• National Health Care Statistics and Population Health from a Westside Kern County Point of View – Gerald (Jerry) Starr, Executive Director; West Side Health Care District

    I have always heard that Statistics can be boring! At times, however, Statistics can be “Wow” or “Gee Whiz” “I didn’t know that”! Well, let’s look at some of the statistics that present challenges and opportunities for Westside Family Health Care-our Rural Health Clinic. First, citizens of the Westside of Kern County might find some of the national 2018 Key Healthcare Industry statistics interesting:

        • This Nation spends 18% of our Gross National Product (GNP) on health care: $18,624 Billion dollars
        • Medicare and Medicaid (in California that’s Medi-Cal) spends $1,130.5 Billion dollars and the total for Personal Healthcare Expenditure is $2,340 Billion
        • We are spending $10,348 per person for healthcare in our country!
        • There are 5,534 Hospitals in our country and that’s down from 5,810 in the year 2000.
        • The Life expectancy in our country now for males is 76.4 years and for females is 81.2 years
        • The Infant mortality per 1,000 live births was 5.8 in 2014 and the U.S rank among the world’s nations is 24th. That’s down (down is good) from 27th in 2000. (More on that later!)
        • Enough “Gee Whiz” national statistics? Well, I can direct you to many sources if you really want to study them.

    Let’s review some of the public health statistics from Western Kern County (using only the 93268 zip code). These numbers are from The Healthy Kern County: Community Dashboard comparing statistics from zip code 93268 with “California Counties” statistics for the period 2013 to 2015. These were downloaded from this past August.

    Let’s look at two of the traditional measurements for public health concerns: Diabetes; and, Maternal, Fetal and Infant Health for Zip code 93268:

    For Diabetes:
        • The rate of Emergency Room visits per 10,000 patients due to diabetes from 93268 is 19.2. Compared with California Counties that rate (19.2) is “Green”. Green is good in that the rate is lower than the statewide average of 24.5/10,000.
        • The rate of Emergency Room visits per 10,000 patients due to Long-Term Complications from diabetes from 93268 is 10.1/10,000. That is also “Green” as the statewide average is 11.7.
    These rates sound great! But could the incidences of those seeking Emergency Room care for diabetes related problems be affected by the other factors? Consider the limited access to primary care physicians in the 93268 zip code; and, the fact that the nearest emergency room(s) are over 35 miles away.
        • The rate of hospitalizations due to diabetes is another thing! The rate for 93268 patients is 24.6/10,000 population and that rate is well within the “RED ZONE” when compared with the 57 California Counties (Mean is 15.7/10,000).
        • The rate of hospitalizations due to Long-Term Complications from diabetes is 13.3/10.000 patients and that, again, is well within the “RED ZONE” when compared with the 57 California Counties (mean is 8.8/10,000).

    Let’s review the Maternal, Fetal and Infant Health for Zip code 93268:

        • Low Birth Weight: (more likely to have health problems and neonatal intensive care).
    This rate is measured as a percentage of live births. Low birth weight is a birth baby that weighs less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces. The rate for 93268 is 8.1%, well within the “RED ZONE” when compared with California Counties. The target rate for Low Birth weight rate is 7.8%.
            o There is some good news, however, when you note that the percentage of Low Birth Weight babies- between 2009 and 2012- for 93268 declined from 13.1% to 8.1% in 2012.
        • Infant Mortality Rate: Remember the national Infant Mortality Rate was 5.8/1,000 in 2014? Well, the Infant Mortality Rate for zip code 93268 in 2009 was 20.7 deaths per 1,000 live births when compared with the 57 California Counties. Very much within the “RED ZONE”!
        • Early Prenatal Care is a major factor in preventing Low Birth Weight babies and a major factor in reducing Infant Mortality. Early Prenatal Care is defined as “care in the first trimester” (the first three months of pregnancy). Moms that do not receive prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight baby and the baby is five times more likely to die than the babies of Moms who get prenatal care. Scary statistics for sure.
            o The statistic for Mothers who received Early Prenatal Care for Zip Code 93268 in 2012 is 67.5%! This is well within the “RED ZONE” when compared to California Counties and well below the national target of 77.9% set by the Healthy People 2020 organization.

