The Snohomish Health District’s mission is to spearhead efforts to protect, promote and advance the collective health of our community. It will continue to do this by focusing on activities that are grounded in a set of foundational public health services, which include:
- Communicable Diseases & Notifiable Conditions
- Chronic Diseases & Injuries
- Environmental Health
- Maternal, Child & Family Health
- Vital Records
- Ongoing, Critical Public Health Issues
- Access to Medical, Dental & Mental Health Care
- Build a Sustainable Organization
Heightened COVID-19 Prevention Measures at the District
Due to the recent outbreak, Snohomish Health District is taking additional steps to ensure a safe workplace, prevent transmission in the building, and provide ongoing COVID-19 response and other essential public health services to the community. This means remote work is encouraged at least until transmission has been definitively interrupted for 28 days.
In addition to this, the District implemented last Monday that employees get a rapid test in the building when they arrive at work. Susie Sarrrazin, Medical Assistant from Maxim Healthcare Services, will be providing our testing in the NE corner of the building (former WIC clinic). As you enter the building, check in at the screening desk then head on over to Susie. She will ask you some questions and then take the test.
You will then head to your desk, and Susie will email you the results.
You will receive an email from Susie with the subject line “negative” if your results come back negative. If you test positive, you will get a call from Susie and must immediately gather your belonging and leave the building. Give your supervisor a call on your way out of the building or when you are in your car telling them you need to leave. Susie will email the Epi team and HR. Expect a call from one of the Epi staff (Holli or Miyuki) for further instructions.
Case Rate Update
The latest COVID-19 data for Snohomish County show the case rate has started to drop, but it is still hovering at levels not seen since last winter. It’s important to avoid gathering in large crowds and mask up in the office.
IRS: Cost of Home Testing for COVID-19 Eligible as a Medical Expense
The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers that the cost of home testing for COVID-19 is an eligible medical expense that can be paid or reimbursed under health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), or Archer medical savings accounts (Archer MSAs). That is because the cost to diagnose COVID-19 is an eligible medical expense for tax purposes.
The IRS also reminds taxpayers that the costs of personal protective equipment, such as masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19 are eligible medical expenses that can be paid or reimbursed under health FSAs, HSAs, HRAs, or Archer MSAs. Additional information is available on IRS.gov.
I want to discuss cyber security for a second. Many of us have seen or in some cases been victims of phishing attacks here at the District. Luckily, most of these emails are effectively mitigated by the IT staff at the County. While they are always on guard to protect our sensitive information systems, each of us has a role as well. Be careful when opening potentially suspicious emails. Make sure to use the phishing alert button whenever you receive a suspicious email…and then delete that email. It can likely be recovered later, if needed. Attached is a recent article related to recent ransomware attacks:
Stay safe, take care. Thank you for all the work that you do.
- In July, the District was awarded a grant to focus on COVID Health Literacy. This work will be housed under Prevention but is a collaboration with our communications team. The kick off meeting for this work is September 30th. We are hoping to learn how we can better support communities disproportional affected by COVID.
- In not so happy news, syphilis cases are up across the state and the nation. To help combat the rising cases, the Federal government has provided funding to support additional STD DIS. We will be adding two more DIS to our own STD team. These new DIS will focus on syphilis case investigations and ensuring people are getting appropriate treatment.
- Have you ever heard the term DFDO? It stands for Donated Food Distribution Organizations, like food banks and soup kitchens. Brenna and Alicia are establishing robust new procedures to ensure these organizations are following good food safety protocols. They are now called the Donated Food Safety Outreach Team, and their goal is to focus on food safety and education as they continue to work with food banks/kitchens and other stakeholders in the County. They are also working with the healthy communities and PHEPR teams to see if we can provide assistance in the form of training and resources in substance abuse and harm reduction as well as COVID guidance in the form of PPE resources and technical assistance on mitigation measures and requirements.
- The Food Safety Program hired our last EHS vacancy. Our new field inspector will start on October 18th.
- The Food Safety Program is having a Food Advisory Committee meeting on 9/23 to discuss our proposed new fee schedule.
- Pool season and West Nile Virus surveillance are wrapping up for our Safe Environments team and instead we’re putting a lot of focus on nuisance properties and solid waste complaints.
- Land Use is getting their two new staff members up to speed. We’re getting caught up on some of our summer backlogs, and turnaround times are reducing.
- Customer Service is also churning through some backlog and getting new staff up to speed.
Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response
September is National Preparedness Month! The Snohomish Health District has a safety manual that details the intended staff actions during emergencies. These include:
- Winter storms
- Bomb threats
- Workplace violence
Always ensure that your supervisor knows where you are in the event of an emergency. This is especially true when you regularly do fieldwork. Ensure that you always leave notes (can be on your calendar) of where you will be going in the event you need assistance.
If you are planning on going out to do fieldwork, check the weather for any alerts and watches. Rethink your route or work for the day if there are dangerous conditions. Ensure that you have the appropriate equipment in the event the situation changes: carry extra clothing in winter and keep an emergency kit in your car.
