Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

Articles written by Jon Ebelt


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  • DPHHS Urges Public to Use Caution When Consuming Morel Mushrooms

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|May 8, 2024

    Spring in Montana is a popular time to forage for morel mushrooms, a type of mushroom that is often considered a delicacy by restaurants and the public. However, morels can cause human illness if the proper identification, storage, and preparation steps are not taken. An outbreak of gastrointestinal (GI) illness occurred in Montana in the spring of 2023, when 51 people got sick after eating raw or only partially cooked morels at a restaurant. Three hospitalizations and two deaths were...

  • DPHHS Announces New Hiring Incentive, Historic Pay Increases at Health Care Facilities

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Jan 24, 2024

    Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Charlie Brereton today announced one-time incentive payments and targeted, historic wage increases to recruit and retain employees at Montana’s state-run healthcare facilities. The new effort is designed to reduce reliance on contracted clinical staff and demonstrates DPHHS’s continued, strong commitment to reforming and investing in the facilities that serve Montana’s most vulnerable patients. Dir. Brereton announced the Hiring Incentive Program for direct patient care positions a...

  • DPHHS Encourages Montanans to Prepare for Respiratory Illness this Fall, Winter

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Oct 11, 2023

    As Montana gears up to enter another respiratory illness season, the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) encourages Montanans to take precautions to help protect against severe symptoms from COVID-19, influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections. The number of people ill due to respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia, and RSV, is currently low across most of the United States but has increased in recent weeks. Montana has already begun seeing...

  • West Nile Virus Detected in Montana

    JON EBELT, Montana Department of Health and Human Services|Jul 26, 2023

    State and local health officials are reporting the first West Nile Virus (WNV) detection of the year in mosquitoes sampled from Blaine County. No humans or horses have tested positive for WNV yet this season. Infected mosquitoes can transmit WNV when they bite, and the increased risk of WNV transmission to humans and horses is expected to continue through October – or as long as mosquitoes are active in the state. While no human cases of WNV were reported in 2022, in previous seasons Montana has reported over 50 human cases in a single s...

  • Public Health Officials: Rabies Remains a Threat

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Jun 28, 2023

    State and local public health officials are reminding Montanans to be aware of the risk of exposure to rabies as summer approaches. The risk for potential encounters between humans and wild animals increases during spring and summer because of the time spent hiking and engaging in other outdoor activities. On June 13, 2023, DPHHS received the first report of a rabid animal this year. A striped skunk in Powder River County tested positive for rabies. In 2022, 13 animals submitted for rabies...

  • JVEMS Wins EMS Service of the Year Award: DPHHS Honors Responders for Life-Saving Heroics

    JON EBELT, Montana Department of Health and Human Services|May 31, 2023

    The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) honored Montana Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel from White Sulphur Springs, Great Falls, Whitehall, Bozeman, Miles City, and Anaconda during an awards ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda Wednesday, May 24. The event included an address by Lt. Governor Kristen Juras to representatives from the Meagher County Volunteer Ambulance, Montana Medical Transport of Helena and Great Falls, Jefferson Valley EMS, Gallatin County Dispatch,...

  • Chickenpox Cases on the Rise in Montana Youth

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|May 17, 2023

    Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials are reporting a recent increase in the number of cases of chickenpox reported in school-aged children. And, at least half of these infections were acquired from an adult family member with shingles. Chickenpox, or varicella, can be a serious illness and is easily preventable with vaccination. “The best way to protect yourself and your child from chickenpox is vaccination,” says Jessica Lopeman, a registered nurse and epidemiologist with DPHHS. In 2022, there were 23 reported cas...

  • Medicaid Eligibility Redeterminations/Renewals Resume in April

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Mar 29, 2023

    The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) will begin conducting Medicaid and Healthy Montana Kids (HMK) eligibility redeterminations on April 1 for the first time in three years. Federal requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic led to the suspension of annual redeterminations, in order to keep every individual enrolled in Medicaid covered throughout the pandemic. However, last December’s federal omnibus spending bill directed states to resume evaluating the eligibility of Medicaid enrollees on April 1. Beginning in April a...

