- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- Providence St. Joseph Health System Merger Creates $100 Million Mental Health Initiative
- Around California 2
- 'Frightening' And 'Frustrating': Budget Shortfalls Cripple Coroner's Office
- Providence St. Joseph Health To Launch $100M Mental Health Initiative
- Public Health and Education 3
- Government Subsidies Are Making Americans Fat
- HHS Relaxes Strict Prescribing Caps For Anti-Addiction Medication
- 'We Always Knew It Would Happen Eventually': Riverside Confirms Its First Zika Case
Latest From California Healthline:
$30 million is set to be earmarked for mental health counseling and research in California. (Ana B. Ibarra, 7/6)
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More News From Across The State
The legislation "has made second class citizens out of children," opponents say in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the measure, one of the toughest in the country.
Los Angeles Times:
Opponents Sue To Stop California's Vaccination Law
With California’s strict vaccine mandate now in place, opponents are fighting to overturn the law in court. The new law, which took effect Friday, bars parents from citing religion or other personal beliefs as reasons to not vaccinate their kids. SB 277 is one of the toughest mandatory vaccination laws in the country and drew many protesters when it was debated in Sacramento. A group of parents and the nonprofit Education 4 All filed a suit Friday to overturn the law in U.S. District Court in San Diego. The suit claims that the law violates California children’s right to an education under the state’s constitution. (Karlamangla, 7/5)
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Anti-Vaccine Lawsuit Challenges School Requirements
Opponents of California’s new law requiring children to get vaccinated against various diseases in order to attend public or private schools have sued in San Diego federal court to block enactment of the law on Constitutional grounds. The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court, seeks a court order to stop the California Department of Education, the California Department of Public Health and others from blocking unvaccinated children’s enrollment in public schools. (Cook, 7/5)
The problem is growing throughout the state, but the shortage of resources in the Los Angeles County Coroner-Medical Examiner’s office is particularly severe.
Decades of Budget Shortfalls Frustrate L.A. County Coroner
The shortage of resources has serious public health implications, such as delaying health alerts to ambulance crews and emergency room doctors when there’s a spike in overdoses such as those occurring now with fentanyl and other opioids. Likewise, we rely on pathologists’ reports to head off disease such as the tuberculosis epidemic that broke out a couple years ago on L.A.’s Skid Row. Findings by coroners’ departments help to identify trends in another public health issue, violent crime. Finally, slowness in investigating questionable deaths causes additional anguish and sometimes financial hardship to friends and relatives of the deceased. (Richard, 7/5)
When the state signed off on the merger between St. Joseph Health and Providence Health and Services last month, it included a condition that the new entity invest $30 million in mental health services for Californians. Providence St. Joseph Health decided to increase the funding and create a system-wide foundation.
LA Daily News:
Why Providence St. Joseph Will Spend $100 Million On Mental Health Care
The newly formed Providence St. Joseph Health, which on Friday became the nation’s third-largest nonprofit health system, announced a $100 million mental health initiative on Tuesday. The Institute for Mental Health and Wellness will serve residents in the seven states where Irvine-based St. Joseph Health and Renton, Wash.-based Providence Health and Services own a combined 50 hospitals. When the state Attorney General’s Office signed off on the merger last month, it included a condition that the new entity invest $30 million in mental health services for Californians. (Perkes, 7/6)
Providence St. Joseph Health System Merger Creates $100 Million Mental Health Initiative
The plan is to create an Institute for Mental Health and Wellness, which will earmark a one-time initial amount of $30 million for California alone. The money is to be used for mental health and addiction counseling and research and treatment for child mental health as well as depression, psychotic disorders and other conditions, according to the California Attorney General’s office. The other states that will participate in the mental health initiative -- Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington -- will receive the remaining $70 million. (Ibarra, 7/6)
The interim fire chief for the Patterson and West Stanislaus Fire Department has called the fire "suspicious."
