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LifeLong News

"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 >>

"East Bay doctor weighs in on racial disparities, COVID-19", April 08, 2020

(Noelle Bellow, Kron4) Health officials are now starting to release more detailed information about COVID-19 cases and deaths, including racial demographics.

In many of the country’s hardest hit communities, like New York, Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago, black residents are dying at a higher rate.

Here in California, the Department of Public Health sent out its expanded data and officials say it is roughly in line with the diversity of California overall.

The numbers sent out Wednesday are very preliminary and are reflective of less than 50% of Read more >>

"Alameda County Mobilizes to Get At-Risk Homeless Residents Into Hotels", April 03, 2020

(Erin Baldassari, KQED) In the span of nine days, public health officials in Alameda County went from negotiating a lease agreement with a hotelier in Oakland to housing their first guest on March 25 — a resident experiencing homelessness who was showing symptoms of COVID-19.

And on Wednesday, officials opened a second hotel in Oakland for homeless people who are considered at high-risk of complications if they contract the virus. They were the first two hotels leased under a state plan to provide a total of 15,000 hotel and motel rooms across California to address the coronavirus outbreak among homeless communities.

“While it’s true it took about nine or 10 days to bring the hotels on, they were 18-hour days,” said Kerry Abbott, director of the county’s Office of Homeless Care and Coordination.

It’s the kind of effort Gov. Gavin Newsom says can’t come soon enough, especially in light of the death of a homeless man in Santa Clara County last month and 14 confirmed cases of homeless people contracting the virus across the state – including one reported Thursday in San Francisco.

On Friday, Newsom announced the state had finalized leases for nearly 7,000 hotel and motel rooms throughout the state with an eventual goal of 15,000 rooms. As of Wednesday, San Francisco had around 1,000 hotel rooms available and had placed people in 123 of them. Santa Clara County has 172 Read more >>

Street Medicine Team

 

"Making a Difference on National Doctors’ Day", April 02, 2020

Dedicated to the philosophy of giving rather than receiving, the Summit and Alta Bates medical staffs are commemorating National Doctors’ Day—March 30—by making generous donations to help the community.

Each year, National Doctors’ Day celebrates the contributions of the physicians who serve America by caring for its citizens. Because we’re in a time of unprecedented and extraordinary challenges, the Summit and Alta Bates donations to the community they serve mean more than ever.

“Even though it’s nice to be recognized on Doctors’ Day, our medical staff decided to donate funds to support local causes on our day of national recognition,” says Jeff Chen, M.D., the Summit campus’ chief of staff, who works in emergency medicine.

“Our physicians are committed to giving back to our community. Now more than ever, we’re proud to support programs that help the homeless and other vulnerable populations in our community.”

The Summit medical staff donated funds to LifeLong Medical Care, the campus’ main community clinic partner serving the surrounding East Bay community. The funds will go to support LifeLong’s Street Medicine program, which was established last fall and has provided medical care and social services to almost 400 homeless individuals in Oakland encampments.

“Given the current public health crisis, we’ve temporarily shifted our model,” says Rina Breakstone, LCSW, LifeLong’s psychosocial services manager. “We’re providing education, outreach and coronavirus testing in the field.

“The medical staff’s gift is incredibly generous and meaningful. It will help us fund the tools and supplies that will help people living in encampments stay safe—including personal protective equipment (PPEs) for our teams and masks for unsheltered people who show symptoms.”

In honor of Doctors’ Day, the Alta Bates medical staff will donate funds to Bay Area Community Services (BACS), which provides behavioral health, housing and other services for teens, adults, older adults and their families. Another donation will go to Operation Recovery, a program aimed at breaking the cycle of addiction that causes crime, homelessness and broken families.

Street Medicine Team

"For Urban Poor, the Coronavirus Complicates Existing Health Risks", March 07, 2020

An outbreak could devastate low-income black and Latino communities that, even in the best of times, face serious medical challenges.

(John Eligon, NY Times) OAKLAND, Calif. — Several days had passed since the congestion in her chest left her feeling suffocated and racing to the emergency room. Now, Lisa McClendon, 64, was trying to level with her respiratory therapist about why her asthma had flared up again.

