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OP-ED: For Better Health, Doctors and Patients Must Form a Team

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By Nailah Thompson, DO MPH

 

Last week, a 64 year-old Black man went to his Primary Care physician for a routine check-up. He had no significant medical history but went in after receiving a call from his doctor’s office because they hadn’t seen him in more than a year.

 

At the end of his visit, before leaving the room, the doctor asked if there was anything else he wanted to share, and he mentioned that he had experienced some “chest tightness” when walking up the stairs at the Oracle Arena at a recent warriors game.

 

He was sent for a test, which found that his heart was not getting enough oxygen. He was sent for another test that showed he, in fact, had extensive heart disease with severe plaque buildup in the arteries leading to his heart.

 

He was hospitalized and had to have Open Heart Surgery to restore adequate blood flow to his heart.

 

That 64 year-old man is my father and we were at that Warriors game together. He failed to mention the chest tightness to his wife, his daughter the physician, or anyone else.

 

When I asked him why, he told me he figured he was just “out of shape,” as he had picked up some extra weight over the past several years as he had become less active.

 

He later admitted he had been in denial. This came as a shock to our family. But sadly, this scenario happens all too often. Thankfully my dad is receiving the care he needs to prevent a major heart attack in the future.

 

If you haven’t been personally affected by heart disease, odds are someone you know has. Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for Blacks in America.

 

Black women in America face a greater risk of heart disease than women of other backgrounds.

 

For me, this experience was a wakeup call that a shift needs to happen in our idea of healthcare. I believe we need to move from the practice of using the healthcare system when you need someone to fix you, to using the healthcare system as a place where each patient and their physician form a team.

 

This team will make decisions to invest in the patient’s health and wellness at the earliest possible point to maximize the number of each patient’s quality, healthy years of life. Each person can do some simple things to increase their number of quality, healthy years of life; this number will differ for every person.

 

Know your family history: My grandmother had a heart attack at age 50. She and others in my father’s family had heart disease – my father was unaware of this. This information could have been a warning for him to let his doctor know and be aware of his risk and possible symptoms.

Know your numbers: We all should know our blood pressure, and whether it is normal or elevated. Important numbers to remember are:

Normal BP is less than 120/80; Normal total cholesterol is less than 200; Normal fasting sugar is less than 100; Normal Hemoglobin A1c is less than 6. (If you have diabetes this test monitors your sugar control over 3-4 months)

 

Make healthy life choices regarding eating and exercise: Healthy choices when it comes to food and drink and regular exercise not only help with weight loss, but also help to prevent chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Eating healthy and exercising regularly can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce your risk of dying from heart disease.

 

It is important to do all these things, as doing just one is not enough. My father knew his numbers.

 

He didn’t have a history of high blood pressure or any other chronic diseases. For him, the family history was the most important factor.

 

It is vital that we not only check our blood pressure, not only have blood tests done, or not only exercise regularly and eat healthy. We must also connect with our physician, follow up regularly, and be aware of our family history in conjunction with recognizing and reporting symptoms that could be indicative of heart disease.

 

We must take advantage of the resources available to us through our healthcare team and healthcare system while we are healthy. This will make it possible for us as a community, to move from a fix me system of health care, to focusing on our health and doing all we can to reach and maintain our highest level of health and wellness.

Community

City Wins Case Against Local Real Estate Empire for Systemic Tenants’ Rights Violations

The September 1 decision represents a significant triumph for the city in a case brought several years ago against the owners of a prominent local real estate empire for systematically violating the rights of tenants at buildings their family companies own. 

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Barbara Parker

Alameda County Superior Court issued its final Statement of Decision and Permanent Injunction After Trial in People of the State of California and the City of Oakland v. Dodg Corporation, et al., a major win for the city in a case against a local real estate empire for systemic tenants’ rights violations.

The September 1 decision represents a significant triumph for the city in a case brought several years ago against the owners of a prominent local real estate empire for systematically violating the rights of tenants at buildings their family companies own. 

Not only must the defendants now comply with tenant protection and health and safety laws at all of their properties, but they owe the city and their former tenants significant redress, including financial penalties to the city and compensation to tenants, for their years of unlawful activity.

Said City Attorney Barbara Parker, “Victory in this case means that tenants in Oakland do not have to choose between their fundamental rights and having a roof over their head at any cost. No longer will businesses like Dodg Corporation be able to run roughshod over the people relying on them for shelter, and no longer will landlords feel the same impunity to outright ignore their legal obligations under our local laws.”

