Monthlong collection of diapers underway

The Pima County Health Department is sponsoring a diaper drive this month in response to a critical shortage of diapers in the community.

The county's goal is to collect 15,000 diapers for infants and toddlers. Supply at the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona is low in the summer due to fewer diaper drives, and they are particularly in need of diapers in larger sizes such as fours and fives. Public assistance for diapers is limited, and the Diaper Bank was able to meet only 40 percent of the 1.5 million requests it received last year.

Donations of disposable diapers in unopened packages may be taken to the Abrams Public Health Center, 3950 S. Country Club Road, throughout the month of July. The lobby is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Diapers can be a significant expense for families, given that six to 10 diapers are needed on an average day. Leaving a baby in soiled diapers too long can lead to a host of problems, from diaper rash to infections and sleeplessness.

UA nurse tapped to be academy fellow

University of Arizona College of Nursing faculty member Barbara Brewer has been selected for one of the most prestigious honors in nursing.

Brewer is one of 172 nurse leaders selected to be a fellow with the American Academy of Nursing. The academy will induct the nurses at its 40th annual meeting in Washington D.C., this fall.

The academy is composed of more than 2,000 nurse leaders in education, management, practice, policy and research. Fellows include hospital and government administrators, college deans and renowned scientific researchers. The new class represents all 50 states, D.C. and 19 countries.

Selection criteria include evidence of significant contributions to nursing and health care and sponsorship by two current academy fellows. Applicants are reviewed by a panel of elected and appointed fellows, and selection is based, in part, on the extent to which the nominee's nursing career influenced health policies and the heath and well-being of all.

Other Arizona nurses selected for the honor are Maribeth Gallagher of Hospice of the Valley, Virginia Prendergast of Barrow Neurological Institute, and Nelma B.C. Shearer and Leigh Small, both of Arizona State University.

Uninsured rate high in Santa Cruz County

A new report on health needs in Santa Cruz County says more than one-third of the county's adults younger than 65 do not have health insurance, which is twice the uninsured rate for the state's non-Medicare adult population.

Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital and the Arizona Department of Health Services released the Community Health Needs Assessment for Santa Cruz County last week. Santa Cruz County includes Nogales, Rio Rico, Patagonia, Tubac and Sonoita, among others.

The assessment was completed with information obtained through surveys of 300 county residents and focus groups, officials said. The assessment also drew from county health rankings, the state's vital statistics, primary-care statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The report also says the area lacks enough primary- and specialty-care doctors. Among other things, there is no psychiatrist in the county, the report says, and the shortage of primary-care and specialty physicians means many county residents have longer waits to see doctors or must travel to Tucson for specialty care.

Carondelet Medical Group says it is recruiting physicians and nurse practitioners to the area, and expanding its practice in Santa Cruz County. Plans are also underway to expand specialty care in the area, the report says.

Diabetes and obesity are also identified as top health issues.

Suicides of refugees from Bhutan studied

During the period of February 2009 to February 2012, the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported 16 suicides among the approximately 57,000 Bhutanese refugees who resettled in the United States since 2008. Tucson is one of the communities where a large concentration of the Bhutanese refugees resettled.

In collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a survey of randomly selected Bhutanese refugees in four U.S. states with large populations of resettled refugees to identify risk factors that might be associated with ideas of suicide. The four states are Arizona, Georgia, New York, and Texas.

The survey findings suggest that Bhutanese refugees who have resettled in the U.S. could have a high burden of undiagnosed mental illness.

The study says mental-health services should be considered one of the priorities in the service package for refugees arriving in the United States. Programs to address challenges such as job and language training should consider adding social-support and mental-health components, the report says. It also says refugee communities and service providers might benefit from additional suicide-awareness training to identify those at highest risk and greatest need for early intervention.

Contact medical reporter Stephanie Innes at or 573-4134.