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Flu Cases Increasing Rapidly - But There's Still Time to Get a Flu Shot (Jan. 2017)

2017's flu season is taking off in Larimer County and across Colorado. So far this season, 26 county residents have been hospitalized with influenza - 21 of these have been since the beginning of the year. Visits to physician offices for respiratory symptoms are also increasing.

This season the predominant type of influenza has been A(H3N2), which is likely to be more severe in older adults. The average age of local residents hospitalized is 58; the median age is 65. Six nursing homes/assisted living facilities in Larimer County have been affected. Some hospital systems have implemented restrictions on visitors.

Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, Larimer County Health Department Director, stressed that even though most influenza cases are occurring in older persons, people of any age can still get very ill from the flu - especially if they have health conditions that put them at risk for flu complications. That's why she recommends flu shots for anyone over 6 months old. The component in this year's vaccine against the A(H3N2) flu has changed from prior years' vaccines and should provide better protection.

The Health Department recommends that those who have not yet had a flu vaccination get one soon, because it takes about two weeks to provide protection. The vaccine is especially important for pregnant women and people with chronic diseases. Vaccination is the best way to help prevent the flu. But it's also very important to wash hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, and stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading flu in schools and the workplace.

For more information on flu and flu vaccination, go to the CDC website. For information on Health Department's immunization clinics, go to the Health Department webpage.
 
Start the New Year Smoke-Free! (Jan. 2017)

Every year, millions of people all over the country make New Year's resolutions to change and improve their lives. Many of these people renew their commitment to quitting smoking, one of the best things you can do for better health.

If you are one of those who would like to make 2017 the year that you finally kick the habit for good, there are some steps you can take to improve your chances of success:
  • First, start by making the decision to believe that you can quit smoking. One of the most important characteristics of successful "quitters" is their belief that they truly have the ability to quit smoking.
  • Remind yourself that quitting smoking is an adventure. If you approach it with this attitude, planning for that adventure can be good experience.
  • Pick a quit date. You may wish to contact your doctor for information on smoking-cessation medications/nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, such as gum or patches.
  • Enroll in a quit-tobacco program to increase your chances of success. See the information below about the Health District's Step Free from Tobacco program.
  • Work to improve your nutrition and increase your physical activity. Breaking out of old patterns will help improve your health and fuel your success.
  • Finally, no matter how important it is to you to quit smoking, no matter how confident you are of your ability to succeed, your desire to quit is secondary unless you step out and just do it! Don't give up. Most smokers try several times before they finally are successful at giving up smoking for good. Quitting smoking is a process. Even lapses along the way can be used as learning experiences. Remind yourself that you can quit smoking.

  • It's a new year, it's a new beginning, and it's a great time to make that resolution to "Step Free" from that tobacco habit! Best wishes for a happy, prosperous and smoke-free New Year!


    The next Step Free from Tobacco class begins Wednesday, Jan. 18, 6:00-7:30pm, at the Health District, 120 Bristlecone Drive in north Fort Collins. The six-week class includes free nicotine replacement patches, gum or lozenges.

    If you are unable to attend this class, we offer classes periodically throughout the year, and individual counseling is also available by appointment.

    The cost for the program for residents of the Health District is $10-$100 per person, depending on income. Out-of-district residents pay $100. A "buddy discount" of 25 percent is available for district residents who enroll in the program with a friend or family member.

    For more information and to register, call 970-224-5209 or visit healthdistrict.org/quitsmoking.
     
    Winter Bike to Work Day on Dec. 14 (2016)

    On Wednesday, Dec. 14, Fort Collins will celebrate ten years of Winter Bike to Work Day. People who ride their bike that day will find 30 breakfast stations located throughout Fort Collins. The event encourages people to bicycle for transportation; highlights Fort Collins' extensive bike routes; and demonstrates that bicycling is an easy, fun and healthy means of traveling around the city.

    Come visit any of the breakfast stations from 7:00 to 9:30am, offering a variety of free breakfast foods, quick bike maintenance and more. For more information, visit the city's Bike Winter webpage.

    Bike to Work Day will also mark the launch of the "Eco-Totem" bicycle counter - an 8-foot totem at Remington and Lake Street, which will display in real time the number of people who have bicycled past each day. Join FC Bikes at the breakfast station on Remington at Lake Street to celebrate this exciting new infrastructure, and watch your number tick up on the display.
     
    Health District's Community Health Assessment (Nov. 2016)

    Every three years, the Health District collects information about the health-care needs of our community. We use this information to plan our programs and services, and we also share data with other organizations that are working to improve the health of local residents.

    This process is called the Community Health Assessment, and we need your input. The Community Health Survey was mailed to randomly selected households in Larimer County. The survey asks people a wide range of questions about their health and use of health-care services. The information is kept confidential. If you received the survey in the mail, we hope that you will participate! The survey can be mailed back or completed online.

    We also will host a series of open meetings in November to discuss local health-care issues, and you can tell us what you think about health care in our community. Forums are scheduled to get input from health-care providers, seniors, business leaders, mental health providers, the Spanish-speaking community and others. The forums are scheduled for Nov. 15-17. If you would like to attend one of the Community Health Forums, contact Katherine at kchu@healthdistrict.org or call 970-224-5209.

    If you have questions about the survey or the overall assessment process, please contact Sue Hewitt, Evaluation Coordinator at the Health District, shewitt@healthdistrict.org or 970-224-5209.
     
    Health Data on Health Tracker Website for Larimer County (Oct. 2016)

    Community organizations, students, reporters and interested county residents will find a useful source of health data from the Larimer Health Tracker website. This website can be valuable to those who previously relied on the Health section of the Larimer County Compass website, which was discontinued in 2012.

    The new tool can be found online at www.larimerhealthtracker.org and serves as a hub for Larimer County health data collected by local, state and national organizations. Overall, more than 700 health indicators are available, including selected socioeconomic and environmental measures that strongly affect a community's health status.

    While national and state health data resources currently exist, they can be difficult to find and to navigate. The Larimer Health Tracker provides a user-friendly way to search for specific health indicators, while also displaying the information by age, gender, income and education level, where available. The site includes results of the Health District of Northern Larimer County's triennial Community Health Survey, as well as Larimer County-specific health data from national and state data sets.

    In 2012, the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment began conducting a comprehensive community-wide assessment of the health status of the community. This assessment was part of the initial phase of a five-year Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) headed up by LCDHE. In discussions with local leaders, human service agencies, and nonprofit organizations, the need for a centralized location for local health data was identified.

    Agencies in Larimer County rely on health data to identify areas of concern, assess gaps in services, as well as to support the need for funding to help fill those gaps. The Larimer Health Tracker has the ability to show historical trends over time, as well as compare local, state and national health indicators.
     

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