Medical / Health

Friday, November 8, 2019

CDC Reports Links Vaping Lung Injuries to Vitamin E

Posted By on Fri, Nov 8, 2019 at 12:41 PM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified vitamin E acetate, an ingredient used to cut cannabis concentrate oils, as a "very strong culprit" in the rash of vaping-related lung injuries across the nation that now include more than three dozen deaths.

The CDC report released today does not rule out the possibility other chemicals or toxins could be contributing to the vaping-related illnesses, which have now impacted more than 2,000 people, and warns against vaping products that contain THC, "especially obtained from informal sources such as friends or family, or those from the illicit market, where product ingredients are unknown or can be hugely variable."
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The report comes after the CDC analyzed fluid samples taken from the lungs of 29 patients hospitalized with the lung disease and found vitamin E acetate in each of them.

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Thursday, October 31, 2019

State DOJ Denies Proposed St. Joseph, Adventist Health System Merger

Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2019 at 3:11 PM

St. Joseph Hospital. - FILE
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  • St. Joseph Hospital.
The California Department of Justice today denied a proposed partnership between Adventist Health System/West and St. Joseph Health System citing “concerns that it is not in the public interest, has the potential to increase health costs and potentially limits access and availability of health care services,” according to a release.

In June, Adventist Health System/West and St. Joseph Health System proposed creating the ST Network to operate 10 hospitals in a region stretching from Humboldt down to the North Bay area, including Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties.

While the hospital systems said the merger would improve care in the covered areas, the state DOJ — which has supervision in California over all charitable organizations — found differently.

“The California Department of Justice is responsible for ensuring that any proposed sale or transfer of a nonprofit health facility protects the health and safety interests of the surrounding community. After careful review we found this proposal falls short of protecting consumers,” said Sean McCluskie, chief deputy to the Attorney General.

Read the full California Department of Justice release below:

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Friday, October 25, 2019

Where to Get Medical Supplies, Charge Devices During the Blackout

Posted By and on Fri, Oct 25, 2019 at 3:30 PM

With Humboldt County’s impending blackout looming, the county Office of Emergency Services is urging residents to stock up on enough medical supplies to last at least a few days and officials are scurrying to set up medical device charging stations throughout the county.

The entirety of Humboldt County is expected to lose power Saturday afternoon and officials say the fire warnings that prompted it could last until Monday afternoon, after which it could take several days for PG&E to inspect and re-energize the lines. During the blackout on Oct. 8 and Oct. 9, medical providers said acquiring needed oxygen would have become a real problem for people on breathing aides had the outage extended beyond 28 hours. As it was, six people were hospitalized with breathing issues, including one who rapidly decompensated and had to be flown out of the area for further treatment.

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Friday, September 27, 2019

NBC News Investigation Finds Vitamin E, Pesticides in Illicit Vape Cartridges

Posted By on Fri, Sep 27, 2019 at 2:35 PM

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An investigative report published by NBC News this morning seems to underscore the dangers of vaping cannabis products purchased on the illicit market, as reports of serious vaping-related lung disease continue to increase nationwide.

The news outlet purchased 18 THC vape pen cartridges — three from licensed dispensaries and 15 on the unregulated, illicit market — and reports the “findings were deeply troubling.”

While the three purchased at legal dispensaries tested clean for heavy metals, pesticides or residual solvents like Vitamin E, 13 of the 15 illicit market samples tested positive for Vitamin E, which some health officials believe is a potential cause of the rash of lung illnesses being being reported throughout the country, which now include a dozen deaths.

Further, the NBC News reported that it tested 10 of the unregulated vape cartridges for pesticides and all 10 came back dirty, with all containing varying amounts of the fungicide myclobutanil, which can transform into hydrogen cyanide when it is heated.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

California Department of Public Health: 'Refrain from Vaping'

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 10:45 AM

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The California Department of Public Health has issued a health advisory recommending people stop vaping, no matter the substance or source, until current investigations are complete. 

