Protect Your Family’s Future by Getting Vaccinated this August
Georgia Department of Public Health Urges Georgia Residents to Protect Themselves by Getting Immunized during National Immunization Awareness Month
NORTH GEORGIA – It’s time to really think about vaccinations.
“August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and it’s when we particularly urge parents to make an appointment to get themselves and their families vaccinated.” said Ashley Deverell, RN, BSN, Immunization Coordinator for the North Georgia Health District, based in Dalton. “Vaccinations are our best defense against vaccine-preventable diseases and are available at all our health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties.”
People of all ages require timely vaccinations to protect their health, and in August, public health advisors especially focus on vaccinations needed for pregnant women, babies and young children, preteens and teens, adults, and children entering or heading back to school.
Every adult in Georgia (19 years of age and older) should follow the recommended immunization schedule by age and medical condition. Vaccinations protect you and they protect others around you, especially infants and those individuals who are unable to be immunized or who have weakened immune systems. It is always a good idea to have the adult vaccine schedule nearby as a reference and to make sure you are current on your immunizations. This link is to the recommended adult immunization schedule:
Vaccines protect families, teens and children by preventing disease. They help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and pneumococcal disease. Vaccinations also reduce absences both at school and at work and decrease the spread of illness in the home, workplace and community.
Before starting seventh grade, all students born on or after January 1, 2002 and entering or transferring into seventh grade will need proof of a whooping cough booster shot and a meningococcal shot unless the child has an exemption on file with the school.
And, looking ahead for the 2020-2021 school year, all students entering or transferring into 11th grade will need proof of a meningococcal booster shot (MCV4), unless their first dose was received on or after their 16th birthday. Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial illness that affects the brain and the spinal cord. Meningitis can cause shock, coma and death within hours of the first symptoms. To help protect your children and others from meningitis, Georgia law requires students be vaccinated against this disease, unless the child has an exemption.
Some schools, colleges, and universities have policies requiring vaccination against meningococcal disease as a condition of enrollment. Students aged 21 years or younger should have documentation of receipt of a dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine not more than five years before enrollment. If the primary dose was administered before their 16th birthday, a booster dose should be administered before enrollment in college.
“The focus of vaccinations often lies on young children, but it’s just as important for teens, college students and adults to stay current on their vaccinations.” said Shelia Lovett, Director of the Immunization Program of the Georgia Department of Public Health.
This August, protect your family by getting vaccinated. The North Georgia Health District remind adults to check with their local county health department or healthcare provider for their current vaccination recommendations, and parents are urged to check for their children. Safe and effective vaccines are available to protect adults and children alike against potentially life-threatening diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningococcal disease, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, shingles, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox). So, visit your public health department or talk to your health care provider and get immunized today.
For more information on immunization, visit http://dph.georgia.gov/immunization-section.
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PRESS RELEASE FROM PIEDMONT MOUNTAINSIDE
Jasper, Ga. (April 16, 2019) – From 1999 to 2010, opioid-related deaths in Georgia increased by 500 percent. In 2016, there were close to 1,000 deaths involving opioids in the state and those numbers are continuing to increase. Facing those statistics and knowing that all healthcare systems need to play a role in attempting to stem this epidemic, Piedmont Healthcare is examining its pain management policies and connecting its hospitals with stakeholders in the community in an effort to address this crisis.
National Drug Take Back Day, which is sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), is Saturday, April 27, and will feature activities between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Local law enforcement agencies will provide a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs. The majority of teenagers abusing prescription drugs get them from the home medicine cabinet. Using pharmaceutical drugs without a prescription or a doctor’s supervision can lead to accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse.
“One of the most important things we can do as individuals, especially as we try to protect our families and children, is to dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired prescription drugs,” said Piedmont Mountainside CEO Denise Ray. “That’s why we’re supporting the efforts of our local public safety departments and letting our employees know about National Drug Take Back Day and what they can do on a personal level.”
In 2018, Take Back Day brought in more than 900,000 pounds of unused or expired prescription medication. Disposing of those drugs safely keeps them off the streets and protects the environment as well. On its website for Take Back Day, the DEA has a collection site locator that allows individuals to find the closest take back sites to where they live: https://takebackday.dea.gov/.
Throughout its 11 hospitals, Piedmont will be coordinating with various local law enforcement and public health agencies on Take Back Day.
From a system level, Piedmont, the largest healthcare provider in Georgia, convened an Opioids Task Force in 2018 and is seeking to provide patients with optimal pain management while preventing the potential for opioid abuse. One of the key tenets to Piedmont’s plan is to increase education and awareness among both patients and staff. There are times when the use of opioids is appropriate and necessary, but Piedmont’s new protocols, created by its physician leaders in consultation with clinical staff, will consider non-opioids and alternate pain management modalities such as topical therapy, local injections, massage, physical therapy and more. Piedmont will also focus on establishing system-wide standardization and coordination of prescribing protocols in key risk areas.
