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  • Thu, January 26, 2023 10:47 AM | Anonymous


    A happy new year to you all! I hope you celebrated the start of 2023 safely and in good spirits with family and friends.

    2022 was a transformative year for the Arizona Rural Health Association. It was a year in which we strengthened the association further, growing by welcoming new members and strategizing on important initiatives that will help us to be a leader in partnerships, education and policy for improving the health status of rural communities in Arizona.

    Working together we made good progress toward our strategic goals despite challenges – not the least of which were ongoing disruptions from the pandemic that continues to have an impact on our own work and home lives, as well as on the lives of our communities.

    I was proud to see how quickly we were able to pivot with each new challenge and how the association came together to make the most of the opportunity. A great example of this includes the successful rebranding of the Arizona Rural Health Association’s logo.

    The work we are doing is more relevant than ever today.  Our communities and partners rely on us to keep them connected and informed. 

    2023 is set to be an exciting year for us. We can look forward to working further on the many initiatives to continue to be a leader in partnerships, education and policy for improving the health status of rural communities in Arizona.

    I want to thank you for your continued commitment and effort. Every one of us has an important role in the work ahead and I’m confident that we are stronger together and we will achieve great things.

    I wish you and your loved ones a happy and successful 2023!

    Respectfully, 

    Holly Figueroa,
    President
    Arizona Rural Health Association


  • Fri, December 09, 2022 5:13 PM | Anonymous


    December 4, 2022

     


    Governors & Executive Branch Agency Culture

    The Governor is just one person. There are 32,000 people working in various capacities in state government. So how is it that just one person, the governor, can impact the work culture and morale of 32,000 employees? It’s all about leverage.

    The governor is the most powerful person in the state. She or he has enormous statutory authority and can hire or fire just about any state employee (virtually all state employees are ‘at will’ these days - meaning they can be fired for no reason at all).

    Governors seldom reach deep down into agencies and fire and replace people…  but it's common for governors to replace agency heads, deputies, legislative affiars people and communication directors (especially at the beginning of an administration). It’s also customary for the governor to make wholesale changes in governors office personnel.

    So how does all that statutory authority including the authority to change agency directors and their deputies change the work culture of state government?

    Perhaps the biggest thing is that agency directors set the tone for workplace behavior, agency priorities, flexible work schedules, whether to allow programs to hire folks, selects the deputy and assistant directors to carry out her or his wishes, gives the programs green, yellow, or red lights to apply for grants, and makes decisions about administrative rulemakings.

    The decisions that the directors and her or his assistants make have a profound impact on workplace culture and morale. Add to that the kinds of executive orders the governor gives, like capping agencies at a certain FTE level or freezing changes to administrative code and you can start to see how a single person can have such a profound impact on work culture.

    Agency director management style can influence culture in more subtle & insidious ways. For example, appointed directors can stifle innovation and harm morale by instructing staff to clear all decisions with them before proceeding. Even worse, appointees may tell staff to halt action until he or she "hears back from the governor's office"...  resulting in long delays or even a complete lack of progress.

    When there’s a change in the governor, as there will be in about 30 days, it’s a real opportunity for cultural change.

    Many persons that work in various sectors of public health in private, nonprofit, or among other levels of government will be looking forward to potential changes in the coming work environment and may be attracted to serve in the new administration if they believe the incoming governor better appreciates the importance of evidence-based public health practice and improves morale by creating a healthier agency culture.

    Many people are likely looking forward to a cultural renaissance in Arizona state agencies and will be looking forward to working with the new administration.

    Some folks who might not have considered working for the ADHS over the last few years might be willing to give the agency a 2nd look in the coming months. I expect interest in (and competition for) positions at ADHS to pick up once the governor is sworn in and new leadership is selected. Why not get in on the ground floor?

    On one hand, it’s a shame that there are nearly 100 open positions at ADHS these days, but on the other hand – those vacant positions represent opportunities for folks to join the new team early in the administration.

    A quick review of open positions on the AZ State Jobs website reveals openings for epidemiologists, emergency medical servicers staff, newborn screening positions, maternal health (PRAMS) jobs, laboratory and behavioral health tech’s, a tribal liaison, several positions in licensing and compliance, vaccine coordinators, opioid prevention, biomedical research, even the agency director.

