Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Antioch doctor working to reduce childhood obesity one family at a time

Friday, August 16th, 2019

Richard D Singer, M.D. Photo by Sutter Delta.

New Program Aims to Help East Contra Costa County Kids Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Weight

By Meg Walker, Sutter Health

Making sure kids eat a balanced diet and maintain a proper weight can be a difficult task. Especially if the child is overweight, obese or a picky eater.

In Contra Costa County the problem is especially acute. Kidsdata.org, a program at the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, compiled data in 2018 by grade level and found that in the county 36.1 percent of fifth graders, 35.7 percent of seventh graders and 33.4 percent of ninth graders are overweight or obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control, overweight or obese children are at high risk of becoming overweight adolescents and adults, placing them at risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes later in life. They are also more prone to develop stress, sadness, and low self-esteem.

Richard Singer, M.D., a pediatrician with Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation (SEBMF) based in Brentwood, had become increasingly concerned about the overweight children he sees in his practice and the lack of nutritional counseling services available in eastern Contra Costa County.

So, after careful planning, Dr. Singer recently started a pediatric weight management program at outpatient pediatric offices in Antioch and Brentwood. As part of the program, a registered dietician on the staff at Sutter Delta Medical Center sees patients one day a week at an SEBMF care center.

“There is an epidemic of childhood obesity and all of the complications associated with obesity,” Dr. Singer said. “Our community needs resources to help intervene and improve the quality of life of these children. The pediatric dietician will help parents and their children make better food choices as well as providing ongoing support and helping to monitor their progress.”

In June, Elika Vargas, a registered dietitian at Sutter Delta Medical Center, began meeting with parents and their children on Mondays, either in the SEBMF primary care clinic in Antioch or Brentwood. Children from 2 to 18 years of age are referred to her by primary care physicians.

Vargas reviews the child’s medical history and assesses the child’s eating patterns. Her goal is not to put the child on a diet but to guide the child and the parents on how to eat healthy meals. She also asks the parents and child about physical activity, as lack of exercise contributes significantly to being overweight or obese. Follow-up care is important to assess adherence to nutrition recommendations and weight trends.

“The idea is to promote a healthy lifestyle and gradual weight loss, and to teach families about nutrition so they can make these decisions on their own,” Vargas said. “I let them know why they should be eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables to get the right nutrition.”

Many barriers to healthy eating exist. The availability of convenience and processed foods, larger portion sizes and lack of physical activity are some of the contributors to obesity. Families are busy and eating fast food may be easier than preparing a balanced meal.

 

It can be difficult to get children to eat fruits and vegetables. Parents have to be willing to be role models by following their own healthy lifestyle with good nutrition and plenty of exercise.

Some of her advice to parents on how to help children adopt a healthy lifestyle includes:

  • Cut out sugary desserts and juices or try fruit-infused water.
  • Avoid processed and convenience foods. Cook meals at home so children are more likely to have enough vegetables and whole grains.
  • Encourage kids to get involved in preparing meals or in helping with grocery shopping.
  • Offer a variety of fruits and vegetables with different colors, flavors and textures.

“With kids you have to offer healthy choices such as fruit and vegetables multiple times,” Vargas said. “It’s persistence and communication.”

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Kaiser Permanent responds to strike vote by SEIU United Healthcare Workers

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

In response to the vote to strike by the Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers (see related article), John Nelson, Vice President, Communications, Kaiser Permanente issued the following statement:

Kaiser Permanente and SEIU-UHW have been working together toward a mutually beneficial agreement as part of the national bargaining with the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions that began in April. Unfortunately, UHW leadership has decided to use the threat of a strike as a bargaining tactic, designed to divide employees and mischaracterize Kaiser Permanente’s position, even though most of the contracts don’t expire until October.

We believe the result of the strike vote reflects obviously misleading ballot questions used by the union:

  • “I vote YES to authorize our bargaining team to call for a strike to protest Kaiser’s illegal behavior and unfair labor practices and to show my support for a contract with good raises, no take-aways and a ban on subcontracting.”
  • “I vote NO and am willing to accept a contract that increases our medical costs, cuts our pensions and retiree medical benefits, offers lower pay scales and raises that are less for Oregon and Washington than California.”

To be clear, Kaiser Permanente has presented a contract proposal that would provide annual pay increases that would keep our employees compensated higher than market averages and maintain excellent benefits. Contrary to the union’s claims, there are no pay cuts and no changes to our employees’ defined pension benefit, under our proposal.