“It is important to reduce the stigma around opioid addiction,” said Ray. “Unfortunately this is a sweeping epidemic, one that is effecting people across the country, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. No one person, organization, city or state can tackle it alone, but Piedmont Mountainside is proud to join our sister hospitals and play a role alongside our patients and partners in the community.”
Learn more about Piedmont at piedmont.org
Public Release by: Piedmont Healthcare
Atlanta, Ga. (March 13, 2019) – Piedmont Healthcare now offers Rachel’s Gift, a non-profit program that provides support and guidance services to families who have suffered the loss of an infant, at 10 of its hospital locations.
Started in 2008, Rachel’s Gift partners with hospitals to assist families through the initial phase of infant loss. In coordination with the hospital’s labor and delivery, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and emergency department staff, Rachel’s Gift trains on grief assistance and companioning patients through infant loss.
“Rachel’s Gift is a very special program, and we’re proud to be able to train our staff to offer the services that it provides,” said Carolene Gaster, Clinical Manager of Labor and Delivery at Piedmont Mountainside Hospital. “The program helps our local hospitals provide a healthy environment to begin the grieving process for families, while also providing lifetime keepsakes of their child. It’s a really special program.”
With Rachel’s Gift, hospital staff receives regular training written by licensed professional counselors as well as families who have experienced infant loss, educating them in the grief process. The program has training specific to NICU services, as well as services in the emergency department, helping families experiencing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), an unexpected death that usually occurs during sleep, and families with early-term infant loss who visit the emergency room.
“It equips hospital staff with an outline to help families face the grief,” said Gaster. “Thanks to the program, these families also have access to a 24-hour hotline to call when they’re in need of assistance after they leave our care.”
Rachel’s Gift also gives families a keepsakes of their child, and families receive a package that includes items such as clay kits to collect hands and footprints of their child, a special album, a book to guide them in grieving, and information about businesses in their local community that provide free counseling and other support services that these families may need.
“It’s amazing to see our program being utilized throughout the Piedmont Healthcare system,” said Lori Beth Blaney, director of Rachel’s Gift. “Our nationally accredited training course equips staff with the tools and training to deliver compassionate patient care, while also providing a gift that gives these families special keepsakes for a lifetime reminder and a physical reminder of their child.”
Piedmont’s hospitals comprise 10 of the 27 hospitals in Georgia that offer Rachel’s Gift’s free services, and the program is available at Piedmont Atlanta, Piedmont Athens Regional, Piedmont Columbus Regional Midtown, Piedmont Fayette, Piedmont Henry, Piedmont Mountainside, Piedmont Newnan, Piedmont Newton, Piedmont Rockdale and Piedmont Walton hospitals.
For more information about maternity services at Piedmont Healthcare, visit piedmont.org.
Jasper, Ga. (March 11, 2019) — Piedmont Mountainside Hospital has been named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals by IBM Watson Health™. The study spotlights the top-performing hospitals in the U.S. based on a balanced scorecard of publicly available clinical, operational and patient satisfaction metrics and data.
“At Piedmont Mountainside, we share a commitment to providing unsurpassed medical care to all who need our services,” said hospital CEO Denise Ray. “We take our promise of making a positive difference in every life we touch seriously, and that’s why we’re so proud to be recognized as a Top 100 Hospital this year.”
Overall, the IBM Watson Health™ 100 Top Hospitals study found that the top-performing hospitals outperformed non-winning peer group hospitals in a variety of performance measures, including higher survival rates, fewer complications and infections, shorter length of stay, shorter emergency department wait times, lower inpatient expenses, higher overall profit margins and higher patient satisfaction.
Based on the results of this year’s study, Watson Health extrapolates that if all Medicare inpatients received the same level of care as those treated in the award-winning facilities:
- More than 103,000 additional lives could be saved;
- More than 38,000 additional patients could be complication-free;
- More than $8.2 billion in inpatient costs could be saved; and
- Approximately 155,000 fewer discharged patients would be readmitted within 30 days.
“At a time when research shows that the U.S. spends nearly twice as much on healthcare as other high-income countries, yet still has poorer population health outcomes , the 100 Top Hospitals are bucking the trend by delivering consistently better care at a lower cost,” said Ekta Punwani, 100 Top Hospitals® program leader at IBM Watson Health. “The hospitals on this list represent the current vanguard in value-based care and we applaud their commitment to quality.”
