California Healthline Highlights Recent County Action on Health Issues
Supervisors in five counties recently took action on a number of health related issues. Summaries appear below.
Contra Costa County supervisors on Tuesday said they support a proposal to limit the number of fast-food restaurants in unincorporated areas of the county as a method for addressing increasing childhood obesity rates, the Contra Costa Times reports (Rosen Lum, Contra Costa Times, 1/25).
Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier, who introduced the proposal, said limiting the number of fast food restaurants would help reduce the childhood obesity rate and incidence of associated chronic diseases such as diabetes.
The board ordered its Family and Human Services Committee to study the proposal.
The fast food industry criticized the proposal, saying any restrictions imposed by the board should be extended to all restaurants (Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/25).
Also on Tuesday, supervisors directed staff to:
- Work with schools to develop more healthful cafeteria meals;
- Encourage restaurants to post lists of ingredients; and
- Encourage parks and recreation sites to offer more nutritional snacks and beverages in vending machines (Contra Costa Times, 1/25).
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday instructed county health department acting Director Bruce Chernof to develop a deficit management plan for the agency by March 21, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. The public health system is expected to have a $66 million shortfall on July 1, and a $1.1 billion deficit by fiscal year 2009-2010.
Health experts have said the supervisors will have to reduce services or close hospitals and clinics if the deficit cannot be reduced (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 1/24).
In related news, the Los Angeles Unified School District board voted on Tuesday to construct a primary health care facility at Sun Valley Middle School. Officials hope the clinic will help improve students' health and academic performance, while increasing access to care.
The facility will be the largest campus-based clinic in the nation (Boghossian, Los Angeles Daily News, 1/25).
The Riverside County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to contract with Oasis Rehabilitation Center to open a 24-hour psychiatric emergency department in Indio on Feb. 1, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Currently there is no designated psychiatric facility in Coachella Valley, leading mentally ill patients to seek care in hospital emergency departments.
The psychiatric ED will be able to hold patients for evaluation for 23 hours before they must be transferred. In most cases, patients will not need to be hospitalized, according to county Mental Health Director Jerry Wengerd.
The contract is expected to cost the county $700,000 through June 30, and about $1.8 million in fiscal year 2006-2007 (Beeman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/24).
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 4-1 to close the county's clinical laboratory on March 31, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports. Community Health Centers of the Central Coast will assume clinical lab services.
County Health Agency Director Jess Montoya said the county likely will lose about $700,000 in costs related to the closure, but will save an estimated $550,000 or more annually beginning next year.
Public Health Director Greg Thomas told supervisors that low-income residents and Medicare beneficiaries still will have access to services (Cuddy, San Luis Obispo Tribune, 1/25).
The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to accept Proposition 63 funds to implement a number of mental health programs, the Modesto Bee reports. Proposition 63 was approved by voters in November 2004 to raise the state's personal income tax by 1% on annual incomes that exceed $1 million to fund mental health services.
Stanislaus County is the first in the state to gain state approval for Proposition 63 spending and will receive $12 million over the next three years.
Denise Hunt, director of the county Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Department, said the funding will be used to target several populations, including older adults with serious mental illnesses, and young adults, teenagers and children with serious emotional problems. Programs are designed to reduce homelessness, school truancy, hospital and emergency department visits and jail time for residents with mental illnesses, Hunt said (Moran, Modest Bee, 1/25).