Health Connections

Youth-Led Outreach to Expand Access to Mental Health Services

Some of the young people who most need mental health services have been conditioned to avoid them. A new youth-led initiative hopes to use peer outreach to overcome that. This new collaboration, says VOICES Director Amber Twitchell, is especially timely, as the need for these services continues to mount. VOICES—an acronym for the organization’s founding name “Voice Our Independent Choices for Emancipation Support” –is more than 10 years old now. In that time it has welcomed and served hundreds of transition youth, and Twitchell says most of them have stayed in touch. Original Source

Adopting a New Model for Reducing Homelessness

A call to radically rethink how homeless services are structured and provided locally found a generally receptive audience in Santa Rosa this week. Now the challenge is to implement those ideas. The Homeless Solutions Summit was well attended by a full spectrum of people concerned about homelessness in Sonoma County. Jennielynn Holmes of Catholic Charities says she thinks the event will mobilize changes. Homeless Action organizer Adrienne Lauby was most encouraged by presenter Iain De Jong’s call for a one-to-one approach to providing homeless services, without preconditions. Original Source

Few Options for Drenched, Flooded Homeless

Even before the latest series of cold and wet winter storms raked the North Bay, some 1000 homeless people were living outdoors in the elements across Sonoma County. And service providers have been able to offer little more to help them as the weather worsened. Highway 101 overpasses near downtown Santa Rosa. That has upset nearby homeowners and residents, which is understandable, says Heidi Prottras, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Task Force for the Homeless. But the homeless there have no other options. Original Source

Latinos Lag in Mental Health Literacy

According to a recent study, Latinos trail other segments of the California population in understanding mental illnesses and how they can be treated. But the gap closes as they become acculturated. Naranjo’s study interviewed 100 subjects, statewide, during the summer of 2014. She explains that her survey asked a series of questions to gauge each person’s awareness and understanding of mental illnesses and their symptoms and treatments. For a list of mental health services offered by the Santa Rosa Community Health Centers, click here. Original Source

An Antidote to Opioid Overdoses

If there is a silver lining in the national epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction, it may be the existence of an effective antidote for overdoses.

Synthetic Opioid is an Overdose Threat

The epidemic of opioid addiction across America has triggered a surge in the use of other, related drugs, including heroin, and it’s more potent synthetic relative, fentanyl.

Examining Racism, Discrimination and Health

Long before this week’s election results came in, organizers of the annual Latino Health Forum in Santa Rosa had selected as this year’s theme, the health impacts of racism and Discrimination.

North Bay School Districts Pioneer Healthy Food Options for Students

Can you remember what your school lunches were like? For many the thought can conjure up memories of bland sandwiches, dry meat meat patties and sugary juices. But with stricter food regulations and a general move towards healthy and nutritious eating those meals are poised to become a thing of the…

Activism as a Key to Improving Latinos’ Health

(October 16, 2015) Improving community health requires political participation. That was the theme of this year’s Latino Health Conference, which used the Portrait of Sonoma County as its starting point.

Grants Boost Food Stamp Use at Farm Markets

(October 7, 2015) There are 4.4 million food stamp recipients in California, and the participants in that program, now known as Cal Fresh are now able to use their benefits at many local farm markets.

Congress Eyes Mental Health Measures

(September 30, 2015) The Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 is one of three similar bills awaiting action in Washington, D.C that have the potential to support and expand mental health services here in the North Bay.

Supervisors Weigh Licensing Tobacco Sales

(September 22, 2015) County supervisors spent over 3 hours Tuesday reviewing a proposed plan to make it harder for under aged youth to buy cigarettes and other smoking materials.

Pinkwashing in Alcohol Beverage Advertising

(September 12, 2015) Alcoholic beverages are known to contribute to breast cancer. Yet some of those same products are associating themselves with fundraising campaigns to promote awareness and treatment of breast cancer.

