Senate Approves Appointment of Carmona to Surgeon General
On July 23, the Senate approved the nomination of Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., to be the U.S. Surgeon General. Carmona is currently a clinical professor of surgery, public health, and family and community medicine at the University of Arizona, and chair of the state of Arizona Southern Regional Emergency Medical System. He has also served as chief executive officer of the Pima Health Care System and as a police officer with the Pima County Sheriff's SWAT team. Carmona replaces David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., who stepped down as Surgeon General in February.
HHS Grants to Help Create Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced the granting of $2 million to assist local officials develop volunteer Medical Reserve Corps units to strengthen the local public health infrastructure. Local communities can apply for grants up to $50,000. The Medical Reserve Corps units will consist of community-led, community-based volunteers who can assist medical professionals and facilities during large-scale local emergencies, such as naturally occurring influenza epidemics, hazardous materials spills, or acts of terrorism. Volunteers would also aid their communities with ongoing public health needs, such as immunizations, blood drives, health and nutrition education, anti-smoking campaigns, and increased physical activity campaigns. The volunteers would include current or retired health care professionals, communications/public relations professionals, social workers, health care administrators, and clergy. These volunteer units are not intended to replace any existing emergency response systems. The Medical Reserve Corps is part of the USA Freedom Corps, which is part of the President's volunteer service initiative. For more information about the Medical Reserve Corps grants, visitwww.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/mrc. More information about the USA Freedom Corps is available atwww.usafreedomcorps.gov orwww.citizencorps.gov.
AAFP Launches HIPAA Information Web Site
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recently created an AAFP Web site (www.aafp.org/hipaa.xml) that provides high-quality, reliable information and offers assistance to physicians who are preparing for compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). For those physicians who are just beginning the process of complying with HIPAA, the Web site links to several resources, including HIPAA-related articles in Family Practice Management, the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Toolkit for Small Group Practices, the American Medical Association (AMA) Field Guide to HIPAA Implementation, and the HHS Administrative Simplification Web site. The site also includes tools and tips for HIPAA implementation for each set of standards: transactions and code set, privacy, and security. The HIPAA legislation was passed by Congress in 1996, with the following goals: simplifying the administration of health insurance claims and lowering costs; giving patients more control and access to their health care information; and protecting the privacy of individually identifiable medical information.
Initiative Seeks to Improve Physician Education on Pesticide Issues
The National Environmental Education and Training Foundation (NEETF) recently released the National Strategies for Health Care Providers: Pesticides Initiative, which is focused on improving health care professionals' recognition, management, and prevention of pesticide poisonings and overexposures by increasing education, practice skills, and resource linkages for pesticide-related health issues. The initiative calls for all health care professionals to acquire a basic knowledge of the health effects of pesticides and the treatments and preventive public health strategies available to address them. Priority projects of the initiative include: a national forum conference to be held in Washington, D.C., September 18 to 20, 2002, published guidelines for national pesticide competency and practice skills, an information gateway that provides pesticide resources, and a national review board to assess pesticide resources. Examples of pesticides include disinfectants and cleaning products; household insect repellents; rat and rodent poisons; flea and tick sprays, powder, and pet collars; some lawn and garden products; and some swimming pool chemicals. NEETF developed the initiative in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and in collaboration with the HHS, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Labor, and a wide range of stakeholders.
HRSA Awards Funds to Centers for Children with Special Health Care Needs
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the HHS awarded first-year grants totaling more than $540,000 to six community-based organizations to create a network of statewide centers run by families of children with special health care needs to help other families with special needs children. The organizations will receive annual grants from HRSA's Maternal and Child Health Bureau for the next four years, for a total of over $2 million. An estimated 18 percent of children in the United States have special health care needs. The centers, called Family-To-Family Health Care Information and Education Centers for Families of Children with Special Health Care Needs, will offer health and related information to families and health care professionals for improving health decision making; assistance on gaining greater access to and making better use of services within communities; and educational and leadership opportunities to family members. The technical assistance and training will be provided by Family Voice, a national grassroots family organization funded by a cooperative agreement with HRSA. For more information on the division of services for children with special health needs, visitwww.mchb.hrsa.gov, and click on “About MCHB.”