Author: Claudia Boyd-Barrett

At High Risk From Coronavirus, Undocumented Seniors Fear Seeking Medical Care

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, public health experts are calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to fulfill a budget proposal that would expand Medi-Cal eligibility to undocumented seniors.

They argue that having thousands of uninsured elderly residents in the state puts these seniors and the broader public at risk. Many see it as a step toward a broader goal: extending coverage to all low-income, undocumented adults.

Kids Who Rely On Ventilators Can’t Get Enough Supplies, Putting Their Lives At Risk

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for ventilators and accessories has soared. As a result, families caring for medically fragile kids are being forced to ration and even reuse parts.

At least 3,000 children in California rely on ventilators, according to the California Association of Medical Product Suppliers, and many of them are facing a shortage of the supplies that help keep them alive.

For Californians Without Water Access, Coronavirus Adds Another Layer of Struggle

As Californians across the state shelter at home amid the COVID-19 outbreak, an estimated 1 million of them lack access to clean drinking water, one of the most fundamental resources for maintaining health and hygiene.

Many of these residents are concentrated in rural parts of the state, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley, where dozens of small public water systems fail to meet safety standards.

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.

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