Health

Health
11:44 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Homegrown Doctors Value Medical Education In the Valley

Rene and Veronica Ramirez are two doctors in the Valley that are determined to bring quality healthcare to those that live in the region.
Credit Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

For Rene and Veronica Ramirez careers in medicine were always a dream. But with childhoods spent in rural California – Dinuba and Kerman – the couple’s desire to bring aid back to their communities seemed only to be just wishful thinking.

"I always thought I would like to be a doctor, but I didn’t know if I actually could do it," she said.

That’s Veronica Ramirez. She says her family helped her develop an interest in medicine early on.

“I’ve had medical problems in my family, my mom has epilepsy, and I have experienced that since I was very young," she said. 

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Health Care Reform
11:08 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Bill Would Extend Medi-Cal to a Million More Californians

file photo
Credit Shellie Branco / Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers will consider new legislation designed to keep the state in sync with the federal health law. As Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, the legislation is part of a special session on health care that began Monday.

Lawmakers in both houses propose bills that would add more than a million people to the state’s Medicaid program.

Assembly Speaker John Perez said his bill would allow individuals with an annual income of around $15,000 dollars to get public health insurance – and that could indirectly help other Californians, too.

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Health
3:57 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Feds Give California Health Insurance Exchange $674 Million

The federal government has awarded California $674 million to develop an online health insurance marketplace as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The two-year grant for the exchange known as Covered California is less than the $706 million requested. But Executive Director Peter Lee says he believes the grant will give the state all the resources it needs.

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Health
9:07 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Valley Counties Move Slowly Toward Health Reform

Dr. Rogelio Fernandez of the United Health Centers clinic in Parlier performs minor surgery on Yesenia Campuzano of Reedley. (file photo)
Credit Shellie Branco / Valley Public Radio

In less than one year, the federal health care law will take effect. When that happens, an estimated 1.4 million low-income, uninsured adults in California will become eligible for Medicaid. That’s a huge number of people who will suddenly be eligible for health benefits and better access to health care.

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Health
6:43 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

The Fallacies Of Fat

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 7:29 am

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. This isn't going to take you by surprise, but America is fat. One in three adults is obese. For kids, it's one in six. But don't forget the infants. Doctors say there's now an obesity epidemic among six-month-old babies. And if you think you're safe because you're thin, consider that up to 40 percent of thin people have metabolic syndrome, in other words, on the road to type 2 diabetes, even if they can't tell by looking in the mirror.

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Health Care
10:52 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Insurance Commissioner Says Anthem Rate Increase Unreasonable

Anthem Blue Cross of California is proposing an increase in health insurance rates for small employers. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the state’s Insurance Commissioner says the increase is unreasonable.

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says the rate increase proposed by Anthem Blue Cross would amount to 10.6 percent a year and ultimately affect more than a quarter of a million Californians. But Anthem’s Darrell Ng says it amounts to a 7.5 percent increase and would initially affect 52,000 members.

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Just One Breath
6:21 am
Sat December 22, 2012

Suffering, Misdiagnosis and Pain: Community Members Share Their Valley Fever Stories

Kathleen W. Zuckerman of Bakersfield is one of many valley fever patients who were misdiagnosed with another disease.

The Reporting on Health Collaborative asked readers to share their experiences with valley fever. Here are their stories, in their own words, as told to the Collaborative's Community Engagement Editor, Kellie Schmitt. 

Their accounts capture the pain and anguish suffered by local families as doctors struggled to find the right treatment and jobs and lives were lost to the disease. Misdiagnosis was a frequent problem, allowing time for the disease to "tunnel" its way into lungs and other organs, as one survivor put it. 

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Just One Breath
6:11 am
Sat December 22, 2012

Five Ways to Move the Fight Against Valley Fever Forward

Bakersfield resident Diana Frizzelle was diagnosed with valley fever last year and is still on medication to treat the disease.
Alex Horvath/The Bakersfield Californian

Valley fever is a humbling disease.

It can rob sufferers of their health, their life plans and their financial well-being.

Uncertainty adds to the trauma. There is no cure around the corner, no vaccine in the works and no well-organized patient group lobbying effectively for more policy attention.

The result: those who become ill often suffer in silence and feel alone.

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Health
9:51 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Advocates, Lawmakers Urge Attention to Mental Health

Dr. Cameron Carter with the UC Davis Medical Center speaks at a news conference at the State Capitol Thursday.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio Network

Mental health advocates and a top California lawmaker are starting a public awareness campaign in the aftermath of last Friday’s school shooting in Connecticut. 

Their message: Don’t be afraid of the stigma associated with mental health problems, and get help quickly if you see symptoms in someone you know or love.

Doctor Cameron Carter with the UC Davis Medical Center says most serious mental illnesses first become apparent in adolescents and young adults.

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Health
1:29 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Visalia's Kaweah Delta Medical Center Fined Twice By State

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued 12 administrative penalties to hospitals throughout the state, including two at Visalia's Kaweah Delta Medical Center. The hospitals were cited for failing to follow established procedures that resulted in serious injury or death, or had the potential to. 

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Health
9:42 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Healthy Families Transition Timeline Stays on Track, Despite Concerns

California Governor Jerry Brown’s administration says it will start moving about 860,000 children in the Healthy Families program into Medi-Cal on January 1st. But as Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, state lawmakers and doctors want them to slow down.

Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg sent a message to the administration last week.  

“Do not make the actual transition unless you are assured that the child who has a doctor and sees a doctor under one program – HF’s – will be able to have ready access to a doctor when they’re shifted.”

