Category Archives: Health

Ventura County Medical Center receives national recognition

The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®) has recognized Ventura County Medical Center as one of 83 ACS NSQIP participating hospitals that have achieved meritorious outcomes for surgical patient care in 2017. As a participant in ACS NSQIP, Ventura County Medical Center is required to track the outcomes of inpatient and outpatient surgical procedures and collect data that assesses patient safety and can be used to direct improvement in the quality of surgical care.

The ACS NSQIP recognition program commends a select group of hospitals for achieving a meritorious composite score in either an “All Cases” category or a category which includes only “High Risk” cases. Risk-adjusted data from the July 2018 ACS NSQIP Semiannual Report, which presents data from the 2017 calendar year, were used to determine which hospitals demonstrated meritorious outcomes. Ventura County Medical Center has been recognized on the “All Cases” Meritorious list.

Each composite score was determined through a different weighted formula combining eight outcomes. The outcome performances related to patient management were in the following eight clinical areas: mortality, unplanned intubation, ventilator, renal failure, cardiac incidents (cardiac arrest and myocardial infarction); respiratory (pneumonia); SSI (surgical site infections-superficial and deep incisional and organ-space SSIs); or urinary tract infection.

The 83 commended hospitals achieved the distinction based on their outstanding composite quality score across the eight areas listed above. Seventy-one hospitals were recognized on the “All Cases” list and 71 hospitals were recognized on the “High Risk” list; the 71 hospitals represent ten percent of the 708 ACS NSQIP participating hospitals for calendar-year 2017.

Fifty-eight hospitals were recognized on both the “All Cases” and “High Risk” lists; 12 other hospitals were on just the “All Cases” list, and 13 other hospitals were on the “High Risk” list only – yielding 83 hospitals in total.

Valley Fever – more prevalent after Thomas Fires?

Dr. Brugman is a leading pulmonologist in Ventura.

by Jennifer Tipton

Native to the San Joaquin Valley (hence the name “Valley Fever”) this airborne fungal infection dates back as far as 1892 and may also be referred to as Desert Fever or Desert Rheumatism.

Valley Fever is due to the coccidioides fungus which enters the body through the respiratory tract when inhaled. The fungus is found in soil and is endemic or limited to certain regions such as Bakersfield or other desert areas along with the San Joaquin Valley.

I asked Dr. Brugman, a leading pulmonologist in Ventura, how the Thomas Fires contributed to the recent outbreaks of Valley Fever and he emphasized that the Santa Ana winds really perpetuated the problem but, “the fires were helpful in aerosolizing the fungus because the chaparral that burned had kept the dust on the ground”. He added, “the low humidity and the winds kicking up the dust are what really get it going”. He’s seen 15 cases of Valley Fever in the last few months where he usually sees 2-3 in a year. “A lot of people are coming in with pneumonia after inhaling the spores from the soil”, he reported.

Diagnostics may include a bronchoscopy where he can see the spores in the lungs and the treatment is most commonly an antifungal medication, some needed for up to 6 months.

The good news, most of the population have been exposed and aren’t even aware of it, while many others may have mild symptoms that usually go away on their own in a week or two. The bad news, the symptoms can progress to pneumonia or worse, disseminated cocci.
According to the C.D.C (Center for Disease Control), Valley Fever causes 15% to nearly 30% of community acquired pneumonias and time from contact until symptoms start is usually 1 to 3 weeks.
Symptoms such as fatigue, fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, sore throat, cough, and even weight loss or chest pain may occur.

If a case of Valley Fever becomes as serious as disseminated cocci, Dr. Brugman refers his patients to the dynamic infectious disease specialist, Dr. Gail Simpson.

Dr.Simpson tells me the organism that causes Valley Fever “is a dimorphic fungus and the spores can live in the soil for years and years until something stirs up the dust and puts it in the air”. She remembers a huge outbreak after the Moorpark fires when “even young, healthy people were in the I.C.U. (Intensive Care Unit) because the smoke causes stuff to sit in the air longer”.

