News on health, wellness and health care

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Earlier this summer, we told you about the public health benefits of the Fresno Needle Exchange, which makes clean syringes available to drug users. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, here’s one of those users—a 56-year-old man named Michael, interviewed at the needle exchange.

“I run my own business, paint addresses on curbs. I worked as a social worker for years, for ten years, and I got burned out on that. I have a daughter. She's 19, she's grown. She's in Dinuba.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency as wells across the state began to run dry. This just two years after California became the first state to legally recognize water as a human right. And yet, thousands of residents remain without water, as the state estimates 2,000 wells have run dry. While temporary relief has come to many, permanent relief has still been slow to arrive. Last Friday, a solution finally came to one of Tulare County’s hardest hit communities—but it wasn’t easy, and it’s not the end.

The problem with the water in some homes in northeast Fresno might seem isolated but it could actually be the proverbial ‘canary in the coal mine’ of problems to come for the rest of the valley or perhaps the entire state.

That’s the assessment of experts and state officials who are trying to get a handle on the discolored or lead contaminated water. 

Virginia Tech University researcher Marc Edwards came to national fame as one of the lead investigators who uncovered the extreme lead contamination in Flint, Michigan.

Now, he is on the case in Fresno.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Four years into the drought, an estimated 1,500 wells have run dry in Tulare County. Now, thanks to a state-funded project, relief is finally coming to one of the county’s hardest hit communities.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

There are a lot of the type of mosquito that could carry the Zika virus in Fresno County. Crews are currently working to stop the spread of the mosquito across the region. But as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports there’s just not enough funding at the moment to do research on a large scale.

As Katherine Brisco blows into a six-inch cardboard tube she’s releasing male mosquitos in the middle of a suburban Clovis neighborhood park. She says the males don’t bite.

“They’ll be all over you, but they won’t bite you,” says Brisco with Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District. 


This month in Tulare, voters are being asked to weigh in on a big issue – whether or not to support a $55 million bond measure for hospital construction at the Tulare Regional Medical Center. The hospital last issued an $85 million bond back in 2005 to fund a new tower for the hospital. But the project went out of control, and construction stopped as the money ran out, with the tower incomplete.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

The last time we reported about the Fresno Needle Exchange, it was an illegal program, operating without support from policymakers and under threat of police intervention. It became legal in 2012 under a state law. Now, the program is more popular than ever, and new research suggests it’s making the community safer.

Michael lives in north Fresno. He’s 56. He studied social work and he’s now self-employed. He has a daughter in nearby Dinuba. 

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Have you ever called your doctor or hospital seeking an appointment and been told the wait will be weeks or maybe months? You have been affected by the Central Valley’s doctor shortage.

Now more than one group is pushing a potential solution, locally sourced doctors from a new medical school.

Being in a waiting room at the doctor’s office isn’t the most pleasant place to be.

But waiting to get into that waiting room can be even worse.

That is what health care experts call a ‘doctor shortage’ and in the valley it’s bad.

Fresno County Department of Public Health

Zika has finally appeared in Fresno County. An adult woman tested positive for the virus after traveling internationally and developing flu-like symptoms. Health officials won’t reveal where she traveled.

Fifty-five cases of Zika have been reported in California since January of last year, out of almost a thousand nationally. None are believed to have been transmitted locally, though some were spread through sexual contact.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Air quality is a tremendous problem in the San Joaquin Valley. Our air is consistently ranked the worst in the nation, alongside the Los Angeles area, and it’s been linked in Valley residents to immune problems, emergency room visits and even premature death. It’s an old problem, but local officials have put forth a bold new solution.

If it were winter, you could turn to the east from almost anywhere in the San Joaquin Valley and admire the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains.