Category Archives: News and Notes

Public health strongly recommends all community members wear masks indoors

With cases of COVID-19 rising locally and increased circulation of the highly transmissible Delta variant, the County of Ventura Public Health Department strongly recommends that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors in public places. This serves as an extra precautionary measure for those who are fully vaccinated and will further limit spread of the Delta variant in the community at large.

“The Delta variant is spreading quickly in our State. All community members should take action to protect themselves and others against this potentially deadly virus,” said County of Ventura Health Officer Doctor Robert Levin. “While vaccines remain our best tool against COVID-19, masking in indoor and crowded outdoor settings will help us curb the spread of this latest wave of infection. Ventura County data have recently shown that unvaccinated people are 22 times more likely to become infected and hospitalized than vaccinated residents. Several of our hospitalized people have been vaccinated and that is several too many.”

In June, the Delta variants comprised 43 percent of all specimens sequenced in California. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that Delta variants are now responsible for 58 percent of new infections across the country. Fully vaccinated people are well-protected from infections and serious illness due to known COVID-19 variants including Delta variants, and vaccinating as many people as possible, as soon as possible, continues to be our best defense against severe COVID-19 infection, and the harm it can do to our region. Vaccines are safe, effective, free, and widely available to everyone 12 and older. “For the most part this is a surge of cases among our unvaccinated and it is preventable. Get vaccinated,” said Doctor Levin.

Out of an abundance of caution, people are strongly recommended to wear masks indoors in settings like grocery or retail stores, theaters, and family entertainment centers, even if they are fully vaccinated as an added layer of protection for both themselves and unvaccinated residents. Businesses are asked to expect universal masking for customers entering indoor areas of their businesses to provide better protection to their employees and customers. Workplaces must comply with Cal/OSHA requirements and fully vaccinated employees are encouraged to wear masks indoors if their employer has not confirmed the vaccination status of those around them. For masks to work properly, they need to completely cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of your face and around your nose.

Public Health will continue to monitor transmission rates, hospitalizations, deaths and increasing vaccination rates throughout the County and will reevaluate the recommendation in the coming weeks. COVID-19 information can be monitored at www.vcrecovers.org.

COVID-19 vaccines are available at multiple locations throughout the County of Ventura for all community members 12 or older. Information about locations can be found at www.myturn.ca.gov or by calling 833-422-4255.

Crowd gathers to protest SoCalGas compressor site in Ventura

The Westside Community Council was there supporting the cause.

On July 17, from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm, hundreds of community members from around California including Ventura, Culver City, Playa Del Rey, and Aliso Canyon met at Kellogg Park to demand Gov. Newsom instruct the California Public Utilities Commission to conduct an Environmental Impact Review before any further work can be completed on the SoCalGas facility, and to phase out oil and gas drilling immediately.

More than 200 people attended the ‘Fight to Stop Ventura SoCalGas Compressor’ protest. They displayed signs opposing the compressor station and lisend tgo speakers opposing the site.

For years, Ventura’s Westside community has lived near the Southern California Gas Company compressor station. It has been considered by NASA as a super-emitter of methane.

SoCalGas has initiated efforts to double the size of the facility that sits across the street from an elementary school and Boys and Girls Club. Approximately 500 people live within a quarter mile of the facility, but as many as 4,750 live within a half mile radius close enough to be impacted by a gas explosion. The site s located at 1555 N. Olive St.

Ryan Gellert, CEO of Patagonia, Inc. stated “As CEO of Patagonia, I am working in solidarity with the community of West Ventura and Patagonia’s 500 Ventura based employees to oppose this dangerous project. Patagonia’s headquarters has been located down the road on West Santa Clara Street since our founding in 1973. As a global company that is in business to save our home planet, it’s our responsibility to use our resources to protect our employees, neighbors and community from harm. We believe it’s urgent to put people before the interests of the fossil fuel industry.”