In recent months, she explained from her cramped studio apartment in downtown Oakland, Calif., the money from Uber driving had not been enough to buy the nutritional supplements that help to keep her asthma under control. The therapist, Rochelle Allen, heard things like this often. She mostly treats African-Americans like Ms. McClendon who struggle to make ends meet, and whose health problems can be exacerbated by social factors like a lack of insurance, healthy food options and recreational opportunities.

But Ms. Allen also saw another culprit in the asthma attack.

“You have to use your controller,” she said, waving an orange inhaler that Ms. McClendon was not using twice a day as instructed.

“I’m working to get off of these drugs,” Ms. McClendon said, adding that she preferred natural remedies. “I don’t trust the medical establishment.”

Even in the best of times, low-income minorities can face daunting health and medical issues. Many public health experts now fear a potentially dire situation: If the novel coronavirus becomes Read more >>

Eric Henley

"Congress inaction threatens critical doctor-training program", March 05, 2020

Despite clear need, one of the most effective pipelines for producing primary care physicians could end May 22

(East Bay Times) A recent workforce report from the UCSF HealthForce Center projects that by 2030, California will experience a 12% to 17% greater demand for primary care medical services than what currently exists.

This need will be further exacerbated by a projected decrease in the number of primary care physicians in the state due to increasing retirements of older physicians and fewer entering younger physicians. This shortage will not be completely addressed by increasing numbers of primary care nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Despite this clear need, one of the most effective pipelines for producing primary care physicians – the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program – could end on May 22 unless Congress votes to extend it. Support from Congress and President Trump is essential to ensure that we keep this program alive for the medical residents, communities and patients who benefit.

The Teaching Health Center (THC) program was created as part of the Affordable Care Act to increase the residency training of primary care physicians in the community, especially in under-served communities. While most residencies are in hospitals, THCs are based in the community, most often in Federally Qualified Health Centers whose main purpose is to provide care for under-served populations, such as the uninsured and those covered by MediCal. Read more >>

Eric Henley

"Making Connections: Community Health Centers go the Extra Mile for Elders", February 04, 2020

(CHroniCles) The National Population Projections released by the U.S. Census Bureau project that by 2034, there will be 77.0 million people age 65 years and older, or one-and-a half times as many as were reported in 2016 (49.2 million). For the first time, adults will outnumber the nation’s children under the age of 18. By 2030, 1 in every 5 U.S. residents will be of retirement age.

As the country prepares for this demographic milestone, community health centers will be challenged to care for greater numbers of older adults, with more complex and pressing health care needs. Data from the UDS show that health centers are already responding to this demographic shift. In 2018, older adults accounted for 9.6% of those served by community health centers, or 2.6 million people. [HRSA UDS]. Reflecting this shift, Medicare is an increasingly important payer for health centers, with the number of health center Medicare patients doubling from 2005-2014. In 2018, 2.7 million health center patients, or 9.7%, were covered by Medicare and an additional 1 million (3.7%) were Medicare/Medicaid dual-eligible. [HRSA UDS].

To get a bird’s-eye view of how several health centers are meeting new demands for care, we reached out to colleagues in California, Vermont and Illinois known for elder-focused care. While each has unique programs and faces local challenges, each has found a way to forge connections with elders in their communities and to offer older patients high-quality, empathic care. [Ed: With so much going on at health centers as demographics and approaches change, the next article in this series will look specifically at PACE, or Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.]

LifeLong Medical Care (Berkley, CA)

LifeLong Medical Care was focused from the outset on addressing the unmet need for health services in Berkeley’s senior community. Dr. Marty Lynch, who joined LifeLong in 1980, is the center’s Executive Director and co-founder of NACHCs Sub-committee on Healthy Aging. He explained that the health center was founded by a group of Gray Panthers, senior advocates who realized that the area’s growing low-income aging population did not have access to necessary medical services and decided to develop a place where older adults could receive support and quality health care. The Over 60 Health Center was there for the “folks who weren't always welcome in the normal private practice offices. “Folks who were poor maybe they didn't speak English, maybe were African American whatever it might be and they didn't fit in and the doctors didn't want to see them”Folks who were poor maybe they didn't speak English, maybe were African American whatever it might be and they didn't fit in and the doctors didn't want to see them.”

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