December 15th: News Round-Up

Two stories stuck out today regarding the spike in drug-affected babies in NICUs and the impact of disasters on school absence. 

Kalter: Spike in drug-affected infants forces NICUs to get creative, Boston Herald

Summary of above linked article:

UMASS Memorial Medical Center has seen a spike in infants in their NICU with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). While this article is focused on Worcester, this issue is relevant for healthcare providers across the State. At the beginning of 2017, a statewide Interagency Task Force on Newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome was established to assess "existing services and programs in the Commonwealth for mothers and newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome, identify service gaps, and formulate a cross-system action plan for collecting data, developing outcome goals, and address service and support gaps in the Commonwealth" (Executive Office of Health and Human Services, 2016). To view the Task Force reports and meeting minutes, visit: In addition, there are two Powerpoint slides which discuss the State's plan for addressing NAS and Health Policy Commission Investments in NAS.  


Executive Office of Health and Human Services. (2016, November 01). Interagency Task Force on Newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from

Natural Disasters And The Implications Of Missing So Much School, NPR

Summary of above linked article:

When it comes to natural disasters, the emphasis is often placed on the recovery of a community; however, full recovery is not achieved by simply rebuilding destroyed structures.  As we have seen with the latest hurricane season, students may end up missing substantial amounts of school over time and across wide swaths of an impacted area, "Across nine states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, at least 9 million students missed some amount of school this fall due to a natural disaster, according to an NPR Ed analysis. The analysis compiled missed days from individual public school districts affected by natural disasters as well as estimates given by state education departments" (Samsel & Nadworny, 2017). The impacts of natural disasters on education can be severe and long lasting depending on the length of time students are unable to attend school. Reading this article the question arises, how does education factor into Public Health, disaster preparedness, and emergency management discussions? Stay tuned for more on this topic in the coming weeks. 


Samsel, H., & Nadworny, E. (2017, December 15). Natural Disasters And The Implications Of Missing So Much School. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from

October 3rd: Preparedness Month Materials Are Still Available

Preparedness month may be over, but the materials are relevant year round!

You can still get access to great preparedness materials through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management (MDPH OPEM) by clicking this link:

Here you will find Emergency Preparedness checklists, links for free preparedness materials, tools for individual and family preparedness, and Captain Chaos videos! Most importantly, for those who want to volunteer in their community, this website provides all the information they need to get involved. 

Be prepared year round to support your community, your family, and yourself!


August 16: West Nile Virus

As of today, 82 mosquito samples across Massachusetts have been found to be positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). As of today, there have been no confirmed cases of WNV in humans, but the risk remains tends to peak in August for WNV transmission (Tuoti & Geller, 2017). According to Dr. Catherine Brown, deputy state epidemiologist for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, as quoted by Tuoti and Geller (2017), current weather patterns will be supportive of West Nile Virus mosquito populations, which increases this mosquito population's activity. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) encourages residents in Massachusetts to:

  • Use insect repellents 
  • Wear long-sleeved clothing
  • Avoid activities around dawn and dusk
  • Repair damaged window or door screens 
  • Remove standing water from areas around your home, as the type of Mosquito that carries WNV, tends to reside in standing water. 


For more information on WNV, including Clinical Signs & Symptoms and Diagnosis & Reporting, please follow the links below:

  • CDC: West Nile Virus. This link brings you to the WNV for Health Care Providers Clinical Evaluation & Disease part of the CDC page on WNV. It outlines Diagnosis & Reporting, Clinical Signs & Symptoms, Clinical Evaluation, and Outcomes.
  • Massachusetts Department of Public Health Mosquito-borne Diseases. This page brings you to the MDPH page on Mosquito-borne diseases. Here you can find General Information and FAQs and guidance on Prevention & Control, Surveillance Plan, Summaries & Data, WNV for Healthcare Providers and Veterinarians, and Travel-related Mosquito-borne diseases. Additionally, there are educational materials and helpful links/resources. 
  • MDPH Arbovirus Daily Update. Here you can find information about the communities at highest risk for WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).


Tuoti, G., & Geller, S. (2017, August 15). Needham health officials urge caution against mosquitoes. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from