Philadelphia has High Immunization Rates

PHILADELPHIA- New data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that Philadelphia’s healthcare providers immunize children at very high rates, often meeting or even exceeding national goals. With immunization rates that frequently surpass statewide and nationwide rates, Philadelphia has done an outstanding job protecting its infants and children from dangerous diseases.

The Medical Examiner’s Costs of the Opioid Epidemic

In Philadelphia, the number of autopsies at the medical examiner’s office has risen about 20 percent since 2013, from 2,489 to 3,018 last year, said department spokesman James Garrow. That required a doubling in the budget for supplies and materials — gowns, safety equipment, and body bags — and the hiring of a new assistant medical examiner. The city doesn’t break out individual costs. “We’re too big an operation,” Garrow said.

By Sam Wood

2016 Lead Poisoning Surveillance Report

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Department of Public Health released the 2016 Childhood Lead Poisoning Surveillance Report, which details blood lead level screening rates, lead exposure rates, services provided in response to elevated blood lead levels, and risk factors for elevated blood lead levels. The Health Department found that in 2016 just 0.9% of Philadelphia children screened for lead poisoning had newly-identified venous blood lead levels greater than or equal to 10 ug/dL. This is a marked drop from 2007, when 2.3% of Philadelphia children who were screened had venous blood levels greater than or equal to 10 ug/dL. Nearly three-quarters (74.9%) of Philadelphia children born in 2014 were screened by the time they were two years old, an increase over children born in 2013 (72.3%). Of children born in 2005, in contrast, only 57.6% were screen for elevated blood lead levels by two years of age.

2015-2016 Preliminary Vital Stats Report

PHILADELPHIA — Today, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health released a report summarizing births and deaths for 2015-2016. While there were many encouraging trends such as the continued drop in teen birth rates, overall mortality rates showed a slight increase in 2015 and 2016, perhaps as a result of increases in fatal overdoses involving opioids.

Rise in Syphilis Cases

In Philadelphia, which has seen a 36 percent increase in 2016, the disease is far more prevalent than in Oklahoma City, but is found mostly in gay and bisexual men.

“We’ve seen an increase in syphilis infections in Philly, but the demographics that we’re seeing don’t match up with what Oklahoma City is purported to be,” said James Garrow, Philadelphia Department of Public Health spokesman.

By Mari Schaefer

Hiring New Restaurant Inspectors

“Inspections are done on a rolling calendar schedule based upon fiscal year, but that is upset by complaints,” Digital Public Health Director James Garrow told Billy Penn, “which obviously upsets any type of hyper-planned out calendar, and rightfully so as we take complaints very seriously.”

By Danya Henninger

Congenital Heart Defect Death


Spokesman James Garrow of the Philadelphia Department of Health said Friday that 7-year-old Sebastian Gerena died of “anomalous origin of the left coronary artery,” a condition that researchers say can lead to sudden death among the young.

By Staff


A spokesman for the city Health Department declined to release the cause of death yesterday, citing privacy issues. “We saw nothing in the autopsy to suggest this is an infectious disease or condition,” James Garrow said.

By Dana DiFilippo

Burial of Unclaimed Gosnell Remains

Garrow said that, absent family, an unrelated third party must show some connection with the deceased in life – not just an objection to the way they died.

He said the office would hold unclaimed remains for 10 years, although they would be cremated once the staff exhausted efforts to find relatives. After 10 years, Garrow said, cremated remains are buried at local cemeteries.

By Joe Slobodzian

Woman Found Alive After Burial


Jackson had gone missing earlier this year. When an unidentified woman died in a Philadelphia hospital on July 20th, authorities matched the body to Jackson’s missing-person’s report. Jackson had been dealing with drug and mental health problems, and her family had been trying to find her. Her son saw the pictures of the body, and positively identified the body as Jackson.

“If someone comes in and they’re a family member and say, ‘That’s my mom,’ that’s generally good enough,” Philadelphia Department of Health spokesman James Garrow said.

By Max Rivlin-Nadler

Huffington Post

The mix-up came as a surprise since Jackson’s son identified the body.

“The gold standard here [for identifying a body] is visual identification by a family member,” so the son’s identification was taken as fact, Philadelphia Health Department spokesman James Garrow told The Huffington Post.

By Amanda Scherker


A Philly Horizon House worker and Jackson’s son, Travis Jackson, 30, identified her from a photo. A medical examiner signed a death certificate and released what they thought was Jackson’s body.

“If someone comes in and they’re a family member and say, ‘That’s my mom,’ that’s generally good enough,” city Health Department spokesman James Garrow said.

By David Gambacorta

USA Today

The medical examiner determined the woman died of heat stroke, signed a death certificate and released the body to the family, Philadelphia Department of Health spokesman James Garrow said.

“If someone comes in and they’re a family member and say, ‘That’s my mom,’ that’s generally good enough,” Garrow said.

By Staff


A representative of the Philadelphia Health Department says all proper procedures were followed by workers and, with two people, including a family member, identifying her, it was following protocol to release the body.

By Walt Hunter