According to a release, as of Sept. 24, the CDPH had received 90 reports of people with a history of vaping who have been hospitalized for “severe breathing problems and lung damage, and two people have died” in California.

The health advisory came one week after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order funding a $20 million public awareness campaign to warn people of the dangers of vaping cannabis or nicotine products.

“We are seeing something that we have not seen before,” said Dr. Charity Dean, acting state public health officer, in the release. “There are numerous unknown factors at this time, and due to the uncertainty of the exact cause, it is our recommendation that consumers refrain from vaping until the investigation has concluded.”

The CDPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, local health departments and healthcare providers are investigating what is making people sick.

In the meantime, health care officials are encouraging people who use vaping products that experience shortness of breath to contact their doctor immediately.

For more information about the risks of vaping click here.

Read the full press release below. 
California Department of Public Health Issues Public Health Advisory Urging Everyone to Refrain from Vaping

Health Advisory Warns About Imminent Public Health Risks

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a health advisory today urging everyone to refrain from vaping, no matter the substance or source, until current investigations are complete. The health advisory follows an executive order signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last week to confront the growing youth epidemic and health risks linked to vaping.
As of September 24, 2019, CDPH has received reports that 90 people in California who have a history of vaping were hospitalized for severe breathing problems and lung damage, and two people have died. Across the U.S., there are more than 500 reports of lung damage associated with vaping across 38 states and 1 U.S. territory, and more reports are coming in nearly every day.

“We are seeing something that we have not seen before,” said Dr. Charity Dean, Acting State Public Health Officer. “There are numerous unknown factors at this time, and due to the uncertainty of the exact cause, it is our recommendation that consumers refrain
from vaping until the investigation has concluded.”

CDPH, along with other states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), local health departments, and healthcare providers are working hard to investigate what is in the vape materials that is making
people sick.

Although CDPH regulates manufacturers of cannabis vaping products to ensure they are as safe as possible for those who choose to vape, CDPH warns that all individuals put themselves at risk any time they inhale a foreign substance into their lungs. The risk of vaping for any individual may include serious illness and death. “Vaping is not just a concern for youth; the vaping cases under investigation affect youth and adults alike,” said Dr. Dean.

If you experience difficulty breathing after vaping, contact your doctor immediately. You may also experience other symptoms including: cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and weight loss. If this happens to you, do not discard any used vaping cartridges you might have, as CDPH is interested in testing the remaining substance in used cartridges. Those cartridges are being collected by local health departments and sent to CDPH labs for analysis.

In California, licensed cannabis retailers are required to sell products obtained from a licensed cannabis manufacturer that have been tested by a licensed laboratory. Cannabis products sold by licensed sources are tested for a variety of chemicals, pesticides, microbial impurities, and heavy metals. Illegal cannabis dispensaries sell unregulated and untested cannabis products and absolutely should not be used.

CDC continues to warn that any tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe. Furthermore, use of cannabis and tobacco products remains especially unsafe for youth, and for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

The Governor’s executive order directed CDPH to launch a $20 million statewide digital and social media public awareness campaign to educate youth, young adults and parents about the health risks associated with vaping nicotine and cannabis products.

CDPH is also tasked with developing recommendations to reduce smoking among young adults and teens by establishing warning signs with health risks where vaping products are sold and on product advertisements.
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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Eureka, County Are Parties in Opioid Settlement Agreement

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 at 11:02 AM

Eureka and Humboldt County are parties to the tentative multi-billion-dollar settlement reached this week in a landmark lawsuit brought by thousands of municipal governments and more than two dozen states against Purdue Pharma, the company that created OxyContin.

