Fair Oaks, CA (MPG) - Who says shopping for things such as compression socks, knee braces, walkers, canes or crutches has to feel clinical and impersonal?
Vanesa and Kevin Grenyion, the husband and wife owners of HealthQuest in Fair Oaks, have done everything possible to make the experience of shopping for medical equipment and supplies a much kinder, gentler one. In short, they hope to turn the industry on its head by providing a fresh approach to the physical space in which these products are sold, supported by a suite of services that include educational seminars, custom fittings, and an emphasis on “wellness,” as well as recovery.
“Two things were very important to me when I was researching the plans for opening the store,” says Vanessa. “First, I wanted to make sure that we treat every single person who walks through those doors like a human being, not a dollar sign. Second, I wanted the space to feel open, warm and well lit, so that the experience for everyone was pleasant and not so clinical.”
HealthQuest, which will be celebrating its first year in business July 18, offers a vast, top-of-the-line inventory of pain management, diabetes support, bath and safety accessories including walk-in tubs and raised toilet seats, scooters, walkers and rollators, a large selection of lift chairs, orthopedic braces, high-quality closed shoes and sandals for men and women, facial and “beauty” products, even a mothering section that includes breast pumps and pregnancy aids.
Rather than stuffing these items onto metal shelves in a crowded space where volume overshadows service, Vanessa and Kevin, both trained pharmacists who, by the way, met in pharmacy school in Massachusetts, have created something more akin to boutique for medical supplies, with categories of products grouped into their own “departments,” each designated with bright, painted signage, soft wood wall décor and inviting displays that strip the sterile right out of the experience.
“We want the experience of shopping in our store to be calming and supportive,” says Kevin, an air force veteran who still works as a pharmacist at Mather Air Force Base while sharing responsibilities for managing the new business. Vanessa, the face of HealthQuest, says she and Kevin considered opening their own private pharmacy, but competition from chain stores, as well as concerns about being targeted by thieves put that idea to bed. Instead, the couple, both born and raised in Jamaica, decided to parlay their experience in the pharmacological field with a strong interest in serving others through wellness and health services.
With the help of a VA loan, the couple were able to invest roughly $200,000 into their new venture. The first year has had some challenges, but with any small business, marketing has been key. Vanessa has spent the last year nurturing relationships with home-health care providers, assisted living facilities, pharmacies, chiropractors, physical therapists and other ancillary businesses to ramp up visibility for the new store and exposure to service providers who, like Kevin and Vanessa, want a better experience for their clients and patients.
“We have worked hard this last year to build relationships in the community, to let people know we are here and it is starting to come through for us,” Vanessa said. “This last month alone was a really strong indicator of how things are beginning to really start to shift into gear.”
The store also has partnered with at least two elder care organizations, the Older Adult Collaborative (OAC) and the Elder Society Network (ESN) to provide on-site seminars and workshops at facilities across the community to educate both care providers and the patients themselves.
“We think of ourselves as a resource center, as well as a retail store,” says Vanessa. “This is a business that relies on the needs of those in care facilities and the caretakers themselves, but it’s also here for anyone who wants a more personal experience shopping for items for themselves or their loved ones, or those in their care.”
The store offers senior discounts of 10% every Monday, as well as loyalty customer discounts of 5% off all purchases of regularly priced items.
In recognition of its first year in business, the store will be having an open-house from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 18. All are invited.
New Report Confirms Increase in Number of People Experiencing Homelessness
Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Despite housing 2,232 individuals and families who were experiencing homelessness in 2016, a new report commissioned by Sacramento Steps Forward and authored by Sacramento State’s Institute for Social Research confirms that homelessness has increased across Sacramento county in the past two years.
According to the report, titled “Homelessness in Sacramento County: Results from the 2017 Point-in-Time Count,” the total number of people experiencing homelessness has increased by 30 percent to 3,665 since 2015. Among people who are unsheltered, a subset of the total population who are living outdoors on the street, in tents, cars, or RVs, the number has increased by 85 percent to 2,052. Approximately 31% of people who are unsheltered are chronically homeless, meaning they have experienced prolonged bouts of homelessness and are disabled.
