to volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association, please connect to Sara Murphy by emailing smurphy@alz.org.

For more information about Alzheimer’s and all other dementia – visit the Alzheimer’s Association website or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.

May is National Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month

May is Nat'l Asthma and Allergy Awareness MonthIn Allegheny County, it is estimated that 10 percent of adults live with asthma. Asthma is a disease that affects the lungs and can cause symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be controlled with medication and avoiding certain triggers.

Risk factors for asthma vary and include tobacco smoke, air pollution, dust, animal dander, other allergens, family history, allergies, obesity, occupational exposure, and poverty.

The Allegheny County Asthma Control Project began last June to improve asthma outcomes for children using an evidence-based approaches to reduce emergency department visits and hospitalizations for asthma, increase asthma self-management skills, and impact asthma policy. One component of the Allegheny County Asthma Control Project is to make referrals for families with children with asthma obtain clinical and indoor air quality education and may help patients find funding to remove asthma triggers in their homes.

 

Highly Connected

Rebuilding Together (RBT) – Pittsburgh, a partner in the project – serves families through funding from the Department of Human Services to help with health and safety repairs that do not exceed $2,000. For larger repair requests, RTP connect clients to other funding sources such as URA programming and County Zero Interest Loan Program.

If you have a family that you would like to refer, please contact Dr. Jim Weeden at james.weeden@alleghenycounty.us.

Teen Expo at Duquesne University

ACHD Participates in Teen Expo at Duquesne University

 

ACHD Injury Prevention Staff and partners presented the first Teen Drivers Safety Expo at Duquesne University on Thursday, March 17, 2022. We worked with the following partners to organize the event: AAA, PA Traffic Injury Prevention Project, Port Authority Police, Allegheny County Police, and the Duquesne University Police.

The Teen Expo gives students the opportunity to practice safe driver and passenger behaviors while they learn about highway safety by playing games and participating in fun activities. One activity students participated in was trying to complete a maze while using weed goggles. The goggles simulate the effects of marijuana that result in delayed decision-making skills.

Another activity was conducted with our local law enforcement officers, including the Allegheny County and Port Authority Police Officers. This activity used the ‘beer goggles’ to conduct field sobriety tests. The sobriety test is similar to those used if an officer thought a driver was impaired. While the results of the maze and the field sobriety tests were often funny in this relaxed setting, the intent is to make the students aware of the dangers of smoking marijuana and how this impacts their decision-making skills while they are driving or even taking a test while impaired.

Teen Expo at Duquesne University

Children’s Dental Health Month Discussion With Dr. Sandra Thompson

 

By Dave Zazac, ACHD Administration

To celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month in February, I interviewed the Administrator of the ACHD Dental Program, Dr. Sandra Thompson. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.

Why did you want to be a dentist and what brought you to us in public health? I became a dentist because I was interested in medicine and liked working with my hands. Shortly after my dental school graduation, I was hired as a part time contract dentist for ACHD. I found public health more fulfilling than private practice because it focuses on prevention of cavities. Starting with visits to WIC & FCH, parents receive education on how to prevent cavities. We have former patients who are bringing their own children to our clinics because they remember having a positive experience.

What about your staff? I believe you couldn’t do without them. You are certainly correct about my staff. PA licenses Public Health Dental Hygiene Practitioners (PHDHP) who are experienced dental hygienists with additional training who can practice in a public health setting, under the general supervision rather than direct supervision of a dentist. ACHD is fortunate to have 3 PHDHPs: Charmaine Rahamut-Ali Smith, Elizabeth Franz and Kattrina Ehn. ACHD also has dental assistants, like Ethel Lynn Tolliver, who keep the clinics running smooth. In the past, they’ve helped coordinate the Fluoride Varnish and Dental Sealant programs. Lastly, ACHD has several contracted dentists that provide services beyond the scope of the PHDHP, not only in our clinics but in the school programs as well.

How can we all celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month?  In the past, we used social media to promote our clinics during February. Our clinics are now booked for months, but unfortunately have a high “no show” rate. We’re hoping our social media and website can be used in an educational effort about good dental health to decrease this rate by getting children and their parents to keep their scheduled dental appointments.

March is National Nutrition Month! Celebrate a World of Flavors!

Every year during March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics focuses its efforts on encouraging everyone to make informed food choices and to develop healthier eating habits through the National Nutrition Month campaign.

This year’s theme, Celebrate a World of Flavors, embraces the global cultural variety of foods and highlights the role that registered dietitian nutritionists play in helping people reach their health and nutrition goals while promoting inclusivity and celebrating individuals’ cultural foods and heritage. They have a wide variety of resources about nutrition that are translated into many different languages available at the following web site: https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/toolkit.

 

We do our part in Allegheny County to participate in the National Nutrition Month campaign by promoting Live Well Allegheny. The county-wide initiative aims to improve the health and well-being of all Allegheny County residents. We recruit and encourage local participants (communities, schools, restaurants and workplaces) to increase their physical activity levels, consume healthier foods and take an overall proactive approach to health. We encourage all the municipalities, school districts, restaurants and workplaces in Allegheny County to Gain Live Well status and join us in making Allegheny County a healthy place to live.

 

Live Well Schools pledge to make their student population healthier by implementing healthy eating policies during the school day. Pittsburgh Public Schools, the second largest district in the state of Pennsylvania, and a Live Well Allegheny School, has taken the initiative to collaborate with the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council and to include the Good Food Purchasing Program in their five-year strategic plan. For more information, view this link.