Dr. Simpson reports she has seen a lot of cases since the Northridge earthquake in January 1994, “cocci just wasn’t that common before the earthquake, what happened is a lot of dirt from the cocci belt got redistributed all over the place”.

Valley Fever is not contagious and there is no medication to prevent it. Dr. Brugman’s advice for prevention, “if it’s dusty out, wear a mask, but it can’t be the cheap painter’s mask, it needs to be an N95 to filter out the dirt and particulate”. Good advice for anyone digging through the dirt and ash left by the Thomas Fires!

Nurse Debra Lawry Daisy Award winner

Every day Debra holds the hands of patients who have just been diagnosed with cancer.

Community Memorial Health System is proud to announce that Registered Nurse Debra Lawry is the health system’s most recent DAISY Award winner.

Created in 1999, the DAISY Award is a special recognition that honors extraordinary nurses internationally who demonstrate clinical expertise, provide skillful, compassionate care, and go above and beyond for patients and family members. The DAISY Foundation was established by the family of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at the age of 33 from complications of an autoimmune disease. During his eight-week hospitalization, Barnes’ family was awestruck by the care and compassion his nurses provided to Barnes and his family. The family created a foundation in Barnes’ memory to recognize extraordinary nurses everywhere who make a difference. Today, over 2,700 healthcare facilities in all 50 states and 18 countries give DAISY awards.

Every day, Debra Lawry holds the hands (literally and figuratively) of patients who have just been diagnosed with cancer. In her role as Cancer Patient Nurse Navigator at the Community Memorial Health System Cancer Resource Center, she guides patients through the diagnosis, treatment and cancer recovery processes, serving as a vital source of education, support and friendship along the way. Lawry goes above and beyond for her patients, often attending appointments with them and spending extra time ensuring they feel truly supported on their cancer treatment journey.

Many patients have called Lawry their “angel,” and have said they aren’t sure how they would have gotten through treatment without her. Lawry is always willing to provide her co-workers with education or moral support as well, and she works hard to broaden her knowledge so she can provide the latest and most accurate information to patients and coworkers.

To nominate an extraordinary nurse from Community Memorial Health System for a DAISY Award, go to Learn more at

CMHS center’s earn special recognition

Eleven of Community Memorial Health System’s Centers for Family Health have earned special “Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition” status from a national non-profit health care organization for using evidence-based, patient-centered processes that focus on highly coordinated care and long‐term relationships between clinicians and patients.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) announced the new recognition in late December 2017 for the 11 Centers for Family Health. The Centers for Family Health provide a wide range of health care services, from Urgent Care to Women’s Health and many more services.

“The CMHS Centers for Family Health are proud to have received the Patient Centered Medical Home recognition again in 2017,” said Dr. Anthony Russell, Chief Administrative Officer of Ambulatory Medicine for CMHS.

The NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality and accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. The NCQA’s Patient-Centered Medical Home is a model of primary care that combines teamwork and information technology to improve care, improve patients’ experience of care, and reduce costs.

To earn the recognition, which is valid for three years, these Centers for Family Health and Midtown Medical Group Ojai demonstrated the ability to meet the program’s key elements, embodying characteristics of the medical home. NCQA standards aligned with the joint principles of the Patient-Centered Medical Home established with the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Osteopathic Association.

“NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition raises the bar in defining high-quality care by emphasizing access, health information technology and coordinated care focused on patients. Recognition shows that the Centers for Family Health have the tools, systems and resources to provide their patients with the right care, at the right time,” said NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane.

Community Memorial Health System is a not-for-profit health system, which is comprised of Community Memorial Hospital, Ojai Valley Community Hospital, along with the Centers for Family Health serving various communities within and located in Ventura County, California.

