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Health

News on health, wellness and health care

Kerry Klein / KVPR

School’s out and the weather’s hot, so this week, we decided to escape the heat of the valley and go to camp in the mountains. Bearskin Meadow Camp is a not-so-typical summer camp near Hume Lake, where campers do more than play outside and share campfire stories.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

The birth defect spina bifida is not easy to live with. It impairs the development of the spine and can lead to lifelong disability. Spina bifida is rare, but data suggest that Tulare County has the disease’s highest rate of incidence in the San Joaquin Valley. As part of our first-person series My Valley My Story, we travel to a spina bifida fundraiser in Tulare where volunteer Maria Muñoz shares how the disease has affected her life.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

The fungal disease valley fever is most common in dry, desert areas of California and Arizona, and diagnoses tend to spike after dust storms and dry, windy weather. What’s less common is more than one case of the disease in the same family. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, we travel to a valley fever fundraiser in Bakersfield, where father-daughter pair Warren and Jessica Boone describe how they both contracted the disease while working for an oil company in Bakersfield.

Inciweb / US Forest Service

A little over a year ago, a worn out power line touched off the Erskine Fire, which razed nearly 50,000 acres near Lake Isabella east of Bakersfield. The fire devastated an area already in need of mental health care. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, we hear the concerns of Heather Berry, a licensed clinical social worker who serves the entire Kern River Valley.

"Per capita, we have more mental illness, more people who suffer with emotional and mental health issues, because of the rural isolation. We also have a huge amount of substance abuse.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

On January 17th, 1994 before the sun even rose, the peace of a Los Angeles morning was broken when the ground began to quake. The 6.6 magnitude quake would soon become known as the Northridge Earthquake.

When the dust settled, 57 people were dead and tens of billions of dollars in damage occurred. Among the most important buildings crippled were 11 hospitals that were either damaged or rendered inoperable because of the quake.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

UC Merced isn’t the first place people think of when it comes to finding new ways to prevent the spread of HIV globally. But thanks to one professor the university is now working with scientists around the globe to find an alternative way to prevent the virus from infecting people.

ZDoggMD

At the intersection of popular culture and health care innovation is a man the internet knows as ZDoggMD. Thanks to his forward thinking ideas about what he calls Health 3.0, he’s been featured in The Atlantic, Forbes,

California Health Sciences University

For decades, San Joaquin Valley residents have been calling for a medical school. Plans at UC Merced have stalled, and a state bill that would have brought a public medical school to Fresno State died in the state assembly in March. And yet, the Fresno area could be home to not only one, but two private medical schools—in just two years.

Office of Congressman Jeff Denham

The expansion of Medi-Cal in the Central Valley under the Affordable Care Act has been key to slashing the area’s uninsured rate in half in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people signed up, and in most valley counties, about half of the population is on Medi-Cal. But according to some, having more people on the program has compounded the problem of low reimbursement rates for physicians and the area’s long-running doctor shortage.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This is the third installment in our series Contaminated, in which we explore the 300 California communities that lack access to clean drinking water. When we began the series, we introduced you to the community of Lanare, which has arsenic-tainted water while a treatment plant in the center of town sits idle. 

Today, we return to Lanare to learn why infrastructure projects aren’t always enough, and how Sacramento is trying to ensure Lanare never happens again.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley lacks doctors. For every 100,000 residents, the Valley has 48 primary care physicians—25 percent less than the state average of 64—and an even lower share of specialists. The supply is also short for nurse practitioners and providers who accept Medi-Cal and plans through the Affordable Care Act.

Flickr user Lidor, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

We all know the valley doesn't have enough doctors. But why? Is the high percentage of Medi-Cal patients in the valley, and low reimbursement rates for physicians who accept them? Is it the lack of a stand-alone medical school, or not enough medical residency programs? Or is it quality of life issues like air quality and access to big city amenities keeping physicians away from communities in need?

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

When you call 9-1-1, you expect an ambulance to come and quickly. But in Fresno County, health officials say a relatively small number of people had been making that difficult, so-called ambulance "super users." These are people who call for an ambulance ride frequently, sometimes hundreds of times a year, in non-emergency situations. Now five years into a project to reduce the burden of "super users" on the system, the numbers show the effort is working.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Becoming an adult is a challenging transition for anyone—but it can be especially hard for those with severe chronic diseases that, until recently, had been fatal. This is the story of one young adult undergoing some major life changes, and the doctors trying to pave a smoother path for people like her.

Rachael Goldring is getting married in October. This bubbly 24-year-old health blogger already picked out the venue, the decorations, and the music—but what she’s really excited about is her dress.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

In late April, we launched a series called “Contaminated” where our team explores communities in the region affected by water unsafe to drink. In our first story, we visited a Fresno County community that can’t afford to maintain the arsenic treatment plant the federal government funded 10 years ago. 

We continue today with a look at a Madera County mountain community where residents have been exposed to a different hazardous material in water for decades—but they could have clean water by the end of the year.

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