Monthly Learning Labs

Each program at the Malheur County Health Department will be in the spotlight over the next year with monthly learning labs, open to the public. On one Wednesday each month from 1-2 p.m. in our conference room, program staff will share about their services, data about our county, and ways for the community to engage and improve our work together.

Please share the flyer. Each learning lab is only presented once in the year at the health department, in English. However, we would love to take the show on the road! Invite us to present any of the learning labs after their scheduled date for your group, at your location, in English, Spanish, or request another interpreter and we will do our best to make it happen.

Learning lab presentations are free and in person only. Space is limited to 25 in our conference room, so if you have a group attending, it may be better to request your own presentation. Food and drinks will be served.

Each scheduled learning lab is also on our Events Calendar. Stay up to date and copy events to your calendar so you don’t miss out. Thank you for your support!

Nyssa School Vaccine Clinic Friday, 11/13

Make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines! We’re bringing vaccines to Nyssa Elementary School in the Mac Hall Gym (809 Bower Ave, Nyssa) Friday, January 13, 2023 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Share the flyers in English and Spanish. All ages welcome–family and guardians, too!

Parents must provide schools and child care facilities with kids’ vaccine records.

Getting your children vaccinated now is critical! February 15th is School Exclusion Day, and the Oregon Immunization Program is reminding parents that children will not be able to attend school or child care starting that day if their records on file show missing immunizations.

Under state law, all children in public and private schools, preschools, Head Start and certified child care facilities must have up-to-date documentation on their immunizations or have an exemption. If a child’s school and child care vaccination records are not up to date on February 15th, the child will be sent home.

“Immunization is the best way to protect children against vaccine-preventable diseases such as whooping cough and measles. It helps keep schools and the entire community safe and healthy.”

Stacy de Assis Matthews, school law coordinator in the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division

Call our office at 541-889-7279 for an appointment that is convenient for you if you can’t make it to this event. Appointments available all weekdays. Walk ins welcome and we’ll get you in or scheduled as soon as possible.

Healthy Communities. Healthy Babies.

January is National Birth Defects Awareness Month. About one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect. Although not all birth defects can be prevented, people can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant.

Birth defects (sometimes referred to as “birth anomalies”) affect around 2000 infants in Oregon each year and are a leading cause of infant mortality. Babies who survive and live with birth anomalies are at an increased risk for developing many lifelong physical, cognitive, and social challenges.

What Can You Do?

Encourage the people in your life who are pregnant or may become pregnant to:

  • Take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.
  • Plan a visit with their healthcare provider to support a healthy pregnancy. Make sure to discuss medication and supplement use, family medical history, mental health, and social supports.
  • Reduce their risk of infections by staying up to date with all vaccines.
  • Care for their body and mind before, during, and after pregnancy.
  • Avoid harmful substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

Meeting the complex needs of a person with birth anomalies involves the whole family and can be challenging at times. But finding resources, knowing what to expect, and planning for the future can help. Early intervention services and supports can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to learn new skills, overcome challenges, and increase success in school and life. 

Learn more about the National Birth Defects Prevention Network here. Information for families living with birth defects can be found here.

Thank you to the Malheur WIC team and the Oregon Maternal and Child Health team for raising awareness!

23% of Women Overdue for Cervical Screening

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month! Cervical cancer screening has dramatically reduced new cases and deaths from the disease over the past 50 years. But the percentage of women in the United States who are overdue for cervical cancer screening has been growing.

The lack of screening also shows concerning disparities among groups of women. In 2019, Asian and Hispanic women were more likely to be overdue for screening, as were women who lived in rural areas, lacked insurance, or identified as LGBTIQ+.

Our caring team at the Malheur County Health Department wants to help protect people from cervical cancer with HPV vaccine and screening. Services are available for free or low cost. Call us at 541-889-7279 to schedule an appointment.

Article adapted from the CDC and Cancer.gov.

PeerZone Workshops

The Malheur County Health Department is now hosting free PeerZone support groups on most Wednesdays.

PeerZone is a series of peer-led workshops for people who experience mental distress and addiction that explore topics like work, relationships, self-acceptance, and more.

The workshops are a combination of peer support and recovery education, and provide a fun, interactive, and safe structure for participants to share their experiences, learn self-management, and expand their horizons.

