Medical / Health

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Internet Drug Sends Eureka High Students to Hospital

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 4:24 PM

FILE
  • File
A number of Eureka High School students were hospitalized today after taking a natural hallucinogen.

Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills said it’s believed a student purchased Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds over the Internet and shared them with his friends, many of whom then suffered nausea, vomiting and generally “feeling terrible.” In addition to the students who were hospitalized, some were sent home with their parents, Mills said.

City Ambulance of Eureka transported one student to the hospital, and others were treated by Humboldt Bay Fire or transported to St. Joseph Hospital by their parents.

Mills said he believes all students are expected to fully recover but couldn’t say that with certainty at this point. Eureka High School Principal Jennifer Johnson said it appears some students ingested the seeds not knowing their hallucinogenic qualities. 

Hawaiian baby woodrose is a perennial climbing vine with large heart-shaped leaves and white trumpet-like flowers. It’s large furry seeds grow in pods, and contain Lysergic Acid Amide, a naturally occurring tryptamine that gives off LSD-like psychedelic effects. According to the drug information website erowid.org, when the seed are chewed they give off a hallucinogenic trip that lasts for six to eight hours.

Webmd.com warns that ingesting the seeds is unsafe, and can cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, sweating, increased heart rate and high blood pressure. People with psychiatric conditions or psychotic tendencies might also suffer more severe reactions, the site warns.

Johnson said the school's automated phone system has notified all parents of what happened, urging them to talk to their children about the dangers of ingesting unknown substances. She said about 10 students total took the drug, and said they were very cooperative with the school's investigation.

"We do know who the source of the seeds was and that student is facing disciplinary consequences," Johnson said. 

Mills, who spoke to the Journal on his way to St. Joseph Hospital, said the case remains under investigation.

“The main thing from our standpoint is we are investigating it and if we can bring charges on it, we will,” Mills said, adding that officials already believed they have identified the student who purchased the drug and brought it to school. “The problem is, and I could be wrong, but I don’t believe it is a scheduled narcotic. The question then is, what can we charge?”


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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Restraining Order Blocks Budget Motel Evictions

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 4:23 PM

THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
The city of Eureka’s efforts to shutter the Budget Motel on Fourth Street have been put on hold.

This afternoon Bradford Floyd, a local attorney representing the Budget Motel’s owner, David Kushwaha, received a temporary restraining order to halt the city’s plans to clear the property tomorrow. On the heels of a recent code inspection that turned up 341 violations, the city served Kushwaha and his tenants on Monday with notice that it would enforce a notice to vacate the property at 8 a.m. tomorrow.

Eureka Chief Building Official Brian Gerving, who’s also serving as acting city manager while Greg Sparks is on vacation, said the city feels the property poses an immediate threat to the health and safety of its residents, first responders and the general public. Specifically, Gerving said widespread bedbug and cockroach infestations, open and unpermitted electrical wiring, rot and mold render the place unfit for habitation. Additionally, Gerving said, inspectors noted missing plumbing fixtures — like toilets and sinks — in some rooms and unrepaired fire damage in others.

This afternoon, the Journal contacted Kushwaha in the office of the Budget Motel and he declined to comment, other than a brief statement: “We got a restraining order against the city. We are not going anywhere.”

The case is set for a hearing at 8:45 a.m., at which point a judge may determine whether the city can follow through with its plans to clear each of the hotel’s 44 rooms, board them up and fence off the property.


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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Opioid Prescription Rates Falling in Humboldt

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 2:03 PM

Humboldt County is making progress in addressing its sizable pill problem. - FLICKR
  • Flickr
  • Humboldt County is making progress in addressing its sizable pill problem.
While Humboldt County still has more opioid prescriptions than people, the county reports it is making headway in battling what has become a nationwide epidemic.

The Humboldt County Department of Human Services reported this morning that the amount of opioids prescribed in the county has dropped by 23 percent since 2010, falling from 1.29 prescriptions per person to 1.14. This is obviously good news, especially for a county with some of most dire addiction problems in the state.

DHHS attributes the decline to a number of factors, including more local prescribers using a medication tracking system and the work of Rx Safe Humboldt, a community coalition focused on “reducing harms from opioids.”

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Life-Saving Librarian, Narcan Prevent Overdose Death

Posted By on Mon, Aug 15, 2016 at 3:37 PM

The use of Narcan appears to have prevented two Humboldt County overdose deaths in the last month. - PRESS OF AC
  • Press of AC
  • The use of Narcan appears to have prevented two Humboldt County overdose deaths in the last month.
The overdose reversal drug Narcan has saved at least two lives in Humboldt County this month.

