Welcome!

Through our programs, with a focus on disease prevention and health promotion, we are helping to ensure your health and safety. Call 541-889-7279 to make an appointment or to learn more about our services. Stay up to date with public health news below.

Community Conversation on Aging

The Malheur County Health Department is proud to be an event partner for Community Conversation on Aging in Malheur County – Connecting for a Shared Future, coming up Saturday, August 20, 2022, from 1-4 p.m. with a complimentary lunch served at noon and a session in Spanish in Ontario from 5-8 p.m. with complimentary dinner at 5 p.m. Register here. This innovative event will be held in four locations to reach the most people in Malheur County, in their towns.

Join others in Jordan Valley, Ontario, Nyssa, and Vale to:

  • Connect with neighbors and discuss your ideas for how to keep our community a great place to grow up and grow old.
  • Have your voice heard and hear from others about what it’s like to age in the community.
  • Get together with people of all ages to discuss the possibilities available when living a long life.

Registration is simple. Go to:  www.ageplus.org/register or call 541-889-7651 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Please indicate which meeting location you will join when you register. If you have any questions, please email admin@ageplus.org. Download and share fliers here.

Invest in Yourself with Health is Wealth Program

The Malheur County Health Department (MCHD) has a new incentive program, Health is Wealth, to increase recommended surveillance testing, immunization, and awareness of public health services. People can walk in or call MCHD at 541-889-7279 to schedule time for testing, vaccine, and short informative sessions with staff. Participants will receive a Health is Wealth card that will keep track of their progress through 10 core programs. Upon completion, the first 100 participants will receive a $100 gift card.  

The goal is for people to experience public health as an important part of their healthcare, get to know staff, and connect the people in their lives to available services.

Eligibility: Health is Wealth program participants must be 18 years old or older. Participants must be present to receive services, complete paperwork, and present the completed card to MCHD front desk to receive gift card. The Health is Wealth card must be started by June 30, 2023. One hundred gift cards are available and once that supply is exhausted, there is no guarantee a gift card will be provided.

Requirements: Participants must receive a stamp for each of the 10 programs, from MCHD employees on the Health is Wealth card, within 12 months of the start date on card. Immunizations must be up to date, as verified in the Oregon or Idaho immunization registries. Participants must receive testing for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis C, chlamydia and gonorrhea, or have record of tests within the last 12 months. Participants must schedule and complete short educational sessions with each program to receive a stamp.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends all adults get tested for hepatitis C and that everyone should be tested for HIV at least once in their life, regardless of risk factors. With climbing rates of communicable disease, more testing is needed to identify infections, many of show no symptoms. Hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver cancer, however, with treatment, hepatitis C infection is curable. Early detection can save your life. Cases of HIV, syphilis, and gonorrhea are also going up in Malheur County. Testing can give people peace of mind and more information about their overall health.

Along with increased testing, the Health is Wealth program aims to get more adults up to date on recommended vaccines. Immunizations are not just for children. Protection from some childhood vaccines can wear off over time. You may also be at risk for vaccine-preventable disease due to your age, job, lifestyle, travel, or health conditions. All adults need immunizations to help them prevent getting and spreading serious diseases that could result in poor health, missed work, medical bills, and not being able to care for family.

Public health promotes the wellbeing of the entire population of Malheur County and helps to ensure access to safe and quality care. Public health is for everyone! Visit malheurhealth.org or call 541-889-7279 for more information.

MCHD at the Malheur County Fair

The 2022 Malheur County Fair is happening this week, August 2nd through 6th, with the theme of “Just for the Fun of It!” We are proud to be part of one of the county’s best family-friendly events. Come visit our booth in the Commercial Building all week and be sure to stop by on Friday and Saturday for the special COVID-19 vaccine booth near ours. Vaccines available 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. for ages 6 months and older. $25 gift cards for every dose received. Download the flyer here.

Healthier Oregon: Health Insurance Expanded through OHP

As of July 1, 2022, adults 19-25 and 55 and older are now eligible for full Oregon Health Plan (OHP) benefits and other services and supports, regardless of their immigration status. OHP is free health coverage for people who live in Oregon and who meet income and other criteria. It covers health care services like medical, mental health, dental, prescriptions, tests, x-rays, hospital care, and rides to and from health care appointments. The expansion is the result of House Bill (HB) 3352, which put into law a program called “Cover All People.” The program is now known as “Healthier Oregon.”