Join our facilitator, Hannah, for January’s scheduled workshops on “Understanding Ourselves.” Each is held at 3 p.m. on Wednesdays at the Malheur County Health Department at 1108 SW 4th Street in Ontario. No registration needed. Visit the Events Calendar for all upcoming groups, including SMART Recovery on Thursdays.

January 4: Understanding Our Distress — What responses help or don’t help us. Different ways of responding to distress. Different ways of naming and understanding distress.

January 11: Exploring Our Stories — The importance of stories. The hero’s journey. Our own and others’ stories of distress and recovery.

January 18: Leading Our Recovery — What recovery means. The process of recovery. Our own and other people’s experiences of recovery.

January 25: Understanding Our Alcohol and Drug Use — Turning lapse into learning. Taking control by choice. Why we use alcohol and other drugs, and the consequences of use.

We are a community of people in recovery and those who love and support them. Join us!

Winter Donation Drive

We, at the Malheur County Health Department, feel that it is important to practice the act of giving during the holiday season. We are hosting a Winter Donation Drive because it’s the season to help our neighbors!

Please bring new or gently used coats, clothing, and pajamas to the MCHD office at 1108 SW 4th Street in Ontario during business hours. We also will accept unopened infant formula. We are collecting to distribute to local organizations, including Origins, MCCDC, and ODHS, serving people in need. Call us at 541-889-7279 for more information.

We thank you in advance for your kind donation.  Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season!

Have a Healthy Holiday Season

On behalf of everyone at the Malheur County Health Department, we wish you a safe and joyful holiday and new year!

Brighten the holidays by making your health and safety a priority. Take steps to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy—and ready to enjoy the holidays.

  1. Wash hands often to help prevent the spread of germs. It’s flu and RSV season. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Bundle up to stay dry and warm. Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: light, warm layers, gloves, hats, scarves, and waterproof boots.
  3. Manage stress. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and out of control. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially, and get plenty of sleep.
  4. Don’t drink and drive or let others drink and drive. Whenever anyone drives drunk, they put everyone on the road in danger. Choose not to drink and drive and help others do the same.
  5. Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Smokers have greater health risks because of their tobacco use, but nonsmokers also are at risk when exposed to tobacco smoke.
  6. Fasten seat belts while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your children in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt according to their height, weight, and age. Buckle up every time, no matter how short the trip and encourage passengers to do the same.
  7. Get exams and screenings. Ask your health care provider what exams you need and when to get them. Update your personal and family history.
  8. Get your vaccinations. Vaccinations help prevent diseases and save lives. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year, especially pregnant women.
  9. Monitor children. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items, and other objects out of children’s reach. Protect them from drowning, burns, falls, and other potential accidents.
  10. Practice fire safety. Most residential fires occur during the winter months, so don’t leave fireplaces, space heaters, food cooking on stoves, or candles unattended. Have an emergency plan and practice it regularly.
  11. Prepare food safely. Remember these simple steps: Wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures and refrigerate foods promptly.
  12. Eat healthy, stay active. Eat fruits and vegetables which pack nutrients and help lower the risk for certain diseases. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. Also, be active for at least 2½ hours a week and help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.

Be inspired to stay in the spirit of good health! 

Article adapted from the CDC.

Extreme Weather Preparedness & Health Equity

With devastating wildfires and extreme cold across Oregon and Idaho in recent years, Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Environmental Public Health have expanded focus to severe weather and protecting those who may be at higher risk. The Malheur County Health Department is currently developing an All Hazards Plan, a Health Equity Plan, and a Climate Adaptation Plan to better protect everyone in our county and prepare for disasters.

Recently, Dr. Leandris Liburd, Director of CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, shared important points in a recent newsletter relevant to people in Malheur County especially because of our high risk on the Social Vulnerability Index.

“Social vulnerability is the potential negative effects on communities caused by external stresses on human health. Such stresses include natural or human-caused disasters, or disease outbreaks. Reducing social vulnerability can decrease both human suffering and economic loss.”

