The Coastal Health District of Georgia serves the counties of Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long & McIntosh

News


Free Screening of Acclaimed Film, “25 to Life,” in Savannah & Brunswick

The Coastal Health District Prevention Program, the Savannah and Brunswick Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and Savannah State University Student Development will host a free screening of the acclaimed film, “25 to Life,” in Savannah and Brunswick on the following days and times:

7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.), Wednesday, January 23, Savannah State University Union, Ballrooms A&B.

7 p.m. Thursday, January 24, Brunswick Job Corps Center, 4401 Glynco Parkway.

The events are free and open to the public. The film’s creative team along with William Brawner, whose story is told in the film, will attend the screening and participate in an interactive audience discussion following the screening. Brawner, national speaker and HIV/AIDS activist and Executive Director of the Haven Youth Center, will lead the discussion about ending HIV/AIDS stigma though education, awareness, and Pre-exposure prophylaxis *(PrEP). There will also be free giveaways and refreshments.

*PrEP is a medication taken daily for those identified as high risk for HIV infection.

The mission of the Coastal Health District Prevention Team is to educate communities about the threat of HIV/AIDS and its social impact; advocate for increased HIV/AIDS programs within the community that help improve treatment, provide support and prevention of HIV/AIDS; and eradicate HIV/AIDS stigmas and discrimination.  “25 to LIFE” will help bring awareness to the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS and will address the tough issues of sex, race, and manhood as well as the effects of silence and secrecy surrounding HIV positive people. William will share his personal story of keeping his HIV positive status a secret for over 25 years and his tireless efforts to end HIV/AIDS stigmas.

 

 

Potential Hepatitis A Exposure from Restaurant Worker

A case of hepatitis A has been diagnosed in a food handler at Gryphon Tea Room located in downtown Savannah. An investigation found that this employee worked while ill Jan. 2, 5, 8, 10 and 12. It is relatively rare for restaurant patrons to become infected with hepatitis A virus due to an infected food handler, but anyone who consumed food or drink at the Gryphon Tea Room on the above dates should contact their healthcare provider to determine if a hepatitis A immunization is needed to prevent the disease.

Anyone who consumed food and/or drink at the restaurant on the dates that employee worked is also asked to:

  1. Monitor their health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection up to 50 days after exposure.
  2. Wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
  3. Stay at home and contact their healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop.

Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will prevent the spread of this disease.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown colored urine and light-colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear.  People can become ill up to 7 weeks after being exposed to the virus.

Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet or engages in behaviors that increase risk of infection.

For more information on hepatitis A, go to cdc.gov/hepatitis.

Downtown Port Wentworth Under Boil Water Advisory

January 16, 2019

Precautionary Boil Water Notice

TO: RESIDENTS OF PORT WENTWORTH, GA LIVING IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA, BOUNDED BY EAST OF AUGUSTA RD. (HIGHWAY 21); AND SOUTH OF JIMMY DELOACH.

 A TEMPORARY LOSS OF WATER PRESSURE HAS BEEN EXPERIENCED DUE TO EQUIPMENT MALFUNCTION IN THE DOWNTOWN PORT WENTWORTH AREA. AS A PRECAUTION,WE ARE ADVISING THAT ALL WATER USED FOR DRINKING/CONSUMPTION OR COOKING TO BE BOILED.

THE WATER SHOULD BE BOILED FOR 1-3 MINUTES AFTER REACHING A ROLLING BOIL POINT. BOTTLED WATER MAY BE USED AS AN ALTERNATIVE.

ANY RESTAURANTS IN THE IMPACTED AREA WILL NEED TO SUSPEND OPERATIONS, UNLESS THEY HAVE A PRE-APPROVED EMERGENCY OPERATION PLAN ON FILE WITH THE CHATHAM COUNTY HEALTH OFFICE.

THIS “PRECAUTIONARY BOIL WATER NOTICE” WILL REMAIN IN EFFECT UNTIL THE WATER SYSTEM IS BACK TO NORMAL OPERATIONS AND BACTERIOLOGICAL TESTING IS COMPLETED.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, YOU MAY CONTACT CHRIS LEE (PROJECT MANAGER – PORT WENTWORTH) AT 864-293-5822.

Raccoon on Wilmington Island Tests Positive for Rabies

A raccoon in the Druid Circle area of Wilmington Island has tested positive for rabies. A family dog that came into contact with the raccoon is up to date on his rabies vaccination and has received a booster vaccine.

