News From Our Partners

Why Your Voice Counts: $1 Billion in Hospital Payments Tied to Patient Satisfaction

By Chris Richard, KQED/The California Report

To try to improve patients’ rest, San Francisco General Hospital has installed devices resembling traffic signals near some nursing stations. Called “yacker trackers,” they monitor the volume of conversation and other work-related noise around the stations. When sound is at an acceptable level, the light shows green, turning yellow as the noise increases. When it’s too loud, the light turns red.

The admonitions might get on the nerves of hospital staffers who think they’re capable of regulating how loudly they talk without electronic oversight, but there’s evidence the yacker trackers do keep the racket down – and help patients rest better.

“Some staff members think this is a reinforcement that is welcome, and others may feel this is reinforcement that isn’t really necessary,” said Baljeet Sangha, San Francisco General’s “chief experience officer.”

“The answer is to go back to the metrics. They show these reminders do work.”

In some areas where the trackers were installed, patient satisfaction over nighttime noise doubled between April and June, Sangha said.

Read the complete story at KQED/The California Report.

Tech Host Talks of Gaming, Women and the Mission

By Sarah McClure, Mission Local

Veronica Belmont looks like any ordinary 31-year-old, sipping her cappuccino at Four Barrel Coffee. Her bangs are coiffed (she trims them herself), and her nails shine with a purple-glitter manicure.

And then she opens her mouth.

“Maybe it’s not 50-50 in ‘Call of Duty,’ ” she says, referring to the split between male and female users of a video game that simulates a violent first-person shooter, “but that’s not to say it won’t be in a few years.”

Read the complete story at Mission Local.


The Sights and Sounds of Bayview: Juana Tello Trains Next Generation of Activists

By Cristal Fiel, KALW Crosscurrents

San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood has one of the highest concentrations of people ages 17 or younger in the city of San Francisco. Juana Teresa Tello is working to train these young people to be activists in their community.

Tello leads the Youth in Power program at the social justice organization, People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER) – a radical, grassroots organization serving working class African Americans and Latinos in San Francisco.

Read the complete story at KALW Crosscurrents.

Double-Parking Epiphanies and Plans Percolate in S.F.

By Alexander Mullaney, Mission Local

Mayor Ed Lee described his double-parking epiphany.

There on one block of Valencia Street were three double-parked vehicles, he told supervisors at the mayor’s monthly visit to the board on Tuesday. The drivers, he realized, had no regard for the law.

It was at that moment, the mayor said, that he vowed to never again double park.

Moreover, he promised himself, as he drove around the city on official business, he would use his security detail to ticket double-parked vehicles.

“It’s not just a passing issue, it is dangerous on our streets,” Lee said.

The exchange was part of the mayor’s answer to District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener’s question about what Lee would do to mitigate double parking.

What the mayor and the supervisors are discovering, however, is that double parking is likely to endure for  a while.

Read the complete story in Mission Local.

Photo Gallery: Coyotes Raising Kids in San Francisco

By Janet Kessler, Bay Nature 

[Editor’s note: San Francisco resident Janet Kessler has spent seven years documenting urban wildlife in the city, particularly coyotes. Her photos have appeared in the Randall Museum, the San Francisco Main Library and the Seed Gallery in the Presidio. This series of her photos captures local coyotes engaged in an activity that’s tough even for people – raising kids in San Francisco.]

Coyotes are among the 3 to 5 percent of mammal species that mate for life, and parents raise pups cooperatively. Except for loners and transients, coyotes live in nuclear families not so different from our own. Parents display lots of overt affection and playfulness – and even seem to plan ahead.

Read the complete story at Bay  Nature.

Female Immigrants Face Higher Hurdles to College Success

By  Erika Cebreros, translated by Elena Shore, New America Media / BabyCenter en Español

Lourdes Alarcón is what higher-education experts call a “non-traditional student.” In other words, she isn’t a young person who went straight to college after high school. Originally from Bolivia, she is a thirty-something mom raising two kids – a 7-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl – on her own. And by the end of 2013, after four years of personal sacrifice and hard work at San Francisco State University, she’ll also be a college graduate.