“This report provides a sobering confirmation of what we see in our neighborhoods every day,” said Ryan Loofbourrow, CEO of Sacramento Steps Forward. “It’s frustrating that we could not stop the rising tide of homelessness, but we hope this information will provide regional leaders with the empirical data they need to collaborate on innovative solutions.”
In addition to overall increases in homelessness, the report found a 50 percent increase in the number of homeless veterans since 2015, up to 469 people. The majority of these veterans are unsheltered. Veterans continue to make up approximately 13 percent of the total homeless population.
Individuals who reported continuous homelessness tended to be substantially older and were often encountered in encampments near the American River Parkway, in contrast to younger people who were downtown. Older chronically homeless individuals – between 55 and 64 – were also more likely to report being a veteran or suffer from a disabling medical condition.
"This news affirms what is already evident to the people of Sacramento, the question is what are we going to do about it," said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. "We are going to implement the city's $64 million Whole Person Care grant together with our public housing resources to get 2,000 people off the streets as soon as possible. No excuses, no boundaries, action and results are all that matter."
There were drops in the numbers of families and transitional age youth who were found to be homeless, which is a testament to the work of homeless service providers, but these groups are traditionally hard to survey for this type of report so the findings may not accurately capture a true census of these communities.
The report cites the housing drought as a potential factor in the rise of homelessness and explains that the trend in Sacramento is consistent with other communities who have tight housing market conditions. The report also explains the potential impact of flooding on the American and Sacramento rivers and improved statistical methodologies.
The rise in homelessness between 2015 and 2017 in Sacramento County is consistent with similar increases recently reported across the state. At the time the report was written, Alameda County reported a 39 percent increase in homelessness, a 76 percent increase in Butte County, and a 23 percent increase in Los Angeles County.
"This report confirms what we all see with our own eyes: a shocking and unacceptable rise in the number of persons experiencing homelessness. We need to redouble our efforts to increase our stock of affordable housing so that everyone in Sacramento has a simple home of their own," said Joan Burke, who is Chair of Sacramento’s Homeless Continuum of Care Advisory Board and Director of Advocacy Loaves & Fishes
Sacramento Steps Forward commissioned this report as a part of its biennial point-in-time count, which is a county-wide census of people experiencing homelessness. It provides a snapshot of who is homeless on a single night. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Develop requires local communities to conduct this census every two years as a condition of receiving federal funding for their Homeless Continuum of Care, for which Sacramento Steps Forward is the lead agency.
The point-in-time count was conducted on January 25, 2017 by nearly 400 trained volunteers who fanned out across the county to count and survey people living on the street, in tents, cars, and RV’s, while a data team documented the number of people sleeping in emergency and transitional shelters.
The point-in-time count and this report were made possible thanks to funding from the County of Sacramento, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency.
Sacramento Steps Forward is a 501(c)(3) non-profit homeless service agency who, through collaboration, innovation, and service, is working to end homelessness in our region.
Founded in 1989, Sacramento State’s Institute for Social Research (ISR) is an interdisciplinary unit that harnesses the power of scientific research tools to address social problems. Their research and analysis expertise, learned through the hundreds of projects completed for government agencies, nonprofit organizations and the academic community, provides the region with actionable information that can inform key policies and decisions.
Fair Oaks, CA (MPG) - The Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District has announced the appointment of Mike Aho as its new District Administrator. The Board of Directors selected Aho after a lengthy national search and approved his employment agreement at a special meeting on June 27, 2017. His official service with the District will begin July 24, 2017.
Mike Aho comes to Fair Oaks with over 30 years of experience in parks and recreation, most recently serving as the Parks and Recreation Director of the city of Eagle, Idaho. As the first director of a newly created Parks and Recreation department, he was responsible for park maintenance and development, trail management and development, recreation, special events and facility maintenance. Under his tutelage, the program budget grew from $926,526 to $4.3 million with six full-time staff, and he managed approximately 24 miles of trails, 189-acre mountain bike park, 40-acres of parks and the maintenance of the library, museum, city hall, and the senior center.
