Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Three cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant detected in Contra Costa County, none hospitalized

Monday, December 20th, 2021

Two fully vaccinated; symptoms described as mild and “extremely mild”

By Allen Payton

Contra Costa Health Services announced, Monday, that genomic sequencing of positive COVID-19 test results from the county has identified three cases with the Omicron variant of the virus. The results confirm the presence of the highly contagious variant in the county. However, according to reports from throughout the U.S. and internationally, symptoms have been described as mild, and “extremely mild” by Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who first discovered and announced the new strain.

None of the three people in Contra Costa infected with Omicron had gotten a booster shot, although two were fully vaccinated. So far, no one has been hospitalized.

According to the CDC, the first confirmed U.S. case of Omicron was identified on December 1, 2021. In addition, “CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.”

“We knew it was just a matter of time before the omicron variant appeared in Contra Costa County,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County health officer. “We’ve been encouraging anyone who is eligible to get a booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to do so. With today’s news and the holidays just around the corner, that message is even more important. People who get the booster are far less likely to get gravely ill or be hospitalized. That’s our wish for this holiday season.”

Omicron likely circulated in the community for several weeks. It had previously been detected in several other Bay Area counties, and genetic evidence of the variant was detected in a wastewater sample from central Contra Costa on Dec. 8.

Just Over One-Third of County Residents Have Had Booster Shots

As of today, just over one-third of eligible Contra Costa residents had received a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

While public health experts are not recommending that those who are vaccinated and or who have received the booster dose cancel holiday plans, they are urging caution. Ways to reduce risk of becoming exposed or spreading COVID-19 include:

  • Staying home and isolating themselves if they develop COVID-19 symptoms, which can often resemble cold or flu symptoms
  • Getting a COVID-19 test promptly if symptoms develop
  • Getting a COVID-19 test before traveling or gathering with people who do not live with you, and again three to five days after traveling or gathering
  • Wear masks or face coverings in indoor public spaces, and when gathering indoors with people who do not live with you

Home COVID-19 tests are fast, convenient, and available at many drugstores. No-cost testing is also available through CCHS by calling 1-833-829-2626 or making an online appointment.

The 7-day average number of daily new COVID-19 cases reported in the county has increased about 5% over the past two weeks, and the number of people hospitalized in Contra Costa because of the virus has remained stable so far, this month.

The delta variant of COVID-19 remains the predominant strain in Contra Costa, accounting for more than 97% of genetically sequenced COVID-19 samples collected in the county.

Visit cchealth.org/coronavirus for updates and more information about Contra Costa’s emergency response to the pandemic.

 

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After two strikes, hundreds of Sutter Delta healthcare workers ratify agreement to increase staffing, improve patient care

Friday, December 17th, 2021

By Renée Saldaña, Media Relations, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West

ANTIOCH, Calif. –  Following two strikes, more than 350 healthcare workers won their effort to improve patient care at Sutter Delta Medical Center by ratifying a contract agreement that will address safe staffing levels, a top issue for the frontline caregivers who earlier this year went on strike twice due to difficult working conditions. (See related article)

“This agreement was possible because we as a union stood together to improve patient care and advocated for safe staffing levels. We are relieved to know that dozens of positions have now been posted,” said Stefanye Sartain, a respiratory therapist at Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch. “We are proud to have negotiated a four-year agreement that recognizes the skill and dedication we bring to our work and gives us the peace of mind to focus on safely caring for our patients.”

Details of the agreement include:

  • Posting all 37 unposted staff positions, many of which have already been filled
  • Emphasizing the need to attract and retain quality caregivers by providing annual raises of 3 or 4 percent in each of the four years, with bonuses to recognize the dedication of long-term employees
  • A 4-million-dollar investment in Futuro Health, a non-profit dedicated to training thousands of healthcare workers to address the workforce shortage

SEIU-UHW members at Sutter Delta Medical Center include frontline workers such as emergency room technicians, respiratory therapists, phlebotomists, transporters, and licensed vocational nurses.

Sutter Health Responds

A Sutter Health spokesperson responded with, “We enter every labor negotiation with the same mindset: putting patients above politics. While we understand the union’s desire to position this agreement as a win, the truth is that it’s consistent with the agreements that every other SEIU-represented hospital in our integrated network of care approved months ago. Despite the disruptions of two strikes called by SEIU representatives who claim they prioritize patient safety, we reached an agreement that hits the critical benchmarks we set for ourselves: supporting and rewarding our employees for their important work and maintaining the strength and stability of our hospital for everyone who depends on us.”

