A message to physicians and other health care providers from Marin County's Public Health Officer.
Vaping-Associated Death in Marin
This month, a 45-year-old previously healthy Marin County woman died from complications related to the use of e-cigarettes, becoming the state's fourth confirmed case of EVALI (E-cigarette or Vaping Associated Lung Injury). There have been forty-seven deaths and 2,290 EVALI cases nationwide since July 2019, reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is a reminder for clinicians to ask regarding vaping history in patients with compatible symptoms, and to help guide patients away from these harmful products. Marin County Public Health issued this advisory last month, reminding clinicians to report suspect cases and recommending all residents refrain from vaping. The CDC issued interim recommendations caring for patients with suspected or known lung injury.
Last month, Marin County experienced an unprecedented county-wide prolonged planned power shutoff. While all of us were inconvenienced, as healthcare providers, you witnessed many of the health consequences associated with this event. Our 911 ambulance call data helps tell the story of the stress this presented, especially to our older residents. During the five-day outage:
Emergency department visits for fall-related injuries at Marin Health Medical Center tripled.
EMS responses to skilled nursing facilities and residential care facilities in the county more than doubled.
The number of EMS responses for residents over age 80 doubled.
Planning for the next shut-off will take these lessons into account. Read more about the health impacts of the outage on vulnerable Marin County residents in this Marin Voice op-ed. For more information on preparing your family, neighbors and patients for an extended power outage, go here.
Severe Weather Emergency Shelter
As winter comes, Marin County is resuming the Severe Weather Emergency Shelter (SWES) plan as an appendix to the County's Extreme Temperature Emergency Annex. This service is a seasonal, temporary shelter, opened during extreme weather to augment the existing 190 permanent emergency shelter beds in Marin. Homeward Bound of Marin will operate the SWES at the Marin Health and Wellness Campus in San Rafael. The determination will be made by 3PM on the day prior to opening the shelter, based on forecast conditions. Our goal is to end homelessness and recognize that it is unacceptable that so many of our neighbors are unsheltered any night of the year.
World AIDS Day
December 1 is World AIDS Day. More than 700,000 lives have been lost to AIDS in the U.S. since the condition was recognized in the early 1980's. In 2012, the Federal Drug Administration approved the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV. By taking one pill a day, individuals can protect themselves from HIV. Undetectable equals untransmissible. Still, between 15-20 new cases of HIV are diagnosed in Marin annually. We can do better. Marin has a strong network of service providers, committed to HIV prevention and treatment. For more information about HIV prevention in Marin, go here.
Message from the Public Health Officer
This month's newsletter covers two climate-related threats to health - power shut-offs due to fire risk and extreme weather shelters. These offer a glimpse into the societal disruption and health impacts of climate change. They also offer lessons in how we can become more resilient. As stewards of health for Marin, we can use our voice to highlight the everyday impact of changes to our environment on community well-being. I'm grateful for your support as we recognize climate change as a public health crisis.