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Wisconsin Official Hired To Lead McLean County Health Department

A public health professional with more than 20 years of local and state experience was hired Wednesday as the next director of the McLean County Health Department.

Camille Rodriguez will take over her new role Jan. 3. She most recently worked for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services as director of its Division of Public Health’s Bureau of Community Health Promotion. Earlier in her career, Rodriguez worked for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ Division of Child Protection and with the Office of the Executive Inspector General in Springfield. 

“I am eager to begin the new year and to lead the passionate and dedicated public health team at the McLean County Health Department,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “Working with these new colleagues, I’m committed to efficiently and effectively continuing the long tradition of excellent services and programs for which the health department is known. Looking forward, I am equally committed to building new partnerships and collaboratives that position us to meet the changing health needs and priorities of McLean County so that all residents have a chance of living a healthy life.” 

Rodriguez takes over for Cathy Coverston Anderson, who’s served as interim director of the McLean County Health Department since the retirement of former director Walt Howe in February. Anderson will resume the roles of director of community health services and assistant administrator. 

The health department’s board of directors approved Rodriguez’s appointment Wednesday night. Board President Judy Buchanan thanked Anderson for serving in the interim role. 

“We are excited to welcome Camille Rodriguez as the new director and look forward to her leadership as the organization continues to grow and respond to the ever-changing needs of McLean County residents,” Buchanan said. 

Rodriguez is a member of the Wisconsin Child Abuse Neglect Committee, the Wisconsin Medical Home Implementation Team, and the Department of Children and Families’ Steering Committee on Opioids. Rodriguez has also served on Wisconsin’s Child Death Review Council and the Long-Term Care Council. 

The health department also noted Rodriguez’s other experience in Wisconsin:

Rodriguez was responsible for providing direction and leadership to 60 programs, supported by $160 million in funding, including Title V/Maternal and Child Health; Wisconsin’s WIC and Nutrition programs; Chronic Disease and Cancer control and screening programs; and, Tobacco prevention and oral health programming. She has served Wisconsin’s Medicaid programs in the administration of 1915C Home and Community Based Waivers for children and adults with disabilities and provided oversight to the state’s Birth to 3 Program, as well as and the Wisconsin Child Abuse Neglect Committee.

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Health Department says the flu is running rampant in New York

ALBANY — The state Health Department says influenza is now prevalent in New York state, which means health care workers who haven’t had a flu shot must wear procedural masks around patients.

Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker says everyone over 6 months old is encouraged to get a flu shot as soon as possible. He says the vaccine is especially important for people at high risk of complications from flu, including children under 2, pregnant women and adults over 65.

The agency says there have been over 1,800 confirmed cases of influenza in 54 counties and all boroughs of New York City. More than 600 required hospitalization.

Influenza season typically runs from October through May, often peaking in February.

Health department names ‘leader for the future’

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Health department names ‘leader for the future’

Whenever Paul Swiech posts new content, you’ll get an email delivered to your inbox with a link.

Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items.

Genesee County Health Department starts hotline as Hepatitis A cases rise

GENESEE COUNTY, MI – The Genesee County Health Department has established a hotline as the number of recent Hepatitis A cases associated with an outbreak in southeast Michigan continue to grow.

A Tuesday, Dec. 12, statement from the health department notes eight cases of Hepatitis A have been confirmed in Genesee County since the beginning of 2017, with seven of those having occurred since Oct. 1.

Dating back to Aug. 1, 2016, more than 580 cases have been associated with the outbreak in 17 counties and one in the Jackson Department of Corrections. The outbreak has included 20 deaths.

Hepatitis A case in Genesee County linked to Michigan outbreak

Danielle Steplowski, an epidemiologist with the Genesee County Health Department, said there has been no common source found between the cases in the county thus far.

“We have had some cases spread between person to person,” she commented.

Genesee County typically experiences zero to six Hepatitis A cases a year, with Steplowski calling the recent figures “unusual.”

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus and most commonly spread person to person.

The disease is often passed along by the fecal to oral route, meaning someone ingesting something – such as food or water – contaminated with the feces of an infected person, as well as during sex or living with an infected person.

Symptoms including dark urine, abdominal pain, diarrhea, yellowing of the skin or eyes, fever, nausea, headache, loss of appetite and typically appear one month after exposure. 

Those most at risk of contracting the infection include those living with, having sex with, or sharing illegal drugs with someone who has Hepatitis A.

Of the 583 cases reported statewide by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, including four in Lapeer County, 482 cases have resulted in hospitalization.

Steplowski noted the disease has a 15- to 50-day incubation period which can make it difficult to track.

“That’s why it’s so important people get vaccinated,” she said

The vaccination is 95 percent effective if given before or within two weeks of exposure, according to the health department.

Other preventative measures include washing hands before preparing or eating meals, after using the bathroom or changing diapers; using your own towels, utensils, toothbrush and not sharing food, drinks, cigarettes; and, not having sex with someone who has contracted the virus.

Residents are urged to contact their personal care physician or the county health department’s immunization center if they believe they may have contracted the disease.

The state set up an emergency center in November to coordinate services and track the disease.

A Hepatitis A hotline has been set up at 810-257-3048 to provide information on the outbreak and immunizations. Suspected and confirmed Hepatitis A cases should be reported to the Genesee Health Department at 810-257-1017. 

