- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- Study: Nearly Three-Quarters Of Commonly Used Medical Scopes Tainted By Bacteria
- Around California 2
- Therapists, Experts In Post-Trauma Care Asked To Volunteer In Sacramento After Stephon Clark Shooting
- Audit Recommends Single Entity To Oversee California's Homelessness Crisis
- Public Health and Education 2
- Patients With Eating Disorders Crying Out For Help, But In Bakersfield Services Are Scarce
- San Diego County Jail Slashes Opioid Prescription Rates
Latest From California Healthline:
The ‘scary’ findings show a discouraging lack of progress in cleaning the devices, despite more vigorous efforts in the wake of deadly superbug outbreaks, experts say. (Chad Terhune, 4/23)
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Summaries Of The News:
Mayor Darrell Steinberg is not committing city funds to the process at the moment so the work would be dependent on volunteers.
Capital Public Radio:
Mayor Says He’s Deploying Volunteer Mental Health Workers To South Sacramento
Mayor Darrell Steinberg has put out a call for mental health professionals to bring services to Stephon Clark’s Meadowview neighborhood, and other areas that have been hard hit by the incident. When 22-year-old Stephon Clark was shot by police in his grandmother’s backyard last month, neighborhood residents cried out for accountability from law enforcement. They also asked for more resources -- including mental health services -- in their communities. Now, the mayor is asking psychologists, therapists, social workers and other professionals trained in trauma based care to provide services in neighborhoods grappling with violence and poverty. (Caiola, 4/20)
In other news from across the state —
Sacramento State Had Lead And Chemical Safety Problems. Does CSU Have Systemwide Issues?
Lead exposure and a chemical spill at Sacramento State are expected to feature prominently in a state audit scheduled for release Tuesday examining whether the California State University system has health and safety deficiencies. As The Sacramento Bee reported last year, Sacramento State chemistry lab employees said they became infertile or had other health problems because they were exposed to chemicals in badly ventilated rooms and were required to clean up a solvent more hazardous than they realized. The university also shut off drinking fountains last year after a professor found high levels of lead in the water. (Lambert, 4/22)
E. Coli Levels Drop In Sacramento Rivers
New tests taken at one of Sacramento’s most popular public beaches recorded the lowest levels of E. coli in the water all year. The bacteria is typically found in fecal matter and can enter local waterways through domestic or wild animal waste, sewage overflows, illegal trash dumping and storm water systems. Most strains don’t pose a threat to humans, but high levels of E. coli found in Sacramento’s rivers and streams have concerned officials enough to warn swimmers about potential health risks. (Luna, 4/21)
The state audit said a 2016 state law that created the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council was a good start in providing oversight, but it has no permanent staff.
The Associated Press:
State Auditor: California Doing A Poor Job On Homelessness
California is doing a poor job of sheltering the nation's largest homeless population and needs to provide statewide leadership to address the problem, the state auditor said Thursday in a report that also singled out problems with homeless services in Los Angeles County. California has approximately 134,000 homeless people, about 24 percent of the nation's total homeless population, and Los Angeles County has the most within the state, an audit summary said. (4/19)
Residents are having to go to different parts of the state to get comprehensive services. In other public health news: wildfires and heart attacks; decoding a baby's DNA; driving while under the influence; and STD testing.
The Bakersfield Californian:
How Many More Will Slip Through The Cracks? Navigating Bakersfield With An Eating Disorder
Paige Atkinson was trying to get better. During her junior year at Independence High School, she was trying to study for tests and navigate the obstacles high school is chock-full of, while battling something bigger: an eating disorder coming for her life. But fighting a monster like that with no weapons is challenging. Guidance counselors, therapists, nutritionists and dietitians, general practitioners, parents and teachers were all dead-ends. For Atkinson, it seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel didn't exist in Bakersfield. ... The resources in Bakersfield are scarce. And how many more will come up against the same resource blocks that Atkinson did? A Google search for eating disorder services and programs in Bakersfield will populate a list as robust as a phone book. But look closely and those rehabilitation services aren't specialized to eating disorders. Many are links to nutritionists and dietitians, which is a half-baked solution for treating a multidimensional problem like eating disorders. ... And there are only a few psychologists that specialize in eating disorders in Bakersfield. The Kern County Behavioral Health and Bakersfield Behavioral Hospital Health Care Hospital have wards for those in mental health crises, but none that are set up to handle the all-consuming, destructive monster of an eating disorder. (Meredith, 4/21)
Ventura County Star:
Study Links Wildfire Smoke To Heart Attacks
Smoke exposure from massive wildfires may ramp up the risk of heart attacks, heart failure and coronary disease, according to a new study. Researchers from UC San Francisco, the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reviewed more than 1 million emergency room visits in eight different California air basins in 2015. During a fire season that saw more than 800,000 acres burned, they found risks of several heart issues appeared to rise particularly high for people 65 and older. (Kisken, 4/21)
Los Angeles Times:
Decoding Your Baby's DNA: It Can Be Done. But Should It Be?
Maverick Coltrin entered the world a seemingly healthy 8-pound boy. But within a week, he was having seizures that doctors could neither explain nor control. They warned that he would probably die within a few months.“I remember my world just came crashing down,” said his mother, Kara Coltrin, 24. In October, Coltrin and her husband, Michael, began taking hundreds of photos of their son, hooked up to tubes and his skin purplish gray. Family rushed to San Diego from across the country to meet him before he died. (Karlamangla, 4/22)
Capital Public Radio:
Are You Too Stoned To Drive? New Phone Games Could Help You Decide.
