EMS Week in Virginia, May 20-26, honors EMS responders’ commitment to providing lifesaving services. EMS for Children Day, May 23, focuses on raising awareness of specialized care for pediatric patients. Last year, EMS providers responded to more than 1.46 million calls for help in Virginia, approximately 4,000 incidents per day.
Many EMS agencies across the state will host community activities, including first aid classes, health and safety fairs, open houses, fundraising dinners and more. These family-friendly events welcome everyone to meet and greet the first responders in their neighborhoods.
To learn more about the Virginia Department of Health Office of EMS, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/emergency-medical-services/.
Public pools and beaches around Virginia begin to open in late May, making this the ideal time to talk about ways to reduce the risk of recreational water-associated illness, drowning, and injury in our communities. Water is not only fun to play and cool off in, but just a few hours of water-based physical activity per week can offer low-impact health benefits for everyone!
At pools, spas, and waterparks:
- Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea.
- Don’t swallow the water.
- Every hour take kids on bathroom breaks. Change diapers in the restroom, not poolside, to keep germs away from the pool.
- Read and follow directions on pool chemical product labels.
- Wear appropriate safety equipment (goggles, for example) when handling pool chemicals.
- Secure pool chemicals to protect people, particularly children and animals, from accidental exposure.
- NEVER add pool chemicals when the pool is in use, and only add them poolside when directed by the product label.
Safely recreating in Virginia’s natural streams, rivers, and lakes:
- Look for beach advisory signs along public access points or along the beach. Many public beaches in Virginia are monitored for bacteria levels. An advisory is posted if these levels are too high. If the beach is under advisory, stay out of the water.
- All natural bodies of water contain bacteria, including salt water. Salty water will not disinfect wounds. If you have broken skin, stay out of the water.
- Avoid swimming in natural waters for at least three days after heavy rain.
- Don’t swim when you are sick. You can spread germs in the water and make other people sick.
- Avoid getting water up your nose. Use a nose clip or plug your nose before going under the water.
- If you become sick after being in the water, report your water activities to your doctor.
- Shower with soap and water before and after swimming.
- Keep children and pets from swimming in scummy water. If you see mats of algae or discolored green, red, or brown water, an algae bloom may be present.
- Report harmful algal blooms or large groups of dead fish to the HAB Hotline at:
It is also important to remember that drowning is the leading cause of injury and death for children ages 1-4 years. To keep swimmers safe in the water:
- Make sure everyone knows how to swim.
- Use life jackets and wear them appropriately.
- Provide continuous attentive supervision near swimmers.
- Know CPR. Find a class near you.
- Use sunscreen. Apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
- Install and maintain barriers like 4-sided fencing and weight-bearing pool covers.
- Use locks or alarms for pool access points.
To learn more about staying safe in pools and natural waters, visit swimhealthyva.com.
Communication disorders are among the most common disabilities in children nationwide, with 11% of children ages 3–6 having a speech, language, voice, or swallowing disorder—and almost 15% of school-age children experiencing some degree of hearing loss. Timely intervention is important, as untreated speech/language and hearing disorders can lead to problems with reading and writing, academic success, social interactions, behavioral problems, and more. These disorders are highly treatable and, in some cases, can be reversed or even prevented. The Virginia Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program (EHDI) encourages families to learn the early signs of hearing loss and seek follow up testing as early as possible for their child. Please join the VA EHDI program in raising awareness for better hearing and speech development for children during the entire month of May!
As the weather warms up and you plan on spending more time outdoors be sure to keep the bugs away while you play! Ticks and Mosquitoes can make you sick. They can carry illnesses like Lyme disease, West Nile and Zika. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents to keep you and your family safe this summer.
When emergencies like hurricanes hit Virginia, there are ways you can help. One way is by joining the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). Virginia’s MRC is a force of dedicated volunteers who stand ready to support the community in the event of a public health emergency. Each of Virginia’s 27 local MRC units is comprised of teams of medical and public health professionals who, along with interested community members, volunteer their skills, expertise and time to support ongoing public health initiatives and assist during emergencies throughout Virginia. Learn more and sign up.
All adults can benefit from thinking about what their health care choices would be if they are unable to speak for themselves. These decisions can be written down in an advance directive so that others know what they are. VDH provides a free, secure tool to store end of life documents that protect your legal rights and ensure your medical wishes are honored if you are unable to manage your own care. Visit the Advance Health Care Directive Registry to get started.
This week, the Virginia Department of Health celebrates National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW).
NIIW is an annual observance that highlights the importance of vaccines for infants. The week celebrates the work of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities.
As part of NIIW, one healthcare provider in Virginia is selected as the state winner of the CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award. This award recognizes a provider who contributes to public health by promoting childhood immunization.
This year’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award winner is Dr. Cyrelda Fermin of Alexandria, VA. Dr. Fermin is a pediatrician who speaks English, Filipino, and Spanish. She uses her multilingual abilities to provide care for families who are not native English speakers. Through her efforts, she has helped ensure high pediatric immunization rates in her community.
Congratulations, Dr. Fermin! And congratulations to Donna Deadrick of Carilion Children’s Pediatric Medicine and Cathie Harrington of Wythe Physicians Practices who were also nominated. The hard work of healthcare professionals across the state helps to ensure a healthy start for Virginia’s youngest residents. VDH thanks everyone who serves as an immunization champion for their community!
April is STD Awareness Month! The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are reaching out to healthcare providers and patients alike with this very important message: Treat
What does that mean?
For providers, this involves many aspects of patient care – from fostering a trusting patient-provider relationship to ensuring that your patients are correctly diagnosed and treated – and everything in between.
For patients, this means knowing what you can do to stay safe and healthy and how to directly ask your provider for the care that you need and deserve.
At a time when STDs are at a record high, it’s never been more important to protect your patients’ sexual health as a provider, or stand up for your own sexual health as a patient. Having a strong patient-provider relationship is always important, and the stronger these relationships are, the weaker STDs will become.
Each year, the first week of April serves as a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation’s health. Check back each day this week to learn more about what some local health districts are doing this year to celebrate public health and focus on making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation:
Richmond City Health District
Richmond City Health District (RCHD) is taking a different approach this year and bringing focus to one single topic: how the kinds of neighborhoods we live in create (or limit) our ability to pursue health and well-being. RCHD has partnered with 21 other organizations who are all in the housing space, or are deeply interested in the topic of mixed-income and mixed-use communities, for a campaign called The Power of Home. The campaign will include a spread in Style Weekly, 4 podcasts with local and national housing experts, social media messaging across all mediums, an email newsletter to 700 + RCHD contacts and an interview with RCHD Health Director Dr. Danny Avula on WRIR (97.3) on Monday, April 9 at 12pm. Learn more about RCHD and The Power of Home at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/richmond-city/.