It is important to understand that a strike vote does not mean that a strike is imminent, although it does place Kaiser Permanente in the position of having to spend millions of dollars preparing for the threat of a strike event. Our first priority is always continuity of care for our patients and members.

SEIU-UHW leadership is more interested in a power play to position themselves vis a vis other Kaiser Permanente unions – rather than focusing on what is best for their membership.  At a time when we are working hard to keep our care affordable, the Coalition’s demands are not fair to our members and the communities we serve. Coalition-represented employees are already compensated 23% above market rates—we pay well and we have markets where our wage rates are challenging our ability to be affordable. The Coalition’s proposal would actually increase our wages on average 32% above the market over the next five years, adding a billion dollars to our labor costs.

Despite the union leadership’s disruptive tactics, we are hopeful that our employees will value our proposal and SEIU-UHW and the other Coalition unions will move forward with us to reach a new agreement. Our goal is to continue to make Kaiser Permanente a great place to give and receive care.

Proposed Contract Offer

Kaiser Permanente’s bargaining proposal would provide employees with the following best-in-class conditions:

  • Solid wage increases. The average salary of Coalition-represented employees is already higher than market averages. Mindful of our goal to improve the affordability of health care and engage our employees in the effort, the current proposal provides guaranteed wage increases across the board each year through 2022 of 3% each year in Northern and Southern California.
  • Opportunities for new hires. Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition are proposing a $40 million Workforce Development Fund and creation of new-hire training positions, all part of the solution to address the national shortage of health care workers and help develop the next generation of unionized workers in health care.
  • Retirement security. The proposal preserves the existing defined pension plan along with other strong retirement benefits.
  • Career mobility. The proposal includes a more robust tuition reimbursement program for employees that allows more funds to be used for travel.
  • Affordable health care. The proposal includes a pharmacy utilization approach that incents employees to take greater responsibility for their health by rewarding them for increasing their use of mail-order prescriptions.

Just last year SEIU-UHW touted what it described as “strong wages and benefits” in the agreement it reached with Dignity Health, which included lower wage increases (13% over 5 years plus a one-time 1% bonus) than being offered by Kaiser Permanente, and only $2.5 million for workforce development, as compared to $40 million in Kaiser Permanente’s current proposal. (Source: SEIU-UHW press release, March 2018, http://www.seiu-uhw.org/archives/26114)

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Kaiser Permanente workers in Antioch, state vote to support strike beginning in October

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

Strike would affect more than 24,000 Kaiser Permanente workers in the Bay Area, including more than 1,200 in Antioch. Voting results in five other states, D.C. expected by September; would be nation’s largest walkout since 1997

OAKLAND, CA  Kaiser Permanente workers in California poured out in large numbers to overwhelmingly authorize a strike in early October that would be the biggest in the United States in more than two decades.

Becoming the first of more than 80,000 Kaiser workers to vote, members of the Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) across the state voted between July 29 and Aug. 11 whether to approve the unfair labor practices strike at Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics. More than 37,000 cast ballots in support of a strike (98 percent) while only 867 voted to oppose (2 percent). The turnout was uncommonly high for a strike vote in any industry, with two-thirds of workers casting ballots.

Strike authorization votes among other groups of Kaiser workers in California, and Kaiser Permanente employees in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia run through mid-September. The strike would start in early October and be the nation’s largest since the Teamsters’ walkout at United Parcel Service in 1997.

“Kaiser workers all over California are putting a stake in the ground that it’s time for this corporation to get back on track and live up to its mission to help patients, workers and communities thrive, said Heather Wright, a women’s health clerk at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Clara, Calif. “This strike vote is about stopping Kaiser’s unfair labor practices. This company should be all about providing the best possible patient care, but unfortunately its focus in recent years has been on making billions of dollars in profits and millions of dollars for Kaiser executives.”

Workers want Kaiser Permanente to bargain in good faith and stop committing unfair labor practices, and are fighting for a new contract that would:

  1. Restore a true worker-management partnership, and have Kaiser bargain in good faith;
  2. Ensure safe staffing and compassionate use of technology;
  3. Build the workforce of the future to deal with major projected shortages of licensed and accredited staff in the coming years; and
  4. Protect middle-class jobs with wages and benefits that can support families.

