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Alameda County,California,United States

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The Internet and social media have a way of upending professional conventions and giving rise to new models.  As traditional boundaries blur, some unique collaborations have emerged between cutting-edge journalists and public health practitioners. I’ve been fascinating by some of these projects, which have yielded new insights, ground-breaking stories and new ways of connecting with the public. 

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On Sunday, a four-part series a year in the making runs in the Bay Area News Group. As the science reporter for the chain, I teamed with health reporter Sandy Kleffman to report and write this series.

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Bay Area News Group will begin a four part series on health inequities Sunday that will feature ZIP code maps revealing wide disparities in life expectancy, asthma hospitalizations, heart diease and cancer rates.

The project, by reporters Sandy Kleffman and Suzanne Bohan, found striking health differences among ZIP codes just a few miles apart.

Even middle-class neighborhoods are affected, the analysis reveals. Middle-class areas have longer life expectancies than the poorest neighborhoods, but fall years short of life expectancies in the wealthiest areas.

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Over $1 billion in services are poured into the 13 poorest neighborhoods of Alameda County each year. It is what Anthony Iton calls "services overkill."

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Original post on KQED's Bay Area Bites blog. Spinach, alfalfa sprouts, peanut butter, beef...almost weekly, FDA and USDA alerts fill my inbox with notices about food recalls due to Salmonella or E. Coli. How does our food supply get contaminated? And what safeguards exist to ensure that the foods we eat are produced in safe and sanitary conditions?

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Lack of primary care and attention to chronic disease are the real ills of the health care system, panelists said at a seminar on health care reform for California Broadcast Fellows.

Anthony Iton, public health officer for Alameda County, says that 3 out of every 4 health care dollars goes to the treatment of chronic disease. "It is the elephant in the room. If you're not talking about chronic disease, you're not talking about health," he says.

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Dr. Robert Cooper is executive director of the West Oakland Health Council, a nonprofit organization providing primary care, mental health and substance abuse recovery services at five clinics to residents of Emeryville, southwest Berkeley and north, east and west Oakland.

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Ralph Silber is executive director of the Alameda Health Consortium, an association of eight community health centers based in Alameda County. The consortium works to achieve comprehensive, accessible health care and improved outcomes for everyone in the county through policy, advocacy and program activities. The eight community health centers are Asian Health Services, Axis Community Health, La Clinica de La Raza, LifeLong Medical Care, Native American Health Center, Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center, Tri-City Health Center and West Oakland Health Council.

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Linda Civitello, president and CEO of Breathe California, a Daly City-based organization working to reduce the impact of lung disease through prevention, education, advocacy and patient services. As president and CEO, Civitello utilizes her extensive experience in community service, urban planning and government affairs.

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