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates reports that 12.2% of residents in Malheur County under age 65 are without health insurance, compared to 8.6% in Oregon. With expanded OHP coverage, hopefully more people will have health insurance and receive the health care they need.

Eligibility is open to people who live in Oregon who:

  • Meet income and other criteria,
  • Don’t qualify for full OHP benefits because of their immigration status, and
  • Are 19-25 years old or 55 years and older.

For example, before, a 22-year-old without a qualifying immigration status could only get CWM benefits (also known as emergency Medicaid). As of July 1, 2022, this person is eligible for full OHP benefits. If someone is a lawful permanent resident (LPR), ​​they will not need to wait five years before they are eligible for ​full OHP benefits through Healthier Oregon. ​OHP does not affect immigration status. OHP is not considered public charge.

Lisa is here to help!

For more information visit Oregon.gov/HealthierOregon or call Lisa Almaraz, OHP Application Assister and Health Specialist at the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279 x136 or email lisa.almaraz@malheurco.org.

Download flyers in English and Spanish, or simply click on the images below.

It’s Time for Farmers’ Market

Join us this Tuesday and Wednesday, August 2nd and 3rd, for the WIC Farmers’ Market!

A local farm stand will have produce for sale to the public and for Farm Direct Nutrition Program recipients to spend their checks, including WIC Farm Direct and Senior Farm Direct participants.

Share the Farmers’ Market event on Facebook here. Download English and Spanish flyers here.

All Adults Should Be Tested for Hepatitis C

Here are three things you should know about hepatitis C. 

  • One. Millions of Americans have hepatitis C and many don’t know it. 
  • Two. Hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver cancer. 
  • Three. Hepatitis C can be cured. Talk to your doctor about getting tested. It could save your life.

Hepatitis C is the most commonly reported bloodborne infection in the United States. No vaccine against hepatitis C exists and no effective pre- or post- exposure prophylaxis is available, but there is treatment that can cure infection. More than half of persons who become infected with HCV will develop chronic infection. 

Visit www.cdc.gov/knowmorehepatitis for more information. Call our clinic at 541-889-7279 or reach out to your primary care provider to schedule testing.

Open House Wednesday 7/27

Join us on Wednesday, July 27th, at the Malheur County Health Department from 1 to 6 p.m. for an Open House! We are eager to welcome the public to tour our clinic and offices, meet our friendly staff, and share refreshments. We are located next to the Argus Observer, across from the TVCC baseball fields, at 1108 SW 4th Street in Ontario. Share the Open House event on Facebook here.

Also, make sure to come back next Tuesday and Wednesday, August 2nd and 3rd, for the WIC Farmers’ Market! A local farm stand will have produce for sale to the public and for Farm Direct Nutrition Program recipients to spend their checks, including WIC Farm Direct and Senior Farm Direct participants. Refer anyone in Malheur County who is pregnant or caring for a child under age 5 to call us at 541-889-7279 to find out how we can serve them. Share the Farmers’ Market event on Facebook here.

See you soon!

First Mosquitoes with West Nile Virus Found in Malheur County

West Nile virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, has been detected in mosquitoes at a testing site in Malheur County, Ore., according to Oregon Public Health officials.

The mosquitoes, found in Harper, are the first to test positive for the disease in Oregon in 2022.

Health officials are advising people in Malheur County to take precautions against mosquitoes to avoid the risk of infection, including preventing mosquito bites. West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Most infected people will show little or no signs of disease.

About one in five people who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with febrile illness due to West Nile virus recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. It is important that you contact your health care provider if you experience any of these symptoms.

The incubation period is usually two to 14 days. Rarely, infected individuals may develop neuro-invasive disease (infection of the brain or spinal cord) that can be severe or may cause death. This is especially of concern to people 50 and older, people with immune-compromising conditions, and people with diabetes or high blood pressure.

Communities and individuals living in or spending significant time outdoors, particularly near irrigated land, waterways, standing water, and used tires—including those working in agriculture, such as migrant and seasonal farm workers—may be at increased risk of mosquito bites and related diseases.

