LA County Women At Greater Risk For Heart Disease

To commemorate American Hearth Month, Los Angeles County public health officials are advising residents, especially women, to learn about factors that put them at risk for cardiovascular disease and take immediate steps to reduce and control those risks. Cardiovascular disease, commonly referred to as heart disease, includes coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure and several other conditions including arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy, and peripheral arterial disease.

To put it into perspective, a woman dies every minute from cardiovascular disease nationally. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death, among women, yet many women do not perceive themselves as being at the same risk as men said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Public Health Director and County Health Officer.

Heart disease and stroke are also the leading causes of premature death and disability in LA County. Data from the LA County Office of Women’s Health indicate that adult women in LA County die from cardiovascular disease at a higher rate than the national rate, with the largest disparities among African American women. Additionally, 52% of African American women, 38% of Latinas and 35% of white women were found to be at risk for heart disease, defined as having two or more of the following factors: cigarette smoking, physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and high blood cholesterol.

Even though 53% (459,000) of cardiovascular deaths in 2005 nationally were in women compared to 47% (411,000) in men, awareness that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among women is much lower than the awareness that it is the leading cause of death among men. Also, a 2006 national study conducted by the American Heart Association evaluated trends in women’s awareness, knowledge, and perceptions related to cardiovascular disease since 1997. Although awareness has increased, knowledge gaps exists among ethnic and racial minorities. Only 31% of African American women and 29% of Latina women compared to 68% of white women reported cardiovascular disease as a leading cause of death.

While progress has been made against some factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease in the general LA County residents, many challenges still remain. Trends in cigarette smoking between 1997 and 2005 indicate a decline in some county residents, especially among Latino, white, and Asian adults, however rates are still climbing among African Americans. In addition obesity increased from 12% to 21% in the same period, and a substantial proportion of adults (37.5%) report a sedentary lifestyle.

A phone survey conducted by the Office of Women’s Health helps women determine their risk for heart disease. Women can call a toll-free hotline, 1-800-793-8090, for their Healthy Heart Risk Assessment. Based on the caller’s risk level, they will receive an information packet in their preferred language that includes educational materials on heart disease prevention and a resource guide for free and low-cost health and fitness programs in LA County. Operators are available in 7 languages Monday – Friday 8:30 am-6:00 pm. Services are provided in the following languages: English, Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Vietnamese and Armenian. The goal of this phone-based, multi-language survey is to raise awareness and reach low-income women that might not have access to a traditional health care network.

Supervisor Don Knabe Honored By Children’s Mental Health Agency For Support Of Children’s Causes

Intercommunity Child Guidance Center (ICGC), which provides comprehensive mental health and social services for children and their families, recently recognized Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe for spearheading landmark programs designed to safeguard children.

While on the Board of Supervisors, Don Knabe has repeatedly advocated for and supported groundbreaking programs to protect the lives of children and safeguard their environment, said ICGC Executive Director Charlene Dimas-Peinado. He’s truly been a champion of children’s causes throughout his career, as well as an advocate for children’s mental health services.

ICGC, which serves the Whittier and Southeast Los Angeles County area, presented its Children’s Champion Award to Supervisor Knabe during its recent 50th Anniversary Gala held at the historic Ritz Carlton Huntington Hotel and Spa in Pasadena.

Supervisor Knabe championed the County’s Safe Surrender Program in 2001, which allows a parent or guardian to drop off an infant, three days old or younger, to a hospital emergency room or other designated location without fear of arrest and prosecution. Based on the State’s Safe Haven Law, the program has saved the lives of more than 60 newborn children.

In addition, Supervisor Knabe led efforts for the creation of a Child Care Quality Review System in Los Angeles County, sought enhanced County’s oversight of the State-licensed Foster Family Homes program, led a drive to reform the County’s Department of Children’s and Family Services and helped to establish a rating system for child care centers to help parents make informed choices.

Proceeds from the gala dinner benefited the Early Attachments, that last a Lifetime Infant-Toddler Center, an ICGC project in partnership with Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier. The Center will provide an early intervention and prevention program for families with infants at-risk for abuse, neglect or foster care placement with the goal of decreasing that risk by providing services aimed at fulfilling the well-being of the entire family system.

