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health

Victor and Robin Jones. Photo by Kyle Norby

 

Back in October, the Jones family had their lives changed forever. Last time we met with Victor “Grandpa” Jones, he had gone through surgery to remove his failing heart and replace it with a temporary TAH (total artificial heart) until a donor could be found.

Fast forward to now, and the wait is still ongoing for a new heart. With the TAH doing its job and being home from the long hospital stay, Victor still requires 24/7 care that his wife Robin is currently providing.

“Well, I’m out now and mostly mobile. I have a walker. Basically my life consists of going from appointment to appointment now,” Victor Jones said. “Between prescriptions, gas money, things like that and living off just a limited budget, it’s been a little bit of a struggle.”

With such a unique condition, Victor must travel to a dialysis center in Tempe multiple times a week. The facility is the only one certified to accommodate this type of machine in Arizona. Robin has since become certified to operate the machine and perform maintenance to take care of her husband along with some help from their grandsons Darian and Jaylin. The local Maricopa fire department is also trained on the TAH unit if anything happens. Because of this condition, chest compressions are not an option, as they are rendered useless without a heart and with key arteries missing.

“As you can see, I have my stack of bags in the corner because tomorrow we are back on the road again.” – Robin Jones. The pack includes extra batteries, back-up unit, paperwork and medication.

Robin has been unable to go back to work as a health professional at Saddleback Elementary due to taking care of Victor. Being told they make too much from Victor’s social security check of $2,400, the Jones are unable to get in-home care from Medicaid agencies like AHCCCS.

“We have tried different agencies to come in and help, but they are afraid of this (machine),” Robin said.“We did have a nurse come in here. She came in, then she actually quit. After she found out about this device, she said, ‘I can’t handle that.’”

Many agencies do not provide this type of care due to the high-risk nature of Victor’s condition. Robin said if he becomes unplugged, he will die.

Aside from in-home care issues, prices for victor’s medication have also taken a toll on them financially. One of the prescriptions Victor must take three times a day costs $230 after insurance for a 30 day supply. Robin said they use the app ‘GoodRx’ to search for discounts, helping them get the price down to $190 for the prescription.

“First and foremost, again, I would like to thank everybody. It has been a little rough but I don’t want to sit here in a begging type situation,” Victor said. “Getting past all that, I really want to thank everybody for the support.”

“This is my suitcase that I take every day wherever I go. I have a battery pack.” – Victor Jones. Photo by Kyle Norby

Victor’s artificial heart comes in the form of a suitcase-type casing strapped inside a backpack that runs plastic tubes up into his body, doing the work of a heart.  There are four batteries for the machine that provide about three hours of battery life if the unit is not plugged into an outlet. It takes approximately four to six hours to charge batteries. He is able to carry it on his walker and attend social events now, if he is feeling up to it.

“My free time, I’m going to say, is me resting. With appointments, it’s a lot of running around, you get very tired. I try to get as much rest as possible,” Victor said.

While the struggles are overwhelming and money is tight, the Joneses plan to keep moving forward as they have been.

“You have to start over. But I’m better where am I now compared to rehab, where I had to learn to walk again. Basically, like a baby,” Victor said.

The Banner medical team that has been with Victor since the beginning of his journey has been very receptive and accommodating to the couple’s needs, Robin said. If something is abnormal, they can send photos to the team and get immediate responses.

Still searching for a heart, “Grandpa” Jones’s story is far from over.


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CDC

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and the Pinal County Public Health Department confirmed today that two Pinal County residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Both cases are from the same household as the current Pinal County case.

State and local public health are currently investigating the cases.

ADHS expects additional cases of COVID-19 in Arizona and is advising residents to follow infection prevention guidelines. The best way to prevent COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases is to:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are thought to appear within two to 14 days after exposure to the virus and consist of fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. Those considered at risk for contracting the virus are individuals with travel to an area where COVID-19 is spreading or individuals in close contact with a person under investigation for COVID-19.

If you recently traveled to an area where COVID-19 is spreading and have developed fever with cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel or have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider. If you do not have a healthcare provider, you may need to be seen at your local hospital emergency room/urgent care center. Please call the emergency room/urgent care center to get instructions before going in.

For the latest information about COVID-19, visit azhealth.gov/COVID19

CDC


HIGHLIGHTS from today’s press conference with Pinal County Health Services Director Dr. Shauna McIsaac and Maricopa County Medical Director for Disease Control Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine regarding COVID-19 in Arizona:

— The latest (third) Arizona patient with  COVID-19 is a Pinal County resident who is a healthcare worker in Maricopa County.

— State lab confirmed the diagnosis of presumptive positive Thursday night.

— The patient is hospitalized in Maricopa County in stable condition.

— The patient stayed home while she was sick and “did not expose very many people at all” because she was vigilant about staying home.

— The patient has not traveled to any coronavirus hot spots, and investigators have not yet found contact with a person who had traveled to those areas.

— The third patient with COVID-19 is the first sign of community spread, a fact that changes public health response. Now, “we all need to do our part to slow the spread” – keep sick people away from others.

— Close contacts have been interviewed and are being monitored for signs of symptoms.

— If you have not been contacted by public health, you are not a close contact.

— “Per CDC recommendations, we are no longer going to keep healthcare workers home after they are exposed to COVID-19.” They are required to monitor themselves for symptoms and stay home if those symptoms develop.

— People are infectious to others when they actually show the symptoms of COVID-19.

— If you have symptoms of anything, go home.

— To control the spread:
>>Wash hands frequently and for 20 seconds, using soap.
>>Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth, which are the way the germs enter your body.
>>If you are sick, please stay home.

— Only share accurate information, such as from state and county health departments and Center for Disease Control (CDC.gov)

— It’s a little more contagious than the flu, and there is no treatment or a vaccine.

— Kids have milder illness and do not seem to be at risk of severe disease.

— Older adults have higher risk of complications.

— The worst symptoms tend to appear in the second week of illness.

— The vast majority of those who contract COVID-19 will have mild symptoms and completely recover without any treatment.

— Public health authorities are obligated to maintain absolute confidentiality and will not share information that can be used to identify a patient unless it’s important to the public’s health.

— Arizona’s healthcare systems have resource limitations.

 

 

CDC

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) announced today a third person has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the so-called coronavirus. This is the second presumptive positive case identified by the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory.

The case is a female in her 40s who is currently hospitalized.

At this time, the patient’s exposure is still under investigation, including whether transmission of the virus is the result of community spread or of contact with another known person with COVID-19. Community spread refers to the spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is rapidly evolving and based on events in other states, we expect additional cases and community spread in Arizona,” said Dr. Cara Christ, ADHS director. “Keeping Arizonans safe and healthy is our number one priority and we are confident the public health system in Arizona is well prepared to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

State and local public health are currently investigating to identify any close contacts that may have been exposed. Identified individuals will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms. COVID-19 spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms are thought to appear within two to 14 days after exposure and consist of fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. Those considered at risk for contracting the virus are individuals with travel to an area where COVID-19 is spreading or individuals in close contact with a person under investigation for the COVID-19.

The best way to prevent COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases is to:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

If you have recently traveled to an area where COVID-19 is spreading and have developed fever with cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel or have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider. If you do not have a healthcare provider, you may need to be seen at your local hospital emergency room/urgent care center. Please call the emergency room/urgent care center to get instructions before going in.

