Shops remain closed in Monrovia’s West Point slum as part of quarantine measures to contain the spread of Ebola in Liberia. A doctor trained in California traveled last week to staff a Monrovia hospital. (ZOOM DOSSO/AFP/Getty Images)
While Californians worry about a single possible case of Ebola, considered low risk, the hot spot for this outbreak remains in West Africa where 1,350 people have died, and another 2,400 people are sick with the illness. But what happens to people who get sick with something that is not Ebola?
Dr. James Appel was trained in the Inland Empire, at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine. He’s been working for Adventist Health International at hospitals in Chad for the last decade. Last week, Dr. Appel flew to Liberia to keep the doors open at Cooper Adventist, a small hospital in the capital, Monrovia, focusing on remaining available to patients with anything but Ebola. He talked Thursday morning with The California Report’s Rachael Myrow.
Appel described Liberia as “shutting down” around him. “There’s a curfew that’s been initiated. Many businesses are not open; all the schools are closed, government offices are closed,” Appel told Myrow. “So for example our hospital is not getting paid by the insurance companies, because insurance companies are closed. The whole economy is coming to a standstill.” Continue reading
Ebola virus magnified 108,000 times. (Getty Images)
By Lisa Aliferis and April Dembosky
Don’t panic, folks. Really.
A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is being tested at Kaiser’s South Sacramento Hospital.
The other key information here is that California Department of Public Health officials call the unidentified patient “low risk,” according to criteria established by the CDC that considers travel history, exposure to infection, and clinical features.
In a call with reporters Wednesday afternoon, CDPH deputy Dr. Gil Chavez said the state has received no reports of any high risk patients. CDPH said the patient is being tested out of an “abundance of caution.”
In a statement, Dr. Stephen Parodi, director of hospital operations for Kaiser Northern California, said the unidentified patient is being kept in a specially equipped negative pressure room, and staff working with the patient are using “personal protective equipment.” Continue reading
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a November ballot measure to tax soda and sugary drinks Tuesday afternoon, but not with the unanimous vote they were looking for.
If passed by a two-thirds majority of San Francisco voters, the new legislation will tax soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages at two cents per ounce and direct the revenue to the city’s public health and recreation and parks departments and the school district.
The board voted 6-4 this afternoon to place the initiative by supervisors Scott Wiener and Eric Mar before voters, with supervisors Jane Kim, Katy Tang, Norman Yee and London Breed voting against it. Continue reading
By David Gorn, California Healthline
State officials on Friday said they have not determined whether or not to offer applied behavior analysis (ABA therapy) as a Medi-Cal benefit to children with autism.
Federal officials earlier this month issued guidance on the subject, saying it is covered for Medicaid beneficiaries under age 21 as part of the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program.
“Under the Medicaid state plan, services to address [autism spectrum disorder] may be covered under several different … benefit categories,” the CMS guidance said. For children, it said, “states must cover services that could otherwise be covered at state option under these categories consistent with the provisions … for Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment services (EPSDT). Continue reading
Napa has the second highest rate of the disease. (Esparrow1/Flickr)
By Lynne Shallcross
It’s been a little over a month since California declared a whooping cough epidemic, and according to the most recent data from the state, three neighboring Bay Area counties have the highest rates of the disease statewide: Sonoma, Napa and Marin.
Sonoma County’s rate of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is almost 120 cases per 100,000 people. Napa County’s rate is 90 per 100,000, and Marin’s rate is 65 per 100,000.
Sonoma County’s interim health officer, Karen Holbrook, says the number of cases reported each week has peaked and is now declining.
“It’s not what the state is experiencing as a whole, but we are coming down,” Holbrook says. “Will that hold indefinitely remains to be seen.”
Holbrook says California is seeing a whooping cough epidemic partly because the disease is cyclical, with cases spiking every three to five years. Continue reading
Life at the office can look really appealing sometimes. (Getty Images)
I love it when my job intersects with the rest of my life.
NPR is reporting Tuesday about a fascinating survey that found that women who work full time “reported significantly better physical and mental health than moms who part time.” They heard from more than 2,500 mothers in the 2012 survey.
In addition, people appear to be more stressed at home than they are at work.
Oh, and mothers who worked part time said they enjoyed better health than their counterparts who didn’t work at all.
Really? As the mother of two children who worked part time for several years before taking this job, I was all-in on this story. Could I really be enjoying peak health while working full time and — yes — still raising those kids. (Disclosure that my husband does help: Thanks, dear!) Continue reading
A stress system gone awry can quite literally make people sick. (Getty Images)
By Richard Harris, NPR
Ask somebody about stress, and you’re likely to hear an outpouring about all the bad things that cause it — and the bad things that result. But if you ask a biologist, you’ll hear that stress can be good.
In fact, it’s essential.
But people who responded to NPR’s poll talked mostly about the downside of stress.
For example, the adrenal glands of all animals have evolved to pump out stress hormones in unexpected situations — the hormones spur action and increase fuel to the brain, helping the animal react to danger appropriately. Those hormones also flow to memory centers in the brain, to help the critter remember those notable moments and places.
“If it turns out to be dangerous and if the animal actually turns out to survive danger, then it will be aware of this as a potentially dangerous place,” explains Bruce McEwen, head of the neuroendocrinology laboratory at The Rockefeller University. “In that sense, stress is good.” Continue reading
By David Gorn, California Healthline
CMS officials released federal guidance for states on Medicaid coverage of autism therapy on Monday, and that guidance indicates it is covered for beneficiaries under age 21.
“ABA therapy must be covered (by Medi-Cal). It’s very, very clear.”
“It’s a good day. It’s such a good day,” said Julie Kornack, senior public policy analyst at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, an advocacy group based in Tarzana. “Whenever you get a decision that we’ve been seeking for years, that is a good day.”
Applied behavior analysis treatment, known as ABA therapy, now is a benefit for those under age 21 under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) provision of Medicaid — and therefore it also must be covered under Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid, according to Kristin Jacobson, president of Autism Deserves Equal Coverage, an advocacy group based in Burlingame. Continue reading
New research from Stanford shows that physical activity — or lack thereof — may be a bigger driver of the obesity epidemic than diet is.
The rate of Americans reporting inactivity has skyrocketed.
The researchers looked at national survey results of people’s health habits — including diet and exercise — from 1988 to 2010. The stunner was the increase in people who reported no leisure-time physical activity.
In 1988, 19 percent of women were inactive. By 2010, that number had jumped to 52 percent. Continue reading
In the U.S. 95 percent of mammography machine are now digital.(Mychele Daniau/AFP/Getty Images)
By Kara Manke, NPR
Medicare spending on breast cancer screening for women age 65 and older has jumped nearly 50 percent in recent years. But the rise in price was not associated with an improvement in the early detection of breast cancer.
“We did not see a change in the detection of early or late stage tumors.”
Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine found that Medicare spending on breast cancer screening rose from $666 million in the years 2001-2002 to $962 million in the years 2008-2009.
So why the big increases in costs?
“The way that we screen for breast cancer has changed dramatically,” explains Yale’s Dr. Cary Gross, an internist and a co-author of the study. The study was published this week in the Journal of The National Cancer Institute. Continue reading