“Oil and gas infrastructure has no place near homes and schools. Patagonia applauds Mayor Rubalcava and our city councilors, along with community groups and environmental activists, for protecting residents. We urge our elected and appointed officials to continue to block the expansion of this dangerous facility. We want SoCalGas to safely clean up this site under the watchful eyes of government officials and local activists and shut down this compressor station.

To learn more about the efforts to stop SoCalGas’ expansion of the gas compressor on Olive Street, please visit westsidecleanair.org. Their demands are:

The Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) must hold a bilingual community hearing with residents that would be affected, including parents of children who attend EP Foster Elementary School;

There must be an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Health Impact Assessment of the entire scope of the cleanup and expansion project at 1555 N. Olive St;

Rather than expand this facility, SoCal Gas must create a plan to clean up the toxic soil and shut down the compressor station. We do not want this in our neighborhood.

Kindness Really Matters Now

Ventura’s wonderful Park Safety Ambassadors would be a fine place to start.

Why, Here in Ventura — and Throughout California — Kindness Really Matters Now

Now that California and Ventura have reopened, folks are flooding out into the world with joyous abandon. That is happy news. We all can use plenty of joy. But there is a flip side to this flood. Businesses that had gone to a skeletal staff (or no staff) are suddenly short staffed. The simple, unequal math is reduced to this — many of our Ventura businesses are struggling to do a lot more with fewer people. Our Ventura businesses — from hotels, to restaurants, to retail — are working hard to hire staff, but it takes time. Lines are a little longer. Waits are a little longer. Phones ring a little longer.

Our businesses are doing the best they can in the face of a happy deluge of visitors and locals eager to greet life, all of them boosting our economy (for which we are deeply grateful). And our businesses are working equally hard to do better. Until they catch up — and they will — we ask for some simple, but game-changing, things. Like patience. An understanding smile. A kind word. Maybe even an unasked for thank you. Ventura’s wonderful Park Safety Ambassadors would be a fine place to start (They’re easy to spot; wearing bright red colored shirts with Ventura’s logo, they’re perpetually cleaning and graciously answering every kind of question).

That’s right, who better to get the kindness ball rolling than the locals? We Venturans know how to do this. No town knows better. We know how to move a little more slowly; see what’s important and what isn’t. These businesses that are working so hard to adapt to this bright world, most of them are run by our friends and neighbors. These are people we know. How could we not be patient and understanding?

Venturans and visitors, we all walk through this time together. Who wouldn’t want to make it more pleasant? And it requires pretty much nothing. No effort (how hard is a smile?). No real inconvenience (how hard, a few extra beats of patience?) No timetable. “Be kind whenever possible,” the Dalai Lama once said. “It is always possible.”

Why not even be proactively kind? There’s the story of a man who sets his phone alarm so that it goes off a few times a day. At that moment, he does something kind.

Makes you feel good just reading that, doesn’t it?

Why not spread that feeling?

 

Combatting teen vaping is focus of new website

Nearly a third of Ventura County eleventh graders say they have tried vaping.

The Ventura County Office of Education has launched a new website called The Triple Threat to Teen Health that’s aimed at combatting the serious problem of teen vaping. The website is available in English and Spanish at vaping.vcoe.org. “While many may think vaping is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, the most popular vaping products all contain nicotine and have a high potential for addiction,” said Dr. César Morales, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools. “This new website gives parents, guardians, students and educators an important tool to learn about the real risks that vaping poses to our students,” he said.

Nearly a third of Ventura County eleventh graders say they have tried vaping. Many young people are attracted to the thousands of sweet flavor options and slick new device designs used by the vaping industry. In addition to vaping nicotine products, students are using e-cigarettes to consume concentrated cannabis (marijuana). Both nicotine and cannabis use can permanently affect adolescent brain development.

