News on health, wellness and health care

A new report demonstrates the need for more Latino doctors in California. 

Nine percent. That’s the proportion of Latino students in California med schools, even though Latinos make up almost 40 percent of the state’s population. The percentage of doctors that are Latino is even lower – around five percent. The report, written by the advocacy group Latino Physicians of California, says that an overwhelming majority of Latino doctors supports promoting health careers for Latino youths and attracting more Latino physicians to the state.

Facebook page of Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Bakersfield’s Kern Medical has selected to work with the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control on a new clinical trial for valley fever. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the announcement Thursday at the hospital. The study aims to learn more about both diagnosing and treating the disease.

Valley Fever is caused by a fungus that grows in the soil throughout the southwest, including the Southern San Joaquin Valley. If inhaled it can cause serious health problems, those most people never know they have been infected.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Sometimes in public policy, especially in health care, most everyone agrees there is an obvious problem. But more often than not, getting everyone to agree on a solution is much harder. That’s what is happening right now when it comes to access to mental health care in the Central Valley and two mental health facilities are showing that gap in a stark way.

First, let’s get the ‘thing everyone agrees on’ out of the way.

It’s probably not a surprise that the Central Valley has a severe shortage of mental health facilities and providers.

Kern County Public Health Services Department Facebook

A new report from the Kern County Public Health Services Department is looking at the issue of childhood deaths in the county. According to the report, 51 children under the age of 17 died in the county last year.

Around 40 percent of the deaths were accidental, including drowning and car crashes. Another 40 percent were considered undetermined, meaning there was insufficient or conflicting evidence for the coroner to issue a cause of death.  

Cultiva La Salud

Students in Fresno and across the valley celebrated International Walk and Bike to School Day today.

The event aims to tout the benefits of walking and make the streets safer for kids. Esther Postiglione is a program manager with Cultiva La Salud, the advocacy group who organized events in Fresno and Orange Cove.

"Sidewalks aren’t well maintained, there’s limited crosswalks, and a lot of what we hear from residents is there’s a lot of loose dogs," Postiglione says. "So getting their kids to school is a real challenge in terms of walking safely."

A new study aims to quantify the social costs of nitrogen fertilizer. San Joaquin Valley residents are likely familiar with nitrates that seep out of agricultural fields and into the water supply. But nitrogen also makes its way into the air and the environment, impacting human health, ecosystems, and the climate. And all those exact costs on society.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Over the last few weeks, Valley Public Radio has aired a series of reports looking at how life in violent communities can affect the health of area residents, and how the lack of health care can contribute to some of that violence at times. But there’s another side of this story – the one of the police who patrol those streets.

In the first part of a series on the health impacts of violence in the community, Valley Public Radio introduced you to the family of a mentally ill man fatally shot by police. His case is an extreme example but the mental and physical health impacts of violence can be seen in more subtle ways too. Now some people are now comparing violence in the valley with a well-known condition often connected to war.

Joey Williams has spent nearly his entire life living in east Bakersfield.

Pop singer Demi Lovato is known for being outspoken about her past problems with addiction and bipolar disorder. And now Lovato’s taking what she’s learned on tour with her and letting her fans in on a secret. FM89’s Ezra David Romero attended Lovato’s concert in San Jose last month to get in on that info.

Tori Tatum is a Demi Lovato super fan. The twentysomething has been to a dozen or so of Lovato’s shows, including two on the pop star’s current tour, “Future Now,” with Nick Jonas.

Fresno Police Department

Community violence and a visit to the doctor might seem like two totally unrelated topics. But for people living in violent communities, and the police who patrol them, it might be more closely related than you think. In the first report in a multi-part series on the links between health care and violence in the San Joaquin Valley, we learn what happened when one man’s health care interventions became law enforcement interventions. 

Roger and Freddy Centeno were brothers and part of a big family living in Southeast Fresno. In all, there were nine kids, six girls and three boys.