WEATHER »

HEALTH NUTS


According to a recent study by the RAND Corporation, illegal immigrants to this country avail themselves of available health services far less often than their American-born counterparts. The study – which focused on foreign-born and native residents of Los Angeles – concluded that immigrants seek health care substantially less than native-born Americans because they are much healthier. Of the $429 billion spent on health care services nationwide in the year 2000, RAND researchers estimated that just $37 billion was spent serving immigrants. Of that, the study estimated one-sixth was spent by undocumented immigrants, with $1.1 billion coming from publicly funded health services.

More than 350 homeless people received free health screenings for everything from AIDS to tuberculosis in the first two days of an ad hoc three-day health fair designed to reduce the incidence of communicable diseases at Santa Barbara’s downtown shelters. “If there are less sick people in the shelters, there are less sick people on the streets,” explained county social worker Ken Williams, one of the architects of the Project Healthy Neighbors program, now in its second year. The program relied heavily on medical professionals from community clinics, Cottage Hospital, County Public Health, and even Doctors Without Borders. This year’s effort eclipsed last year’s, when 178 homeless were screened during a four-day period; in just two days at the 2006 fair, 351 individuals were tested for a host of communicable ailments.

Responding to a request by Supervisor Susan Rose, California Department of Food and Agriculture (DFA) Secretary A.G. Kawamura vanpooled to Santa Barbara along with several other top officials to participate in a town hall meeting on the subject of Naled, the pesticide used in the Hope Ranch area after three Oriental fruit flies were found there in July. Officials said Spinosad – one of the alternatives favored by residents – was being studied, but so far had not proved as effective as Naled against these particular flies. Despite residents’ complaints of symptoms, Dr. Peter Hurtz, the DFA’s senior medical coordinator, said that the Naled dose to which residents were exposed was “thousands of times” less than the threshold for detectable toxic effects in humans.

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