Author: Claudia Boyd-Barrett

Community Groups Serve as Pandemic Information Lifeline to Non-English Speakers

Across the state, groups that serve immigrant and ethnically diverse populations are scrambling to meet a sudden surge in demand for coronavirus-related information in languages other than English.

While state and local authorities do provide translations of some information, particularly in more widely-spoken languages such as Spanish, there remain huge gaps in what is available, particularly given the speed at which news and policies around the coronavirus are developing.

Pandemic Underscores the Plight of Undocumented Californians

California is home to more than 2 million undocumented immigrants, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Now, in the unprecedented economic and health emergency of COVID-19, undocumented Californians are among the most vulnerable.

Some immigrant advocacy groups are calling on the state to extend unemployment insurance and the earned income tax credit to undocumented workers to cushion the economic blow from job losses.

Coronavirus Disrupts Services, Heightens Risk for Medically Fragile Children

Even though children in general are less likely than adults to develop serious illness from the coronavirus, that may not be the case for kids with compromised immune systems and complex health care needs, medical experts said.

Still, families of children with complex health care needs are, in some ways, more prepared than others to handle the threat of coronavirus infection. Hand washing, disinfecting and caution about venturing outside are already a reality.

Coronavirus Forces Low-Wage Workers to Make Difficult Choices

As public health officials call on Californians to help stop the spread of the virus, many low-wage workers are being forced to make potentially life-threatening choices: whether to heed the precautions and lose income they rely on, or to show up for work anyway in order to put food on their tables and pay their rent.

These choices could be critical because low-wage earners often have jobs involving interactions with the public, such as serving food, caring for the elderly or cleaning hotel rooms.

Californians Want Better Mental Health Care. Can the State Deliver?

California’s top health priority should be making sure that people who need mental health treatment can get it, over 90 percent of respondents said in a recent poll.

People of color often feel the lack of access more acutely, researchers found, with 75 percent of black and 57 percent of Latino respondents noting that their communities don’t have enough mental health providers, compared to 49 percent of white participants.

California Agencies Failing to Regulate Mental Health Care Funding and Promptly Investigate Abuse in Nursing Homes, Auditor Finds

The California State Auditor condemned three government agencies in a recent report for failing to fix problems with health care programs that serve some of the state’s most vulnerable residents.

The Department of Health Care Services has been slow to improve oversight of how counties manage and spend money for mental health care, the auditor said.

Children Who Need Wheelchairs and Other Medical Equipment Often Wait Months or Years Because of Byzantine State System

The complicated system creates a disparity where children from families without the means to pay for medical equipment out of pocket often must go without it for months or years, limiting their interactions with their community or setting them up for poorer health outcomes compared to their wealthier peers.

The equipment families seek includes lifts, wheelchairs, walkers, ventilators and hospital beds.

New Screenings for Childhood Trauma Raise Hopes, Questions

California health officials are gearing up for the launch of a statewide screening effort that aims to help doctors measure children’s exposure to trauma and their risk of related health problems.

Starting Jan. 1, California will become the first state in the nation to reimburse health care providers who screen patients enrolled in the Medi-Cal program for “adverse childhood experiences” or ACEs.

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