LifeLong News

"Lost your employer-provided health insurance? Finding new coverage is complicated", May 08, 2020

(Caroline Hart, KTVU Fox 2) As a record 4.1 million Californians apply for unemployment after losing work due to the coronavirus, wages are not the only vital compensation being lost—many unemployed or underemployed people are also losing private health insurance for themselves and their families. As of April 30, an estimated 12.7 million people nationwide have lost their employer-provided health insurance due to the pandemic.

Losing that insurance is forcing many people, especially those without an income for the foreseeable future, to apply for California’s version of Medicaid, a state and federal health insurance program for low-income people, called Medi-Cal.

But it’s not always easy to figure out what type of insurance one is eligible for, especially if you’re on the cusp of an age or income bracket or lack the internet and technology to apply and find information online. In the Bay Area, community health Read more >>

"In Dialogue with Dr. Jason Reinking—aka “Dr. Jay”—of LifeLong Medical Care", May 01, 2020

Here’s how homeless people can stay safe during the pandemic—and how housed people can assist their unsheltered neighbors.

(Ricky Rodas, The Street Spirit) Dr. Jason Reinking—endearingly known by his patients as Dr. Jay—is a busy man. The novel COVID-19 outbreak has swept through the U.S at an astonishing pace and has thrust a daunting challenge upon physicians like Dr. Jay—making sure the most vulnerable members of society have access to health care even when they don’t have a roof over their heads.

A graduate of the Loyola Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago, Dr. Jay has spent the last several years of his medical career in the Bay Area practicing street medicine and treating underserved communities.

He is currently a physician and medical director of LifeLong Trust Health Center. Previously, he was a street medicine doctor for Oakland Roots Clinic, providing urgent and primary care services to roughly 1,500 chronic street sleepers in Oakland.

Despite his busy schedule, Dr. Jay made the time to speak with Street Spirit about ways unsheltered people can protect themselves during these tough times—and what their housed Read more >>

"Pandemic's Economic Toll Leaves Plan to Insure California's Undocumented Seniors in Doubt", April 29, 2020

(Farida Jhabvala Romero, KQED) Irma, an undocumented immigrant, has worked as a cook at the same fast food restaurant for more than two decades. But the resident of Rialto, in San Bernardino County, said her employer doesn’t provide health insurance and she hasn’t been able to afford a private plan.

Now, at 64, Irma hopes California will start including older immigrants like her in Medi-Cal, the state’s version of the federal Medicaid health coverage program for low-income residents.

“Ever since I came to this country in 1995, it was difficult for me to get health insurance,” said Irma, who didn’t want her last name used because of her immigration status. “And now more than ever, I need full-scope Medi-Cal because as I age I am more likely to get sick.”

As California continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, public health experts and immigrant advocates are pushing Read more >>

"Here’s what Coronavirus testing in California will look like in coming weeks", April 25, 2020

(Catherine Ho and Cynthia Dizikes, SF Chronicle) As Californians dream of a return to normalcy, tens of thousands will have to be swabbed by armies of coronavirus testers before that can happen.

Now that Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for 60,000 to 80,000 diagnostic tests a day as a condition for reopening the economy — which amounts to 420,000 tests a week, and 1.8 million a month — here’s what will be in store in the coming weeks if the still-vague plan is executed:

Nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants wearing masks, face shields, gloves and gowns will stick a 5-inch metal-and-plastic swab down the throats and into the nostrils of thousands of people at hundreds of drive-through testing sites, hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters and jails. Every swab will go into Read more >>

"New map shows which zip codes in Berkeley, county have the most COVID-19 cases", April 24, 2020

(Natalie Orenstein, Berkeleyside) One zip code in Berkeley, 94703, has more than 10 COVID-19 cases so far. See the interactive map at: Alameda County COVID-19 Dashboard A new, interactive map released by Alameda County shows the geographic spread of COVID-19 cases by zip code.

The new addition to the county’s COVID-19 data dashboard shows a small concentration of cases in one Berkeley zip code, but the overall case number is too low to draw conclusions about rates of infection across the city.