  • Local School Nurse Receives DPHHS School Health Grant

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Feb 1, 2023

    Krista Glaus, RN, has been named a recipient of a School Health Mini-Grant Award from the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). She has received $1,000, which will contribute to staff CPR and first aid training in the Whitehall School District. Glaus provides nursing services to the Whitehall School District, where she works with students and their families to ensure students' health and well-being. She is among a select number of school nurses awarded grants by the DPHHS...

  • Help Prevent Respiratory Illnesses this Winter

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Jan 18, 2023

    Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials are reporting substantial influenza (flu) activity during the first three months of this current flu season, from September through December 2022, that has far exceeded the prior five-year averages. Since the week of September 25 through December 31, 2022, there have been 408 influenza-associated hospitalizations reported to DPHHS, well above the five-year seasonal average of 88 hospitalizations for that same time frame. The five-year seasonal average for hospitalizations for an...

  • Be Antibiotics Aware: Smart Use, Best Care

    JON EBELT, Montana Department of Health and Human Services|Nov 23, 2022

    Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials are urging Montanans to be aware of the importance of appropriate antibiotic use during U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week Nov. 18-24, 2022. This is an annual observance that provides participating organizations in the state’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Program an opportunity to raise awareness about antibiotic use to combat the threat of antibiotic resistance. DPHHS officials state that while antibiotics are a common treatment for numerous bacterial infections, they are not always t...

  • DPHHS Reminds Montanans about Increased WIC Benefits

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Nov 16, 2022

    Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials said today that increased benefits are now available to families through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, commonly known as WIC. “We want to ensure that WIC recipients and those who are eligible, but not yet enrolled for the program, are aware that benefits increased in October,” said Kevin Moore, acting WIC Director for DPHHS. “This is great news because we know that with increases in food prices, times are tough for many famil...

  • DPHHS Urges Montanans to be Fall Aware

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Sep 21, 2022

    Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials report that nearly one in three Montanans aged 65 and older have reported falling at least once in the last 12 months. “Falling is not a normal part of aging, but knowing a person’s risk factors can reduce the chance of an unintentional fall.” DPHHS Falls Prevention Program Manager Melissa Dale said. “As a person ages, they are at an increased risk for falling and sustaining an injury.” National Falls Prevention Week is September 18-24. Dale notes that almost half (48%) of the fa...

  • Take Steps to Avoid Contracting West Nile Virus

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Aug 31, 2022

    State and local public health officials are reporting the season’s first West Nile virus (WNV) detections in positive mosquito samples in Dawson and Lewis and Clark counties. The first horse infected with WNV this season was also confirmed earlier this week in Lewis and Clark County. To date, no human cases of WNV have been identified this season. Increased risk of WNV infection in humans and horses is expected to continue through at least October. The detection of WNV in mosquitoes and horses is an early warning that Montanans are at an i...

  • Governor Gianforte, DPHHS Invest $18 Million To Increase Access to Child Care

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Aug 24, 2022

    Governor Greg Gianforte and Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Charlie Brereton announced an $18 million investment to fund 31 child care innovation grants across the state. “For too long, Montana’s working families faced a shortage of child care providers, putting them between a rock and a hard place,” Gov. Gianforte said. “To increase access to sustainable, quality child care and address this longstanding problem, we’re investing in quality providers who operate in child care deserts throughout our state.” R...

  • Montana Tobacco Quit Line Launches New Behavioral Health Program

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Jul 13, 2022

    The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) has launched a new program to help persons with behavioral health conditions successfully quit tobacco products. “Many individuals with behavioral health conditions want to stop smoking but may face extra challenges in successfully quitting,” DPHHS Director Adam Meier said. “Through the new Behavioral Health Program, participants will have access to specially trained coaches and additional coaching calls to help them overcome these challenges.” DPHHS officials say, in Montana, tobacco...

  • Final Application Period for Child Care Stabilization Funds is July 1-31

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Jul 6, 2022

    Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Adam Meier is encouraging child care providers to apply for Child Care Stabilization funds during the final application period July 1 – 31, 2022. The online application will go live on July 1 at childcare.mt.gov. DPHHS estimates there are about 350 child care providers still eligible to apply for this funding. “We encourage Montana eligible child care providers, who haven’t done so, to apply for stabilization funds in July,” Meier said. “Since this funding was first offered i...