For the latest information about COVID-19, go online to azhealth.gov/COVID19

Ron Smith

By Ron Smith

Ron Smith

In February, InMaricopa provided an introduction to the topic of aging-in-place. We will continue the topic to help provide insight into many of the facets of aging-in-place. Whether you’re just approaching retirement, already in retirement or are trying to help a relative who is currently facing aging issues, there should be many topics of interest to you.

Planning is not the typical strength of most people approaching retirement. Per a 2018 study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Northwestern Mutual, one-third of Baby Boomers have less than $25,000 in retirement savings. In addition, many approaching retirement have their eyes focused on an active-adult lifestyle. The notion of aging and all the things that potentially accompany it are often not high on the new retiree’s planning sheet.

Aging-in-place considerations should be factored into retirement decisions as early as possible. We often don’t think about access problems caused by entry steps, staircases, narrow doors and hallways until that first knee or hip operation.

Having to move to another house because your initial “forever” home can’t accommodate your needs can be both costly and disruptive.

What you want is an “adaptable” home, i.e. one that can change to meet changing needs caused by growing old. The more adaptable the home is, the less costly it will be to make those necessary accommodations in the future. Better yet, it might help avoid a costly move due to the high cost of a retrofit needed to remain in your own home.

Keep in mind, accessibility is not the only consideration because other issues, like the need for skilled nursing care or dementia safety, may demand another solution.

As part of your planning, considerations for the availability of other senior-support services in the area are helpful to maintain support networks, social connections and in-home medical assistance when needed.

It is probably unwise to assume aging won’t happen. Planning for aging-in-place is a personally responsible way of coping with unexpected changes that can be life-altering events and potentially lead to institutionalized long-term care.

Aging-in-place planning can help a person live in their own home longer. There are many excellent resources available through AARP and the National Institute on Aging to aid in your planning.

Ron Smith is an aging-in-place advocate. He is also a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee and a member of the Maricopa Senior Coalition.


This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Joan Koczor
Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

Many of you have heard or read about Freon R-22 and how the oils in R-22 destroy the ozone. According to the Clean Air Act of 1990, R-22 is a harmful refrigerant and currently being phased out of use. Homeowners are now recommended to use Puron, or 410A, refrigerant to maintain indoor comfort.

In 2004, there was a 35% reduction in R-22 production the quantities available have diminished over the years. Now in 2020 a 99.5 % reduction in the production of R-22. Simply put, the law of supply and demand will prevail with the price of each pound of refrigerant increasing dramatically. Prices have risen from $100 to $300 a pound.

My concern is if R-22 becomes unavailable – or unaffordable – and we have to use 410A, does that mean we need to replace the air conditioning unit? So, I asked an expert in the A/C field – my son Dan. Information he provided is based on his years of experience in the heating and air conditioning business.

He said R-22 can be replaced. To do so, you would need to replace the unit; the A coil inside and the condenser outside. Lines could be cleaned, but it is best to replace.

Dan also said there is no need to panic. Many units in Maricopa and cities in Arizona may already be using 410A. Each A/C unit has a label that lists the type of freon being used. It’s easy to check what type of Freon is in your A/C unit.

If your current A/C service person suggests changes that are expensive, get a second opinion. If you question the repairs they are suggesting, get a second opinion. Disreputable service persons target seniors. They are the most vulnerable. Seniors know there is a need for a properly working A/C unit, especially in the Arizona heat.

Dan advises to always question a service person who cleans your A/C unit and tells you they had to add freon because of a leak. An A/C system is sealed so there is no need to replace freon unless a noticeable leak is present. Just a practice some A/C service persons use, especially targeting seniors, to increase the cost of the service call.

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.


This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Remy Nieves (right, with brother Rayden) suffered a medical emergency when he was 3, a difficulty for his self-employed father. Submitted photo

Health insurance has been a hot topic in the nation for a long time. With programs such as the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” being inconsistent even when available, the healthcare hurdles and the ramifications of an unexpected medical problem are an everyday struggle for many Maricopans.

Ray Nieves, owner/operator of 911 Air Repair, recounted his battle with an insurance company after his oldest son was attacked by their dog. In July 2018, Nieves was on a job in Gilbert when he began receiving calls from his wife McKenzie.

“When I’m with a customer I usually don’t answer the phone. Obviously, we’re trying to maintain professionalism,” Nieves said. “So, I kind of just hit ‘ignore.’”

When a third call came in, Ray answered and received horrifying news — their German shepherd had bitten the head of their 3-year-old son Remy.

“The first responders and everybody showed up before I got there,” Nieves said. “They got him wrapped up, wrapped his head and put him in the ambulance. They were taking him to the children’s hospital in Mesa.”

Remy never lost consciousness, but the doctors determined his skull was fractured.

“They were really concerned with any skull fragments getting into his brain,” Ray recalled. “So, they had to go and do surgery. They brought a pediatric neurosurgeon who went ahead and ensured that there wasn’t anything in there.”

After a few days of monitoring in the hospital and 19 staples, Remy was back to a happy kid, albeit with a shaved head from surgery. Ray and McKenzie decided to shave their youngest son Rayden’s head as well.

“We tried to help him be a little bit more comfortable,” Nieves said with a smile.

Then the medical bills began rolling in.

“[It was] $10,000 for this, $2,000 for that, $15,000 here. It added up very, very, very quickly,” he said.

Nieves described the difficulty in acquiring and providing affordable health insurance as a self-employed, small-business owner.

In a 2019 survey published by The Kaiser Family Foundation, small businesses in the United States that do not provide health-care
benefits to their employees still cite the cost as the central reason. The survey reported the average annual premiums as $7,188 for single coverage and $20,576 for families.

“When you are self-employed it’s very difficult to get health insurance,” Nieves said. “It’s kind of like a pay-to-play thing. I’m paying more than my mortgage to have insurance for my family. You know, 1,500 bucks a month to carry insurance that isn’t even the best insurance available.”

“There needs to be reform when it comes to stuff like that, and I just don’t think that anybody’s coming forth with long-term solutions,” Nieves said. “I mean, it’s always been a really touchy subject as far as health insurance and stuff go. To me, it seems that it’s a really bad industry because there’s a lot of money involved. You see what the CEOs and stuff are making, and I’m not against them making money. I mean, that is capitalism, but it’s also a human right.”

Medicaid programs such as Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) aim to provide care for low-income households that otherwise would not have insurance. The Census Bureau estimated 4,000 Maricopans — 7.8% of its population of 50,000-plus — were without health insurance in 2018.

U.S. Department of Health data shows 17.4% of children in Pinal County are not covered by health insurance.

Nieves is not hopeful the status of U.S. health care will change anytime soon: “There’s just a lot of stuff that comes into play, and that just goes to show you why it’s such a difficult problem to solve.”

Dr. Philip Wazny, NMD, believes no one knows how to solve the health-care problem, at least not yet.

“Looking at the medical literature, wages and income have not kept up with deductibles,” Wazny said. “It is at the point where patients are not coming in for what may seem like just a cough, now it’s bronchitis or pneumonia.”

Wazny described this lull in people going to doctors in fear of being charged as an “unfortunate rebound” because people could end up with a far more severe ailment if left untreated, oftentimes high blood pressure or diabetes. He said people should be able to choose how they are treated, but with so many big companies involved, it could be quite a while before the nation sees a shift.