Additional information on Hepatitis A is available on the county health department’s website here. Weekly updates on the outbreak are available on the MDHHS website here

Wyoming health department details a deficit that will more than double by 2030 – Casper Star

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Wyoming health department details a deficit that will more than double by 2030 – Casper Star

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Wyoming health department details a deficit that will more than double by 2030 – Casper Star

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Dr. Moy named head of Harford Health Department

Dr. Russell W. Moy has been appointed as the Harford County Health Officer by the Maryland Department of Health and the Harford County Council.

Moy, 64, who had been acting head of the Harford County department since the July retirement of former health officer Susan Kelly, will have countywide responsibility for health improvement, health policy, care coordination and clinical health services for vulnerable and underserved populations of the county, according to a department news release.

His annual salary is $202,588, according to Health Department spokesperson Molly Mraz.

“The Harford County Council, acting in its capacity as Board of Health, is very pleased to have Dr. Moy appointed as Health Officer for the Harford County Department of Health,” said Council President Richard C. Slutzky in a statement. “Dr. Moy is well respected at both the local and state level and the Board of Health looks forward to working with him on health issues in Harford County.”

DMV offices statewide open today as department, vendor strive to resolve computer issues

Local

The following is a news release from the Idaho Transportation Department.

BOISE — The Idaho Transportation Department will open all Division of Motor Vehicles driver’s license offices throughout the state today.

During the weekend, ITD’s driver’s license vendor, Gemalto, added additional server capacity in an effort to resolve the computer issues.

“We hope this will allow us to find the root cause of the issues we have been experiencing for more than a week now,” said Idaho DMV Administrator Alberto Gonzalez.

Although this isn’t the permanent fix, this may provide relief while ITD and Gemalto identify the long- term solution. Gemalto’s senior technical staff are in Boise and will work with ITD technical and DMV business staff to do everything possible to find a resolution to the issues.

These computer issues do not reside at the counties, but rather with the ITD computer system.

“We understand the frustration of our county driver’s license partners and our customers. We appreciate their patience and collaboration as we work diligently to solve this problem,” said Gonzalez. “Please know this is not the level of service ITD strives to provide. We are equally as frustrated and are doing everything possible to get this issue resolved.”

ITD will issue additional news releases as information becomes available.

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Spokane Regional Health District could teach Department of Health how to deal with marijuana and pregnancy – The Spokesman

Nobody is more passionate about their patients than public health nurses, especially those working in maternal and child health programs.

They are always seeking ways to educate and inform on a shoestring budget. So when Jolene Erickson, a Lincoln County public health nurse, received an email with a message from Washington state Health Secretary Dr. John Wiesman, attempting to head off concerns about a new drug prevention video, she was appalled at how the money was spent.

Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana in 2012, requires the state to support education programs with “medically and scientifically accurate information about the health and safety risks posed by marijuana use.” I-502 did not dictate specific target populations for outreach.

For Erickson, with 24 years of experience working with mothers and babies, it’s a question of numbers.

“We’ve heard point-blank from pregnant women they’re using marijuana for nausea early in pregnancy. They equate legal with safe and it isn’t. Where’s the money going?”

Pregnant women were not a priority population in the 2015-17 budget for the $15 million the Washington State Department of Health received from the dedicated marijuana account.

But DOH did fund five pilot projects at $100,000 each, targeting culturally marginalized youth. Grantees included the American Indian Health Commission for Washington State, Asian Pacific Islander Coalition focusing on Seattle and four other West Side communities, Gay City Health Project in Seattle, Center for Multicultural Health in Pierce and King counties, and El Centro de la Raza in Yakima.

Videos were produced as part of short-lived social marketing campaigns. DOH was only able to provide links to three of the five publicly funded projects. The Asian-Pacific Islander production focused on questions about marijuana, and could be used for conversations with teenagers across the state. Spokane-based consultant Kauffman Associates worked with urban Indian youth in Seattle and Spokane to develop drug awareness videos speaking to Indian youth anywhere.

But local drug prevention educators agree the video produced by the Gay City Health Project lacks a prevention message and reinforces negative stereotypes. DOH claimed the video carries an “indirect marijuana prevention message as it raises issues of systemic discrimination.”

There’s indirect, and then there’s invisible. The video was part of an outreach campaign to about 2,000 Seattle youth, according to DOH.

Erickson has been grateful for access to campaign materials prepared by the Spokane Regional Health District as the regional DOH contractor.

The SRHD’s popular Weed To Know campaign provided posters and information cards distributed through Spokane’s 34 licensed marijuana retailers, funded under a DOH contract. Weed To Know focuses on educating adults to be role models of responsible use for youth, with three simple messages focused on knowing the law and three on harm reduction.

But health care providers still had questions about marijuana use by women who are pregnant, breast-feeding and parenting. DOH was still silent on maternal child health and marijuana use.

Women were arriving at the hospital for delivery reeking of marijuana. The five northeast Washington counties including Spokane have been working hard to bring down rates of maternal smoking nearly twice the state average and four times the King County average. One more thing to smoke wasn’t helping.

Outreach to the pregnant, breast-feeding and parenting population would have made a great pilot project but still wasn’t a DOH priority population. SRHD stepped up and found local funds to plug the gap. The expanded Weed to Know – Baby and You campaign launched in June of this year. Paige McGowan, health program specialist in the SRHD Marijuana, Vaping Device and Tobacco prevention program, said the “community response has been phenomenal.”

Materials have been distributed through WIC offices, local hospital and health care systems, and shared with public health agencies nationally and in Canada. Yet DOH has expressed no interest in evaluating the program for statewide use, saying “DOH does not evaluate our partners’ work.”

DOH should. Without evaluation there is no learning. It’s OK for a pilot project to turn out poorly. And it’s OK to lean on Eastern Washington success.

Spokane Regional Health District could teach Department of Health how to deal with marijuana and pregnancy – The Spokesman

Nobody is more passionate about their patients than public health nurses, especially those working in maternal and child health programs.

They are always seeking ways to educate and inform on a shoestring budget. So when Jolene Erickson, a Lincoln County public health nurse, received an email with a message from Washington state Health Secretary Dr. John Wiesman, attempting to head off concerns about a new drug prevention video, she was appalled at how the money was spent.

Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana in 2012, requires the state to support education programs with “medically and scientifically accurate information about the health and safety risks posed by marijuana use.” I-502 did not dictate specific target populations for outreach.

For Erickson, with 24 years of experience working with mothers and babies, it’s a question of numbers.

“We’ve heard point-blank from pregnant women they’re using marijuana for nausea early in pregnancy. They equate legal with safe and it isn’t. Where’s the money going?”

Pregnant women were not a priority population in the 2015-17 budget for the $15 million the Washington State Department of Health received from the dedicated marijuana account.

But DOH did fund five pilot projects at $100,000 each, targeting culturally marginalized youth. Grantees included the American Indian Health Commission for Washington State, Asian Pacific Islander Coalition focusing on Seattle and four other West Side communities, Gay City Health Project in Seattle, Center for Multicultural Health in Pierce and King counties, and El Centro de la Raza in Yakima.

Videos were produced as part of short-lived social marketing campaigns. DOH was only able to provide links to three of the five publicly funded projects. The Asian-Pacific Islander production focused on questions about marijuana, and could be used for conversations with teenagers across the state. Spokane-based consultant Kauffman Associates worked with urban Indian youth in Seattle and Spokane to develop drug awareness videos speaking to Indian youth anywhere.

But local drug prevention educators agree the video produced by the Gay City Health Project lacks a prevention message and reinforces negative stereotypes. DOH claimed the video carries an “indirect marijuana prevention message as it raises issues of systemic discrimination.”

There’s indirect, and then there’s invisible. The video was part of an outreach campaign to about 2,000 Seattle youth, according to DOH.

Erickson has been grateful for access to campaign materials prepared by the Spokane Regional Health District as the regional DOH contractor.

The SRHD’s popular Weed To Know campaign provided posters and information cards distributed through Spokane’s 34 licensed marijuana retailers, funded under a DOH contract. Weed To Know focuses on educating adults to be role models of responsible use for youth, with three simple messages focused on knowing the law and three on harm reduction.

But health care providers still had questions about marijuana use by women who are pregnant, breast-feeding and parenting. DOH was still silent on maternal child health and marijuana use.

Women were arriving at the hospital for delivery reeking of marijuana. The five northeast Washington counties including Spokane have been working hard to bring down rates of maternal smoking nearly twice the state average and four times the King County average. One more thing to smoke wasn’t helping.

Outreach to the pregnant, breast-feeding and parenting population would have made a great pilot project but still wasn’t a DOH priority population. SRHD stepped up and found local funds to plug the gap. The expanded Weed to Know – Baby and You campaign launched in June of this year. Paige McGowan, health program specialist in the SRHD Marijuana, Vaping Device and Tobacco prevention program, said the “community response has been phenomenal.”

Materials have been distributed through WIC offices, local hospital and health care systems, and shared with public health agencies nationally and in Canada. Yet DOH has expressed no interest in evaluating the program for statewide use, saying “DOH does not evaluate our partners’ work.”

DOH should. Without evaluation there is no learning. It’s OK for a pilot project to turn out poorly. And it’s OK to lean on Eastern Washington success.

Flu season is getting worse, Ohio Department of Health urges flu shot

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The flu season is worsening, but health officials say there’s still time to fight back.

Two hundred and fifty-seven Ohioans have been hospitalized for the flu so far this season, above the five-year average for this period. But the Ohio Department of Health says it’s not too late to get a vaccine to prevent the illness.

The department and the federal Centers for Disease Control recommend that everyone six months and older contact health care providers for the shot as soon as possible. It takes about two weeks for the shot to have its full effect.

The flu season picks up in October and can last into May. The peak period is December through February.

According to the CDC, about three of every five Americans have not been vaccinated this season, and neither have two out of every three pregnant women.

“Pregnant women and their young infants are at high risk for serious complications from the flu,” said Dr. Clint Koenig, medical director of the Ohio Department of Health.

Influenza can produce fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some cases prove fatal.

Vaccines are offered at many medical facilities, pharmarcies, health departments, schools and workplaces. For more information, see flu.ohio.

