Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
So the situation is that San Jose is the largest city in the nation without fluoride in the water. The situation is also that 1/3 of San Jose’s kindergarteners has untreated tooth decay. How do you think it feels trying to go to school and learn – for the first time – with a toothache?
I cannot relate. I’m 41 years old had have never had a cavity. My dentist, Dr. Sera, says I have the most perfect teeth she’s ever seen. She’s not met my brother, who has also never had a filling. Before you think we’re genetic freaks, I’ll tell you our parents’ mouths are the dental equivalent to the opening battle scene in Saving Private Ryan.
The difference, of course, is fluoride; my parents didn’t have it and my brother and I did. Now, County Supervisor Liz Kniss is joining The Health Trust in fighting to fluoridate San Jose’s water. Why the need for a fight? Because there are still loonies afoot who think that “letting the Government put things in the water supply” leads to mind control or something. No, that’s what reality TV is for.
Seriously for a second – scientists and dentists and public health officers don’t debate this – fluoride is fantastic…yet opposition continues. Why, just this week in the Mercury News, responding to their editorial on fluoride, one guy quoted a British physician: "No physician in his right senses would prescribe for a person he has never met, whose medical history he does not know, a substance which is intended to create bodily change, with the advice: 'Take as much as you like, but you will take it for the rest of your life because some children suffer from tooth decay.”
WRONG! Sorry dude, but doctors thankfully do this all the time. They prescribe Vitamin B12 for vegans, iron for women and folic acid for women of childbearing years. Breast milk for infants. They push vitamin C, and leafy greens, and a good balance of protein and carbs. They do this for everyone, because it’s good for pretty much everyone.
Sorry for the rant, but this whole thing is just silly. And tragic. I love San Jose, but I’m thankful I was raised a few miles to the north and have great teeth to show for it. All kids deserve that, and the cost to fluoridate SJ’s water would be more than offset by keeping kids in school, ready to learn, without the pain of a bad tooth.
Do you disagree? Feel free to let me know. If you want to help, please consider a gift this month to the VMC Foundation...and I’ll make you a deal: Join us, and we’ll help fight the cavity creeps together.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Economically speaking, things are not super. Oh. You already knew that.
What impressed me though was President Kniss’s ability to muster a positive outlook and instill some hope among the hundreds who had gathered to hear her address. Since almost half the county’s budget involves Valley Medical Center and the Health & Hospital System, I was excited to hear her positive messages about what we’ve been up to.
Of course, she reminded everyone about Measure A, and what that means for the future of VMC. But VMC has also been working with Deloitte to increase efficiencies. After eight straight years of budget cuts—and rising patient population—it’s likely that we are the most efficient health care system in the nation. I’m not exaggerating.
But part of why VMC is so good is that we work hard to stay modern and state-of-the-art. That’s why I’m inviting you to a Grand Opening Ceremony to see the brand new crown jewel of VMC’s campus, Valley Specialty Center. This gigantic new beautiful outpatient building is not just the most prominent feature of our campus (right on the corner of Bascom and Moorpark in San Jose), it also allows us to serve more patients, much more efficiently, with more dignity to all who come to us for care.
So come on out on Friday, March 6, at 9:30am. You can meet Supervisor Kniss and ask her what this building means for the residents of Silicon Valley…I promise you that her answer will leave you feeling optimistic about the future – that would be a nice change wouldn’t it?
Oh – and there will be live music too! Yes, the Idol Hands Band with Yours Truly on bass guitar will be rocking the party. Let us know you want to come: 408-885-5299.
Monday, February 2, 2009
By Dr. Marty Fenstersheib and Dr. Sara Cody
Special to the Mercury News
Lately, there's been a lot of alarming news about the national outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium and people getting sick because of eating certain peanut butter and peanut-butter products. The recent recall of cookie dough products affected 13 schools in Santa Clara County. This outbreak is a reminder of the critical role our Public Health Department plays in protecting the health and safety of Santa Clara County's 1.8 million residents.
Nationally, there have been nearly 500 salmonella cases reported in 43 states. In California there have been more than 60 reported cases, including one confirmed case in Santa Clara County. Although most people who get salmonella will get better on their own, others are not so fortunate. Of those infected in this recent outbreak, more than 100 have been hospitalized and seven have died. While these illnesses and others like it are serious, they can be prevented and contained — if local public health departments and other agencies responsible for response are robust enough to act.
In this outbreak, initial reports of illness come to local health departments from community health care providers. The ability of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health departments to understand the scope of the problem and respond is only as good as the information that the local health departments can collect and report. If our capacity to rapidly identify, investigate and prevent infection is diminished, so is the national response against the spread of infectious diseases. Local public health departments are the front lines of defense when disease breaks out.
Salmonella is just one of 89 different diseases that are tracked by your Public Health Department. We receive more than 900 reports of confirmed food-borne illnesses each year. Almost once a week we are investigating a disease outbreak. T
Maintaining a strong and stable public health infrastructure is critical to keeping Santa Clara County a safe, healthy place to live. It is an essential part of the front line of defense for the well-being and safety of this community. And yet, even with a new president and heartening promises of commitment and investment in infrastructure and health care, public health departments are facing very serious fiscal challenges and budget shortfalls.