public health

California Update for Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Feb 20, 2018

• California home cooks would be able to sell meals prepared in home kitchens directly to consumers under a bill that's passed the Assembly. Opponents say the move would create a public health risk.

• A new bill inching through the California legislature would make it illegal for sit-down restaurants to pair drinks with straws unless guests request them. Bars and fast-food aren’t included.

Today's reporting by Julia Mitric and Ezra David Romero.

Sonoma County Fires Community Meetings: TOMORROW: Thursday, October 19 

Re-Entering Neighborhoods, Debris Removal and Clean Up, and Shelter and Temporary Housing Update  

New Study to Test Viability of Composting Toilets

Mar 24, 2017

Waterless composting of human waste is not a new idea. But in the modern world, it’s never been a popular one either. A new study of the latest models of composting toilets, getting underway here in Sonoma County, hopes to set the stage for changing attitudes toward them.

While the actual study of the efficacy of new composting toilets is just getting started, it required quite some time just to get permission to do it, reports the county’s James Johnson.

Meet Sonoma County’s New Health Director

Mar 6, 2017

After a year getting acquainted with the inner workings of Sonoma County's Department of Health Services, Barbie Robinson is starting her new job as the department's head with plans for some ambitious collaboration at the top of her agenda.

As Barbie Robinson takes the helm of the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, she is keenly aware that the biggest challenge she will face in the near future is the possible repeal of the nation al Affordable Care Act.

Adverse Childhood Experiences, such as abuse and neglect, have life-long effects on both mental and physical health. But recognizing, and working to prevent them, can begin to break that pattern. That’s what a new educational program in Sonoma County hopes to do.

Programs similar to the local ACES Fellowship have been offered on a statewide basis elsewhere, but Sonoma County Public Health Director Ellen Bauer says this is the first one to focus just on a single county.

An Antidote to Opioid Overdoses

Nov 15, 2016

If there is a silver lining in the national epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction, it may be the existence of an effective antidote for overdoses. Local health officials are working to boost its availability for emergency situations.

The “Opioid Epidemic” we are now experiencing was the unwitting result of the American medical establishment’s efforts to prioritize pain management, explains Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Karen Milman.

Synthetic Opioid is an Overdose Threat

Nov 14, 2016

The epidemic of opioid addiction across America has triggered a surge in the use of other, related drugs, including heroin, and it’s more potent synthetic relative, fentanyl. That’s a trend that may now be reaching into Sonoma County.

Examining Racism, Discrimination and Health

Nov 10, 2016

Long before this week’s election results came in, organizers of the annual Latino Health Forum in Santa Rosa had selected as this year’s theme, the health impacts of racism and Discrimination. But current events added new notes of alarm and urgency to the event.

Beyond her insights and analysis into the neurobiological “scripts” that contribute to perpetuating racial inequities, Dr. Jann Murray-Garcia says it is important for health care professionals to exercise their influence and authority to “interrupt” these longstanding social patterns, in schools and beyond.

Calls Are Mounting to Restrict Glyphosate

Oct 13, 2016

Thanks in large part to the widespread use of genetically modified corn, soy and other crops, herbicides containing glyphosate are being more widely used than ever before. At the same time, new concerns about the health and environmental damage that the chemical causes are prompting calls to restrict it.

Supervisors Back Medicine Disposal Program

Oct 5, 2016

Sonoma County Supervisors this week signaled their intention to apply the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility to pharmaceuticals, through a new ordinance to require the safe collection of extra or unwanted medicines.

While industry resistance persists, there is clear public support for the Extended Producer Responsibility approach advanced by county supervisors. The Water Agency's Susan Keach provided some figures for that, too.

This comes as no surprise to the California Product Stewardship Council's Heidi Sanborn.

Cell Phone Court Case Clouded

Sep 30, 2016

Questions have arisen around one of the judges hearing a significant current California court case regarding cell phone safety. Suzanne Potter reports.

  A significant share of Petaluma’s homeless population are addicted to alcohol or drugs, so a new program there is offering expedited treatment as a first step toward getting housed.

  For some people, says COTS CEO Mike Johnson, a decision to finally seek help and get clean and sober requires some extra pressure, such as the treat of a jail term. And the length of that threatened term makes a difference.

The Sober Circle is still in its early days, and program director Robin Phoenix says there have been a few little bumps along their learning curve.

Forum Spotlights Drug Abuse Rates, Treatment Needs

Mar 8, 2016

  Substance abuse is growing across California and in the North Bay—especially among young people—leaving resources for treatment far outstripped.

Sonoma County’s figures also show that 29% of patients get their opioid prescriptions from multiple doctors, and five percent use four or more separate prescribers and pharmacies. Melissa Stafford Jones, Regional Director for the US Dept. of Health & Human Services,  notes that California now has a resource for doc tors to help curtail that.

Guerneville Health Center Carries On Despite Fire

Jan 29, 2016
Sonoma County Gazette

  Despite a devastating Christmas night fire, Guerneville’s West County Health Center is continuing to see a full schedule of patients, while slowly making plans to rebuild.

California Faulted for Underspending on Anti-smoking Efforts

Dec 21, 2015

  Tobacco advertising in California dwarfs state-funded anti-smoking efforts, something that health advocacy groups are mobilizing to change. Suzanne Potter has more.

Supervisors Weigh Licensing Tobacco Sales

Sep 22, 2015

  County supervisors spent over 3 hours Tuesday reviewing a proposed plan to make it harder for under aged youth to buy cigarettes and other smoking materials. But while some details were clarified, no final action was taken.

Read the text of the county's draft ordinance here.

Medi-Cal Turns 50

Jul 29, 2015

  The national health program for children, known in California as Medi-Cal, has now been in place for half a century, and it is continuing to expand. Suzanne Potter has details.

Inside the “Portrait of Sonoma County”

Jun 24, 2015

Since the detailed demographic Portrait of Sonoma County was published this time last year, it has become a key resource in the ongoing efforts to improve the overall health of the local population. In this archival North Bay Report, wen examined the document and talked with its authors at the time it was first released.

Health Costs of Environmental Hazards Specified

Jun 16, 2015
Cheryl Holt/Morguefile.

  Known environmental hazards carry high health costs. And, as Suzanne Potter reports, a new report is getting specific about how high those prices may be.

  Is the best way to eliminate pollutants from fireplaces to phase them out entirely? That’s what the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is proposing.

A Plan for Serial Inebriates

Feb 9, 2015

  Frequent substance abusers are costing Sonoma County millions of dollars every year. So a coalition of service providers is examining alternatives to get better results through alternative programs.

  San Diego's Serial Inebriates Program was launched in 1999, says Deni McLagan, that city's Mental Health Services Program Manager. And it was  a police officer, John Leining, who first pushed for a new approach to the problem of chronic public drunkenness, when dispatcher calls to pick up the same individuals over and over had become a large part of his regular patrol shifts.

A Call for Hospitals to Shed Fossil Fuel Holdings

Jan 21, 2015

From apartheid in South Africa to tobacco in the United States, corporate divestment campaigns have successfully pushed for social change. Now that approach is being tried to combat climate change, with health care organizations as a target.

Dr. Ring has developed an extensive informational wesbite on climate change and health issues.  The divestiture petition drive is hosted separately.

Color-coded Cues to Food Safety

Oct 27, 2014

  A new, more visible system of testing and displaying food safety results for restaurants, food trucks and other vendors is due to roll out across Sonoma County next year. Already, the County Health Department has been holding some informational; workshops to let people know about it. And now there’s a radio interview as well.