“I really think the doctors get paid through the pharmacies, and I really personally do not like doctors,” said Manny Chavez, owner of Prestige Landscaping. “It went from healthcare to a money gold mine.”

He is not in a position to offer health insurance to employees and said they are covered by liability insurance if they are injured on the job. “If the employee gets hurt or not, I’m still paying so much for how many hours they work,” he said. “I still get charged from unemployment insurance, and that’s like the biggest killer to me.”

Health insurance and even healthcare was not a priority when he was growing up, just the work.

“As a Mexican, you were never going to the doctor, and you couldn’t afford it anyway,” Chavez said. “Personally, we were never really supposed to retire. We were supposed to work until our body just quit.”

He said the U.S. healthcare system isn’t necessarily rigged on purpose, “it just happened the way it happened, and everybody’s in each other’s pocket.”

With the Affordable Care Act turning 10 years old, new steps are being made to further solve problems presented to patients in the medical industry. In December, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions and bipartisan House leaders approved the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019.

According to a summary of the proposed legislation by the House Committee on Ways & Means, included in this agreement is the protection of patients and families from surprise billing with a system for “independent dispute resolution often called arbitration.”

These proposals could protect millions of Americans just like the Nieves family who happen to fall victim to the expensive and intimidating health-care system.


This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Shamrock Farms was among food facilities getting an excellent health inspection.

All Maricopa food facilities inspected by Pinal County health inspectors from Oct. 16 to Nov. 15 were given excellent scores.

EXCELLENT [No violations found]
Aliberto’s
Domino’s Pizza
Bashas’ – AFC Sushi
Bashas’ – Bakery
Bashas’ – Starbucks
Fry’s Marketplace
Fry’s Marketplace – Bakery
Fry’s Marketplace – Deli
Fry’s Marketplace – Starbucks
Fry’s Marketplace – Sushi
IHOP
Jack in the Box
JB Farmer’s Convenience Store
Maricopa Head Start
Province Community Association Clubhouse
Shamrock Farms
Walmart
Walmart – Deli

SATISFACTORY [Violations corrected during inspections]
None

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT [Critical items noted during inspection cannot be corrected immediately requiring follow-up inspection]
None

UNACCEPTABLE [Gross, unsanitary conditions necessitating the discontinuation of service]
None

Victor Jones received an artificial heart in October. Submitted photo

A Maricopa man is fighting for his life.

Victor Jones, 54, and his wife Robin have had a stressful few months, to say the least. At the end of September, a routine hospital visit to check Victor’s levels on a blood pressure medication uncovered inevitable heart failure.

“Victor has a history of high blood pressure and that started in 2015,” Robin said. “He also has the hereditary factor, because his father also had a heart transplant, at the age of 48.”

Robin recalled their experience going to Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix to speak with Victor’s doctor about his medication no longer being efficient enough for him. After doctors took a few tests, Victor was placed under observation. They found his blood pressure was dropping drastically.

Doctors determined Victor’s heart had become enlarged from his high blood pressure, resulting in what could become heart failure. The heart team determined immediate surgery was necessary.

With a long waiting list for hearts, doctors needed to install a TAH (total artificial heart). This temporary heart is used as a replacement and can last four years, depending on the circumstances. TAH takes over the work the failed heart could not perform, keeping Jones alive and functioning until a permanent heart becomes available for full transplantation.

The artificial heart was placed Oct. 5, with Victor being put into a medical coma due to the nature of the surgery and for the healing of a collapsed lung.

Robin Jones expressed her exhaustion with the long days and nights at the hospital on top of juggling personal responsibilities like driving her grandsons to and from school and getting enough sleep. She is also working for MUSD in the health office of Saddleback Elementary.

“I’m traveling constantly,” Robin said. “I’m here almost 24/7, so I am just functioning from day to day. It’s been a roller coaster.”

Robin and Victor Jones. Submitted photo

Even with the stress and worry, a weight was lifted when Victor woke up from his coma about a month later.

“He’s been doing well, he’s progressing,” Robin Jones said. “He’s in high spirits. He was a little confused because he had been asleep so long.”

Robin said she was happy with Victor’s strength and resilience during the process.

“Victor was a veteran. He served in the Army and was also a merchant marine for 15 years,” she said.

In November, Victor Jones sat up on his own and took a few steps for the first time in over a month with help from hospital staff.

Victor and Robin Jones have received unwavering support from friends and family, including special support from their teenage grandsons Darian and Jaylin Abercrombie, who live with them. The boys created an e-sports company called Team Radius and plan on selling custom merchandise to their fans, donating the proceeds toward their grandfather’s medical bills. Victor Jones loves playing videogames with his grandsons, and they often game together in their free time.

Local radio host and vlogger Marc Montgomery had Jaylin, 15, on his radio show to speak about his grandparents and how people can help.

“We’re just selling stuff, like stickers and stuff,” Jaylin said. “You can just buy that, and it’ll help us a lot, to pay off some of the bills we have.”

Montgomery has been a close friend of Victor and the Jones family for several years and wanted to help as well. This came in the form of a GoFundMe.com page for people to donate to “Grandpa Jones” medical expenses and the heart transplant.

“A very good friend of mine, a close friend of mine, almost died last week,” Montgomery said in October. “Victor was the first person I met a long time ago at Pacana park.”

Despite all the hardships and sleepless nights that have come with Jones’s heart failure, the Jones family and friends remain optimistic and hopeful.

“We’ve got the boys and Marc,” Robin Jones said with a laugh. “And Victor’s doing great right now.”

 

GoFundMe.com/f/grandpa-jones

 

by -

 

Two eateries in Maricopa were cited by health inspectors in Sept. 16 through Oct. 15 inspections, mainly for having refrigerators not working properly. Twenty-three other establishments, including most pizza joints in town, received excellent marks.

McDonald’s on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway had a reach-in, two-door refrigerator that was not holding food at the required 41 degrees or below. The inspector found tomatoes, corn and lettuce at temperatures ranging from 59 to 61 degrees. In a glass-door refrigerator, yogurt and burritos were at 58 degrees. Food items were embargoed to be discarded. The inspector also noted at least one employee multi-tasking with the same gloves.

The Circle K at 21212 N. John Wayne Parkway was marked down for having a self-serve display refrigeration unit holding sandwiches at 45-51 degrees. The manager took action at the time of inspection, and the food was embargoed.

EXCELLENT [No violations found]
Ace Vending at Central Arizona College
Barro’s Pizza
The Box Meat Shop
Circle K (east)
Circle K (east) – Made to Go
Circle K (north)
CVS Pharmacy
Dollar Tree
Good 2 Go Store
Helen’s at Copper Sky
Helen’s at Pacana Park
Helen’s Kitchen
Honeycutt Coffee
KFC/Long John Silvers
Little Caesar’s Pizza
Papa John’s Pizza
Papa Murphy’s Pizza
Pizza Hut
QuikTrip
QuikTrip – Kitchen
Taco Bell
Walgreens
Water and Ice

SATISFACTORY [Violations corrected during inspection]
Circle K (south), McDonald’s (Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway)

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT [Critical items noted during inspection cannot be corrected immediately requiring follow-up inspection]
None

UNACCEPTABLE [Gross, unsanitary conditions necessitating the discontinuation of service]
None


This item appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

County attorney says opioid makers 'lining their pockets'

Pinal County is taking pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacies and doctors to court over addiction and overdoses.