Los Angeles County To Appoint Hepatitis Coordinator

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has announced the creation of a groundbreaking new position, the Hepatitis Coordinator. This marks the first time such an appointment has been made in the County, highlighting the severity of the Hepatitis C (HCV) epidemic, which affects 180,000 people in the County.

Hepatitis C is a major global health issue – a ‘viral time bomb.’ It is clearly an important public health problem in Los Angeles County, said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, MD, MPH, Director, Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Our mission is to have a concerted effort to address this health issue countywide. With the additional resource of a coordinator, we will be able to expand and enhance our current activities. Collaborations with internal and external partners will be key to our success in raising awareness, providing treatment services and delivering technical assistance to other partners working against Hepatitis C.

There are now more people in Los Angeles infected with Hepatitis C than with HIV. Hepatitis C is a major cause of preventable death in the county with syringe-sharing as the primary method of transmission. Sexual transmission among men who have sex with men is also increasing the Hepatitis C epidemic.

The new Coordinator position is essential to addressing the needs of those with Hepatitis C and stopping the spread of the blood-borne virus. Despite the known and unknown number of Angelenos infected with Hepatitis C, the health crisis is not getting the attention it demands. The new county position will help change that, according to Brian Risley, Co-Chair, Hepatitis C Task Force for Los Angeles County.

For more information on the Hepatitis C Task Force or Hepatitis C, please visit

It’s Time For Your Flu Shot LA County

Los Angeles County health officials announce that flu vaccines, including FluMist nasal spray, will be available at community health centers and community outreach clinics starting now through early December for groups at high risk for serious complications related to the flu. County community health centers are able to dispense free flu vaccine to qualifying patients without a regular health care provider or whose healthcare provider does not offer flu vaccine, regardless of income level. Qualified patients include those 50 years of age and older, children from six months to five years of age, women who will be pregnant during the flu season, or those with a medical condition that puts them at risk for flu complications (e.g. chronic heart or lung conditions, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS). There is no shortage of flu vaccine this season.

Influenza is a serious and highly contagious illness that is rapidly spread from person to person through uncovered coughs and sneezes. The virus may also be spread by touching an object with the virus on it and then touching ones mouth, nose or eyes. People with flu can start spreading the virus to others one day before symptoms appear and up to five days after showing signs of illness.

Some people could experience a few short-term side effects after getting a flu shot. These include soreness, redness or swelling at the vaccine site, low fever and aches. Symptoms should clear up within two days, but if they do not people should talk to a doctor. Side effects associated with the FluMist vaccine include runny nose or nasal congestion, sore throat in adults, and a fever higher than 100° in children two to six years of age.

For those whose usual health care providers do not have vaccine, other sources are available. Many pharmacies are administering flu vaccine. These and other places can be found by logging onto

The following is the list of stops that the Outreach Program is going to be making in the Fourth District:

Knabe Hosts Workshop For Service Providers Seeking County Mental Health Funding

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe and the Department of Mental Health are conducting a workshop on October 31, 2007 to address funding opportunities that are available to community public social service providers through the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). The workshop will also serve as a forum to address the MHSA’s progress in Los Angeles County and future funding opportunities.

The workshop will address the following topics: a brief overview of the MHSA including how much funding is available, how local funding priorities will be determined, helpful hints to submitting a successful proposal, and the benefits of forming a collaboration with other service providers present. The workshop also includes an introduction of key players who are available to help you, an opportunity to have each key player respond to any questions you may have, a chance to meet potential partners in an informal environment.

The workshop will take place on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at The Grand in Long Beach. The Grand is located at 4101 East Willow Street in Long Beach. If you plan on attending you must RSVP by October 22, 2007 with Destiny Walker at (213) 738-4607 or

New County Public Health Laboratory Dedicated

Supervisor Don Knabe and leaders from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health participated in the ribbon-cutting and dedication of a new laboratory this week. The public health lab is the County’s focal point for testing, observation, and rapid response on hundreds of thousands of human specimens and environmental samples.

Through the testing services at this multi-million dollar, technologically advanced lab, we can quickly test water and food for contamination, identify the sources of disease outbreaks and limit their spread, and test and treat sick patients with serious, communicable diseases as quickly as possible, said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. The lab is a key component in our fight against terrorism through testing for chemical and biological agents in environmental samples and human specimens.

