Health

Tuesday, Apr 01 2014 06:00 PM

THE PULSE: Hoffman to break ground on new hospice facility

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    By Hoffman Hospice

    Hoffmann Hospice will break ground April 9 for an 18-bed hospice home located in the Seven Oaks Business Park near the intersection of Buena Vista and Bolthouse drives. The facility is tentatively scheduled for completion in spring 2015.

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    Courtenay Edelhart covers health care for The Californian. Reach her at cedelhart@bakersfield.com, at Facebook.com/TBCHealth or on Twitter@TBCHealth.

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By COURTENAY EDELHART, Californian staff writer cedelhart@bakersfield.com

INPATIENT HOSPICE CARE: Hoffmann Hospice will break ground April 9 on an 18-bed residential facility in the Seven Oaks Business Park near Buena Vista and Bolthouse drives in Bakersfield.

The 25,000-square-foot residential, three-wing Hoffmann Hospice Home is tentatively scheduled for completion in the spring of 2015.

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Courtenay Edelhart covers health care for The Californian. She writes in this spot every Wednesday. Contact her at cedelhart@ bakersfield.com, at Facebook.com /TBCHealth or on Twitter @TBCHealth.

"We had identified a gap of patients who were appropriate for hospice but because of the level of care they required, the families had no place to take them," said Director of Development and Marketing Gretchen Daughtery.

Some observers applaud the effort to build Bakersfield's first inpatient hospice, but others aren't sure it's such a good idea.

Eight hospice agencies serve Kern County, and they're divided on the wisdom of helping patients in a dedicated hospice facility rather than at home or in hospitals, nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities.

"It is our leadership's belief that partnering with the excellent facilities that are already present in our community is the best use of resources and will ultimately improve the level of care by allowing patients to remain in one location rather than transferring to a new location at their most fragile state only to die," said Todd Jeffries, director of community relations for Optimal Hospice Care, which has locations in Bakersfield and seven other cities statewide.

The new Hoffmann Hospice Home will provide 24-hour supervision with a ratio of four to five patients per registered nurse, as well as spiritual counsel, aides, volunteers and a physician medical director, Daughtery said.

The hospice anticipates the home will cost $8.7 million to build. It has already raised $2 million through private donations, and a campaign is ongoing to raise another $2 million and finance the rest, Daughtery said.

Hoffmann Hospice has served 18,735 terminally ill patients since its founding in 1995, generally in patients' homes. The agency has 145 employees in Bakersfield, Antelope Valley and Kern River Valley.

NO FREE TOOTHPASTE SAMPLES?

Those who detest seeing the dentist may be heartened by a report from UCLA that the number of dentists in the state is in danger of declining.

Kern County already has too few medical practitioners, and dental care is no joke. Educators blame tooth aches for a big chunk of school absenteeism, and infections that start in the mouth can spread to other parts of the body and cause serious medical problems.

There were 29,646 actively practicing dentists in California in 2012, according to the UCLA health policy brief Trends in the Supply of Dentists in California.

California had more who were licensed here, but some were retired or lived or practiced out of state.

Of the active dentists, 2,042 were in the San Joaquin Valley counties of Kern, Kings, Fresno, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare. About 26 percent of them had been working 30 years or more and were nearing retirement age, compared with 13 percent statewide.

Statewide, there were 3.9 actively practicing dentists per 5,000 population in 2012, or one dentist per 1,282 people.

The valley's dentist-to-population ratio of 2.4 was the lowest of any region in the state; the Greater Bay Area counties had the highest (5.1).

VALLEY FEVER'S HIDDEN TOLL

Erin Gaab, a postdoctoral scholar at UC Merced's Health Sciences Research Institute, is studying psycho-social issues faced by families with children who have been diagnosed with valley fever, the Merced Sun-Star reported Monday.

With the help of 13 undergraduate research assistants, Gaab is leading the pediatric coccidioidomycosis research project, which aims to better understand the quality of life and psychological functioning of valley fever patients in California.

The data will be collected through structured interviews conducted mainly in English and Spanish, according to the Merced Sun-Star. Gaab's goal is to interview between 50 and 150 families. Children ages 8 to 18 and their caregivers will be asked about their well-being, their health care experience, their perceptions of valley fever and their coping mechanisms.

WIN A HOUSE OR CASH

Raffle tickets went on sale Tuesday for the 12th annual St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway. Tickets selling for $100 apiece will be entered into a June 26 drawing to win a home or $150,000 in cash.

The raffle is co-sponsored by John Balfanz Homes. The 2,300-square foot, four-bedroom house, to be valued at roughly $525,000, is being built in Windermere at Seven Oaks.

Proceeds benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, which studies and treats childhood cancer and other deadly diseases at no cost to families from all over the country.

Tickets will be sold until the cap of 11,000 is reached. To buy tickets, call 800-385-9134 or go to Ashley Furniture, 8915 Rosedale Highway, or any Kern Schools Federal Credit Union branch.

TAKING SHOTS ON THE ROAD

San Joaquin Community Hospital has released its latest schedule for its children's mobile immunization clinics. The clinics provide free immunizations to children up to 17 meeting one of the following criteria:

* no health insurance,

* eligible for Medi-Cal and the Child Health and Disability Program,

* American Indian or Native Alaskan.

The mobile clinic has 17 visits planned this month in Bakersfield, Arvin, Lamont, Shafter and Taft.

The schedule is available at http://tinyurl.com/nsr64me.

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