CDPH in the News, July 2015

Supreme Court dismisses California’s Proposition 8 appeal
from CNN

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal over same-sex marriage on jurisdictional grounds, ruling Wednesday private parties do not have "standing” to defend California’s voter-approved ballot measure barring gay and lesbian couples from state-sanctioned wedlock.

The ruling clears the way for same-sex marriages in California to resume. The 5-4 decision avoids, for now, a sweeping conclusion on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional "equal protection" right that would apply to all states.

Within hours of the ruling, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown said, "I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state’s counties that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted." Brown, a Democrat, said he interpreted the high court opinion as making Prop 8 unconstitutional and unenforceable. The state’s Attorney General Kamala Harris agreed and urged the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco to issue its mandate “immediately.”

California experiences another significant drop in adolescent births; Lake County numbers show decrease
from Lake County News

California?s adolescent birth rate has continued to decline to a record low of 23.2 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19, state health officials reported Tuesday. The 2013 rate reflects an 11 percent decline from the 2012 rate of 26.2 and a 50 percent decline from the 2000 rate of 46.7, according to the newly released data.

"California’s continued success in reducing adolescent births is an excellent example of public health at work," said California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. "By providing adolescents the knowledge, tools and resources to make healthy choices, we can have a positive effect on their options for a successful future."

The adolescent birth rate decreased among all racial and ethnic groups between 2000 and 2013, the data showed.

Potentially harmful chemicals found in oil field water used for irrigation
from LA Times

Testing of recycled oil field wastewater used on about 45,000 acres of farmland in the Central Valley shows the water contains small amounts of potentially harmful chemicals, including oil, benzene and acetone. Local water regulators in April ordered comprehensive testing of the irrigation water to check for the presence of chemicals used in oil production.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has formed a committee to examine the issue and analyze the recent test results. The group of experts from the California Department of Public Health and the state Department of Food and Agriculture will advise water officials about food safety.

Maggots Found in Soup, on Patient at Hospital, Union Alleges

California health officials say they plan to investigate allegations that maggots were found earlier this year on a patient and in soup served in the cafeteria at Parkview Community Hospital in Riverside. The allegations stem from a complaint filed to the California Department of Public Health on Monday by the SEIU-UHW union against the hospital.

It said that earlier this year, an employee reported finding more than 50 maggots in a patient’s nose and mouth, and in April, a nurse reported maggots floating in the hospital cafeteria’s lentil soup, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. Riverside County health officials said they, too, will investigate.

California’s largest nursing home owner under fire from government regulators
from Sacramento Bee

Since 2006, Shlomo Rechnitz and his primary company, Brius Healthcare Services, have acquired 81 nursing homes up and down the state, many of them through bankruptcy court. His chain has grown so quickly that he now controls about 1 in every 14 nursing home beds in California, giving him an outsized influence on quality of care in the state.

In the past year, multiple alarms have been raised about this relative newcomer to the industry and the care provided in some of his homes. His facilities have become the target of police scrutiny, lawsuits, stiff regulatory fines and state and federal investigations that have uncovered numerous alleged violations.

In February, an attorney for the California Department of Public Health said in legal documents that the state was rejecting Rechnitz’s attempt to acquire a Chico nursing home because of his compliance history and "the number and severity of violations" in his other facilities. Rechnitz’s troubles were compounded this spring, when the South Pasadena facility was hit with 24 state citations and $195,500 in fines from the Department of Public Health.

Experts: California vaccine bill would increase immunization
from WHEC News

A hotly contested California bill to impose one of the strictest vaccination laws in the nation would boost immunization rates by changing parents’ behavior, according to immunologists and people who have researched the impact of such requirements. Data from the California Department of Public Health shows that the number of personal belief exemptions for incoming kindergarteners had been rising every year between 2010 until 2014.

But the tide turned in 2014 after the state overhauled its vaccine requirement. That measure, which required parents to obtain a signed waiver from their child’s physician before claiming a personal belief exemption, proved just inconvenient enough to sway those who were "vaccine hesitant."

‘Dangerous’ Domoic Acid Levels Prompt Seafood Warning in California
from Food Safety News

Due to "dangerous levels" of domoic acid found in some species, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is advising consumers not to eat recreationally harvested mussels and clams, commercially or recreationally caught anchovy and sardines, or the internal organs of commercially or recreationally caught crab taken from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. Department officials are working with commercial fisherman in the area to ensure that recently harvested anchovy and sardines were not distributed into the human food supply.