wyoming department of health

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the American Cancer Society has introduced new guidelines for breast cancer screening. It now recommends people get mammograms at age 45 instead of 40.

Morgan Powell is the outreach coordinator for the Wyoming Department of Health’s Integrated Cancer Services. She says Wyoming recommends starting at age 50, the same as the US Preventative Services.

Still, "There are exceptions to every rule," says Powell. "If there are signs and symptoms of Breast Cancer, that absolutely makes you a priority for the program."

Wyoming Department of Health

State officials say this has been Wyoming’s worst year on record for human cases of the disease Tularemia, or rabbit fever. Tularemia is a bacterial disease that is passed to humans by animals, insects, untreated water, and even contaminated dust. Once you have the disease, symptoms can include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, ulcers, and diarrhea.

Wyoming Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti says they have not pinpointed any one factor leading to the uptick in reports.


Wyoming residents are being asked to discuss ways cancer can be better detected and treated at a meeting today in Casper. 

Julie Tarbuck oversees Wyoming’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. Tarbuck says they are developing the next State Cancer Control plan and they want to develop new ways to address everything from diagnosis to quality of life.

She says overcoming the challenges faced by those in rural parts of the state remains an issue. For instance, Tarbuck says the lack of health care providers makes detection difficult.         

A Montana company called Health Management Services will step in and take over operations of a nursing home in Saratoga that was slated to shut down. 

The Deseret Health group had planned to close the nursing home in Saratoga and another one in Rock Springs that was sold last week. Both facilities will remain open after the Wyoming Department of Health stepped in and brokered the deals for both facilities. 

EmpRes Healthcare

Washington-based EmpRes Healthcare Management has committed to a lease on Rock Spring’s troubled nursing home.

The home’s former owner, Deseret Health Group, abruptly announced its closure and cut off its access to funds last week. Nursing Home Director of Nursing Karen Muto says they got the call that EmpRes was stepping in Tuesday afternoon.

"Right away we called the staff together as well as the residents to make the announcement," she said by phone. "You could not believe how happy everyone was. Everybody was crying, they were so happy."

The State of Wyoming has delayed the transfer of residents from two troubled nursing homes after learning that two private companies are considering purchasing them. The state was contacted by the companies over the weekend.

Wyoming took over operations of nursing home facilities in Saratoga and Rock Springs after Deseret Health Group said it was promptly closing the homes due to financial difficulties. State Health Department Director Tom Forslund says they were looking to place residents of the facilities into new nursing homes. 

The Wyoming Department of Health is taking over private nursing homes in Rock Springs and Saratoga after their parent company, Deseret Health Group, abruptly announced their closure.

Wyoming Department of Health

The Wyoming Department of Health is reporting its deadliest flu season in at least 15 years. Since the current flu season began in October, 26 people have died of flu in the state.

That’s out a total 5,000 cases of the illness, according to the Department.  Cases are still being reported, as the season typically ends in May.

Kim Deti says the Department only has records on flu seasons back to 2000.

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This year’s extensive coverage of the Ebola epidemic has raised questions about the U.S healthcare system’s abilities to handle such a disease. A new report by the Trust for America’s Health shows Wyoming’s healthcare system is unprepared for a serious outbreak of that kind.


The study graded states in 10 areas of preparedness. Wyoming received 3 out of a possible 10 points.

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The federal government has provided millions of dollars to states to offer Medicaid Health Insurance to what’s known as the working poor. Last week, after months of discussion, the Wyoming Department of Health unveiled its plan for expanding Medicaid in the state. 

Low income people who do not currently qualify for Medicaid and do not make enough money to be able to get insurance via the Affordable Care Act would be eligible. Governor Matt Mead and several health care organizations support the plan, but it still has the difficult task of getting through the legislature.

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The Ebola virus may be dominating the headlines and conversations about public health, but Wyoming Public Health officials are trying to educate residents about the threat of another, potentially more dangerous virus: the flu.

Reggie McClinton, with the Wyoming Department of Health, says contracting the flu is a more immediate threat to Wyomingites.

"Influenza also can lead to death in individuals and it can be a severe illness in certain populations so we are receiving reports of cases already from all across the state," he says.

Aaron Schrank

Wyoming spends a lot of money educating its children. The state comes in sixth place in per-student spending for K-12. But when you look at outcomes—like graduation rates—we’re stuck in the middle of the pack. Some educators say the key to boosting student performance is to put more focus on children before they start kindergarten.

A Wyoming Department of Health study says that the state’s teen birth rate has dropped every year for the last six years.

In 2008 Wyoming had about 50 births for every 1000 teen girls. That rate dropped to about 35 births in 2013. Some counties have seen even more dramatic decreases.

University of Wyoming Athletics, the American Cancer Society, Wyoming Community Foundation, and Cameco resources kicked off the Cameco Teams for Dreams partnership that is attempting to fight cancer through prevention.   

Wyoming Department of Health

Wyoming is seeing an increase in cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, according to numbers released by the state Department of Health.

Pertussis begins with cold-like symptoms but then progresses to a violent, uncontrollable cough within a few weeks. So far this year 43 cases have been reported, which is higher than this time in any of the last four years. 

Kim Deti with the Department of Health says the agency is particularly concerned with several cases in and around Gillette.