Protect your health during the California fires

by Dr. Brent Caplan and Dr. Tiffany Caplan-Central Coast Center for Integrative Health

The Thomas fire has caused tragic loss in our community. However, it is inspiring to see the community come together to support each other through this difficult time. One important thing to keep in mind is the health impact of the wildfires. We are not only inhaling smoke from trees and bushes, but also contaminants from houses, including toxic paints, plastics and chemicals. This can lead to oxidative damage and inflammatory destruction of our cells and tissues. The good news is we can take certain precautions to avoid the negative impacts of the smoke on our health.

HEPA Air Purifier

High efficiency (HEPA) air purifiers are a great way to improve your indoor air quality. You can put HEPA air purifiers in the rooms you spend most of your time in (i.e. living room, bedroom) or take one with you as you move around your house. Before you decide which purifier to buy, you should check out this ultimate guide to the best air purifiers in India to make sure you’re the buying the best one for your needs.

Stay Indoors

Make sure to keep windows closed and avoid spending excessive amounts of time outside. Do not exercise outside until the air quality clears up. Instead, exercise inside your home or at an indoor gym. If using your car’s air conditioning or heat while driving, set it to recycle the air from inside your car.

Particulate Mask

When going outside into a smoky area, wear a particulate mask (N-95 or P100). Dust masks and bandanas are ineffective against wildfire smoke.

Water, Water, Water

Stay hydrated by drinking lots of clean water. In some regions, loss of water pressure and water supply from fire-related power outages has compromised water sanitation. If you are in one of these regions, utilize bottled water or bring tap water to a rolling boil for at least 1-minute before drinking or using it to cook.

Vitamin C

Inhaling smoke and ash will wreak havoc on your body and cause oxidative stress. Taking vitamin C is a great antioxidant that will combat this and help flush toxins out of your system.

Olive Oil

Research indicates that olive oil may counter the detrimental effects of exposure to air pollution. Utilizing extra virgin olive oil on salads or other foods may help your body combat the effects of the wild fire smoke.

How to prevent and reduce the risk for diabetes

The Ventura Family YMCA is encouraging residents of Ventura to learn their risks for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes and to take preventive steps to potentially reduce their chances of developing the disease.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that more than one in three Americans (84 million people) has prediabetes. Prediabetes is a condition in which a person’s blood glucose is elevated, but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Only 10 percent of those with prediabetes know they have it but with awareness and simple actions, people with prediabetes may prevent the onset of diabetes. Learning how to prevent prediabetes can reduce the chances of getting diabetes even more, making it a slim possibility. Small changes to diets and routines can help save peoples lives.

As one of the leading community-based charities committed to improving the health of Ventura, the Y wants to all people to understand their risk for prediabetes and steps to take to avoid developing type 2 diabetes,” said Margo Byrne, Chief Operations Officer for the Channel Islands YMCA. “Developing type 2 diabetes impacts the lives of millions of people and their families each year physically, emotionally and financially.”

Individuals can assess their risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes by taking a simple test at Through this assessment, visitors can also learn how lifestyle choices and family history help determine the ultimate risk for developing the disease. Several factors that could put a person at risk for type 2 diabetes include race, age, weight and activity level. If a person is at risk, a diabetes screening conducted by a physician can confirm a diabetes or prediabetes diagnosis.

The Ventura Family YMCA also offers its members Y Fit appointments, three complimentary one-hour sessions with a Y Fit expert. During these appointments, members can discuss health concerns and develop a fitness plan and solutions with their expert in order to meet their specific needs and goals.

One diabetic Y member details their story of transformation, “Since joining the YMCA, I came in at 230lbs, diabetic, insulin dependent and generally unfit. After 18 months, I have dropped 35lbs, lost 6 inches off my waist. I am now insulin free, and my blood pressure is back to normal. I have been coming seven days a week to workout & swim. It has become a new way of life for me.”

Thanks to the Y programs, the people of Ventura Family YMCA are able to improve their heath

Making some basic lifestyle changes that contribute to weight loss and healthy living can decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes. Among these are:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables every day.

  • Choose fish, lean meats and poultry without skin.