As a non-profit entity, Kaiser Permanente is supposed to serve the public interest in exchange for billions of dollars in tax breaks. But in recent years, the corporation has departed from its mission:

  • Profits: Kaiser made more than $5.2 billion in profits during the first half of 2019, bringing its profits to more than $11 billion since Jan. 1, 2017. The company also sits on $35 billion in reserves.
  • Executive pay: Kaiser gave its CEO a $6 million raise to $16 million a year and pays at least 36 executives a million dollars or more a year.
  • Care for low-income patients: Kaiser provides very little care to Medicaid patients, far less than other non-profit health systems, even though it gets massive tax breaks in exchange for supposedly working in the public interest.
  • Financial transparency: Kaiser lacks transparency and operates in the shadows. It is exempt from many of the financial reporting requirements of other hospitals and health systems. Operating secretly allows Kaiser to avoid the kind of scrutiny consumers, employers, unions and regulators need to protect themselves and the public.
  • Turning its back on workers: Kaiser has worked to destroy what had been the most successful and largest worker-management partnership in the country that was a source of innovation and problem-solving for many years; it has committed numerous unfair labor practices, including refusing to bargain in good faith.
  • Destroying good jobs. Kaiser is actively destroying good jobs by outsourcing them to companies that pay low wages with few benefits, and wants to limit the wages and cut the benefits of its frontline healthcare employees.

The workers’ national contract expired Sept. 30, 2018, and in December 2018 the National Labor Relations Board charged Kaiser Permanente with failing to bargain in good faith. Since then, Kaiser has continued to commit unfair labor practices.

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions comprises labor unions in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, representing more than 80,000 Kaiser caregivers. To learn more, visit www.KaiserKeepThriveAlive.com.     

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Virtual Dementia Tour at TreVista Antioch Thursday, Aug. 29

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

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New alternative and holistic health service business now open in Antioch

Friday, July 19th, 2019

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TreVista-Antioch hosts Dimentia Caregivers Conference Friday, July 12

Monday, July 8th, 2019

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County to hold Mental Health Services Act Supportive Housing Community Forum July 18 in San Pablo

Monday, July 8th, 2019

WHAT: Contra Costa Behavioral Health Services, a division of Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS), invites anyone interested in discussing local public mental health services in relation to supportive housing to participate in a public forum on Thursday, July 18, in San Pablo.

The forum offers the community an opportunity to discuss its needs and meet with service providers to discuss current issues relevant to supportive housing. These discussions will help to inform future use of local Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funding.

California approved Proposition 63 in November 2004, and the Mental Health Services Act became law. The Act provides significant additional funding to the existing public mental health system and combines prevention services with a full range of integrated services to treat the whole person. With the goal of wellness, recovery and self-sufficiency, the intent of the law is to reach out and include those most in need and those who have been traditionally underserved. Services are to be consumer driven, family focused, based in the community, culturally and linguistically competent, and integrated with other appropriate health and social services. Funding is to be provided at sufficient levels to ensure that counties can provide each child, transition age youth, adult and senior with the necessary mental health services, medications and support set forth in their treatment plan. Finally, the Act requires this Three Year Plan be developed with the active participation of local stakeholders in a community program planning process.

WHO: All members of the public are welcome, including people that have or are receiving supportive housing services, their families or loved ones, and interested members of the community. RSVP online at cchealth.org/mentalhealth/mhsa – click the “Supportive Housing Community Forum” button.

Other RVSP options include emailing mhsa@cchealth.org – please include “MHSA Forum” in the subject line – or by telephoning (925) 957-2617. Attendees may also mail RSVPs to MHSA, 1220 Morello Avenue, Suite 100, Martinez, CA 94553.

WHEN: Thursday, July 18th at 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Contra Costa College, 2600 Mission Bell Drive, Room GE 225, San Pablo, CA 94806

WHY: Contra Costa County’s current MHSA budget provides over $50 million to more than 80 mental health programs and services. Forum goals include identifying service needs, priorities and strategies to inform the county’s MHSA Three-Year Program and Expenditure Plan for fiscal years 2020-2023.

The forum will include an overview of the MHSA and current funding use in Contra Costa County and will be livestreamed at: cchealth.org/mentalhealth/mhsa.

Visit cchealth.org/mentalhealth/mhsa to access the MHSA Three Year Program and Expenditure Plan Update and other information about the MHSA in Contra Costa.

