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Hope in a Hidden Public Health Crisis

Hope in a Hidden Public Health Crisis

First in a series of three stories about violence as a public health crisis.

LaVerne Vaughn made a decision after she served prison time in her late 30s: She’d live the rest of her life a free woman. Vaughn, now in her early 40s, with a platinum pixie cut and a steady, empathetic gaze, kept her promise to herself. Several years after her release, she started working in violence prevention and helping ex-cons in Richmond, Calif., find their footing after prison.
Why Young People Kill

Why Young People Kill

From Crime to Cure 

Second in a series of three stories about violence as a public health crisis.

Dwayne Taylor went to a party at the Ida B. Wells housing project one mid-May night as the Chicago weather was warming to the promise of spring. Once there, according to court documents, Taylor met up with three friends and made a disastrous decision: to rob someone. They left the party and drove around until they found a victim, 21-year-old Tedrin West. Taylor carjacked, abducted and robbed West before shooting him in the back of the head. As her son lay dead in a parking lot, West’s mother called his stolen phone. A man answered.
Stopping Homicides, One Shooter at a Time

Stopping Homicides, One Shooter at a Time

Third in a series of three stories about violence as a public health crisis. 

Joe McCoy is intimately familiar with the violence epidemic in his hometown of Richmond, Calif. McCoy is one of six outreach workers employed by the Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS), a city agency. They patrol the streets to tackle the problem of shootings and murders with an approach that seems counterintuitive. They find young men and teens—as old as 25 and as young as 13—identified as likely having been involved in previous homicides and shootings. Then they offer them mentors, access to social services, life-skills trainings and even financial support.
Left Behind by the Affordable Care Act

Left Behind by the Affordable Care Act

Photo of Dominga Sarabia by Lily Dayton, design by Cathy Krizik

By Lily Dayton

Santa Cruz resident Dominga Sarabia* began to itch after taking the antibiotics a doctor prescribed to treat her ulcer. Her skin prickled with hives, and her hands, face and throat swelled until she feared she wouldn’t be able to breathe.

Latest News

Contra Costa Aims to Stop Domestic Violence Homicides Before They Happen

Contra Costa Aims to Stop Domestic Violence Homicides Before They Happen

By Leah Bartos

On September 20, 2011, Rafael Zarate slipped an eight-inch kitchen knife into his boot and walked into the restaurant where his ex-girlfriend was just beginning her shift.

The troubles between Zarate and Jensy Romero had already gone on for months, according to court documents. Just a few weeks earlier, Romero tried to break it off for good.

San Diego tries housing first for homeless

San Diego tries housing first for homeless

By Marty Graham

San Diego, which in 2013 had the fourth largest homeless population in the U.S., has committed $30 million to an aggressive housing-first strategy that grew out of test projects putting the city’s most hard-core homeless indoors.

The new push is being heralded as a paradigm shift from a spectrum of temporary shelters, transient housing and services spread across agencies and nonprofits to a focus on getting people into homes while working on the problems and issues that left them homeless.

Not Crazy, Not Bad: The Aging Gurus of Mental Health

Not Crazy, Not Bad:  The Aging Gurus of Mental Health

By Matt Perry

A visit to most long-term care facilities – a nursing home or assisted living facility – quickly reveals who wields the sword of control. Managers dispense orders to staff. Then able-bodied caregivers roam floors full of seniors compromised in either mind or body.

And frail residents dutifully follow the house rules.

Program aims to ease encounters between mental health consumers and law enforcement

Program aims to ease encounters between mental health consumers and law enforcement

By Lynn Graebner

When law enforcement and people experiencing a mental health crisis intersect, it’s often not clear to either of them what they are dealing with or how to proceed. A new program in Butte County seeks to make those encounters safer for everyone.

The Butte County affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and local law enforcement are offering cards to consumers of mental health services that can contain any information the consumer feels would be important for a first responder to have.


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California Focus: Daniel Weintraub

Why reducing poverty — and stress — might be the key to better health

By Daniel Weintraub

Look at the health data for just about any collection of neighborhoods in California and one thing will soon become clear: Poor people are sicker and, on average, die younger than people with higher incomes.

The medical profession, social workers and health researchers have known this for a long time.

Diabetics account for nearly 1/3 of hospital stays

We've long known that diabetes and its related illnesses cause havoc in people's lives and drive up health care costs, but a new study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research has quantified the damage done with a sobering new statistic: nearly one-third of hospital stays by Californians age 35 and older involve a person who has been diagnosed with diabetes.

The ACA and women’s health

The ACA and women’s health

The Affordable Care Act has several provisions aimed at improving women’s health. In this infographic, the Journal of the American Medical Association lays out some of the issues women face and how the ACA might help. Click on the thumbnail to see the full graphic.

How wealth drives health — and what we can do about it

By Daniel Weintraub

California is a land of health extremes, and to see what that means, you need only travel a few miles from the state Capitol.

Placer and Yuba counties border each other about a half hour’s drive north of downtown Sacramento. Both places are largely rural. But the similarities end there.

Health before — and after — health care

Even as lawmakers in Washington D.C. drove themselves into a bitter partisan divide over federal health reform in 2010, an unusual experiment across the country in Oregon was amassing evidence that the rancorous debate in Congress was focused on many of the wrong things. And if what Oregon’s experience is telling us now is accurate, the Affordable Care Act will be neither the boon to America’s health that its supporters claim nor the threat that its detractors fear it will be. Why? Because expanding access to health insurance and even health care — the primary goal of the ACA — might not make us healthier, at least not in the the short term and not in the ways most people seem to believe.
California Voices

What is it about giving thanks that makes us healthy?

By Eric Nelson
In remarks made to a conference convened this summer by Cal Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center (GGSC), renowned gratitude expert Dr. Robert Emmons explained why giving thanks is so appealing to so many. “Gratitude has the power to heal, to energize and to change lives,” he said. More specifically, gratitude increases our emotional well-being, improves our capacity to get along with others, decreases depression and increases our resilience after suffering emotional or physical harm.

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