With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Recreation with an emphasis in Outdoor, Public and Therapeutic Recreation from Eastern Washington University, Aho served in leadership roles as the founder and director of the nonprofit Junction Teen Center, which provided outdoor recreation activities for troubled teens, and then with the City of Spokane Washington, where under his guidance it became one of the largest municipal outdoor programs in the country.
Mike is married with two adult children. In his spare time he enjoys mountain biking, road biking, cross country and telemark skiing, fly fishing, hiking, camping, golf, snowshoeing, snowboarding, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, cooking and bread making.
Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - New data released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) show an increase in newly reported hepatitis C cases among young adults in the state. Between 2007 and 2015, newly reported hepatitis C infections increased 55 percent among men 20-29 years of age and 37 percent among women in the same age group.
These data are consistent with increases in hepatitis C across the country and highlight the importance of hepatitis C testing, treatment, and prevention. Injection drug use among young adults increases their risk of both hepatitis C transmission and infection. Prevention strategies, including access to sterile syringes and safe injection equipment and treatment for opioid use disorders, can reduce the rate of new hepatitis C infections among young people who inject drugs by 60 percent.
“As a physician, I have seen firsthand the deadly effects of hepatitis C,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “Patients with advanced liver disease may not know they are infected until it’s too late,” said Dr. Smith. “However, this is preventable. New treatments can cure hepatitis C in as little as two months. I urge people to speak with their doctors about getting tested.”
An estimated 400,000 Californians live with chronic hepatitis C, but many do not know they are infected. Hepatitis C-related deaths now outnumber those due to HIV.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the use of new treatment for adolescents 12 years and older, raising hopes for teenagers infected with hepatitis C. Although young Californians (ages 20-29) make up an increasing number of newly reported infections, baby boomers account for about one out of two newly reported chronic hepatitis C cases.
“Two groups are top priority for hepatitis C testing – young people who inject drugs and baby boomers,” said Dr. Smith. “Drug users may be at high risk for transmitting hepatitis C to others if they are not being treated, and baby boomers may be at risk for developing serious liver disease, even if they have no symptoms.”
CDPH urges all Californians who have ever injected drugs, even once, and all people born between 1945 and 1965 to talk to their doctors about getting tested for hepatitis C. Patients who test positive should receive care from an experienced provider.
The Department is working to address hepatitis C on multiple fronts, including monitoring hepatitis C trends, producing data reports, educating health care providers on hepatitis C screening and treatment guidelines, and supporting hepatitis C testing and access to care in settings where at-risk people are served. CDPH also supports coordinated HIV and hepatitis C testing in non-traditional settings, such as mobile health vans. In 2016, about 7,200 people received hepatitis C testing through these programs.
The California Legislature allocated $2.2 million in July 2015 for three-year pilot projects to help ensure people with hepatitis C are aware of their infections and linked to care.
Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) is excited to announce it has been awarded a $13 million grant from the California Transportation Commission (CTC). The competitive grant award comes from the Traffic Congestion Relief Fund and will support two major projects. The first project will be allocated $8 million to fund the replacement of SacRT’s outdated fare vending machines along with the installation of new digital information signs with updated security features.
“This is outstanding news!” said SacRT Chairman Andy Morin. “The District’s new executive team has been working diligently to uncover new sources of funding in an effort to upgrade station amenities to improve customer service. This is just one more example of SacRT going the extra mile to provide clean, safe and convenient service.”
Many of the system’s existing fare vending machines are more than 15 years old and only accept cash and coin. The new machines will allow passengers to pay with credit, debit and Connect Card (the region’s new transit smart card).
“SacRT really appreciates the partnership with one of its major funding partners, the CTC, as these funds are urgently needed. With these state funds, we are looking forward to providing state-of-the-art amenities to our customers,” said General Manager/CEO Henry Li. “The timing is perfect as we just rolled out our new Connect Card, and these updated machines will ensure that smart card technology is available to everyone, whether they are using cash or credit.”
The grant also provides funds to install a second information sign on all light rail platforms to improve communication with passengers. Right now, many stations only have one digital sign and the coverage is limited to properly inform customers.
The grant funding will also be used to pay for the relocation of a traction power substation that is currently located on land owned by SMUD. The electricity provider
intends to build a new substation near 6th and G streets to improve its ability to provide power to the region, but SacRT will no longer be able to maintain its substation on the current easement. A total of $5 million will be allocated to the relocation project, which must be completed by the end of summer 2018.
