Florida Department of Health in Collier County April 2014 E-News

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Message from the Director

Dr. Colfer April 7 – 14, is National Public Health Week. This year's themes focus on a number of things that our Health Department and the community can celebrate:

• Be healthy from the start (speaks to the importance of prenatal care and breastfeeding)

• Don't panic (relates to disaster preparations)

• Get out ahead (importance of prevention of disease over treatment)

• Eat well (decrease salt/sugar/saturated and trans fats in diets)

• Be the healthiest generation

I'd like to say a little more about the last theme of being the healthiest nation. Collier certainly is doing its part. The Robert Wood Johnson County Health Rankings for 2014 named Collier as the second healthiest county in Florida. Our recently completed Community Health Assessment showed that our life expectancy has increased markedly in the last two decades giving us the "highest longevity level in the country for females''. Women born in Collier in 2010 have an average life expectancy of 85.8 years. And that is just the average. In addition, Marco Island-Naples was recently named in a Gallup Survey as the second least obese community in the country. Our obesity rates are second only to Boulder, Colorado's. We are all fortunate to live, work and play in a community that values being and staying healthy.

As many of you know by now, I will be retiring later this month. It has been my honor and pleasure to serve as your Director these last fourteen years. This is truly a remarkable place to live. I'll look for you when I'm out on my bike or kayak. I hope you're able to be out there, too, as we all strive to remain healthy members of this community.

Yours in Health,

Joan M. Colfer, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Florida Department of Health in Collier County (DOH-Collier)

Collier Ranks 2nd Healthiest County In Florida

Florida MapThe 5th Annual County Health Rankings & Roadmaps tool, by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, highlights the factors that influence health and provide a snapshot of the health of counties across the country.

"We are please
d to learn Collier County is ranked the second healthiest place in Florida to live, learn, work and play. This accomplishment is due to strong engagement and collaboration of many community partners, as well as every individual in our community who makes the choice to be active, eat well and practice safe and healthy behaviors,” applauds Joan Colfer, MD, MPH, Director of DOH-Collier.  

These rankings emphasize health is not a singular effort but a combined work in progress across all community partners. The Department works in collaboration with local governments, non-profit organizations, health care facilities, business groups, schools, law enforcement, faith-based organizations and many other stakeholders to improve the health of all people in Collier County. These rankings use data related to physical environments, social and economic factors, health behaviors and clinical care.

In Collier County, the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is designed to address specific opportunities for improved health that have been identified by the community. The Department has partnered with many stakeholders to implement the CHIP and collaborates regularly to track progress.

Using County Health Rankings (CHR) data, along with the latest Community Health Assessment (click here for the Summary Report), obesity was identified as one of the most significant public health issues facing our community. In response, we have created a leadership group to look at how, collectively, we can reduce the obesity epidemic.  Several plans are in place, including strengthening breastfeeding support, working with growth management and transportation officials to improve connectivity in the built environment, and offering worksite wellness education to businesses, to help address this epidemic.

Obesity and tobacco use, account for almost 35% of all preventable and premature deaths in Collier annually.  According to the CHR 2014, 15% of Collier adults smoke.  To reduce this number, Florida Department of Health in Collier County works closely with businesses to assist them in creating tobacco-free work place policies and campuses, strives to create policies to reduce tobacco advertising to youth and promotes the "3 FREE Ways to Quit” to anyone desiring tobacco cessation support.  

"Helping people live longer, happier and healthier lives is a goal which is further substantiated by our current excellent ranking. However, this is a long journey and as a state we still have room for improvement,” reminds Allen Weiss, MD, President & CEO of NCH Healthcare System.

For more information, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org.

Celebrating 125 Years of Public Health in Florida

Health Leaders Reunite for 125 Years Celebration During the first full week of April each year, communities across the United States observe National Public Health Week as a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation.