There have been 308 reported opioid overdoses in Pinal County in the past two and a half years.

Pinal County is taking on big pharmaceutical companies over opioid addiction. The law firms of Fennemore Craig and Theodora Oringher filed suit for the county in Superior Court Sept. 25.

“We know how many pills were forced into our county,” County Attorney Kent Volkmer said. “Every pill is tracked by the federal government. Needless to say, it falls far outside of appropriate norms.”

In suing many large drug manufacturers and all pharmacies that do business in Pinal County, Volkmer said his office is not as interested in getting a monetary award from the case as it is the opportunity to litigate it in the public forum.

Among the 50 defendants named in Pinal County vs. Actavis LLC, et al. are American Drug Company, Costco, Walgreens, Osco Drug, Walmart, Bashas’, Johnson & Johnson, Mallinckrodt LLC, Safeway, Par Pharmaceuticals, Smith’s Food & Drug, Sun Life Family Health Center and Watson Laboratories. The suit also names eight members of the Sackler family, who Bloomberg estimates to be worth $13 billion collectively.

By filing suit at the county level rather than joining the many federal-level lawsuits, Volkmer said, there is a better chance of getting the evidence known. Ongoing suits against the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, brought by states and other levels of government, will likely be filed into a national settlement. At the federal level, a U.S. bankruptcy judge paused those lawsuits against Purdue Pharma in October.

But Purdue and the Sacklers are only part of the Pinal County suit.

“We are prepared to litigate it. We want a jury to hear what they did and to determine a remedy,” Volkmer said. “We’re confident they acted badly. We want the public to know. The best way to get that is to try the case.”

The complaint does not cite a number for the monetary damages the county is seeking from the 50 defendants named. It seeks “to recover all measure of damages permissible under the statutes identified herein and under common law, in an amount to be proven at trial.”

“We’re confident they acted badly. We want the public to know. The best way to get that is to try the case.” – County Attorney Kent Volkmer

Volkmer said opioid addiction has cost the county manpower in law enforcement and health. And it is removing once-productive people from the economy because they can no longer work, shrinking the tax base that helps pay for the services impacted by opioid addiction.

Patients who could no longer afford an opioid prescription sometimes turned to heroin, causing more impact on law enforcement, the medical examiner’s office and county health resources. “And all of this cost was foisted on the county,” Volkmer said.

“Janssen fully recognizes the opioid crisis that exists in this country. But one thing is clear: Janssen’s medications did not cause or contribute to that crisis.” – Janssen Pharmaceuticals

The county complaint opens with the statement, “Opiates are killing people every day in this country and Arizonans have not been spared. Each of the [d]efendants in this action engaged in an industry-wide effort to downplay the dangerous and deadly potential effects of the misuse of prescription opioids. The opioid epidemic has hit every community in Arizona hard, including Pinal County.”

One of the defendants, Beverly Sackler, died Oct. 15 at the age of 95. Purdue filed for bankruptcy in September.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain gave Purdue Pharma, the Sacklers and the government entities suing them until Nov. 6 to reach a disclosure plan that would show how much the company earned from OxyContin sales.

Fennemore Craig was hired by Pinal County this summer specifically for this case against Big Pharma. Its attorneys claimed the actions of opioid manufacturers were “a sophisticated, manipulative scheme” particularly designed to be effective in places like Pinal County because it “is home to a multitude of economically and medically vulnerable populations that defendants knew were uniquely predisposed to opioid addiction, including the elderly.”

Big Pharma companies, Volkmer said, are “lining their pockets” as a result of front-end and back-end domination of a field they created. Some of the same companies that make the opioids also make the overdose antidote naloxone, he said.

Those companies include Hospira (acquired by Pfizer) and Mylan, both named in the suit, which describes both as “a top manufacturer of fentanyl, oxycodone, morphine and codeine in Pinal County.” Mylan is further accused of withholding ingredients to treat “opioid-use disorder and opioid addiction” from its competitors.

Pinal County also accuses Janssen Pharmaceuticals and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson, of pushing “bogus research” to promote opioids.

It is similar to claims made in other cases against Janssen in Oklahoma and Ohio, where Janssen denied wrongdoing, stating in court papers: “Janssen fully recognizes the opioid crisis that exists in this country. But one thing is clear: Janssen’s medications did not cause or contribute to that crisis… Janssen will prove that its marketing was and remains supported by scientific medical evidence, offered in good-faith and without a scintilla of fraudulent intent.”

In the mid- to late-1990s, physicians started classifying pain as a “fifth vital sign.” That was allegedly pushed by the American Pain Society and resulted in pharmaceutical companies putting more attention on creating and marketing pain medication. Recent lawsuits from 23 states, as well as Pinal County’s suit, characterize the pharmaceutical companies as “pushing” drugs and turning up the heat on doctors to prescribe more.

Prescribed opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone became commonplace.

“They said opioids addressed and alleviated pain. It was a miracle cure, supposedly,” Volkmer said.

He said, despite a lack of public research, opioids were marketed as addiction-free. Doctors who did not prescribe opioids to help their patients overcome perpetual pain virtually were “accused of malpractice.”

In Massachusetts’ claim against the Sacklers, they were accused of hiring hundreds more sales representatives to pressure doctors. “They directed reps to encourage doctors to prescribe more of the highest doses of opioids. They studied unlawful tactics to keep patients on opioids longer and then ordered staff to use them,” the Massachusetts’ complaint reads.

After the medical community started to acknowledge people were becoming addicted around 2010, the number of prescriptions began to decrease but the amount prescribed increased.

Harinder Takyar is the only physician named in the suit while other local doctors are grouped as so-called “John Does.” Takyar was a Florence-based doctor who was charged with 42 counts of prescribing opioids to his patients without medical need in 2014.

Gov. Doug Ducey declared a statewide emergency in 2017 after a health report found 790 Arizonans died of opioid overdoses the previous year. State tracking showed 431 million opioid pills were prescribed in 2016, “enough for every Arizonan to have a 2.5-week supply.”

Since the emergency declaration, between June 15, 2017, and Oct. 10, 2019, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 3,633 deaths that were suspected of being opioid overdoses.

Volkmer said while the Pinal case is “very, very similar to Big Tobacco,” immediacy is the difference.

“If you smoke, in 20 or 30 years, you could get cancer,” he said. “Opioids have an immediate impact. It renders people unable to work. If one of my employees goes outside for a smoke break, they can come back to work. If they go out to pop a Percocet, they won’t be able to do that.”

Volkmer said he is “fairly optimistic” the case can be in court in 18-24 months.


This story appears in the the November issue of InMaricopa.

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Thirteen of 14 food establishments in the Maricopa area inspected by Pinal County health personnel from Aug. 16 to Sept. 15 received top marks.

The exception was a slight markdown for Rob’s Convenience, a store on Papago Road that did not have adequate hot water pressure in the hand-washing sink or its three-compartment sink.

EXCELLENT [No violations found]
Central Arizona College – Café
Central Arizona College – Culinary
Dollar General
F.O.R. Maricopa
Gyro Grill
Legacy Traditional School
Maricopa Elementary
Sequoia Pathway Academy – K-6
Sequoia Pathway Academy – Secondary
Shell – Dairy Queen
Shell – Food Mart
Sonic Drive-In
Wendy’s

SATISFACTORY [Violations corrected during inspection]
Rob’s Convenience

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT [Critical items noted during inspection cannot be corrected immediately requiring follow-up inspection]
None

UNACCEPTABLE [Gross, unsanitary conditions necessitating the discontinuation of service]
None

Once upon a time, the items at the top of the wish list for Maricopans were a “sit-down restaurant” and a solution for State Route 347.

