CDPH in the News
State Health Officer Urges Caution During Wildfire Cleanup
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith today advised residents of recently burned areas to use caution in cleaning up ash from recent wildfires. Ash from trees burned in wildfires is relatively nontoxic and similar to ash that might be found in your fireplace. However, ash from burned homes and other items will likely contain metals, chemicals, and potentially asbestos, items that may be considered toxic if breathed in or touched with wet skin.
Understanding California’s Hepatitis A outbreak
On March 18, the California Department of Public Health first announced an outbreak of the Hepatitis A virus. Seven months later on Oct. 13, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency. Reported cases of Hepatitis A had more than tripled in the state, and 19 people have died. Nearly 600 hepatitis A cases, mostly concentrated in downtown San Diego, have been reported since the beginning of the outbreak, likely caused by person-to-person transmission. This is up from an average 160 cases per year in California, said Dr. Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist at California Department of Public Health. More than 500 of the cases were reported in San Diego County.
An ‘open door’: Gay and Lesbian Center celebrates new facility
The Gay and Lesbian Center of Bakersfield celebrated the opening of its new home with an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday. The Annex, as it’s called, located at 841 Mohawk St., provides private counseling, workshops and other services. Vice Mayor Bob Smith and Councilman Andrae Gonzales, as well as representatives from the offices of Congressmen Kevin McCarthy and David Valadao, were among those attending the event.
“We’re very excited about what today represents. This is such an achievement for the center,” Center Executive Director Jan Hefner said. “Before the center was born in 2011, there was no specific place available year-round where LGBTQ people could gather in comfort and create a community. This new facility gives us the ability to expand our services.”
The Annex was developed after the center received a five-year $1.18 million grant in September 2016 from the California Reducing Disparities Project, a program of the California Department of Public Health.
Policy changes at Alameda Co. hospital after high-profile murder: 2 Investigates
The California Department of Public Health has agreed with part of an Oakland mother’s complaint that Alameda Health System (AHS) could have done more to treat her mentally ill son, who later followed through on threats to kill his own brother. Days after Demetrius Sells was discharged from Highland Hospital — an AHS-run facility — in May 2015, he stabbed and killed his brother Kevin McGhee.
Before being discharged, medical records obtained by 2 Investigates show Sells had attempted suicide, overdosing on the prescription drug Abilify. He also threatened to kill McGhee for calling 911. Documents show staff knew Sells made threats and had a history of bipolar disorder, drugs and violence. Sells spent less than nine hours in treatment before his mandatory hold was canceled by a John George mental hospital psychiatrist working in the hospital’s Emergency Department.
Why I’m Suing California for Lead Data
from Capitol and Main
Digging through documents for hidden truths and revelations is a huge part of what investigative journalists like myself do. Requests for documents made under California’s Public Records Act typically take 10 days to a month to be fulfilled. Sometimes the wait can be excruciatingly longer. Earlier this year I spent four months waiting and pleading with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to hand over 56 pages of documents related to lead contamination at a Sacramento gun range.
Ultimately, the records showed that in 2003, California public health officials were aware of life-threatening levels of lead at Sacramento’s city-owned, indoor Mangan Park Rifle and Pistol Range. Yet the range continued to operate for another dozen years, raising questions about official negligence in allowing such a hazardous operation to continue.
Because the delay in providing the documents seemed unreasonable and one not allowed under California law, I considered suing CDPH. However, public records lawsuits are time consuming, requiring an attorney who believes the case is one for which it is worth going to the mat. But occasionally lines are crossed that simply have to be challenged. That’s why I filed a lawsuit last week in Sacramento County Superior Court objecting to the secrecy surrounding the protracted cleanup of lead at the range.
STD Rates In California Reach ‘All-Time High’
According to a new report from the California Department of Public Health, California ranked first among all states in 2016 for the total number of cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and congenital syphilis. Bacterial STD rates (chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis) in California “significantly increased” in 2016, with over a quarter million cases reported during the course of the year. This marks a 40% increase compared to five years ago, according to the CDPH, which characterized the 2016 data as marking an “all-time high” for the state.