The settlement — which still needs to be ratified by plaintiffs and approved by the judge — reportedly involves Purdue Pharma filing for bankruptcy protection, dissolving and emerging as a new company, the profits of which would be distributed among plaintiffs in the case. The deal also would reportedly see Purdue Pharma’s owners, the Sackler family, pay out $3 billion in cash over seven years but includes no admission of wrongdoing. According to NBC News, the entire settlement is valued at $10 billion to $12 billion.
The county of Humboldt, home to more opioid prescriptions than people, and the city of Eureka are parties to the tentative settlement reached with Purdue Pharma in the massive opioid lawsuit that includes more than 2,000 municipalities. - FLICKR
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  • The county of Humboldt, home to more opioid prescriptions than people, and the city of Eureka are parties to the tentative settlement reached with Purdue Pharma in the massive opioid lawsuit that includes more than 2,000 municipalities.
Eureka City Attorney Bob Black said the city is still awaiting details on the particulars of the settlement and how funds would be distributed, noting that the agreement will need to be approved by at least 75 percent of plaintiffs in the case to take effect.

That may prove a high bar, as some parties have already publicly criticized the settlement as inadequate.

“@purduepharma has provided an insultingly weak offer to the American people for the #OpioidEpidemic that they’ve fueled for decades,” Pensylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro tweeted yesterday. “It allows them to walk away billionaires and admit no wrongdoing. I don’t accept that.”

A sticking point in settlement negotiations has reportedly been how much of its personal fortunate the Sackler family would be included in a payout. The case had been scheduled for trial next month in Ohio.

In its complaints — filed by the firm Keller Rohrback — Eureka and the county alleged Purdue Pharma violated federal racketeering laws and constituted a public nuisance by minimizing addiction risks associated with OxyContin, which led to overprescribing and fueled the national opioid epidemic.

The Yurok Tribe also has a suit pending against Purude Pharma, though we don’t know if it, too, is included in the tentative settlement agreement, as an email to the tribe’s spokesperson has not yet been returned.

Confirming that Humboldt County is a party to the settlement, Spokesperson Sean Quincey, like Black, said the particular provisions of the agreement aren’t yet clear.

“The settlement means the county will likely receive an award of money to compensate us for the damage created by the opioid crisis but we do not yet have the details of the agreement,” he said.
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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Local Officials Warn Against Cannabis Use During Pregnancy

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 10:33 AM


Officials from the local group Perinatal Substance Use Disorder Project presented research on the risks of cannabis use during pregnancy to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The group — which started meeting in 2016 to examine the high rates of perinatal substance use in the county — informed the board that research shows cannabis use during pregnancy can increase the risk of low birth weight and affect a baby’s brain development. The group also posed “a resolution stressing the importance of women who are pregnant, contemplating pregnancy or breast feeding to avoid using cannabis.

“With the legalization of cannabis for adult use, the conversation about recommendations for the use of cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding has been emphasized statewide. Without research-based messaging, women are relying on their peers and CBD or cannabis businesses for information.” DHHS Public Health Director Michele Stephens said in a release from the Department of Human Health and Services. 

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Newsom Signs Landmark Police Use-of-Force Bill

Posted By and on Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 12:25 PM

California will soon have a tougher new legal standard for the use of deadly force by police, under legislation Gov. Gavin Newsom signed today that was inspired by last year’s fatal shooting of a young, unarmed man in Sacramento.

Newsom signed the legislation amid unusual fanfare, convening numerous legislators, family members of people who have died in police shootings and advocates including civil-rights leader Dolores Huerta in a courtyard at the Secretary of State’s building used in the past for inaugurations and other formal events.

The governor contends that with Assembly Bill 392 in place, police will turn increasingly to de-escalation techniques including verbal persuasion, weapons other than guns and other crisis intervention methods.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, crowd at signing ceremony for use-of-force bill. - PHOTO BY DAN MORAIN, CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Dan Morain, CalMatters
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom, crowd at signing ceremony for use-of-force bill.

“I would hope that if AB 392 had been law last year, that our family would not have to be mourning Christopher’s first angelversary today,” Barbara Okamoto said in a statement.

Her grandson, Christopher Okamoto, was killed in Bakersfield last Aug. 19, when police responded to a domestic violence call. He had a pellet gun.

The law reflects a compromise between civil-rights advocates who want to limit when police can shoot and law enforcement groups who said earlier versions of the bill would have put officers in danger.

Under the new law, which takes effect January 1, police may use deadly force only when “necessary in defense of human life.”

