Author Archives: state of health

Statewide Program Delights Schoolkids with California-Grown Produce

(David Gorn/KQED)

California-grown persimmons and pears on the lunch line in Elk Grove. (David Gorn/KQED)

By David Gorn

At Elk Grove Elementary School, just outside Sacramento, it’s lunchtime and kids are doing what kids do when they’re let loose from the classroom: running around, laughing and generally having fun.

Tying farm to school so children understand the connection.

But this day at Elk Grove has a little extra charge to it. It’s “California Thursday,” a program that brings locally-grown food into school lunch rooms. And more.

Out on the playground, there’s a lottery wheel going. Someone is running around in a carrot suit. Volunteer Katie O’Malley, a student from UC Davis, mans the almond-butter booth: whole almonds go in the top and come out below in a thick paste — sending 9-year-olds into fits of giggles.

And that’s the point, O’Malley said, making food fun. Continue reading

Miscommunication A Major Cause of Medical Error, Study Shows

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By Irene Noguchi

It seems almost unbelievable, but medical errors may be the third leading cause of death in America, after heart disease and cancer. That’s according to an analysis from Journal of Patient Safety. Could the key to change be in better communication? A new study from UC San Francisco and eight other institutions, says yes. Researchers found that improving communication between health providers can reduce patient injuries from medical errors by 30 percent.

The team found that a highly risky period was when patients are transferred or “handed off” between medical providers. Critical information gets passed between doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

When there’s a shift change or a patient moves to another hospital, “there’s an opportunity for communication failure,” says Daniel West, professor of pediatrics and vice-chair at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Continue reading

Counties Expand Mental Health Services with New State Funds

Hope House, a residential treatment program in Martinez, helps people in a mental health crisis make the transition back to the community. (Elaine Korry/KQED)

Hope House, a residential treatment program in Martinez, helps people in a mental health crisis make the transition back to the community. (Elaine Korry/KQED)

By Elaine Korry

It’s lunchtime at Hope House, a new 16-bed residential facility in Martinez, east of San Francisco. People who live here are busy preparing lunch in what looks like a big country kitchen.

“We’ve designed it as much as possible to have a homelike atmosphere,” says program director Christopher Roach. “We want people to be thinking, this is a transition to the community.”

Many of the residents here have arrived directly from a hospital. Among them are young adults facing a psychotic break, chronically-ill homeless men or mothers battling mental illness and addiction. After an average two-weeks of intense counseling, Roach says they’ll leave with hope for recovery.

“What you’re able to accomplish in 14 days is huge if you know what you’re looking for,” he says. Continue reading

Study: Transgender Men Who Become Pregnant Face Social Challenges

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By Robin Marantz Henig, NPR

“Pregnancy and childbirth were very male experiences for me,” said a 29-year-old respondent in a study reported Friday in Obstetrics and Gynecology. “When I birthed my children, I was born into fatherhood.”

If this statement at first seems perplexing, it’s less so when you realize the person talking is a transgender man – someone who has transitioned from a female identity to a male or masculine identity.

He is one of 41 participants in a study of how it feels to be male and pregnant, a study the authors think may be the first of its kind.

Pregnancy as a transgender man is unlike any other kind. No one expects a man to be pregnant, and the study participants said they were often greeted with double-takes, suspicion and even hostility from strangers and health care providers. “Child Protective Services was alerted to the fact that a ‘tranny’ had a baby,” one participant reported. Continue reading

New State Funding Improves County Mental Health Services

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By Elaine Korry

The Joslyn Center in Burbank is a place where older adults come for low-cost healthy meals and activities ranging from fitness and computer classes to music lessons.

But several times lately, the normally placid environment of the center has been disrupted. One client who uses the services was showing signs of mental illness. Renee Crawford coordinates social services at the Center.

“She gets very loud, very aggressive and very anxious,” Crawford said, in reference to the troubled client. “And then we have to go in and tell her, ‘Calm down, relax, you can’t be this loud,’ Then she gets very upset and very irate.”

The woman seemed to be suffering from paranoid delusions, and Crawford says the workers here aren’t trained to help her. Continue reading

Study Shows Childhood Trauma a ‘Hidden Crisis’ Across California

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By Sara Hossaini

A first-of-its kind report released Wednesday suggests Californians are facing a hidden public health crisis that stems from childhood trauma.

“People sometimes assume this is a low-income issue. This is everybody’s burden.”   