Today, restaurant needs have taken a back seat as a hospital facility now rivals 347 for residents’ demands, according to recent polling. For some residents, the two are tightly connected.

“With all the accidents on 347, a trauma center staffed with the best physicians would save lives,” Carol Kaye Robinson responded in an InMaricopa Facebook post. “A top surgical center would go hand-in-hand with the trauma center.”

“I had to take my child to the ER twice this past year. One for an eye infection, one for asthma,” Jessica Truckner added. “When you have a sick child, a 20-minute drive on the nightmare road that is the 347 can feel like an eternity. Not to mention all the women that drive out of town to deliver babies.”

While Maricopa has doctor’s offices, clinics and urgent care, residents want something more. What that would look like and what needs it would fulfill vary. So does the identity of the entity that would be most likely to build a facility.

“We have had a recent and productive meeting with Dignity Health regarding their future plans for Maricopa,” City Manager Ricky Horst said. “This effort continues to be a work in progress. Dignity has reaffirmed their commitment to the city.”

Dignity and Banner Health have both invested in the city. Dignity Community Care continues to own about 18 undeveloped acres behind Maricopa Station and CVS and runs the urgent care at 20750 N. John Wayne Parkway, which operates from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. It is connected to Mercy Gilbert Medical Center.

Meanwhile, Banner Health Center at 17900 N. Porter Road has primary care physicians, X-rays and labs. It is affiliated with Banner hospitals in Casa Grande and the Valley.

An online question at InMaricopa.com found 85 percent wanted an emergency room or trauma center, preferably operating 24 hours a day.

“We need a small hospital with an emergency room, much like what Banner Health is building at Alma School and the 202,” Brent Egnal said in InMaricopa’s social media conversation. “It’s not a massive hospital, but it will have everything you need or want at a hospital.”

A hospital facility would serve the unincorporated area around Maricopa, one resident pointed out.

“While I appreciate all the people who live in Maricopa proper are concerned with the drive time, putting a full-service hospital in Maricopa will help Stanfield, Mobile, Hidden Valley, etc.” Michele Mayhugh commented to InMaricopa’s online query. “We have 45 minutes to an hour drive to a hospital.”

Not everyone agrees a hospital is necessary in Maricopa.

“I do not think we need a hospital,” Dawn Brunn said. “Maybe have the urgent care 24 hours to start. We are less than 30 minutes from two hospitals. This isn’t the first time I lived in a town without a hospital. I knew we didn’t have one when I moved here in 2008. I do not mind driving if I need to go to the hospital.”

Luchia Young was even more emphatic. “A hospital in Maricopa is a big no. I want a private helicopter company w/pad available to fly me to a major hospital with trauma care. If I need a trauma one with a neuro surgeon, I don’t want to be held up in some small-town hospital where I will end up a vegetable. We do maybe need a 24-hour urgent care.”

For the many residents who have been vocal about the need for a hospital, the push is driven by personal experience.

“I had to drive my husband with a ruptured appendix to Chandler Regional Hospital for care, then watch him writhe in agony every time a he had to wait for a gunshot victim to be treated first,” Anna Jones shared.

“I just spent over a week at Chandler Hospital, and to get there took the most terrible ambulance ride, and [I] prayed the whole trip,” Thomas DeGraphenreed II wrote.

“Well, if we had a hospital, I wouldn’t have almost had my baby in the bathtub,” Erin Tucker added.


This story appears in the 2019 Heath Guide. Click photo to see more.

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Q Why did you become a podiatrist, and do you like what you do?

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This item appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

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While the holidays are a time to celebrate with friends and loved ones – passing around the turkey or passing each other gifts – it’s also the time to pass a cold or even the flu to someone if you catch either of those.

It’s not easy to determine what the flu season is going to be like until it hits. A couple of years ago, it hit the United States quite hard. This past season, it was a little less severe, but still considered deadly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as it was estimated that more than 50,000 people across the country died as a result.

According to the CDC, both the cold and flu are similar because they are both respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. However, a cold is usually less severe than the flu. The symptoms for both can be the same, you may suffer from a runny nose and congestion. While a cold is usually milder in its symptoms, the flu can cause some serious and potentially deadly issues in some people.

With the flu, you may suffer from a series of other ailments you may not have with a cold, such as body aches, extreme fatigue, fever, chills, and possibly vomiting or diarrhea. The cold is usually gradual, but the flu can be quick. Some people get over the flu just as quickly, but others could get even sicker, with some developing more serious problems such as pneumonia.

According to health care providers, pneumonia becomes serious when it settles in the lungs. Children, the elderly, and people with underlying medical conditions can be susceptible. Unfortunately, if it goes untreated it can get worse and it could eventually become fatal.

Banner Urgent Care in Casa Grande at 1676 E. McMurray Blvd, Ste 1, is available if people are suffering from a severe cold, or if they think they may have the flu. However, if your symptoms of either develop into something even worse and you are having trouble breathing or having seizures, call 9-1-1 immediately. Banner Casa Grande Medical Center’s Emergency room is available for those who may be suffering from more severe cases, like the flu or pneumonia.

If you are looking at not getting sick this season, prevention for you and your loved ones is going to be important. In addition to good hygiene practices like washing or sanitizing your hands frequently, getting enough rest, drinking plenty of liquids, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and seeing your doctor regularly, other ways to prevent getting sick include:

  • Coughing or sneezing in the crook of your arm to prevent the spread of germs from one person to another. If you feel a cough or sneeze coming on, use your arm as guard. If you can’t do that, try to cover your nose and mouth with something so not to spread germs.
  • Getting a flu vaccination. While flu shots are not 100% effective against the flu, medical experts agree that the flu vaccine is still one of the best defenses when it comes to preventing the flu or helping people recover faster should they get the flu.

The CDC still reported a very active 2018-2019 flu season across the country. From Oct. 1, 2018 to May 4, 2019, the CDC estimates:

  • 4 million to 42.9 million people got the flu
  • 3 million to 20.1 million were treated for the flu by a health care provider
  • 531,000 to 674,000 were hospitalized for the flu
  • 36,400 to 61,200 died as a result of the flu

So, if you think you may have the flu, the CDC says these are the symptoms to look out for:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Some may suffer from vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

If you think you may be suffering from a cold, the CDC says these are the most common symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Body aches

Should you get sick from either a cold or the flu, it’s important to also check with your regular doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms. Your doctor should have your complete medical information and can advise how you should best be treated for cold or flu symptoms.

For more information about the services provided at Banner Urgent Care, and to find a location near you, please visit www.BannerHealth.com/urgentcare. For more information about the services provided at Banner Casa Grande Medical Center, please visit www.BannerHealth.com/casagrande.

 

 

Pinal County food inspectors looked at 31 Maricopa establishments, including several schools, from July 18 through Aug. 18 and gave all but one a clean bill of health.

Cilantro’s received a “Satisfactory” mark after the discovery of a walk-in cooler not keeping food at the required maximum 41 degrees. Menudo that was found at 60 degrees was discarded.