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Supervisors approve spending $75 million of Measure X funds for county medical center

Thursday, December 16th, 2021

Source: Contra Costa Health Services

Will provide garage, medical clinical office, and expanded radiology lab at Contra Costa Medical Center in Martinez; following crackdown, one restaurant still violating COVID-19 health orders as cases increase; appoint new Public Defender

“If you want to send me an email and still want to call me a ‘b***’ go ahead.” – Supervisor Karen Mitchoff in response to critics of her crusade to crack down on restaurants out of compliance with county health orders

By Daniel Borsuk

On a 4-0 vote, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors paved the way for officials of the over-used Contra Costa Regional Medical Center to spend $75 million of Measure X half-cent sales tax funds to construct a parking garage, a medical office complex and a state-of-the-art public health laboratory at Tuesday’s final board meeting of the year. (See CCRMC Proposed Master Plan)

With Board Chair Diane Burgis absent because of the death of her husband Richard Clayton for whom supervisors adjourned the meeting in honor of, supervisors narrowly met the super-majority requirement to tap into 2020 vote-approved sales tax measure revenues for the purpose of enhancing facilities at the over-used medical complex in Martinez.

Contra Costa Public Health Director Anna Roth pitched the three CCRMC capital improvement projects based on the fact the publicly funded medical center in the past year has treated 142,000 patients due to COVID-19, a 540 percent increase.  The center has saved the lives of about 26,000 county residents, 70 percent of whom are on Medi-Cal. Seventy percent of the CCRMC patients do not speak English, Roth noted.

She said the medical center has been crushed with a 540 percent increase in patients seeking medical care over the past 20 years while the physical components of the medical center have been unchanged. Roth also shared there has been at least one case where a pregnant woman had safely delivered her baby in the medical center parking lot because of the unavailability of parking. According to the presentation, three babies were born in the parking lot during the last year. The proposed 325-space parking structure along with valet parking would help alleviate the parking problem, she asserted.

Marianna Moore, chair of the board of supervisors’ appointed Measure X Advisory Committee, cast concern that the supervisors’ action on the medical center capital projects might be premature and negatively hit future Measure X funding of other public services.

“This is a one-time expenditure,” responded District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill. “There will be money for other projects. The longer we delay on capital improvement projects like these the more expensive it becomes.”

Upon acknowledging Measure X chairperson Moore’s comments, District 1 Supervisor John Gioia remarked “I hear the concerns of the Measure X panel for this board to be transparent and open.” Yet, he pointed out how three major local nonprofit health providers – Kaiser Permanente, John Muir and Sutter Medical – skirt regulations that county-operated medical institutions must obey.

“They get an equity worth $25 billion in tax breaks and don’t have to encounter public scrutiny that publicly operated health care operations like Contra Costa County’s have to abide by. I am proud of the public health successes in Contra Costa County, but we need help from the nonprofit health care organizations too.”

In addition to the proposed parking garage, the supervisors’ action paves the way for the medical center to have a $30 million 40,000 square foot medical-clinical office building constructed and a $5 million 5,000 square foot state-of-the-art intervention radiology suite built.

One Restaurant Remains Out of Compliance With COVID-19 Health Order, Mitchoff on the Defense

In a follow up to last week’s meeting where Supervisor Mitchoff questioned the Health Department’s code enforcement capabilities in shutting down 13 restaurants willfully out of health code compliance, Roth announced there is currently only one eatery that is still not following health code requirements.

She did not identify the business. “All but one of the establishments are now in compliance,” said Roth.

Roth said her department has added four code enforcement officers since last week when Mitchoff blew the lid off the health department’s health code performance.

“I appreciate the progress the health department has made,” said Mitchoff. “There is still one restaurant to follow up on. One restaurant will probably have to close.”

Mitchoff, who will serve as board chair next year instead of vice chair Federal Glover of Pittsburg in recognition of her public service as she has announced she won’t seek reelection in 2022, attacked her critics on her crusade to shut down out-of-compliance restaurants.

“There’s recently been vitriolic and unclear language and comments lodged at me,” said Mitchoff, whose been a frequent target of hate emails. “If you want to send me an email and still want to call me a ‘b***’ go ahead. It would be much better if those who dislike me to write letters and that everyone gets vaccinated and wears masks. I hope to start the new year with much more appreciated language.”