When the Inside Air is a Health Hazard

(August 26, 2015) The indoor air quality inspections of the Redwood Gospel Mission properties in Santa Rosa (see the North Bay Report for August 26) , and the Sanchez family’s home, were a joint donation by the Green Building Council and Healthy Building Science of San Francisco. The local chapter…

Assessing Indoor Air Quality

(August 25, 2015) Indoor air quality problems can be a serious health concern, but they are invisible, and often hard to detect or trace. On today’s North Bay Report, Bruce Robinson tags along as anold and heavily used building gets checked out by specialized environmental inspectors. Listen:…

Reborn Palm Drive Hospital Awaits Re-opening

(August 12, 2015) How much longer until the former Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol reopens? It could be before the end of the month, but even now, that’s not yet a certainty.

Banning Bids to Label GMO Foods

(August 5, 2015) Grass-roots campaigns to require labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients could be overruled by a Congressional measure that would prohibit them nationwide.

Medi-Cal Turns 50

(July 29, 2015) The national health program for children, known in California as Medi-Cal, has now been in place for half a century, and it is continuing to expand.

Gaining in the Fight Against AIDS

(July 12, 2015) The AIDS epidemic of the 1990s and before has slowed considerably in Sonoma County, and survivors are now living much longer.

EPA to Expand Pesticide Ban

(July 2, 2015) The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it plans to ban the commonly-used agricultural pesticide, chlorpyrifos.

The Next Generation of Food

(June 30, 2015) A website offering positive reinforcement for close-to-home food choices is out to bolster the economic viability of local agriculture.

Landpaths Introduces ‘TrekSonoma’ Outings

(June 25, 2015) Landpaths is one of several local groups that is active in preserving and protecting scenic and unspoiled properties across Sonoma County. But they are also committed to getting people out on those lands, and will introduce a new series of extended outings later this summer.

Inside the “Portrait of Sonoma County”

(June 24, 2015) Since the detailed demographic Portrait of Sonoma County was published this time last year, it has become a key resource in the ongoing efforts to improve the overall health of the local population.

Supervisors Adopt Living Wage Proposal

(June 9, 2015) Sonoma County Supervisors have unanimously backed a $15 per “Living Wage” for workers paid directly or indirectly by the county. But it’s going take a year or more to be fully implemented.

Spreading the Word About Soil

(June 4, 2015) Dirt is ancient, alive, and essential to agriculture.But it is not necessarily eternal. And that can be a big problem.

Medicine Disposal Requirements Upheld

(May 28, 2015) In a decision reaching from Washington to your medicine cabinet, the US Supreme Court has held that local governments can require pharmaceutical companies to take responsibility for the collection and disposal of their excess products.

Connecting New Farmers with Land

(April 21, 2015) Sonoma County prides itself on its agricultural history, but high land costs are making it difficult for the next generation of farmers to get a foothold. An alliance of farmers, landowners and public agencies are hoping to change that. 3:24 The "Growing Our Farms" event takes…

Kaiser Announces Large-scale Autism Study

(April 13, 2015) Kaiser Permanente is launching a large-scale genetic study of children on the autism spectrum and their parents, in hopes of unraveling the factors causing the disorder, and recent increases in the rate of diagnoses.

The Mosquito District’s Assessment Election

(April 2, 2015) Taxes aren’t the only thing due on April 15th; so are ballots in the current mail-in assessment election for the Marin-Sonoma Mosquito, Vector and Disease Control District.

10,000 Degrees Heats Up Educational Opportunities

(February 27, 2015) Studies show that the higher level of education a child accomplishes, the longer they will live, and the healthier they will be. A pro-active college scholarship program in the North Bay is succeeding by starting early and getting involved in their students’ lives. Not only do…

Inspired Forward by LandPaths

(February 23, 2015) When young people are exposed to the great outdoors, they learn important life lessons about physical activity and staying in shape for a lifetime of good health. As the hawk soars, it’s only 13 miles from the west county’s unspoiled Bohemia Ranch to urban Roseland. But for…

Marin’s Breast Cancer Cluster Disputed

(February 16, 2015) Despite years of reporting about the high incidence of breast cancer in Marin County, the reasons for it have never been conclusively identified.

Healthy Aging in Sonoma County

(January 23, 2015) As Sonoma County’s adult population grows older, additional programs and supports will be needed to serve them.

Applying Restorative Justice at School

(December 16, 2014) To cut down on student suspensions and expulsions, two Santa Rosa schools have introduced restorative justice programs as an alternative.