The facility, located in the City of Downey, opened its doors in March. The previous laboratory had been housed in downtown Los Angeles. The new, more spacious location allows for the implementation of advanced technology and equipment that increases the lab’s capabilities. The bigger facility gives approximately 165 staffers room to safely and effectively do their jobs in over 34,000 square feet of laboratory space.

The dedication of this facility is about something very critical in the life of this County and the service we provide to our over 10 million residents, said Supervisor Knabe. This laboratory and its dedicated staff are committed to the singular goal of keeping you and your family safe from disease and biological threats. The work that will be completed in this facility will touch the life of every person in this County in a positive way.

Los Angeles County’s public health lab is unique among other local public health laboratories in California due to the volume of testing it performs. The laboratory conducts more than 700,000 tests on 400,000-plus specimens per year. It serves the needs of more than 10 million residents and tens of thousands of visitors in the County.

The work the laboratory does to support the health and well-being of the public includes the following:

– Specialized monitoring and reference testing for the detection of biological and chemical terrorism agents in environmental samples and human specimens.

– Testing drinking water and recreational water for harmful bacteria.

– Supporting the tuberculosis control program through testing patient specimens to detect and identify active TB cases. The lab also tests for TB strains that may be multi-drug or extremely-drug resistant, in order to guide effective patient treatment and to determine if there is an outbreak.

– Testing foods for the possibility of contamination, which means a faster response on recalls of tainted items.

-Testing specimens during disease outbreaks, such as Hepatitis A, E. Coli O157, botulism, and salmonellosis, to prevent further spread and quickly treat those affected.

– Testing for the presence of West Nile Virus and other viruses transmitted by mosquitoes.

– Blood lead testing to detect elevated levels of lead in children.

– Performing rabies testing on potentially infected animals as part of an on-going rabies control program.

– Supporting HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted disease programs through patient specimen testing, outreach programs, and demonstration projects to enhance disease control and prevention efforts.

– Training, education, and consultation for laboratory personnel within and outside of Los Angeles County.

– Providing reference and specialized testing to help hospital laboratories and doctors in diagnosing unusual and rare diseases.

– Identifying emerging diseases and new strains of germs that cause disease.

This state-of-the-art facility is necessary for the protection and health of those in Los Angeles County. Through testing and monitoring, public health officials are better able to prevent widespread illness in the community.

County to Acquire New Mobile Hospital for Disaster Response

The County of Los Angeles will soon have a new mobile hospital to provide support to local hospitals in the event of a large-scale disaster such as an earthquake, pandemic influenza, or bioterrorism incident, thanks to a Homeland Security grant accepted by the Board of Supervisors.

The $5,390,000 grant will allow the County’s Department of Health Services (DHS), through its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agency, to purchase a new Mobile Hospital, medical equipment for the hospital, a warehouse lease to house the hospital, and personal radiation equipment.

The mobile hospital system consists of a tractor-trailer facility and a tent facility. Each facility is self-contained and can be deployed independently of each other depending on the type and scale of the incident. The Tractor-Trailer Mobile Hospital Component consists of two 53-foot tractor-trailers, and will serve as the patient care facility, which includes two surgical suites and ten critical care beds. The Tent Structure Mobile Hospital Component is comprised of four 25-bed tent modules, and can be deployed as a 25-bed, 50-bed, or 100-bed facility. Each module is fully equipped with a heating and air-conditioning system, an electrical power distribution system with generator, folding patient cots and treatment beds, sanitation facilities, and a refrigerator.

DHS applied for the funds through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s 2006 Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) Grant program, which provides funding to address the unique equipment, training, planning and exercise needs of large urban areas. The grant process is being overseen by the California Office of Homeland Security.

This new mobile hospital and emergency equipment will greatly enhance our ability to respond to a natural disaster or an act of terrorism, said Supervisor Don Knabe. I applaud the Department of Health Services for working hard to secure these critical funds.

Plan Will Keep Social Security Services in San Pedro

With the future of the San Pedro Social Security Administration (SSA) Office in jeopardy due to a scheduled closure, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe has offered a solution to use County facilities to keep the office open for business. Facing budget constraints and the scheduled end of an existing lease, the San Pedro SSA office is set to close in October 2008.

