“Ask a Doctor” at Diabetes Forum

News Release (April 26, 2019)

“Ask a Doctor” at Diabetes Forum

ST. GEORGE, UT – On Thursday, May 9th at 6 PM, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) in St. George will be hosting a Diabetes and Prediabetes Community Forum. This event will provide an opportunity for attendees to ask questions of medical experts or to learn from the questions of others. The forum is designed to help people (or their loved ones) who are at risk for diabetes or have been diagnosed with the disease.

“It is estimated that 40% of adults in Washington County have diabetes or prediabetes,” says Jeff Smith, SWUPHD Diabetes Program Manager. “These serious health conditions can usually be managed or prevented with a healthier lifestyle. But it can also be extremely difficult to know what to do or where to get reliable information regarding this complex disease.”

The community forum will feature SWUPHD Health Officer David Blodgett, MD, MPH, who earned his medical degree from the University of Utah and a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Blodgett is passionate about promoting healthy living and has a wealth of knowledge to share. The Health Department will continue to hold a free public forum on the second Thursday of each month where experts in diabetes care and prevention will take questions from the group.

“This is really a unique opportunity for the public to come together and get answers to tough questions regarding diabetes,” Jeff Smith explains. “We hope people will join us.”

Diabetes & Prediabetes Community Forum (FREE admission)

When: Thursday, May 9th at 6pm

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department

620 S. 400 E. (2nd level conference room), St. George

For more information, visit swuhealth.org or call Jeff Smith at 435-986-2552.


Celebrate National Bike Month in May

NEWS RELEASE: April 23, 2019

Celebrate National Bike Month in May

WASHINGTON COUNTY, UT-  With over 300 days of sunshine, Washington County is easily one of the best places to get into the habit of bicycling to work, to the grocery store, or just for fun!  May is National Bike Month, featuring local activities planned through the combined efforts of the City of St George, Washington City, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, the Bicycle Collective, and the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance.

Win a Bike: Each day in May, bikers can earn an entry by snapping a photo of where they are riding and posting it on Facebook and Instagram, tagged with #bikedixie. The more days you bike and post, the greater chance you have to win one of two new bikes.

Bike Prom! (Saturday, April 27, 5-8:30 pm): Gear up for bike month with a community bike ride for all abilities, followed by a dinner and formal dance party held at Snake Hollow Bike Park. Yep, bike in your formal attire!

  • 5 PM: Roll out for a no-drop, social bike ride (free of charge).

  • 6:30 – 8:30 PM: Formal dinner and dance ($10 per person).

  • Get tickets at eventbrite.com (search for Trail Prom in St. George)

Washington City Cotton Days (April 26-28): Kick off Bike Month by joining this celebration of festivities for people of all ages. Visit the Washington County Community Center booth at the fair (between 10am – 2pm) for more information on participating in Bike Month. Enjoy the Ice Cream Social & Movie in the Park on April 26th (everyone loves The Sandlot!). On Saturday, April 27th, start the morning with a new tradition and run the Cotton Days 5k at Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park starting at 7am, followed by the Lions Club Breakfast at Veterans Park (7-10am). The day’s adventures continue with the Cotton Days Parade (9am), vendors and games, a car show at Nissons Park, and a tractor pull! For full details check out CottonDays.org. Help spread the word!

“Bike with Pike” (Monday, May 6, 6-8 pm): Enjoy free hot dogs, music, giveaways and a bike rodeo. This event will begin and end at the St George Confluence Trailhead with a guided ride led by Mayor Pike, suitable for all skill levels.

National Bike to School Day (Wednesday, May 8): All students are invited to bike to school. Washington Elementary will be holding a special bike to school event with a light breakfast and bike rodeo with the Washington City Police Department.

City of St. George Neighborhood Open House (Thursday, May 9, 6-8 pm): Meet the Mayor and City Council members at Historic Town Square and learn about plans to make our streets more walkable and bikeable. Enjoy light refreshments along with short biking (and e-scooter) tours of downtown.

National Bike to Work Day (Friday, May 17, 7-10 am): People biking to work can stop at any of five pit stops across the St. George area between 7 am and 10 am. Participants will get free breakfast, free bike safety gear, and a simple tune-up on their bike from a local shop (while supplies last).  Here are the locations:

  1. Ace Hardware: corner of Bluff Street and the Boulevard

  2. Maverick: 1216 S Bluff St.

  3. River Road Bridge across Virgin River: about 1400 South and River Road

  4. Smith’s at Dino Crossing: 565 N Mall Dr, St. George

  5. Washington City Community Center: 350 Community Center Drive

For a complete list of local biking events for May, visit www.bikedixie.org.


Media contacts:

Southwest Utah Public Health Department: Kye Nordfelt (435) 773-8155

City of St. George: David Cordero (435) 627-4051

Washington City: David Woodcock (435) 656-6363                               


Health Department Offering Free Health Education and A1C Testing


Health Department Offering Free Health Education and A1C Testing

ST. GEORGE, UT – The Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) is offering three new opportunities for healthy living education to help residents lose weight and prevent diabetes and heart disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled in the last twenty years as the American population has aged and become more overweight or obese.

