1. Health Care Environment


Children’s Hospital Breaks Ground In San Diego: Rady Children’s Hospital broke ground Tuesday on a billion-dollar, seven-story intensive care unit and emergency services pavilion. The pavilion is scheduled to open in 2027. Read more from the Times of San Diego.

VC Star: Pediatric Unit At Ventura's Community Memorial Will Close In October
Low patient numbers, staffing challenges and other barriers will close an inpatient pediatric care unit born more than 25 years ago at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura. (Kisken, 8/29)

Reuters: Exclusive: Walmart Cuts Pharmacist Pay, Hours While Workload Piles Up
Walmart is asking some of its 16,000 pharmacists across the U.S. to voluntarily take pay cuts by reducing their working hours in a bid to lower costs, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters. The cuts, which haven't been previously reported and are aimed at pharmacists in higher wage brackets, highlight the new pressures at Walmart pharmacies, where shoppers are lining up to buy weight-loss drugs that drag on profits, despite their high price. (Cavale, 8/29)

San Gabriel Valley Tribune: Nurses To Hold ‘Solidarity March’ In Support Of Striking Writers, Actors
Nurses plan to hold a “solidarity march” and rally Tuesday. Aug. 29 in Los Angeles, supporting Southern California’s striking writers and actors who are concerned about the growing use of artificial intelligence in their industries. (Smith, 8/28)

Bloomberg: Walmart, CVS, Walgreens Want To Disrupt Doctors With New Treatment Options
Walmart Inc., Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and CVS Health Corp. are rolling out new care options normally only available at doctor’s offices. Testing and treatment services for strep throat, flu and Covid-19 are now available from Walmart pharmacists in 12 states, the company said in a statement Tuesday. Walgreens will soon have a similar offering across 13 states. And CVS pharmacists will evaluate symptoms and prescribe flu antiviral medicine and cough suppressants in 10 states, although they won’t offer tests. (Rutherford and Case, 8/29)

CIDRAP: Study: Children's Health System Wasted $230,000 Worth Of Antibiotics In 2 Years
A pediatric hospital system wasted 58,607 antibiotic doses worth more than $230,000, including drugs in limited US supply, in 2 years, finds a study today in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. A team led by Emory University researchers calculated the number of wasted antibiotic doses dispensed at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta from January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2021. The system has three hospitals with more than 600 beds. (Van Beusekom, 8/29)

Axios: Keeping Talent A Top Risk For Health Care, Execs Say
More than 8 in 10 health care leaders in a new survey say hiring and keeping talent is a top risk for their business — a reflection of the labor issues continuing to roil health care and other high-stakes industries. Health care executives (82%) were more likely than those from most industries (71%) to indicate concern about talent retention in this inflationary environment, according to a PwC August Pulse Survey. (Reed, 8/28)

The Bakersfield Californian: Bakersfield Memorial Breaks Ground On Pediatric Surgical Suites
Bakersfield Memorial Hospital broke ground Friday on its Pediatric Surgical Suites Project at its Lauren Small Children’s Center. The more than $23 million expansion is to include two dedicated pediatric surgical suites, the addition of 5,000 square feet to the current children’s center; a pre- and post-anesthesia care unit; dedicated surgical support spaces; and its own reception and waiting areas, according to a hospital news release. (8/26)

KFF Health News: Artificial Intelligence May Influence Whether You Can Get Pain Medication
Elizabeth Amirault had never heard of a Narx Score. But she said she learned last year the tool had been used to track her medication use. During an August 2022 visit to a hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Amirault told a nurse practitioner she was in severe pain, she said. She received a puzzling response. “Your Narx Score is so high, I can’t give you any narcotics,” she recalled the man saying, as she waited for an MRI before a hip replacement. (Miller and Whitehead, 8/30)

  1. COVID

CBS News: As Schools Resume, CDC Reports New Rise In COVID Emergency Room Visits From Adolescents
Reports of COVID-19 in emergency room visits from adolescents have nearly doubled over the past week, new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows, reaching levels not seen in a year. Measured as a share of all emergency room visits in children ages 12 to 15 years old, the figures published late Thursday by the CDC show weekly COVID-19 averages have accelerated to 2.43% through August 21. (Tin, 8/25)