Several species of wild animals that are native to coastal Georgia – including raccoons, foxes, and bats – can carry rabies. Rabies is a potentially deadly virus that is primarily spread by infected animals. The Chatham County Health Department Environmental Health office offers these tips to protect you and your family from rabies:

  • Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
  • Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines after 12 weeks of age, followed by a booster shot within one year and vaccination every 1-3 years depending on veterinary recommendation and vaccine used.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.

Symptoms of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies (such as humans), foaming at the mouth, and paralysis.

If an animal ever bites you, seek medical care immediately and contact Chatham County Animal Services at 912-652-6575 and the Chatham County Environmental Health office at 912-356-2160.

 

Glynn Co. Health Dept. Blood Drive Jan. 8

The Glynn County Health Department will hold a blood drive from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8. Donating blood takes less than an hour and each blood donation has the potential to save up to three lives. Everyone who donates will receive a FREE long-sleeved t-shirt and one-week YMCA guest pass. In addition, all donors will receive a wellness check including blood pressure, temperature, iron count, pulse, and cholesterol screening. If you want to save time and make an appointment in advance, please call 912-279-3351.

Free Mammograms Jan. 14 in Chatham County

The Chatham County Health Department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) is partnering with the St. Joseph’s/Candler Mobile Mammography Program to offer free mammograms from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, January 14, at the Chatham County Health Department located at 1395 Eisenhower Drive. Women who meet certain annual income guidelines and are 40-64 years of age without insurance will be eligible to receive a screening mammogram at no cost.

Appointments are preferred but walk-ins will be accepted. To make an appointment, please call 356-2946.

 

It’s Not Too Late to Get a Flu Shot

Although we’re heading into spring, the flu is still circulating widely in Georgia. Getting vaccinated is the best protection against the flu and it’s not too late to get a flu shot. Health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties still have flu vaccine available.

“The flu is out there and as long as the flu virus is circulating, it’s never too late to vaccinate,” said Lawton Davis, M.D., district health director for the Coastal Health District. “Flu season can run as late as May.”

Influenza can be a serious disease that leads to hospitalization and sometimes death. Regardless of race, age, gender or ethnicity, anyone can get sick from the flu. Those especially at risk are adults 65 years of age and older, children younger than 5, pregnant women, people with certain chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or other long-term medical conditions. The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine. While getting the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu, there are other things we can all do every day to prevent getting or spreading the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Try to cough or sneeze into the corner of your elbow and not your hand or cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

Raccoon on Skidaway Island Tests Positive for Rabies

A raccoon in Clairborn Retreat on Skidaway Island has tested positive for rabies. A family dog was found interacting with the raccoon in the family’s back yard. The dog is up to date on his rabies vaccination and will receive a booster vaccine.

Several species of wild animals that are native to coastal Georgia – including raccoons, foxes, and bats – can carry rabies. Rabies is a potentially deadly virus that is primarily spread by infected animals. The Chatham County Health Department Environmental Health office offers these tips to protect you and your family from rabies:

  • Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
  • Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines after 12 weeks of age, followed by a booster shot within one year and vaccination every 1-3 years depending on veterinary recommendation and vaccine used.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.

Symptoms of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies (such as humans), foaming at the mouth, and paralysis.

If an animal ever bites you, seek medical care immediately and contact Chatham County Animal Services at 912-652-6575 and the Chatham County Environmental Health office at 912-356-2160.

 

Coastal Health District Team Members Named Georgia Medical Society Health Care Heroes

Debbie Hagins, M.D., Jonathan Gibson, and Ilya Snyder-Shvahbeyn. Not pictured, Cristina Gibson.

The Georgia Medical Society (GMS) recently named the 2018 Health Care Heroes and two Coastal Health District team members were among those recognized. Debbie Hagins, M.D., was presented the Health Care Innovation Award, and Cristina Gibson – along with her son Jonathan and his classmate, Ilya Snyder-Shvahbeyn – was presented the Community Outreach Award. A total of six awards are given annually in recognition of contributions made by individuals and organizations that “have helped enrich the length, the joy, and the comfort of the lives of the citizens.”

Health Care Innovation Award
The GMS Health Care Innovation Award was given to Debbie Hagins, M.D., medical director and principal investigator for the Coastal Health District CARE Centers which provide comprehensive outpatient primary care (including nutritional services and oral health) and case management to persons with HIV/AIDS. The Coastal Health District Ryan White HIV program serves an eight-county geographic region and has the highest HIV incidence outside of the metro Atlanta area.

