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

Increase in Teen Vaping

“While we haven’t seen the report yet, we are extremely concerned about the recent increase in teen use of electronic cigarettes,” said Cheryl Bettigole, director of chronic disease prevention for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. “It has become increasingly clear in recent years that e-cigarettes are dangerous to teens, and that e-cig use appears to make it more likely that a teen will go on to smoke combustible cigarettes.”

http://www.philly.com/health/juul-vaping-teen-increase-20181217.html

By Mari Schaefer

Racial Differences Dictate Tobacco Problems

“The fact that kids aren’t smoking cigarettes is deceptive,” said Cheryl Bettigole, director of chronic disease prevention for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. “Total tobacco use is up.”
City data shows youth cigar use (including cigarillos) 
doubled from 2011 to 2015.

Among black teens specifically, it nearly tripled. On the other hand, white teens were nearly twice as likely to have used a vaping product.

http://www.philly.com/health/tobacco-smoking-cigarettes-cigar-ecigarettes-20181217.html

By Aneri Pattani

Naloxone Giveaway Day

Allison Herens, with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, said she started carrying Narcan when she was hired to be the city’s first harm-reduction coordinator. She attended a training on how to use it, then picked it up from a pharmacy. The next day, while riding SEPTA, she said she saw a man overdosing and administered the Narcan, saving his life.


“What most people don’t know about that story is I only actually had the medication because I went to a second pharmacy the day I went to get it,” said Herens. “The first pharmacy not only gave me pushback about using my insurance, but didn’t have it in stock.”

https://whyy.org/articles/we-want-to-have-the-naloxone-ready-philly-pennsylvania-hand-out-free-kits/

By Nina Feldman

In Philadelphia and in Delaware County and across the state public health workers are busy getting Naloxone into people’s hands for free.

The medication can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose if given in time.

Meg Carter of the Philadelphia Health Department said, “The more people that carry Naloxone and understand what it does and why it is important and can help.”

https://6abc.com/free-narcan-available-starting-thursday-in-the-delaware-valley/4893106/

By John Rawlins

Meg Carter has this to say about why she believes it changes and saves lives.

“If a person’s overdosing, you don’t know what part of their journey they’re in. So they may not be ready for treatment yet but maybe tomorrow they will be. So if you are saving a person’s life and tomorrow they are ready to enter treatment, any life saved is a life saved,” Carter says.

https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2018/12/12/free-narcan-being-distributed-across-pennsylvania-on-dec-13/amp/

By staff

At the Walgreens in the shadow of the SEPTA El stop at Kensington and Allegheny Avenues, the city Health Department’s harm reduction coordinator, Allison Herens, recalled the day after she decided to start carrying Naloxone, she was put to the test.

While taking SEPTA, she saw a man across the platform was overdosing.


“Using training I had literally just gotten, and the Naloxone in my bag, I was able to save his life,” she explained.

https://kywnewsradio.radio.com/articles/news/pa-battles-opioid-overdose-giving-away-thousands-narcan-kits

By Steve Tawa