Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Public Listening Sessions on Facility Needs

The Columbia County Board of Supervisors Infrastructure Committee has been studying options to solve several issues including aging facilities, safety and security at the courthouse, parking, and the need for additional space for the Health & Human Services Department.  The Committee wants you to be informed on these important issues and potential solutions under consideration.  There are five public listening sessions scheduled:

  • July 10, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. at the Portage City Hall, 115 W. Pleasant Street, Portage
  • July 15, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. at the Randolph Town Hall, 109 S. Madison Street, Friesland
  • July 17, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. at the Pardeeville Village Hall, 114 Lake Street, Pardeeville
  • July 22, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. at the Columbus City Hall, 105 N. Dickason Blvd., Columbus
  • July 24, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. at the Lodi City Hall, 130 S. Main Street, Lodi.
After the public listening sessions, the Infrastructure Committee will make a decision on an option to pursue and make a presentation and recommendation to the County Board in October 2014.  The purpose of the listening sessions is to get feedback on the options the County is considering and other possible solutions, and then continue to refine the master plan to determine the best option to meet the long term needs of Columbia County.

An incidental quorum of one or more County committees may occur, however, no additional committee business will be conducted.

Persons with disabilities, who need assistance to participate in the meeting, should notify the County Clerk's office at (608) 742-9654 prior to the meeting so that accommodations may be arranged.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Get Covered Wisconsin!

Under the new healthcare law, it is mandatory to have health insurance. There’s still confusion about the new healthcare law and changes to healthcare coverage. Let’s work together to provide helpful resources and make sure everyone is ready for next open enrollment.

We are looking for volunteers to help with canvassing and help with data entry. We will provide all the training, supplies and snacks! Let’s get Wisconsin covered!

If you’re interested, please contact AmeriCorps member Mai Houa Vue, at vue.mai@countyofdane.com or at 608-288-2545.

Looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Where to Find Help..........
It seems like every day we find ourselves looking for a number, or information on a program or service, and we are not sure where to even start looking. 
Health & Human Services has various ways for you to access telephone numbers, links and contact information on things like rental assistance, energy assistance, Goodwill vouchers, immunization clinics, food pantries, childcare assistance, FoodShare, and WIC.     
Check out the Resource section on the left side of the webpage for:
v Area Law Enforcement
v Columbia County Schools
v Community Resource Guide – this is updated bimonthly and includes information for things such as the Affordable Care Act, counseling, crisis programs, family resources, food pantries, health care clinics, housing, libraries, school districts, transportation and utilities. 
v Food, Lodging, Campgrounds, Tattoos - Licensing
v Frequently Requested Phone Numbers – such as DVR, Energy Assistance, and Planned Parenthood
v HHS Newsletter – this is updated quarterly to provide the community with upcoming events within the department and county, as well as information on food pantries and dental resources, etc.
Ø Contact us by phone, mail, or stop in

Call 608-742-9227
Fax (608) 742-9700
TDD (608) 742-9229
2652 Murphy Road
PO Box 136
Portage, WI  53901


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Are you Interested in Becoming a Foster Parent?

There is always a need for Foster Families in Columbia County.  Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to become a Foster Parent? To learn more about the program, start by contacting the Columbia County Foster Care Coordinator at Columbia County Health & Human Services.

Once you have made the initial inquiry with our Foster Care Coordinator at foster.care@co.columbia.wi.us , you will receive a Welcome Packet providing information, and asking for some basic information about your household.  Once you forward that information to our agency, you will receive a second packet from us which will contain an official application and questionnaire that need to be completed by the adults in the home.  A Release of Information form needs to be signed by the adults giving us permission to do background checks.  We also ask for an autobiography from all adults in the home.

When the application and questionnaire is returned, we will then send out a 3rd packet to you in which we ask for household and auto insurance policy information, a fire safety evacuation plan, an emergency evacuation plan, employer reference and medical certification for each person in the household.  We will send out a school questionnaire for any children you have still in school.  You will be required to provide 4 reference people that we can contact.  Once this documentation has been returned to our agency, a meeting with our FC Coordinator will be scheduled and a Foster Parents Agreement signed. 

The complete process usually takes several weeks to complete.  We structure the process into steps to keep the whole thing from being too overwhelming, and our Foster Care Coordinator is only a phonecall away throughout the process.

Please think about the positive impact you could have on a child’s life by considering being a foster parent.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Translation Services

Columbia County Health & Human Services offers Spanish translation to clients who visit our building in person, or call over the phone, for services.  Our in-house translator speaks both English & Spanish and has over 17 years of experience translating in the Department and assisting with translation in other County Departments as well.

Translation for other languages is also available at Health & Human Services through a contract provider over the phone.  This translation service is provided free of charge to the individual and is a mandatory provision under Civil Rights law. 

Servicios de Traducción

Condado de Columbia Salud y Servicios Humanos ofrece traducción en español para los clientes que visitan nuestro edificio en persona o llamen por teléfono, para los servicios. Nuestro traductor interno habla en español e inglés y tiene más de 17 años de experiencia traduciendo en el departamento y ayudar con la traducción en otros departamentos del Condado también.