The dataset shows that 94703 — which stretches from the Oakland border to Hopkins Street, mainly between Sacramento Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way — is the only zip code in the city with more than 10 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases. Eleven of Berkeley’s Read more >>

"Alameda County moves hundreds of homeless to hotels amid fear of Coronavirus outbreak", April 22, 2020

(Sarah Ravani, SF Chronicle) After 96 people tested positive for the coronavirus at San Francisco’s largest shelter this month, alarmed Alameda County officials hurried to empty out shelters and move people into hotel rooms to prevent a similar outbreak. Since the San Francisco outbreak on April 10, Alameda County transferred at least 346 homeless people from shelters into two Oakland hotels. But before the outbreak across the bay, the county had moved only 70 people into the hotels since mid-March, prompting criticism from homeless advocates that Alameda County acted too slowly to protect vulnerable people from the coronavirus. The state leases the two hotels for more than Read more >>

"Coronavirus testing for all? SF supervisor demands universal testing in homeless shelters", April 20, 2020

(Marisa Kendall, Bay Area News Group) As homeless shelters around the Bay Area grapple with how to prevent future coronavirus outbreaks, a San Francisco supervisor is calling on his city to test every person living or working in a shelter, SRO or supportive housing facility.

San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney on Monday announced a resolution he hopes will urge the Department of Public Health and Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing to provide free, on-site testing to all residents and staff. So far, San Francisco and other Bay Area cities have used a more piecemeal approach — testing people who show symptoms or have come into contact with another infected person. But, after more than Read more >>

"Oakland physicians on COVID-19: How community health centers are serving Oakland through the crisis", April 10, 2020

(Darwin BondGraham, Tasneem Raja and Cole Goins, Berkeleyside) The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for front line healthcare workers across Oakland. But emergency-room nurses aren’t the only ones scrambling to respond. Pediatricians, mental health counselors and specialists like allergists and OB/GYNs are also having to adjust to the new reality of an invisible viral threat.

We spoke with three Oakland physicians and public-health experts about how the pandemic and the shutdown are impacting the communities they care for, and how their clinics are rising to meet the challenge.

Our Berkeley and Oakland reporting teams are working together to cover the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the inner East Bay. Later this spring, we’re launching a standalone Oakland newsroom as well; sign up for our Oakland newsletter for updates.

“The shelter-in-place order, while necessary for keeping communities safe and flattening the curve, has been taking a toll on Oakland families,” said Katherine D’Harlingue, a pediatrician at Read more >>

"Tele-Medicine Gets a Boost During Pandemic", April 09, 2020

Tele-Medicine Gets a Boost from Coronavirus

(Ricky Rodas, The Street Spirit) Dr. Jason Reinking—endearingly known by his patients as Dr. Jay—is a busy man. The novel COVID-19 outbreak has swept through the U.S at an astonishing pace and has thrust a daunting challenge upon physicians like Dr. Jay—making sure the most vulnerable members of society have access to health care even when they don’t have a roof over their heads.

The pandemic is changing how we interact with medical professionals. For instance, Medicare and Medicaid have expanded access to tele-health appointments for their members. This means more elderly and low-income people can now get healthcare from practitioners without visiting a clinic or hospital.

kqed telehealth
Coordinator Brandy Hartsgrove demonstrates how the telehealth connection works at The Chapa-de Indian Health Clinic in Grass Valley, Calif. Via this video screen, patients can consult doctors hundreds of miles away. (Salgu Wissmath for NPR)

Learn more >>

"Coronavirus: Berkeley opens COVID-19 testing site for ‘vulnerable’ population", April 08, 2020

First responders, those without access to healthcare are eligible to be tested

(EVAN WEBECK, Bay Area News Group) Those without healthcare and essential city employees in Berkeley now have one more option to get tested for COVID-19.

The city has partnered with LifeLong Medical and UC Berkeley to open a coronavirus testing site for its “vulnerable community members,” health officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez announced Tuesday.

“Testing vulnerable people in Berkeley and our first responders can prevent spread among high-risk groups,” Hernandez said in a statement, “as well as those essential City employees who must be in contact with people infected with Read more >>

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