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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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