Health Care Agency - What's Up - keeping staff informed and current

Issue 13-07

July 2013

Inside this issue …


Sanchez appointed Assistant DirectorRichard Sanchez, MPH, Assistane Director

Congratulations to Richard Sanchez, MPH on being appointed as HCA’s Assistant Director. Mr. Sanchez has more than 29 years of experience in public health administration. He previously served as the HCA Director of Environmental Health (EH), a position he held for eight years.

Prior to his tenure in Orange County, Mr. Sanchez served as Director of Environmental Health for the Sacramento Environmental Health Department and as Program Director and Field Staff for the San Bernardino Environmental Health Department.

Since joining the County in 2005, Mr. Sanchez has served HCA with distinction. Under his leadership, HCA EH is a two-time award recipient of the Business Council’s “Turning Red Tape into Red Carpet,” an honor given in recognition of the collaborative work with business and cities to promote economic growth while protecting the public.

Mr. Sanchez holds a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from the University of California at Irvine, a Master of Public Health from Loma Linda University, and is a graduate of the Orange County Leadership Academy. He began his new role on June 28 and is supported by Executive Secretary Marsi Hartwell. Please join HCA in welcoming Mr. Sanchez to his new role as HCA Assistant Director.



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Board approves FY13/14 MHSA Plan Update

On June 18, 2013, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the FY 13/14 Update to the County’s Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Plan. The Plan provides funding, personnel, and other resources in support of county mental health programs.

The goal of these programs is to reduce the long-term adverse impact of untreated serious mental illness and serious emotional disturbance through the expanded use of successful, innovative, and evidence-based practices.

Components of MHSA include Community Services and Supports, Workforce Education and Training, Capital Facilities and Technology, Prevention and Early Intervention, and Innovations.

The Plan was developed through an extensive community planning process with input from many diverse stakeholders. Orange County has received MHSA funding since 2005. This funding has been used to provide approximately 100 new programs that enhance the mental health wellness of our community.

Approval of the Plan will allow those programs/services to continue at current funding levels, as well as to implement eight new Innovations Projects. The eight new Innovations Projects are subject to the approval of the Statewide MHSA Oversight and Accountability Commission. The total amount of funding approved is approximately $104,000,000.

The entire FY 13/14 MHSA Plan Update may be found on the MHSA website at

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Safety Corner logoSummer Safety Tips

Thank you and congratulations to those who have completed the 2013 Annual Safety Training Refresher! This year the Safety training included a brief survey requesting feedback regarding experiences with some of the resources offered by the Safety Program. The survey results will be utilized to enhance the program to better serve HCA and its employees. If you have not yet had the opportunity to take the training, please do so at your earliest opportunity. For assistance logging onto Training Partner, please contact HCA Safety at 714-834-7233 (714-834-SAFE).

Have you checked out the Safety Program website lately? It contains new pages with information on Ergonomics, the Facility Inspection process and Bloodborne Pathogens training. Additionally, the Department Safety Representative (DSR) Resources page and Safety Forms page have been updated. Access the website at

Remember that safety carries over into your personal life as well. Summer is here, and with it comes the warm weather that allows us plan the fun outdoor activities that we enjoy such as going to the beach for a swim or the lake for an afternoon picnic. Most everyone is aware that they must have plenty of water and sunscreen when they enjoy their various outside activities. However, according to Cal/OSHA, many California employees still suffer from heat related illnesses during the summer months while working outdoors. Though many HCA employees work indoors, there may be times when staff may be exposed to extreme heat during a work day. This may be due to the fact that HCA has a diverse workforce that often participates in health fairs, handles public emergencies, and drives to many facilities or even patients’ homes.

It is important to keep in mind that heat illness can occur at any time regardless if it is playing all day at the beach, or handing out prevention flyers at a health fair. With that said, HCA Safety would like to provide some helpful tips (courtesy of Cal/OSHA) to all HCA employees who may become exposed to extreme heat on the job.

