Kern Medical

The Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical

 

Even though COVID-19 has been the dominant public health threat for a year, first with a summer surge, then a winter surge, and now with the rollout of much-anticipated vaccines, other public health problems haven’t just disappeared.

Laurin Paskin, Bridgette Wilson, Connie Green and Ashley Bowers

Now that vaccines have become more widely available, it’s easy to forget that ICUs are still full of COVID-19 patients fighting for their lives alongside battle-weary nurses who have been deep in the trenches of this pandemic for nearly a year.

How The West Is Battling COVID-19 And Valley Fever

Mar 3, 2021
Lauren J. Young / Science Friday

This interview was originally broadcast during the January 15, 2021 episode of Science Friday. You can find the original piece here.

Kaweah Delta Health Care District

Five days into a regional stay-at-home order, COVID-19 infections in the San Joaquin Valley are soaring and hospitals are scrambling to make space on floors already crowded with flu patients. On Thursday of this week, the California Department of Public Health estimated that intensive care units in the San Joaquin Valley reported fewer than 2 percent of their beds were available, all while more people are dying of the virus than they have in months.

Kern Medical / Kerry Klein

 

As COVID-19 case counts rise across California, prompting a new wave of business closures from Governor Gavin Newsom, hospitals are slowly approaching their capacities. Although Bakersfield’s Kern Medical is currently nearing as many patients as it can handle, it has plans to expand.

 

Kerry Klein

The COVID-19 caseload continues to climb across the West, and in recent press calls, health officials in both Fresno and Kern Counties have expressed concern about the ability of hospitals to keep up with rising healthcare needs and potential surges.

Kern Medical / Kern County

This week Governor Gavin Newsom announced a program to bring more professionals into the medical field, including students and retirees. Bakersfield College also announced a similar pipeline to help its upper-level nursing students finish their education.

Shantelle Rubio is one of them. When she heard that her school was moving online to reduce the spread of COVID-19, she was stunned.

Facebook page of Congressman Kevin McCarthy

In 2018, Kern County’s caseload of the fungal disease valley fever rose for the fourth year in a row, health officials recently announced. Simultaneously, a much-anticipated clinical trial related to the disease failed.

It was called the FLEET study, and it examined the effectiveness of early treatment on the course of the disease. Over a five-year period, researchers had hoped to enroll 1,000 patients. But about a year in, they only had 72. The trial was officially terminated last July.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

High-risk childbirths for celebrity mothers like tennis star Serena Williams and performer Beyonce are shining a light on a health story that’s historically flown under the radar: Childbirth is risky for women, particularly women of color. Williams, Beyonce and their babies all survived, but the U.S. does have the one of highest rates of mothers dying in childbirth of any developed country. Alarmingly, that rate rose 65 percent from 2006-2013.

Kern Medical / Kern County

The San Joaquin Valley will soon have fewer training opportunities for doctors; one of Kern Medical’s residency programs is losing its accreditation.

Kern Medical CEO Russell Judd says he doesn’t yet know why the hospital’s residency program in surgery will need to shut down.

"We’re very disappointed by this," Judd says. "Of course once we receive the findings we will do what is necessary to rectify those findings and reopen the program."

Kern Medical / Kern County

Much of the focus on the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act has been on the newly insured people who stand to lose their coverage. But there could be consequences that reach far beyond just people’s health care and impact nearly every taxpayer in the Central Valley. Repealing the law without a replacement has some county lawmakers worried.

Republicans in Washington D.C. are busy figuring out their way forward on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Kern Medical / Kern County

The California State Senate’s health committee held a rare hearing in Bakersfield this afternoon discussing the local impact of President Elect Trump’s quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 

Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez testified that while Kern Medical has seen its financial health improve in recent years, that could change quickly if the law is rolled back.

Facebook page of Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Bakersfield’s Kern Medical has selected to work with the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control on a new clinical trial for valley fever. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the announcement Thursday at the hospital. The study aims to learn more about both diagnosing and treating the disease.

Valley Fever is caused by a fungus that grows in the soil throughout the southwest, including the Southern San Joaquin Valley. If inhaled it can cause serious health problems, those most people never know they have been infected.