County COVID-19 Cases Increase

In the meantime, Roth said Contra Costa County’s vaccination rate of 76.8 percent remains above the national average of 69.9 percent.

The county’s active COVID-19 case load stands at 1,463, an increase of 18.9 percent over a two-week period. Forty-three patients were in hospitals in the county because of COVID-19.

“Ninety-seven percent of the cases in Contra Costa County are of the Delta strain,” remarked Roth. She said there have been signs of the new Omicron variant appearing in wastewater in the county, but nowhere else.

Because of wintertime conditions forcing Californians to hunker down indoors, Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano informed supervisors the State was expected to announce a new indoor public face mask order. The order would be in place through Jan. 15, 2022.

In a related action, supervisors adopted an ordinance calling for the continuation of remotely conducted meetings into January 2022.  The ordinance also applies to commissions and advisory committees.

Ordinance Temporarily Halts North Richmond Fulfillment Center Openings  

In response to increasing vehicle emission air pollution and traffic-pedestrian safety concerns issues stemming from the buildup of fulfillment centers in the unincorporated North Richmond and Richmond areas, supervisors imposed a 45-day moratorium on the opening of new fulfillment centers.

“Richmond and North Richmond have become a major destination for fulfillment centers,” said Supervisor Gioia, whose District 1 cover those areas. “We don’t want North Richmond to become a wall-to-wall fulfillment center magnet.”

The purpose of the ordinance Gioia has introduced is to compel these enterprises to deliver their products with electric vehicles.   It aims to have 33 percent of a company’s fleet of vehicles electrified immediately and by 2027 100 percent of a business’s fleet of vehicles must be electrified.

At least five fulfillment centers are either under construction or planning phase, said John Kopchick, director of the Contra Costa County Conservation and Development Department.

No one from the fulfillment center sector spoke on the ordinance regulating the electrification of vehicle fleets, but Donald Gilmore of North Richmond Recreation said the ordinance does not go far enough.

“North Richmond is significantly impacted by these warehouses and the traffic coming from them. Pedestrian safety is a pressing problem. We need more time to figure out a plan,” said Gilmore.

Appoint New Public Defender

Ellen McDonnell. Source: CCPD

Supervisors promoted Deputy Public Defender Ellen McDonnell as Contra Costa Public Defender at an annual salary of $340,510 in addition to $93,131 in pension annual compensation.  She will officially take over the role of Public Defender from the retiring Robin Lipetzky effective Jan. 1, 2022.

She started with the department in 2001 and will oversee a $36 million budget and 145 employees.

McDonnell holds a Juris Doctors degree from California Hastings College of the Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree and double major in Spanish and Italian from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

She has been a member of the California State Bar since 2011. (Read more about McDonnell in a separate article.)

 

 

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Kaiser Permanente Nor Cal receives international recognition for life-saving advance alert monitor program

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021

Kaiser Permanente Northern California is recognized at the 44th World Hospital Congress. Pictured, far right, Carrie Owen Plietz, FACHE, president of Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California region accepts the award from representatives of Austco in Barcelona, Spain on Nov. 11, 2021. Source: Austco

The International Hospital Foundation recognizes Kaiser Permanente Northern California with the Autsco Excellence Award for Quality and Patient Safety

By Antonia Ehlers, PR and Media Relations, Kaiser Permanente Northern California

OAKLAND, Calif., – An early detection system that helps care teams predict when Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s hospitalized patients are at risk for clinical deterioration was recognized by the International Hospital Foundation with the Autsco Excellence Award for Quality and Patient Safety.

Kaiser Permanente Northern California received the Gold Award, the highest level possible, for its Advance Alert Monitor (AAM) program, which is in place at all 21 Northern California hospitals. The program is a sophisticated monitoring system that analyzes electronic hospital patient data to identify those at risk of deteriorating and alerts a specialized team of virtual nurses who determine if on-site intervention is needed. The nurses contact a rapid response team, which perform an assessment, and then work with the care team and the patient and/or family to develop a patient-centered treatment plan.

AAM predicts the probability that hospitalized patients are likely to decline, require transfer to the intensive care unit or emergency resuscitation, and benefit from interventions. Early warnings could be helpful for patients at risk of deterioration where intervention may improve outcomes.

