Health

News on health, wellness and health care

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.

Valley Fever Dog Vaccine Research Could Help Humans, Too

Feb 5, 2017

Headline: Randy Ford had never heard of valley fever when he moved to Tucson from Salinas, Calif., with his dog, a reddish brown vizsla named Tyler.

"A few days before Tyler died he was raising hell – chasing toys in the pool. Then all of a sudden he quit eating, and he'd stand outside his doggie door and shake like it was cold," Ford said.

UC Berkeley Labor Center

Politicians in California and Washington D.C. are busy trying to figure out the future of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Should it be fully repealed? What will the replacement be? Should there be a replacement at all? While the potential replacement is still a mystery, two researchers at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education took a look at the potential impact of full repeal on the San Joaquin valley’s job market. They claim job losses from a repeal of the law would be worse than job losses caused by the drought.

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. 

A Fresno judge has ruled in favor of the state in its effort to list a popular herbicide on the database of carcinogens. 

Monsanto has sued California over its decision to list glyphosate, the main ingredient of its weed-killer Roundup, as a carcinogen. As a result, property owners would need to notify the public under Proposition 65 of wherever Roundup had been used.

John Chacon / CA Department of Water Resources

The Fresno city council on Thursday approved a plan that could be the first step in clearing a harmful chemical out of the city’s drinking water.

The plan will authorize a feasibility analysis on removing the chemical 1,2,3-TCP from city water. 1,2,3-TCP is a known carcinogen that was used decades ago as an industrial solvent and pesticide additive. It’s been detected in 45 of the city’s 270 wells.

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.

coveredca.com

The debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is a hot topic in Washington. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Central Valley residents have found insurance under the law. With the Republican replacement plan still very much a mystery, Valley Public Radio decided to take a look back at the raw data to see what has changed in the Central Valley.

Before the law’s insurance coverage expansion provisions took effect in the fall of 2013, all five of the Central Valley counties from Merced to Kern had uninsured rates of around 25%.

Virginia Commonwealth University, The California Endowment

Last year, U.S. life expectancy fell for the first time in over 20 years. At the same time, new data from four valley counties show that the death rate has increased particularly among whites. 

Over the last 20 years, the death rates among communities of color in the San Joaquin Valley have fallen. But at the same time, white death rates have notably increased, particularly for adults aged 40-64. Dr. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University says opioid use is only partially to blame.

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.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

The state water board is now requiring public water systems to offer free lead testing to schools. Even if a water supply is clean at the source, lead can still appear in buildings like schools.

Public water systems are already required to test their water where they distribute it, but that’s not the only place to test for lead. Asha Kreiling with the advocacy group the Community Water Center says lead can be introduced by pipes and schools may not always test what comes out of them.

Following recent high-profile suicides in Bakersfield and Fresno, many in the community are asking questions about how the community and the media should deal with the issue. In Bakersfield local community LGBT activist and CSUB student Jai Bornstein took her own life, as did newly-elected city councilmember Jeff Tcak. In Fresno County, three Clovis West High School students have taken their own lives in the last six months.

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