Asu Ozdaglar named head of Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Asu Ozdaglar, the Joseph F. and Nancy P. Keithley Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has been named the new head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), effective Jan. 1, 2018. She has been the interim head of the department since July 1, 2017, when former head Anantha Chandraksan was named dean of the School of Engineering.

“Professor Ozdaglar is an inspiring researcher and has emerged as a true leader in the areas of optimization theory and algorithms, game theory, and networks,” Chandrakasan says. “Her vision and dedication as an educator have been equally impressive. She is both a tireless advocate and coach for her students, and she has been a strong advocate for educational innovation in EECS.”

A former associate department head in EECS, director of the Laboratory for Information Decision Systems, and associate director of the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, Ozdaglar has made fundamental contributions to optimization theory, economic and social networked systems, and game theory. Her research in optimization ranges from convex analysis and duality to distributed methods for large-scale systems and optimization algorithms for machine learning. Her work on game theory focuses on adaptive dynamics in networks and large games, and issues of new equilibrium concepts and computation of equilibria. Her research has integrated analysis of social and economic interactions within the study of networks and spans many dimensions of these areas, including the analysis of learning and communication, diffusion and information propagation, influence in social networks, and cascades and systemic risk in economic and financial systems.

Ozdaglar’s educational contributions to MIT are equally substantial. She has developed a range of graduate and undergraduate courses, including a graduate-level game theory subject and an undergraduate course on networks that is jointly listed with the Department of Economics. She played a leading role (with Costis Daskalakis and colleagues in course 14) in launching a new undergraduate major in 6-14: Computer Science, Economics and Data Science. She also served as technical program co-chair of EECS’s Rising Stars program in 2015. 

Ozdaglar is a past recipient of a Microsoft fellowship, the MIT Graduate Student Council Teaching award, the NSF Career award, the 2008 Donald P. Eckman award of the American Automatic Control Council, and the Class of 1943 Career Development Chair. She was the inaugural Steven and Renee Finn Innovation Fellow, and won the 2014 Spira teaching award. She served on the Board of Governors of the Control System Society in 2010 and was an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control. She is the inaugural area co-editor for a new area for the journal Operations Research, entitled “Games, Information and Networks,” and she is the co-author of Convex Analysis and Optimization (Athena Scientific, 2003).

Ozdaglar received her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Middle East Technical University, in Ankara, Turkey, in 1996, and SM and PhD degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT in 1998 and 2003.

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is the largest academic unit at MIT. It currently enrolls 1,274 undergraduate majors and 1,943 graduate students. In 2016-17, the department awarded 143 undergraduate, 260 master’s, and 94 doctoral degrees. EECS’s 130 faculty members conduct their research in four affiliated labs: the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS), the Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL), and the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE). 

Grand jury looks into Health Department mismanagement as lawmakers widen probe

The state’s multicounty grand jury is looking into allegations of financial mismanagement at the Oklahoma State Department of Health as top officers continue to resign or get forced out in the wake of the agency’s sudden cash crunch.

Officials with Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office, which convenes the multicounty grand jury, declined to comment Thursday. The health department’s chief financial officer, Mike Romero, and its new general counsel, Julie Ezell, were seen leaving the attorney general’s office around lunchtime. Both declined to comment.

The multicounty grand jury recessed until January after its foreman gave a brief update to District Judge Thomas E. Prince at the Oklahoma County courthouse.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan House committee formed to investigate the health department and other agencies will begin meeting Dec. 18. Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, the committee’s chairman, sent wide-ranging subpoenas Thursday to top budget officials and aides to Gov. Mary Fallin.

Cockroft said the House committee investigation was not criminal in nature. But he noted the House has broad authority under the state Constitution and House rules to subpoena witnesses, compel testimony and produce evidence.

The committee sent subpoenas to Preston Doerflinger, Fallin’s finance secretary and interim commissioner of the health department; Denise Northrup, acting director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services; and Chris Benge, Fallin’s chief of staff.

“The committee will focus its investigation into the finances, state appropriations and other financial resources of the Department of Health and how they were managed,” Cockroft said in a news release. “The scope of the committee’s investigation could expand to other agencies.”

In a statement, Gov. Mary Fallin said her office is reviewing the subpoenas but wants to make sure any responses won’t interfere with other investigations and audits by Hunter and State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones. She said legislative leaders have continued to be briefed about the issues with the health department.

The multiple investigations come as top leaders continue to resign or be forced out at the health department. Earlier this week, Chief Operating Officer Deborah Nichols resigned, and the agency’s human resources director, Jacqueline Pettit, was fired, a spokesman confirmed.

Their departures follow the resignations of former Commissioner Terry Cline, Senior Deputy Commissioner Julie Cox-Kain and Felesha Scanlan, a top lieutenant of Cox-Kain who was business planning director. Former general counsel Don Maisch and another top attorney, Patricia Cantrell, also left the agency. Meanwhile, Internal Auditor Jay Holland is on administrative leave.

Doerflinger earlier said mismanagement at the health department stretches back to 2011 and involved multiple funds being moved around to cover shortfalls and present a balanced budget to lawmakers and state budget officials.