Researchers from the San Francisco-based Center for Youth Wellness and Public Health Institute in Oakland aim to shed light on how early adverse experiences, such as abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction — including divorce and parental incarceration — might impact a child’s health for a lifetime.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is a pediatrician and founder of the Center for Youth Wellness. She says the study looked at data from more than 27,000 surveys conducted by the California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System over four years between 2008 and 2013.  Continue reading

For Families with Mixed-Immigration Status: Some Insured, Some Not

Jessica Bravo, 19, of Costa Mesa was granted DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status, but didn’t know she could also qualify for Medi-Cal. (Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News).

Jessica Bravo, 19, of Costa Mesa was granted DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status, but didn’t know she could also qualify for Medi-Cal. (Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News).

By Heidi de Marco, Kaiser Health News

Jessica Bravo walks house-to-house in the piercing Southern California heat. Over and over, at doorsteps around Orange County, she asks the same question: “Are you insured?”

Getting an answer isn’t always easy. Doors slam in her face. She gets shooed from porches. And sometimes people cut her off mid-spiel.

Bravo is a paid health outreach worker for the Orange County Congregation Community Organization, a faith-based nonprofit. Her job is to inform people about getting health insurance under the nation’s landmark health law, the Affordable Care Act.

“A lot of people don’t know about this new law … this opportunity for health insurance,” said Bravo, a 19-year old Costa Mesa resident. Continue reading

Seeing Red During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By Anne Loeser, NPR

The lump first surfaced in my breast in 1989, when I was 36 years old.

Despite decades of awareness months, survival has remained depressingly flat.

To many young women, a small lump like that wouldn’t be cause for alarm because most breast lumps are benign. But there’s a long history of breast cancer in my family, so I immediately consulted a renowned breast surgeon. “It’s nothing to worry about,” she said. My mammogram was completely normal. She thought the lump was merely normal breast tissue.

But four years later I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.

My treatment was among the most aggressive available: surgery (a double mastectomy), chemotherapy and five years of hormonal therapy to keep my hormone-sensitive breast cancer quiescent.

Since there was no further sign of my cancer after my surgery, I hoped that my hard-hitting trio of treatment had succeeded in blasting every last cancer cell. And whenever I made my annual visit to my oncologist, I was comforted by his reassuring words: “There’s no sign of your disease.” Continue reading

In Oakland, Students Bite Back at Undead in Zombie Health Symposium

Craig Elliott, assistant VP of student services at Samuel Merritt University, encouraged grief counselors for families dealing with undead loved ones. (Courtesy: Samuel Merritt University)

Craig Elliott, assistant VP of student services at Samuel Merritt University, encouraged grief counseling for families dealing with undead loved ones. (Courtesy: Samuel Merritt University)

By Isabel Angell

Just in time for Halloween, health science students at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland were learning about an understudied demographic in health care: zombies.

That’s right, zombies.

Students packed the hall at the first-ever Zombie Health Symposium and learned some crucial information, should these fictional beings ever show up in real life. In a presentation Dr. Sharon Gorman, a physical therapy professor, described which gait will improve your survivability during a zombie apocalypse. She said it’s important to realize there are different kinds of zombies.

“Use your observation skills that you’ve honed as health care providers, because those are key,” she said. “You need to determine what is the threat of that zombie and figure out quickly what your best evasive maneuver might be. If it’s a fast zombie, I suggest being quiet and running, very, very fast and very, very far away. If it’s a non-ambulatory zombie, just give it a wide berth.” Continue reading

State Set to Move Rural Seniors, Disabled to Medi-Cal Managed Care

(Ben Ramirez: Flickr)

(Ben Ramirez/Flickr)

By David Gorn, California Healthline

About one month from now, the state is launching a program to shift a new set of Medi-Cal beneficiaries into Medi-Cal managed care plans. This time, the state is focusing on a shift in care for some of the frailest patients in rural counties.

Among many of these frail beneficiaries, there is deep fear about what’s about to happen.

On Dec. 1, about 20,000 Medi-Cal seniors and persons with disabilities in 28 rural counties will make the switch to managed care plans. It’s a continuation of an extended effort by the state to expand Medi-Cal managed care to rural areas, said Mari Cantwell, chief deputy director of health care programs at the Department of Health Care Services, which oversees Medi-Cal.

“We started the rural expansion about a year ago, starting with non-disabled adults and children in 28 counties,” Cantwell said. “Still pending are the population of seniors and persons with disabilities (SPD’s). That’s not a very large number of people in comparison, about 20,000 people.” Continue reading