Concerned about the negative impact such a closure would have on the community, Supervisor Knabe collaborated with other local elected officials to keep the much-needed services local. Supervisor Knabe offered the free use of office space in the County’s San Pedro Service Center in an effort to maintain the SSA presence in San Pedro.

Approximately 300 people visit the San Pedro Social Security Office on daily basis, many of whom are senior citizens or those with disabilities. The next closest SSA Office is the Long Beach District Office, which is eight miles away.

Removing Social Security services from San Pedro would be very problematic for many of our elderly and disabled residents in this community who need these services, said Supervisor Knabe. Using the San Pedro Service Center as a Social Security site is a practical way of keeping these vital services in this community.

Los Angeles County Awarded $162 Million for Programs Addressing Healthcare Crisis

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) is one of 10 counties in the state that will receive a portion of a $540 million pot of federal funds to develop an innovative healthcare program for low income, uninsured adult patients.

Los Angeles County was awarded the largest and maximum allocation of $54 million annually for three years in the competitive bid, referred to as the Coverage Initiative, for a total funding allocation of $162 million for its Healthy Way L.A. program, which will start September 1.

The local initiative will enroll 94,000 uninsured county patients, many with chronic illnesses, in a program that establishes a community based medical home for the patient in the county’s health centers and public/private partner (PPP) clinics. The program will provide access to primary care services and regular treatment for chronic diseases.

Federal funding restrictions in the coverage initiative limit enrollees to adult citizens or documented residents living at the federal poverty level.

The department spent four months planning and writing its proposal, with extensive input from community stakeholders on ways to reform the current health system within a defined patient segment. A cornerstone of Healthy Way L.A. effort is to provide coordinated care by establishing a medical home for the patient in his or her community for preventive services and chronic disease management for conditions like diabetes, asthma, and congestive heart failure.

Homeless Housing Program Celebrates Milestone

It has been nearly three years since 45-year-old Lloyd Robinson last had a home; instead he has been sleeping in garages, cars and on benches, since he became homeless in 2004. Homelessness came to an end for Robinson earlier this month when he received the keys to his very own apartment in Whittier.

Lloyd Robinson is the very first participant in Supervisor Don Knabe’s pilot program that will create permanent housing opportunities for dozens of homeless individuals and families. The Access to Housing for Health (AHH) Pilot Project was proposed by Knabe and approved by the Board of Supervisors in December 2006. It utilizes $1.5 million of the $80 million in funding for Countywide homeless prevention initiatives that was approved by the Board of Supervisors last year. AHH is a partnership between the County, the City, and community service providers.

The primary goal of the program is to dramatically improve housing options for homeless men and women who seek care at County hospitals by connecting them with permanent housing opportunities once they leave the hospital. Upon leaving County hospitals, homeless clients are referred to Homeless Health Care Los Angeles, which provides case management services. The clients receive temporary housing, and either a Section 8 housing voucher or a public housing unit, and are then linked to supportive services designed to help them successfully remain in housing.

The pilot program is designed to place up to 115 homeless clients into permanent housing. The Housing Authority of Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles City Housing Authority each set aside 50 of their Section 8 vouchers for the program and Del Richardson and Associates assist AHH clients with finding suitable housing. In addition, the County Housing Authority has set aside 15 public housing units.

Lloyd Robinson became the first participant in the program after learning about it while being treated for pneumonia at Rancho Los Amigos – a County-operated rehabilitation hospital.

"A social worker at Rancho Los Amigos told me about Access to Housing for Health and I thought that might be my chance for me to finally get off the streets," said Robinson. "If it wasn’t for this program I would be still living in the street, but by the grace of God I was blessed."

Robinson officially enrolled in AHH on March 8, 2007, and is now connected to a network of support services, including case management, housing locator services, counseling, ongoing medical care, and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. He received the keys to his new apartment on April 24 and moved in a few weeks later.

"Before this program, we had virtually no way to ensure that homeless men and women leaving our hospitals would receive safe housing or appropriate care," said Supervisor Knabe. "Mr. Robinson was a wonderful story of redemption and courageousness and I look forward to hearing similar stories as this program continues."

"The program helped me gain my health back and gave me the opportunity to look forward to a better life," said Robinson. "I now have a beautiful home that I can call my own."