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ODP Health Alert

ODP Medical Director Dr. Greg Cherpes has issued an Extreme Cold Weather Alert. With current extreme cold weather and snow affecting much of the United States, the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) is sending this Health Alert as a reminder to all, and particularly to CEOs and Agency Administrators of residential programs, to ensure that necessary precautions are in place to prevent cold-weather-related health risks.

Please check that your sites’ heating systems are functioning properly, that your buildings are secure, and emergency intervention/provisions are in place if needed. Confirm that vehicles are ready to transport people when necessary and that emergency backups are in place. Foremost, the best precaution is to stay indoors whenever possible.

Exposure to the cold for too long can cause serious health problems. Hypothermia and frostbite are the most common cold-related health problems.

If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care. First, determine whether the victim also shows signs of hypothermia. Hypothermia is a more serious medical condition and requires emergency medical assistance.

Please see the CDC website for further information — Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety.

November 15 is Pressure Injury Prevention Day. ODP Medical Director Dr. Gregory Cherpes, MD released a Health Alert with important information for those who provide care to individuals at risk of developing pressure injuries.

The skin is the largest organ of the body. Skin protects the body by creating a barrier to the environment, regulates the body’s temperature, supports peripheral circulation, and helps maintain fluid balance. Skin also is a reservoir for the formation of Vitamin D. The nerves in the skin provide sensations that detect changes in the environment such as heat, cold, touch, and pain. The skin is made of two layers, the epidermis and dermis, which cover the underlying tissues, muscles, and bones. “Skin integrity” refers to the intact, unbroken nature of healthy skin. Open wounds to the skin, such as those that occur with pressure injuries, make an individual more vulnerable to infection, sickness, and death.

This document provides information defining pressure injuries, why prevention is important, who is at risk of developing pressure injuries, signs and stages, treatment, and prevention of these injuries.

Due to the serious nature of pressure injuries, the pain associated with these injuries, and the additional conditions that may result from pressure injuries, prevention and immediate action at the first sign of pressure injuries are of utmost importance. In addition to skin, muscle, and bone loss, bacteria entering the sore can cause infection. In some cases, infection in the tissue can lead to bone infection, also called osteomyelitis. Infections can worsen and result in sepsis (when infection enters the blood), which can lead to shock and even death.

IMPORTANT: Notify the health care practitioner (HCP) if there are concerns for a pressure wound. Because pressure injuries can have many different appearances, the HCP should be alerted to any skin changes that are noted, particularly in areas at risk for pressure injury. Notify the HCP at the first sign of redness that does not resolve within 15 minutes after relieving the pressure.