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Halloween During COVID: Spooky and Safe!

In response to requests from town administrators and board of health members in a number of towns, the FRCOG has pulled together a Halloween COVID safety poster with tips for both trick-or-treaters and those they visit.

Communities can request hard copies (11×17) by calling 413-774-3167 extension 1 and leaving a message or download it here: FRCOG halloween safety tips poster

Helpful links:

https://www.mass.gov/news/halloween-during-covid-19

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html#halloween

How to make a candy chute for safe dispensing of candy.

 

tips for safe trick or treating and celebrating

West Nile Virus and EEE are back! Prevent Mosquito Bites!

Mosquitoes can spread diseases that make you sick. In Massachusetts, mosquitoes can give you eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus or West Nile virus (WNV). EEE can cause severe illness and possibly lead to death in any age group. EEE does not occur every year, but based on mosquito sampling, a high risk of occurrence of human cases currently exists.

Outbreaks of EEE usually occur in Massachusetts every 10-20 years. These outbreaks will typically last two to three years. The most recent outbreak of EEE in Massachusetts began in 2019 and included twelve cases with six fatalities. The first EEE positive mosquito sample within the State this season was detected in Orange on 7/2/20 and Wendell 7/6/20. Risk levels remain elevated through to frost.

The best way to avoid both of these illnesses is to prevent mosquito bites.

You can be bitten at any time. Most mosquitoes are active from just before dusk, through the night until dawn.

There are steps that you can take to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites, and the illnesses they can cause.

Protect yourself from illness by doing simple things:

  • Use insect repellents any time you are outdoors
  • Wear long-sleeved clothing
  • Schedule outdoor activities to avoid the hours from dusk to dawn during peak mosquito season
  • Repair damaged window and door screens
  • Remove standing water from the areas around your home

See a video from DPH on EEE here: https://youtu.be/VekccoVW6aQ

For more information, including current maps of risk levels and findings of EEE and WNV in Massachusetts see https://www.mass.gov/mosquitoes-and-ticks or contact Regional Public Health Nurse Lisa White for more information at 413-665-1400 x 114.

 

FRCOG Racial Justice Work

The murder of George Floyd and resulting international protests highlight again the dire consequences of systemic racism and inequity in our society. We all must proactively work to right centuries of wrong.

At the FRCOG, we are already involved in projects to improve racial equity. The Communities that Care Coalition, staffed by our Partnership for Youth, has a 5-year grant to address racial justice in our county’s school districts. Welcoming and Belonging Franklin County, in which we participate with the Franklin County Community Development Corporation and Greenfield Community College, among others, has received a grant to address racial equity and inclusion in our workplaces and community. The FRCOG’s research conducted to produce last year’s Community Health Needs Assessment identified troubling health disparities for people of color in our county. These inequities must be considered in all local and regional planning efforts moving forward. The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Pan Flu Planning Subcommittee has acknowledged systemic racism as a public health issue, and has recognized that domestic terrorism inflicted upon black and brown people is a Homeland Security issue. The FRCOG also works closely with our county’s first responders, and we will collaborate with them to ensure greater racial equity in our region.

Wipes Clog Pipes: Water Protection During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Cooperative Public Health Service Health District of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments reminds people to consider what is going into their household drains.  People served by public sewer systems or private septic systems should be aware of what happens with items that are not biological and therefore not intended for the wastewater system.

While the Coronavirus requires an increase in the need to sanitize, even within our own homes, we need to limit the amount of sanitizers that go into our sanitary sewer systems.  These sanitizers kills viruses and bacteria, both harmful and the useful bacteria that breaks down your family’s waste. The district’s recommendations:

DON’T FLUSH WIPES, paper towels, cotton swabs, sanitary products, toilet cleaning pop-off wands…

If your home has its own septic system: Even flushable wipes can clog your plumbing and create problems for your septic system. Wipes don’t break down quickly and entirely like toilet paper.  Flushing wipes and items other than toilet paper can plug the building sewer line and build up at the inlet of the septic tank causing sewage to back up into your house. Wipes in your septic tank will reduce its ability to remove solids from the water, contributing to system failure.  Flushing wipes can also clog up much-needed pumps within your septic system.

If your home is on public sewer, leading to a wastewater treatment plant: Flushing wipes and items other than toilet paper can plug the building sewer line, causing sewage to back up into your house. They can also clog up the pumps in your local wastewater treatment plant.

USE BLEACH SPARINGLY

Combating the Coronavirus requires an increase in the need to sanitize, even within our own homes. However, bleach, and other disinfectants kill the beneficial bacteria and may lead to premature system failure.  Choose non-bleach cleaning alternatives whenever possible or use sparingly and well diluted.  Hot water and soap are effective against Coronavirus.

WHERE TO LEARN MORE

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/protect-home.html

Wipes Clog Pipes Flyer

Build your community’s immunity: take time for a flu shot!

Flu season is here and local boards of health and public health nurses are hard at work making plans to build community immunity!

Check out the calendar of vaccination clinics here: https://frcog.org/flu-clinic/

According to the CDC, flu signs and symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who are sick with flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

FRCOG is hiring!

Would you or someone you know like to join our team?

Please check out the positions available here by visiting our Employment Page!

 

Short Term Rental Law Materials for Towns

On March 7, FRCOG hosted a session by Atty Kelli Gunagan of the Municipal Law Division of the Office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Participants included boards of health, select boards, planning boards, building inspectors, and town administrators. Many municipal boards and departments have things to consider in response to the changes in the new law, from local taxation to zoning, registration, health inspection and more. Below are materials from the workshop for those who were unable to attend, or want digital copies:

Overviews:

Information on local option taxes and community impact fees:

Information on local bylaws and zoning changes:

Other Materials provided at the 3/7 workshop:

 

 

 

CPHS Health District Celebrates 6th Birthday

Members of the Boards of Health and Select Boards in the Cooperative Public Health Service health district’s eleven member towns gathered on November 29th to celebrate their sixth year of collaborating to provide high quality public health protections to residents. We were also joined by state Department of Public Health Office of Rural Health and Office of Local and Regional Health staff and a member of the Mohawk Trail Regional school staff!  After dinner, speakers addressed a health topic of great concern to our region: adolescent health, especially as regards vaping and marijuana, and what local actions towns can take to protect youth.  You can review the presentations here:

Staff also reviewed highlights of the past year. and our Public Health Nurse, Lisa White, received an award from the organizers of National Rural Health Day for being a Rural Health Community Star!

CPHS Public Health Nurse Lisa White receives her National Rural Health Day Community Star award from a member of the state nominating committee, Kirby Lecy.

 

Birthday cake featuring frosting septic system, food inspection equipment, ticks, and Lisa’s award! From Baked in Shelburne.

Group photo with our district birthday cake, an annual tradition!