Celebrations started early this year as DOH-Collier joined 66 other health departments throughout the state to commemorate the 125th anniversary of public health in Florida on February 20th. The statewide theme is "Florida Public Health - always improving quality of life."

Collier County honored its own Public Health Hero, Jane Polkowski, MD, MPH. Dr. Polkowski worked as a health department director for from 1983 - 2000 in Florida, with 13 of those years (1983 - 1996) dedicated to the health of Collier County. Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Polkowski is credited for establishing our first AIDS clinic in Collier. She was also valued for her ability to build community partnerships including those which improved immunization and infant mortality rates. Known as a pioneer in promotion of quality improvement, Dr. Polkowski was an original advisory board member to the Public Health Leadership Institute in Florida.

The state Legislature created the State Board of Health on February 20, 1889, in response to a yellow fever epidemic in Jacksonville, and Dr. Joseph Yates Porter from Key West became Florida's first State Public Health Officer. Yellow fever in Florida was eradicated in 1905.  More information is available at www.FLHealth125.gov

DOH-Collier Provides Support for Worksite Wellness at Local Businesses

Passport to WellnessPassport to Wellness is a FREE program created by the Florida Department of Health in Collier County to raise awareness of daily health behaviors. The purpose of this program is to educate the community, specifically businesses and organizations, about maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

The greatest impact of health is it's correlation with productivity. According to the Public Health Institute, "A healthier workforce brings higher productivity, fewer work days missed and lower health insurance costs” (2014).  Chronic diseases caused by poor health leads to increased health expenditures which cut into business profits and productivity. Not only does a healthier lifestyle increase physical health, but it also improves mental health, self- esteem, and morale.

Anyone can participate in the Passport to Wellness program! The program utilizes a tracking system with points awarded for reaching daily wellness goals. Daily wellness goals include adequate sleep, fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity, and more. Making healthy changes can occur in the workplace, at home, and even on vacation!

The 4-week program is easy-to-implement and can provide your worksite with assistance for implementing a wellness program. The benefit of Passport to Wellness is that it can be tailored to your employees. Our team will be here to assist your business or organization throughout the process. Please contact our Health Education team if your business or organization would like to participate at (239) 252-2594.

E-Cigarettes: Fact vs. Fiction

Person Smoking E-Cigarette Fact: E-cigarettes imitate traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that look, feel, and taste like tobacco cigarettes.

Fiction: E-cigarettes are safe alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. Currently, there is no evidence in any credible medical or scientific journal to support industry claims about the safety of e-cigarettes.  

Fact: E-cigarettes are not regulated. Little is known about possible side-effects of using, or being exposed to, e-cigarettes. Preliminary research from the FDA has revealed that some e-cigarettes do contain toxic substances and carcinogens, which are known to cause cancer.

Fiction: E-cigarettes are only for adults. There has been a 43% increase in middle school students and 101.7% increase in high school students that reported trying an e-cigarette since 2011 (FYTS 2013)).

Fiction: E-cigarettes are only used for smoking vapor. In various places around the United States, youth have been caught smoking marijuana or other drugs under the disguise of e-cigarettes. There is less odor for these products when smoked using a e-cigarette.

Fact: Current legislation of Senate Bill 224 (House Bill 169) restricts youth access of nicotine dispensing devices. This includes prohibiting the sale or gift of alternative nicotine products to persons under 18, effective July 2014. However, there is also an additional preemption clause is place that regulation by the State will supersedes any municipal or county ordinance. The clause will effect local measures designed to restrict youth access to all tobacco products. To find out more about this legislation, click here.

Fiction: E-cigarettes will help you quit smoking. Currently, there is no evidence in any credible medical or scientific journal to support industry claims the potential of e-cigarettes to help smokers quit.

Quitting is hard but not impossible. Tobacco Free Florida offers a number of free and convenient resources to help tobacco users. Click here for more information or contact our Tobacco Prevention department at (239) 252-2672.

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