Tobacco trust

contracts

Among other issues, auditors and investigators are looking at the way contracts were drawn up in 2011 that advanced a total of $8.5 million in health department funds to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. (In a 2000 statewide ballot initiative, voters gave the trust authority to use interest earnings from a national legal settlement with tobacco companies to go toward tobacco prevention, cancer research or health programs.) The health department contract with TSET in 2011 was for the Certified Healthy Communities and Schools grant programs, which require participants to develop healthy policies and strategies.

The contract arrangement to provide such a large amount of money up front is highly unusual in state finance, several officials familiar with contract arrangements told Oklahoma Watch. The first contract was signed in May 2011 and provided $3.5 million for the communities program. The contract was then amended in December 2011 to provide another $5 million for the schools program.

TSET officials referred questions about the contract to the health department but said the Certified Healthy program was passed by the Legislature in 2010. Since 2011, TSET has made $4.9 million in Certified Healthy grants to communities, schools and school districts.

“Criteria for the grant program was created in conjunction with OSDH,” TSET spokeswoman Julie Bisbee said in an email. “TSET promoted, staffed and administered the execution of the program, as TSET’s primary function as a state agency is to make grants to improve health.”

The three-year contract term expired at the end of 2013, but both the health department and TSET continued making grants and providing administrative support for the grant programs until the programs were suspended this year.

Tony Sellars, health department spokesman, conceded the contract was not properly monitored.

“The money was transferred pursuant to the terms of the original contract which called for a ‘pro-forma’ payment,” Sellars said in an email. “The originators of the contract are no longer with OSDH.”

Oklahoma Watch has requested additional financial information and emails regarding the expenditure of grant funds and the TSET contracts, but that information has not been provided, with health department officials saying documents are under legal review.

Health department cash crunch

The cash crisis at the health department reached a critical point in August as former leaders scrambled to find money to make up shortfalls in several internal accounts. Officials canceled recently renewed contracts for child abuse prevention programs and federally qualified health centers. They billed consolidated city-county health departments in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties new charges for sexually transmitted disease testing and medication costs. They also asked for and received about $3 million left in the account at TSET for the Certified Healthy Communities and Schools grant programs.

As it finished an eight-week special session to deal with other budget matters, the Legislature approved a $30 million supplemental appropriation to the health department so it could make its payroll, reimburse funds from restricted accounts and close out accounts from prior budget years. But lawmakers conditioned the emergency funding on a 15 percent cut in the agency’s appropriation for the 2019 fiscal year.

Furloughs are still in effect at the health department for employees making more than $35,000 per year, although a planned reduction in force has been put on hold. The agency has about 2,000 employees.

“The $30 million supplemental appropriation did not eliminate the need for additional actions,” Sellars said in an email Thursday. “No timetable has been established for those actions at this point.”

Grand jury looks into Health Department mismanagement as lawmakers widen probe

The state’s multicounty grand jury is looking into allegations of financial mismanagement at the Oklahoma State Department of Health as top officers continue to resign or get forced out in the wake of the agency’s sudden cash crunch.

Officials with Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office, which convenes the multicounty grand jury, declined to comment Thursday. The health department’s chief financial officer, Mike Romero, and its new general counsel, Julie Ezell, were seen leaving the attorney general’s office around lunchtime. Both declined to comment.

The multicounty grand jury recessed until January after its foreman gave a brief update to District Judge Thomas E. Prince at the Oklahoma County courthouse.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan House committee formed to investigate the health department and other agencies will begin meeting Dec. 18. Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, the committee’s chairman, sent wide-ranging subpoenas Thursday to top budget officials and aides to Gov. Mary Fallin.

Cockroft said the House committee investigation was not criminal in nature. But he noted the House has broad authority under the state Constitution and House rules to subpoena witnesses, compel testimony and produce evidence.

The committee sent subpoenas to Preston Doerflinger, Fallin’s finance secretary and interim commissioner of the health department; Denise Northrup, acting director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services; and Chris Benge, Fallin’s chief of staff.

“The committee will focus its investigation into the finances, state appropriations and other financial resources of the Department of Health and how they were managed,” Cockroft said in a news release. “The scope of the committee’s investigation could expand to other agencies.”

In a statement, Gov. Mary Fallin said her office is reviewing the subpoenas but wants to make sure any responses won’t interfere with other investigations and audits by Hunter and State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones. She said legislative leaders have continued to be briefed about the issues with the health department.

The multiple investigations come as top leaders continue to resign or be forced out at the health department. Earlier this week, Chief Operating Officer Deborah Nichols resigned, and the agency’s human resources director, Jacqueline Pettit, was fired, a spokesman confirmed.

Their departures follow the resignations of former Commissioner Terry Cline, Senior Deputy Commissioner Julie Cox-Kain and Felesha Scanlan, a top lieutenant of Cox-Kain who was business planning director. Former general counsel Don Maisch and another top attorney, Patricia Cantrell, also left the agency. Meanwhile, Internal Auditor Jay Holland is on administrative leave.

Doerflinger earlier said mismanagement at the health department stretches back to 2011 and involved multiple funds being moved around to cover shortfalls and present a balanced budget to lawmakers and state budget officials.

