Brownley on Oxnard veteran’s clinic, Port of Hueneme

juliaBrownley

Julia Brownley

Congresswoman Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, met with leaders from the Veterans Affairs of Greater Los Angeles in Oxnard in May, calling for immediate action to be taken to improve wait times and services at the much-maligned clinic.

Asking for an update on plans to reduce both wait times and services at the Oxnard Community-Based Outpatient Clinic, Brownley said that “The clinic must reach its full potential as soon as possible so that Ventura County veterans can receive high-quality health care, including additional specialty care services, closer to home in a timely manner.”

The Oxnard clinic has been named one of the worst in the country in terms of seeing patients within 30 days, according to data presented at a congressional hearing by Brownley in April. Only a few individual clinics in Tennessee, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia have worse records.

Part of the problem, she says, is obtaining and retaining health-care providers, which has plagued the recently expanded outpatient clinic on University Drive.

Brownley has spearheaded the Oxnard clinic’s expansion to 47,000 square feet from approval to funding in hopes of alleviating the issues. Brownley is the ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health.

Also on the Congresswoman’s agenda in May: assuring that the Port of Hueneme can qualify for more federal resources.

Included language in the Water Resources Development Act for 2016 (H.R. 5303) is an expanded Donor Port Porgram, which will give the Port of Hueneme access to more federal funds. The program assists ports that contribute more to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund than they receive back.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson on regulating autopsies, job-protection

Hannah Beth Jackson

Hannah Beth Jackson

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson’s, D-Santa Barbara, Senate Bill 1189, co-authored with Dr. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, has passed out of the Senate by a vote of 23-13 and now heads to the State Assembly.

The bill, authored to ensure that autopsies are conducted only by licensed physicians and that forensic autopsy reports are accurate and unbiased, was written in response to news that the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s office allowed autopsies to be performed by non-physicians while the then-Medical Examiner, Dr. Jon Smith, was on vacation, which she says “has brought understandable distress and anger to families, eroded the public’s trust, and raised a number of important questions about how we conduct postmortem exams.”

“This bill takes an important step toward clarifying current law on this issue by ensuring that only licensed physicians can conduct these examinations and that they are done with great integrity and at the highest standard of care,” said Jackson.

The bill also disallows entry into the autopsy room, during a procedure, by law enforcement officials who may have been directly involved in an incident in which someone in their custody died when that person is the subject of the procedure.

Jackson’s Senate Bill 1166, also known as the New Parent Leave Act, would guarantee 12 weeks of job-protected maternity and paternity leave for most Californians if passed by the State Assembly. The bill passed through the Senate by a vote of 22 to 14.

This bill, says Jackson, provides benefits to employees of smaller businesses in the state. Currently, companies with 50 or more employees must guarantee 12 weeks of job-protected family leave under state and federal law. Nearly 40 percent of Californians do not qualify for such benefits due to the number of employees in their place of employment.

The new bill would extend benefits to employees of companies with 10 or more employees.

“Hard-working California families deserve better, and our youngest children deserve better,” said Jackson.

— Chris O’Neal