Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Cause of Thanksgiving foodborne illness outbreak in Antioch identified

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

By Allen Payton

Contra Costa County Health Services announced, today, Tuesday, December 20, 2016, that the cause of the foodborne illness outbreak reported after a Thanksgiving Day charity event in Antioch has been identified. It was caused by the bacteria Clostridium perfringens.

A laboratory at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) confirmed the presence of the bacteria in stool samples taken from people sickened by food served at the Nov. 24 holiday celebration, held by Golden Hills Community Church of Brentwood and Antioch, at Antioch’s American Legion hall.

“Clostridium perfringens is one of the most common foodborne illnesses in the U.S. It can be found in the human intestine without hurting us, but eating food containing large amounts of this bacteria can cause illness and in some cases death,” said Dr. Louise McNitt, deputy health officer for Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS).

CCHS’ Public Health and Environmental Health divisions investigated 25 related reports of foodborne illness after the event, including three fatal cases.

“Our investigation was not able to determine exactly what people ate that made them sick. But after extensive interviews we found most of the ill people ate turkey and mashed potatoes and they all ate around the same time. Some dishes served at the event, including cooked turkey, were brought to the site after they were prepared in private homes,” said Dr. Marilyn Underwood, CCHS Environmental Health director.

Underwood said proper food handling is essential to prevent foodborne illness, including cooking foods to proper temperatures, cooling and storing them appropriately if they are not going to be eaten right away, separating raw meats from foods that won’t be cooked, storing food properly and washing hands and cooking surfaces often.

“We’re saddened for the families that suffered losses this holiday season. We encourage anyone planning charity events where food will be served to the public to contact us to understand the permitting process and to learn about food safety,” said Underwood.

All of the reported illnesses occurred within 24 hours of the patients consuming food from the event.

“We at Golden Hills are mindful of all the people who were affected,” said Senior Pastor Larry Adams. “We will continue to cooperate with local health officials and are encouraged by the county’s speedy investigation.”

“This is a difficult season for all involved. We as a Christian community will continue to pray for those who are ill and the families of those who have died,” he added.

For more information about preventing foodborne illness or about C. perfringens, visit

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Lose weight during the holidays with a special program working for others in Antioch

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

arbonne_lynn_kutsal_dec_2016Join Lynn Kutsal, owner of Nature’s Bounty in Antioch, in a clean eating adventure that could change your life.

“It’s working for me. I’ve lost 10 pounds in just the first two weeks on the program and an inch around my waist in just the first three,” said Allen Payton, publisher of the Antioch Herald. “Try it and see if it works for you, too.”

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24 Hour Fitness® expands club in Antioch, Grand Opening this Saturday, Dec. 17

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

New “Super Sport” club designed to keep pace with growth in Antioch, East County

The 24 Hour Fitness at the Somersville Towne Center in Antioch is expanding and relocating inside the former Gottschalks store. The new club is designed to match the fitness lifestyle needs of some of the fastest-growing communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, found here in Eastern Contra Costa County.

A grand opening event is scheduled this Saturday, December 17, 2016 from 9:00 a.m., to 1:00 p.m. for the 24 Hour Fitness Somersville Road Super Sport at 2520 Somersville Road in Antioch. The community is invited to this free celebration, which includes club tours, prize drawings, group training demonstrations, innovative group exercise studio classes and more.

The new club is situated in what is both a highly retail and densely residential area, and so the 24 Hour Fitness Somersville Road Super Sport will be poised where more and more East Bay residents live, play, dine and shop.

“We are excited to meet the needs of this rapidly-growing community with a large and convenient space for fitness,” said Tony Cigliutti, General Manager. “With a greater variety of equipment, and more of it, plus classes like Cycle and amenities like a lap pool, basketball court and Kids Club, there really is something for every member of the family. As the winter holidays and New Year approach, we know many people set new goals for themselves. The club is just one part of leading and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and we can help members meet those health and fitness goals even when they are outside of the club.”

The new, 38,000+ square foot club features a modern design and open-floor plan. Amenities include:

  • Cardio, strength and functional training equipment
  • Large rooms for a full schedule of Cycle and Group X® classes, including new formats like POP Pilates, Treat While You Train and bootybarre®
  • Lap pool, spa & sauna
  • Indoor basketball court
  • Personal and Group training services*
  • Kids’ Club*

*Additional fees apply

To experience the new gym, download a free guest pass from

About 24 Hour Fitness

Headquartered in San Ramon, Calif., 24 Hour Fitness is a leading health club industry pioneer, serving nearly four million members in over 400 clubs across the U.S. For more than 30 years, the company has been dedicated to helping members change their lives and reach their individual fitness goals. With convenient club locations, personal training services, popular group exercise classes and a variety of strength, cardio and functional training equipment, 24 Hour Fitness offers fitness solutions for everyone. Please visit for more information and to find the club nearest you.