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

Dr. Liburd shared what she learned from Dr. Patrick Breysse, Director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and ATSDR, on how “communities that experience a disproportionate burden of health disparities across a variety of health issues might also be at greater risk for the negative impacts of climate change,” which includes extreme weather. Some of his points related to health equity and extreme weather preparedness are below.

  • People throughout the United States face climate change-related health risks, but some of us will feel the effects earlier and more severely. This is because of differences in our exposures to climate hazards, our sensitivity to these hazards, and our ability to adapt. These obstacles particularly affect communities of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, women, people who are incarcerated or without homes, and those who live in rural or frontier settings.
  • Climate change will worsen existing disparities in social conditions and health, and harms associated with climate change are burdening groups that have contributed the least to cause it. Very often, communities with lower access to basic necessities such as clean air and water, and other vital social determinants of health (SDOH) struggle to fully recover from climate related events, leaving them more fragile to respond to future health hazards. 
  • Partnering with communities with the greatest need to ensure they have consistent access to their basic necessities is an important step in becoming more resilient against climate change.

Mobile Mammography Unit Coming to MCHD Jan. 27th

The Mobile Mammography Unit is coming to the Malheur County Health Department on Friday, January 27, 2023 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The “mammo bus” will be parked outside our clinic at 1108 SW 4th Street in Ontario.

The Mobile Mammography Unit is equipped with 3D technology to provide digital mammography, clinical breast exams in a comfortable and convenient setting. All results or follow-up procedures are referred back to your primary care provider in your local community. Most insurances are accepted and grants are available for low-income women who do not have insurance.

Saint Alphonsus knows it is critically important for women to stay ahead of a cancer diagnosis. Yet, many women who need mammograms are not getting this life-saving screening. Schedule your spot today! Call 208-367-8787.

Please share this post and flyer with other women locally. Thank you!

Prevent and Treat Frostbite & Hypothermia

With temperatures around Ontario below freezing nearly every day lately, it’s important to stay warm. In cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced, which can lead to serious health problems. This occurs from inadequate protection against exposure to cold temperatures. The very young and elderly are the most susceptible to developing hypothermia when exposed to cold temperatures.

The risk and extent of hypothermia is directly influenced by presence of wet clothing, contact with metals, wind-chill, and extent of temperature gradient between the body and its surroundings. Vulnerability is increased when circulation is impaired by cardiovascular disease, alcohol intake, exhaustion, and/or hunger.

Frostbite Caution

Since skin may be numb, victims of frostbite can harm themselves further. Use caution when treating frostbite and:

  • Unless necessary, do not walk on feet or toes with frostbite
  • Do not use a fireplace, heat lamp, radiator, or stove for warming
  • Do not use a heating pad or electric blanket for warming
  • Do not rub or massage areas with frostbite

Signs of frostbite

  • Signs and Symptoms
    • Redness or pain in any skin area may be the first sign of frostbite.
  • Other signs include:
    • a white or grayish-yellow skin area
    • skin that feels  unusually firm or waxy
    • numbness

Hypothermia symptoms

  • Adults:
    • shivering
    •  exhaustion
    • confusion
    • fumbling hands
    • memory loss
    • slurred speech
    • drowsiness
  • Infants:
    • bright red, cold skin
    • very low energy

What to do if someone has hypothermia

  • If a person becomes unconscious, get medical help immediately. If cardiac arrest (heart attack) has occurred, have someone call for medical assistance and then apply CPR.
  • WARNING: Do not warm the person too fast.
  • Bring the person indoors or to a dry place protected from the wind.
  • Remove wet clothing and cover the person with dry blankets. Make sure to cover the head, hands, and feet.
  • Put the person in a cot or bed next to a warm — not hot — heater.
  • Lie under the covers next to the person to transfer your own body heat. If possible, have someone else lie on the other side.
  • Give the person warm — not hot — broth or soup. Do not give alcohol to drink.
  • Wrap an infant inside your own clothing against your skin.

How to prevent hypothermia & frostbite

  • Wear warm, multi-layered clothing with good hand and feet protection (avoid overly constricting wrist bands, socks, and shoes).
  • Wear warm headgear. This is particularly important since significant heat is lost through an unprotected head.
  • If possible, change into dry clothes whenever clothing becomes wet.
  • Find appropriate shelter to stay warm.

Article adapted from King County Public Health and the CDC.