The Health District has a Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response (PHEPR) unit sitting within Prevention Services. Their goal is to encourage emergency preparedness and respond to emergencies from a public health perspective. They are located in suite 300.
- Jennifer Reid – Emergency Management Specialist (training & exercise, safety officer for activations)
- Samara Heydon – Emergency Management Specialist (Medical Countermeasures, Mass Fatality, Medical Surge)
- Therese Quinn – Emergency Management Specialist (Medical Reserve Corps Coordinator)
- Pia Sampaga-Khim – Preparedness Supervisor
Safety Committee: Workplace Violence
Recently, the Safety Committee received two incident reports regarding threatening situations towards staff. Workplace violence is violence or the threat of violence against workers. It can occur at or outside the workplace and can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide, and is one of the leading causes of job-related deaths. OSHA reports that workplace violence is a growing concern for employers and employees nationwide. Some 2 million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year. Workplace violence can strike anywhere, and no one is immune. Some workers, however, are at increased risk. Among them are workers who exchange money with the public; deliver passengers, goods, or services; or work alone or in small groups, during late night or early morning hours, in high-crime areas, or in community settings and homes where they have extensive contact with the public.
Please know that SHD has a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence against or by their employees. Our workplace violence program incorporates the Safety Manual, employee handbook, and program specific procedures. It is critical that everyone be familiar with our programs and understand that all workplace violence incidents will be investigated and remedied promptly. To mitigate work place violence, the Safety Committee recommends that everyone review the following. How to reduce the risk of workplace violence
- Review safety manual and employee handbook regarding non-acceptable conduct, what to do if you are a witness or are subjected to workplace violence, and how to protect yourself.
- Know your workplace. SHD has installed video surveillance, extra lighting, and alarm systems to secure the building. Outsiders access is controlled through identification badges, electronic keys, and the presence of a security guard.
- Maintain situational awareness. Use SHD cellular phones for communication, mapping, and pictures.
- Ensure SHD vehicle is maintained and is operational.
- Prepare and post daily work plan with site locations.
- Don’t go into buildings or sites that you feel unsafe. Request partner assistance in potentially dangerous situations or at night.
- Be familiar with program scenarios and how to conduct of home visits, the presence of others in the home during visits, and worker’s right to refuse to provide services in a clearly hazardous situation.
- Learn how to recognize, avoid, or diffuse potentially violent situations by attending personal safety training programs.
- Alert supervisors to any concerns about safety or security and report all incidents using the incident report form.
- Avoid traveling alone into unfamiliar locations or situations whenever possible.
- Carry only minimal money and required identification into community settings.
What to do following an incident of workplace violence?
- Report threats of workplace violence using the incident report form.
- Provide prompt medical evaluation and treatment after the incident.
- Report violent incidents to the local police promptly.
- Alert supervisors to any concerns about safety or security and report all incidents immediately in writing, using the incident report form.
- Inform victims of their legal right to prosecute perpetrators.
- Discuss the circumstances of the incident with staff members. Encourage employees to share information about ways to avoid similar situations in the future.
- Offer stress debriefing sessions and post-traumatic counseling services to help workers recover from a violent incident.
- Investigate all violent incidents and threats, monitor trends in violent incidents by type or circumstance, and institute corrective actions.
- Discuss changes in the program during regular employee meetings.
With teens going back to school, it’s important to help prevent teen drug use. Nicotine, which is found in most e-cigarettes, is highly addictive and can harm the developing adolescent brain. Throughout this week, SHD’s communications team has been sharing information about this on social media (look for a special TikTok on Friday @snohd1).
CDC’s Tobacco Free Facebook page has a lot of great resources about this to share on social media. We encourage you to promote this information as you see fit. Look for other great shareable posts on the SHD Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.
Snohomish County Reports Zero Youth Suicides in a Year
While many counties saw heightened youth suicides between the year of August 2019 through August 2020, Snohomish County reported zero youth suicides within our county. Being that suicide has been the highest cause of death in youth ages 10-17 in Snohomish County, this is a huge achievement.
Congratulations to Wendy Burchill and the Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force for making this happen!
Read more here:
The following new employees have joined the Snohomish Health District team. Please give them a warm welcome!
Savannah Sandlin just started working as a Health Educator on the HHS grant. They recently graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Public Health and comes to us after teaching English to students in Japan.
New COVID DIS Staff
Rebecca Brundage, Samera Fleek, Kayla Hamme, Hailey Latimer, Trinity Lang, Sascha Larsen-Helbing, Tyler Gerken, Alexander Bocci, Abigail Sauer, Jillian Lidgard, and Kelsey Bogumill
Upcoming Events and Reminders
Timesheet Due – 9/30
Don’t forget to complete your timesheet by 9/30.
Application Form for Long-Term Care Insurance Exemption Available - 10/1
Form is available beginning October 1 through ESD.
Regular Board of Health Meeting - 10/12
For more information, including Board agendas, visit the Board of Health page.