Monday October 22, 2018

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Health & Wellness

Press release

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Kevin Calvey released the following response about findings by the grand jury investigating the state Health Department scandal, which confirmed that wasteful spending is rampant in state government and that tax increases were unnecessary to boost important functions of government like raising teacher pay.

“The grand jury findings prove exactly what we conservatives in the Legislature have been saying all along: that the Health Department deliberately spent money on its own pet projects, what the grand jury called a ‘slush fund,’ rather than spending the money on core programs,” Calvey said. “Under cross-examination before the House Special Investigative Committee, disgraced former state Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger admitted that he approved the Health Department’s annual budgets by reviewing the same documentation as that provided by other state agencies. That means these sorts of ‘slush funds’ likely exist in perhaps dozens of other state agencies, not just in the Health Department.

“We conservatives opposed tax increases because not all of these ‘slush funds’ have yet been exposed. There is plenty of waste in state government that can be rerouted for better uses like raising teacher pay.”

Calvey urged further investigation. “Given the grand jury’s findings, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of the officials we cross-examined in the House Special Investigative Committee hearings last fall was guilty of making false statements under oath. I’m not referring to the whistleblowers. I urge the attorney general’s office to examine the record of those committee hearings to determine whether executive branch officials testified falsely to cover up gross misspending in state government.”

Wednesday, 16 May 2018 21:31

Putting patients at the center of KidneyX

May 16, 2018 By: Bruce D. Greenstein, HHS Chief Technology Officer




HHS and the ASN created KidneyX for the development of drugs, devices and digital health tools for diagnostics and treatment of kidney disease.

Dialysis patients typically spend 12 hours a week attached to a machine. I saw this firsthand caring for my mother, who spent the final 14 years of her life on dialysis. From her first day to her last, little changed in her treatment.


The current state of innovation for treatment of kidney disease is abysmal. Some 30 million Americans suffer from kidney disease, yet the solutions are nearly identical to what they were decades ago. People with chronic kidney disease deserve better from our healthcare system.


That is why the Department of Health and Human Services and the American Society of Nephrology have partnered to create the Kidney Innovation Accelerator (KidneyX). Together, we can rapidly increase the development of drugs, devices and digital health tools spanning prevention, diagnostics and treatment of kidney diseases.


KidneyX will engage various stakeholders, including nephrologists, physicians, and entrepreneurs. However, there is one stakeholder whose voice will always come first: the patient.

Today, at HHS headquarters in Washington, D.C., 10 patients suffering from chronic kidney disease met with HHS officials to tell their stories. Secretary Azar, along with staff from the FDA, CMS and NIH listened to understand how KidneyX can best support patients. I’d like to share the experience of Nichole Jefferson, who explains her journey with kidney disease:



“As a kidney transplant recipient, I am enthusiastic about Kidney X because it can save others from going through the turmoil I experienced. My kidney disease journey began in October 2003 with a visit to the emergency room. After hours of testing, I was presented with the shocking diagnosis of end-stage renal disease.


“During the emergency room visit I learned I would have to start dialysis immediately. I was somewhat familiar with dialysis because of an uncle who had experienced kidney failure in the early 1980’s. I was under the impression that in the 20-plus years that my uncle had experienced dialysis, things had changed, and it wouldn’t be as difficult as it was for him. Imagine my surprise when I realized there hadn’t been much change in the treatments and I would essentially have the same options and suffer the same horrible side effects of dialysis.


“Everyone was ‘sentenced’ to four hours of treatment, three days a week, on the same day at the same time, week after week after week. When evaluating this tight regimen along with my work schedule and LIFE, I chose peritoneal dialysis. Although I was able to be treated while I slept, it was not without complications. There were several bouts of peritonitis, some of which required extensive hospital stays.


“On June 12, 2008, I received the gift of life--a kidney transplant. The transplant allowed me to watch my daughter grow into a lovely young woman. While watching her grow, I wondered if she, too, would have this disease. Kidney X gives me hope that my daughter, along with future generations, will be able to avoid the agony I experienced with kidney disease. It is my aspiration that Kidney X brings alternatives and ultimately a cure for chronic kidney disease.”