Over the weekend, Arcata police officers revived an unconscious 29-year-old man with a nasal spray dose in the department’s first use of Narcan since officers began carrying the medication that counteracts the effects of opioids.

Earlier this month, librarian Kitty Yancheff did the same.

“I never thought I’d have to use it,” said Yancheff, the public service division manager who works at the main library in Eureka. “You never expect it to happen, but you just don’t know.”


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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Medical Marijuana Tax Bill Goes Up in Smoke

Posted By on Sat, Aug 13, 2016 at 2:45 PM

The Legislature has backed away from a pair of bills that would have imposed next taxes on medical marijuana. - PHOTO BY SHANGO LOS
  • photo by Shango Los
  • The Legislature has backed away from a pair of bills that would have imposed next taxes on medical marijuana.
The second bill by a North Coast lawmaker seeking to tax medical marijuana has died quietly in the California Legislature, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat is reporting.

North Coast Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, had authored a unique bill aiming to tax the state’s booming medical marijuana market that appeared to have widespread support, passing the Assembly with a 60-12 vote and easily clearing a Senate committee a couple of months ago. But Thursday, according to the Press Democrat, the bill was shelved by the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee without comment. Making things all the bleaker for the bill’s prospects of resurfacing, Wood told the Press Democrat on Friday that he wasn’t given a reason for the committee’s decision and that he is “hugely disappointed.”

Wood’s bill would have imposed an excise tax of $4.75, $9.25 or $13.25 per ounce of produced marijuana bud depending on cultivation volume, and a $1.25 per-plant levy for immature plants. The bill was expected to raise up to $80 million annually, 90 percent of which would have been earmarked for local law enforcement and environmental cleanups.

A bill by North Coast Sen. Mike McGuire that would have imposed a 10 percent sales tax on medical marijuana products died in committee in June, as we previously reported. Opponents of both bills had voiced an ethical problem with imposing revenue generating taxes on a medicine.

The apparent death of Wood’s bill leaves no active medical marijuana tax bills in the Legislature this year. However, Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which seeks to legalize recreational use in California and is set to go before voters in November, does include some hefty tax provisions. Specifically, the measure would impose a $9.25 per ounce excise tax on all marijuana production and a 15 percent tax on all sales. In total, revenue from the proposition is projected to reach up to $1 billion annually.

For more, check out the full Press Democrat story here and prior Journal coverage here.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

UPDATED: Humboldt Dog Tests Positive for Rabies

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 4:56 PM

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UPDATE:
The 11-month-old dog that was euthanized after contracting rabies earlier this month had undergone its first round of rabies vaccination, which starts at around 3 months old with series of subsequent boosters, and was “legally vaccinated for its age,” said Amanda Ruddy, consumer protection supervisor with the division of Environmental Health.

“Of course, with all vaccinations, immunity does build up over time,” she said.

One of the owners told the Journal that his dog interacted with about half a dozen people in the time frame of the infection at two locations: his work and home.

Ruddy said the investigation and outreach by the health officials is still ongoing.
“The parties involved have been extremely cooperative,” she said.


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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Rat Infestation Leads to Finger Pointing as Ray's Leaves Hoopa

Posted By on Sun, Jun 26, 2016 at 11:55 AM

THINKSTOCK
  • Thinkstock
A rodent infestation and a nasty public spat over who’s at fault have combined to close the Hoopa Valley’s only grocery store.

The problem first crept into public view last week, after numerous complaints to Humboldt County Environmental Health Services regarding a large rat infestation at Ray’s Food Place that left rat droppings, gnawed products and the smell of urine throughout the store. The store initially announced it would close some parts of the store, then announced it would fully close until repairs could be made. Now Ray's is announcing that it’s terminating its lease.

There has been a volley of finger pointing between the tribe, which owns the building, and the store, C&K Markets, Inc., which owns the Ray’s grocery chain and is officially the tribe’s tenant. The tribe has maintained that C&K has been callous and indifferent to problems at the store — the only place for tribal members to buy groceries in a 10-plus mile radius. And C&K has pointed the finger back, saying the tribe hasn’t kept the building up and has been unresponsive.

That trend continued Friday, when both sides issued accusatory press releases announcing the split.

