Tag Archives: Will Humble

childbirth

Arizona achieves substantial reduction in preterm birth

Nearly 1,000 babies were spared the health consequences of an early birth and potentially $52.7 million in health care and societal costs were avoided in Arizona, according to the March of Dimes.  Based on 2012 preliminary data, Arizona has reduced its rate of preterm birth from a rate of 12.7% in 2009 to 11.6% in 2012 — an 8.7% reduction. Arizona Department of Health Services and March of Dimes Arizona Chapter will today receive the March of Dimes Virginia Apgar Prematurity Campaign Leadership Award, for lowering their preterm birth rates by more than 8 percent since 2009.  Arizona’s long-term target of a premature birth rate is 9.6 percent by 2020.

“This award reflects a team effort between March of Dimes, the Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona Perinatal Trust as well as our health care organizations and agencies that have joined us to fight premature birth in Arizona,” Will Humble, Director, Arizona Department of Health Services.

The Virginia Apgar Award is given to recognize states that accepted and met a challenge from the March of Dimes and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) to lower their preterm birth rates 8 percent between 2009 and 2014.  “This progress shows that when infant health becomes a leadership priority, significant progress is possible and families and babies benefit,” says Dr. Paul E. Jarris, executive director of ASTHO.

The award is named in honor of Virginia Apgar, MD, who developed the five-point APGAR score to evaluate an infant’s health at birth, and who served as vice president for medical affairs of the March of Dimes.

Health officials in Arizona are worked closely with March of Dimes staff and volunteers on the “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” educational campaign, which urges hospitals, health care providers, and patients to follow the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines and reduce medically unnecessary elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy.  The final weeks of pregnancy are crucial to a baby’s health because many vital organs, including the brain and lungs, are still developing.

The March of Dimes says that if every state met the 8 percent challenge, it would push the nation’s preterm birth rate down to about 11 percent, giving an estimated 40,000 more babies a healthy start in life. Such a change could save about $2 billion in health care and socio-economic costs, the March of Dimes says.

Preterm birth (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy) is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine report.  It is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and others.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

In 2013, the March of Dimes celebrates its 75th Anniversary and its ongoing work to help babies get a healthy start in life.  Early research led to the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines that all babies still receive.  Other breakthroughs include new treatments for premature infants and children with birth defects.  About 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, and all have benefitted the March of Dimes life saving research and education. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com/arizona or nacersano.org.

Medical Marijuana, AZRE Magazine May/June 2011

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Operators Deal With Regulations, Landlords

Don’t look for medical marijuana dispensaries to pop up next door to your neighborhood drug store anytime soon.

Cities are wrestling with a host of issues to determine where the new businesses can set up shop, even as the Arizona Department of Health Services tries to figure out who can operate them and who can use them.

After publishing preliminary guidelines, followed by a period of public comment, ADHS issued start-up regulations on March 28.

The state agency divided Arizona into 126 community health analysis areas, or CHAAs, based on population density. The agency will issue a maximum of 124 dispensary licenses, with no more than one license within a CHAA, says Will Humble, ADHS director.

State regulators will start taking applications on June 1 and will dole out licenses starting in August after vetting the sites and the potential business owners, Humble said.

If more than one acceptable application is submitted within a CHAA’s boundaries, a lottery will decide who gets the license, he added. The first dispensary in the state could debut by fall. Humble said he expects to issue 90 to 100 licenses within the first full year of start-up. After that, ADHS will revisit the rules to determine if some tweaking is necessary.

“By the end of a year, we’ll know where the qualified patients are,” he says.

Proposed dispensary sites must comply with the zoning requirements of the municipalities they fall into, so cities have been scrambling to get zoning in place and start vetting potential locations, otherwise, they risk the state issuing licenses in unsuitable areas, says Thomas Ritz, Glendale senior planner.

Glendale passed zoning guidelines on Feb. 22, and the rules are similar to those of most cities in regard to type of site, such as office or industrial. In addition, a dispensary must be 1,320 feet from schools, 500 feet from residences, and one mile from another dispensary, Ritz says.

Scottsdale will allow medical marijuana dispensaries on campuses, and within 2,000 feet of another dispensary. Tucson will allow them to do business in retail centers, as long as they are the required distance from schools and residences.

Tucson, among the first off the block to embrace the new businesses, completed its zoning rules in November, says Craig Gross, Tucson’s deputy director for planning and development. But Gross pointed out the complexities of working within the state’s guidelines.

Tucson has 10 CHAAs within its city limits, he added, but because CHAAs are based on population density irrespective of municipality boundaries, nearly all are partly in other cities, towns or even unincorporated county land.

“That makes it interesting,” Gross says.

Tucson has a handful of applications and a dozen or so serious inquiries in some stage of processing, Gross said, but he doesn’t know if there are sites also in process by other government agencies for the same CHAAs.

And in Scottsdale, which houses two CHAAs but has about the same number of applicants or pre-applicants in the pipeline as Tucson, most of its potential operators are opting for the Scottsdale Airpark area, says Kira Wauwie, project coordinator for the city’s dispensary rollout.

Meanwhile, Glendale is bracing for a deluge of dispensary operator wannabees.

“We had a neighborhood meeting, and we had about 35 people learning, listening — a healthy stream of people asking questions,” Ritz says. “We’ll see how many turn in applications.”

But first those hopeful applicants have to snag sites that conform to state and city regulations. And even in this high-vacancy real estate market, potential landlords are leery of housing dispensaries.

“I’m surprised that individuals are finding it tough to get into a building they like,” Gross says. “Property owners don’t necessarily want to rent to them.”

Arizona real estate brokers confirm that many building owners are reluctant to lease space for dispensaries, despite the numerous hoops the potential business owners need to jump through to get a license.

Gross says building owners are slow to the table because the process is so new, and he thinks more will opt in now that ADHS rules have been set in stone — or at least for a year.

For more information about medical marijuana dispensaries, visit the Arizona Department of Health Services’ website at azdhs.gov.

AZRE Magazine May/June 2011