For more tips regarding heat illness prevention, please go to the following site: These tips are sponsored by Cal/OSHA and provide good advice to keep us healthy and safe when working outdoors during hot weather. For more information regarding on the job heat exposure, please contact the HCA Safety program at (714) 834-SAFE or your unit Departmental Safety Representative.

Safety Line 714-834-SAFE Compliance Hotline (866) 260-5636-The HCA Compliance Program offers a confidential telephone hotline to vice your concerns about any situation that may conflict with Compliance Program principles. You may call the hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the number shown above.

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US Health Researchers Look to Cuba for Better Outcomes
Team welcomed by Cuban officials

Collage of photos from Cuban research tripFor many Americans, Cuba is perceived as a forbidden island associated with Soviet era revolutionary leaders mixed with distant memories of cold war politics that culminated in the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960s. Although the country maintains its Communist ideology, Cuba has evolved from a bourgeois playground in the 1950s to a vibrant and emerging developing Caribbean nation that has some of the region’s best health and disaster programs.

Eleven health care professionals were selected to be part of a research team to examine Cuba’s distinguished public health and advanced emergency disaster infrastructure. For most of the team’s researchers, including HCA Health Promotion Division’s Joe Vargas, it was their second Cuban visit since their initial research visit in 2010. The 2-week research study was composed of a variety of health care individuals including emergency physician assistants, nurses, a pharmacist, a research scientist, public health officials, a firefighter, paramedics, and a medical equipment designer.

Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC), an Oakland-based non-profit organization served as the group’s official academic advisors throughout the visit, arranging meetings with Cuban officials at Hospitals, Clinics, Public Health Ministry, Red Cross, National Ambulance Service, Meteorological Institute, schools and community organizations. The group was allowed special permission visas under the US Treasury Department general license for professional research that includes full-time health related professionals conducting research in Cuba.

Polyclinics: Cuba’s answer to community health

The research group followed a Cuban government approved itinerary that was nonstop, covering three main cities; Habana, Santa Clara, and Cienfuegos. The trip initiated with field visits to Cuba’s unique and efficient public health clinics termed Polyclinics. The strategically placed clinics serve as a hub for the neighborhood that include a doctor/nurse team that live in the community and an accredited research and teaching center for medical, nursing and allied health science students. In addition to providing primary care at their office, the doctor/nurse team make visits to the homes of their patients to conduct health audits and home care visits. Secondary care is provided at the Polyclinic facility where there are specialists that include lab, X-ray, physical and occupational therapy, dental, acupuncture and other services not offered in the neighborhood medical office. Tertiary care is provided at larger hospitals in larger cities for surgery and other more specialized treatments.

The polyclinics are responsible for about 80-130 families in their catchment area. One unique requirement is that Polyclinics are required to continually monitor and routinely conduct a health assessment of the neighborhood population they are responsible for and to transform the service offered by the clinic, based on these needs.

As it was explained to the US researchers, if the data or health picture of the community indicates that there is an increase in a health issue like smoking, then services like cessation counseling sessions would be increased a few days a week. Likewise, if there is an increase in a communicable disease in the community, then extra campaigns, monitoring and education would be directed expeditiously within the community to deter further cases.

Polyclinic officials commented that because of their lack of financial ability to purchase costly medical equipment and supplies, Cuba medical personnel rely intensely on primary prevention efforts because they understand this to be the most cost-effective alternative to prevent future medical complications. A quick look at Cuba’s health indicators are a reflection of the strong preventive primary-care structure enacted for the last 40 years. Many of these numbers surpass or are equal to industrialized countries in the world. According to WHO, Cuba has one of the world’s highest life expectancies at 77 years (WHO, 2008). The Health Care Agency’s 2012 Healthy Places, Healthy People report indicates that the average life expectancy in Orange County is 81.5 years.

After their return to the US, the research team is processing information for submission to academic journals for publication and scheduling presentations to share their experiences in Cuba to interested organizations.

World Health Organization, The World Health Report 2008: Primary Health Care Now More Than Ever. Geneva, 2008.

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Making a splash without a pool!

