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PHI in the News

Berkeley’s sugary soda consumption plummeted after tax, study says

February 21, 2019 | Erin Allday | San Francisco Chronicle

Berkeley residents cut their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages by half in the three years after passing a soda tax in 2014, according to a new UC Berkeley study. 

“The (UC Berkeley) findings suggest not only that sugar taxes work, but that they keep working over time,” said Dr. Lynn Silver, a senior adviser with PHI who carried out an earlier study of the Berkeley soda tax in 2017 that found that in the year after the tax was enforced soda sales fell nearly 10 percent and bottled water sales increased by 16 percent.  more

Some Rural California Hospitals Will Try To Prevent Overdoses With Opioid Treatment In The ER

February 15, 2019 | Sammy Caiola | Capital Public Radio

More than 31 health facilities across California, many in rural areas, will soon be able to treat patients for opioid withdrawal on the spot. PHI's Bridge program has selected the facilities to participate in the California Bridge Program, providing funds, training and technical assistance for these facilities to increase or improve access to medication-assisted treatment for patients with substance use disorder throughout the hospital.  more

Breast Cancer and DDT: Timing of Exposure May Matter

February 14, 2019 | Robert Preidt | US News and World Report

Exposure to high levels of the pesticide DDT increases breast cancer risk — but when the cancer surfaces depends on when women first came in contact with the chemical, according to a new study published by PHI's Child Health and Development Studies in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"What we have learned is that timing really matters," said lead author Barbara Cohn. ""The research suggests that DDT affects breast cancer as an endocrine disruptor, that the period of time between first exposure and cancer risk seems to be around 40 years — and that other endocrine-disrupting chemicals could potentially simulate this kind of risk pattern."


Alcohol Problems Grow as Booze Gets a Bigger Kick

February 14, 2019 | Matt Smith | WebMD

Americans may not be drinking much more than they used to -- but they’re drinking more potent stuff. And that trend toward higher-alcohol drinks may be part of what’s driving an increase in alcohol-related deaths and illnesses, according to new research from PHI's Alcohol Research Group.

“There’s been this observation recently of increases in alcohol-related problems like increases in alcoholic liver disease and mortality and emergency room visits related to alcohol, but we haven’t seen a similar increase in alcohol consumption,” says Priscilla Martinez, PhD, a public health and epidemiology researcher at ARG.  more

James Tensuan for NPR

Far From Parkland Spotlight, Teens In East Oakland Want To Tell Their Stories

February 14, 2019 | PDF | Sam Sanders & Anjuli Sastry | NPR

For some young people, a year's attention on events like Parkland hasn't turned into the attention they're asking for: a spotlight on the everyday gun violence they experience in their neighborhoods.

"We can't solve a problem when we don't know what's happening," says Pamela Mejia, head of research at PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group, which examines mass media and its connection to public health. "If the coverage is overwhelmingly driven by very high profile but fundamentally fairly rare issues ... what people, voters, policymakers ... are learning about and having a sense of as the norm is only those very isolated incidences. And then the solutions that they're thinking about are really solutions that only address those specific problems."  more

Photo illustration by Monet

‘Green chemistry’ makes products safer. Here’s how California can do better

February 11, 2019 | PDF | Gina M. Solomon, Public Health Institute and Martin Mulvihill, SaferMade | CALMatters

Californians’ demand for healthier products is part of a trend toward healthy living that has changed our expectations of chemistry. We led the nation a decade ago by launching a Green Chemistry Initiative to advance the safer use of chemicals.