Twelve years ago, Dr. Hagins helped spearhead the effort to bring HIV clinical trials to the Coastal Health District. The trials provide medication for individuals who otherwise may have never had access to research and that research will help determine what drugs will work best in treating HIV. Since 2006, she has served as Principal Investigator for 46 trials related to HIV care with a special focus on enrolling and maintaining two groups that have been historically overlooked or excluded: minority and female patients.

Dr. Hagins’ hard work in the area of clinical trials has garnered local, state, and national attention bringing to light the important efforts being put forward in public health regarding HIV medication research and treatment. Her exceptional performance in providing comprehensive primary care to HIV patients and as Principal Investigator for numerous clinical trials has resulted in her participation as a key note speaker at several national meetings and she recently shared her expertise for an article in MD Magazine. She has co-authored many publications, abstracts and posters (several on the international stage).

Dr. Hagins is highly respected in her field and is an excellent representative for public health and a strong advocate for providing comprehensive health care to underserved populations, especially those living with HIV. She achieved and has maintained certification as an HIV Specialist from the American Academy of HIV Medicine and was named a Fellow of the Academy of Physicians of Clinical Research (FAPCR). The FAPCR designation is reserved for Academy of Physicians of Clinical Research members who have shown significant commitment to, and achievement in, clinical research.

Community Outreach Award
The GMS Community Outreach Award was given to Coastal Health District Chronic Disease Prevention Director, Cristina Gibson, her son Jonathan and his classmate, Ilya Snyder-Shvahbeyn.  As a dedicated public health employee and head of the Chronic Disease Prevention program for our eight-county health district, Cristina is very attuned to the public health-related issues facing our citizens – particularly when it comes to health disparities – and has always looked for ways to help narrow the gap. A couple of years ago when Cristina’s son Jonathan and his classmate Ilya were trying to come up with a community outreach event as a class assignment, the three brainstormed and created Everybody Eats Fresh FREE Fridays (E2F3).

E2F3 is a produce- and bread-only distribution program that provides access to healthy foods to residents in need, primarily on Savannah’s southside. The distribution takes place in a local church parking lot which gives it somewhat of a farmers market feel. To make this happen, Cristina, Jonathan, and Ilya partnered with America’s Second Harvest Food Bank to relieve the Food Bank of healthy foods that might otherwise be thrown out. Through its partnership with America’s Second Harvest Food Bank, E2F3 has been able to distribute an average of 12 tons of produce each year – tons of produce that would have otherwise been thrown away because of spoilage. During each event E2F3 is serving an average of 70 families and about 283 individuals (a majority of these being children and seniors).

E2F3 serves those who are in the middle – they don’t quite qualify for government assistance but their income may not be enough to cover all necessities and often, food is an easier sacrifice than rent. E2F3 has been so successful that three additional sites are now running in the Savannah area. With the addition of the partner sites, E2F3 is able to provide even more Savannahians with healthy food that may give them a reprieve from worrying about where their next meals are coming from and allow them to redirect their dollars towards paying an electricity bill or paying down a medical bill.

 

Free HIV Testing Events Scheduled for World AIDS Day (WAD)

The Coastal Health District HIV Prevention Program will offer two free HIV testing events on Saturday, December 1 in observance of World AIDS Day. Both events will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at these locations:

  • Walgreens, 2109 E. Victory Drive, Savannah
  • Walgreens, 4210 Augusta Road, Garden City

Testing is completely confidential and results will be available in one minute. A follow-up visit will be scheduled for anyone who tests positive and counseling will be made available to those individuals. The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “Know Your Status.”

December 1 marks the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day. Launched in 1988, the annual observance highlights worldwide efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. World AIDS Day is also an occasion to show support for those living with HIV and to remember those who have died from the infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV today, and only 1 in 7 know it. Young people are the most likely to be unaware of their infection. Among people aged 13-24 with HIV, an estimated 51% don’t know it.

Georgia leads the United States in HIV rates for adults and adolescents according to a report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Coastal Health District HIV/AIDS program currently serves 1,398 clients living with HIV/AIDS throughout the eight-county district. As a reminder, HIV testing is free at all health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties and available Monday through Friday during regular health department hours of operation.

Anyone with questions about testing can call Diane DeVore at (912) 644-5828 or e-mail Diane.Devore@dph.ga.gov.

Learn more about HIV Prevention and how you can reduce risk.