An analysis of the program in a recent publication of the New England Journal of Medicine showed outcomes associated with lower hospital mortality, a lower incidence of ICU admission, and a shorter length of stay in the hospital.

“This program reflects our commitment to providing the safest care possible by using technology in the hands of our expert care teams to identify those patients who need immediate attention,” said Carrie Owen Plietz, FACHE, president of Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California region. “Because of this program, we are saving lives and providing the high-quality, exceptional care our patients and families deserve.”

The vital signs of Kaiser Permanente patient Erin Fowler-Jones of Pacifica triggered her to be included in the Advance Alert Monitor program when she was hospitalized last month after developing complications from foot surgery. She said she only knew that nurses were always rounding on her, making sure she was receiving the care she needed to recover.

“Staff was constantly monitoring me, which was a huge comfort,” said Fowler-Jones, a retired Kaiser Permanente nurse. “I had no idea I had been flagged for a special monitor program. I just knew that I was getting good care and safe care.”

The 2021 International Hospital Foundation Awards were revealed during the 44th World Hospital Congress in Barcelona, Spain in November. The IHF Awards celebrate and recognize hospitals and health care organizations with demonstrable excellence, innovations, and outstanding achievements in the health care industry. This year 250 entries were submitted from more than 38 countries/territories – a record since the awards were established in 2015.

Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s monitoring program was heralded as an example of how hospitals are committed to providing high-quality care and patient safety. The success of the program has reached other health care systems, which are inquiring about implementing it in their hospitals.

“This program demonstrates our expertise in using a predictive algorithm and standardized response workflow to provide the best care possible to our patients,” said Dr. Vanessa Martinez, DNP, MHA, RN, who is the Director of Virtual Nursing Care at Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “This innovative program is a major step forward in making sure our hospitals are the safest in the world and ensuring our patients are well-cared for as we focus on identifying problems, intervening early, and providing the appropriate medical treatment.”

About Austco

Austco is a worldwide provider of IP Nurse Call Solutions with over 27 years’ experience in the healthcare market, across 4500+ sites, in over 60 countries. With products designed to comply with global healthcare standards, the Austco team is fully committed to providing quality products and global support services to all our clients. Our flexibility to integrate into various technologies enables a healthcare facility to continue to drive efficiencies to achieve an overall quality healthcare solution. Austco is a wholly owned subsidiary of Austco Healthcare Ltd (ASX:AHC).

About International Hospital Foundation

The International Hospital Federation (IHF) is an international not for profit, non-governmental membership organization.

Our members are worldwide hospitals and healthcare organizations having a distinct relationship with the provision of healthcare. We provide them with a platform for the exchange of knowledge and strategic experience as well as opportunities for international collaborations with different actors in the health sector.

Established in 1929 after the first International Hospital Congress in Atlantic City, USA as the International Hospital Association, it was re-named after the Second World War in 1947. With its Headquarters in Geneva the IHF is constituted under the Civil Code of Switzerland. The IHF recognizes the essential role of hospitals and health care organizations in providing health care, supporting health services and offering education. Our role is to help international hospitals work towards improving the level of the services they deliver to the population with the primary goal of improving the health of society.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve almost 12.5 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health. http://about.kaiserpermanente.org

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Contra Costa’s local indoor-masking order remains in effect with limited exceptions for gyms and offices

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021

By Contra Costa Health Services

new statewide masking order now requires everyone to wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of their vaccination through Jan. 15, 2022. Since Contra Costa already has a local masking order in place, the new statewide masking mandate doesn’t affect us – and we will retain limited exceptions for certain indoor settings not open to the general public such as offices and gyms where everyone is vaccinated.

People in Contra Costa, regardless of vaccination status, will have to keep wearing face coverings in public settings as they have been doing since August.

While cases in Contra Costa have gone up since Thanksgiving, the county has one of the highest vaccination rates in California and hospitalizations are far below levels seen during the past summer and lower than in many other counties.

“The limited exceptions we made are for very low-risk scenarios where everyone is vaccinated,” said Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano. “Our community already understands and is following these rules and it would be confusing to change them for just one month.”