Traducción para otros idiomas también está disponible en Salud y Servicios Humanos a través de un proveedor de contrato por teléfono. Este servicio de traducción se proporciona gratuitamente a la persona y es una disposición obligatoria según la ley de Derechos Civiles.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Confidentiality & HIPAA

No doubt the last time you visited your doctor’s office, someone presented you with a HIPAA Confidentiality statement to read, sign and return to them.  These statements have become a staple of the business transaction at all health providers’ offices, dental offices, clinics and hospitals, and just like them, the Health & Human Service office too.  HIPAA Administrative Simplification is implemented through federal regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

HIPAA is the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, passed with bipartisan and widespread support of the health care industry. HIPAA had three goals:

  1. Health Insurance Portability – ensure the portability and continuity of health insurance coverage for individuals and groups.
  2. Accountability – combat waste, fraud, and abuse in health insurance and health care delivery.
  3. Administrative Simplication – to simplify health care billing and other transactions by adopting standards to transmit data electronically.

At the core of HIPAA are goals to 1.) require standards for the electronic exchange of health care information, and 2.) protect the privacy of personal health information.

Wisconsin Confidentiality Laws

In Wisconsin, the federal HIPAA rules are incorporated in State Statute under several different sections – 134.97, 146.836, 134.97, as well as others.  These statutes address the same goals of confidentiality that are laid out in the federal HIPAA rules.

Penalties for Violations

A violation of federal HIPAA regulations regarding the confidentiality and proper disposal of health care and related records may be subject to criminal and/or civil penalties, including any or all of the following:

  • Fines up to $1.5 million per calendar year.
  • Jail time.
  • DHHS Office of Civil Rights enforcement actions.

Wisconsin Statutes impose penalties for violations of confidentiality laws as well. Any provider or provider’s business partner who violates Wisconsin confidentiality laws may be subject to fines up to $1,000 per incident or occurrence.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Underage and College Drinking

Alcohol is widely available and aggressively promoted throughout society. It is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States -- more than tobacco and illicit drugs -- and although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. But, early use of alcohol can draw young people into a host of problems and aggravate existing ones. Each year, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking. This includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide, and hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings.  And, approximately 600,000 college students are unintentionally injured while under the influence of alcohol. Approximately 700,000 students are assaulted by other students who have been drinking and about 100,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape (from NCADD Fact Sheet: Facts About Underage Drinking). Yet over 11,000 teens in the United States try using alcohol for the first time every day and more than four million drink alcohol in any given month.

Why do some young people drink alcohol?

Young people, like adults, drink alcohol for many different reasons. Some of the reasons may seem obvious, but understanding the feelings behind these reasons--as well as how everyday teen life comes into play--can be difficult.  Young people often drink to check out from family problems or issues with school/grades Loneliness, low self–esteem, depression, anxiety disorder and other mental health issues lead many young people to drink alcohol.  Young people turn to alcohol to deal with the pressures of everyday social situations.   Young people may drink to change their image or to fit in when moving to a new school or town.  Young people may drink to gain confidence or lose inhibitions.  Young people are more likely to start experimenting with alcohol if they have parents who drink and if their parents don't give them clear messages about not drinking .

What are the Risks?

Whatever it is that leads adolescents to begin drinking, once they start they face a number of potential health and safety risks. Young people who drink are more likely to be sexually active and to have unsafe, unprotected sex; are more likely to be involved in a fight, commit violent crimes, fail at school, use other drugs, and experience verbal, physical, or sexual violence. And those who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcoholism later in life than those who begin drinking at age 21.

Preventing Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is a complex problem, requiring cooperation at all levels of society. Three basic approaches, however, have proven to be effective in prevention of the problem:  curtailing the availability of alcohol;  consistent enforcement of existing laws and regulations; and,  changing norms and behaviors through education.

Binge Drinking Is High Risk Drinking

Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or more in a short period of time. This pattern of drinking alcohol usually in less than 2 hours, corresponds to:

     5 or more drinks for men or

     4 or more drinks for women.

Plain and simple, it is high risk drinking.


Hundreds of people die each year from acute alcohol intoxication--known as alcohol poisoning or alcohol overdose. And, thousands of others are admitted to emergency rooms. Alcohol poisoning is increasing in high schools and on college campuses. Plain and simple, Drinking Too Much Too Fast Can Kill You. Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency.  Alcohol (a depressant drug), once ingested, works to slow down some of the body’s functions including heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. When the vital centers have been depressed enough by alcohol, unconsciousness occurs. Further, the amount of alcohol that it takes to produce unconsciousness is dangerously close to a fatal dose. People who survive alcohol poisoning sometimes suffer irreversible brain damage.  Many students are surprised to learn that death can occur from acute intoxication. Most think the worst that can happen is they’ll pass out and have a hang-over the next day. Knowing the signs and symptoms of acute alcohol intoxication and the proper action to take can help you avoid a tragedy.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

Unconsciousness or semi-consciousness slow respirations (breaths) of eight or less per minute, or lapses between respirations of more than eight seconds.  Cold, clammy, pale, or bluish skin.  In the event of alcohol poisoning, these signs and symptoms will most likely be accompanied by a strong odor of alcohol.  While these are obvious signs of alcohol poisoning, the list is certainly not all inclusive.

Appropriate Action

If you encounter a person who exhibits one or more of the signs and symptoms, do what you would do in any medical emergency: Call 911 immediately.  While waiting for 911 emergency transport, gently turn the intoxicated person on his/her side and maintain that position by placing a pillow in the small of the person’s back. This is important to prevent aspiration (choking) should the person vomit. Stay with the person until medical help arrives.  Countless studies have shown that binge drinking use by youth and young adults increases the risk of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. Research has also shown that youth who use alcohol before age 15 are five times more likely to become alcohol dependent than adults who begin drinking at age 21. Other consequences of youth alcohol use include increased risky sexual behaviors, poor school performance, increased risk of being a victim of violence or sexual assault and increased risk of suicide and homicide.