Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

State of Idaho

A pilot project that could change the way Idahoans get treated during a mental health crisis has opened its doors in eastern Idaho. Officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony in Idaho Falls Monday morning.

US CPSC / Flickr

Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare says more calls are coming in about children being poisoned by bright and colorful laundry detergent packets this year compared to last. Children can mistake the plastic soap tabs for candy.

So far this year, 69 Idaho children in Idaho have been exposed to the packets by eating them or getting the soap in their eyes and nose. That compares to 45 kids during the same time frame last year.

This year, 40 kids went to the emergency room and five of those children ended up being hospitalized.

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The Supreme Court will decide whether private sector health care providers can force a state to raise its Medicaid reimbursement rates to keep up with rising costs.

The justices on Thursday agreed to hear an appeal from Idaho.

The state is trying to overturn a lower court decision that ordered the state to increase payments.

Map by Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

The number of West Nile virus cases in Idaho have gone up this month in humans and mosquitoes.  
 

Human cases of West Nile were reported in four counties recently, Blaine, Lincoln, Payette, and Washington.  

bannokcountymosquito.com

Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare has confirmed the state’s first human case of West Nile virus of 2014. A Blaine County woman in her 20s is recovering from a virus-induced fever. Eight other Idaho counties have found West Nile in mosquitoes this summer, but the Blaine County case is the first confirmed human infection.

Last year, 40 known people in Idaho contracted West Nile and two died. A 2006 outbreak saw nearly 1,000 cases and 23 deaths in Idaho.

Ben Rauch / Flickr

West Nile virus is in Ada County. A mosquito trap near Star, Idaho tested positive for West Nile this week. It the first instance of the disease in Ada County this year.

Allan / Flickr

More Idaho babies are being born outside of marriage than ever before, and the state's marriage rate is at a 60-year low, that's according to a recent report from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The latest Vital Statistics Annual Report is for 2012 and it covers everything from births, population, marriages, and deaths.

Adoptions are usually private affairs, sealed forever in court documents and known only to the families involved. But recently, one decision by Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare exploded into the public sphere.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

State auditors say the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare misspent $2.5 million in federal funding on salaries instead of using it for food stamps and other assistance for Idaho's poorest residents.

The finding by the Office of Performance Evaluation was part of the state's annual audit of how federal cash is used.

beancounter / Flickr

A temporary increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, expires at the end of October. That means 47 million Americans, including 221,717  people in Idaho, will see less money each month for food.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a public health alert for raw chicken packaged at three Foster Farms facilities in California.  That’s after 278 people have fallen ill. 

The Salmonella outbreak has spread to 18 states including Idaho.  Niki Forbing-Orr is with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.  She says two people in Idaho got sick in April and June, but neither person reported eating chicken. So it’s unclear how they got the same bacteria. 

Anne Jefferey / InciWeb

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is warning people in the Wood River Valley to stay indoors and avoid physical activity. This comes after smoke from nearby wildfires has engulfed the area. The Beaver Creek Fire is burning just southwest of Ketchum in the Sawtooth National Forest.

Baby, Baby Bottle
Katerha / Flickr Creative Commons

A change in income guidelines means more Idahoans could qualify for food assistance through the WIC program.

The supplemental nutrition program Women, Infants and Children, or WIC provides certain foods to pregnant or breastfeeding moms and families with children under age five. Starting July 1, a cost-of-living adjustment goes into effect.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says berries sold at Costco stores may be linked to an outbreak of hepatitis.

The frozen berry brand, 'Townsend Farms organic Anti-Oxidant Blend', has been pulled from Costco's shelves, and the store says to toss out any remaining product.

Although Idaho Costco stores carry these frozen berries, the health department says illness associated with the fruit hasn't been reported in Idaho.

Here's more information from the Department of Health and Welfare:

In January, 231,647 people in Idaho were on food stamps.  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, helps low-income families.  But in Idaho, 17 percent of people are food insecure.  The hunger relief charity Feeding America says they don’t have access to enough food for an active, healthy life. 

Click on a county to find out how many people are on food stamps, and how many are food insecure.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the flu is now widespread in 47 states, including Idaho.  Doctor Leslie Tengelsen is Idaho’s deputy state epidemiologist.  She says the flu season has arrived early this year.  

Whether or not Idaho expands Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, the state needs to pour more money into the program.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A nationwide investigation into contaminated drugs is expanding. The outbreak has already killed 15 and sickened 231, including one man in Idaho, with fungal meningitis.

Two health facilities in Idaho, Walter Knox Memorial Hospital in Emmett and Pain Specialists of Idaho in Idaho Falls, were identified originally in the outbreak.

Now the Food and Drug Administration has expanded its investigation of possibly contaminated drugs produced by a Massachusetts pharmacy. That means as many as nine more medical facilities in Idaho may have received suspect drugs.

prashant_zi / Flickr

Two Idaho medical facilities received the steroid injections believed to be responsible for a deadly meningitis outbreak.  Nationally, 47 people have been diagnosed with the illness and five people have died.  No one in Idaho has reported getting sick. 

nooccar / Flickr

Who will be eligible for Medicaid if Idaho expands its program under the Affordable Care Act?  That’s the question lawmakers asked Monday of state Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong.  He’s part of a 15 member panel studying the option. 

Armstrong says the panel has gathered a lot of information so far.  But he says the federal government has not set some of the guidelines that will determine who would get to sign up for the expanded plan.  That means officials are left to guess how many residents would eligible.  

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