Lower your cancer risk with public health services

February is National Cancer Prevention Month! In 2022, an estimated 1.9 million new cancer cases were diagnosed and 609,360 people died of cancer in the United States. Research has shown that more than 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed and nearly half of all deaths from cancer in the United States can be attributed to preventable causes – things like smoking, excess body weight, physical inactivity, and excessive exposure to the sun.

As a result, steps such as quitting smoking (or never starting in the first place), maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, protecting your skin from the sun, getting tested and treated for communicable diseases, and getting vaccinated against the pathogens that cause certain cancers can dramatically reduce your risk of certain cancers.

There are many ways our team at the Malheur County Health Department can help you and your family reduce cancer risk:

  • Reproductive Health program provides pelvic exams, pap smears, health education and counseling.
  • Immunization program provides HPV vaccine, which protects children from 6 types of cancer later in life. The HPV vaccine recommended for boys and girls aged 9-12 and up to age 26 if not already vaccinated. Vaccines also available to protect against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, which can cause liver cancer.
  • Tobacco Education and Prevention program can help create policies for smoke-free spaces, provide education, and refer to Quit Line services.
  • WIC program provides nutrition counseling for pregnant women and children up to age 5. Our Registered Dietician and WIC Certifiers provide education on how to follow a healthy diet that can lower cancer risk.
  • Communicable Disease and STI testing programs provide rapid testing for several infections that can cause cancer. Hepatitis can cause liver cancer. Chlamydia increases risk of cervical cancer. People with HIV are susceptible to several cancers, including Kaposi sarcoma.

Learn more about National Cancer Prevention Month from the American Association for Cancer Research and American Cancer Society.

National Children’s Dental Health Month

Each February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

We love the activity sheets and resources available through the ADA here. Check out one on choosing tap water in English or Spanish and complete with your child!

National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) began as a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 3, 1941. The American Dental Association held the first national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day on February 8, 1949. The single day observance became a week-long event in 1955. In 1981, the program was extended to a month-long observance known today as National Children’s Dental Health Month. Since 1941, the observance has grown from a two-city event into a nationwide program. NCDHM messages reach thousands of people in communities across the country and at numerous armed services bases.

Find more information on dentists covered by the Oregon Health Plan or other low cost options here.

Have you earned $100 through our Health is Wealth program?

Last August, we launched Health is Wealth, an incentive program to increase recommended surveillance testing, immunization, and awareness of public health services.

People can walk in to our clinic (1108 SW 4th St, Ontario) 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 (see graphic above) that will keep track of their progress through 10 core programs. Upon completion, the first 100 participants will receive a $100 gift card. So far, we’ve given out 47 of the 100 gift cards available. Our goal is to give another 53 out by the end of June.

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, including COVID-19 vaccines, 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.

Share these flyers in English and Spanish:

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.

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!

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!

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.

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.