    You get the idea…  there are many open positions that many of you may be interested in exploring in anticipation of the cultural changes that’ll be coming to state government in the coming months. Now is a good tome to explore the possibilities.

    You can start your search at this link – the AZ State Jobs Website.

    Submit Your Resume to the Hobbs Administration Resume Bank to be Considered for a Leadership Post in the Administration

    _________________________________

    Arizona Child Fatality Review Program: 29th Annual Report 

    Back in the mid 1990’s the AZ State Legislature established the Arizona Child Fatality Review Program to evaluate every child death and provide evidence-based policy recommendations to prevent child deaths.

    Over the years many policy and operational interventions came out of these reports, from safe sleep to new seat belt laws for kids. The goal of each year’s report by conducting a comprehensive review of all child deaths and make policy recommendations to prevent as many as possible.

    Last year's report found that firearm deaths increased 41% over the previous year, while child death rates were 250% higher than the national average (likely due to the lack of mitigation measures implemented by soon to be former governor Ducey and former director Christ. 

    View the the Arizona Child Fatality Review Program 29th Annual Report

    The Arizona Child Fatality Review Program’s goal is to reduce child deaths in Arizona by conducting a comprehensive review of all child deaths to determine what steps could have been taken, if any, to prevent each child’s death.

    In 2021, 863 children died in Arizona, an increase from 838 deaths in 2020. Fourth-eight percent (48%) of the 863 deaths were preventable. The three most common causes of preventable death were motor vehicle crashes, firearm injuries, and suffocation. Fifty-six (56) children died from a firearm injury (100% of these deaths were determined to be preventable).

    In 43% of the preventable deaths, substance use was a contributing factor, and in 33% of these deaths, poverty was a risk factor. There were 44 suicide deaths in 2021. In 68% of these deaths, recent warning signs for suicide were the most common risk factor, and 17 suicide deaths were due to firearm injury. 

    Prematurity was the most common cause of death for neonates (infants less than 28 days old) while suffocation was the common cause of death among infants 28 days to less than 1 year of age. Drowning was the most common cause of death in children 1-4 years of age as 68% of the 44 drowning deaths occurred in this age group.

    There were 65 SUIDs in 2021. An unsafe sleep environment was a factor in 95% of these deaths and bedsharing in 58% of the deaths.

    Arizona’s abuse/neglect mortality rate increased 36% from 5.8 in 2020 to 7.9 in 2021. Of the 128 children who died in 2021 from abuse/neglect, substance use was a contributing factor in 59% of the deaths, and the child’s families had prior involvement with a CPS agency in 46% of the deaths.

    Importantly, the report proposes several evidence-based interventions that should be implemented that would reduce preventable childhood deaths. Those recommendations are laid out on pages 90-99 of the Arizona Child Fatality Review Program | Twenty-Ninth Annual Report.

    Intervention recommendations are proposed for preventing abuse & neglect, COVID-19, drowning, firearm injuries, car crashes, prematurity, substance use, SIDS, and suicide.

    We expect this year's Child Fatality Review Program report to be more infuential in informing public policy as the incoming governor is more receptive to prioritizing evidence-based public health policy & practice than the outgoing administration.

    ______________________

    AzPHA Firearm Injust & Death Surveillance Report Coming in January

    Report to Include a Policy Intervention Evidence Review

    The AZPHA Board of Directors met in early 2022 for a strategic planning session. One of the outcomes from the session was to set longer term public health policy priorities for AZPHA to work on. 

    Among those priorities was a focus on prevention of deaths from firearm injuries and deaths. Our workplan for that priority started with pulling together a public health surveillance report of firearm injuries and deaths in Arizona and a literature review of evidence-based interventions (no such surveillance report has been produced by ADHS during the Ducey administration - leaving an 8-year gap in surveillance evidence).

    We expect our report to be published in mid-January. In the mean-time we will be presenting snippets from the report in these weekly policy updates.

    A huge shout out to our authors for the report, Julia Jackman &  Allan Williams, who have put in countless hours preparing our report!


  • Tue, December 06, 2022 2:10 PM | Anonymous


    It is hard to believe we are rapidly coming to a close this year and have been through so much change and growth together. It’s been a long year, and we’re all looking forward to a well-deserved break!