SacRT operates approximately 69 bus routes and 43 miles of light rail throughout Sacramento County, including the cities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove. Sacramento buses and light rail trains operate 365 days a year. SacRT's entire bus and light rail system is accessible to the disabled community. ADA services are provided under contract with Paratransit, Inc.
Citrus Heights, CA (MPG) - According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), an invasive insect known as the Asian Citrus Psyllid has been found in Roseville. Asian Citrus Psyllid, or ACP is a serious pest of citrus because it vectors a bacteria that is 100% fatal to citrus trees. Citrus Heights trees may be affected.
As a result of this detection, CDFA is placing a significant portion of the City of Roseville, as well as portions of Rocklin, Lincoln, North Highlands, Citrus Heights, and unincorporated Placer County under quarantine. This quarantine will mean that residents and businesses (primarily plant nurseries) will be prohibited from moving or selling citrus plant material including stems and leaves from within the quarantine boundaries.
For more information about citrus pest and disease prevention and to learn what to expect if state agriculture officials ask to access your property to inspect your citrus tree, visit http://www.californiacitrusthreat.org/ or call the CDFA Pest Hotline at 800-491-1899.
Outpatient Recovery Services Provides Opportunity
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug addiction is a complex disease. Since drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, it usually requires more than good intentions or a strong will. However, more is known about addiction now than in the past, and more options are available for recovery.
There are more than 20 million Americans in long-term recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. John Perry entered recovery in 1997. “I’ve been sober since September of 1997, and my first few years of recovery I worked with people doing 12-step work, one-on-one, and trying to help other people sober up, and I just really – I love it,” Perry said. He is now president and director of operations for Clean & Sober Recovery Services, Inc., in Orangevale. “My wife and I talked about what we would like to do with our life and what we’d like to do for a career, and we liked the idea of helping people.” Addiction is not something that you recover from and then go back to life as it was, Perry said. For a person who has a problem with alcoholism or drug addiction, recovery is an active process that starts with becoming sober and requires continual diligence.
Though statistics show that inpatient residential treatment, ideally for three months, is best for long-term sobriety, not everyone is in a position to take that route. “Maybe their work won’t allow them to have more than a month off,” Perry said, “or a mother with young kids at home can’t afford to be away from (them) for several months.” Intensive outpatient therapy can be an alternative that may make recovery possible for those who are not able for various reasons to go into a full residential recovery program. Cost is less for outpatient therapy, since there is not 24 hour staffing, meals are not provided, and other considerations are different than with residential treatment. And outpatient therapy is more likely to be covered by insurance.
Clean & Sober Recovery Services has offered care since 2008 and recently began an intensive outpatient program located just three blocks from their residential treatment site. The outpatient option includes a minimum of three one-hour groups per day, and a one-on-one counseling at least once a week. There are a wide variety of classes or groups that can be carried out during days or evenings.
Chris Wright is vice president and facility director for Clean & Sober Recovery Services. “I’ve been sober 15 years now and I met John in a 12-step meeting, we were in the same home group,” Wright said. “It was quite a good friendship and a recovery related friendship, too.”
The key to continued health is never to forget. “I’m doing the same things today that I was doing when I first started, Wright said. “I still have a sponsor, I still go to meetings, I’m still involved in the 12-step process, and I’m constantly refreshed on the proper way to handle problems that I have. And I always have somebody I can talk to.” In assisting others, Wright said, he found that trouble in maintaining recovery was often preceded by the gradual dropping of supportive measures, including discontinuation of meetings, not following the 12-step program, and lack of healthy options to problem solving.
“Sometimes a treatment plan calls for a hybrid solution of sorts,” Perry said. “For example, a person might start with one month in residential treatment and then transition to intensive outpatient counseling where their healing continues. For the best results, we encourage people in outpatient programs to make a sober living community their home during their time in outpatient treatment.”
For more information about Clean & Sober Recovery Services and the outpatient treatment program, call 916-990-0190, or go to www.letsgetbettertogether.com, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.