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Just One Breath
6:00 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Valley fever treatments can do harm as they heal

Dr. Arash Heidari prepares medicine that will be injected into an omaya injection reservoir on valley fever patient Mel Ramirez's head. Amphotericin, the antifungal medication, has stopped the progression of valley fever in Ramirez's brain and spinal cord

Thousands of California and Arizona adults and children annually contract valley fever and find themselves battling the disease for months or years — missing work and school, spending weeks in the hospital — with frequent recurrences.

If they had a bacterial infection — food poisoning, strep throat or a boil on the skin — their doctor could reach for multiple, cost-effective antibiotics that usually are able to kill the bacteria, even though resistance to antibiotics is on the rise.

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Health
4:17 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

The Face of HIV in California is Among Young People of Color

December 1st is World AIDS Day. Here in California, health officials say the face of the disease is getting younger. 

More than 110,000 Californians are currently living with an HIV or AIDS diagnosis, and roughly 14 cases are diagnosed in the state every day. 

Dr. Gil Chavez of the California Department of Public Health says he’s seeing more cases among young, gay, minorities. 

“The 13-24 year age group is the only demographic group in the state where we have seen an increasing – in new HIV infections.” 

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Just One Breath
10:55 am
Mon November 26, 2012

For Some California Prisoners, Valley Fever Becomes A Life Sentence

Kevin Walker acquired disseminated cocci while serving time at the federal prison in Taft.
Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker arrived at Taft Correctional Institution, a federal prison in western Kern County, in December 1999 to serve a 14-year sentence for attempted possession of cocaine.

But another kind of sentence awaited him, one far more painful than confinement alone.

In July 2001, fluid-leaking boils broke out across Walker’s face and body. Once he was diagnosed with valley fever, doctors put him on an antifungal drug — amphotericin B — but the drug was so powerful that it caused his kidneys and liver to begin failing.

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Just One Breath
6:33 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Valley fever takes an animal toll, and pets rely on the same treatments as people

Debra Stone holds her dog Nemo, who appears to be doing very well after recently being diagnosed with valley fever.
Henry A. Barrios The Bakersfield Californian

The first valley fever victim that Dr. Demosthenes Pappagianis remembers was Mbongo — a gorilla at the San Diego Zoo

“I was a kid in San Diego at the time and saw the article in the newspaper,” recalled the veteran researcher on the animal’s 1942 death from the disease, also known as coccidiomycosis. “I didn’t know what cocci were at that time, but I knew that a gorilla at the zoo had died.”

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Just One Breath
6:00 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Valley Fever Research For Pets May Yield Benefits For Humans

Bobbi Duke holds Crash, her three-legged cat that is recovering from valley fever. Another family pet, Lucas, a dog, has also been diagnosed with valley fever and she has concern that Sheeba, another family dog, may also have valley fever.
Henry A. Barrios The Bakersfield Californian

Dogs, not people, may hold the key to improved treatments, even a possible cure, for valley fever.

One way researchers have lured private money is by proposing research projects involving pets, the theory being that companies and donors would see more of a market potential in dogs and cats suffering and dying from the disease.

Dogs and humans get hit with valley fever in a very similar way. They inhale spores from a fungus common in the soil in the Southwest. The spores take root in the lungs and can spread to other organs and parts of the body.

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Health
3:57 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Study Links Flame Retardants to Developmental Delays in Children

According to study authors, flame retardant chemicals can leach out from upholstered furniture, particularly if the foam is exposed through rips.
Credit Courtesy UC Berkeley Media Relations

A new UC Berkeley study adds to research that suggests flame retardants common in California homes are linked to neurodevelopmental delays in kids.

The study followed nearly 300 women from pregnancy to when their children were 7 years old. Researchers tested mother's levels and then the children's levels for the flame retardant compound polybrominated diphenyl ethers, known as PBDE. They wanted to assess in utero effect as well as childhood exposure, says lead researcher and UC Berkeley epidemiologist Brenda Eskenazi.

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Health Care Reform
11:21 am
Thu November 15, 2012

California Intends to Run New Health Marketplace On Its Own

The logo for California Covered, the state's new health benefit exchange.

California plans to tell the federal government this week that it will operate a key component of the federal health law on its own. 

States have until the end of this week to tell the federal government if they will operate their own health insurance exchanges. States also have the option to receive help, or have the federal government manage their marketplaces.

The California Health Benefit Exchange board has signaled its intent to go it alone by approving a detailed operations plan and grant proposal.  

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Just One Breath
11:56 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Valley Fever Changes Young Girl's Life

7-year-old Emily Gorospe loves to dance, but valley fever robbed her of her strength last year
Daniel Casarez/Vida en el Valle

Emily Gorospe cannot sit still. The spunky 7-year-old with long, brown braids loves to make up dances in her bedroom. When she’s not dancing, she’s jumping rope, or hula hooping.

But last spring, when she was just six, Emily became very tired and sick. She developed a fever that wouldn’t go away and red blotches appeared across her body.

“She’s got so much energy usually. Just walking from one part of the house, from her room to the living room, or to the kitchen, she was drained.”

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Just One Breath
11:56 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Misdiagnosis of Valley Fever Prolongs the Suffering

Jillian Lugo fixes her daughter, Jayden's, hair for a picture. The 10-year-old girl has spent most of her life with valley fever and the complications it has caused. She contracted the fungal disease that spread to her brain w
Henry A. Barrios The Bakersfield Californian

Jayden Lugo has had 56 surgeries in her short life.

The 10-year-old from Wasco in California’s Central Valley has brain damage, uses a walker to get around, undergoes therapy once a week and takes three pills every night before she goes to bed.

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