Health

News on health, wellness and health care

Children's Hospital Central California

California public health officials announced Friday that 14 people have now been diagnosed with Enterovirus D-68, a respiratory virus that has sent children to emergency rooms across the country. Out of the 14 cases, there were no cases confirmed in the Central Valley.

So far, the virus has affected children ages ranging from 11 months old to 15 years of age in the state, epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez said. Mild symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, coughing, fever and muscle aches. Health officials say symptoms can escalate for children with asthma, triggering severe wheezing.

Fresno County

Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law Sunday in an effort to help Fresno County continue to provide health care services for the indigent and undocumented population. The bill, introduced by Assemblymember Henry T. Perea, comes several weeks after the county voted to eliminate a health safety net for undocumented immigrants.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This story 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.

The Central Valley has struggled with a long list of health care issues for decades. Now with the opening of the Valley’s first and only pharmacy school in Clovis just weeks ago. Instructors and students hope to make a dent in the problem and attract more health care professionals to the region. FM 89’s Diana Aguilera explains how one young man plans to help by giving back to the community he calls home.

Meet 25-year-old Jose Vera. Ever since Vera was young there was one thing that always sparked his imagination.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The community of Seville has received good news: its residents can finally drink their tap water.

With the help of Tulare County and state emergency funding, the unincorporated community last month drilled a new well for its 500 residents—and tests just confirmed that its water is potable.

The community had been struggling for years with high levels of nitrates and leaky pipes.  Ryan Jensen with the Community Water Center says water pressure is also a problem: when it’s too low, contaminants can get in.

400,000 Medi-Cal Applicants Still Waiting for Coverage

Aug 20, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The state of California says about 400,000 applicants to the Medi-Cal program are still waiting for their coverage. Administrators say they’ve made a lot of progress on the backlog in recent weeks. But as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone tells us from Sacramento, consumer advocates say the state could be doing more to get people coverage faster.  

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 / Just One Breath - Reporting On Health Collaborative / 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:

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