Los Angeles Times: COVID Cases In L.A. County Keep Rising. 'The Pandemic Isn’t Over'
Coronavirus cases are continuing to rise locally and across the nation. Experts say travel, the back-to-school season and new Omicron subvariants are the likely culprits. New outbreaks have been reported in Los Angeles County’s nursing homes, and one Hollywood studio temporarily imposed a mask mandate after several employees were infected. Experts say the numbers remain low but are urging caution. (Lin II, 8/28)

San Francisco Chronicle: Another COVID Wave Is Gripping California. Here's Next Booster Timing
The late summer COVID-19 wave is gaining momentum in California. Over the past month, hospitalizations jumped by nearly 81%, rising from a daily average of 186 admissions to 336, according to state health department data published Friday. The state’s test positivity rate is also up to 13.2% after falling as low as 3.4% at the beginning of the summer. (Vaziri, 8/29)

U.S. News & World Report: These Are The Top 25 COVID Hot Spots In The U.S.
Here are the counties with the highest rates of COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people. (Wolf, 8/29)

  1. Disparities

NBC News: Asians In U.S. Have Highest Exposure To Cancer-Linked 'Forever Chemicals' Among All Races
The findings, published last week on Environmental Science & Technology, a peer-reviewed journal, showed that different racial and socioeconomic groups are likely exposed to varying sources of the harmful substances, known as PFAS. The family of thousands of synthetic chemicals are used in a vast array of consumer products, from rugs to straws, due to their resistance to stains, grease and water. The report highlighted a longstanding need for more research around the effect of PFAS on people of Asian descent, said Shelley Liu, lead study author. (Yam, 8/28)

CNN: Shooting Survivors Have ‘Distressingly High’ Risk Of Repeat Firearm Injury, Study Finds, Especially Young Black Males
Along with the physical and emotional effects, survivors of firearm injury carry a “distressingly high” risk of being shot again, Dr. Kristen Mueller, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and others wrote in the new study. About 1 of every 14 gunshot victims will be harmed by a firearm again within a year, according to the new research. Within five years, that risk rises to about 1 in 8, and it jumps to about 1 in 6 after eight years. “That is pretty comparable to your risk of a second heart attack or a second stroke,” said Mueller, the lead author of the new study. (Christensen, 8/28)

  1. Women’s Health

KFF Health News: Californians Headed To HBCUs In The South Prepare For College Under Abortion Bans
When I’laysia Vital got accepted to Texas Southern University, a historically Black university in Houston, she immediately began daydreaming about the sense of freedom that would come with living on her own, and the sense of belonging she would feel studying in a thriving Black community. Then, a nurse at her high school’s health clinic in Oakland, California, explained the legal landscape of her new four-year home in Texas — where abortion is now fully banned. (Dembosky, 8/29)

KVPR: Kern County Maternal Mortality At The Center Of A State Medical Board Meeting
Kern County’s pregnancy-related mortality rate is one of the highest in the state. After years of working to raise awareness about the issue, family members of local mothers and babies who died during childbirth have caught the attention of the state medical board. The Medical Board of California is the licensing body for the state’s doctors. The agency also investigates malpractice and takes positions for or against legislation. Its board meets every quarter, virtually or sometimes in person in Sacramento, Los Angeles or San Francisco. (Klein, 8/29)

  1. Medicaid

Axios: How Medicaid Is Trying To Boost School's Health Funding
Schools across the country are missing out on millions of dollars from an unlikely federal source — Medicaid — because of longstanding bureaucratic hurdles that the Biden administration is now trying to address. (Harris, 8/29)

The Hill: Biden Urged To Get Tough As Millions Lose Medicaid
Millions of people are being pushed off state Medicaid rolls as the U.S. dismantles one of the last major Covid-era safety nets, and congressional Democrats and health advocates want the Biden administration to do more to ensure people are protected. Nationwide, nearly 5.5 million people have been purged from state Medicaid rolls across 45 states and the District of Columbia, according to health policy research group KFF. (Weixel, 8/28)