The number of mosquito pools—samples of about 50 mosquitoes—that test positive in any area may indicate the risk of human exposure and infection, said Emilio DeBess, D.V.M., public health veterinarian at the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division. He recommends people and animals be protected against mosquito bites.

“Although mosquitoes are an inevitable part of summer, mosquito bites don’t have to be—they are preventable,” DeBess says. “You can take simple steps to protect yourself and reduce the risk of contracting West Nile disease.”

DeBess offers these tips for protecting yourself against mosquitoes:

  • Eliminate sources of standing water that are a breeding ground for mosquitoes, including watering troughs, bird baths, ornamental ponds, buckets, wading and swimming pools not in use, and old tires.
  • When engaged in outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, protect yourself by using mosquito repellants containing DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus or Picardin, and follow the directions on the container.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants in mosquito-infested areas.
  • Make sure screen doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly.

While risk of West Nile disease is low, a handful of people get it each year in Oregon. The virus also affects wildlife and domesticated and farm animals.

In 2019, nine human cases of West Nile virus infection were reported in Oregon, with 85 mosquito pools and seven horses also found to be positive for the virus. In 2018, there were two human cases, with 57 mosquito pools and two horses testing positive. Last year was relatively mild for West Nile, with only three mosquito pools and one bird found to be positive for the virus.

People should consult their health care providers if they have these symptoms. Health care providers can contact the Malheur County for information on West Nile virus testing.

Additional information about West Nile virus:

Oregon Health Authority website: http://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/DiseasesAZ/WestNileVirus/Pages/survey.aspx

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/ index.htm

Health Threats from Extreme Heat

Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet annually many people succumb to extreme heat. With another week of high temperatures, we want to share resources to help protect you and your family.

Infants and Young Children

Infants and young children are sensitive to the effects of extreme heat, and must rely on other people to keep them cool and hydrated.

  • Never leave infants or children in a parked car. (Nor should pets be left in parked cars—they can suffer heat-related illness too.)
  • Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Seek medical care immediately if your child has symptoms of symptoms of heat-related illness.

People with Chronic Medical Conditions

People with a chronic medical condition are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. Also, they may be taking medications that can worsen the impact of extreme heat. People in this category need the following information.

  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor, and have someone do the same for you.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates regularly.
  • Don’t use the stove or oven to cook – it will make you and your house hotter.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you or someone you know experiences symptoms of heat-related illness.

Athletes

People who exercise in extreme heat are more likely to become dehydrated and get heat-related illness. STOP all activity and get to a cool environment if you feel faint or weak.

  • Limit outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package. 
  • Schedule workouts and practices earlier or later in the day when the temperature is cooler.
  • Pace activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more. Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.
  • Monitor a teammate’s condition, and have someone do the same for you.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you or a teammate has symptoms of heat-related illness.

Outdoor workers

People who work outdoors are more likely to become dehydrated and are more likely to get heat-related illness. STOP all activity and get to a cool environment if you feel faint or weak.

  • Drink from two to four cups of water every hour while working. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing large amounts of sugar.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Ask if tasks can be scheduled for earlier or later in the day to avoid midday heat.
  • Wear a brimmed hat and loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Spend time in air-conditioned buildings during breaks and after work.
  • Encourage co-workers to take breaks to cool off and drink water.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you or a co-worker has symptoms of heat-related illness.
  • For more information, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress.

Heat and low income

  • If you have air conditioning, use it to keep your home cool.
  • If you can’t afford to use your air conditioning:
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor, and have someone do the same for you.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you have, or someone you know has, symptoms of heat-related illness.

Learn more from the Oregon Health Authority Preparedness program.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

The new 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is easy to remember – just like 911 – and offers compassionate care and support for anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, substance use, or any other kind of behavioral health crisis. You can also dial 988 if you’re worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. Available on every landline, cell phone and voice-over-internet device in the United States, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

988 offers 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress. That could be:

  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Mental health or substance use crisis, or
  • Any other kind of emotion distress

People can call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org for themselves or if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. 988 serves as a universal entry point so that no matter where you live in the United States, you can reach a trained crisis counselor who can help.