    As this holiday season starts, one of the most spiritual times of the year also begins, the Winter Solstice. It is our transcendent time to reconnect to the natural world and access our most powerful selves. In its time of twilight, the Winter Solstice is also a time to reflect spiritually and inwardly - to care for self, for our loved ones, and to prepare for the longer days ahead.

    It is also the season to pause, acknowledge goodness, kindness, possibilities, and hope. Most importantly, to embrace thankfulness, positivity, and humanity towards one another.

    On behalf of AzRHA, I share my sincere appreciation for generously giving of your time, expertise, and wisdom to drive the work of the association. The association promises to continue to grow, learn, and work hard to be leaders and advocate for rural health in Arizona. The Association exists because of the passion, support, and contributions of our members, staff, partners, and stakeholders. We take time to acknowledge and say Thank You.

    I express my pride and gratitude to those I work with, the people who make the mission and values of Arizona Rural Health Association a reality. I want to  to express the same gratitude and sincerity to the communities we serve and our loyal members, partners and stakeholders that support us in many ways.

    I wish you a Blessed Season and a prosperous New Year. May these days be filled with joy, peace, and hope for the New Year!


  • Thu, November 03, 2022 12:48 PM | Anonymous


    The Arizona Rural Health Association (AzRHA) is pleased to announce that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has signed a proclamation declaring Thursday, November 17, 2022 to be Rural Health Day in Arizona.

    The Governor’s proclamation, made at the request of AzRHA, celebrates the important contributions of health care professionals who serve Arizona’s rural communities.

    Recognized by the Governor’s proclamation are members of the Arizona workforce who work in rural hospitals, health clinics, behavioral and community health centers, county health departments, private clinical and dental practices, pharmacies, paramedics, and emergency medical services (EMS) and community health workers.

    Many Arizona residents who live in rural communities experience significant challenges accessing health services due to geographic isolation, income inequities, lack of health insurance, language barriers, or other service barriers. They experience health workforce shortages in every professional category; in response, federal agencies have designated most of rural Arizona as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). These conditions create barriers for people seeking services and contribute to stress among the health professionals who serve rural communities.

    Rural health organizations often have difficulty competing with urban care providers in recruiting and retaining health professionals because of salary inequities. Rural health professionals are under pressure to maintain practice environments and often find it harder to sustain operations.

    Honoring Rural Health Day, AzRHA is planning a no-cost public webinar titled “The Rural Health Landscape.”  This webinar is scheduled for November 16, 2022 at 11 a.m. and will feature Mr. Alan Morgan, CEO, National Rural Health Association. Webinar co-sponsors include the University of Arizona’s Center for Rural Health, Arizona Telemedicine Program, Southwest Arizona Telehealth Resource Center, and the All-of-Us Research Program.  

    To learn more and register for this webinar or about Arizona Rural Health Day, visit www.azrhassociation.org.


  • Thu, November 03, 2022 12:47 PM | Anonymous


    As President of the Arizona Rural Health Association, I am honored to have accepted the responsibility to serve as the president of AzRHA for the 2022-2023 year.  I want to express my sincere gratitude for this opportunity.

    It has been a challenging couple of years with the public health emergency.  I am heartened by the strong and focused commitment of the membership that continue to serve on the AzRHA Board of Directors. AzRHA provides an excellent platform for members to develop and contribute to communities they serve.  I look forward to working toward excellence with the AzRHA Board of Directors as I have known this team to care as I do.  We serve because we care. 

    My goal is to grow, strengthen and energize the AzRHA membership, provide meaningful educational opportunities for the AzRHA membership, increase membership communication continue to advocate for rural health policy during my service as Board President. We will work on putting extra effort into outreach.

    I am sincerely grateful for past president, Elizabeth Hall-Lipsy, for her outstanding leadership during her tenure as the Board President.  Her commitment and leadership inspire me.

    Lastly, I am genuinely grateful for the trust to serve, and I will work to fulfill the goals and mission of AzRHA. I thank you for your support, guidance, and encouragement.

    Respectfully,

    Holly Figueroa
    President
    Arizona Rural Health Association


About the Association

Established in 1994, the Arizona Rural Health Association, Inc. (AzRHA) serves as an independent organization after serving as the Advisory Committee of the Arizona Center for Rural Health for many years. 

Learn more about the association here

Contact Us

Arizona Rural Health Association
Email: azrhassociation@gmail.com



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