Tobacco trust

contracts

Among other issues, auditors and investigators are looking at the way contracts were drawn up in 2011 that advanced a total of $8.5 million in health department funds to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. (In a 2000 statewide ballot initiative, voters gave the trust authority to use interest earnings from a national legal settlement with tobacco companies to go toward tobacco prevention, cancer research or health programs.) The health department contract with TSET in 2011 was for the Certified Healthy Communities and Schools grant programs, which require participants to develop healthy policies and strategies.

The contract arrangement to provide such a large amount of money up front is highly unusual in state finance, several officials familiar with contract arrangements told Oklahoma Watch. The first contract was signed in May 2011 and provided $3.5 million for the communities program. The contract was then amended in December 2011 to provide another $5 million for the schools program.

TSET officials referred questions about the contract to the health department but said the Certified Healthy program was passed by the Legislature in 2010. Since 2011, TSET has made $4.9 million in Certified Healthy grants to communities, schools and school districts.

“Criteria for the grant program was created in conjunction with OSDH,” TSET spokeswoman Julie Bisbee said in an email. “TSET promoted, staffed and administered the execution of the program, as TSET’s primary function as a state agency is to make grants to improve health.”

The three-year contract term expired at the end of 2013, but both the health department and TSET continued making grants and providing administrative support for the grant programs until the programs were suspended this year.

Tony Sellars, health department spokesman, conceded the contract was not properly monitored.

“The money was transferred pursuant to the terms of the original contract which called for a ‘pro-forma’ payment,” Sellars said in an email. “The originators of the contract are no longer with OSDH.”

Oklahoma Watch has requested additional financial information and emails regarding the expenditure of grant funds and the TSET contracts, but that information has not been provided, with health department officials saying documents are under legal review.

Health department cash crunch

The cash crisis at the health department reached a critical point in August as former leaders scrambled to find money to make up shortfalls in several internal accounts. Officials canceled recently renewed contracts for child abuse prevention programs and federally qualified health centers. They billed consolidated city-county health departments in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties new charges for sexually transmitted disease testing and medication costs. They also asked for and received about $3 million left in the account at TSET for the Certified Healthy Communities and Schools grant programs.

As it finished an eight-week special session to deal with other budget matters, the Legislature approved a $30 million supplemental appropriation to the health department so it could make its payroll, reimburse funds from restricted accounts and close out accounts from prior budget years. But lawmakers conditioned the emergency funding on a 15 percent cut in the agency’s appropriation for the 2019 fiscal year.

Furloughs are still in effect at the health department for employees making more than $35,000 per year, although a planned reduction in force has been put on hold. The agency has about 2,000 employees.

“The $30 million supplemental appropriation did not eliminate the need for additional actions,” Sellars said in an email Thursday. “No timetable has been established for those actions at this point.”

Grand jury looks into Health Department mismanagement as lawmakers widen probe

The state’s multicounty grand jury is looking into allegations of financial mismanagement at the Oklahoma State Department of Health as top officers continue to resign or get forced out in the wake of the agency’s sudden cash crunch.

Officials with Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office, which convenes the multicounty grand jury, declined to comment Thursday. The health department’s chief financial officer, Mike Romero, and its new general counsel, Julie Ezell, were seen leaving the attorney general’s office around lunchtime. Both declined to comment.

The multicounty grand jury recessed until January after its foreman gave a brief update to District Judge Thomas E. Prince at the Oklahoma County courthouse.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan House committee formed to investigate the health department and other agencies will begin meeting Dec. 18. Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, the committee’s chairman, sent wide-ranging subpoenas Thursday to top budget officials and aides to Gov. Mary Fallin.

Cockroft said the House committee investigation was not criminal in nature. But he noted the House has broad authority under the state Constitution and House rules to subpoena witnesses, compel testimony and produce evidence.

The committee sent subpoenas to Preston Doerflinger, Fallin’s finance secretary and interim commissioner of the health department; Denise Northrup, acting director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services; and Chris Benge, Fallin’s chief of staff.

“The committee will focus its investigation into the finances, state appropriations and other financial resources of the Department of Health and how they were managed,” Cockroft said in a news release. “The scope of the committee’s investigation could expand to other agencies.”

In a statement, Gov. Mary Fallin said her office is reviewing the subpoenas but wants to make sure any responses won’t interfere with other investigations and audits by Hunter and State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones. She said legislative leaders have continued to be briefed about the issues with the health department.

The multiple investigations come as top leaders continue to resign or be forced out at the health department. Earlier this week, Chief Operating Officer Deborah Nichols resigned, and the agency’s human resources director, Jacqueline Pettit, was fired, a spokesman confirmed.

Their departures follow the resignations of former Commissioner Terry Cline, Senior Deputy Commissioner Julie Cox-Kain and Felesha Scanlan, a top lieutenant of Cox-Kain who was business planning director. Former general counsel Don Maisch and another top attorney, Patricia Cantrell, also left the agency. Meanwhile, Internal Auditor Jay Holland is on administrative leave.

Doerflinger earlier said mismanagement at the health department stretches back to 2011 and involved multiple funds being moved around to cover shortfalls and present a balanced budget to lawmakers and state budget officials.