That’s a steeper standard than prosecutors apply now, which says officers can shoot when doing so is “reasonable.” One of the most significant changes will allow prosecutors to consider officers’ actions leading up to a shooting when deciding whether deadly force is justified.

“This will make a difference not only in California, but we know it will make a difference around the world,” said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the San Diego Democrat who carried the legislation.

The law doesn’t go as far as civil libertarians originally proposed and will likely leave it to courts to define what a “necessary” use of force is in future cases. The negotiations led a few early supporters, including the group Black Lives Matter, to drop their support and major statewide law-enforcement organizations to drop their opposition. After a year of contentious testimony over how to reduce police shootings, the final version of the bill sailed through the Legislature with bipartisan support.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Gist Hall Re-Opens After Asbestos Shutdown

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 1:12 PM

Humboldt State University - FILE
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  • Humboldt State University
After a presence of disturbed asbestos found in a “space used to help circulate air” closed down Gist Hall in May, Humboldt State University has announced the building reopened this week.

Right before the spring semester ended, HSU closed down the building to test for traces of asbestos. Tests later confirmed no asbestos fibers were found in the air but some materials did contain asbestos, leading the school to close down the building.

Throughout the summer, the school worked with an outside firm to clean the building and hired a contractor to remove the “disturbed material” before the fall semester. The school passed the final air clearance test and has reopened the building.

Gist Hall’s reopening will be celebrated Thursday, Aug. 15, with light refreshments, a release states. Classes resume Aug. 26.

Read the full press release below:
After final air clearance test results showed that no asbestos fibers were detected in the air, Gist Hall re-opened as scheduled on Monday, August 12 at 8 a.m.

HSU will celebrate the re-opening on Thursday, August 15 in the lobby of Gist Hall starting at 8:30 a.m. Light refreshments will be served.

On May 10, Gist Hall was shut down out of an abundance of caution following the discovery of the possible presence of disturbed asbestos. The disturbed material was found during a check of the building’s systems following reports of heating issues. It was discovered in a plenum — a space used to help circulate air — behind an access panel on the second floor.

After an extensive evaluation, the building was closed that day to ensure the health and safety of students and employees. Classes were relocated, all activities were suspended, and the campus community was notified. Various tests conducted over the next few weeks showed: No asbestos fibers were in the air.

The material presumed to be disturbed asbestos contained some asbestos fibers. Asbestos fibers were not present in similar loose material that had been found in various areas of the building. Contractors removed the disturbed asbestos and the University passed the required final air clearance test.
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Thursday, August 1, 2019

Battle of the Badges Nets Record-Breaking Day at the Blood Bank

Posted By on Thu, Aug 1, 2019 at 11:24 AM

Yesterday’s Battle of the Badges at the Northern California Community Blood Bank was a competition with one clear winner — patients. The friendly rivalry between 16 local public safety agencies brought the highest number of donors the nonprofit blood bank has seen in a single day since 2001. In total, 188 people gave their time, their blood and the gift of life to those in need.

One-hundred-seventy units of blood were collected and, “in a very close competition, the Eureka Police Department won the battle with 38 donations,” John Gullam, director of Donor Resources at NCCBB said.

Last year, 74 donors participated with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office getting credit for 25 and winning the trophy. So this year was a roaring success. Gullam particularly noted how pleased his organization was to have brought in 50 first-time donors.

“This is hugely important as we work toward replacing Baby Boomers as they become ineligible,” he explained.

This year’s event was only the second annual Battle of the Badges. The idea is to bring in donors during the summer season, which is traditionally a slow time of year for blood banks. So, local public safety agencies are asked to roll up their sleeves and compete to see who can provide the most donor, with a trophy given to the agency with the highest number of givers. Members of the public can also donate and ask that their favorite agency get the credit.

The success of this event will lead to more events like it in the future and Gullam wanted to give special credit to two people.

“Huge thanks to [EPD] Capt. Brian Stevens and Sheriff Billy Honsal for their work promoting the drive and encouraging their staff,” he noted.

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