LifeLong News

"Crowds and COVID: East Bay doctor encourages protesters to be tested", June 22, 2020

OAKLAND, Calif. (Amy Larson | KRON) — Are crowds OK again despite COVID-19? There was a lot of chatter on Twitter about that question over the weekend during Juneteenth celebrations, George Floyd marches, and other large public events held around the Bay Area. The coronavirus hasn’t vanished overnight, especially without a vaccine available yet.

For people who are passionate about attending marches and rallies during a historic moment for empowering Black communities in America, two steps are essential for protecting one’s health, East Bay doctor Kim Nguyen told KRON4.

First, always wear a mask to protect yourself from becoming infected or spreading it to someone else, she said. Second, go to a COVID-19 testing site to be tested. The best time to receive a test for the most accurate results is five days after you have been in a crowd, said Nguyen, an associate medical director at LifeLong Medical Care.

Balancing the importance of containing the pandemic and fighting racism is a delicate matter. Both the virus and police brutality have disproportionately claimed Black and Latino lives.

“We want to be in solidarity with people who are taking those risks to go outside and protest. If there is any reason to ignore those public health risks, this is the biggest one. So we want to make sure the Read more >>

"Commitment to Health Equity", June 05, 2020

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LifeLong Medical Care mourns with the family of George Floyd. Amidst the civil unrest his murder has unleashed, LifeLong has been reflecting on our organization’s deep commitment to racial justice. In serving our diverse patients, we are well aware that some live under the constant threat of racist violence. Racism is not just a hate crime, it’s a powerful institution into which we are all born.

Make no mistake, institutional racism is at the very core of health disparities between communities of color and white populations. They persist on so many fronts: high rates of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease; lower survival rates from prostate, breast, and lung cancer; black children with a 500 percent higher death rate from asthma; and infant mortality rates for black babies stuck at nearly 2.5 times that of whites. And in this country with 30 million uninsured, it should come as no surprise that half of those are people of color.

As we continue our battle against COVID-19, the marked impact of this disease on the populations we serve is striking. The high numbers of COVID-19 infections among minority, low-wage workers --many of whom who are doing essential work -- is staggering. And we know that the death rate for African Americans is three times that of white Americans.

For so many in our community, LifeLong brings the health equity that allows families to live better lives each and every day. During this pandemic, Lifelong continues to help vulnerable populations. We brought no-cost COVID-19 testing to Richmond, Berkeley, and Oakland, and we continue to expand these efforts.

Community health centers like LifeLong were birthed through the work of Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It’s part of our legacy. It’s who we are. And it’s why we do the work we do. The heart of our mission is to improve the health and lives of our communities’ residents.

In light of this terrible tragedy and all that is happening around us, I hope you will renew your commitment to our patients. We will continue to shine a light on the health disparities that have roots in historical, systemic racism, while simultaneously supporting the power of our patients and staff to improve the health of communities of color.

Today, we say the name “George Floyd.” There have been too many names. Enough. Black Lives Matter.

"'It Was Hell': When Both Parents Get COVID-19", May 26, 2020

(Farida Jhabvala Romero, KQED) In early April, as coronavirus outbreaks spread rapidly across the San Francisco Bay Area, Lorena found herself trapped in her apartment obsessively disinfecting surfaces, wearing gloves to cook meals and abstaining from holding her own two children.

Both Lorena and her husband, Jorge, had tested positive for COVID-19.

KQED is only using Lorena's first name because she worries her daughter will be bullied if classmates Read more >>

"KRON4 Heroes: East Bay doctor helps make widespread COVID testing possible", May 22, 2020

(Amy Larson, Kron4) One of the most difficult challenges for healthcare workers battling the coronavirus outbreak is bridging the divide between Bay Area residents who want to be tested for the virus, safely administering those tests, and following up with patients who are infected.

In the East Bay, one doctor realized early on that a demand for tests was going to surge before medical care providers had enough time to gather necessary supplies, organize and staff pop up tents to serve as testing sites, and find laboratories to analyze the samples.

Dr. Kim Nguyen, an associate medical director at LifeLong Medical Care, spearheaded organizing and coordinating how tests were given to patients at several sites throughout the East Bay to speed up the process, and pushed for free COVID testing to be available in under-served communities. Read more >>

"Making a Difference, LifeLong Medical Care", May 15, 2020

(Julie Nachtwey & Linda Schacht Gage | Claremont-Elmwood Social) It's no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted Berkeley's poorest populations. They often face lingering debt, unreliable employment, and sometimes non-existent housing. The threat of the Coronavirus, combined with a lack of access to healthcare, adds even greater stress to their lives.

The situation is complicated by the fact that as the practice of medicine has evolved, specialists have replaced most family-practice doctors who sometimes saw 60 to 80 patients a day. The result has been even less access to medical care for everyone, but most crucially for the poorest among us. Many of those dedicated primary-care doctors found that their small practices were no longer sustainable. Fortunately, in Berkeley, innovation and dedication led to a solution: LifeLong Medical Care, a community health center now serving 66,000 patients, many of whom might fall through the cracks in Read more >>

"LifeLong Medical Care steps up for Richmond’s vulnerable amid pandemic", May 08, 2020

(Kathy Chouteau, Richmond Standard) LifeLong Medical Care is emerging as an essential health care resource for some of Richmond’s most vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The community health nonprofit, which operates the new LifeLong William Jenkins Health Center at 150 Harbour Way in Richmond, primarily serves patients at or below the federal poverty level. Regardless of a person’s ability to pay or immigration status, the nonprofit serves everyone and offers assistance in helping patients apply for insurance.

Throughout the pandemic, the Richmond center has been providing an array of resources to all community members, ranging from Read more >>

"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 >>

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