Tobacco trust

contracts

Among other issues, auditors and investigators are looking at the way contracts were drawn up in 2011 that advanced a total of $8.5 million in health department funds to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. (In a 2000 statewide ballot initiative, voters gave the trust authority to use interest earnings from a national legal settlement with tobacco companies to go toward tobacco prevention, cancer research or health programs.) The health department contract with TSET in 2011 was for the Certified Healthy Communities and Schools grant programs, which require participants to develop healthy policies and strategies.

The contract arrangement to provide such a large amount of money up front is highly unusual in state finance, several officials familiar with contract arrangements told Oklahoma Watch. The first contract was signed in May 2011 and provided $3.5 million for the communities program. The contract was then amended in December 2011 to provide another $5 million for the schools program.

TSET officials referred questions about the contract to the health department but said the Certified Healthy program was passed by the Legislature in 2010. Since 2011, TSET has made $4.9 million in Certified Healthy grants to communities, schools and school districts.

“Criteria for the grant program was created in conjunction with OSDH,” TSET spokeswoman Julie Bisbee said in an email. “TSET promoted, staffed and administered the execution of the program, as TSET’s primary function as a state agency is to make grants to improve health.”

The three-year contract term expired at the end of 2013, but both the health department and TSET continued making grants and providing administrative support for the grant programs until the programs were suspended this year.

Tony Sellars, health department spokesman, conceded the contract was not properly monitored.

“The money was transferred pursuant to the terms of the original contract which called for a ‘pro-forma’ payment,” Sellars said in an email. “The originators of the contract are no longer with OSDH.”

Oklahoma Watch has requested additional financial information and emails regarding the expenditure of grant funds and the TSET contracts, but that information has not been provided, with health department officials saying documents are under legal review.

Health department cash crunch

The cash crisis at the health department reached a critical point in August as former leaders scrambled to find money to make up shortfalls in several internal accounts. Officials canceled recently renewed contracts for child abuse prevention programs and federally qualified health centers. They billed consolidated city-county health departments in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties new charges for sexually transmitted disease testing and medication costs. They also asked for and received about $3 million left in the account at TSET for the Certified Healthy Communities and Schools grant programs.

As it finished an eight-week special session to deal with other budget matters, the Legislature approved a $30 million supplemental appropriation to the health department so it could make its payroll, reimburse funds from restricted accounts and close out accounts from prior budget years. But lawmakers conditioned the emergency funding on a 15 percent cut in the agency’s appropriation for the 2019 fiscal year.

Furloughs are still in effect at the health department for employees making more than $35,000 per year, although a planned reduction in force has been put on hold. The agency has about 2,000 employees.

“The $30 million supplemental appropriation did not eliminate the need for additional actions,” Sellars said in an email Thursday. “No timetable has been established for those actions at this point.”

Knox County Health Department restaurant scores include a low score of 76

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Fast food joints are cleaner than swanky restaurants and even cleaner than your home kitchen! Sean Dowling (@seandowlingtv) has more.
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The following restaurants were recently evaluated by the Knox County Health Department. Restaurant scores may change with follow-up visits. For more information on health scores, visit http://apps.health.tn.gov/EHInspections 

Perfect score

Cherry Hill Cafe, 4928 Homberg Drive: 100

J.C. Holdway, 501 Union Ave.: 100

Clubhouse, 132 Hinton: 100

Petro’s, 3001 Knoxville Center Drive: 100

Apple Cake Tea Room, 11312 Station West Blvd.: 100

Mooyah, 7301 Kingston Pike: 100

Arby’s, 6909 Kingston Pike: 100

Starbucks (kiosk), 7600 Kingston Pike: 100

Priority item violation

Turkish Market Deli, 8078 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper date marking and disposition; improper hot holding temperatures: 95

Bida Saigon, 8078 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper cold holding temperatures: 94

Waffle House, 411 N. Cedar Bluff Road. Violation: Food-contact surfaces improperly cleansed and sanitized: 92

Cruze Farm Asbury, 2721 Asbury Road. Violation: Improper cold holding temperatures: 91

Little Joe’s Pizza, 13100 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper date marking and disposition: 90

Bistro by the Tracks, 215 Brookview Centre Way. Violation: Improper cold holding temperatures; improper hot holding temperatures; noncompliant with proper hand washing policies and procedures: 88

Potrillos Taqueria, 11151 Kingston Pike. Violation: Management unaware of employee health policies and procedures; food products improperly separated and protected: 85

Colonel’s Cafe, 4809 Newcomb Ave. Violation: Toxic substances improperly stored and identified; noncompliant with proper handwashing policies and procedures; toxic substances improperly stored and identified: 83

Don Delfis, 120 West End Ave. Violation: Improper date marking and disposition; food improperly separated and protected; food-contact surfaces improperly cleansed and sanitized; noncompliant with proper hygienic practices: 80

Sakura King, 11145 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper cold holding temperatures; noncompliant with time as a public health control policy; person in charge failed to demonstrate proper supervisory knowledge; noncompliant with proper hand washing policies and procedures; food products improperly separated and protected: 77

Sam and Andy’s West, 11110 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper cooling time and temperature; improper hot holding temperatures; improper date marking and disposition; food improperly separated and protected from contamination; noncompliant with no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods; management noncompliant with employee health policy and procedures: 76

Health department ready in case of emergency

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Think and Work Like A Computer Scientist With the US Department of Energy

Understanding extreme scale data. Accelerating scientific discovery. Gaining a deeper understanding of matter, energy, space, and time. Maintaining the United States’ competitiveness in the world economy.

