Three-Community Transportation Project

 

Three-Community Transportation Project

Dan Onion, MD, MPH

Mt. Vernon/Vienna Health Officer

293-2076; dkonion@gmail.com

Last year I wrote about the issues around senior driving and what can be done to diminish crash risks without isolating our seniors. As a result of those and other conversations in town, the Mt. Vernon Community Partnership has undertaken a project to create a volunteer transportation system in Mt Vernon along with Vienna and Fayette. Several town forums have been held in November to solicit ideas of how this might be done and how it might work. We encourage all seniors who can to “age in place”, rather than move away to family or assisted living even if they can no longer safely drive. Younger citizens without cars or driver’s licenses, could also be served by the system being planned.

Income Inequality

Income Inequality

I’m worried. Income inequality and its consequences are worsening in Maine and across the world. My colleagues and I demonstrated that phenomenon recently in our published lead article about Franklin County in the Journal of the American Medical Association. There we showed the very strong correlations of Maine counties’ household income with age-adjusted mortality. Franklin, where we implemented multiple programs to improve health, did as well as Cumberland and other affluent communities; and it was one of only 17 counties in the US that lower mortality than predicted by income. So we conclude that, unless there are concerted efforts to improve access and reduce risk factors like hypertension and high cholesterol, smoking and inactivity, people living in the vast majority of low income US counties, die at significantly higher rates than their more affluent peers.

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius)

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius)

Daniel K. Onion, MD, MPH

Mt. Vernon/Vienna Health Officer

293-2076

dkonion@gmail.com

3/25/15

My daughter’s family accompanied her on a work trip to western New York State last spring. She always shops hard for good deals and found a cozy local country inn and had a pleasant weekend. She and her 3-year-old noticed mosquito-like bites when they got home; her husband had none. Because New York has been reporting bedbug infestations recently, she suspected that was the problem. Online she discovered that previous guests at that inn had had similar experiences. With a lot of effort (see below), she and her family avoided home infestation. But her experience is increasingly common, even here in Maine, and certainly for those who travel out-of-state now.

Vaccination Alert

Vaccination Alert

Dan Onion, MD, MPH

Mt. Vernon/Vienna Health Officer

293-2076; dkonion@gmail.com

May 17, 2015

Last fall I wrote about the decreasing immunization rates among Maine school children and the threat that poses to all of us, especially them and their peers (September 2014 Mt. Vernon Newsletter). Tom Ward of Mt. Vernon alerted me today to the state-wide reports from the Maine Center for Disease Control of Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) immunization rates in kindergarten and first grade for each Maine school. The report is very worrisome (http://www.pressherald.com/2015/05/17/state-data-show-dangerous-levels-of-unvaccinated-students/). Some grade schools in Maine have under 80% of children vaccinated in kindergarten and first grade.

A New State Epidemiologist for Maine

A New State Epidemiologist for Maine!

By Dan Onion, MD, MPH

Mt. Vernon/Vienna Health Officer

293-2076; dkonion@gmail.com

August, 2015

After several years of devastating cuts to the Maine public health systems and over 25% reductions in the Maine public health work force, I found the announcement below in the Maine Medical Association June 15 newsletter particularly encouraging. That a public health physician with these credentials would move across the country to help us is wonderful at anytime, but even more so in these trying times. As I’ve pointed out in these columns before, strong clinical care access and public health strategies can and do save lives and money, as we have demonstrated in Franklin County over the years (J Am Med Assoc, 2015; 313(2):147-155). So here is some good news!

Statistics: Chance and Blinded Controlled Trials

Statistics: Chance and Blinded Controlled Trials

“Why should I have a flu shot when I had one last year and still caught the flu later,” said my friend in frustration. “Even worse, I understand you can get the flu from the shot!” I’ve been in the public health/doctoring business for nearly 50 years, and that lament hasn’t changed much, even though the influenza vaccine’s efficacy has improved a lot. Much in life is subject to chance; most medical and public health interventions, like flu shots, have been shown to improve those chances without negative side effects.

The Plusses of Our Drought

The Plusses of Our Drought

Dan Onion, MD, MPH

Mt. Vernon/Vienna Health Officer

293-2076; dkonion@gmail.com

September, 2016

This year I’ve had to water my garden and berry bushes all summer. Second hay crops are substantially reduced. Many wells will probably dry up this fall unless we begin to get significant rain. Wild fires are a greater risk. Both Flying and Parker Ponds are nearly a foot below normal summer low water levels. Even Hermine is missing us!

Can one think positively about such deprivation? Yes, certainly in several ways.

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