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Central Valley

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This week, several newspapers across California published my investigative series focusing on the threats posed by nitrates in groundwater. The full stories with accompanying sidebar can be read here, along with multimedia resources that include video, photo slideshows, and a three-part series on nitrates by KQED Radio.

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During its six-month pilot project, the California HealthCare Foundation Center for Reporting on Health at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism quietly produced in-depth journalism with California newspapers. Now, the Center has gone public with a new website and high-profile hires, including editor-in-chief David Westphal.

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Immigration reform is in the air once again - with President Obama saying the issue will be tackled next year. Join Health Dialogues as we look at what it's like for undocumented and seasonal workers to get health care under the current system, and how immigration reform could change things.

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Each month, the San Francisco public radio station KQED airs an hour-long program called Health Dialogues that delves deeply into such topics as food safety, asthma, swine flu and environmental health.

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Teresa DeAnda is a Central Valley air quality advocate whose work on pesticide hazards grew out of her personal experiences in Earlimart, an agricultural town located south of Fresno and north of Bakersfield along Freeway 99. The Earlimart native is the mother of seven children, ages 7 through 27, and the grandmother of five. She became aware of the redundant use of pesticides during the 1990s when airborne pesticides drifted into her neighborhood. Her complaints to authorities went nowhere, she said.

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Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, professor of internal medicine at the UC Davis School of Medicine, is the acting chair of the National Mental Health Association. In 2003, he was invited by then U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson to serve on the National Advisory Mental Health Council of the National Institute of Mental Health.

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The Rev. Tyrone Hicks is lead organizer for the Sacramento Valley Organizing Community (SVOC), a network of over 40 religious congregations, community groups and allied labor unions in the north Central Valley. The organization works to improve affordable housing, cooperative developments, job creation and a variety of neighborhood and regional issues. It is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation, the largest and oldest network of broad-based community organizations in the United States.

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Born in Laos, Mr. Maxwell L. Moua has been a shaman for 36 years -- since he was 21 years old. Like many shamans, Mr. Moua recognized his own spiritual calling after an illness that prompted him to isolate himself from his family and others. In addition to shamanism, Mr. Moua does magic healing and time reading. In addition to shamanism, the other defining factor in Mr. Moua's life was the guerilla warfare that swept up so many Hmong of his generation in Laos. Mr.

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Kimberly Belshé was appointed secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in November 2003. Belshé is a member of the governor's cabinet and serves as his chief advisor on health, social services and rehabilitative policies. Belshé manages an agency of almost 33,000 employees, with a total state budget of about $70 billion. The agency oversees 11 state departments and one board that are responsible for providing Californians with health, developmental, mental, rehabilitative, social and other critical services.

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Cindy Collier is director of nursing and EMT programs at Bakersfield College. She has been very successful in writing grants and expanding the nursing program to meet the shortage of RNs in the southern Central Valley. She also has developed innovative approaches to providing nursing education. She is a registered nurse (RN), critical care registered nurse (CCRN) and public health nurse (PHN). She has 23 years of experience as a registered nurse. Her specialty is critical care nursing, but she also has done bedside nursing in acute care facilities and worked in hospital administration.

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