The Watson Health 100 Top Hospitals® study uses independent and objective research to analyze hospital and health system performance in 10 clinical and operational areas addressing: risk-adjusted inpatient mortality index, risk-adjusted complications index, mean healthcare-associated infection index, mean 30-day risk-adjusted mortality rate, mean 30-day risk-adjusted readmission rate, severity-adjusted length of stay, mean emergency department throughput, case mix- and wage-adjusted inpatient expense per discharge, adjusted operating profit margin, and HCAHPS score (patient rating of overall hospital performance). The study has been conducted annually since 1993.
For more information, visit www.100tophospitals.com.
About Piedmont Mountainside Hospital
Piedmont Mountainside Hospital – a 52-bed hospital, located in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains – dedicates itself to delivering unsurpassed medical care to the residents of Pickens. Gilmer and North Cherokee Counties and surrounding communities. We provide a range of services from cardiac rehabilitation and imaging to orthopedic services to cardiac catheterization and general surgery. Piedmont Mountainside offers intensive care, 24-hour emergency services with 18 beds and a fast track area.
At Piedmont Mountainside, we take pride in providing outstanding care and our record of accomplishment speaks for itself. In the past few years, Piedmont Mountainside has consistently ranked in the top five Atlanta hospitals in patient experience as well as received top marks for our commitment to patient safety by Leapfrog 7 consecutive times. Other awards received are the Press Ganey Partner of Choice Award, Best Place to Practice Award, 2011 Small Hospital of the Year, AJC’s 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Top Workplace, the Women’s Choice Award for Best in Obstetrics and Best in Patient Safety, and Business of the Year by the Gilmer Co. Chamber.
About IBM Watson Health
Watson Health is a business unit of IBM that is dedicated to the development and implementation of cognitive and data-driven technologies to advance health. Watson Health technologies are tackling a wide range of the world’s biggest health care challenges, including cancer, diabetes, drug discovery and more.
Keep Your Preteen Safe – Vaccinate Them Today
Vaccines Available at County Health Departments in North Georgia
NORTH GEORGIA – Vaccinate your preteen today so they can have a healthy tomorrow.
In an effort to protect every adult and child, the Georgia Department of Public Health recognizes
March 11 – 15, 2019 as Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week. This week serves as a
reminder for parents to talk with their preteens and teens about getting immunized against
Public health departments located in the North Georgia Health District in Cherokee, Fannin,
Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties encourage parents to make vaccinations a
priority. Vaccines protect children from the dangers of preventable diseases and are available at
health departments in each county. See contact information below.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health Rule (511-2-2), all students born on or
after January 1, 2002, entering or transferring into seventh grade and any “new entrant” into
eighth -12th grades in Georgia need proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster
vaccination (called “Tdap”) AND an adolescent meningococcal vaccination (MenACWY). This
law affects all public and private schools including, but not limited to, charter schools,
community schools, juvenile court schools and other alternative school settings (excluding
Vaccines are the best defense we have against serious, preventable and sometimes deadly
contagious diseases. They help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat
infectious diseases like influenza and meningitis. Immunizations also reduce absences both at
school and after school activities and decrease the spread of illness at home, school and the
The CDC currently recommends the following vaccines for preteens and teens:
- Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap)
- Influenza (flu)
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Meningococcal Disease (MenACWY)
Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise awareness through schools,
health care providers and the media regarding preteen immunizations, particularly Georgia’s
pertussis and meningococcal requirements for incoming seventh-grade students. Speak with your
physician today to find out if your preteen is up-to-date.
For more information, click here.
NO COST Hepatitis A Shots Offered at Health Departments in North Georgia
North GA – Due to an increase in eastern Alabama, southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia of reported cases of hepatitis A, a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus,
public health departments in north Georgia are providing hepatitis A vaccinations at no out-of-pocket expense. We are especially urging
people who are at greatest risk for becoming infected with hepatitis A, including people who are incarcerated in jails, homeless persons, injecting drug users, and men who have sex with men, to come to a county health department in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens or Whitfield County for a no-cost-to-clients hepatitis A vaccination. Learn more at http://bit.ly/NoCost-Hep-A-Shot_NorthGA.
Contact information for each county health department in North Georgia:
Cherokee: 1219 Univeter Road, Canton, GA 30115, (770) 345-7371 or 7545 North Main Street, Woodstock, GA, (770) 928-0133
Fannin: 95 Ouida Street, Blue Ridge, GA 30513, (706) 632-3023
Gilmer: 28 Southside Church Street, Ellijay, GA 30540, (706) 635-4363
Murray: 709 Old Dalton-Ellijay Road, Chatsworth, GA 30705, (706) 695-4585
Pickens: 60 Health Way, Jasper, GA 30143, (706) 253-2821
Whitfield: 800 Professional Boulevard, Dalton, GA 30720, (706) 279-9600