Health

News on health, wellness and health care

Fresno County Public Health Department

The Fresno County Public Health Department has announced that yellow fever  mosquitoes have been found two more valley cities. The mosquitoes, which are not native to California, were discovered earlier this week in the cities of Fowler and Fresno.

It’s not the first time the potentially dangerous insects have been spotted in the county. In June, the mosquitoes were detected in Clovis. They have also been found in Madera County and San Mateo County.

Covered California Says More Than 28,000 People Have Joined Exchange

Oct 8, 2013

The Covered California health insurance exchange reported today that, during its first week of operation, more than 28,000 people became eligible for coverage. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

Covered California says the level of interest so far shows how eager Californians are for affordable health insurance.

“A million people in week one researching and finding out what’s right for them is huge,” says Peter Lee, Director of Covered California. He says early confusion about the level of interest was the result of semantics not accounting errors.

California's Health Marketplace Opening Through the Eyes of One Uninsured Woman

Oct 2, 2013
http://www.flickr.com/photos/solsticecetl/6476191985/
Edge Hill University, Learning Services Learning Technology Development / Creative Commons License / Flickr.com

Covered California opened for business Tuesday. By mid-afternoon, seventeen thousand phone inquiries had been made to the state exchange call centers. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento has the story of one uninsured woman who went shopping for new coverage online.  

Even before the Covered California call center in Rancho Cordova opened, there were floating balloons and words of congratulations.

CHHS Dept

On Tuesday, California launched its version of Obamacare, with the official debut of the state’s insurance exchange Covered California.

Despite the shutdown of the federal government, the exchange is moving ahead, according to California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley, who spoke to Valley Public Radio Tuesday morning, prior to a launch event at Fresno State. 

How Does The Obamacare Launch Compare With Medicare's Debut?

Oct 1, 2013
LBJ Presidential Library / YouTube / Public Domain

Open enrollment for health coverage under the federal health law began Tuesday.  Millions of people who may have had trouble getting insurance now have new options. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone reports on how the roll out of the Affordable Care Act compares to the last time the federal government made coverage available to millions.

Ever since the Affordable Care Act passed, health policy makers have been comparing it to another moment in history.

OBAMA: Is this, the most important step that we’ve taken towards health care since Medicare? Absolutely. 

www.whitehouse.gov

Last summer, President Obama announced a new policy, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It allows certain immigrant youth to remain in the country and obtain a work permit, without fear of deportation.

“This is a temporary stop-gap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely, while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven and patriotic young people,” Obama said, when he announced the program in June 2012.

NYU Langone Medical Center

This week, the leaders of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are joining leading doctors, researchers, lawmakers, and area residents at a two-day symposium on valley fever in Bakersfield. Experts and patients say the meeting is an opportunity to shine a light on the chronically overlooked and misdiagnosed fungal disease.

Henry Barrios / The Bakersfield Californian

The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will undertake a clinical trial to learn more about valley fever, agency leaders announced Monday at the start of a two-day symposium on valley fever, hosted by Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy.

"There are so many things we don't know about valley fever, and the best way to get the answers is to run a clinical trial," said National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins.

Office of Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Kings County health officer Dr. Michael MacLean uses one word to sum up this week’s valley fever symposium: 'Unprecedented.'

He says it’s a big deal that the leaders of the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health are gathering in Bakersfield to focus their attention on an orphan disease that mainly affects the southwestern United States.

Valley Fever Symposium Aims To Spark Search For Vaccine, Awarness

Sep 22, 2013

In his mid-20s, Shane Hoover started planning for his death.

Hoover was diagnosed with valley fever, which is caused by inhaling fungal spores that grow in the soil, in 2010. He took medications for a while that kept it at bay. But he says he could not afford to keep paying for the drugs and, when he stopped, the disease intensified.

“He’d say, ‘I feel my body shutting down. I feel like it’s just a war inside of me that I can’t win,’” his mother, Kathleen Birks, said. “Our conversations became, ‘What do you want me to do with you when you die?’”