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Kiwanis to hold 40th Annual Holiday Run & Walk for Health, Saturday, Dec. 10th at Contra Loma

Friday, December 2nd, 2016


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DeSaulnier, White House laud House bipartisan vote for 21st Century Cures Act, amid bipartisan opposition

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Accusations it includes fraud, bribery, corruption; requires Senate passage during lame duck session

By Allen Payton

On Wednesday, November 30, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 34) on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 392-26. The almost 1,000-page bill is designed for medical innovation, additional funding for cancer research, and to combat the nation’s growing opioid and heroin epidemic. But opponents say what the bill includes continues and advances corruption. Plus, they don’t like the fact it’s being considered and voted on by a lame-duck Congress, some of whose members weren’t re-elected in November and will be leaving, soon.

Congressman DeSaulnier (D, CA-11), who represents most of Contra Costa County and voted for the bill, issued the following statement lauding its passage.

“This legislation will help ensure the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have the resources needed to continue important work improving biomedical research and developing innovative treatments. Included in the bill is funding for the Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot, which is essential to continuing the program under the new Administration, as well as funds to combat the growing opioid and heroin epidemic facing our country. While this bill is not perfect, it provides $4.8 billion in new funding to ensure NIH is able to further its work for patients and families relying on research, treatment and recovery options. As a survivor of cancer and a beneficiary of the remarkable progress this country has made in treatment and research, I know all too well the value of these investments and how many lives can be saved as a result.”

According to other news reports, the legislation was introduced by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Michigan and Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., “in hopes of speeding up the discovery, development and delivery of life-saving drugs and devices for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. It passed the House 344-77 in July, but later stalled in the Senate. A reworked version was released last weekend.”

Congressman DeSaulnier offered an amendment to the bill, which would have helped improve doctor-patient communication when patients are diagnosed and receiving treatment for severe or chronic diseases. No amendments were included in the final version of the bill. He will continue to work on these important issues.

White House Supports

The bill will now go to the Senate for a final vote and if passed the White House has indicated President Obama will sign it. In a statement, issued Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest praised the passage of the bill.

“This critically important legislation will get states the resources they need to fight the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic. It invests the $1 billion the President has repeatedly said is necessary to help communities that have seen far too many overdoses. It also responds to the Vice President’s call for a Moonshot in cancer research by investing $1.8 billion in new resources to transform cancer research and accelerate discoveries. Plus, it invests nearly $3 billion to continue the President’s signature biomedical research initiatives, the BRAIN and Precision Medicine Initiatives, over the next decade to tackle diseases like Alzheimer’s and create new research models to find cures and better target treatments.

H.R. 34 also takes important steps to improve mental health, including provisions that build on the work of the President’s Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force. It further advances the drug approval process by taking steps like modernizing clinical trial design and better incorporating patients’ voices into FDA’s decision-making processes. Like all comprehensive legislation, the bill is not perfect, and there are provisions the Administration would prefer were improved, but the legislation offers advances in health that far outweigh these concerns. The Senate should promptly pass this bill so that the President can sign it.”

Liberal Opposition

However, not everyone in the Senate is supportive of the bill, including DeSaulnier’s fellow Democrat, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass). She has been generally supportive of the legislation, but will now work against its passage, blasting it for being favorable to the pharmaceutical industry, saying “there’s a lot of bad stuff” in the bill, and called it extortion, and includes “special favors for campaign donors and giveaways to the richest drug companies in the world.”

In a floor statement on Monday night, which can be viewed here, she said that “Big Pharma hijack(ed) the Cures bill. This final deal has only a tiny fig leaf of funding, for NIH and for the opioid crisis. And most of that fig leaf isn’t even real. Most of the money won’t really be there unless future Congresses passes future bills in future years to spend those dollars.”

Warren continued, saying “In the closing days of this Congress, Big Pharma has its hand out for a bunch of special giveaways and favors that are packed together in something called the 21st Century Cures bill.

And when American voters say Congress is owned by big companies, this bill is exactly what they are talking about. Now, we face a choice. Will this Congress say that yes, we’re bought and paid for, or will we stand up and work for the American people?

