The Fuller Connection: February 2018

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Fuller, Fong and Salas Request $3 Million for Valley Fever Grant

On Thursday, February 8, Senator Jean Fuller (Bakersfield), Assemblyman Vince Fong (Bakersfield), and Assemblyman Rudy Salas (Bakersfield) submitted a $3 million budget request to the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees for a grant to fund Valley Fever treatment research and outreach.

Senator Fuller speaking on the Senate Floor

If approved, the grant would be funded as part of the 2018-19 state budget and is intended to fund efforts at the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical Center.

“Valley Fever is a devastating disease that if left untreated can cause permanent damage to lung and bone tissue, and swell the membrane surrounding the brain,” said Senator Fuller. “Not only would this funding help raise awareness of Valley Fever, it would be a significant step toward finding an effective treatment.”

Valley Fever, or Coccidioidomycosis, is a fungus found in the soil of dry, low rainfall areas. Valley Fever is caused by air or soil disturbance of tiny fungi, which live and breed within the soil. When the dust containing the spores is breathed in the fungus attacks the respiratory system, causing infection that can lead to symptoms that resemble a cold, influenza, or pneumonia.

“Valley Fever is a critical issue that Senator Fuller and I have and will continue to champion in Sacramento,” said Assemblyman Fong. “This funding request is a part of our joint effort with local health officials and doctors to provide treatment for this devastating disease and to do the necessary outreach so that those effected by Valley Fever can get the treatment they need as quickly as possible.”

“Funding is desperately needed for Valley Fever, a disease that is tragically underreported and misdiagnosed, and the number of victims only continues to rise across the state,” said Assemblyman Salas. “This bi-partisan effort sounds the alarm that there is more we can do to help the thousands of victims and families that are affected by this disease.”

According to the Kern County Public Health Services Department, Valley Fever infected 2,310 people and killed 6 in Kern County in 2016. These infections resulted in Kern County representing 40 percent of California’s reported cases.

“Valley Fever is one of the most significant diseases to affect our community. At Kern Medical, we are committed to improving the lives of patients suffering from Valley Fever by providing treatments unavailable anywhere else and continuing to research new ways to treat and potentially cure this disease,” said Russell Judd, CEO, Kern Medical.

“Kern Medical has been a leader in the care and research of Coccidioidomycosis and we now are taking the next step, by formalizing the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical to improve public education, patient education, provider education, patient care and research,” said Royce Johnson, MD - Medical Director of the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical

The budget request letter can be found here:

The requests could be heard in budget subcommittees as soon as February 26th in the Assembly, and March 22nd in the Senate.

“Throughout my tenure in the legislature, I have worked to secure funding for Valley Fever research and to raise awareness of this devastating disease. As I begin my final year in the Senate, I am confident the fight against Valley Fever will continue,” concluded Fuller.

In Case You Missed It: Kern County In Depth: Combating Valley Fever

Image from KGET 17 Newscast

It was great to sit down with Jim Scott with KGET 17 News and Assemblymen Fong and Salas to discuss efforts to find a cure and raise awareness of Valley Fever. This has been an important issue for me for years.

Since 2013, I have made it a priority to fight for a cure and raise awareness of Valley Fever.

I have authored 7 pieces of legislation, co-authored many more and traveled to across the nation to speak with experts, doctors and scientists who are also working hard to find a cure and raise awareness.

In September of 2013, I joined Congressman Kevin McCarthy and many others at the Valley Fever Symposium with the Directors of both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Health.

In July of 2014, I traveled to Washington DC to get a first-hand briefing from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on the ongoing NIH Valley Fever research.

I also partnered with the Health Officers Association of California to bring a continuing medical education (CME) session to Bakersfield that allowed medical personnel to fulfill their CME requirements by learning more about Valley Fever.

It is my hope my efforts to raise awareness of Valley Fever has not only helped people in Kern County protect themselves, but also increased awareness among my Senate and Assembly colleagues. This is a statewide health issue, and a cure must be a priority.

JLAC Approves Fuller Request for Audit

Senator Fuller's Christmas wish graphic

(Pictured above is Senator Jean Fuller, Tulare Healthcare District Board President Kevin Northcraft (Right) and Vice-chairman Mike Jamaica (Left) - Picture was taken following the JLAC hearing)

On January 30, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) unanimously approved a request by Senator Jean Fuller (Bakersfield) to audit the Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, Tulare Regional Medical Center, and the Tulare Local Health Care District.