In it’s release, Ray’s maintains it has not heard from the tribe since June 17 and that for nine years the store has been trying to negotiate for a long-term lease that would allow the company to make improvements to the store property, but that the tribe “did not respond to our inquires, so we’ve operated on a month-to-month basis.” The company says it has been working to address the rodent issue but wouldn’t reopen without a long-term lease from the tribe.

“Smooth store operations require a good working relationship with the landlord; we do not have that partnership with the tribe,” the release states. “Given the tribe’s lack of interest in talking with us about retaining us as tenants, we are giving notice that we will vacate the store on Aug. 31, 2016. The store will not reopen. … We cannot operate a store when the building owner ignores us and does not respond to us.”

The tribe, on the other hand, said in its release that it has made every effort to make the store a safe place to shop. “The rodent infestation inside the store, which appears to have developed over an extended period of time, is reprehensible and unacceptable,” the press release states. “Ray’s should be ashamed of themselves for expecting tribal and community members to purchase products contaminated with rat feces, oils, and urine.”

Regardless of who is at fault in the situation, for the foreseeable future tribal members will have to get by without a grocery store in their community, which poses as a problem as some members do not have cars and public transportation options are limited in the valley. The tribe states in its release that it’s “working diligently” on short and long-term solutions to ensure access to safe and healthy food. Some of these may include grocery distributions and free transportation to stores in Eureka and Arcata.

See the full press releases from both entities copied below:


From the Hoopa Valley Tribe:

The Hoopa Valley Tribe has made every effort to work with Ray’s Food Place and C & K Markets, Inc. in order to ensure that Ray’s Food Place in Hoopa is a safe place for community members to shop. The rodent infestation inside the store, which appears to have developed over an extended period of time, is reprehensible and unacceptable. Ray’s should be ashamed of themselves for expecting tribal and community members to purchase products contaminated with rat feces, oils, and urine.
The Tribe has therefore determined that the severance of our business relationship with Ray’s and C & K is in the best interests of the community due to health and safety concerns. The Hoopa Valley Tribal Council Members want to assure the membership and the community that they are working diligently to develop both short-term and long-term solutions that ensure access to safe and healthy food. The Hoopa Valley Tribe will make every effort to publicize any and all temporary services we provide on an ongoing basis, including grocery distributions and free transportation to stores in the Eureka/Arcata area, which will assist them with their household shopping needs.
The Tribe will continue to use all communication avenues at its disposal to provide updates to the membership and the community regarding our efforts.


Press release from Ray’s Food Place:


Our last communication from the Hoopa Valley Tribe was Friday, June 17. This is not an unusual situation, as the Tribe has often been unresponsive to us. For the past nine years, we’ve expressed our interest in negotiating a long-term lease, so we could make improvements in the store. The Tribe did not respond to our inquiries, so we’ve operated on a month-to-month basis.
Last week, we voluntarily closed Ray’s Food Place in Hoopa due to rodent issues that were not acceptable to us. We also took the initiative to hire contractors to seal the exterior of the store to prevent further rodent entry. Over this past weekend, our contractors removed refrigeration systems and started other in-store eradication efforts. Planning and completing this work required that the store be closed to the public. Earlier, we indicated that we would reopen the store as soon as we had a long-term lease with the Tribe.
Despite numerous attempts to communicate with the Tribe, C&K management has not heard from them for almost a week. Smooth store operations require a good working relationship with the landlord; we do not have that partnership with the Tribe. Given the Tribe’s lack of interest in talking with us about retaining us as tenants, we are giving notice that we will vacate the store on August 31, 2016. The store will not reopen.
We will offer Hoopa store employees positions at other stores, but we know that may not be an option for all of them. We also realize that our store is a very convenient place for people to shop, and closing will mean that many will have to travel to obtain food. Yet, we cannot operate a store when the building owner ignores us and does not respond to us. We extend our appreciation to our employees and customers for their support over the years.

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Grand Jury Blasts Behavioral Health Board for Lack of Oversight

Posted By on Sun, Jun 19, 2016 at 8:47 AM

FILE
  • File
The Humboldt County Behavioral Health Board, which is statutorily tasked with oversight of the delivery of mental health services locally, has been largely ineffective, making few recommendations and failing to deliver its mandated annual reports to the Board of Supervisors, according to a recent report by the Humboldt County grand jury.

