Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: March 20, 2023

I strongly encourage you to peruse our latest Civic Solutions news column, for two reasons: First, it marks the Independent debut of most-excellent local journalist Maria Sestito. She’s taking over the column from Melissa Daniels, who is stepping back a bit to be a new mom. (Congrats, Melissa and Zachary, on the adorable baby!)

Second, it covers one of the most important issues facing the Coachella Valley today: A need for more doctors here.

The column brings both good and bad news. On the good side, UC Riverside’s decade-old School of Medicine is bringing lots of residents to our local hospitals—some of whom may stick around.

The bad news: It’s not enough to solve the valley’s significant shortage of doctors.

I won’t go further into details on Maria’s column—after all, you can (and should) read it yourself—but I want to briefly expand on the topic of education.

The success of the UCR School of Medicine shows how crucial higher-ed opportunities are to the Coachella Valley. In recent years, things have gotten a lot better for the Coachella Valley, thanks to the UCR and Cal State San Bernardino satellite campuses in Palm Desert, and the expansion of College of the Desert (the Palm Springs fustercluck notwithstanding). But we need even more opportunities.

Four years ago, the state put up $4 million to study the possibility of adding new Cal State campuses—and Palm Desert was one of the possible locations. I can’t easily find any information on what came of that study … so we’re going to look into it. Watch the pages of the Independent for an update.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Civic Solutions: Medical Residency Programs Are Bringing Doctors to the Coachella Valley—but More Needs to Be Done

By Maria Sestito

March 20th, 2023

It can take a decade or longer to train a new physician, and despite increased enrollment in medical schools, there’s a serious supply-and-demand issue, especially in our region.

Hiking With T: Springtime Has Brought Wildflowers, Awakening Animals, Desert X and Earth Day

By Theresa Sama

March 17th, 2023

Super blooms are unlikely this year—but there are still plenty of desert wildflowers, and plenty of great places to see them.

Caesar Cervisia: Musings on a New IPA Trend, Italian Pilsners, Great Beer at Las Palmas—and More

By Brett Newton

March 18th, 2023

Our beer scribe offers thoughts on a variety of topics—including a move by San Marcos’ The Lost Abbey.

Lazy and Tardy: ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ Is a Sequel That Arrived Two Years Too Late

By Bob Grimm

March 20th, 2023

A big part of the fun of the Shazam premise—the back and forth between being a normal person and a superhero—is lost in the sequel.

More News

• It seems like I’ve read stories about climate change like this many dozens of times over the years, but here’s the latest scary news, courtesy of The Washington Post: “The report (released today) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the United Nations, offers the most comprehensive understanding to date of ways in which the planet is changing. It says that global average temperatures are estimated to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels sometime around ‘the first half of the 2030s,’ as humans continue to burn coal, oil and natural gas. That number holds a special significance in global climate politics: Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, virtually every nation agreed to ‘pursue efforts’ to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Beyond that point, scientists say, the impacts of catastrophic heat waves, flooding, drought, crop failures and species extinction become significantly harder for humanity to handle. But Earth has already warmed an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius since the industrial age, and, with global fossil-fuel emissions setting records last year, that goal is quickly slipping out of reach.”

• A group of citizens who regularly use the Palm Springs Swim Center are sounding the alarm that things keep getting worse at the facility. We published a Community Voices piece earlier in the month by a member of the group who bemoaned the condition of the facility, and the frequent closures due to staffing issues. Here’s part of an email sent out today by Jeff Nelson, one of the group’s leaders, to city officials and members of the community: “Just thought you might want to know that today (3/20) there has been a complete failure of the drain in the men’s restroom. There’s approximately 6 inches of grey water in the shower stall, and it’s also coming back up in the locker area. Unsanitary, unsafe and disgusting. When is someone in city government going to WAKE UP and deal with the ongoing and complete failure of management at the Swim Center? Meanwhile, we understand that 7 deep lanes in the pool have been rented out to a Canadian swim team for the week, with no notice whatsoever to the regular pool users. And what impression does the city give to our visitors when they see the scene of filth in the locker room?” (Nelson later sent pictures which we won’t share here, in case any of you are eating while reading this.)