“This audit is necessary to ensure local bonds intended to support a community hospital were used appropriately, efficiently and effectively,” said Senator Fuller.

In 2005, the Tulare Local Health Care District approved $85 million in General Obligation Bonds. These bonds were to pay costs related to the construction and equipping of the expansion and renovation of the Tulare Regional Medical Center which was under the management of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates. The Tulare Regional Medical Center suspended operations on October 29, 2017.

“The unanimous approval of our state audit request affirms the state’s interest in the people’s right to know how their money is spent, ” said Kevin Northcraft, Board President of Tulare Healthcare District. “The community of Tulare owes a great thank you to our State Senator Jean Fuller who made the request and championed it to its approval today.”

The audit request passed by JLAC includes the following:

  1. A review and evaluation of the district’s spending and monitoring of its bond proceeds - including assessing HCCA’s role in the spending of those funds.
  2. Assessing the oversight of HCCA’s management of the medical center from the fiscal year 2014 through 2017.
  3. If possible, identifying steps the district could take to reopen the medical center.

“It is my hope that this audit and its findings will lead to the reopening of the Tulare Regional Medical Center and improve access to quality health care for the residents of Tulare and the surrounding region,” concluded Fuller.

Around the District

Stockdale Moose Lodge 50th Anniversary

Senator Fuller presenting the Stockdale Moose Lodge with a Senate Resolution

It was my honor to present the Stockdale Moose Lodge with a Senate Resolution to mark their 50th anniversary, and to thank the members for their contributions to the community which includes charitable works on behalf of children and seniors.

Garden Pathways - Heart of the Country

Photo from the Garden Pathways’ “Heart of the Country” reception

The Garden Pathways’ “Heart of the Country” reception was held at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace on February 9. The event highlighted the programs and services offered by Garden Pathways. Founded in 1997, Garden Pathways is a community-based nonprofit that mentors children, youth, and adults to build productive lives.

KC Farm at the Kern County Fair

Team Fuller attending the groundbreaking for KC’s Farm at the Kern County Fair.

Team Fuller attended the groundbreaking for KC’s Farm at the Kern County Fair. This will be an edible garden that the thousands of visitors to the fair can visit and learn about agriculture. Additionally, this farm will be used as a teaching tool for two local schools, Wayside Elementary and Sequoia Middle School.

Thank you to the Kern County Fair Board, CEO Mike Olcott and the many sponsors for showcasing Kern County’s vibrant agricultural presence.

California Senior Legislature

The California Senior Legislature has been working to improve the lives of California’s six million seniors since 1981. This nonpartisan organization has sponsored over 200 new laws helping seniors with financial abuse, health care, the Silver Alert program, and more.

Community Close Up

Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK)

The California Veterans Assistance Foundation (CVAF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides transitional and permanent housing with supportive services for veterans that are homeless, at-risk or low-income. Our primary focus is those veterans that reside within Kern County. On average, we assist over 700 veterans and their families each year with housing, supportive services and temporary financial assistance, depending on the veterans eligibility. We are strong partners in the Kern County Homeless Collaborative and the Kern County Veterans Collaborative, as well as a partner agency in the California Association of Veteran Service Agencies. One of our greatest achievements is to sponsor the annual Kern County Veterans Stand Down. CVAF is proud and honored to serve the veterans in our community and do so with your help. For more information, contact Deborah Johnson, President/CEO or Vanessa Williams, Executive Director at 661.873.4600.

Mobile Office Hours Schedule for March

Mobile Office hours are held to facilitate communication between my office and the communities we serve. The following is a list of Mobile Office locations for the month of March. Hope you can find the time to stop by!

March 7th:
Taft Chamber of Commerce

March 7th:
Mojave Air & Spaceport

March 7th:
California City Chamber of Commerce

March 8th:
Frazier Mountain Communities Family Resource Center

March 12th:
Tulare Chamber of Commerce

March 13th:
Ridgecrest City Hall

March 14th:
Barstow Visitor’s Center at the Harvey House

March 15th:
Kern River Valley County Admin. Building

March 20th:
Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce

Monthly mobile office locations will also be posted on the Senate web site. Please take the opportunity to stop by and visit. To schedule an appointment with a member of the staff, please call the District Office at (661) 323-0443.

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