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Public health

Healthy San Francisco: snapshot of universal care

Lisa Aliferis, KQED — Mar 1 2012 - 7:23pm

It’s been almost five years since San Francisco launched its innovative, universal health plan — Healthy San Francisco — and last night a panel of public health experts and care providers gathered at the Tenderloin’s Glide Foundation to provide a snapshot of how the program is faring. The panel was co-sponsored by the San Francisco Public Press (which produced a team reporting project on Healthy San Francisco in the Winter print edition and online), Glide and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

California drugmaker's HIV prevention pill sparks public health debate

Bernice Yeung, California Watch — Jan 30 2012 - 2:38pm

Foster City drugmaker Gilead recently updated its application with the federal Food and Drug Administration for approval to market its HIV treatment medication Truvada as an  HIV prevention pill. If the FDA approves Truvada for preventive use, it “would be the first agent indicated for uninfected individuals to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV through sex,” according to a company statement at the time of the filing in December 2011.

100% ad-free news for the 99%

Michael Stoll, SF Public Press — Dec 30 2011 - 3:15pm

In the Public Press, elites don’t dictate coverage

If you missed it, the Winter 2011 edition of the Public Press (Issue 5) went on sale in November, and it came on the heels of a national conversation about how to fund and fortify community journalism. This is the editorial on page 2.

Issue 5 of the San Francisco Public Press, an ad-free nonprofit local newspaper, takes cues from noncommercial magazines, some of which have become influential of late. One model was Adbusters, the “culturejammer” magazine that inspired the global Occupy movement. Our approach at the Public Press has always been to look for stories that see the city and the Bay Area from the viewpoint of average people instead of just the elites, whose concerns are well represented. While we don’t practice advocacy journalism, we do strive to cover, in depth, stories and communities that commercially funded media don’t often pay attention to.

As work conditions shift, inhumanity of immigrant labor becomes human rights concern

Alejandra Cuéllar, SF Public Press — Dec 27 2011 - 1:37pm

Gabriel Thompson worked alongside immigrants in the back of restaurants in New York City and in factories that produced some of the most basic foods in the American diet: lettuce and chicken. Not an immigrant himself, Thompson used his investigative reporting techniques to lift a veil on working conditions that many undocumented immigrants and low-income Americans face daily. His colleagues experienced excruciating soreness from physical labor. They had no employee benefits. And they had to do monotonous and repetitive work, which led to a high rate of injuries. Thompson’s one-year immersion into the lives of working immigrants, documented in his recent book, “Working in the Shadows,” comes at a time when working conditions are changing. The immigrant workers are leaving the workplace under pressure from law enforcement, a trend that is forcing the employers to look for new ways of attracting workers.

Some employers drop private health plans for San Francisco’s subsidized public option

Barbara Grady, SF Public Press — Nov 16 2011 - 10:08am

Unintended consequences of city’s effort at universal health care

A San Francisco requirement that businesses pay for their employees’ health needs has led to more workers having some form of health care. But after businesses initially stepped up to buy private health insurance for more of their workers, there has been a steady retreat. Since 2008, a growing percentage of employers have ditched private insurance for a cheaper way of meeting the law’s requirements: city-engineered reimbursement accounts, which cost companies half or less what they previously paid for traditional insurance.

Participants appreciate safety-net health access program, but note gaps

Kyung Jin Lee, SF Public Press — Nov 16 2011 - 10:02am

Customer service is a problem as patient load continues to grow

Most participants in Healthy San Francisco, the city’s 2007 initiative to expand care to more than 50,000 uninsured patients, appreciate the overall access to preventative care and treatment for chronic health conditions. A 2009 survey showed that more than nine in 10 are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the program. Patients cite the affordability of the program and the quality of care they receive from the health care practitioners. But program participants and medical care providers also note the inconsistency in the services they receive under Healthy San Francisco.

Medical records supporting San Francisco’s universal care add millions to official cost

Angela Hart, SF Public Press — Nov 16 2011 - 7:25am

Clinics scramble for money to switch to electronic health records

The San Francisco Department of Public Health says it is ahead of the curve in rolling out databases that keep tabs on tens of thousands of patients across a citywide network of clinics and hospitals. The rollout is needed not just to make a local form of “universal health care” work, but also to meet a 2014 deadline under national health reform. And the city says it spent just $3.4 million on new patient-tracking technology. Not bad for an unprecedented charity care initiative whose total budget has grown to $177 million just this past year. But while clinics and hospitals across the city are now linked up to a common intake tool that eliminates overbilling and duplicated medical appointments, that is only the first step in making the Healthy San Francisco program successful, directors of local health centers and technology experts say. A separate and much more complex piece of technology — electronic health records — is proving difficult and expensive.

San Francisco’s universal health plan reaches tens of thousands, but rests on unstable funding

Barbara Grady, SF Public Press — Nov 16 2011 - 7:04am

Coordination and prevention improve care, but as businesses resist, some costs are borne by one-time grants and struggling clinics

Four years ago, San Francisco launched a grand experiment, becoming the first city in the nation to offer comprehensive health care to its growing ranks of uninsured. Stitching together two-dozen neighborhood health clinics and an array of hospitals, the city bet that two reforms — emphasis on primary care and a common electronic enrollment system — could improve outcomes and buffer the city against soaring health care costs. By many measures, San Francisco’s effort to provide universal health care has been a huge success. The initiative, Healthy San Francisco, has over time treated more than 100,000 city residents. But the city’s grand plan has not solved the central problem dogging health care across the country: figuring out who pays for it.

Free Farm Stand will stay, city says

Justine Quart, Mission Local — Oct 12 2011 - 1:51pm

The Free Farm Stand and its supporters won. The stand will continue to give away free food to the community on Sundays from noon to 3:30 p.m. in Parque Niños Unidos. At the same time, it will coordinate with the Department of Public Health to obtain a health permit, Connie Chan, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, wrote in an e-mail.

City steps in where state fails to regulate toxic manis and pedis

Kyung Jin Lee, SF Public Press — May 23 2011 - 3:56pm

WORKING CONDITIONS: San Francisco program pushes nail salons to use safer chemicals

Heidi Hoang was pregnant when she first started working at Nails by Linda in San Francisco’s Sunset District. “There’s a lot of people who say, ‘You have to be careful with this kind of job. Maybe, no more baby,’” Hoang, now the salon manager, said. “I was so nervous.” Nail salon workers, many of whom are Vietnamese immigrants and refugees with limited English skills, have long endured toxic chemicals that emanate from products they use to beautify their clientele. The chemicals not only produce noxious fumes, but workers often complain of itchy skin, rashes and headaches after prolonged exposure to the substances. In an effort to combat the problem, San Francisco is developing guidelines to encourage nail salons to go green. In the absence of federal or state regulations protecting salon workers from toxic exposure at work, the city is working to educate salon owners about healthier alternatives.

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