The Safer Consumer Products Program was designed to deal with “chemical whack-a-mole.” In this real-life version of the carnival game, individual toxic chemicals are banned or regulated, only to be replaced by similar chemicals that have not been studied and can be just as hazardous, write PHI's Gina M. Solomon and SaferMade's Martin Mulvihill in their guest commentary to CALMatters.    more

Climate change is a health emergency. Let’s act like it

February 10, 2019 | Linda Rudolph and Will Barrett

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s early actions to expand health care access and prioritize the social determinants of health are vital strategies to reduce persistent and unacceptable health inequities across the state, but climate change threatens to undermine even the best efforts to achieve health for all, say PHI's Linda Rudolph and the American Lung Association's Will Barrett. They call for climate action to protect public health in this Sacramento Bee op-ed.  more

Sen. Hurtado’s First Bill Aims to Help Asthma Sufferers

February 06, 2019 | Myles Barker | GV Wire

Low-income residents in California's Central Valley suffering from asthma may gain access to resources to help manage the chronic lung disease, with newly elected state Sen. Melissa Hurtado's introduction of Senate Bill 207, which aims to expand asthma prevention services to low-income families. PHI's Anne Kelsey Lamb believes the visits will improve the lives of people with asthma and reduce costly visits to the emergency room.

“This legislation will make sure these services are available to the people who need these services the most,” said Lamb, who directs PHI's Regional Asthma Management and Prevention program.  more

City Heights High Schoolers Are Prepping To Become Your Next Doctor

February 04, 2019 | Tarryn Mento

PHI's FACES for the Future Coalition prepares interested high school students for entry into the health professions, while preparing those students to meet the challenges of impending health workforce shortages and worsening health disparities. This KPBS radio story spotlights one high school senior shadowing a nurse at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.  more

What keeps families in one of the most polluted places in California?

January 23, 2019 | Elizabeth Aguilera | CALmatters

The rural border community of Imperial County in California is overburdened by agricultural burning, the nearby dying Salton Sea, and factory emissions from across the Mexico border. Life in Imperial is emblematic of the lives of millions around the state who live with bad air quality. Over the last five years, PHI's California Environmental Health Tracking Program has partnered with Comite Civico del Valle and the University of Washington to create a community network of 40 air monitors in the Imperial Valley. Those efforts that have spurred actions by the state air board to set goals for the region and invest resources in trying to improve the situation.  more

Oral-B Glide floss tied to potentially toxic PFAS chemicals, study suggests

January 09, 2019 | Ryan W. Miller | USA Today

Oral-B Glide may be in the headline of this article, but the message from this new study from PHI's Child Health and Development Studies program, in partnership with the Silent Spring Institute, is to be careful of a host of products laden with PFAS: water- and grease-proof substances that have been linked with kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, low birth weight, decreased fertility and immune system damage. Researchers also found that African-American women who ate food from coated cardboard containers had higher PFAS levels for four of the chemicals studied compared to those who didn't.  more

Despite an opioid crisis, most ERs don’t offer addiction treatment. California is changing that.

January 08, 2019 | German Lopez | Vox

What if we treated addiction like any other medical condition and built addiction treatment into the rest of the health care system, including in emergency rooms? As the country deals with an opioid epidemic, PHI's BRIDGE program is showing that ER addiction treatment programs are not only possible, but that they work.

Read more on how this approach is working in California.  more

The case for raising the alcohol tax

December 13, 2018 | German Lopez | Vox

The death toll of excessive drinking is higher than deaths due to guns, cars, drug overdoses, or HIV/AIDS have ever been in a single year in the U.S. Research shows that a higher alcohol tax would reduce drinking, saving thousands of lives and preventing crime and public health problems. Yet alcohol taxes have decreased over the past few decades, due to tax cuts but particularly because taxes haven't kept up with inflation, according to this Vox article, which cites a 2013 study by PHI's Alcohol Research Group (ARG) on alcohol costs relative to people’s income.