Patients like Nichole deserve the same level of innovation as we’ve seen in treating heart disease and cancer. It’s time to move past the status quo. KidneyX is our solution.



To learn more about how KidneyX will support patients, and how patients will support KidneyX, visit


By OICA CEO Joe Dorman


The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) had the pleasure of holding several events last week, all centered on our mission. Even though the Legislature has adjourned, we carried on our plans to hold our annual Advocacy Day, partnering with Let’s Fix This, a grassroots organization that works to get people more involved with sharing their ideas with policymakers. Our event hosted more than two dozen advocates who were there to learn about how to correspond with legislators and other elected officials. These advocacy skills are critical, especially in the new world of social media. The attendees all walked away with a better understanding of the process and an ability to more effectively present their ideas and leverage their own expertise with lawmakers. This will not be the last of these training sessions this year, so I encourage you to check out for upcoming events.


OICA also hosted the first of our 35th Anniversary celebrations with a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion Pavilion. We were honored to hear from Governor Mary Fallin, Health & Human Services Cabinet Secretary Steven Buck, and Kid Governor Audrey Patton. We also heard from Laura Choate, an OICA board member and plaintiff in the Terry D. Lawsuit, the case which exposed widespread abuse within the foster care system and ultimately led to the creation of OICA. The speeches were all upbeat and challenged the lunch-goers to engage more in policy and let their voices be heard. The event tied in perfectly with our training and we greatly appreciate Governor Fallin designating Wednesday, May 9 designated as OICA Child Advocacy Day for the State of Oklahoma (click here to view the proclamation). We will have several other events later in the year, so please join us for one of the celebrations!


We finished off the week with a very special occasion: the annual Flux Party. This event, taken over by OICA this year, recognizes the Oklahoma youth who will either graduate from high school or receive their GED. We were honored to host this party, with the support of LeNorman Properties, Youth Villages and Bama Companies. This event allowed these young graduates the chance to celebrate their successes and receive recognition. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services invited the graduates and OICA partnered with them to have a dinner, music, a graduation ceremony and a graduation gift for each student. For some, this might be the only graduation party they receive as they prepare to age out of the system and enter life following school.


Over the past year, OICA has redirected much of our direct service to supporting foster youth, with this party and OK Foster Wishes. We are very happy that we have been able to work with the many partners to see this endeavor be successful. If you would like to be a part of one of these programs, please reach out to us at (405) 236-5437 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. We are a statewide program, so we are looking for Oklahomans from every part of the state to join with us for the children who need that extra help!



About OICA
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens, to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk.

Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action and changing policy to improve the health, safety and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.“


Press release

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) seeks input from private and public agencies, organizations, private citizens and consumers to develop an effective statewide comprehensive child abuse prevention plan.

Public input is being requested from individuals who are willing to provide feedback by completing a brief questionnaire available at The deadline for submitting input via the online questionnaire is Friday, June 1.

This survey provides an opportunity for the public to share input on community resources in their area. Responses will be used to develop the upcoming five-year Oklahoma State Plan for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

“Child abuse and neglect is a complex issue,” said OSDH grant coordinator Sherie Trice. “Information is being gathered statewide to ascertain current services and gaps, identify geographical areas with greatest need, pinpoint supports that are most valued, and further assess family needs and how those needs can be addressed. We want to know what you think works best to protect children in your community and across the state.”
The focus of the survey is on awareness, availability, and use of community resources that target identified risk factors for child maltreatment. The information gleaned will help determine what community-specific programs individuals are aware of and use, as well as what is still needed.

For questions or more information about the State Plan for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, contact the OSDH Family Support and Prevention Office by phone at (405) 271-7611 or by email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. A stakeholder survey is also available per request.


Press release

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter has joined 12 other state attorneys general in asking a federal appeals court to rehear a case in front of the full court after a three judge panel decided that Ohio must provide funding to Planned Parenthood.

In the brief, attorneys general argue the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit contradicts prior court decisions, including the Supreme Court that has repeatedly ruled that states do not have to provide taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood.

Attorney General Hunter said the ruling has potential to negatively impact Oklahoma’s laws that ban the use of public funds for abortions and abortion providers.