Medical breakthroughs come from increasing investments in basic research. Right now, Congress is choking off investments in the NIH. Adjusted for inflation, federal spending on medical research over the past dozen years has been cut by 20%. Those cuts take the legs out from under future medical innovation in America. We can name a piece of legislation the “cures” bill, but if it doesn’t include meaningful funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, it won’t cure anything.”

Her reasons for opposing the bill include her argument that “this funding is political cover for huge giveaways to giant drug companies.” She stated it would “legalize fraud” and “cover up bribery,” and, in her usual practice of partisan attacks, also said it would “hand out dangerous, special deals to Republican campaign contributors.”

Warren said that “this Cures bill that would shoot holes in the anti-fraud law. Make it easier for drug companies to get away with fraud.”

Another accusation she made is “the Cures act offers to sell government favors. It delivers a special deal so people can sell…treatments without meeting the FDA gold standards for protecting patient safety and making sure these drugs do some good.”

Warren gave a list of other reasons she opposed it.

“The Cures Act – a bill that was supposed to be about medical innovation – has a giveaway to the gun lobby,” she said. “The bill cuts Medicare funding. It raids money from the Affordable Care Act. It takes health care dollars that should have gone to Puerto Rico. It makes it harder for people with disabilities to get Medicaid services. There’s a lot of bad stuff here.”

“It is time for Democrats – Democrats and Republicans who should be ashamed by this kind of corruption -to make it clear who exactly they work for. Does the Senate work for big pharma that hires the lobbyists and makes the campaign contributions or does the Senate work for American people who actually sent us here,” Warren concluded.

Conservative Opposition

Some conservatives are also opposed to the bill, but not all for the same reasons as Warren’s. The conservative Heritage Foundation gave four reasons they oppose the bill, calling it a “Christmas Tree, loaded with handouts for special interests.”

On their website, they wrote, “Congress has taken this legislation, which was initially a 300 page bill, and turned it into an almost 1,000 page omnibus health care spending bill. The negotiators have added pieces of a mental health bill, makes changes to Medicare Part A and B, another bill making significant changes to the federal foster care system, a “cancer moonshot” requested by Vice President Biden, additional funding for opioid abuse prevention, etc., in addition to the NIH funding and the FDA funding, for a grand total of over $6.3 billion dollars. In Washington terms, backroom negotiators have turned the Cures bill into a Christmas Tree, loaded with handouts for special interests, all at the expense of the taxpayer.  Therefore, conservatives should oppose the 21st Century Cures Bill for four main reasons.

First, the bill’s “pay-fors” rely on budget gimmicks, and even worse, the new spending is not subject to the budget caps. Second, NIH and FDA do not need additional funding. Instead, they need to spend the money they already have on critical research instead of wasteful projects. Third, Congress has no business considering an almost 1,000 page omnibus health care spending bill during the lame duck session. Fourth, and finally, the process has been questionable and the bill will likely be closed to amendments.

An email to DeSaulnier’s office asking for his comments on Warren’s statements opposing the bill was not responded to before publication time. Please check back later for any updates.

A vote by the Senate on the bill is expected to take place early next week. For the complete text of the bill, please click here.

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County Health Services ID’s two more cases of illness linked to Thanksgiving dinner, rules out 21 foodborne diseases

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

The Contra Costa Health Services issued the following announcement at 5:44 p.m.:

Update on Public Health Investigation of Incident in Antioch

Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) has now identified two additional people who fell ill soon after eating food from a Thanksgiving charity event in Antioch.

All people who became ill developed symptoms within 24 hours of ingesting food served at the charity event and we don’t expect to see new cases.

These two newly discovered people didn’t seek medical attention and have recovered. There are now 19 total people known to have fallen ill—including three people who died—after eating food served at the Antioch American Legion auditorium, 403 West Sixth St., on Thanksgiving.

Anyone with leftover food from this event should not eat it and throw it away. Anyone who ate food from the Thanksgiving Day event and is now feeling sick should immediately contact their medical provider and also call CCHS at 925-313-6740.

