Health

News on health, wellness and health care

Community Hospitals / UCSF Fresno

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted today to end specialty health care services to its undocumented residents and took a step to end its contract for medical services for the poor.

The county took advantage of a recent court ruling to exclude undocumented residents from the program. The change would take effect December 1.

In a majority vote, the county also took a step to end its long running contract with Community Regional Medical Center for its indigent population.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Juana Paredes is a farmworker who lives in Fresno. A couple days ago, she took her daughter and niece with her to the Mosqueda Community Center and joined others in a rally to stop Fresno County from dismantling a program that offers health care to undocumented residents.

Sitting in the front row, Paredes says she showed up because she has a clear message to Fresno County— continue health care services for the undocumented.

Fresno County Department of Public Health

Fresno County is warning residents that mosquito-borne illnesses are on the rise.

At a press conference earlier this week, Joe Prado of the Department of Public Health reported that so far this year, Fresno County has already seen three times as many cases of West Nile Virus as in all of 2013.

Prado: “We are now up to 23 cases to date. If this trend continues we will exceed our highest year, which was back in 2005, where we had 68 cases.”

Fresno Among Worst California Counties For Whooping Cough Rates

Jul 24, 2014
Fresno County

Some California counties are showing substantially higher rates of whooping cough than the state average. And as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento was told, the epidemic this year could be one of the worst in fifty years.

Marin, Humboldt, Sonoma and Fresno counties have some of the highest rates of pertussis. Whooping cough surges every three to five years, but Dr. Dean Blumberg of the UC Davis Health System says this year is terrible.

California’s poor continue to face month long waits in getting state health coverage. FM 89’s Diana Aguilera reports how a young couple in Fresno County is dealing with the backlog.

Paola Martinez and her husband Irving Toscano thought they had done everything right to get health care coverage.

They made sure they met the Medi-Cal eligibility requirements, they filled out the paperwork and signed up through the Covered California website at the end of March.

But ever since then, they’ve been waiting.

Contentious Health Bills Await California Lawmakers Upon Return

Jul 7, 2014
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

California lawmakers have left Sacramento for the month of July. As Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento tells us, when they return, they’ll consider health care measures supported by consumer advocates and opposed by insurance companies.

Over the years health officials have raised concerns over exposure to pesticides. But now a new report from UC Davis suggests it could be an even bigger concern for pregnant women.

A new study reveals that pregnant women who live near areas where pesticides are used are more likely to have a child with autism.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

New research this week questions the connection between air pollution and asthma.

In 2011, a study by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District established a link between asthma-related ER visits and levels of PM2.5, or fine particulate matter in valley air.  But after a follow-up to that study, the Air District now reports that for a number of years, asthma-related ER visits increased even as PM2.5 levels dropped.

David Lighthall, health science advisor to the Air District, says the findings should not be interpreted as black and white.

For the first time in four years, whooping cough has reached an epidemic level. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports how this peak has local health officials worried.

California health officials have recently confirmed that cases of pertussis also known as whooping cough have reached epidemic proportions in the state.

The Department of Public Health reported more than 3,400 cases so far this year. That’s a thousand more cases than all of last year.

Craig Kohlruss / The Fresno Bee

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will include the fungus that causes valley fever on a list of pathogens eligible for federal research funding.

Experts like John Galgiani from the Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the University of Arizona say the move will aid in the development of drugs to treat the disease.

"It's another example of increasing recognition of the importance of this problem," Galgiani said. "And repeated recognition can only help but identify this as an unmet need deserving of further funding."

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This is part of a Valley Public Radio original series on how the health of rivers impact the health of communities produced as a project for The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, a program of USC's Annenberg School of Journalism.

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Three Year California Medical School Pilot Program Set to Begin

Jun 9, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Students in a pilot accelerated medical school program at UC Davis will begin classes this summer. A bill in the California legislature would allow them to obtain licenses in less than four years. Capital Public Radio’s Max Pringle reports.

The program was set up to address a growing problem in California.

Bonilla: “We have far more patients than we have doctors.”

Diana Aguilera

Many women across the Central Valley have dedicated their lives to their families.

They take on the daily task of being a housewife.

"My name is Silvia, simply Silvia."

Meet Silvia – a housewife from Mendota. Like many other women in rural communities, she's devoted her life to her two sons and husband always greeting them with a smile and home-cooked dinners when they arrive home.

But about a year ago, her smile started to fade.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A new bill that would allow Californians to opt-out of mail order pharmaceutical programs advanced Friday in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. AB 2418 would also allow patients and pharmacists to synchronize the pickup of multiple medications. 

The bill is a response to cost-savings efforts by many health insurance providers that have limited options for how patients receive their prescription drugs.

Jon Roth is the CEO of the California Pharmacists Association:

California Department of Public Health

 

After 6 years, the state of California has approved the expansion of a toxic waste landfill near Kettleman City. The decision will allow the landfill to expand by 50%, or 5 million cubic yards, which owners at Waste Management Incorporated estimate will last about 8 years.

Jim Marxen is a spokesperson for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Fresno County Department of Public Health

Two different types of mosquitoes – one that carries West Nile Virus and another that can spread dengue and yellow fever have Fresno County health officials on high alert.

The county says a crow reported earlier this month tested positive for West Nile Virus. Officials have also detected the presence of another invasive mosquito species that can spread potentially serious tropical diseases. In severe cases, the more serious symptoms stemming from these diseases can lead to death.

David Luchini is the assistant director for the county’s Department of Public Health.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Thousands of students will graduate across Central California over the next few weeks. And as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports, for a group of students in the small valley town of Caruthers, Thursday night’s graduation was a milestone in more ways than one.

Ermerendo Vasquez comes from a family that is plagued by diabetes. But he says that without the Doctors Academy at Caruthers High School, where he interned with a local physician, he wouldn’t have known how detrimental the disease can be. 

Californians Get More Time To Switch From COBRA To Covered California

May 16, 2014

California’s health insurance exchange has announced a special enrollment period starting Thursday for people who want to opt-out of their COBRA health insurance.

Covered California says about 300,000 people in the state may be paying the full price of what used to be employer-based health coverage.

Executive Director Peter Lee says they have until July 15th if they want to find another option.

A new study reveals that around a third of the California’s hospital patients have diabetes. And as FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, it’s even more of a problem in the San Joaquin Valley.

The study released today by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that among hospital patients in California ages 35 and older, 31 percent had diabetes. That age group makes up the majority of hospitalizations in the state.

New Budget Projects Almost A Third Of Californians Will Have Medi-Cal

May 14, 2014
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

California Governor Jerry Brown’s new budget estimates that almost a third of the population of California will be enrolled in Medi-Cal during next fiscal year. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

About 11.5 million Californians will get health care through Medi-Cal. That’s higher than what the Governor or state health planners anticipated. So the revised budget adds more than a billion dollars to account for the surge.

Anthony Wright of Health Access says he’s pleased the state expanded Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act.

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