EXCELLENT [No violations found]
Brooklyn Boys Italian Restaurant
Burger King
Butterfield Elementary
Children’s Learning Adventure
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Culver’s
Desert Wind Middle School
The Duke at Rancho El Dorado
Dutch Bros
Firehouse Subs
Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
Leading Edge Academy
Li’s Garden
Maricopa Head Start
Maricopa High School
Maricopa High School – Concessions
Maricopa High School – Culinary Arts
Maricopa Wells Middle School
McDonald’s (John Wayne Parkway)
Native Grill and Wings
The New HQ
Pima Butte Elementary
Raceway Bar & Grill
Rosati’s Pizza
Saddleback Elementary
Santa Cruz Elementary
Santa Rosa Elementary
Sunrise Café
Sunrise Preschool
Wingstop

SATISFACTORY [Violations corrected during inspection]
Cilantro’s Mexican Cocina

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT [Critical items noted during inspection cannot be corrected immediately requiring follow-up inspection]
None

UNACCEPTABLE [Gross, unsanitary conditions necessitating the discontinuation of service]
None


This item appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

Headache is one of the most common and debilitating pain conditions in the world. The World Health Organization names headache the third leading cause of disability in the world and the No. 1 cause of disability in individuals under age 50.

Headaches cause a heavy personal toll in terms of social life, family life, anxiety and depression due to fear of the next headache. They affect people of all races, ages and geographical location.

According to WebMD.com, older people have fewer headaches than younger ones, and migraines tend to disappear with age. At age 70, only 10 percent of women and 5 percent of men have migraines.

Headaches can be triggered by certain environmental factors shared in a family’s household, such as:

  • Second-hand tobacco smoke
  • Strong odors from household chemicals or perfumes
  • Exposure to certain allergens
  • Eating certain foods

Stress, pollution, noise, lighting and weather changes are other environmental factors that can trigger headaches for some people. Changes in humidity, temperature, storms, dry or dusty conditions can all trigger a headache.

Headaches in senior citizens may indicate something more serious. They can be symptoms of several conditions, including:

  • Temporal arteritis
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Head trauma

Primary headaches

Primary headaches are not the result of another medical condition. The category includes tension-type, migraine and cluster headaches.

Common triggers of tension-type headaches or migraine headaches include:

  • Emotional stress related to family and friends, work or school
  • Alcohol use
  • Skipping meals
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Excessive medication use
  • Tension

Iron deficiency anemia has also been linked to migraines, headaches and an increased predisposition to pain.

Ocular migraine is the most unusual and often misdiagnosed type of migraine. It can happen with or without a headache and is often characterized by visual loss, blind spots, zig-zag lines or seeing stars and floaters or black spots.

Cluster headaches are the most severe type of primary headache. The pain of a cluster headache is intense and has a burning or stabbing quality that is throbbing or constant.

Secondary headaches

Secondary headaches result from another medical or neurological condition and include sinus headaches and medication-overuse headaches.

Sinus headaches are associated with a deep and constant pain in the cheekbones, forehead or bridge of the nose. Medication overuse headaches occur as a result of the overuse of over-the-counter analgesics or prescribed painkillers such as opiates and sedative hypnotic tablets designed for headache management.

Advances in the medical management of headache mean relief is no longer just possible but probable. Although some form of head pain will occasionally visit most people, no one should have to live and suffer with headaches.

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.

 

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-senior-citizens-day-august-21/
https://www.notjustbingo.com/activity-calendars/august-calendar.html.

by -
Maricopa will be baking this weekend.

With temperatures continuing to sizzle, the National Weather Service has extended the excessive heat warning through 8 p.m. Friday in western Pinal County.

An excessive heat warning mans that a period of very hot temperatures, even by local standards, will occur. Overexposure can cause heat cramps and heat exhaustion to develop and, without intervention, can lead to heat stroke.

Stay indoors and seek air-conditioned buildings. Those engaging in outdoor work or athletic activity should be closely monitored. If engaging in outdoor activity, take longer and more frequent breaks and avoid the hottest parts of the day. Never leave kids or pets unattended in cars.

Today is sunny and hot with a high near 114 and little wind. Tonight will be clear with a low around 81.

Friday’s forecast is also sunny and hot with a high near 111. The night is expected to be mostly clear with alow around 80 and winds of 5-10 mph.

Saturday is expected to be sunny with a high near 109. The overnight low will be around 80 under mostly clear skies.

Sunday will likely see a few clouds with a partly sunny forecast and a high of 109. The night will have partly cloudy skies and a low around 81.

Next week will grow progressively hotter with the possibility of another heat warning.

by -

 

Maricopa will be under an excessive heat watch this week, according to the National Weather Service as temperatures soar.

The watch is in place Tuesday morning through Thursday evening. High temperatures are expected to reach at least 113 midweek. Excessive heat can lead to heat stroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and other related illnesses. Heat stroke can lead to death.

Stay indoors and seek air-conditioned buildings. Drink water, more than usual, and avoid dehydrating alcoholic, sugary or caffeinated drinks. Dress for the heat – lightweight and light-colored clothing. Eat small meals and eat more often.

Monitor those with a higher vulnerability to heat, including small children. Check in on family, friends, and neighbors, especially the elderly. If engaging in outdoor activity, take longer and more frequent breaks and avoid the hottest parts of the day. Never leave kids or pets unattended in cars.

Today, the expected high temperature is 107. The nighttime low will be around 78.

Tuesday, the high is forecast to be 109 under sunny skies. The overnight low will be around 82.

Wednesday, prepare for a sunny and hot day, with a high near 113 and little wind. The night is expected to be partly cloudy with a low around 83.

Thursday is forecast to be sunny and hot with a high near 113. The overnight low will likely be around 83.

Friday cools down a bit for a high of 110. Winds are expected to pick up, gusting as high as 20 mph. That will continue into evening, when the low is expected to be around 82.

The weekend will still be slightly above normal but below 110.

True Grit Tavern. File photo

Thirty-one of 34 establishments inspected by Pinal County Environmental Health Department in the Maricopa area from June 16 through July 17 received excellent marks. Two were found to be satisfactory, and one received the cautionary mark “needs improvement” because of a refrigeration problem.

True Grit Tavern received the “N” rating when the inspector found raw meats in the prep fridge at higher temperatures than the required maximum 41 degrees F. According to the report, fish was at 50 degrees, chicken and hamburger patties at 46 degrees and shrimp at 44 degrees. An embargo notice was signed to discard the food. The inspector also noted a floor drain not working and bad lighting in the prep area, circumstances that could not be corrected immediately.

Meanwhile, Denny’s and Say Sushi received “S” ratings. Say Sushi also had a cold-holding problem with its walk-in refrigerator, with cream cheese, rolls, dumplings and tofu cheese stored at 47 degrees, resulting in an embargo. At Denny’s, a small prep unit had lettuce, tomatoes and liquid eggs at 45 degrees, and a walk-in cooler had hash browns at 45 degrees. Both situations were remedied during inspection.

EXCELLENT [No violations found]
99 Cents Only
Arby’s
Bashas’
Bashas’ – AFC Sushi
Bashas’ – Bakery
Bashas’ – Deli
Bashas’ – Starbucks
Circle K (east)
Circle K (east) Made to Go
Copa Craze
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
Francisco’s Mexican Food
Fry’s Marketplace
Fry’s Marketplace – Bakery
Fry’s Marketplace – Deli
Fry’s Marketplace – Starbucks
Fry’s Marketplace – Sushi
Good Donuts
IHOP
Jack in the Box
Jersey Mike’s Subs
Native Grill & Wings
Plaza Bonita
Panda Express
Starbucks
Subway
Tacos ‘N’ More
Walmart
Walmart – Bakery
Walmart – Deli
Yogurt Jungle

SATISFACTORY [Violations corrected during inspection]
Denny’s
Say Sushi

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT [Critical items noted during inspection cannot be corrected immediately requiring follow-up inspection]
True Grit Tavern

UNACCEPTABLE [Gross, unsanitary conditions necessitating the discontinuation of service]
None

 

Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

Joan Koczor

Falls are a real and growing risk to older adults’ health and independence and, in some cases, to their very lives. Falls can cause serious injury that can threaten independence and even result in death. A common misconception is falling is a natural part of aging and there is nothing you can do to prevent falling. Despite being labeled “accidents,” many falls are preventable and don’t have to be a part of aging.

The Healthy Aging Communications Network states, “Unintentional falls were the leading cause of injury-related mortality among Arizona residents 65 years and older. Accounting for an average of two deaths every day.”

  • Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
  • Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
  • In 2015, the total cost of fall injuries was $50 billion. Medicare and Medicaid shouldered 75 percent of these costs.
  • The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

A few safeguards you can implement outside the home:

  • Use bright outdoor lighting.
  • Install handrails on both sides of the stairs.
  • Check handrails periodically so see if they are loose or broken.

Inside your home:

  • Use night lights.
  • In the bathroom, install grab bars by the toilet and shower.
  • Use non-skid mats in the tub or shower. Have a light by your bed within easy reach.
  • Have a firm chair that has side arms, which can be used as support while you dress.Avoid walking on wet floors.
  • Remove throw rugs and other things on the floor that can cause you to trip and fall.

Additional proactive measure you can take to prevent falls include:

  • Review your medication with your doctor. Some medicines can make you dizzy or cause other side effects that can cause you to fall.Improve your balance and coordination with regular physical activity.Get yearly vision checkups as poor vision can increase your chance of falling.

This is a small sampling of what you can do to prevent falls.

ncoa.org/fallprevention, azdhs.gov/phs/healthy.aging

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.


This column appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.

Newly reopened Native Grill & Wings was among food establishments earning excellent scores. last month.

The 20 establishments inspected by Pinal County Environmental Health Department in the Maricopa area from May 16 through June 15 all received excellent marks.

EXCELLENT [No violations found]
Circle K (Honeycutt Road)
Circle K Made to Go (Honeycutt Road)
Circle K (south)
Denny’s
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
Domino’s Pizza (twice)
Good 2 Go Store
Helen’s Kitchen
Honeycutt Coffee
IHOP
JB Farmer’s Convenience Store
KFC/Long John Silver’s
Li’s Garden
Maricopa Shell – Dairy Queen
Native Grill and Wings
Raceway Bar & Grill
Rob’s Convenience
Sunrise Cafe
Sunrise Preschool
Walgreens

SATISFACTORY [Violations corrected during inspection]
None

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT [Critical items noted during inspection cannot be corrected immediately requiring follow-up inspection]
None

UNACCEPTABLE [Gross, unsanitary conditions necessitating the discontinuation of service]
None


This item appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.

Silver Spur Grill at the Duke at Rancho El Dorado.

All but one eatery inspected by Pinal County health inspectors April 16-May 15 received excellent marks. The Silver Spur Grill at The Duke at Rancho El Dorado, however, had some cold-holding and other problems to fix.

By law, refrigerated food must be held no warmer than 41 degrees F. The inspector found one refrigerator at 59 degrees and another at 50 degrees. A refrigerator was also leaking condensation. Some food items were found with expired date marks and may have been incorrectly dated. Several items were discarded. The person in charge was instructed to repair equipment, review date requirements and make a hand-washing sink more accessible. The restaurant was given a “satisfactory” mark.

EXCELLENT [No violations found]
Barro’s Pizza
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Cilantro’s Mexican Cocina
CVS Pharmacy
Firehouse Subs
Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
Good Donuts
Good to Go Store
Gyro Grill
Little Caesar’s Pizza
McDonald’s, Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway
The New HQ
Papa John’s Pizza
Pizza Hut
Plaza Bonita
QuikTrip
QuikTrip – Kitchen
Rosati’s Pizza
Say Sushi
Sunrise Preschool
Walmart – Deli

SATISFACTORY [Violations corrected during inspection]
The Duke at Rancho El Dorado

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT [Critical items noted during inspection cannot be corrected immediately requiring follow-up inspection]
None

UNACCEPTABLE [Gross, unsanitary conditions necessitating the discontinuation of service]
None


This item appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

 

All 18 food establishments inspected by Pinal County’s health inspectors Feb. 16-March 15 received excellent scores. That included all nine Maricopa Unified School District campuses.

EXCELLENT [No violations found]
The Box Meat Shop
Butterfield Elementary
Desert Wind Middle School
Leading Edge Academy
Maricopa Elementary
Maricopa High School
Maricopa High School – Culinary Arts
Maricopa Wells Middle School
Pima Butte Elementary
Saddleback Elementary
Santa Cruz Elementary
Santa Rosa Elementary
Starbuck’s Maricopa Station
Walmart
Walmart – Bakery
Walmart – Deli
Water and Ice
Yogurt Jungle

SATISFACTORY [Violations corrected during inspection]
None

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT [Critical items noted during inspection cannot be corrected immediately requiring follow-up inspection]
None

UNACCEPTABLE [Gross, unsanitary conditions necessitating the discontinuation of service]
None


This item appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Myles Amsden was in a critical health crisis three years ago. Submitted photo
Myles Amsden today at age 3

The Maricopa family of a 3-year-old girl who nearly died as an infant from a sudden cardiac arrest recently reunited with the surgeon and medical team who saved her life at Cardon Children’s Medical Center.

The family expressed their heartfelt thanks during the emotional reunion Thursday at the hospital, located at 1400 S. Dobson Road. Seeing Myles Amsden giggling and playing was especially meaningful to the medical team who treated her, since they once helped connect her heart to a machine to keep it beating while her body healed.

Maricopan Ralph Amsden, the girl’s father, wrote a popular and deeply moving Twitter thread detailing his daughter’s illness and amazing recovery.

“The doctor had this look of determination that I’ll never forget,” he wrote. “The moment we gave her the go-ahead (for surgery), it was like she was taking the ball, bases loaded with a one-run lead in game seven of the World Series. ‘All right. Let’s go. Let’s do this.’ And she did it. She replaced a two-week-old baby’s heartbeat with a machine by connecting a tube into her carotid artery. There were a dozen improbable things that saved my daughter that night, but this one I was able to put a name to.”

When Myles was only 2 weeks old, she suddenly stopped breathing and was rushed to the Emergency Department at Cardon Children’s, where doctors determined she wouldn’t survive unless she was emergently placed on cardiac bypass to give her body time to recover. Dr. Heidi Cox, a pediatric surgeon, connected the infant’s heart to an “ECMO” machine, which pumped and oxygenated the baby’s heart outside of her body to allow her heart and lungs to rest.

Amsden said Myles was without oxygen for several minutes before being transported to Cardon and could have suffered brain damage, but she’s now in great health and neurologically fine. She spent about three weeks in Cardon Children’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, then later required a year of physical therapy.