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Wyoming has dropped several spots in its ranking in a national report on children’s well-being.

The 2014 Kids Count Index ranked Wyoming 19th in the country, down from 15th last year. The report weighs several factors. Wyoming earned a sixth place ranking for children’s economic well-being, but ranked 45th in health.

Some of the factors contributing to that low ranking include rates of teen alcohol abuse, the number of children without health insurance, and the number of babies born underweight.

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The Chrysalis house is an addiction treatment center in Pine Bluffs with a unique mission: it provides a home for recovering women and their children.

But the program doesn’t have enough money to stay open much longer.

“We really have been very devoted to the program which is why we took on that financial risk a long time ago,” says Dr. David Birney, Executive Director of Cheyenne’s Peak Wellness Center, which operates the Chrysalis house. “At this point there just aren’t sufficient funds to support it.”

There is an increase in measles cases across the U-S and it has federal health officials worried. http://www.cdc.gov/measles/

They say measles is being transmitted by international travelers and is infecting those who do not have a measles vaccination.  Wyoming Department of Health spokesman Kim Deti said state officials are monitoring the situation.

“In Wyoming we haven’t had a case reported since 2010.  What seems to be different here than everywhere else?  Well, the real truth is…we’ve been lucky.”

Wyoming Medicaid Numbers Remain Steady

May 13, 2014

Earlier this month the U-S Department of Health and Human Services indicated that Wyoming’s Medicaid and the Children’s Insurance Program known as CHIP had lost four thousand participants. 

But the Wyoming Department of Health says both programs are very busy.  The Department’s Jan Stahl says Wyoming numbers go up and down throughout the year.                 

“Our numbers indicate that we had dropped down up until the end of December, but since that time our numbers have been climbing back up.”

The Wyoming House of Representatives failed to introduce the second of two committee-sponsored Medicaid Expansion bills, essentially ending the chance that lawmakers will approve an expansion this session.

The bill was based on the Medicaid fit program that was created by the Wyoming Department of Health. Cheyenne Republican Sue Wilson urged the House to debate it.

Representative Sue Wallis has drafted a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Wyoming. She’s even considering revising it to include recreational marijuana, as well. Wallis toured facilities in Colorado where recreational marijuana is packaged and labeled and says she was impressed with how smoothly everything is going. 

Park County saw an increase of 144-percent in newly reported Hepatitis-C cases from 2011 to 2012

The Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator with the Wyoming Department of Health, Ashley Grajczyk, says right now Park County has about double the state rate of cases.

“What that means is we have an outbreak in that county,” she says.  

Grajczyk says the health department is “attributing the majority on newly reported cases to injection drug use. 41% of cases reported in 2012 indicated that they had either been currently, recently, or formerly injecting drugs.”

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Flu shots are available in many pharmacies and doctors’ offices across Wyoming, but an infectious disease doctor recommends people put off getting immunized until next month.

Dr. Mark Dowell is the Public Health Officer for Natrona County and is a physician at Wyoming Medical Center. He says Wyoming’s flu season doesn’t usually peak until January, and he says a flu shot from September might be less potent by then.

Medicaid to remove caps on long-term home care

Aug 1, 2013

Wyoming Medicaid is removing a cap on the number of people who can receive long-term care at home. Long-term care is assistance for older adults who are not able to function on their own.

Jesse Springer with Wyoming Medicaid says the change will mean that more elderly individuals will have the option to stay in their homes or communities, rather than move to nursing homes. He says it also makes financial sense.

The Wyoming Department of Health has come up with a plan meant to increase the number of people who can receive services because of developmental disabilities.

The department’s Chris Newman says they currently provide extensive services, including around-the-clock care, for many individuals. But the waiting list to get those services is long. Now, they want to start providing a more limited array of services to people with less acute cases.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, a number of things are changing concerning Medicaid in Wyoming.  Jan Stahl is the eligibility and operations administrator for the Wyoming Department of Health.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck spoke with Stahl, who says the changes will take place January first.

Recent Flu Numbers High

Jan 9, 2013

Wyoming is reporting the highest rate of influenza since the swine flu epidemicin 2009. Clay Van Houten with the Wyoming Department of Health says numbers are three times as high as last year.

“A couple weeks ago we had a little over 450 cases reported,” says Van Houten, “that’s definitely more than any week we’ve had reported since 2009.”

Earlier this year the Wyoming legislature told the State Department of Health to study the rising costs of Medicaid and determine if the program can be changed.  

This week the Department will begin a series of meetings to see if members of the public have ideas on how the program can be both more efficient and improved.  Medicaid pays for the health care of low income people and those with disabilities.  Health Department Spokeswoman Kim Deti  says this is not just about trimming the budget.         

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, unintentional deaths of children under the age of 19 declined by 29-percent nationally between 2000 and 2009.

However, Kelly Weidenbach, an epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health, says there has not been a similar drop in Wyoming.

Officials at Sheridan Memorial Hospital say they are being upfront and transparent with the Wyoming Department of Health and patients in regards to equipment that may not have been properly sterilized.

According to the Department of Health, Sheridan Memorial failed to fully sterilize a piece of surgical equipment known as a laryngeal  mask airway between May and November of last year.

Mike McCafferty is CEO of Sheridan Memorial. He says the hospital is looking into how the situation occurred.