Just before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was investigating cases of severe lung injuries caused by the vaping of these unregulated cannabis products. A recent Stanford University School of Medicine study showed a strong link between youth vaping and an increased risk of lung injury related to COVID-19 infection. Additional research by the University of California and Stanford University has found a concerning connection between nicotine, cannabis, and electronic vaping products.

In an effort to address this risk, the Ventura County Office of Education’s Comprehensive Health and Prevention Programs department has created a new website called The Triple Threat to Teen Health. The site is intended for use by parents, guardians, families, and school staff. It provides an initial introduction to these three intersecting issues that pose a significant health risk to today’s young people. It also offers local resources for those who would like to learn more or to get help with addiction.

While the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) shows that Ventura County students’ use of conventional cigarettes has been on a downward trend for the last two decades, vaping devices are being used at dramatically higher rates at every measured grade level. Only recently has the initial data from the most recent CHKS suggested that student vaping behaviors have dropped slightly. In addition, students’ “perception of harm” caused by vaping devices has increased dramatically – across all grade levels and in nearly every demographic. While additional analyses are pending, this suggests that public messaging and education on the risks of vaping are having an impact on teens.

The Ventura County Office of Education provides a broad array of fiscal, training and technology support services to local school districts, helping to maintain and improve lifelong educational opportunities for children, educators and community members. VCOE also operates schools that serve students with severe disabilities and behavioral issues, provides career education courses, and coordinates countywide academic competitions including Mock Trial and the Ventura County Science Fair. Learn more at: www.vcoe.org.

Expansion of Hillmont Psychiatric Unit alleviates waits for patients in crisis

The unit has the capacity for 43-beds.

by Carol Leish

“The Hillmont Psychiatric Unit was built in 1995 and licensed for 43 beds,” according to Ashley Bautista, Public Information Officer for Ventura County. “It replaced a 28-bed unit that had been licensed since 1978.

“The unit has the capacity for 43-beds, and is currently staffed for 36 patients. The average length of stay is for 11 days. This increased to 14 days during the COVID-19 crisis. If Hillmont is full, patients are sent to Vista del Mar, here in Ventura, or out of the county to Northridge, Glendale, or Southern California Hospital in Van Nuys.
“With the $2 million proposal, part of Ventura County’s $2.5 billion budget, which was recently approved,” according to Bautista, “an additional 7 staffed beds will be bringing the total capacity of Hillmont up to 43 beds.

“Yes, we agree that the County needs more beds/chairs/placement sites, and we are looking at the full continuum from the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit to Crisis Stabilization Unit /Crisis Residential Treatment to residential treatment and board and care to incrementally enhance the eco-system at all levels,” according to Bautista. “Since the county has a need for it with its population of 840, 000, future expansion plans include: adding Crisis Stabilization Units (6 chairs), which will be coming this fall to St. John’s Hospital in Oxnard; Crisis Residential Treatment (16 beds), which will be coming to Santa Paula this fall; and, a Locked Mental Health Rehabilitation Facility (80-120 beds), which we are looking to bring to Ventura County in the near future.”

“Concerning the Advisory panel urging an option for longer hospitalizations of those who are severely mentally ill in Ventura County,” according to Bautista, “I’ll refer to us (Ventura County), adopting the provisions of Welfare and Institutions Code #270.10 et seq. (Article 4.7 of Chapter 2 of the Lanterman-Petris-Short [LPS] Act) (hereinafter WIC & 5270) which discusses the possible provision for people requiring acute psychiatric treatment longer than that currently afforded under the Welfare and Institutions Code & 5250, in order to avoid the costly and unnecessary filings of Temporary Conservatorship petitions. Thus, if adopted, a WIC & 5270 hold would allow an individual with serious mental illness to be held for up to an additional 30 days. But, if the person in question is stabilized, the hospital can discharge that person earlier without approval from the court or a conservator.