Massive Fire Destroys Shuttered Patterson Hospital
A shuttered hospital plagued by theft, break-ins and trespassing burned to the ground Tuesday morning under what officials are calling suspicious circumstances. “All three wings of the hospital were fully involved in fire, which is suspicious because if it were fireworks (that caused it) it would be just a portion of the building (that was on fire),” said Jeff Gregory, Interim Fire Chief for Patterson and West Stanislaus Fire Department. He said for years transients have frequented the former Del Puerto Hospital at E and Ninth streets, stealing wiring, pipes and any other scrap metal. (Tracy, 7/5)
In other hospital news —
Sutter Health Launches Air/Ground Ambulance Transport Network
Sacramento’s Sutter Health has launched a new medical transport network to quickly serve critically ill, injured and fragile patients throughout Northern California. The network features air ambulances operated by McClellan-based California Shock Trauma Air Rescue, Calstar for short, and ground ambulances operated by American Medical Response, headquartered in Colorado. Sutter Health said it has stationed 12 critical care ground ambulances at 11 Sutter hospitals and helicopters at four Calstar air bases in Northern California. (Glover, 7/5)
The Los Angeles Times rounds up research following the holiday weekend examining how federal funding for crops is contributing to the obesity epidemic, how a tax could counter Americans' taste for junk foods and how eating at home can help cut the risk of diabetes.
Los Angeles Times:
How Government Subsidies, Taxes And Restaurants Affect Our Weight
American diets are shaped by federal agricultural subsidies that assure cheap and easy access to the highest-calorie foods. Restaurants add salt and saturated fats to lure us away from our kitchens at dinnertime. Tax initiatives that could reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks are routinely beaten back by beverage producers. (Healy, 7/5)
In other public health news —
SoCal Trauma Centers: A Typical July 4th For Fireworks Injuries
At least three Southern Californians suffered severe hand injuries in fireworks accidents over the July Fourth weekend, but several regional trauma centers said their caseloads indicated it was a fairly typical Independence Day holiday. ... UC Irvine was the only one of nine regional trauma centers contacted by KPCC that reported a higher-than-usual number of fireworks-related injuries. Seven trauma centers said they saw the usual number, which ranged from zero to two. They said most of the injuries were mild to moderate. (Plevin and Glickman, 7/5)
Why PCBs Are Still A Problem
Across the country, tens of thousands of public schools could be contaminated with toxic polychlorinated biphenyls – compounds more commonly known as PCBs, which were used widely in building materials such as window caulk. The sleeper chemical was banned in 1979 but still poses a serious health risk to kids today, including in relatively affluent Malibu, California. Evidence that PCBs remain in the environment and can cause harmful health effects that range from skin conditions to cancer led Congress to ban it. So what’s the big catch? Schools aren’t required to test for it. (7/5)
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
El Cajon Police Form Homeless Outreach Team
The El Cajon Police Department is officially partnering with other public safety agencies in San Diego County in a homeless outreach program. El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis told the City Council last month that the department now has The East Region Homeless Outreach Team, or HOT. HOT, which began June 28, consists of the El Cajon Police, the Sheriff’s Department in Santee, the county’s Health and Human Services Agency and the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team. (Pearlman, 7/5)
The limits, put in place to thwart the black market, have made it hard for those in need to get a prescription for buprenorphine.
More Opioid Abusers Now Can Get Medication Help
More Americans will now have access to a drug that could help treat their opioid addiction, Sylvia Burwell, U.S. secretary of health and human services, announced Tuesday, even as she pushed for Congress to approve $1.1 billion targeted at the opioid epidemic. The drug, called buprenorphine, is one of three medications -- the others are naltrexone and methadone -- that the FDA has approved for treating addictions to the powerful painkillers. Health care providers who prescribe the drug now must cap the number of patients treated at 100 because of fears that misusers will divert the medication for street use. The new rule, effective Aug. 5, raises that patient cap to 275. (Mueller, 7/5)
The Associated Press:
US To Raise Cap For Docs Prescribing Opioid Addiction Drug
The Obama administration is increasing the number of patients whom doctors can treat for opioid addiction with a medication called buprenorphine. The cap is being raised from 100 patients per doctor to 275 as the White House tries to pressure Congress to approve funds for opioid abuse treatment. Doctors seeking the higher cap will have to apply. The modest step being announced Wednesday comes the same day that House-Senate bargainers plan to meet to finalize a compromise package on drug abuse. (7/6)
It was one of the last counties in Southern California to have a confirmed case.