  • Aim for whole grains with every meal.

  • Be moderately active, getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.

  • Choose water to drink instead of beverages with added sugar.

  • Speak to your doctor about your diabetes risk factors, especially if you have a family history or are overweight.

Thanks to charitable donations from the community, the Y can continue to offer health programs to individuals and families in need of financial assistance. To learn more about the Ventura Family YMCA’s programs, please contact Sherry Maresca at [email protected] or 642.2131 ext 20.

CMH presenting tingling seminar and “A Thanksgiving Program”.

Tingling and burning sensations in the hands and feet will be the focus of a free seminar Community Memorial Health System seminar.

This condition, known as peripheral neuropathy, affects an estimated 20 million people in the United States. Symptoms can range from numbness and tingling to burning, pricking and even muscle weakness.

At the seminar, Dr. Neda Heidari, who specializes in neurophysiology and neurology, will discuss ways to manage symptoms and help alleviate the discomfort. Dr. Heidari is a member of the American Academy of Neurology and an active member of the medical staff at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura.

The seminar will begin at 6 p.m. on Nov. 8, in the eighth-floor Nichols Auditorium at Community Memorial Hospital, 147 N. Brent St.

Registration is free but reservations are required. To secure reservations, please visit or call Brown Paper Tickets at 800-838-3006.

CMHS Hosts Free Thanksgiving Program on Nov. 16: “Stories of Life’s Joys & Challenges”

Donations of toys, food, diapers and toiletries also sought for Ventura County charities

How do we cope with the good and bad things we face in life? Everyone must overcome hardships like illness, natural disasters, job loss and the deaths of loved ones.

There are lessons to be learned about recovering and thriving after challenging experiences. At this time of year when people give thanks, Community Memorial Health System is sharing personal and inspiring stories that help teach others how to build resilience, strength and hope during trying times.

“Stories of Life’s Joys and Challenges: A Thanksgiving Program” is a free Ethics in Healthcare event and part of Community Memorial Health System’s 2017 Speaker Series. The program starts at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, at the Museum of Ventura County. James Hornstein, M.D., CMHS Bioethics Committee Chair, will serve as moderator.

Attendees are encouraged to bring donations of toys, food, diapers and toiletries for three charity efforts: Ventura County’s FOOD Share food bank; Gabriel’s House, a transitional support organization for women and children; and the Ventura County Fire Department’s Spark of Love toy drive, which collects unwrapped toys for needy local children.

There will be raffles for prizes throughout the evening program, and those who make donations will receive reusable tote bags.

Registration is free but reservations are required. To secure reservations, please visit or call Brown Paper Tickets at 800-838-3006. Program sponsors are KVTA radio, the Accountable Care Alliance of Ventura, SCAN and Ventura Care Partners Apc.

CMHS hosts free Ethics in Healthcare Seminar

The tough choices and tradeoffs the United States may have to make to find a workable solution in healthcare will be the focus of a free Ethics in Healthcare event that Community Memorial Health System is holding as part of its 2017 Speaker Series. The seminar starts at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, at the Museum of Ventura County.

James Hornstein, M.D., CMHS Bioethics Committee Chair, will moderate the latest Ethics in Healthcare event, titled, “How Healthcare Controls Us: Reform Efforts in Uncertain Times.”

In addition to Hornstein, featured speakers will include Gary Wilde, CMHS president and CEO; and Lucien Wulsin, J.D., health policy expert and author of “California at the Crossroads: Choices for Healthcare Reform.” The seminar will address the following topics:

  • · Is private insurance becoming unaffordable?
  • · Is a single-payer system the solution?
  • · Are healthcare costs out of control?
  • · Are the health insurance exchanges working?
  • · What are your options right now?

Registration is free but reservations are required. To secure reservations, please visit or call Brown Paper Tickets at 800-838-3006.

American Academy of Pediatricians updates head lice guidance

In 2015 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its guidance on head lice treatment as new products were introduced after the academy’s 2010 report.  The new report was published in the journal Pediatrics, and it highlights some exciting new developments in the battle against head lice.