Reopening Palm Drive Hospital

(November 26, 2014) Dr. Richard Powers has practiced family medicine at Sebastopol’s Palm Drive hospital for decades. Now he’s going to help run the closed and bankrupt facility, which he is intent on seeing reopened next spring.

Recognizing Micro-aggressions

(November 17, 2014) Overt racism is on the decline, but in its place has arisen something that is more subtle and often unconscious.

Getting started with Micro-loans

(November 10, 2014) Mico-loans are now being facilitated for start-ups and small businesses by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board.

Questioning the 'Common Core Standards'

(November 5, 2014) The new set of public education benchmarks known as the Common Core Standards are being implemented across the county, including here in California.

Why Palliative Care is Growing

(July 21, 2015) Hospice care, for people with terminal illnesses, is well established now. Palliative care is not as well known, but can actually do more. In many ways, says Dr. Gary Johanson, Director of Memorial Hospice and Palliative Care Service for St. Joseph's Annadel Medical Group, the…

Opponents Remain as Common Core Nears Implementation

(May 1, 2014) ALSO: California legislation that would extend Medi-Cal eligibility to undocumented immigrants has passed the state Senate Health Committee. Today's reporting by Katie Orr and Max Pringle. Read more

What is Behind Sonoma County's low Vaccination Rates?

(April 24, 2014) About a decade ago health officials declared an end to measles in the United States. But the disease is making resurgence due, in part, to a decline in vaccination rates. While scientific studies have repeatedly proven the safety and efficacy of vaccines, Sonoma County remains one…

Brain Health Registry

(April 8, 2014) A new online registry allows participants to monitor their own cognitive abilities, while also becoming part of a pool of people who might be part of future research projects studying human brain health. Dr. Michael Weiner, chief investigator for the new Brain Health Registry at…

Understanding Dyslexia

(July 23, 2015) Dyslexia is more common and more complicated than is usually acknowledged. But there are upsides to the condition, too. In the classroom, says Susan Barton, founder of Bright Solutions for Dyslexia, teachers should not press students to do things that expose them to embarrassment or…

Medical Marijuana Study Gets Federal Green Light

(March 25, 2014) In a quiet but s ignificant break through, the US Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to allow the tiny supply of federally grown Marijuana be used in a University of Arizona study to test its efficacy in treating post-traumatic stress disorder in American army…

Unraveling Marin's Breast Cancer Cluster

(December 28, 2012) Vitamin D and variations in how women metabolize it, could play a role in Marin County's high breast cancer rate, suggests recent research. Kathie Dalessandri, a surgeon and research in Pt. Reyes Station, published a report this fall in the Journal of the American College of…

Climate Change and Health

(December 6, 2012) Sick of hearing about climate change? The more it progresses, the sicker we'll get. The good news about climate-driven health impacts, says Humboldt County's Dr. Wendy Ring, is that most of them are familiar problems, albeit on a lesser scale than is forecast for the future. Ring…

Pesticides and Kids' Health

(November 7, 2012) Widely used chemical pesticides that boost agricultural production and assist in landscape maintenance, may also have serious harmful impacts on developing children. Emily Marquez, Ph.D.For obvious reasons, it's not possible to conduct studies on these questions with human…

Branding the Health Care Exchange

(Setember 3, 2012) California's new Health Insurance Exchange, a key part of the federal health care reform act, is preparing to rebrand itself.

Employers and Health Insurance

(July 3, 2012) Companies that have more than 100 employees, and smaller businesses with 50 or less, will feel the effects of ObamaCare differently. But both groups stand to benefit, and most are looking forward to those changes. Even before the Supreme Court's decision was rendered, health…

Electronic Health Records

(March 14, 2012) Electronic Health Records are a new technology that will soon be nearly universal in the United States. But a watchdog group says they need some fine tuning first. Electronic Health Records are being strongly promoted as something every patient should have within the next few…

Health Physics

(February 14, 2012) Health physics is a field that concentrates on using radiation safely. That can include everything from inspection nuclear weapons test sites to recovering unused medical equipment in developing countries. It may not be a well-known career area, but it's growing. As a Health…

Thyroid Health

(January 12, 2012) Too much or too little hormone output from your thyroid gland can cause or contribute to a lengthy list of health problems. Yet these imbalances are often overlooked. It can be tricky knowing whether or not your thyroid is out of balance, says Dr. Richard Shames. Even the medical…

Children's Dental Health

(December 9, 2011) The number one chronic health problem affecting young children isn't something they can be vaccinated for, but it can be readily prevented. It's... tooth decay. Putting children to bed with a bottle is the leading cause of tooth decay in kids under five years old.Two local groups…

Community Health Centers

(August 8, 2011) It may have slipped your notice that this is National Health Center Week. A combination press conference and town hall meeting in Santa Rosa Monday morning seized the occasion to detail some of the changes being felt in Sonoma County as a result of the 2010 federal Health Care…

"What If Cannabis Cured Cancer?"

