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State Refuses to Identify Hospitals it Says Have Harmed Patients

October 15, 2014

State Refuses to Identify Hospitals it Says Have Harmed Patients

By Chris Richard

California has been withholding money from 66 hospitals it holds culpable for medical errors, but state officials refuse to describe the mistakes or publicly identify the hospitals, all of which have allegedly harmed patients.

California Department of Health Care Services spokesman Norman Williams said the agency is withholding disciplinary records to protect patients’ private medical information, but patient advocates are criticizing the lack of transparency.

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Spike in ER usage from newly insured declines over time, study says

October 15, 2014

Pent-up demand for health care leads to a spike in emergency room visits and hospitalizations among the newly insured, but those numbers quickly decline as people’s needs are met and their health becomes more stable, according to a new study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

The study could mean that fears of an explosion in public costs due to the expansion of the Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal in California, will prove unfounded.

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Project to Reduce Obesity Nationwide Starts With Kids in Imperial County

October 5, 2014

Project to Reduce Obesity Nationwide Starts With Kids in Imperial County

By Lisa Renner

Children love pulling fresh carrots out of the garden or picking berries off a bush. It’s fun to eat food they have grown themselves.

The Imperial County Childhood Obesity Project is funding community and school gardens in hopes that kids who enjoy gardening will eat more fruits and vegetables, and ultimately slim down.

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Expanded Covered California Dental Coverage Could Pose Access Problems

October 2, 2014

By Fran Kritz

Beginning Jan. 1, all individual Covered California health plans will include dental coverage for children in the family 18 and younger, a move that state officials hope will result in tens of thousands of kids getting oral health care.

While children’s advocates applaud expanding the coverage, they caution that there already aren’t enough pediatric dentists in the state.

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In Counties Where Teen Pregnancy is High, a Sex Ed Program Offers Promise

September 28, 2014

In Counties Where Teen Pregnancy is High, a Sex Ed Program Offers Promise

By Lisa Renner

The teen boys in the San Joaquin County Juvenile Detention Center had a lot of questions for the two sex education instructors who paid them a visit.

Among them: Where are free local clinics that provide testing for sexually transmitted diseases? Is there a cure for AIDS? Can you use ear wax to find out if your partner has an STD?

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Cancer-Screening Program For Women Attempts to Fill Gaps Left by Health Reform

September 25, 2014

Cancer-Screening Program For Women Attempts to Fill Gaps Left by Health Reform

By Claudia Boyd-Barrett

Dr. Milcah Larks is all too familiar with the cost of delaying preventative cancer screenings for women.

As an oncologist in the Immunology Clinic at Ventura County Medical Center, a hospital in Ventura focused on underserved populations, she prescribes treatment for patients with breast and cervical cancer. Often, patients come to her at late stages of the disease, requiring drastic interventions such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

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Despite progress, 250,000 Medi-Cal applicants still wait for coverage

September 23, 2014

Despite progress, 250,000 Medi-Cal applicants still wait for coverage

By Claudia Boyd-Barrett

Carlos Gutierrez of Berkeley thought his health care troubles were over when he received a letter from his county’s social service agency in May telling him he qualified for Medi-Cal.

The 34-year-old single father of two had been without health insurance for months after losing his job as a trainer in car rental sales.

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Reading Your Doctor’s Notes

September 4, 2014

Reading Your Doctor’s Notes

By Kellie Schmitt

Patients across California now have easier access to their medication lists, lab results, upcoming appointments and messaging through secure online systems. But one key aspect of the medical record is not typically available online: the candid notes a physician writes about you during and after an appointment.

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Online Access to Doctors Encourages Patients to Seek Care

September 3, 2014

Online Access to Doctors Encourages Patients to Seek Care

By Kellie Schmitt

Bay Area resident Mark Bloomquist, 33, hadn’t had a relationship with a primary care physician in more than a decade.

Waiting on hold to make appointments and juggling callbacks for physician advice or lab results seemed like too much hassle. When Bloomquist needed medical care – which he often did as an avid lacrosse player – he went to urgent care.

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Easy Online Access Changes Doctor-Patient Relationships

September 2, 2014

Easy Online Access Changes Doctor-Patient Relationships

By Kellie Schmitt

The days of waiting on hold and playing phone tag with the doctor’s office are diminishing for patients across the state and nation as more and more health providers implement patient portals.

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