A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:
Hospitals rethinking precautions in wake of nurse’s Ebola infection, San Francisco Chronicle
At the urging of federal health officials, U.S. hospitals, including some in the Bay Area, are rethinking the protocols they have in place even while assuring the public they are prepared to deal with an Ebola patient. News that a 26-year-old nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital had contracted Ebola after treating a patient has unsettled hospital administrators and health care workers because it seemingly contradicts assurances from federal health officials that U.S. hospitals are well equipped to treat and contain the disease, which has killed more than 4,000 people, primarily in West Africa. “Unnerving” is how Dr. Josh Adler, chief medical officer of UCSF Medical Center, described the transmission of the disease to the nurse, “who presumably was doing her best to protect herself and yet was still infected.” “It tells us this is a fairly contagious virus and really requires every bit of infection control and training that we can muster,” Adler said. Read UC coverage.
Ebola safeguards are being taken, Southland health officials say, Los Angeles Times
Amid news of the first Ebola death in the U.S. — that of Thomas Eric Duncan, who died in a Dallas hospital that initially misdiagnosed him and sent him away — local officials say they are working to get medical providers ready, should an Ebola case emerge in Southern California. So far, there have been no confirmed or suspected Ebola cases in Los Angeles County, and officials say they do not expect a major outbreak. Infection control experts at UCLA medical centers in Westwood and Santa Monica have provided emergency departments with Ebola kits containing recommended protective gear such as suits, masks, gloves and booties. UCLA has an Ebola response team that will take the lead should a case arise and designated areas that are equipped to handle waste disposal, said infectious disease specialist Dr. Daniel Uslan, who is part of the effort. The hospital is also drilling medical workers on procedures.
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is taking steps to prepare in the event that an Ebola patient is admitted. Dr. Zachary Rubin, head of the medical center’s Infection Prevention, says personnel are equipped what they call an “Ebola kit.” Every step in using the kit must be followed exactly to the letter, but Rubin says it can be tricky if a member of the staff has never done it before.
Ebola scare prompts two Sacramento hospitals to ramp up preparedness, The Sacramento Bee
UC Davis Medical Center’s chief medical officer briefed the public on the hospital’s preparedness Thursday, after an Ebola scare earlier in the week tested the response of its emergency department workers and revealed some areas in need of improvement. “This is a very fluid process,” Dr. J. Douglas Kirk said of the Sacramento hospital’s protocols for treating infectious diseases such as the notorious Ebola virus. “We’ve stepped up education and training for our staff and set new guidelines for front-line staff.”
California health officials seek to assure public amid Ebola scare, The Sacramento Bee
California’s top health officials tried to assure an increasingly nervous public on Wednesday that they are ramping up readiness to fight the deadly Ebola virus, including seeking screening at all of the state’s international airports. UC Davis Health System spokeswoman Karen Finney is quoted.
Bay Area scientists work on test to find Ebola virus early (video), CBS San Francisco
It will take a monumental effort to stop the Ebola outbreak in its tracks, but scientists in the Bay Area are working on a new way to detect the virus before it can spread. Imagine, at any port of entry into the U.S., being able to quickly identify travelers infected with Ebola before they show any symptoms. “This is actually an area that we’re currently working on in my laboratory,” said Dr. Charles Chiu, an expert in infectious diseases at UCSF. His team is currently analyzing samples from Ebola patients. “The goal is eventually to use this information, if we can, to establish and make available a rapid diagnostic test for diagnoses of the Ebola virus,” Chiu said.
Ebola nurse in Dallas: Why one Texas hospital couldn’t contain Ebola, International Business Times
The United States has the most expensive health care system in the world, its gleaming hospitals outfitted with the latest technologies and equipment, and yet health care professionals couldn’t prevent a Texas nurse treating an Ebola patient from contracting the disease last week. The spread of Ebola at the Dallas hospital has raised questions about the U.S. health care system’s ability to contain the contagious virus and protect medical workers amid a growing outbreak poised to soon claim 4,500 lives worldwide. Art Reingold, head of epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, is quoted.
John Villasenor, professor of public policy in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and a professor of electrical engineering in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, recommends more rigorous training protocols to protect those charged with treating people who are sick. He suggests using big data to help protect health workers from Ebola exposure.
California investments could reap 5-to-1 return, HealthData Management
A University of California center that fosters health care innovation at UC’s five medical centers is proving to be a boon to both patient health and the bottom line. Grants made by UC’s Center for Health Quality and Innovation to fund projects that improve patient care and satisfaction at UC hospitals are paying off with positive results, including fewer blood clots and better post-surgical care at UC hospitals.