“The state of Oklahoma has defended the sanctity of human life by passing laws that protect the unborn,” Attorney General Hunter said. "The ruling by the 6th Circuit undermines a state’s authority to oversee and appropriate taxpayer dollars. I continue to be an ardent supporter of the right to life and am proud to stand with my colleagues to contest any attempt to abridge laws that protect the unborn.”

In question is a 2016 law that banned Ohio abortion provider advocates from receiving state funds for six health care programs. Last month, the three judge panel on the 6th Circuit found Ohio’s law unfairly punished Planned Parenthood by taking away funding for the programs because the organization promotes abortion.

The brief argues, Ohio has a clear policy that prefers childbirth over abortion and does not want to use taxpayer dollars to promote abortion. In any of these programs, Ohio faces the risk of funding Planned Parenthood, which would promote abortion with taxpayer dollars.

“When the government disburses public funds to private entities to convey a governmental message, it may take legitimate and appropriate steps to ensure that its message is neither garbled nor distorted by the grantee,” attorneys general write, citing a prior U.S. Supreme Court decision. “What could be a more legitimate and appropriate step to keep one’s message of preferring childbirth over abortion from being garbled than to decide to not choose a speaker who spends much of its time communicating the opposite message?”

In addition to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, the brief was signed by attorneys general of Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Wednesday, 09 May 2018 11:13

Summer EBT for Children Apply Now!

Press release





To apply online, go to

To apply over the phone, call (580) 272-1178 or (844) 256-3467

(8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday).


This federally-funded program is open to both Native American and Non-Native students. Qualifying families will receive an EBT card (works like a debit card) that allows you to purchase healthy food for the summer.


- Participation in this program will not impact any government assistance you and your child currently receive.
- Information provided by you on the consent form, or any records obtained for this program, will be kept confidential as allowed by law, and will be used only for this project.
- Once approved, Summer EBT cards will be mailed to the address you provided, along with a list of participating stores and a food card shopping list that will help you identify approved food items.


To learn more, call (580) 272-1178 or (844) 256-3467 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Press release


The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), the Pottawatomie County Health Department and Citizen Potawatomi Nation Health Services are investigating possible exposures to a person with measles.

Measles was identified in a person from another state who had visited the Shawnee area in April. Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease. The virus many remain airborne up to two hours in a room after the person with measles has left an indoor area.

Based on collected information, persons who visited the following locations may have been exposed to the measles virus at the locations and times below:

• FireLake Discount Foods (1570 Gordon Cooper Drive) in Shawnee, Oklahoma from 7:00pm-9:30 pm on Friday, April 27th. Any persons that worked or visited this grocery store during this date and time are considered exposed.
• Nail Spa (4409 N Kickapoo Avenue, Ste. 103) in Shawnee, Oklahoma from 4:00 pm-7:30 pm on Saturday, April 28th. Any persons that attended or visited the nail salon during this date and time are considered exposed.

The OSDH is collaborating with officials of these organizations to identify persons that may have visited the above mentioned locations to inform them of their exposure and provide recommendations. Persons are protected if they are immunized with two doses of a measles-containing vaccine after the first birthday, or if they were born during or before 1957.

Those who think they may have been at risk of exposure should review their immunization records and contact the Pottawatomie County Health Department at 405-273-2157 or the OSDH epidemiologist-on-call at 800-234-5963 (24/7/365 availability). Citizen Potawatomi Nation Health Services provides care for all Native Americans.


Tribal members may call 405-273-5236 and ask for Public Health.

Persons who are susceptible to measles usually develop symptoms about 10 days after exposure with a range of 7-21 days. Symptoms of measles begin with a mild to moderate fever, runny nose, red eyes, and cough. A few days later, a rash appears starting on the face spreading to the rest of the body accompanied by a fever that can reach up to 105 degrees. Measles can lead to pneumonia and other complications, especially in young children and adults over 20. The disease can also cause serious problems in pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.

Individuals that were exposed and are not experiencing symptoms of illness do not need to be evaluated by a healthcare provider. If you experience symptoms of illness suggestive of measles, contact your healthcare provider before presenting for care to discuss instructions for check-in and registration.