“We call her a miracle, and she smiles,” Amsden said. “She doesn’t comprehend too much of what she went through, but her family and friends sure do.”

Three years ago, Ralph Amsden with daughter Myles

All 13 restaurants and eateries inspected by Pinal County Environmental Health from Dec. 16 to Jan. 15 received a clean bill of health.

EXCELLENT [No violations found]
Barro’s Pizza
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This item appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Amnesty Marshall sits on the lap of her father Dusty while mom Krystal and siblings Noel and Marie look on. Photo by Jim Headley

Four-year-old Amnesty Marshall is much more than a walking miracle.

She is a bright, intelligent, beautiful and fun-filled girl, who just happens to have been born with spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly.

As a result, she was limited in her movements. She was unable to walk independently until a year ago.

After less than a year of diligent work with physical and occupational therapists at Head To Toe Therapy in Phoenix, Amnesty took her first steps without a walker and began a whole new chapter in her life in March 2018.

Amnesty is the daughter of Krystal and Dusty Marshall of Maricopa. The couple has two other daughters, Noel, almost 3, and Marie, who was just born in December.

Dusty Marshall is a professional Christian hip hop artist, and the family often travels the country with him as he performs.

“We have seen the results in trusting God. Our faith and trust in Christ is something that has been huge,” Dusty said. “Going through the struggles together and being able to lean on Him and one another.”

Dusty said when Amnesty was in the womb, doctors discovered she had a serious heart problem and might not survive.

“It was something they had monitored weekly while she was in the womb. The day she was born, they did a scan of her heart and it was perfectly healthy,” Dusty said. “They were also saying she would never have use of her legs at all.

“To go from that extreme to now, where she is 4 and she’s walking, has been a rollercoaster,” Dusty said.

Amnesty Marshall was first able to walk without a walker at age 3. Photo by Jim Headley

Krystal Marshall said doctors gave them an option to terminate the pregnancy, but they chose not to do that.

“We never would have seen what God could do in her life if we would have succumbed to that fear,” she said. “It looked really grim. It looked like it wasn’t going to go well. Even if it didn’t go well, that really is not our say. Watching her thrive has really been a huge blessing in our lives.”

Krystal said no one really thought Amnesty would ever walk.

“Now she’s in a dance class here locally in Maricopa, and so is Noel. She’s just a regular little girl,” Krystal said.

Dusty said Amnesty had two major surgeries days after being born.

One was to close her spinal cord back into her body because “her spine was sticking out when she was born.”

A few days later, doctors installed a shunt into her brain to release fluid that was built up. She still has the shunt as well as a scar on her back from the surgeries.

“We spent three weeks in the NIC-U and we didn’t even know how to change a diaper,” Krystal said.

With Dusty traveling the nation for his work, Amnesty and Krystal have gone along on the road.

“Amnesty has been to more places than most people will ever go,” Krystal said. “She’s been to 22 states. We have traveled the country, and Amnesty’s story has been shared in all these states. People have chosen life for their babies because of her story. They have been inspired with hope and all of this is from this amazing blessing of having this little girl come into our lives.”

The family will go on an 11-state tour beginning in May.

The Marshalls moved to Maricopa from Las Vegas in late 2016. During the first year they lived in Arizona, Amnesty received in-home care from therapists. After their in-home benefits expired, they began searching for a clinic that could provide therapy services for Amnesty.

“We searched across the Phoenix area, but every clinic we went to had a waitlist of six months to a year,” said Krystal. “We were praying God would lead us to the right place.”

In early 2018, Krystal contacted Head To Toe Therapy and it made an immediate appointment for Amnesty with Melissa Pink, one of the clinic’s therapists.

Head To Toe ensured that Krystal could watch Amnesty’s weekly therapy sessions with Pink.

Krystal said, “Pink wouldn’t fit Amnesty into a box, and she tailored a specific therapy plan to fit Amnesty’s specific needs. She would even let Amnesty play and would target the therapy around Amnesty playing.”

After 12 weeks of continuous and regular therapy sessions, Amnesty took her first steps without the aid of a walker in March 2018.

“When she started walking it was kind of like falling with feet underneath her,” Krystal said. “When those controlled steps started happening, we were looking at each other thinking, ‘She’s going to walk without a walker.’ There was no doubt, and now she’s doing it.”

Head To Toe founder Dr. Bridget O’Brien went out of her way to get to know the Marshall family and forged a relationship with the entire family. She would make time once a week to get coffee with Krystal and forged a friendship with the Marshall family.

After Amnesty took her first steps, O’Brien partnered with the Spina Bifida Association of Arizona and the Marshall’s to host a special play date at Head To Toe for families and kids with spina bifida. O’Brien covered the costs of the entire party, and nearly 30 people attended.

“Last year’s play date was an immense success, and Head To Toe Therapy is proud to host this family friendly event once again,” said O’Brien.

This year, Head To Toe is hosting the “Phoenix Spina Bifida Play Date” group again, and the families are very excited about it.  The event will take place on March 16 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“They are happy and joyful kids,” Dusty Marshall said. “Obviously, they have special needs, but they don’t know any different. They are enjoying being children.”

Photo by Jim Headley

by -
There is still time to get a flu shot this season.

A lot of people in Arizona aren’t feeling very well this week.

The Center for Disease Control reports that 1,196 cases of influenza occurred in Arizona in the final week of 2018, bringing the total for the season so far to 3,216. In Pinal County, there are 322 cases

While that is a normal number of flu cases for this time of year, it propels Arizona into the widespread category, along with New Mexico, California, Nebraska, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Several area hospitals, including Banner Health, have placed restrictions on visitors to prevent the spread of influenza to their patients.

Visitors are restricted if they have a fever, cough or are suffering from vomiting or diarrhea and children younger than 13 are restricted from visiting the hospital, unless:

They are visiting a sibling in the obstetric or pediatric units and do not have a cold or flu symptoms. However, the child may be screened for illness by staff before visiting.

Children 12 years old and younger must have adult supervision at all times in public waiting areas and cafeterias.

Visitors to Banner are asked to wash or sanitize their hands while at the hospital as it is the best way to prevent influenza from spreading.

More than 35,000 cases of lab-confirmed influenza were reported in Arizona last flu season.

Statewide, 1,178 people died from influenza and pneumonia in the 2017-18 flu season, much higher than the 400 to 700 annual average.

Five of the deaths in Arizona were children.

Nationally, over 80,000 people died last flu season, according to the CDC. More than 180 children died and 80 percent of them were not vaccinated.

Last flu season, only 57.9 percent of Americans were vaccinated against the flu, down from 59 percent the year before.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition

Released Nov. 12, U.S. Department of Health released an updated version of its “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” It reflects the extensive amount of new knowledge gained since the first edition, released in 2008. Here are 10 areas of knowledge covered in the guidelines:

  1. Preschool-aged children (ages 3-5 years) should be physically active 3 hours throughout the day to enhance growth and development.
  2. Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years should do 1 hour or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily: Aerobic, muscle-training or bone-strengthening.
  3. Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.
  4. Adults should do at least 2.5 to 5 hours a week of moderate-intensity, or 1.25 to 2.5 a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.
  5. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
  6. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
  7. As part of their weekly physical activity, older adults should do multicomponent physical activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
  8. Older adults should determine their level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness.
  9. Older adults with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely.
  10. When older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.

bit.ly/USHealthGuidelines



This item appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.