"Following Prohibition, taxes were put on that were pretty substantial, especially on liquor but on beer and wine as well,” said ARG's William Kerr. “But starting in the ’60s, the updates didn’t happen, either federally or [in the] states. And starting in the late ’60s and especially in the ’70s, there was really high inflation. So that was the transition from high taxes to lower.”  more

Report Warns Climate Change Will Affect Health, Especially for Most Vulnerable Populations

December 12, 2018 | Claudia Boyd-Barrett | California Health Report

After a recent state report found that Californians are likely to experience more physical and mental health problems, injuries and death in the coming decades as a result climate change, PHI's Linda Rudolph said,  “We really are talking about catastrophic health consequences… It’s an existential question for humanity.” Rudolph, who heads up the Center for Climate Change and Health, added that many strategies for lowering carbon emissions improve people’s health at the same time.  more

Sweltering in Nursing Home, 95-Year-Old Succumbs to Heat, as Climate Endangers Most Vulnerable

December 09, 2018 | Molly Peterson | KQED

A deadly and growing threat to nursing home patients that remains overlooked is extreme heat--even as climate change makes extreme weather patterns more likely and severe, according to this KQED story. Climate change raises real questions about how ready our healthcare system is for more frequent hazards, says Linda Rudolph, the director of PHI's Center for Climate Change and Health.

“We need to take a look at our planning, and our local and state laws and regulations to make sure that every school, every skilled nursing facility, every nursing home, and every hospital have plans in place that are based on what we know is in the forecast for these extreme and prolonged heat events.”  more

The Power of Public-Private Partnerships to Foster Health Through Innovation

December 05, 2018 | Elissa Lee | U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Channel Kindness image5Earlier this year, PHI, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center and the American Heart Association hosted a Health Learning Tour in Los Angeles, California, that brought together business leaders and other industry experts to explore practical and profitable opportunities that help drive community health and wellbeing while driving growth, performance, competitiveness, and innovation. This article summarizes the key takeaways from the tour. PHI President and CEO Mary A. Pittman, who was the keynote speaker for the event, noted the need to address health disparities: “We are here today because we are sick to death that our communities are sick to death.”  more

Government is 'Limited' in Spurring Telehealth Innovation, says Expert

November 28, 2018

Mei Kwong, the executive director of PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP), said in an episode of "Boundless" that aired Wednesday that the government is limited in what it can do to promote telehealth policy. "With the government, both on the federal and state level, what they can do with telehealth policy that will help spur innovation and competition as a result of that will be to expand some of the policies around telehealth," Mei Kwong told Hill.TV.  more

CMS Gives Telehealth a Nudge With Coverage for Virtual Check-Ins

November 05, 2018 | Eric Wicklund | mHealth Intelligence

Last week’s release of The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ 2019 Physician Fee Schedule and Quality Payment Program offered good news for providers looking to implement telemedicine for virtual check-ins. While much of the attention was focused on expanded reimbursement for remote patient monitoring services, an overlooked section of the 2,378-page document detailed Medicare coverage for “Brief Communication Technology-Based Service” (HCPCS code G2012). Simply put, this new code gives providers an opportunity to use telehealth to check in with their patients at certain times on care management issues. PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy was quoted in this article.   more

5 Surprising Ways In Which Telemedicine Is Revolutionizing Healthcare

November 02, 2018 | Shourjya Sanyal | Forbes

“Telehealth is not a specific service, but a collection of means to enhance care and education delivery,” said PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP). CCHP further classify telehealth into four types of services, live-video conferencing, mobile health, remote patient monitoring, and store-and-forward. Most telehealth platforms provide one or more of these services, to a niche patient or consumer segment. Here are five surprising ways that telemedicine is revolutionizing healthcare.   more

Investigation Finds Home Can Be the Most Dangerous Place in a Heat Wave

October 24, 2018 | Molly Peterson | KQED

Image result for kqed logoHeat is one of the top public health threats from climate change, according to the state of California. The illnesses and deaths that result from it are preventable. But where people spend the majority of their time, at home, no right to cooling is guaranteed. Public officials around the Bay Area are still figuring out how to warn people and how to respond to heat—both as an extreme event, and as an emerging health threat.

PHI's Linda Rudolph spoke with KQED about the public health impacts of a rising climate.  more

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