Alarcón’s success was spurred by disappointment. Five years ago, she lost her job of assistant principal at an elementary school in San Francisco, and subsequently had difficulty finding a job that would pay her enough to support a family in one of the country’s most expensive areas to live.

“My options were to [either] go to college, or take any job,” said Alarcón. “I preferred to study to get ahead and provide a better future for my kids. My dream has always been to be a teacher.”

Read the complete story at New America Media.


Oakland Gardens May Be Killing Local Bees

By Laura McCamy, Oakland Local

This is a bigger problem than we previously thought,” said Lisa Archer, Food and Technology Program Director at Friends of the Earth. She is talking about neonicitinoids, the pesticide implicated in the collapse of thousands of honeybee colonies over the past decade. It has come as a shock to some local gardeners that they may be unwittingly planting this neurotoxin in their yards.

A recent study by Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Research Institute found traces of neonicitinoids (called neonics for short) in garden plants sold at some Bay Area big-box stores. Most of the local garden stores in Oakland contacted for this story didn’t know whether the flowering plants they sell contain neonics. Calls to wholesale nurseries who supply plants to East Bay retailers revealed that some of them continue to apply the pesticide in what they believe is a “bee safe” manner, by soaking the roots rather than spraying the plants.

Read the complete story at Oakland Local. 

With the Government Shutdown, What Happens to Federally Funded Research?

By Alessandra Bergamin, Bay Nature

The ongoing federal government shutdown that has locked the public out of national parks and recreation areas across the nation has also shuttered federally funded research and monitoring programs considered “nonessential,” running the risk that months, or even years, of painstaking investigation could be lost in a few weeks.

In the Bay Area, many of the research projects undertaken within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, including those done in partnership with the nonprofit Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, have been suspended. It’s a particularly critical time for bird monitoring programs, which hit their peak during the annual fall migration that can see 250 migratory bird species arriving in, or passing through, the region. Allen Fish, the director of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory at the conservancy, said the nearly 30-year-long raptor monitoring program based in the recreation area's Marin Headlands has completely stopped, and the integrity of this year’s study is likely to be compromised.

Read the complete story at Bay Nature. 

'The Race to an Emergency': KALW News Documentary Traces Path of 9-1-1 Call in Oakland

By Martina Castro and Ali Budner, KALW News

If you’ve ever picked up the phone to call 9-1-1, you or someone else probably needed help. Badly. And you probably assumed that after dialing those three numbers, help would come screeching around the corner, lights and sirens blaring.

Well, the residents of East and West Oakland say that depends on where you live. In this special hour-long KALW documentary, “The Race to an Emergency” host Martina Castro and reporter Ali Budner trace the path of a 9-1-1 call in Oakland: from the dispatchers to the emergency responders. And they consider how geographics and demographics figure into a crisis that has been brewing in Oakland for decades.

Listen to the complete documentary  at KALW News.


Sights and Sounds of Bayview: James Martin Mentors Neighborhood's Fathers

By Laura Flynn, KALW Crosscurrents

Deafening gunshots rang out just as James Martin arrived home. Troubled by the news of a 17-year-old young man dying in front of his house, he did what anyone would do – actually what most wouldn’t do. He grabbed his portable karaoke machine and stood at the sidewalk memorial erected for the young man and began singing, “Wake up everybody, no more sleeping in bed, no more backward thinking time for thinking ahead.”

That was 10 years ago. Today, Martin is still standing up for San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood. Recently, he called on fathers in the neighborhood to walk their children to school. Standing in front of a group of about 40 people on a megaphone, Martin explained: “We’re here in commitment to our children and we’re here in commitment to our community.”

Read the complete story in KALW Crosscurrents.