As Californians take advantage of newly legal recreational pot, scientists are teaming up with app developers to solve some very tricky problems: how to identify weed impairment on the road, and how to stop people from driving high in the first place. A state law effective Jan.1 bans smoking or ingesting any cannabis product, including edibles, while behind the wheel. California Highway Patrol said officers are trained to detect impaired drivers, including those using marijuana, and that DUI penalties apply whether you’re smoking, eating or drinking. (Caiola, 4/20)
My Home STD Test Was A Positive (Experience, That Is)
When I heard about home testing for sexually transmitted diseases, I was intrigued. Who doesn't despise that particularly awkward conversation with their doctor? And who doesn't want to skip the waiting room and long line at the lab? A 15-minute procedure in the privacy of your own home. But the kits can get pricey. The kit I used is available online for $189 from a company called myLAB Box. Many other companies offer similar tests -- EverlyWell and LetsGetChecked, to name two. The kits cost anywhere from $100 to $400, depending on the number of diseases you're tested for. (McClurg, 4/20)
The jail has seen a 98 percent drop from the beginning of 2013, when nearly 1,000 inmates were prescribed more than 77,000 narcotic painkiller pills. But officials also say they're seeing an uptick in attempts to smuggle heroin in to prisoners.
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Weaning The County Jail Population Off Opioids
It wasn’t long ago that a complaint of pain at a San Diego County jail easily scored an inmate a prescription for an opioid. These days, the highly addictive, highly abused painkillers have been largely swapped out for Tylenol and ibuprofen as part of a program to stem the cycle of opioid addiction behind bars. So much so, that an inmate with an opioid prescription is a rarity. Last month, only 23 inmates, including those with cancer, were prescribed an opioid. That’s less than 1 percent of the total jail population. The number represents a 98 percent drop from the beginning of 2013, when nearly 1,000 inmates were prescribed more than 77,000 narcotic painkiller pills. (Davis, 4/23)
In other news on the crisis —
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
County Concerned About Rise In Wound Botulism Cases Among Heroin Users; First Death Reported
A death and six cases in only one month has San Diego County’s public health department sounding an ever-louder alarm about wound botulism among the region’s black tar heroin users. According to the latest update from the county Health and Human Services Agency, released Friday afternoon, a 67-year-old man died recently despite being treated with antitoxin after he was hospitalized with botulism symptoms, which can range from double vision and slurred speech to drooping eyelids and difficulty swallowing. (Sisson, 4/20)
While Dr. Ronny Jackson is well liked by many, there are lawmakers who question his lack of managerial experience. "He's got a great bedside manner you feel comfortable with," says Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). "But it doesn't mean he will be a good leader of the VA."
The Associated Press:
It's Time For Trump's Doctor To Be Examined, For VA Chief
Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson was tending to grievously injured military personnel in Iraq when he was summoned to Washington to interview for a job he barely knew existed. He didn't see a way to get there. "I thought this was it — this is where the road stops," he told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal this month. Instead, Jackson managed to catch a ride on a transport plane that steered the Levelland, Texas, native toward some of the loftiest corridors of power. (4/23)
In other national health care news —
The New York Times:
Trump Plan Would Cut Back Health Care Protections For Transgender People
The Trump administration says it plans to roll back a rule issued by President Barack Obama that prevents doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies from discriminating against transgender people. Advocates said the change could jeopardize the significant gains that transgender people have seen in access to medical care, including gender reassignment procedures — treatments for which many insurers denied coverage in the past. (Pear, 4/21)
Trump Admin Announces Abstinence-Focused Overhaul Of Teen Pregnancy Program
The Trump administration will shift federal funding aimed at reducing teen pregnancy rates to programs that teach abstinence. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Friday the availability of grants through the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, (TPPP) a grant program created under former President Obama that funds organizations and programs working to reduce teen pregnancy rates. (Hellmann, 4/20)
The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Hospital Firms, Hungry To Expand, Look To China
ProMedica , a nonprofit operating more than a dozen hospitals across Rust Belt communities in Ohio and Michigan, is looking to a new market to bolster its anemic growth: China. Executives and staff from the Toledo-based nonprofit have been touring hospitals in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu, exploring possible deals in the world’s second-largest economy that they hope will help offset weak revenue growth at home. “We have to look outside our traditional world if we’re going to survive,” said Randy Oostra, president and chief executive of the hospital group. “The economic model is tough” in ProMedica’s domestic markets, where populations are stagnant or declining and where cost pressures and competition are shifting medical care outside of hospitals, he said. (Evans, 4/22)
How Vaccine Experts Weigh Benefits For Many Against Risks For A Few
Vaccines protect huge numbers of people, generally children, from serious diseases, but in rare cases, certain vaccines can tragically cause harm. How do those scientists figure out which to value more? This dilemma was at the center of last week’s decision by an expert committee advising the World Health Organization to sharply scale back use of a controversial vaccine called Dengvaxia, the first to protect against dengue infection. (Branswell, 4/23)
Drug Industry Trade Group Breaks Its Quarterly Record On Lobbying Spending
PhRMA, the drug industry’s big trade group, spent nearly $10 million lobbying the federal government in the first three months of this year — its most on record for a single quarter. The trade group’s spending has risen annually since 2014 — a sign of just how powerful a player the drug industry has become in Washington. In 1999 and 2000, it spent less each year on lobbying than it did over the past quarter. (Robbins and Mershon, 4/20)