Contra Costa’s indoor-masking order will stay in place unless the county meets criteria for lifting the local mandate. The order is as follows:

The counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma and the City of Berkeley will lift the indoor masking requirement in public spaces not subject to state and federal masking rules when all the following occur:

  1. The jurisdiction reaches the moderate (yellow) COVID-19 transmission tier, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and remains there for at least three weeks;
    AND
  2. COVID-19 hospitalizations in the jurisdiction are low and stable, in the judgment of the health officer
    AND
  3. 80% of the jurisdiction’s total population is fully vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson (booster doses not considered) OR Eight weeks have passed since a COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by federal and state authorities for 5- to 11-year-olds

To see our progress for meeting those criteria, visit our Indoor Mask Mandate Dashboard.

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Antioch Council approves police department Positional Asphyxia Policy on 4-0-1 vote

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021

After revising language to satisfy both the interim police chief, police officers association; Torres-Walker votes to abstain, calls it “a public hatchet job

“It puts the onus on the officer if the policy says, ‘you should not do it.’” – Interim Police Chief Morefield.

By Allen Payton

As the final act of this year’s police reform efforts, the Antioch City Council, during their Tuesday night meeting, approved a new Positional Asphyxia Policy for inclusion in the Antioch Police Department Policy Manual on a 4-0-1 vote. District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker voted to abstain.  APD Positional Asphyxia Policy ACC121421

The development of the policy was recommended by the council acting as the Police Oversight Standing Committee in September. (See related article)

A debate surrounded the words “shall” and “will”, which were the stated desire of members of the public who spoke on the matter, including family members of Angelo Quinto, versus “should” which was the recommendation of the Antioch Police Officers Association (APOA) regarding language in the policy of what officers must do. Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield supported and advocated the recommended APOA revisions during his presentation to the council.

Quinto’s father and sister spoke about the new law, Assembly Bill 490, The Justice for Angelo Quinto Act of 2021, that will go into effect on January 1, and ban positional asphyxia by police, statewide. The law reads, “(1) A law enforcement agency shall not authorize the use of a carotid restraint or choke hold by any peace officer employed by that agency” and (2) A law enforcement agency shall not authorize techniques or transport methods that involve a substantial risk of positional asphyxia. (See related articles here and here)

Council Discussion and Approval

The council then discussed the recommended revisions by the APOA. The council members all agreed to add the words “and suffocation” to “asphyxia” in the language of the policy.

District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica, a retired police lieutenant, said he supported using the word “should”.

Morefield said, “it puts the onus on the officer if the policy says, ‘you should not do it.’”

“The ‘shalls’ are there at the important spots,” he continued. “But in those incidents of a physical struggle…we have some officers who are 120 pounds. Having two of them on a 300-pound man on meth…this prevents the dog pile situations. I honestly think the simplest way to do it is to adopt a ‘should’ instead of a ‘shall’.”

City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith offered, “shall make every reasonable effort to avoid placing weight on the persons neck…that’s a middle response.”

Barbanica and District 3 Councilwoman Ogorchock said they were comfortable with the word “should”.

When asked Torres-Walker simply said, “no”.

Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson asked for Smith to repeat his proposed language, which he did.

Barbanica then asked to hear from the chief for his view on Smith’s proposed language.

“It’s an interesting way to create a policy for a police department,” Morefield said. “I would certainly say two officers is sufficient for restraining a person’s head. There are times when a suspect is banging his head against a wall or a police vehicle.”

Smith then offered the additional language of “unless necessary to protect an individual from injuring themselves or others”. That was acceptable to Morefield.

“In the same spirit of ‘should’ the officer would have to explain why they did it,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe stated.

Barbanica then made the motion to adopt the policy with the city attorney’s recommendations and it passed on a 4-0-1 vote with Torres-Walker voting to abstain without explanation. At the end of the meeting, she explained her vote.

“The last vote I abstained from because the community spoke…What I witnessed was a public hatch job that didn’t take into consideration what the public said,” Torres-Walker said. “I thought the policy should have gone back to the committee. I want to thank the Antioch Police Department for their work on the policy and for Interim Chief Morefield for supporting progressive policies.”

2019 Study Showed Knee-on-Back Techniques Not Dangerous

The Antioch council adopted the policy in spite of a 2019 study concluding “none of four knee-on-back techniques commonly taught and used in law enforcement transfers any amount of weight even close to being dangerous, regardless of how heavy the officer applying the force is,” according to Force Science News.

The six-person research team was headed by Dr. Mark Kroll, an internationally renowned biomedical scientist with the University of Minnesota and California Polytechnic State University who testifies frequently as an expert witness in police litigation. He said, “Our data do not support a risk of restraint asphyxia occurring from standard knee-on-back techniques.”

