Toxic City Investigation Review

In December 2016, Mayor Kenney promised to add money to the city’s Lead and Healthy Homes Program. Was that promise kept?

 

The mayor added $900,000 in fiscal year 2018. Almost half, or $425,000, was used to remediate lead hazards in homes owned by people who didn’t qualify for a federal grant. Health officials also used the new money to hire 11 staffers and to purchase XRF guns (handheld X-ray fluorescent devices that detect lead paint) and vehicles for inspectors. Kenney renewed the $900,000 for this fiscal year. The city also received new federal dollars. Just this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded Philadelphia $4.1 million to help repair or remove lead paint in 240 homes with low-income families with children.

http://www.philly.com/news/philadelphia-schools-lead-poisoning-children-reform-soil-asbestos-mold-cancer-fishtown-construction-20181227.html

By Barbara Laker, Dylan Purcell and Wendy Ruderman

Health Department Website Launch Coverage

“Being able to present critical health information in a format that works with how the public actually uses the internet today has been a key goal of ours for a long time,” said James Garrow, the health department’s director of communications. “Working with ODDT has enabled us to realize this goal and to build a website that meets the needs of Philadelphians and gives them access to all of the dozens of services the Health Department offers.”

https://technical.ly/philly/2018/12/27/get-access-to-100-services-on-the-new-website-for-phillys-health-department/

By Roberto Torres

Opioids Crisis Review

Even before the year is officially over, health officials are declaring 2018 to be a landmark in Philadelphia’s opioid crisis, marking the first time in at least five years that overdose deaths will have declined. More people sought treatment. More doses of Narcan, the lifesaving overdose reversal spray, were handed out in the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods.

 

In short, “all the key numbers are moving in the right direction,” Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said last week.

http://www.philly.com/health/opioid-crisis-addiction-philadelphia-overdose-death-toll–20181224.html

By Aubrey Whelan

Health Department Website Launch

PHILADELPHIA–Last month, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation (ODDT) capped a nearly year-long effort to rethink, rewrite, and reorganize the web presence of the Health Department. The new website,  www.phila.gov/health, will allow residents to easily get access to information on preventing disease and living healthily, while providing direct access to nearly 100 services available to the public.

https://mailchi.mp/phila.gov/health-department-announces-launch-of-new-website

HIV Testing in Middle School Children

6ABC

[T]he Philadelphia Health Department confirms that they were working with a group called SPEAK OUT, and that this was organized though Councilman Bobby Henon’s office to offer free HIV testing for Lincoln High School students.

They set up the van at a nearby pizza place and apparently did not realize it was also near the middle school.

As for the age requirement, the Health Department says in the state of Pennsylvania, anyone who legally consents to HIV testing – no matter their age – can be tested.

https://6abc.com/health/philly-middle-school-students-offered-pizza-for-hiv-testing/4931255/

By Alicia Vitarelli

Daily Caller

Any person in the state of Pennsylvania can get tested for HIV as long as they provide consent, Garrow said.


“We, like all public health agencies, believe that everyone should know their HIV status, and will continue to make it easy for people to access these types of tests,” Garrow said. “It is regrettable that these students wandered into an HIV testing event targeted at high schoolers. This is absolutely not a case of bribing or enticing young children to submit to HIV testing in any type of coordinated fashion.”

https://dailycaller.com/2018/12/19/school-students-hiv-pizza/

By Neetu Chandak

Fox News

A health department spokesperson told Fox News in a statement that “there is no minimum age to provide consent for HIV testing.”


“Parental consent is also not required, as in 30 other states. Additionally, all of our HIV testing is anonymous. For these reasons, there was no way the testing provider could have known the age of the people presenting for testing,” the spokesperson said, adding only “a small number” of the middle school students were tested.


“It is regrettable that these students wandered into an HIV testing event targeted at high schoolers,” the statement continued. “This is absolutely not a case of bribing or enticing young children to submit to HIV testing in any type of coordinated fashion.”

https://www.foxnews.com/health/pennsylvania-middle-school-students-offered-pizza-in-exchange-for-hiv-testing-report

By Madeline Farber

Inquirer

Health department spokesperson James Garrow says these kind of outreaches are common and no reason for alarm. HIV is still a health menace, and screenings help keep those infected from unknowingly spreading the virus. I understand that.