“The above recommendations are supported by both Ventura County Behavioral Heath and Ventura County Medica Center. When it is determined that an individual is gravely disabled and has not stabilized in 17 days, the hospital either discharges and subsequently re-admits (if they missed the window to file for temporary conservatorship), or files for temporary conservatorship which is more restrictive than an additional 30 days. Rights are protected by affording the individual a probable cause hearing.”

Dr. Fankhauser, CEO of both Ventura County Medical Center & Santa Paula Hospital, states: “We are committed to providing high quality, compassionate care to this population (those with mental illness), here in Ventura County.”

Parent and Child Together Class: Infant and Toddlers

Ventura County Library and First 5 Ventura County are proud to partner on Parent and Child Together classes for local families starting this summer. In this free 12-week class, families with infants or toddlers are invited to learn new skills together, play fun activities, and share the love of reading. “Parents are their child’s first and most important teacher. Every child comes into this world ready to learn. It’s never too early to talk, read, and sing to your child,” says Petra Puls, Executive Director of First 5 Ventura County.

Nancy Schram, Ventura County Library Director says, “By collaborating with First 5 Ventura County and other organizations that serve children from birth to age 3 and their parents, our Ventura County Libraries can make an even bigger difference in early childhood brain development. This program means our libraries will play a key role in providing equitable opportunities for all children to experience language through books and other interactions and provide support for parents who may have few or no other places they can go for help.”

In the class, parents receive a free toolkit with developmental screenings for their child, age-appropriate toys supporting early childhood development, and books exploring social and emotional competence. Librarians also partner with families to address individual needs and strengthen community connections.

Online registration began Tuesday, May 25 for the summer session of classes, which will be held during the months of June, July, and August. Parents must register using this link: bit.ly/VCLPact. The class is limited to six families per location and registration is on a first come, first served basis. If the class is full, a waiting list will be created, and interested families will be notified of any openings.
Attendance is limited and all participants must follow safety protocols in place at the time of the class – including distancing and face coverings – while in the library.

The summer session of classes will be held weekly in Ventura at:
Community Room
Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura
1187 Riverside Street
Ventura, CA 93001
Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The full class schedule may be found on the library’s online calendar of events: https://vencolibrary.org/calendar.

This class is offered in partnership with First 5 Ventura County. It is supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library. It is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact Antonio Apodaca, Education and Outreach Coordinator, (805) 218-3821.

Ventura Fire department personnel respond to traffic collision

On June 20, at 8:15am, Ventura Fire department personnel responded to a traffic collision on the southbound 101 freeway with victims trapped. Personnel arrived to find two vehicles with major damage in the roadway, one on its roof, one with a victim trapped inside. The trapped victim with severe injuries was extricated using hydraulic cutting/spreading/lifting tools, both patients were transported via ambulance to local hospitals.

Community Memorial Hospital recognized again for excellence in breastfeeding care

The award-winning lactation team at Community Memorial Hospital is proud to provide outstanding breastfeeding support.

Community Memorial Hospital has been recognized once again for offering high quality lactation care and top-notch assistance for breastfeeding families.

The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiner® (IBLCE) and the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) recognized CMH for excellence in breastfeeding care by awarding CMH with their IBCLC Care Award for 2021. CMH has received this award many times previously.

“CMH is proud to be the premier birthing center in Ventura County,” said Megan Rodarte, director of Maternal Child Health Services at CMH. “Part of our ongoing commitment to excellence is ensuring that breastfeeding education, support, and resources are available to CMH families and to our community as a whole.”

CMH received the IBCLC Care Award in recognition for staffing professionals who hold the prestigious International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certification and for providing a lactation program for breastfeeding families. In addition, CMH demonstrated that it has recently completed activities that help protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.

The IBCLC Care Award is given to hospitals, medical practices, clinics, or agencies that staff professionals who hold the International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certification and provide a lactation program for breastfeeding families, among other requirements that promote top breastfeeding care. IBCLCs help families overcome breastfeeding challenges, provide accurate information, and support families as their baby grows. They assist families returning to work or school, help families in more unusual situations such as breastfeeding more than one baby or nursing a sick or premature infant, and help train nursing staff to manage basic breastfeeding care.

