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Health

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.

Medical pot industry faces big tax bill

Mina Kim, KQED — Oct 6 2011 - 10:30am

The Bay Area's budding medical pot industry is facing a big tax bill. The IRS has ruled Oakland's largest dispensary can not deduct business expenses. In a letter last week, the IRS told Harborside Health Center that it can not deduct standard expenses like rent, payroll and health insurance ... because it traffics drugs. Harborside's executive director Steve DeAngelo said the dispensary now owes the federal government $2.5 million in back taxes and penalties.

Bay Area nonprofit helps develop affordable medicines for Third World patients

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Sep 22 2011 - 3:37pm

Q&A with OneWorld Health CEO Richard Chin

A South San Francisco nonprofit drug development organization, OneWorld Health, is shattering the conventional profit-generating model of pharmaceutical companies by using a social enterprise approach to global health problems. Richard Chin, an internist and CEO of OneWorld Health, said the organization develops new therapies for diseases where there is either no treatment or the cost of treatment is too high.

Pharmaceutical industry yields to pressure from San Francisco to fund a drug take-back program

Siri Markula, SF Public Press — May 24 2011 - 10:39am

Starting as soon as August, San Franciscans will be able to dispose of their unused medicines for free at 16 independent pharmacies and five police stations throughout the city. The pharmaceutical industry is funding the pilot program with $110,000, after facing city plans that threatened to extend producer responsibility to pharmaceuticals. For decades the industry and government waste experts told consumers to flush medications down the toilet. But with increasing recognition of the effects of human drugs on wildlife, regulators at all levels are seeking to get medicines out of the waste stream.

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.

Local biotech companies help low-performing schools teach science

Siri Markula, SF Public Press — May 18 2011 - 2:45pm

An under-performing school in East Palo Alto is working on a new initiative started by a Northern California science education network to boost students’ science comprehension and, optimistically, make scientists out of them. The Bio-Community.org network enables Bay Area biotechnology companies to send visiting scientists to schools, giving kids an up-close interaction with science. Local biotech companies are working with students from middle school to community college to increase the labor pool of workers in research and lab work. The companies want students not only to learn science but also to make it a career option. In the process, the schools and volunteers there hope this focus will increase students overall performance and improve graduation rates.

The race is on for the killer health app at UCSF

Siri Markula, SF Public Press — Apr 5 2011 - 11:44am

In the future, you might not need to go to a doctor for follow up visits even if you suffer from a chronic disease. You can connect devices like blood pressure or glucose meters to your phone or enter in data from them, as well as tell your device how you are feeling. The phone (or the application, to be exact) will tell you if you need to adjust your habits, diet or medication – or if you should visit your doctor. Mobile technology is expected to give patients better access to care at lower costs while empowering them to take care of their health.  At the University of California, San Francisco, Jeff Jorgenson and his mHealth development team are building next-generation patient apps.

Sex, drugs and filth plague city-sponsored public restrooms

Nina Frazier, SF Public Press — Apr 4 2011 - 10:16am

Second of two articles about hygiene options for San Francisco’s homeless

San Francisco’s 25 freestanding, so-called “self-cleaning” public restrooms scattered across the city are magnets for prostitution and drug use. They are so filthy that even after automatic cleanings, they require one to five manual scrub-downs a day. The Department of Public Works, which contracted with JCDecaux more than a decade ago to install and maintain the units, blames the company. The company blames the police. And the police say they don’t have time to babysit city toilets 24 hours a day. The homeless are often shut out of the facilities, which constitute the only public restrooms where they are welcome. Meanwhile, San Francisco takes a cut of the company’s profits from billboards that envelope the toilets.

City College students struggle to break into biotech firms

Siri Markula, SF Public Press — Mar 24 2011 - 10:57am
City College of San Francisco is helping students without a science background gain laboratory experience to work in the biotech industry, one of the Bay Area’s most promising employment sectors. The idea is to meet the demand in the industry for lab technicians who don't necessarily have four-year degrees in science. While some big companies have been hesitant to take on two-year college graduates from the Bridge to Biotech program, smaller companies are more willing to take a risk on them. How much education do you need to get a laboratory job? “Science always seemed to me like something for the intellectual elite,” said Kiel Copeland, whose internship led to a job at a San Francisco startup developing drugs to fight HIV and other viruses. “I never saw myself as that.”
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