“These events are a normal part of our work to fight the HIV epidemic,” Garrow told me in an email. “One of our providers, sponsored by us, set up this event with the intention of encouraging students from the nearby Lincoln High School to get tested for HIV. Given that one-quarter of all new infections in Philadelphia are among youth between the ages of 13 and 24, this isn’t an abnormal event.


“A number of students at Austin Meehan Middle School came to the testing event and were tested for their HIV status. Under Pennsylvania’s HIV testing law, commonly known as Act 148, there is no age limit for consenting to an HIV test, or duty to inform parents. Because our testing is anonymous, there is no way for us to have known that these students were from the middle school.”

http://www.philly.com/news/columnists/aids-hiv-philly-jenice-armstrong-philadelphia-meehan-20181221.html

By Jenice Armstong

Postoperative Opioid Prescribing Guidelines

Press release

PHILADELPHIA — This morning, Mayor Jim Kenney and Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, flanked by surgeons from three of the major health systems in Philadelphia, announced the release of new, voluntary guidelines for surgeons to use when deciding if, and how many, opioids will be prescribed after a successful surgery. These guidelines are the first in the country that were built using evidence of actual use. 

https://mailchi.mp/phila.gov/city-releases-voluntary-guidelines-for-postoperative-opioid-prescribing-to-combat-opioid-crisis

Philadelphia Tribune

Philadelphia is trying to get doctors to prescribe fewer opioids to patients recovering from surgery through voluntary guidelines published for surgeons.


If the guidelines are followed, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said, far fewer opioid pills will be prescribed in the city.

http://www.phillytrib.com/news/local_news/philadelphia-asks-doctors-to-prescribe-non-opioids-first/article_63843f8a-3023-523b-ac11-e13b36ad794d.html

By Tom MacDonald

KYW 1

The Philadelphia Health Department has taken the unusual step of developing opioid prescription guidelines for surgeons in the city, in another effort to reign in the addiction epidemic. The guidelines are based on research showing opioids may be completely unnecessary after minor surgery.


Philadelphia is the first city to take on the task. Health Commissioner Tom Farley says other efforts to reduce opioid prescriptions have paid off, but still a survey showed they’re at historically high levels.

https://kywnewsradio.radio.com/articles/news/philly-becomes-first-city-issue-opioid-prescription-guidelines

By Pat Loeb

KYW 2

The Philadelphia Health Department has taken the unusual step of developing opioid prescription guidelines for surgeons in the city, in another effort to reign in the addiction epidemic. KYW Newsradio’s City Hall bureau chief Pat Loeb reports the guidelines are based on research showing opioids may be completely unnecessary after minor surgery.

https://kywnewsradio.radio.com/media/audio-channel/philadelphia-health-department-develops-opioid-prescription-guidelines-city

By Pat Loeb

CBSPhilly

Doctors want to keep patients out of pain following surgery, but research is showing opioids aren’t always the best option, they’re overprescribed, and too many pills end up in the wrong hands.


“With these guidelines, patients will not be suffering unnecessarily with pain,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley.

By Stephanie Stahl

WHYY

“If all the surgeons in Philadelphia use these guidelines, this will reduce the use of opioids after surgery by more than 80 percent,” he said.


The guidelines call for using non-opioid pain treatments instead, which Farley says studies show are better for pain management.

https://whyy.org/articles/philadelphia-asks-doctors-to-prescribe-non-opioids-first/

By Tom MacDonald

Pharma Rep Bill Lobbying

Still, sponsors Bill Greenlee and Cindy Bass pulled their bill from City Council consideration last week, after it ran into what Health Department spokesperson James Garrow called “intense lobbying” from unexpected opponents in the city’s tourism industry, in addition to aggrieved drugmakers.

http://www.philly.com/business/philadelphia-opioid-crisis-drug-sales-big-pharma-marketing-convention-hotels-doctors-20181220.html

By Joseph DiStephano