See additional coverage: California Healthline
Study: Tobacco use toll drops in California, but smoking still more deadly than AIDS, San Francisco Examiner
Smoking is more fatal and its associated health care costs are likely much more expensive in California than AIDS, Alzheimer’s or diabetes, according to a study published today by UC San Francisco researchers. However, the toll of smoking in the state actually decreased between 1999 and 2009 after rising the previous decade, from 1989 to 1999, said Wendy Max, the study’s principal investigator and a professor of health economics at the UCSF School of Nursing and director of the UCSF Institute for Health and Aging. The study is the third in a series of reports published every 10 years on costs attributed to smoking in California. It was conducted over three years at the Institute for Health and Aging thanks to a grant from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program of the University of California’s Office of the President.
Whether they admit it or not, many (if not most) scientists secretly hope to get a call in October informing them they’ve won a Nobel Prize. But I’ve talked to a lot of Nobel laureates, and they are unanimous on one point: None of them pursued a research topic with the intention of winning the prize. That’s certainly true for Jennifer Doudna. She hasn’t won a Nobel Prize yet, but many are whispering that she’s in line to win one for her work on something called CRISPR/Cas9 — a tool for editing genes. The idea came when she and her colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, were in essence trying to figure out how bacteria fight the flu. The goal was really more of a basic science question, Doudna says.
Nobody would mistake sugary soda for a health food, but a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health just found that a daily soda habit can age your immune cells almost two years. Senior study author Elissa Epel, professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco, wanted to look at the mechanisms behind soda’s storied link to conditions like diabetes, heart attack, obesity, and even higher rates of death. She studied telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes in every cell in our body, from white blood cells. Shorter telomeres have been linked to health detriments like shorter lifespans and more stress, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, the study notes.
UCLA plans behavioral health center, California Healthline
A ceremony Oct. 14 at UCLA officially unveiled plans for a research center devoted to behavioral health, a $7.5 million investment that mirrors a sister effort at UC Davis in Sacramento. Together, they are called the Centers for Excellence in Behavioral Health, funded by $15 million over three years from the Mental Health Services Act, created in 2004 when California voters passed Proposition 63. “The idea is to take what we do here at the UC [system] and … translate the science into policy and bring it to evidence-based practice in the community,” said Peter Whybrow, director of UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, where the behavioral health center will be.
New UCLA telehealth program part of national trend, California Healthline
A new consumer service launched by UCLA is part of a growing national trend of using telehealth technology to let patients and physicians connect using mobile phones, tablets and computers. LiveHealthOnline, launched last month by UCLA Health System, is one of about 200 telemedicine networks in the U.S., according to the American Telemedicine Association. Like many remote physician services, the goal is to provide convenience to busy patients with minor ailments who don’t have time to get into a doctor’s office. “For population health, it gives us the ability to expand our reach but in a convenient way,” said Peter Kung, director of strategic technologies for the UCLA Health System. “People don’t have to drive in Los Angeles traffic for a cold and cough and we can uphold quality.”
Study backs use of stem cells in retinas, The New York Times
Since they were first isolated 16 years ago, human embryonic stem cells have been thought to have the potential to replace the body’s worn-out tissues and treat a wide variety of diseases. The progress has been slow. But now researchers are reporting an encouraging step. A therapy for eye diseases that was derived from stem cells appeared to be safe and might have improved the vision of some patients, according to a new study. The results, published on Tuesday evening by the journal The Lancet, represent the most extensive human data yet on any treatment derived from such embryonic stem cells. The 18 patients in the study were followed for a median of 22 months, two of them for more than three years. Dr. Steven D. Schwartz, a retina specialist at UCLA and the lead author of the paper, is quoted.
UCLA study shows why one of the biggest Obamacare fears may not come to pass, California Healthline
Something like 10 million Americans — give or take a few million — have gained health coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act. And here’s one way to put that in perspective: In just six months between late 2013 and early 2014, the nation’s persistently high uninsured rate fell by a staggering 25%. So does this mean that the nation’s already busy emergency departments are about to bust at the seams, as some Obamacare critics suggest? That states still nixing the Medicaid expansion are right to worry it would overcrowd their hospitals? Not necessarily, says UCLA’s Gerald Kominski. Kominski, director of UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research, and colleagues looked at what happened when hundreds of thousands of Californians signed up for a proto-version of Obamacare: the Low Income Health Plan, better known as the LIHP. And UCLA’s new study — released on Wednesday — tracks nearly 200,000 enrollees in the LIHP between 2011 and 2013.
Dance medicine workshop at Davis conference engages younger crowds, The Sacramento Bee
Dozens cycled in and out of a UC Davis classroom this weekend to hear the story of Isha Loyd, a seven-year cast member of the Sacramento Ballet who was forced to leave the stage earlier this year because of a ganglion cyst in her right foot. Raising the next crop of physicians was the main focus of the 12th annual UC Davis Pre-medical and Pre-health Professions National Conference held Saturday and Sunday for high school, college and post-graduate students interested in the medical field.
Email hacking source of UC Davis breach, Clinical Innovation+Technology
The University of California Davis Health System has notified 1,326 patients that their protected health information was compromised when a physician’s email account was hacked.
See additional coverage: Healthcare IT News