Our partners at CalMatters examine the lack of oversight of mobile home parks in California. The piece leads off with an anecdote about a Stockton-area mobile home park that was abandoned by its owners, leading to a series of nightmares for the residents: “The state of California has given the housing agency limited powers to intervene when conditions at mobile home parks get this bad. It can strip owners of their ability to collect rent until they fix the problems—which records show it did three times at Stockton Park Village. But it can’t step in and help those residents itself. Instead, it can eventually refer the problem to the local city or county district attorney’s office, which can bring a civil action to abate the nuisance and ultimately appoint a receiver, or temporary caretaker—which it did in the summer of 2021. … Under state law, a park could go up to 20 years without a full inspection; inspectors rely mainly on residents to file complaints. While inspectors visited 91% of state mobile home parks in the last decade, according to a recent state audit, only half were full inspections, and 330 parks got no visit at all. ‘Parks that are that bad probably represent 50 or 60 parks in the state,’ said Jerry Rioux, a longtime housing policy consultant employed by the state housing department. ‘But there’s the next level (of parks) that are not quite as bad. But if they don’t get inspected for 10 years, how bad will they be?’”

The U.S. State Department last week issued a warning about buying medications from Mexican drug stores after UCLA and the Los Angeles Times “documented dangerous counterfeit pills being sold over the counter at drugstores in northwestern Mexico.” A little more from the Times: “‘The U.S. Department of State is aware of recent media reports regarding counterfeit pharmaceuticals available at pharmacies in Mexico, including those tainted with fentanyl and methamphetamine,’ the alert said. ‘Counterfeit pills are readily advertised on social media and can be purchased at small, non-chain pharmacies in Mexico along the border and in tourist areas.’ The new notice is stronger than previous language on the department’s website, which warned that counterfeit pills were common in the country. ‘The State Department warning is a good and necessary step,’ said Chelsea Shover, a UCLA researcher whose team documented the problem this year. ‘But there’s still a lot we don’t know about the scope of this issue, and I think finding that will be critical to issuing more precise warnings and taking action.’”

• Keeping with the disturbing medical news theme, here’s a CBS News piece headlined “CDC warns of ‘alarming’ rise of potentially deadly fungal threat in hospitals“: “For several years after the first American cases were reported in 2016, only a few dozen Candida auris patients were reported to the CDC annually. But cases have begun to accelerate in recent years, according to the new CDC data published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. By 2021, the annual tally of cases had increased 95%, from 756 in 2020 to 1,471 in 2021. Preliminary figures count at least another 2,377 cases for 2022. Thirty states and the District of Columbia have now reported Candida auris patients. … Candida auris is a form of yeast that often causes no symptoms on the body of healthy people. However, the fungus poses a serious threat to patients already weakened by other conditions, triggering serious and invasive complications as it spreads into the body’s systems. Many cases have affected patients in hospitals and nursing homes. Nearly all of the samples tested of Candida auris are already resistant to at least one class of antifungal drug.”

And now for a little good news, we’ll return to The Washington Post, which reveals people who got COVID-19 from the omicron variant were less likely to develop long COVID than people who got the disease earlier: “The analysis of nearly 5 million U.S. patients who had COVID, a study based on a collaboration between The Washington Post and research partners, shows that 1 in 16 people with omicron received medical care for symptoms associated with long COVID within several months of being infected. Patients exposed to the coronavirus during the first wave of pandemic illness—from early 2020 to late spring 2021—were most prone to develop long COVID, with 1 in 12 suffering persistent symptoms. This pattern mirrors what leading doctors who treat long COVID—and some scientists who study it—have noticed as the coronavirus pandemic evolves. But the reasons they offer for the shifting rates are closer to conjecture than to proof.”

• And finally … a lot of people freaked out when President Trump installed Louis DeJoy as the postmaster general in 2020. Almost three years later, he’s still the postmaster general, and he’s … doing good work? That’s the picture painted by a recent Time magazine profile of DeJoy. A snippet: “To the astonishment of many in Washington, the man Democrats once denounced as a threat to American democracy has become one of their most important allies in government. Defying the far right, he delivered more than 500 million COVID-19 test kits to Americans in the winter of 2022. Crossing conservatives last December, he agreed to transition the Postal Service’s entire fleet to electric vehicles by 2026. DeJoy’s capstone collaboration with Democrats was the Postal Service Reform Act, which is arguably the most bipartisan piece of major legislation in the Biden era, drawing 10 more GOP Senate votes than the $1 trillion infrastructure bill.”

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Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. He is also the executive editor and publisher of the Reno News & Review in Reno, Nev. A native of Reno, the Dodgers...