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Supervisors approve $13 million plan to reduce number of mentally ill in county jail

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

May is Foster Parent Recognition Month

The Contra Cost Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, May 14 recognized May as Foster Parent Recognition Month. Supervisors’ resolution noted there are approximately 1,100 children and youngsters in foster care in the county. At the ceremony, supervisors presented the resolution to first time foster parents Patricia and Ryan Streeter of Antioch, who became the foster parents of two-month-old Samuel. The couple are the parents of their eight-year-old biological son Josiah. The supervisors’ resolution noted the importance of Foster Parent Recognition Month in Contra Costa County for “being provided with a safe, secure and stable home environment, along with the compassion and nurturing of foster relative and non-relative families….” Photo by D. Borsuk

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors approved on a 4-0 vote Tuesday a $13 million multi-faceted plan that aims to detour people with mental illness who are in county jail and to relocate them in appropriate mental health facilities. Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg was absent.

Chief Assistant County Administrator Timothy Ewell told supervisors the county has grant applications pending totaling about $13 million that will help the fund the recommendations from Policy Research Associates.

Supervisors accepted 13 recommendations drafted by Policy Research Associates, a Delmar, NY-based firm that conducted a conference last January with Contra Costa mental health, medical, law, political officials and other community stakeholders in attendance.

Policy Research Associates researchers Brian Case and Regina Hueter co-authored the study “Sequential Intercept Model Mapping Report for Contra Costa County.”

Supervisors quickly approved the Policy Research Associates report. There were no comments from the public.

Since 2015, Contra Costa County has been involved in the nationwide Stepping Up movement designed to reduce the number of persons with mental illness in county jails. The county’s inmate population’s daily mental illness rate hovers around 15 percent. That is comparable with a national average of 17 percent.

“We have more critically mentally unhealthy people in our jails than in our hospitals. The question is how do we intercept these people?” asked Board Vice Chair Candace Andersen of Danville, who attended the Policy Research Associates conference in January.

The 13 recommendations the supervisors adopted in the “Sequential Intercept Model Mapping Report for Contra Costa County,” include:

  • “Establish an Uber committee and process that allows for shared leadership, responsibility, coordination, and oversight of justice system and behavioral health innovation and reform.”
  • “Establish standardized metrics and data-sharing across county agencies to improve data-informed decision-making.”
  • “Increase county-wide deflection and diversion strategies. Explore the need for a 24-hour crisis stabilization and triage center and a mental health first responder co-responder strategy.”
  • “Further incorporate the use of peers and peer support and recovery across intercepts.”
  • “Identify ‘familiar face’ high utilizer populations to help manage costs, reduce unnecessary utilization of services while increasing individual stabilization. Develop ‘higher utilizer’ strategies.”
  • “Implement a comprehensive substance use disorder strategy: Population identification & treatment resources in the jail & community.”
  • “Examine the need for pre-trial interventions to reduce failure to appear of individuals who are booked and released.”
  • “Improve and pre-and-post-arrest diversion opportunities for the incompetent to stand trial populations.”
  • “Review and address problems solving court criteria to align with national best practice
  • “Increase equity and access to services regardless of AB 109 funding.”
  • “Improve jail-based services and transition planning to reduce recidivism and improve health and other outcomes for detained or jailed individuals.”
  • “Continue to build probation Best Practices, training, and coordination to reduce technical violations and probation revocations.”
  • “Work with Center for Medicare and Medicaid services and the state of California to establish an agreement that allows parolees to access Medi-Cal and receive county services.”

Supervisors also approved the following consent calendar items:

Danville Blvd.-Orchard Court Roadway Project

Supervisors approved a $375,000 Public Works contract with Quincy Engineering Inc. for civil engineering services for the Danville Boulevard-Orchard Court Complete Streets Improvement Project to be completed by March 31, 2021. The road project includes the construction of a roundabout at Danville Boulevard and Orchard Court to reduce speeds and improve pedestrian crossing. The project also includes the restriping of the roadway and lane reconfiguration and storm drain modifications, landscaping, storm water treatment, signage, utility adjustments and changes to existing roadside features.

Emergency Driving Program

Gave the green light for the Sheriff-Coroner to sign a $165,000 contract with the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training to provide an emergency vehicle operations course instruction for the period July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. The course will serve 110 students at an initial cost of $1,500 per student.

Redesiginating the John Muir Medical Center as Official Trauma Center

Supervisors redesignated John Muir Medical Center as the county’s official trauma center through May 21, 2031. In approving the consent item, supervisors agreed John Muir Medical Center’s trauma center has seen its patient rate grow by 53 percent since 2011, but its trauma inpatient volume has remained relatively steady with an average of about 1,200 inpatients per year. With the supervisors’ consent action, the county will receive $350,000 a year during the duration of the agreement from John Muir Medical Center for the county to fund programs to decrease violence or prevent injuries throughout the county.

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