These are just some of the benefits from applying computer science skills at the U.S. Department of Energy, as our National Laboratories and Headquarters facilities advance energy solutions and research through transformative science and technology. As the nation celebrates Computer Science Education Week December 4 – 10, we’re shining a spotlight on some of our computer science programs for students K through career.

THINK LIKE A COMPUTER SCIENTIST

Want to pick up computer science savvy in the classroom, as a student or teacher? Check out these Department of Energy resources today.

Computing Day at PNNL – this Thursday, nearly 100 students from the K-12 MESA Program at Chiawana High School in Pasco, Washington, are heading to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to explore the role of computing in disaster notification, response, and recovery. The Lab also hosts Summer Computer Science Workshops to connect educators to computer science, and summer camps for students in topics such as cybersecurity and app design.

In Girls Code @ Argonne, rising 7th and 8th grade participants in this inspiring workshop at Argonne National Laboratory discover what it takes to have a computer science career by building robots and working on technical fixes. Along the way, participants connect with other girls and solve fun challenges as a team. You’ll also meet inspiring female Argonne scientists.

 

The Supercomputing Series, a new video series by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, gets students behind the scenes of the world of supercomputing. What is a supercomputer? Watch their video series to get a quick and easy-to-digest answer.

 

Cyber Technologies Academy at Sandia National Laboratory offers an entry-level program for high school students intrigued by computer science and cybersecurity. Offering fun, interactive lessons and exercises, the Cyber Technologies Academy can be your first step toward becoming part of the next generation of cybersecurity experts.

 

The Idaho National Laboratory’s Team STEMazing Hour of Code Project celebrates National Computer Science Week by sending 18 computer scientists from the National Laboratory to talk with over 800 K-12 students at 10 area schools and community-based organizations about computer science. Students are exploring concepts in computer science, learning about careers in the field, and completing Caesar cipher decoding and Hour of Code activities.

 

The Computational Science Initiative at Brookhaven National Laboratory hosts a diverse group of high school, undergraduate, and graduate students each summer to train the next generation of computational and computer scientists. The Computational Science Initiative fosters cross-disciplinary collaborations to address the future of scientific challenges posed by facilities such as the new National Synchrotron Light Source II.

The Cyber Defense Competition at Argonne National Laboratory runs annually to highlight the advantages of a career in cyber security for students and to let them test their skills in real-world scenarios.

The Women @ Energy series has nearly 400 profiles of inspirational women in STEM at the Department of Energy, to share their STEM journeys and tips for students on following their career pathways. To view profiles of women in computer science, use our search page and click on “technology”.

WORK LIKE A COMPUTER SCIENTIST

Ready to take your first step into a computer science career on behalf of the United States Department of Energy? Join our National Laboratories for enlightening internship experiences. Read on for options across the nation.

The Givens Summer Associate Program at Argonne National Laboratory offers positions intended to encourage graduate students beginning careers in numerical analysis or computational mathematics to explore computer science careers at Argonne. This program is run by the Mathematics and Computer Science (MCS) Division.

The Parallel Computing Summer Research Internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory is an intense 10 week program aimed at providing students with a providing students with a solid foundation in modern high performance computing (HPC) topics integrated with research on real problems encountered in large-scale scientific codes.

The Computer System Cluster and Networking Summer Institute at Los Alamos National Laboratory is a focused technical enrichment program for students currently engaged in computer science, computer engineering, or similar major. The primary objective of the CSCNSI is to provide a thorough introduction to the techniques and practices of cluster computing.

The Research Summer Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is for students majoring in computational science, computer science, mathematics and related science and engineering fields. Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences hosts a 12-week research summer program that provides students with the opportunity to gain research experience. Participants will work on projects in computational research, high performance computing, high speed networking or a collaboration of each, under the guidance of one or more staff members.

The Oak Ridge Science Semester at Oak Ridge National Laboratory enables students to join ongoing investigations in research areas as diverse as astrophysics, cell biology, DNA sequencing, genetic mutagenesis, parallel computing, robotics, toxicology, and much more. In their research, participants in the Oak Ridge Science Semester use the sophisticated resources available at the Laboratory, including supercomputers, state-of-the-art electron microscopes, lasers, and analytical instruments such as a Fourier transform mass spectrometer and a scanning tunneling microscope.

In the Advanced Simulation Computing Program through the National Nuclear Security Administration, participants from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and university researchers nation-wide contribute to meeting the science-based stockpile stewardship program goals with cutting-edge physics and engineering skills.

Through the new Computer Science Division at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, SLAC and Stanford have joined forces to research the solutions to the challenges of exascale computing, with Stanford graduate and postdoc students joining research teams to address complex scientific problems.

The Office of Science and National Nuclear Security Administration’s Computational Science Graduate Fellowship accepts doctoral students engaged in application-focused computational science research and computer science research, enabling the use of high-performance computing systems at the Department of Energy without a specific application. This is run in partnership with the Krell Institute.

Continue learning about the Energy Department’s STEM Rising resources at www.energy.gov/STEM and visit https://csedweek.org/ to participate in Computer Science Education Week activities.




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