“Our findings are important,” Kroll told Force Science News, “because North American officers control and restrain agitated and resistant subjects in the prone position over half a million times each year. Subjects end up being proned out in about 60 percent of physical force encounters—without a death or serious injury resulting. Prone restraint is needed for officer safety, and the stake needs to be driven into the heart of the stubborn myth that this procedure is inherently excessive and dangerous.”

Kroll’s report on the knee research appears in the American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology, under the title “Applied Force During Prone Restraint: Is Officer Weight a Factor?

According to Science1 website by Lexipol, “The Force Science Institute (FSI), (publisher of Force Science News), is comprised of a team of physicians, lawyers, psychologists, scientists, police trainers and law enforcement subject matter experts dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and training in criminal justice matters.

FSI conducts sophisticated scientific research studies into human behavior documenting the physical and mental dynamics associated with the societal demands of the peace-keeping function, including high-pressure situations and use-of-force incidents. Its findings apply to citizen-involved uses of force, as well as impacting investigations of officer-involved force applications. FSI research when applied to training enhances officer performance and public safety.”

Positional Asphyxia Susceptibility Factors

According to an article entitled “How To Prevent Positional Asphyxia” on PoliceMag.com, “The following is a closer look at some factors and circumstances that can make an individual more susceptible to death from positional asphyxia.

Violent Struggle—People who have engaged in a difficult and aggressive struggle may be more susceptible to respiratory muscle fatigue and failure.

Excited Delirium—Subjects who are under the influence of cocaine or methamphetamine while in restraints may experience a condition known as excited delirium. This disorder results in disorientation, hallucinations, and impaired thinking. Excited delirium may raise the individual’s susceptibility to a sudden increase in heart rate, which can rise to a critical level and result in cardiac arrest. (NOTE: The Contra Costa County Coroner’s Office ruled Angelo Quinto succumbed to excited delirium and prescription drugs during the physical altercation with officers).

Alcohol Intoxication and Drugs—Alcohol is a significant risk factor in positional asphyxia because it lowers the respiratory drive. Individuals who have been drinking heavily are among the most likely to die in custody from medical events.

Body Position—Death due to a head-down position with hyper flexion of the neck is a rare event. It is however a critical condition arising out of particular body positions that can lead to mechanical obstruction of respiration. Studies have suggested that restraining a person in a face-down position is likely to cause greater restriction of breathing than restraining a person face-up.”

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Antioch Council moves forward $2 million one-year non-police healthcare response program pilot

Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

Antioch Care Team one-year pilot will operate 24 hours, 7 days a week at an estimated cost of $1.8 to $2.2 million

By Allen Payton

During the Antioch City Council voted unanimously to formally accept the Final Report from Urban Strategies Council for the Antioch Care Team Program Pilot and direct City staff to proceed with the process to hire an organization to operate it. The one-year pilot program at an estimated cost of $1.8 to $2.2 million, is projected to begin in June 2022 with full implementation beginning in October 2022.

According to the City staff report, “following a panel interview process that included the Interim Police Chief, City Attorney, Youth Services Network Manager and Medical Director from the Contra Costa Fire Protection District, the City selected and engaged Urban Strategies Council in late July of 2021. Urban Strategies Council is a research and advocacy organization dedicated to social, economic, and racial equity. They aim to hold institutions and systems accountable to community needs. Prior experience in developing local adaptations of community crisis response models and the organization’s mission were determined to align with the City’s intent to design a program that recognizes and incorporates the complexity of Antioch’s diverse needs.”

During the August 10th Antioch City Council meeting the not-for-profit social justice organization was introduced and hired to design a mobile, mental health crisis intervention model for the City of Antioch, to address non-emergency calls using well-trained community respondents.  (See related article)

According to the 219-page report by Urban Strategies Council, “The desired impacts of ACT are to: reduce non warrant arrests that result during a 911 response; reduce the number of individuals transported to the emergency department for non-life threatening medical-related issues that could instead be addressed in a pre-hospital care setting; and reduce the number of behavioral health and lower acuity medical calls traditionally responded to by Police and Fire.”

David Harris, President and CEO of Urban Strategies Council said it will be 24-hour, citywide healthcare, non-police response model for low-level 9-11 calls which will reduce arrests and save money for the police department.

