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Jefferson County Public Health Service gets $5,000 for quality improvement

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The Jefferson County Public Health Service will use a $5,000 grant for quality improvement of its preventive programs, especially with Lyme disease.

Faith E. Lustik, a health planner with the department, said the grant was awarded by the National Network of Public Health Institutes and will cover the cost of sending the agency’s spokesman, Stephen A. Jennings, to training. He then will train agency staff.

“This is to get us on quality improvement for all prevention programs,” Ms. Lustik said. “We’ll be looking at systems above the day-to-day work.”

The program is a national effort that kicks off next week.

Ms. Lustik said the focus has been on Lyme disease because there has been an increase in cases reported to the agency over the past few years. Around 2008 there were 57 cases, then in 2010 there were 115 cases and in 2011 there were 199 cases. From January to October of this year alone there were 249 confirmed cases.

“We want to look at our case practices and follow up because it’s a reportable disease,” Ms. Lustik said.

Lyme disease cases typically occur around late spring, when people walk or hike outdoors or even play in tall grass outside their homes. Cases continue to climb through summer and fall. Ticks carry the disease, which can lead to a bull’s-eye-like rash or can exacerbate arthritic symptoms.

Ms. Lustik said she will be at an open house Saturday at Petco, Towne Center, Route 3, where she will talk about Lyme disease to community members.

Other focuses of quality improvement for prevention programs include hepatitis C and chlamydia.

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