Board learns about squeeze machine

NEW ULM — Brown County commissioners will listen to an explanation regarding a $5,000 medical assistance waiver bill for a therapeutic squeeze machine Aug. 22.

Brown County Autism Social Worker Kallie Schugel will explain what the machine does and why it costs what it does. The explanation will also provide many other aspects of services that a family with an autistic child needs and receives from the county and the medical assistance waiver program.

The squeeze machine is used for deep touch stimulation and produces a calming effect on hyperactive and autistic individuals. It can be used by children and adults because it is adjustable in several ways.

Commissioners will also consider:

• Authorizing ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) safety training for courthouse staff after regular business hours, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 16. Brown County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Schwarzrock offered to provide the training including two, separate 90-minute classroom sessions in the afternoon of Oct. 16. Courthouse offices will remain staffed during that time.

• A public health update from Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released new articles and tools on the over-prescribing of opioids, including interactive maps that show prescribing rates by county.

After a steady increase in the overall national opioid prescribing rate from 2006, the total number of prescriptions dispensed peaked in 2012 at more than 255 million and a prescribing rate of 81.3 prescriptions per 100 persons.

The overall national prescribing rate declined from 2012 to 2016. In 2016, the prescribing rate fell to the lowest it has been in more than 10 years at 66.5 prescriptions per 100 persons (over 214 million total opioid prescriptions), according to the report.

The Brown County prescribing practices rate has been declining 72.5 in 2014; 67.6 in 2015, and 56.6 in 2016. This is one part of reducing opioid addiction.

The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released an interim report. Among the recommendations:

• Declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act.

• Rapidly increase treatment capacity.

• Mandate prescriber education.

• Immediately establish and fund a federal incentive to enhance access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).

• Provide model legislation for states to allow naloxone dispensing via standing orders, and requiring the prescribing of naloxone with high-risk opioid prescriptions; we must equip all U.S. law enforcement with naloxone to save lives.

• Provide federal funding and technical support to states to enhance interstate data sharing among state-based prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs).

The update added that there is a national movement to raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21 instead of 18. Research shows raising the legal sale age known as “Tobacco 21” would greatly reduce youth tobacco use and prevent kids from starting to smoke, according to a 2015 Institute of Medicine report.

Edina was the first Minnesota local jurisdiction to raise its legal tobacco age to 21, effective July 1. Mankato and North Mankato are considering raising the legal tobacco age.

• Creating an ad-hoc committee to further research County options to provide phone service to county buildings. They will hear a New Ulm Telecom FlexVoice presentation. Options would save money after six or seven years, according to the request for board action.

Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. in the courthouse commissioner’s room Tuesday.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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