Head lice infestation is associated with limited morbidity but causes a high level of anxiety among parents of school-aged children,” the report says. “Since the 2010 clinical report on head lice was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, newer medications have been approved for the treatment of head lice.”

The AAP recognizes that head lice in the United States have developed resistance to the most popular over-the-counter lice products (pediculicides). As a by-product of this resistance, some parents have over-applied the medications, hoping that using more of the products would make them more successful. The AAP warns against this, saying, “the potential for misdiagnosis and the resulting improper use of pediculicides and the emergence of resistance to both available and newer products, many without proof of efficacy or safety, call for increased physician involvement in the diagnosis and treatment.”

The prevalence of resistance has not been systematically studied but seems to be highly variable from community to community and country to country.” In fact, the most recent study released shows 100 percent of lice in 42 states are resistant to the active ingredients in over-the-counter lice products.

The ideal treatment of lice should be safe, free of toxic chemicals, readily available without a prescription, easy to use, effective, and inexpensive,” the report says.  For the first time, the AAP lists the AirAllé® medical device as an effective lice treatment device. The device is a custom-built machine that uses one 30-minute application of hot air in an attempt to desiccate the lice. One study showed that subjects had nearly 100% mortality of eggs and 80% mortality of hatched lice.”

The AirAllé® device is the only treatment option listed in the AAP report that uses heated air. A clinical trial showed that the FDA-cleared medical device killed live lice and 99.2 percent of eggs. It uses nothing but heated air, carefully controlled and applied, to dehydrate lice and eggs.

Lice treatment using the AirAllé® medical device is available exclusively at Lice Clinics of America treatment centers, where certified staff use the device to remove live lice and eggs. The process takes from 30-90 minutes, depending on the extent of the infestation and the length of the hair. Most clinics guarantee success as long as all household members are checked for head lice prior to treatment.

Lice Clinics of America has quickly become the largest network of professional lice treatment centers in the world. Some 150 clinics have opened in the United States to date with approximately 100 clinics in 20 additional countries.

To learn more or to find a clinic near you, visit

Lice and “super lice”

What’s the risk of my child getting infected with “super lice,” and what’s the best way to treat them?

by James M. Steckelberg, M.D.The Mayo Clinic

Treatment-resistant head lice aren’t a new problem. Dubbed “super lice,” these lice are simply head lice that are becoming more resistant to the active ingredients in many common head lice treatments.

Unless resistance has been seen in the community, medications containing 1 percent permethrin or pyrethrins should be the first choice of treatment for active lice infestations. It’s important to understand that although some over-the-counter (OTC) treatments may no longer be as effective as they once were, these first line treatments still work the majority of the time when used correctly.

Common reasons head lice treatments may not work include:

Not using the treatment correctly. Reapplying the treatment too soon, too late or not at all may result in continuous infestation. Follow treatment instructions carefully.

Misdiagnosis. What appears to be a lice infestation may actually be dandruff, scabs or clothing fibers. An itchy scalp may be a sign or symptom of dry skin or another skin condition.

Reinfestation. Although you or your child may have been treated correctly, you or your child may become infested again from another infested person.

If the correct use of an OTC treatment has failed and you’re still finding lice and their eggs, your health care provider may prescribe a stronger treatment regimen, as this may be a sign of treatment-resistant head lice.

A number of home or natural remedies are used to treat head lice infestations, but there is little to no clinical evidence of their effectiveness.

For parents looking at alternative treatment methods, the Lice Clinics of America uses a Food and Drug Administration-cleared machine that uses one application of hot air in an attempt to kill head lice and their eggs through dehydration. The machine requires special training and is currently available only at professional lice treatment centers. A regular hair dryer should not be used to accomplish this result as it’s too hot and could burn the scalp. The machine uses air that is cooler than most hair dryers and at a much higher flow rate to kill the lice by drying them out. For more info please visit