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The Bakersfield Californian

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The sustained fire power and reach of seven news outlets – combined with community outreach efforts – have yielded results as we approach the one-year anniversary of the new Reporting on Health Collaborative and its series on the toll of valley fever.

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A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued last week, shows that the incidence of valley fever cases is up an astounding 850 percent over the past decade-plus.

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Congratulations to four recent California Endowment Health Journalism Fellows for being chosen for 2012 AHCJ Awards for their Fellowship project.

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Kudos to state Sen. Michael Rubio for stepping forward and pledging to do something about the rise in valley fever cases we've seen in recent years.

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The press coverage by the Reporting on Health Collaborative exposed just how little attention the airborne fungal infection has received from officials at all levels of government. This has to end.

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A group of journalists plans to tackle a large community health problem in California -- Valley Fever, also known by its more technical name, coccidioidomycosis or “cocci.” Their reporting will dig deep into the trends, the costs, the science, the funding and the policy responses to the disease.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

Concerns about the quality of Caribbean-educated students aren't completely unsubstantiated. A 2010 study published in Health Affairs examined mortality rates of nearly 250,000 hospitalizations. The patients of foreign-born international medical graduates had the lowest patient death rates while U.S. citizens who study abroad had the highest rates -- a difference authors called "striking."

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Jesse Cottrell is a fourth-year medical student who decided to attend the American University of the Caribbean for a simple reason: "I couldn't get into a U.S. school."

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The Bakersfield Californian recently took on one of the most ambitious health care quality projects I have seen attempted by an outlet outside of the really big markets. One reporter, Kellie Schmitt, wanted to answer two questions: whether most of the doctors in Kern County were from another country and whether that mattered.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

Kellie Schmitt reports on a Caribbean medical school that recently agreed to pay Kern Medical Center $35 million to have its students train at the cash-strapped county hospital. Some see this as one way to help solve the U.S. shortage of primary care physicians. Others worry because Caribbean medical schools don't receive the same accreditation as their U.S counterparts.

Announcements

COVID-19 has made every journalist a health reporter, whether their usual beat is crime, education or county government.  Our 2021 California Fellowship will make anyone who attends a better health reporter -- and give you a reporting grant of $2,000-$10,000 and five months of mentoring while you work on an ambitious project. Deadline to apply: March 1.

In our next webinar, we’ll analyze Biden’s COVID-19 strategy in the first 100 days — and the huge obstacles the new federal effort must confront. We’ll also look at how Biden plans to address the economic devastation wrought by the pandemic, with a focus on women and vulnerable families. Sign-up here!

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