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Producing Statistics about Hard-to-Reach Populations through Adaptive and Network Sampling

Dr. Steve Thompson at the 25th annual Morris Hansen Lecture

Dr. Steve Thompson headlined the 25th annual Morris Hansen Lecture, November 17, 2015.

The number of people who had heart disease related surgeries, the percentage of Americans who take anti-depressants; the number of women who opt for natural childbirth, these are health statistics you likely hear about in the news frequently. But how do public health researchers obtain data about hard-to-reach, marginalized populations such as the homeless at-risk of contracting specific things like HIV/AIDS?

Producing statistics about hidden, underserved populations was one of the topics explored by Dr. Steve Thompson, professor of statistics at Simon Fraser University during the 25th annual Morris Hansen Lecture hosted by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The lecture series was established by the Washington Statistical Society to honor Morris Hansen and his pioneering contributions to survey sampling and related statistical methods during his long and distinguished service at the U.S. Census Bureau. More than 200 people attended this year’s lecture at USDA’s Jefferson Auditorium in Washington. Read more »

Stewardship, Antibiotics and Veterinary Medical Ethics – A Call for Action

Veterinarian inspecting cattle

Veterinarian inspects cattle. Photo credit: R. Anson Eaglin, USDA, APHIS

Stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. And as World Antibiotics Awareness Week comes to a close today, it’s important to note that the Veterinary Medicine profession too has a role to play in the use of antibiotics for animal health. This profession has ethical responsibilities as well as a vital role managing the use of antibiotics in food animal production that requires veterinary medical scientific training and knowledge.

Stewardship is a matter of principle; all veterinarians are expected to adhere to a progressive code of ethical conduct known as the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics (PVME). The PVME comprises the following Principles published and constantly under review by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Read more »

A Regional, Rural Northeast Kansas Hospital Celebrates the Completion of State-of-the-Art Facility

RD State Director Patty Clark participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony

On August 30, 2015 Community Hospital District No. 1 in Onaga, Kan., celebrated the completion of a 45,000 square-foot expansion and renovation hospital project. State Director Patty Clark participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility, which is USDA Rural Development in Kansas’ largest financed health care project.

What began as an individual physician medical practice in 1859 in the small rural community of Onaga, Kan., has grown into a regional healthcare system spanning 10,000 square miles in three counties in northeast Kansas.  The vision for this regional system was seeded by dedicated doctors, nurses, and hospital staff and guided to fruition by a series of forward-thinking hospital administrators and board members.

Last month, Community HealthCare System (CHCS) took another step forward and cut the ribbon on their new hospital/hospital renovation project in Onaga.  The project was financed through a $17.59 million Community Facilities direct loan from USDA Rural Development and a companion $2 million USDA Rural Economic Development Loan from Bluestem Electric Cooperative. Read more »

Building Technology that Supports Organic Integrity

Representatives of the database development team

Representatives of the database development team (from left to right) are: Jennifer Tucker (USDA), Indu Shekhar (Harmonia), Aleksey Gasnikov (Harmonia), Dirk Otto (Intact), Manisha Amdiyala (Harmonia), Stacy Swartwood (USDA), Swathy Mudhagouni (Harmonia), Kristin Tensuan (USDA), and Thomas Lorber (Intact).

If you have accessed the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) list of certified organic operations recently, you may have noticed a new look to the site, and new ways to search for organic operations.  These changes reflect an early release of the Organic INTEGRITY Database, a system funded by the 2014 Farm Bill and built by the AMS National Organic Program and Information Technology Service with support from Intact and Harmonia Holdings Group.  

The changes you see on the site are only a small part of the database development project.  For example, underlying the new site is a brand new classification system (or taxonomy) for categorizing products that carry USDA organic certification. Previously, organic certifiers reporting farm and business information to USDA submitted a single text list of certified products for each operation.  Certifiers reported data differently and there was no method to catch spelling or spacing problems. For example, one listing included the item “grapechickenapples.” An interesting appetizer or, a big data quality problem! Read more »

A New Day for Healthcare in Livingston, Montana

Dr. Laurel Desnick of Livingston HealthCare, Dr. Nick Wolter of Billings Clinic, and Livingston Hospital Board Chair Michelle Becker cutting the ribbon

Dr. Laurel Desnick of Livingston HealthCare, Dr. Nick Wolter of Billings Clinic, and Livingston Hospital Board Chair Michelle Becker cut the ribbon on the brand new Livingston HealthCare Hospital in Livingston, Montana.

When the first patient was admitted to the newly constructed Livingston HealthCare Hospital in late October, it marked a new era in state-of-the-art care for residents of Park County, Montana. The new critical care center boasts a Level IV Trauma Center with heli-pad, twenty-five beds, and 125,000 square feet to provide modern, high quality health care services to the over 15,000 people in the region.

And it’s happening none too soon.

Read more »

Agriculture Is a New Mission for a U.S. Marine Veteran

Michael McCarthy working with clams

Michael McCarthy used an FSA Microloan to help expand his clam business.

Raising clams was always a part of Michael McCarthy’s life — until Sept. 11, 2001.

McCarthy was working with the New York/New Jersey Harbor relay program, purging and harvesting clams, when terrorists crashed two airplanes into the World Trade Center. “You could look across the water and see the towers. That was my motivation. We were shut down for a couple of weeks and that’s when I decided to join the Marines. I knew I wasn’t going to do it for the rest of my life, but I felt like I did something to help a little bit.” Read more »