People with measles can spread the virus up to four days before the onset of the rash and until four days after the rash starts. Measles can be prevented with the measles vaccine (usually given in combination with rubella and mumps, called MMR vaccine), and is recommended for all children at 12 to 15 months of age and again at four to six years of age. If a person has not received a second dose of the vaccine between four to six years of age, the booster dose may be given at any age thereafter.


Two doses of vaccine normally provide lifelong immunity.

Saturday, 05 May 2018 23:18

OSDH Recognizes Public Health Nurses

Press release

During National Nurses Week May 6-12, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) will recognize the approximately 250 public health nurses who work in county health departments and at the OSDH central office in Oklahoma City.

Unlike other nursing specialties, public health nursing works to improve the health outcomes of entire populations rather than just one patient at a time.


In many communities, public health nurses are often the first line of defense to prevent illness and injury.


Public health nurses are also leaders in improving the quality of care and access to care through health policy advocacy that supports improving the quality of life for all.

This year’s theme for National Nurses Week is “Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence.”

“Nurses are ideally positioned to be the best role models,” said Ann Benson, director of the OSDH Nursing Service. “They are educators and advocates of health and wellness. We want Oklahomans to appreciate the full range of public health nurses’ contributions to their communities.”

Public health nurses lead initiatives to increase access to care and improve outcomes by focusing on primary care, prevention, wellness, chronic disease management and the coordination of care among health care providers and settings.


These nurses are even more crucial in helping plan how to expand primary care at community-based clinics in the most efficient and cost-effective ways possible, while recognizing the distinct needs of diverse communities.

“From the beginning of public health’s collaboration with emergency preparedness agencies, our nurses have been critical in responding to public health crisis events that occur in Oklahoma,” Benson said.

For more information about the nursing profession, or to find nursing jobs in Oklahoma, visit the Oklahoma Nurses Association website at



Press release

Oklahoma City—The Oklahoma Department of Human Services received a $34 million increase in appropriations for state fiscal year 2019 in the state budget signed by Governor Fallin earlier this week. The increase in appropriations, along with an expected increase in the state’s federal matching dollars for Medicaid programs (FMAP), will allow the agency to provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities on the waiting list, increase provider and foster parent reimbursement rates, and provide employees agency-wide with pay raises.

“We are extremely grateful to Governor Fallin and the Legislature for this increase which will allow us to restore some detrimental cuts and provide increases to foster and adoptive families, child care providers, and agencies serving children in our custody and seniors and people with developmental disabilities,” said Ed Lake, Director of DHS. “We appreciate the advocacy efforts of the people and families we serve as well as our partner agencies. Their diligence in telling their stories helped ensure the needs of vulnerable Oklahomans were not forgotten this year.”

The increase in appropriations will be used for the following:
• Restore the five percent (5%) rate cuts to foster care and adoption payments made in 2017 due to the budget shortfall. Rates will be increased an additional five percent (5%), including therapeutic foster care.
• Provide agency-wide employee pay raises according to provisions previously passed in House Bill 1024. Increase the salaries of Child Welfare Specialists to fulfill the obligations of year five of the Pinnacle Plan.
• Dedicate $2M for services to persons with developmental disabilities on the waiting list. DHS estimates it will be able to serve approximately 200 individuals who have been waiting the longest for Medicaid home and community-based services.
• Increase provider rates for child welfare contract group homes by seven percent (7%).
• Increase provider rates in the Advantage Medicaid waiver program for direct care, state plan personal care, and case management by seven percent (7%). Increase provider rates in all Developmental Disabilities Services Medicaid waiver programs and state-funded services by seven percent (7%). This restores the three and a half percent (3.5%) reductions made to rates in September 2015 due to revenue failures and budget cuts, and provides for an additional three and a half percent (3.5%) increase to the rates.
• Increase child care subsidy reimbursement rates. DHS is currently evaluating research on market rates and will announce the amount of child care provider rate increases in the coming weeks.
• $100,000.00 will be used to implement and maintain a program to provide respite for caregivers of persons with intellectual disabilities who qualify for Medicaid and meet the Intermediate Care Facilities for individuals with Intellectual Disability (ICF/ID) level of care. DHS will apply for a new Medicaid waiver with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) to maximize funding for the respite services. This respite program will be used to support caregivers who are on the waiting list for home and community-based services.


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