  1. Mental Health

The New York Times: Mental Health Spending Surged In Pandemic, Study Finds
Use of mental health care increased substantially during the coronavirus pandemic, as teletherapy lowered barriers to regular visits, according to a large study of insurance claims published Friday in JAMA Health Forum. From March 2020 to August 2022, mental health visits increased by 39 percent, and spending increased by 54 percent, the study found. Its examination of 1,554,895 claims for clinician visits also identified a tenfold increase in the use of telehealth. (Barry, 8/25)

AP: Many Big US Cities Now Answer Mental Health Crisis Calls With Civilian Teams -- Not Police
The Associated Press has found that 14 of the 20 most populous U.S. cities are experimenting with removing police from certain, nonviolent 911 calls and sending behavioral health clinicians. (Peltz and Bedayn, 8/28)

  1. Schools

AP: Schoolkids In 8 States Can Now Eat Free School Meals, Advocates Urge Congress For Nationwide Policy
When classes resume for kids in eight states, they won’t have to worry about where their next meals will be coming from because they’ll be free. Minnesota, New Mexico, Colorado, Vermont, Michigan, and Massachusetts will make school breakfasts and lunches permanently free to all students starting this academic year, regardless of family income, following in the footsteps of California and Maine. Several other states are considering similar changes and congressional supporters want to extend free meals to all kids nationwide. (Karnowski and Bryan, 8/26)

NPR: As Teen Fentanyl Deaths Rise, Schools Grapple With Their Role
"[Fentanyl's] infiltration into schools is certainly something that cannot be ignored," says Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. LAUSD is one of the largest districts to stock naloxone, a medicine that reverses opioid overdoses, throughout its schools. "We cannot close our eyes. We cannot look the other way," he says. (Nadworny and Gaines, 8/30)

  1. LGBTQ+ Health

The Washington Post: Canada Travel Advisory Warns LGBTQ People Of U.S. State Laws
Canada has updated its travel advisory for the United States to warn LGBTQ travelers that they are at risk of being affected by state and local laws, amid a recent surge in state-level legislation targeting the community. (Li, 8/30)

Bay Area Reporter: LGBTQ Agenda: Lara Responds To Report Finding Insurers Making PrEP Access More Difficult
Gay California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara's office is responding to a report showing how insurers prevent patients from using preventative care mandated under federal law, including PrEP. The report, issued August 4 from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, also outlines six ways government regulators can improve access to preventative services. (Ferrannini, 8/29

State Sues School District Over Transgender Policy: California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a lawsuit Monday against the Chino school district, ordering an end to a policy that requires notifying parents if their children change their gender identity. Read more from the Los Angeles Times, Bay Area News Group, San Francisco Chronicle, and Politico.

San Bernardino Sun: LGBTQ Students On New School Rules: ‘It’s Clear Our Lives Aren’t Important’
Willow Scharf remembers being called a “monster” at a Temecula City Council meeting. She was 15 at the time. “The only hate I’d ever faced was from kids who don’t think for themselves yet. But here, there were adults who spoke so horribly to me,” Scharf said. ... Like Scharf, many LGBTQ students and those who support them are returning to school campus environments that have changed in the past year — and not for the better, they say. (Yarbrough, 8/28)

Los Angeles Times: Can Public Schools Legally 'Out' Trans Students To Their Parents? Experts Weigh In
As a wave of California public school districts explore policies around students and gender identity, the extent to which state law grants young people privacy rights from their parents has come under a sharp spotlight. And while the state’s Democratic leaders contend such privacy rights are clear-cut, constitutional experts say the legal realities are more nuanced, igniting a heated debate likely to move its way through the courts. The question of what responsibility schools have for alerting parents if students say or do something to identify as gender-nonconforming is popping up on school board agendas in conservative pockets across California. (Vega, 8/29)