The grand jury is recommending that the board not only submit its past due reports but that it also undergo “training to fully understand its duties and roles, and to proceed proactively to carry out the requirements” of state law. The grand jury’s report notes that the 15-member behavioral heath board is made up of “well-intentioned” people who are “well versed” on mental health issues, but it says the volunteer board members are “overwhelmed due to the amount of work.”

That work, according to the report, consists of sitting through monthly meetings in which administrators with the county Department of Health and Human Services and its Mental Health Branch made presentations. “The board did not proactively engage in making recommendations, advise (the board of supervisors) or evaluate procedures and programs,” the report states.

The report notes that this state of passivity continued even after a county consultant, W. Brown Creative Partners, issued a report that was critical of the culture within the department and “described serious and ‘special problems’ within the mental health branch." It also continued even as most of the branch’s psychiatrists resigned in 2015, setting off a widely publicized crisis within the department. Grand jury interviews, the report states, “confirmed that there was no discussion of either the Brown Assessment Study or the mass resignation of physicians by the (Behavioral Health Board).”

The grand jury's recommendation is that the behavioral health board expand its membership, catch up on its past-due reports, undergo training and “study and then proceed to proactively carry out the requirements” of state law. Further, the grand jury is recommending that the board of supervisors more actively oversee the board and that it ensure the behavioral health board has “sufficient resources and authority” to fulfill its duties.

A press release from the grand jury is copied below and the full report is available in PDF form below.

Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury
John Heckel, Foreperson

Press Release: 6-17-2016
For Immediate Release

The Humboldt County Behavioral Health Board

The 2015-2016 Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury (HCCGJ) received several complaints regarding the Mental Health Branch of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Those complaints conveyed dysfunctional work guidelines, distrustful working relationships, unresponsive upper management, mass resignations, and an unsupportive work environment. The complaints reflected the concerns of a broad base of community mental health advocates and Mental Health Branch staff. The number of complaints and the wide spectrum of those filing complaints instigated this HCCGJ investigation.

While many Humboldt County department heads and elected officials could have been more proactive in identifying problems within the Mental Health Branch of DHHS, this role is specifically assigned to the Humboldt County Behavioral Health Board by the Bronzan-McCorquodale Act of 1991. The HCCGJ finds that the BHB failed to exercise this important role.

A review of the BHB actions revealed few recommendations, fewer comments on policies, little advice to governing bodies, and seldom reviewed or evaluated community mental health needs. The Minutes from the board’s meetings reveal the BHB’s time was primarily spent listening to reports from the DHHS and Mental Health Branch employees. The Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury could find no evidence that mandated annual reports had been filed for several years with the Board of Supervisors.

The Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury recommends that the BHB submit its past due annual reports to the BOS and thereafter submit, in a timely manner, its required written annual report. The Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury recommends that the Humboldt County Behavioral Health Board undergo training to fully understand its duties and roles, and to proceed proactively to carry out the legal requirements of the Bronzan-McCorquodale Act.

With any coverage of this Grand Jury report please include: Access to the entire Grand Jury report may be obtained by going to www.humboldtgov.org/510/Grand-Jury 

Full Report


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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Right-to-die, Smoking Bills go into Effect Today

Posted By on Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 4:29 PM

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As of today, terminally ill Californians have the right — with doctors’ recommendations — to end their lives rather than live out the course of their diseases.

The bill, which passed after decades of attempts (and the ongoing work of former North Coast Assemblywoman Patty Berg) was controversial, unsurprisingly. It received Governor approval last year, after the high-profile death of Brittany Maynard, a Bay Area native who moved to Oregon last year to carry out her legal doctor-assisted death after being diagnosed with brain cancer. The Journal featured her story, and has written multiple times about the changing ways that locals face the end of their lives.

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Drowning Near Holmes Flat First of the Year

Posted By on Mon, Jun 6, 2016 at 2:54 PM

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A Fortuna man was this year's first confirmed drowning victim, according to the Humboldt County Coroner's Office. Timothy Hatten, 33, was reportedly trying to rescue two children when he succumbed to the current, according to an interview with Hatten's family on the SoHum blog Redheaded Blackbelt. The children were reportedly pulled from the water by two other men who joined Hatten in the rescue effort.

The Humboldt County Coroner's office said this is the first confirmed drowning death of the year, though 22-year-old Paul Martin, of Hoopa, is presumed dead after being swept away in the Trinity River in April. His body has not been recovered. Last year there were seven drownings by June, and a total of 12 for the year.

"There's no rhyme or reason to it," said Judy Price at the coroner's office. 

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