CDPH in the News, May 2016

CDPH in the News

LA residents affected by pollution from shuttered battery plant say slow cleanup adds insult to injury

from Free Speech Radio News

ttorneys with the NAACP filed a federal class action lawsuit last week on behalf of residents of Flint, Michigan affected by lead contaminated water. While national attention has been focused on the Flint crisis since late last year, another environmental disaster in Los Angeles has been unfolding for much longer – nine decades in fact – and most Americans aren’t aware of it. For years, a battery recycling plant most recently managed by Exide Technologies leached lead and other carcinogens into the soil, air and water in surrounding residential neighborhoods. Residents say the company’s shutdown took too long and that cleanup efforts are also sluggish.
The interim director of public health for LA County has said that lead contamination could affect up to 10,000 homes within a 1.75-mile radius of the shuttered Exide plant. And a recent analysis by the California Department of Public Health found slightly elevated levels of lead in children living within two miles of Exide, but it didn’t determine what the source was. It was confirmation of what many residents feared: that they’re not safe, and the government still doesn’t know how unsafe they are.

Researchers slowly homing in on risk of Zika birth defect

from Washington Post

As the international epidemic of Zika virus disease has unfolded and led to devastating birth defects for at least 1,300 children in eight countries, an agonizing question has persisted: What is the chance that an infected pregnant woman will have a baby with these defects?
Researchers don’t yet have a complete answer, but they are slowly homing in on one. The largest study to ever look at the question says the risk of one especially severe type of birth defect is “substantial” – in the range of 1 percent to 14 percent. It also reinforces the understanding that women infected in the early stages of pregnancy face the greatest risk. “These numbers are probably only the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Neil Silverman, a UCLA professor of obstetrics who has been advising the California Department of Public Health on Zika issues.

Napa LGBTQ program gets state grant to expand services Upvalley

from Napa Valley Register

Napa’s LGBTQ Connection has been awarded grants totaling $1 million from the California Department of Public Health to expand mental health-related services to Upvalley, Fairfield and Sonoma Valley over the next five years. “It’s very exciting,” said Ian Stanley, LGBTQ Connection program director. “What was once a little program in Napa is now going to be a model for other communities in the state and beyond.” This grant is “an amazing gift to the valley,” said Greg Miraglia, a dean at Napa Valley College and the national program manager for Stop the Hate, an educational initiative that provides training on how to create programs to support LGBTQ students.
In total, the California Department of Public Health will award $60 million to 41 contractors and grantees throughout the state. The goal is to reduce mental health disparities across African-American, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino, LGBTQ and Native American communities.

State employees offered bikes to rent as option for downtown trips

from Sacramento Bee

State employees needing transportation for business purposes within the city of Sacramento can now request a car or a bicycle. Several departments have their own bike-sharing programs for employees, most funded through grants, said Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the California Department of General Services. Based on the positive response to those programs, he said, General Services decided to make bicycles available to employees of any department through the State Garage on 10th Street in downtown Sacramento. The State Employee BikeShare Program launched Tuesday.
Ferguson said the state purchased 12 bicycles, costing less than $200 each, which employees may rent for business purposes. “It’s an opportunity to get people out of their cars and get them on bikes,” Ferguson said. Employees can reserve bicycles online just as they do state cars, and the bicycles will be maintained by staff members at the state garage. The California Department of Public Health recently celebrated the two-year anniversary of its BikeShare program. The bicycles are available to department employees to travel to downtown meetings, run errands or exercise during lunch breaks.

State Investigators Fault Sutter Hospice In Overmedication Of Prominent Calif. Health Care Leader

from California Healthline

The California Department of Public Health has issued a report that found Sutter VNA & Hospice provided Jerome Lackner’s caregivers with excessive amounts of morphine that may have contributed to his death. A state investigation into the death of Jerome Lackner, an iconoclastic California health care leader who served as a physician for Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr., has found that Sutter VNA & Hospice provided his caregivers with excessive amounts of morphine that, if administered, may have contributed to his death or killed him. The report by California Department of Public Health investigators faults the Sutter hospice for continuing to provide morphine to Lackner’s lay caregivers, despite nurses’ concerns that he was being overmedicated. It notes that during one nine-hour period, he was given morphine at almost double the maximum dosage prescribed.