(July 18, 2011) The human body is born with an innate anti-cancer mechanism, a compound that mimics a widely available herb. But the plant's potential benefits have largely gone unexamined, because it happens to be illegal. Research finding cancer-fighting benefits from cannabis use is nothing new,…

Sonoma County in 10 Years

(April 21, 2011) There is no single path to a healthier Sonoma County, participants at a conference on health an poverty were reminded yesterday. But getting there will require getting off the systemic treadmills that aren't working now. For much of the past decade, Dr. Anthony Iton, now the vice…

Wood Smoke Health Hazards

(April 20, 2011) Humans have been burning wood for millennia, but new research indicates that breathing in the smoke from those fires can have negative health impacts that reach all the way down to your DNA. A wood smoke particle taken from a human lung, seen enlarged 900x.Enviromental Health News…

Cannabis as Medicine

(January 22, 2011) As the legal jeopardy associated with marijuana diminishes in California, increased attention is being focuses on it's healing properties. That was the subject of a symposium over the weekend in Ukiah, titled Cannabis as Medicine. Dr. Jean TalleyrandThe weaving of hemp--a…

Ethnic Mental Health

(September 9, 2010) Different cultures deal with mental illness quite differently, which poses a significant challenge to mental health service providers in an area such as Sonoma County, with extensive multicultural subpopulations. One of the challenges in tailoring mental heath services to meet…

Community Clinics & Health Care Reform

(August 18, 2010) The federal health care bill, passed earlier this year, will also boost the fiscal well-begin of community clinics in Sonoma County, as well as the patients they serve. Mary Szecsey, Executive Director of the five West County Health Centers, explains that the local clinics, and…

(June 10, 2010) Sonoma County’s ground-breaking website to monitor and guide the overall health of the local population is winning appreciative national attention, including recognition from US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sibelius (left). The impressive county health website…

PTSD & Medical Marijuana

(June 8, 2010) Medical marijuana can help treat the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, but research to find out how and why is being blocked by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Thousands of medical marijuana patients believe that it helps treat a number of conditions and symptoms,…

Health Benefits Suit

(September 21, 2009) A group representing several thousand former Sonoma County employees is suing the county to roll back a reduction in health care benefit for the retirees. Former Sonoma County Deputy District Attorney Greg Jacobs, vice president of the Sonoma County Association of Retired…

Doctors for Healthcare Reform

(September 14, 2009) Another voice in support of public healthcare reform is coming from family practice residents in Santa Rosa. America's current health care system is deeply flawed in its capacity to deliver care to the patients who need it, says Dr. Rachel Friedman (left), which is the…

Homeless Census Report

(May 13, 2009) Using a new technique, this year's census of the homeless in Sonoma County found far more of them than prior surveys. But improved methodology is being cited as the reason for the higher count, rather than a surge in the homeless population. In the 2007 Homeless Census, explains…

Health Frontiers Conference

(November 13, 2008) Mixed news on the health care front: stem cell research is spurring advances in what's being called regenerative medicine, but California's budget crisis threatens the ability of community clinics to provide many basic services. Dr. David Greenberg, Vice President of Special…

Health Action Coalition

(August 13, 2008) How do you improve the health of a whole county? That’s the challenge that Sonoma Health Action is tackling. The number of uninsured in Sonoma County is estimated at over 42,000 and growing. Physicians continue to leave the community and specialists are in short supply. District…

The Future of Health Care

(June 26, 2008) If the American health care delivery system we have today is broken – and a great many people think it is – what would a good, functional system look like? And how would we get there from here? E.J. Neil, co-chair of the North Sonoma County Health Care District, which operates the…