  • State, Local Officials Report Alarming Number of Fatal Overdoses in Recent Weeks

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Jun 15, 2022

    Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) and the Montana Department of Justice, in conjunction with local law enforcement, have identified an alarming number of fatal overdoses across the state in the last two weeks. In the period from May 22 to June 1, there have been at least 8 fatal overdoses, likely due to opioids. These fatalities occurred in Cascade, Custer, Gallatin, Lake, Lewis and Clark, and Yellowstone counties and involved individuals aged 24 to 60 years old. “These tragic events serve as another reminder of the d...

  • SNAP, TANF Clients Can Now Purchase Online at Walmart.com

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Apr 13, 2022

    Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Adam Meier announced that Montanans eligible for food and cash assistance can now make purchases online through Walmart.com as part of a federal nationwide initiative to increase access. “We are excited to be able to offer this convenient method of shopping to Montana families,” Meier said. “While Walmart is our initial launch, we will work on expanding this program with additional online retailers in the future.” Thousands of households receive benefits through the Supplem...

  • State Offices Issue Advisory Clarifying State of Parental Notification of Abortion Act

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Feb 9, 2022

    Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen and Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Director Adam Meier issued an advisory today to clarify the current status of, and Montanans’ rights and obligations, under the Parental Notification of Abortion Act of 2011. Montana Code books reflect that House Bill 391 (2013) repealed portions of this law. However, the Montana Code doesn’t account for court decisions, and these provisions are in fact current law. The Parental Notification of Abortion Act, which was approved by more than 70%...

  • Gianforte, DPHHS Awards Over $150,000 to Support Food Access

    JON EBELT, DPHHS Public Information Officer|Jan 12, 2022

    Governor Greg Gianforte and Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Adam Meier announced today that Montana No Kid Hungry (NKH) has awarded a total of $150,980 through grants to 11 local organizations across the state to support food access and nutrition projects. “Strengthening the local food system will help improve access to healthy and local food, support Montana’s farmers and producers, and provide a boost to the economy,” Governor Gianforte said. Montana No Kid Hungry is a public-private partnership between DPHHS...

  • DPHHS Announces $3.7 Million Investment to Help Montanans with Significant Medical Needs

    JON EBELT, DPHHS Public Information Officer|Dec 29, 2021

    The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) announced today an investment of $3.7 million over the next 18 months to provide a financial boost to over 1,300 Montana Medicaid recipients with significant medical needs. “This investment puts money back in the pockets of over 1,000 vulnerable Montanans with challenging health care needs,” Governor Greg Gianforte said. “This will not only help these individuals with their health care costs but will also ease everyday living expenses for those who need it most.” Montanans who w...

  • DPHHS Issues Statement on Injunction Against Federal Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Dec 8, 2021

    “The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is pleased that a federal court has issued an order granting a nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of CMS’s vaccine mandate for health care workers, particularly in light of its legal shortcomings and the dire impact it would have on frontier states like Montana. With the court’s decision, House Bill 702, which makes discrimination on the basis of vaccination status unlawful, remains the law in Montana. Thus, Montana health care facilities cannot require staff to b...

  • Gifts With A Lift Program Spreads Holiday Cheer to Montana State Hospital Patients

    JON EBELT, Montana DPHHS|Nov 24, 2021

    The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) announced today that donation boxes have been set up at various locations across the state to receive holiday gifts to benefit Montana State Hospital (MSH) patients. The effort is part of the annual Gifts With A Lift program that has played an instrumental role in spreading holiday cheer to patients for the past 69 years. The program ensures that all state hospital patients have a gift this holiday season. MSH Gifts With A Lift coordinator Trent Martin said the program continues to...

  • DPHHS Urges Montanans to Check Cupboards for Recalled Infant Cereal

    JON EBELT, DPHHS Public Information Officer|Oct 20, 2021

    Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials announced today a voluntary recall of rice cereal for infants and babies has been issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The recalled infant cereal was distributed nationally through Walmart stores and online. This recall is a result of a routine sampling program by the FDA which found that a sample from three production lots of Parent’s Choice Rice Baby Cereal tested above the guidance for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic. Parent’s Choice Rice Baby Cereal lot...

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