You’ve probably seen water play fountains around. They’re popping up all over Orange County’s amusement parks, hotel resorts, and even outdoor malls. These are an innovative, fun alternative to the beloved swimming pool for “beating the heat” on a hot summer day. People commonly refer to them as splash pads, water playgrounds, or wet decks. They can be as simple as a patio deck with spouting water nozzles to a jungle-gym playground equipped with water cannons, splash buckets, and overhead spray devices. The activity in these areas draws attention, giving momentum to the growing trend.      

What you may not be aware of is that because the water is re-circulated, just like a swimming pool, there is potential for transmission of waterborne diseases. Rest assured that these fun filled areas are evaluated for public health and safety by HCA Environmental Health.   

In the regulatory world, these are referred to as spray grounds or interactive water features. Before construction Environmental Health reviews the design of the reservoir tank and the filtration and disinfectant systems, to ensure that each meet applicable health and safety standards. These water features are then inspected periodically for disinfection levels and safety equipment.  

For more information about Environmental Health’s Pool safety program, please visit their web page at

Photo of kids playing in water play fountain Photo of kids playing in water play fountain at The Hanger

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Immunization Assistance Program ROI

One of the Return on Investment (ROI) displays from Public Health Week featured the Immunization Assistance Program. Did you know that vaccines are among the most cost-effective clinical preventive services? Childhood immunization programs offer significant ROI. For example, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, each birth cohort vaccinated with the routine immunization schedule (which includes DTap, Td, Hib, Polio, MMR, Hep B, and varicella vaccines),

We celebrate the effective work of the Immunization Assistance Program and the work of so many HCA staff to assure individuals are vaccinated against infectious diseases.

Two photos for Immunization Assistance Program (IAP) This is Public Health Month
Immunization Assistance Program (IAP)

The 20th century marks substantial achievements in the control of several vaccine-preventable diseases. Since the introduction of the polio vaccine in 1955, federal, state, and local governments and public and private health-care providers collaborated to develop and maintain the vaccine-delivery system in the United States.

As we entered the first decade of the 21st century, we experienced dramatic declines in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths related to vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines are one of the greatest achievements in biomedical science and public health.

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Salk Polio Vaccine, the Immunization Assistance Program (IAP) was involved in several activities highlighting this event. These activities represent the “Return on Investment” in Public Health.


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Used motor oil posterUsed Oil Program garners YouTube views

The Orange County Regional Used Oil Recycling Program is a partnership between Orange County Environmental Health (EH) and 23 member cities. The program aims to prevent illegal dumping of used motor oil and other petroleum products by providing residents with the tools and information they need to properly dispose of their used oil and filters free.

To help educate do-it-yourself home mechanics and boaters throughout the county, EH staff worked with film intern Michael Kennedy from Chapman University to film and edit a “How to Recycle Used Oil” video. Working on a limited budget, the video was made in a way that could be used throughout the state and be relevant. With the assistance of Hazardous Waste Specialist III Dean Freed from EH and a Napa Auto Parts store in Brea, the video has garnered thousands of views on YouTube since its posting.

The video can be accessed both in English and Spanish on Environmental Health’s Used Oil website at and the Used Oil Facebook page at

Environmental Health has shared video YouTube links with CalRecycle, as well as many local cities and counties from central California all the way down to San Diego where regional Household Hazardous Waste Information Exchange (HHWIE) meetings are held. EH has also encouraged other jurisdictions to use their content if they were short on resources.

Video links were also shared with the 23 participating cities within the Orange County Regional Used Oil Program, as well as high schools, ROP and community college auto shop programs where staff provide pollution prevention presentations.

In addition to the video, several Used Oil Recycling newspaper, billboard, and bus advertisements can be seen throughout the County. For more information about the program, visit the EH website at


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August Health Observances

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We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility. —Rabindranath Tagore.

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What's UP is a newsletter for employees of the County of Orange, CA, Health Care Agency.

Tricia Landquist
Deanne Thompson
Anne Fialcowitz

Phone (714) 834-6644
FAX (714) 834-7644
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