He read from his organization’s report saying, “Cities across the country, including the City of Antioch (CA), are working to advance innovation and best practices in local law enforcement and public safety services. Specifically, in non-violent, non-health (life-threatening) response situations where a gun and badge isn’t needed or helpful, both the individuals involved, and the police are better served by alternative non-police responses.”

According to the report, “From 2018 to 2020, the Antioch Police Department (APD) received approximately 90,000 911 calls for service per year. In 2020, 4,142 of the total calls were either for homelessness-related or mental health/drug-related issues. Of these calls, approximately 1,373 were categorized as potentially low-level calls.”

Types of Calls ACT Will Respond To

Also, according to the report, “For the pilot program, APD Dispatch will refer calls from priority levels 4 & 5 to the ACT unit, with some priority level 3 calls (based on developed protocols and the dispatcher’s discretion). Initially, ACT will respond to dispatch-referred calls initiated through the 911 system. A sample of the call situations that ACT may respond to includes: Person drunk in public Panhandling/Aggressive Panhandling Disorderly juveniles – group Auto Disturbance – noise, revving engine Loud music – Noise complaint Incorrigible juvenile Confused/senile person Family dispute Incomplete 911 call Public urination/indecent exposure (without criminal intent) Wellness check Subject down (typically a resident asleep in public) Trespasser/unwanted person Found syringe Person screaming Person needing referral to services w/o access to phone People sleeping in vehicles and/or camping in public spaces.”

The primary design components of the program include: Program scope, Core personnel, Support personnel, Staff development, Pilot facilities, Community outreach / engagement, Prevention planning, APD integration, Evaluation planning, Program budget, Pilot startup phases / timetable, and APD call referrals.

The Antioch Care Team will consist of a program director, community response specialist, an EMT, case manager/network developer and a clinical coordinator. It will take about 14.5 full-time equivalent employees to staff the 24-hour operation.

“We recommend a one-year pilot after the vendor is selected,” Harris said. “It’s scheduled to coincide with the end of your Fiscal Year 2023.”

Five members of the public spoke in favor of the program, including Angelo Quinto’s aunt, sister and father.

In response to a question from District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker about costs, Interim Antioch Police Chief Tony Morefield said, “I’ll say that we’ve been supportive of this process from the start. The only costs I see would be police radios.”

“The one thing that was brought up was coordinating with the county. I want to make sure we are in partnership with the county going forward,” said District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock. She also asked about costs.

“Being that this would be a non-profit organization we did not include pension costs for employees,” Harris responded.

With no further discussion the council adopted the resolution on a 5-0 vote.

To see the complete report, visit Antioch-Care-Team.pdf (antiochca.gov)

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Kaiser claims bargaining in good faith with striking engineers’ union, best compensated in profession

Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

A large inflatable rat was on display at the Antioch Kaiser strike on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 18, 2021. Photo by Allen Payton

On strike for nearly three months

By Antonia Ehlers, PR and Media Relations, Kaiser Permanente Northern California

Kaiser Permanente has been bargaining in good faith with Local 39 IUOE (International Union of Operating Engineers Local 39 Stationary Engineers), the union that represents about 600 Kaiser Permanente operating engineers, for several months. The union decided to call a strike and have kept employees out for nearly three months. Our proposals to Local 39 will keep our engineers among the best compensated in their profession, at an average of more than $180,000 in total wages and benefits. We are not proposing any take-aways. (See related article)

In bargaining with IOUE Local 39, we delivered a comprehensive proposal that offers across-the-board pay increases and cash payments that are similar to our other employees’ and continues to include all our industry-leading benefits. Further, engineers’ retirement benefit would continue to be substantial, with several improvements.

Right now, Local 39’s position is the same as before it went on strike. The union continues to insist it receive much more – in some cases nearly 2 times more – than other union agreements covering Kaiser Permanente employees. It simply is not in line with other employees, nor is it in line with our obligation to continue addressing the affordability of health care for our more than 4.5 million members.

We will continue to bargain in good faith, and we hope that Local 39 leaders will continue to do the same. That means more discussion, fresh ideas, and compromise. At this time, we do not have any further dates scheduled to meet.  We are optimistic that we can resolve the remaining issues with Local 39 at the bargaining table and reach an agreement that continues to reward our employees and supports health care affordability, just as we have with several unions recently.

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