health care

Juan Solis Lives A Life In The Shadows, His Health Destroyed By Valley Fever

Feb 21, 2017
Casey Christie / The Bakersfield Californian

When Juan Solis shuffles out of his dark bedroom, he’s careful not to get too close to the windows.

He makes sure he only walks his dogs at night.

If he must go out during the day, he lathers on sunscreen, makes sure his legs and arms are covered, even during the peak of summer in Bakersfield’s blistering heat. And he never forgets his sunhat.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we get an update on the situation at Oroville Dam, a progress report on plans for a new freeway in Bakersfield, and take a look at how county budgets could take a hit with a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Here's this week's show:
 

KMC / Kern County

Much of the focus on the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act has been on the newly insured people who stand to lose their coverage. But there could be consequences that reach far beyond just people’s health care and impact nearly every taxpayer in the Central Valley. Repealing the law without a replacement has some county lawmakers worried.

Republicans in Washington D.C. are busy figuring out their way forward on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Host intro: Last week, we brought you a story about the San Joaquin Valley’s opioid epidemic, which manifests in inordinately high rates of painkiller prescriptions and hundreds of overdose deaths every year. This week, we explore three strategies that health officials and advocates are using to take aim at the problem. FM89’s Kerry Klein begins at a safe space for drug users.

For over 20 years, meth and heroin users from around Fresno County have relied on the Fresno needle exchange for free medical care and all the clean syringes they need.

Valley Children's Hospital / Kaweah Delta Medical Center

Two of the valley's largest hospitals are expanding their partnership to provide pediatric care in Tulare County. Valley Children's Hospital and its associated physicians group will now provide medical staffing for Kaweah Delta's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Pediatrics Unit. The move is the latest step in a partnership that goes back decades. It's also led to some controversy among physicians of the Sequoia Pediatrics Group in Visalia, who will no longer have access to the NICU.

Flickr User Sharyn Morrow

Recently, you may have heard a startling statistic: drug overdoses now kill more Americans than car accidents. For some years, the same holds true here in the San Joaquin Valley. The lion’s share of those overdoses are from opioids—street drugs and heavy-duty painkillers either derived from opium or made in a lab. Now, health officials are trying to prevent the problem from becoming worse.

Fresno State / Official Facebook Account

A new bill introduced in the California Legislature last week by Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula calls for the authorization of a new medical school at California State University, Fresno. Arambula, who is a former emergency room physician from Fresno County, says training more doctors locally is one way to help solve the valley's chronic physician shortage. 

California Endowment

New data from an on-going study about mortality rates in Central California reveals that alcohol, drugs and suicide are fueling significant increases in the mortality rate among white residents. The data are staggering: deaths from accidental drug poisoning in Fresno County are up over 200 percent since 1990, while suicides by hanging and strangulation are up over 120 percent in the region.

KMC / Kern County

The California State Senate’s health committee held a rare hearing in Bakersfield this afternoon discussing the local impact of President Elect Trump’s quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 

Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez testified that while Kern Medical has seen its financial health improve in recent years, that could change quickly if the law is rolled back.

Ask Emily: New Rules to Limit Medi-Cal 'Death Fees'

Jan 5, 2017
California Healthline

Six months after her mother died in 2014, Karen Craig opened her mailbox to find a bill for $9,530.06.

It came from Medi-Cal, the state’s version of the Medicaid program for low-income people, which was seeking repayment for her mother’s medical care even though she had used her coverage just once, for a routine wellness exam. (Her mother’s medical costs were primarily covered by Medicare, the federal program for seniors, Craig says.)

“I was just shocked and panicked,” says Craig, a Central Coast resident.

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.  

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.

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