    The public health indicators we see for our District are similar to what many Districts and health care organizations in rural, underserved, areas of California experience. The awareness of the public health indicators for our Zip Code of 93268 creates a challenge as well as an opportunity for the Board and staff of the West Side Health Care District. The District has set the goal of increasing the availability and access to primary health care for the citizens of the West Side Health Care District. The success of that goal is critical to addressing these public health and wellness problems.

    The District began to address this challenge in 2015 with the goal to continue the walk-in services while starting projects to expand the primary care services available to the Westside through our existing Clinic. West Side Family Health Care became a federally certified Rural Health Clinic in January of 2017. We have full time and per diem physicians and two full-time Family Nurse Practitioners scheduled during the 88-hours the clinic is open each week. In late summer or early fall of 2019 we will add 12,810 square feet of clinical space at 100 E. North Street–the current site of the Clinic. The added space will allow the District to offer additional services to address the primary care needs of our community. The availability of, and access to, Primary Care is the proven prescription for addressing the health and wellness needs of a (our) community’s population. We have a wonderful opportunity; we have a plan in motion and please “Watch us Grow” to meet our public health goals and Mission.

  • Bed Bugs, a commentary from Gerald (Jerry) Starr, Executive Director; West Side Health Care District

    Have you ever heard: “Good Night, Sleep tight and don’t let the Bed Bugs Bite!”? Well, that may have been a comment as mom or dad tucked us in for the night a generation ago; but, recently? Bed Bugs have re-emerged as a “for real” household pest. Bed bugs are an annoying and biting pest! Bed bugs, if present in your home, are a real concern to control-and-“a must” for you to remove yourself and the family from exposure!

    We at the District and the Clinic sincerely appreciate the very complete and common-sense approach that the Taft City School District has taken in caring for their students and their families who may be faced with bed bug problems. We thank them for sharing their Policy with us.

    For the staff of your West Side Family Health Care Clinic the presence of bed bugs in the Clinic is a very real concern. Patients with a medical problem that present when they have bed bugs on their clothing or person, may, unknowingly, create an exposure for our staff, other patients and visitors to the effects of bed bug bites.

    When the Clinic becomes aware that there is a real or suspected presence of bed bugs we take actions to prevent exposure to staff, patients and visitors. Patients, if appropriate are isolated and the area of potential exposure is closed off. The furniture, equipment, linen, clothing and even the spaces that “the little critters” like to hide in, are cleaned with special solutions to prevent further exposures. In some cases the Clinic may have to temporarily close to control the exposure. We regret the inconvenience that results to our patients and their families.

    Let’s look at some additional information about bed bugs!

        • Bed Bugs do not discriminate! They are not the result of unsanitary conditions. They can be found to exist in the cleanest hotels, motels, apartments and homes.
        • Bed Bugs do not carry disease! The bites are irritating, they itch and they can become infected. But there is no evidence that bed bugs are involved in the transmission of any disease agent.
        • Bed Bugs require blood meals to grow in stages and lay their eggs. They find warm-blooded humans and animals. They don’t travel far as long as they have access to blood meals.
        • How do we avoid these “little critters”? Prevention is the best way! Search out their many favorite hiding places: bedding, upholstered furniture, pet bedding, etc. An assessment or belief that there is an “infestation”? Then the best solution is a professional pest control company.
        • Source: Purdue University : Google Medical Entomology; Insects and Ticks > Bed Bugs

    Patients or family members who have a health or wellness issue who are also aware that they may have bed bugs on their person or clothing should call to make an appointment with the Clinic (765-1935). The patient or parent/child will be asked to enter the Clinic at the rear door of the Clinic where we will be able to receive, assess and treat the patient. This will help us to limit any exposure of bed bugs to other areas/patients of the clinic.

    Thank you for helping the staff of West Side Family Health Care treat our patients while we limit or avoid the impact of the occasional presence of those annoying little critters; the “Cimex lectularius”!

  • Think Pink!

  • Coming Soon – West Side Family Health Outpatient Center!

    The all new West Side Family Health Outpatient Center is coming soon! Please join us as we break ground on the new Outpatient Center on Friday, July 13, 2018. The event will be held at the facility (located at 100 E. North St. Taft, CA) beginning at 9:00 a.m. and you are invited! For more information, please call 661-765-7234.

  • WSHCD Awarded the Certified Health Care District Designation

    West Side Health Care District was recently awarded the Certified Health Care District Designation by the Association of California Healthcare Districts. Click here to read more!