“Food choices and lack of physical activity play a major role in putting people at increased risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” says Jeff Smith, SWUPHD Diabetes Program Manager. “By consistently making sustainable changes to eat a little better and move more, people can really make a difference in reducing their risk of these serious diseases.”

The health department’s new health education options are free and include:

Online Course: This course is self-paced and easy to follow with short readings, engaging videos, and action steps. After completing the course, adult participants will be eligible for a FREE A1C test which measures blood sugar levels over the prior few months. This course can be found at swuhealth.org/diabetes.

Weekly In-Person Classes: Classes are held every Tuesday, 12-12:50 PM at the SWUPHD St George office (620 S. 400 E.). Classes will provide a safe and encouraging place to learn and discuss healthy living topics. After attending 6 classes, adult participants will be eligible for a FREE A1C test.

Monthly Community Forum: These forums will provide an opportunity for people to ask questions and get answers about diabetes management and prevention. We will invite local medical professionals to take questions from the audience. These forums will start on May 9th at 6 PM and will be held every 2nd Thursday thereafter at the SWUPHD St George office.”We are really trying to motivate people to start making simple, healthy changes, and we believe these new learning opportunities will do that,” Smith says.

You can learn more at swuhealth.org/diabetes, or call Jeff at 435-986-2552.


Increased E-cigarette Advertising and Teen Vaping

NEWS RELEASE (2-20-19)

Increased E-cigarette Advertising and Teen Vaping

WASHINGTON COUNTY, UT – The Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) has seen an increase in advertising for e-cigarette/vaping products, raising concerns about influence on children and teens. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that an increase in e-cigarette advertising correlates with increases in use by youth under 18. Surveys of local gas stations, grocery stores, and vape shops since 2016 show a 470% increase in e-cigarette promotions.

“Vape products disproportionately harm youth,” says Kye Nordfelt, SWUPHD Health Promotion Director. “While some may argue that e-cigarettes are intended only for adults and can be an effective tool to stop smoking, studies show that twice as many teens than adults vape in Southwest Utah. Their popularity is leading toward another generation of nicotine addicts”.

The rate of substance use among Utah teens is typically well below national averages, but vaping is an exception. Teens in our community vape at the same rate as the rest of the U.S. with about 37% of Washington County 12th graders reporting having used e-cigarettes at least once.

About one-fourth of teens who vape are able to get vape products from local retailers. All stores that sell e-cigarettes offer flavored products – which are preferred by most teen users – like candy, fruit, and mint.

In an effort to educate parents and teens on the hazards of vaping, the SWUPHD is offering a free online tool called “Clearing the Vapor”, which reads like social media with videos and limited text.  “Clearing the Vapor has been used by hundreds of teens,” Nordfelt says. “This information has been effective in changing perceptions about the harms of e-cigarettes.” Parents and teens can access Clearing the Vapor at www.swuhealth.org/ctv.

The SWUPHD also offers free presentations to parents and youth groups which address the health risks of vaping. Call Kye at 435-986-2593 to schedule a presentation.



News Release – 190220 Vape Adv

2018 Flu Shootouts

Getting immunized is one of the best ways to protect yourself against influenza. The Southwest Utah Public Health Department has scheduled our annual Flu Shoot-Out in several locations in preparation for this year’s flu season. It’s inexpensive (or NO CHARGE with some insurances, see below)* and convenient. No appointment needed! Flu vaccine is also available at all […]

Bat Tests Positive for Rabies

News Release (06/11/2018)

Bat Tests Positive for Rabies

WASHINGTON COUNTY, UT – The Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) is
reporting a recent human exposure to a bat which was infected with rabies. The individual is
receiving preventive vaccination.

“Rabies vaccine is very effective when given soon enough”, says Dr. David Blodgett, SWUPHD
Health Officer. “Every year, dozens of people in our district are vaccinated after actual or
suspected exposure to rabid animals. Once a person shows symptoms, the disease is nearly
always fatal.”

Human cases of rabies in the United States are rare, with only one to three cases reported
annually. Some of those cases were infected outside of the country.

Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals. In the US, those
animals include bats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and skunks. Cases in domestic dogs and cats are
fewer in number due to vaccination programs, but can still occur. Most of rabies cases
identified in southwest Utah occur in bats or animals that have been bitten by bats.

To avoid rabies infection:

  • Back off and don’t touch any wild animal that lets you get close to it or seems sick.
  • Seek immediate medical care if you’ve been bitten by any animal. If the animal can be
    contained or captured without further injury to yourself or others, do so. It can then be
    tested for rabies to determine if you should receive rabies shots.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you may have been exposed to an animal suspected
    of having rabies, even if you’re unsure you were bitten. If you have physical contact with
    a bat or awaken to find a bat in the room, assume you’ve been bitten. Consultation with a
    doctor and the SWUPHD can determine if vaccinations are a good idea based on the
    circumstances of your situation.
  • Vaccinate your pets against rabies.
  • Visit swuhealth.org/rabies for more information and resources.

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The mission of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department is to protect the community’s health
through the promotion of wellness and the prevention of disease. Visit our website at www.swuhealth.org

Bat Tests Positive for Rabies (06-11-18)