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    Death of Robin Williams boosts calls for help

    BY COURTENAY EDELHART Californian staff writer
    Saturday, Aug 16 2014 04:00 PM

    It's hard to imagine anything good could come from the heartbreaking death of actor and comic Robin Williams, but there is one silver lining.

    Calls to crisis hotlines set up to prevent suicide have surged nationwide, including locally, since the stunning news that Williams had apparently killed himself.

    Williams was found dead in his northern California home on Monday, and the preliminary findings of an ongoing investigation have cited the cause of death as asphyxia by hanging.

    His wife released a statement Thursday that revealed the beloved actor was battling depression, anxiety and the early stages of Parkinson's disease.

    Mental health workers around the country reported an uptick in calls to crisis hotlines last week. The...

  2. YellowFeverMosquito

    Yellow fever mosquito detected in Kern County

    Public health officials warned the public Friday about the first ever discovery in Kern County of the yellow fever mosquito, an aggressive, day-biting pest that can carry disease. They not only want to keep people from getting sick but...

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    ASK EMILY: More on those rising insurance rates

    I'm sure you've heard that premiums for plans sold through our health insurance exchange, Covered California, will go up an average of 4.2 percent next year. Just remember, "average" means just that. Your premium increase (or decrease in...

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    Exchange health insurance rates rising

    Covered California has released next year's proposed rates for health plans made possible by the Affordable Care Act, and Kern County's are expected to rise an average of 4.5 percent, slightly higher than the 4.2 percent hike statewide....

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    KMC finances continue to stabilize

    On Monday, 11 months after Kern Medical Center's financial picture collapsed under the weight of misinformation and unexpected losses, the hospital reported a stable condition at the end of the fiscal year. True, the county of Kern spent...

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    JOSE GASPAR: Teen, tenacious mom working hard to save young lives

    While some well-known public figures have emerged from Kern County, there are lesser-known individuals who fly under the radar while working for the benefit of their neighbors. They seek no political office, but are just as determined to...

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    THE PULSE: Insurers launch patient information exchange

    HEALTH INFORMATION EXCHANGE: Two rival health insurers have teamed up to form a nonprofit that will run an independent, statewide health information exchange that the companies hope will improve patient health and hold down medical costs,...

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    State accuses prominent pharmacist of violations

    The state has accused prominent local pharmacist Brian Komoto and Komoto Custom Care Pharmacy of manufacturing drugs without a permit, using expired ingredients to fill prescriptions, not listing an expiration date on some labels and other...

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    A year after symposium, progress against valley fever slow

    David Leon is always glad when a nurse changes his intravenous bag to amphtericin-B, a powerful antifungal medication. "It's yellow. I call it lemonade," he said during a visit Friday to a Bakersfield pulmonologist. The arrival of the...

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    THE PULSE: Keeping tabs on health & wellness issues

    KERN YOUTH INJURIES: Kern County youngsters are injured at higher rates than children in California as a whole, according to new figures released from Kidsdata.org. In 2012 -- the most recent year for which numbers were available -- Kern...

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    ASK EMILY: Big bills lurk in specialty drug category

    Another in a series of Q&A columns answering consumers' questions about the Affordable Care Act.   It used to be that your health plan's annual out-of-pocket maximum was more like the safety net under a high wire: You sure were glad it...

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    Study recommends inmate immunity test for valley fever fungus

    SACRAMENTO -- Federal experts are recommending that California test inmates for immunity to a sometimes fatal soil-borne fungus before incarcerating them at two Central Valley state prisons where the disease has killed nearly three dozen...

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    KMC reduces size of upcoming layoffs

    Rising patient volume at Kern Medical Center and normal resignations and retirements have reduced the number of layoffs planned at the county-owned hospital by 15. Hospital CEO Russell Judd said that only 36 layoffs are planned now. "The...

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