The Desert Sun:
First Case Of Zika Virus Found In Riverside County
The first case of the Zika virus in Riverside County has been confirmed in a 50-year-old man who recently traveled to the Caribbean. Riverside County public health officials said Tuesday the man from southwest Riverside County likely became infected while in the Dominican Republic, a country dealing with Zika-infected mosquitoes. There have so far been no cases of a person acquiring the virus from a mosquito bite in the continental United States. (Newkirk, 7/5)
Riverside County Gets 1st Confirmed Case Of Zika Virus
Riverside has joined the list of counties with known Zika virus infections. State health officials said Tuesday a 50-year-old man who resides in southwest Riverside County was likely infected while traveling in the Dominican Republic. (7/5)
Meanwhile, NIH is recruiting Olympic athletes and staffers —
NIH To Study Zika In Olympic Athletes
U.S. researchers are launching a study of hundreds of American Olympic athletes and staffers this summer to learn more about the effects of the Zika virus, which has plagued South America. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced Tuesday it is funding a study to determine what puts people at risk for infection and how long individuals can carry the virus. (Ferris, 7/5)
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution conducted an investigation into doctors who have either admitted to or been accused of sexual abuse. The investigative team found physician-dominated medical boards gave these doctors second chances. Prosecutors dismissed or reduced charges, so doctors could keep practicing and stay off sex offender registries. And communities rallied around them.
Doctors & Sex Abuse
In a national investigation, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution examined documents that described disturbing acts of physician sexual abuse in every state. Rapes by OB/GYNs, seductions by psychiatrists, fondling by anesthesiologists and ophthalmologists, and molestations by pediatricians and radiologists. Victims were babies. Adolescents. Women in their 80s. Drug addicts and jail inmates. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse. ... How do doctors get away with exploiting patients for years? (Teegardin, Robbins, Ernsthausen and Hart, 7/6)
The decision applies to a provision that kept insurers from offering insurance that pays a fixed dollar amount, such as $500 a day for hospital care. The administration said these policies do not meet the federal health law's standards.
The New York Times:
Court Strikes Down Obama Health Care Rule On Insurance Standards
A federal appeals court has ruled that consumers must be allowed to buy certain types of health insurance that do not meet the stringent standards of the Affordable Care Act, deciding that the administration had gone beyond the terms of federal law. The court struck down a rule issued by the Obama administration that barred the sale of such insurance as a separate stand-alone product. (Pear, 7/5)
In other national health care news —
The Associated Press:
Report: VA Health Care Still Has 'Profound Deficiencies'
Two years after a scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking health care, the Department of Veterans Affairs still has "profound deficiencies" in delivering health care to millions of veterans, a congressional commission says in a new report. The Commission on Care says in a report to be released Wednesday that the VA delivers high-quality health care but is inconsistent from one site to the next, and problems with access remain. (7/6)
The Associated Press:
Apple Urges Organ Donation Via New iPhone Software
Apple wants to encourage millions of iPhone owners to register as organ donors through a software update that will add an easy sign-up button to the health information app that comes installed on every smartphone the company makes. CEO Tim Cook says he hopes the new software, set for limited release this month, will help ease a critical and longstanding donor shortage. He said the problem hit home when his friend and former boss, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, endured an "excruciating" wait for a liver transplant in 2009. (7/5)
The Washington Post:
Pfizer Agrees To Truth In Opioid Marketing
Pfizer, the world’s second- largest drug company, has agreed to a written code of conduct for the marketing of opioids that some officials hope will set a standard for manufacturers of narcotics and help curb the use of the addictive painkillers. Though Pfizer does not sell many opioids compared with other industry leaders, its action sets it apart from companies that have been accused of fueling an epidemic of opioid misuse through aggressive marketing of their products. (Bernstein, 7/5)
The Washington Post:
Could Your Cavity-Filled Tooth Repair Itself With Stem Cells In The Future?
Walking into a dentist’s office could be less of a frightening thing in the future if scientists Kyle Vining, of Harvard, and Adam Celiz, of the British University of Nottingham, have anything to do with it. ... Vining and Celiz have just won a prize at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s emerging technology competition for creating a synthetic biomaterial that stimulates stem cells native to your teeth to repair them. That’s right — the substance appears to somehow make that area regenerate pulp tissue and the critical bony material of your tooth known as dentin. (Cha, 7/5)