CMH provides support and information to families during pregnancy, after birth, and as the baby grows. CMH also offers a virtual Breastfeeding Support Group that meets on Thursdays from 2-3:30 p.m. and is led by a registered nurse and certified lactation counselor. CMH’s New Parent Resource Center is located at 2580 E. Main Street in Ventura. Call 805/948-BABY (2229) or email newparentresourcecenter@cmhshealth.org for more information.

Community Memorial Health System is a not-for-profit health system that comprises Community Memorial Hospital, Ojai Valley Community Hospital, a skilled nursing facility, and several primary and specialty care clinics that serve communities throughout Ventura County, California.

Getting Back to Normal: Helping Your Family Through COVID-19 Transitions

Many people struggled with mental health challenges during this last year, often exacerbated by lockdowns, isolation, new stresses, and societal turmoil. As American society now slowly transitions to more “normal times,” Community Memorial Health System is helping families find ways to cope and move forward.

The public is invited to join CMHS psychologists at a free online seminar as they discuss the current mental health crisis and the deep impact of COVID-19 on families. Participants will learn coping strategies as they prepare to transition back to school, work, and other normal routines during uncertain times.

The free virtual seminar takes place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 22. To attend, please RSVP at  www.cmhshealth.org/RSVP. This event is hosted by Community Memorial Health System as part of its 2021 Speaker Series Online. Participating psychologists include Dr. Ronda Doonan, director of Behavioral Health and Resident Well-Being for CMHS’ Graduate Medical Education; Dr. Shirah Bale, who specializes in behavioral health and mindful practices for wellness; and Dr. Monique Boswell, a specialist in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

River Haven offers a way out of homelessness

River Haven have given people the opportunity and the tools to start truly living happier and healthier lives.

by Carol Leish

“River Haven started during the El Nino in 2006,” according to, Suki Sir, Marketing and Fund Development Manager at Turning Point Foundation. “Thus, during the El Nino, we approached the City of Ventura in March, 2006. Contracts were signed in September, and the program started in October. The former director, Clyde Reynolds, was very instrumental in approaching the city, and in negotiating the contract to secure the land for River Haven.”

“Clients/residents of River Haven receive case management services that follow up with service plan goals and their well-being,” according to, Joe Dawson, Program & Facilities Manager at Turning Point Foundation. “Case management takes a team approach by offering and connecting clients/residents with supportive services that offer follow-up care. And, the case manager and the treating agencies maintain communication to promote and create action plans for clients that will help them to become more successful and to maintain service connections obtained.”

Dawson also focused on the types of services that are offered to clients/residents of River Haven by saying, “Connected services consist of: Ventura County Behavioral Health; Whole person care program; ADP (Alcohol & Drug program; Health Care Agency/ One Stop; and, the Human Service Agency.”

“We aim for clients/residents to be at River Haven for up to two years at the most,” according to, Sir. “But some residents get permanent housing within 6 months, and others take longer than two years.”

Turning Point Foundation’s website is: www.turningpointfoundation.org, which describes the latest news and events. Please sign up for the newsletter to become more informed.

“Some of the needs for supporting River Haven are on the list, which is at: http://turningpointfoundation.org/donate/,” according to, Sir. “Do realized that River Haven gets very little government support. Thus, online donations are very much appreciated.” And, that, according to the website, “$525 Feeds 25 people per month.” Also included on the list of needs on the website, which can be downloaded, are: “Heavy blankets; bath towels; washcloths; canned food; and, books & board games.”

Through support and housing both Turning Point Foundation and River Haven have given people the opportunity and the tools to start truly living happier and healthier lives. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done, all that matters is the future and what you want to do with your future.