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

When experts and policymakers from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention land in Bakersfield next week, they will be met by many smart, well-meaning individuals hoping for better treatments for valley fever and, ultimately, for a cure.

But they won’t be met by a movement.

Despite its severe toll in California’s Central Valley and other hot spots, valley fever has remained overlooked and underfunded for decades. The absence of a strong patient advocacy movement has contributed to the chronic neglect, experts say.

Madera Community Hospital

If Madera Community Hospital is a safety net for county residents, then medical professionals like Stephanie Rolfo are a crucial link. On a September morning, Rolfo greets a patient who’s coming to the hospitals’ on-site clinic for a physical.

The hospital has 106 beds, and is the only adult acute care facility in the county. It also operates three rural health clinics, like the one where Rolfo, who’s a nurse practitioner, works.

Home Birth Midwives Would Keep Attending to 'Low Risk' Pregnancies, Under California Bill

Sep 3, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Midwives have been delivering babies for most of human history. In modern times, midwives tending to homebirths have largely been marginalized from mainstream medicine. But a bill moving through the California legislature could foster stronger links between midwives and obstetricians. Capital Public Radio’s Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more.

In Tosi Marceline’s practice, pre-natal check-ups happen in the living room.

Covered California TV Campaign Uses 'Welcome' Message

Sep 3, 2013
Covered California

California’s new health insurance marketplace will start advertising through TV commercials this week. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento has more on the choice of messaging.

One of the Covered California ads features images of road signs, and shows a family driving down the California coastline with smiles on their faces and wind in their hair. 

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

The almond harvest is well underway in Madera County.

Along a tree-lined, rural road, about a dozen Agriland employees are loading almonds into a huge elevator. The nuts will then be loaded into a truck. They will appear on the shelves as Blue Diamond-brand almonds, among others.

California Proposes Lower Threshold for Carcinogenic Substance in Drinking Water

Aug 23, 2013
Valley Public Radio

California health officials propose to lower the limits of a heavy-metal often found in drinking water. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

The California Department of Public Health proposes a regulation that would reduce the allowable level of ‘chromium-6’ in water to five times less than it is now. 

Chromium-six is carcinogenic. The substance is both naturally occurring, and leaks into the water supply from industrial hazardous waste areas.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers and mental health groups say they ‘welcome’ new findings of inadequate oversight of state mental health funds. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

The California State Auditor says state agencies haven’t made ‘serious efforts’ to measure the effectiveness of county programs intended to mitigate mental illness.

Democratic State Senate President Darrell Steinberg helped create the Mental Health Services Act.

Hospitals in California are commending the state’s decision to prevent Medi-Cal rate cuts to rural hospitals with nursing facilities. Some of them have been at risk of closure. 

Republican State Assemblymember Brian Dahle says these medical providers are main employers in communities he represents in Northern California.

“We have folks who travel a long ways to those hospitals. And if we lose those hospitals we’re going to lose tour communities. And it would be hundreds of miles to get to the next facility so that’s very critical for our areas,” says Dahle.

California Supreme Court Rules in School Insulin Case

Aug 13, 2013
Flickr user Steve Rhodes - Creative Commons / http://www.flickr.com/photos/ari/

The California Supreme Court has ruled that school employees without medical licenses can give insulin shots to diabetic students in some cases.

Monday’s unanimous ruling reverses a lower court decision that permitted only licensed nurses to give the shots.

Dr. Francisco Prieto is with the American Diabetes Association. He says the ruling is necessary to keep students at understaffed schools safe.

“Most schools do not have a full time nurse present all day long and kids with diabetes need care,” says Prieto.

Another in a series of Q&A columns answering consumers’ questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Q: My youngest child is 21 and graduated from college in May. My other daughter is 24 and is still a college student in Stockton. What are my options with them under the Affordable Care Act?

A: The good news, Simona, is that your daughters may have several options and their coverage could fall into place easily.

Or not.

Let’s cross our fingers and begin with “could fall into place easily.”

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