Tests of biological samples from the reported cases came back negative for 21 foodborne diseases, including salmonella, E. coli and norovirus. CCHS is sending samples to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to test for other agents that are common but testing is not locally available. Results from the CDC tests may not be available for months.
Our Public Health and Environmental Health divisions continue to work in collaboration on the ongoing investigation

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Golden Hills Community Church issues updated statement on possible dinner related illnesses and deaths

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

According to Larry Adams, Senior Pastor of Golden Hills Community Church in Brentwood and Antioch, the following updated statement about the Thanksgiving dinner they served in Antioch, last Thursday, and the possibly linked illnesses and three deaths, was posted on the church’s website on Tuesday night:

This past week we were alerted to an outbreak of illness in our community that could have been related to our annual Thanksgiving meal served in Antioch. Golden Hills Community Church has been seeking to help meet this need in the community for over 30 years with meals served to many thousands of people. As the week unfolded, we met with Contra Costa Health officials seeking to assist them in any way possible to determine the source of the illness. The preliminary evidence seemed to point away from the food that we served to over 800 people that day.

Our greatest concern has been twofold. First and foremost we are grieving for those who have lost precious loved ones and for those who have endured this illness. The loss of life is a human tragedy that no amount of investigation can undo. While we do not, even now, know who these individuals are, this has not stopped us from grieving and praying diligently for these families.

Secondly, we have wanted to hear from the Health Department their  determination of the real cause of this illness, regardless of our connection. Truth will help prevent future occurrences of this type of illness and perhaps keep others from having this horrible experience.

We still do not have any conclusive word from County Officials regarding this matter. We continue to do what we can to help with the investigation that is ongoing. Evidence that once pointed away from the meal that we provided to so many, now seems to point back that direction. We will continue to await the final findings, to pray for all those affected, and offer to do what we can to help those who are hurting. We thank those who have joined us in prayer and ask you to continue in your efforts.

The church’s website is

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County Coroner identifies three Antioch victims of possible food-related deaths

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

By Allen Payton

The Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Coroner’s Division has identified the three victims in the possible food-related deaths that occurred in Antioch, on Wednesday afternoon.

They are identified as: 43-year old Christopher Cappetti, 59-year-old Chooi Keng Cheah and 69-year-old Jane Evans. They were residents at assisted living facilities in Antioch.

Autopsies for the victims show all three had similar intestinal abnormalities. The Forensic Pathologist is trying to determine the causes of death, which are pending the results of various tests.

The Coroner’s Division continues to work with Contra Costa Health Services on this case.

According to Michael Weston, spokesperson for the California Department of Social Services, “two of the deceased individuals were from Minerva’s Place on Palo Verde Way and the third individual was from Minerva Place IV which is on El Paso Way” in Antioch.

In a Wednesday afternoon interview, he shared additional information about the homes where those who died resided.

Owned and operated by Emerito Ramon and Minerva Gonzalez, they have “four different facilities in two different licensing categories,” Weston stated.

Two are “residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFE) assisted living. They can be for seniors age 60 and over,” he explained. “But it can be individuals with like needs. There’s some flexibility in that area.”

When told of the one man who died who was age 43 and another age 59, Weston replied, “That wouldn’t be uncommon to have. It just depends on the needs of that individual. I don’t know the exact type of clients they serve. An RCFE may be a better fit for somebody even if they’re not at the age of 60, yet.”

The Gonzalez’ also own two adult residential facilities (ARF) in Antioch, which are “basically a residential care home for people age 18 through 59 with mental health care needs or people with physical or developmental disabilities,” Weston stated.

Those are Minerva Place II with State License #79200259 at 2831 Vista Way and Minerva Place III with license #079200232 at 1128 Monterey Drive.

Two more locations with the Minerva name in Antioch are listed on the internet, including Minerva’s Place Arf at 1911 Wilson Court and Minerva’s Place #2 at 2833 Fortuna Court, but don’t appear on the state’s website.

“They may have other facilities that don’t require a license,” Weston explained. “It depends on the level of care need, like a boarding house and if people administer their own medications. The licenses are for 24-hour care facilities.”

“Room and boards, (also known as) board and care homes, don’t require licenses,” he continued. “Halfway houses don’t require licensing, either. You’d have to talk to the local city or the county, whoever is in charge, regarding any restrictions they may have for that.”

Residents from another home in Antioch were also at the Thanksgiving dinner served by the church.

“We were made aware that Rose’s Garden Adult Residential #3, license number 079200512, also had individuals at the event,” Weston shared. “That’s an adult residential facility.”

But, he couldn’t share if any of those residents had fallen ill or went to the hospital due to health privacy laws.

“So five different facilities we’ve been in contact with regarding this,” he added. “The fatalities are related to the Minerva Place locations.”

Attempts to reach the Gonzalez’ for comment and to answer questions about the matter have been unsuccessful.

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