When the City Attorney’s Office brought the Dodg Corp. case in 2019, Oakland had long been facing an unprecedented housing crisis. By 2019, the housing crisis was disproportionately impacting low-income households, with nearly half of rental households in Oakland being rent-burdened (i.e., the household spends over 30% of its gross monthly income on rent).

Because of the skyrocketing rents, many low- and middle-income Oakland residents lived and still live under threat of displacement.

Prior to filing the case, the City Attorney’s Office had already worked with members of the City Council and the Mayor’s Office to pass various important laws focusing on protecting Oakland residents, particularly low- and middle-income residents. 

The City Attorney’s Office worked closely with the Council to adopt the Tenant Protection Ordinance (TPO) in 2014, which was amended in 2020 to strengthen the TPO’s protections. But for some abusive landlords, neither the 2014 TPO nor its recent amendments were enough to stop their illegal activities.

For years, the defendants in the Dodg Corp. case owned and operated approximately 60 residential rental properties in the City of Oakland (and owned at least 70 more properties in the city). The lawsuit addressed their flagrant disregard for the letter and spirit of the law with respect to six specific rental properties, where the defendants subjected Oakland residents to grave health and safety risks. 

The owners’ activities included renting units in substandard conditions — including units never intended or approved for residential use — to tenants who were predominantly low-income immigrants, among them tenants whose primary language is not English. 

This predatory business model allowed the owners to profit from renting uninhabitable or dilapidated units, including units that posed severe and imminent fire risks, to tenants who were desperate to find affordable housing and who often lacked the resources to take legal action to defend their rights. 

When tenants were displaced from their homes because their units were so unsafe, the owners further violated the law by neglecting to make relocation payments required by local law, according to a media release from the City Attorney’s Office. 

The case went to trial in early April of this year. In its September 1 decision, the court held that the defendant corporate entities and individual defendants Baljit Singh Mann and Surinder K. Mann exhibited a pattern and practice of violating the Tenant Protection Ordinance, and did so in bad faith, and that they created a public nuisance.

The verdict requires that defendants pay the City over $3.9 million in civil penalties for their egregious violations of tenants’ rights. Defendants must also provide long-overdue relocation payments to the dozens of tenants unlawfully displaced from the six properties at issue in this case. 

Going forward, defendants also may not operate any of their Oakland-owned residential properties in violation of local or state laws. This means the owners must promptly and competently address existing and future violations that jeopardize the well-being of their tenants.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Community

B.A.S.I.C. Ministry Opens Its Doors to Feed hundreds of Asian Americans in San Leandro

Since 2020, B.A.S.I.C. Ministry (Brothers and Sisters in Christ) has fed hundreds of families in San Leandro and Oakland through their Feed My Sheep Program. 

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Volunteers feed the community/ Photo Courtesy of Mustafa Muhyee, Pastor B.A.S.I.C. MINISTRY

Since 2020, B.A.S.I.C. Ministry (Brothers and Sisters in Christ) has fed hundreds of families in San Leandro and Oakland through their Feed My Sheep Program. 

Located at 1221 Pacific Ave. in San Leandro, B.A.S.I.C. Ministry feeds hundreds of Asian American families every Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. Members of B.A.S.I.C. Ministry and people in the community volunteers distribute bags of groceries and fresh vegetables.  

Also, on Wednesdays the church distributes hot meals to hundreds of families on the corner of 98th and Edes in Oakland at noon.

Lisa, a young adult Asian American woman, standing in line with her elderly mother, said “Many people in our community can’t afford to buy food.  This really helps.

B.A.S.I.C. Ministry Pastor Mustafah Muhyee says “since the pandemic he has seen a rise in families needing food.” To help us end hunger in our communities call the church at (510) 961-8781. To donate funds, go to www.jointhamovement.com  

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Commentary

Biden, Vax Americana, and What the Recall Could Mean in COVID-19 Wars

Masking works. You can see it working. Vaccines work too, but we’re on the honor system for that. And people lie or show a fake vax cards. 

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COVID/Photo Courtesy of Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire 

At Oakland’s Stagebridge, I taught a class this year. One of my students couldn’t make the final. The student had COVID.

I don’t know if the student was vaccinated or whether this was a breakthrough case. But the fact remains, the COVID war must be our No. 1 priority—no matter how many people you see on TV at football games and sporting events unmasked. 

Masking works. You can see it working. Vaccines work too, but we’re on the honor system for that. And people lie or show a fake vax cards. 

This is why President Joe Biden’s speech last week, what I call his “Vax Americana” speech was so much more important than people want to admit.

It was his first get tough moment. And it reminded me of the phrase, “Pax Americana,” from post-World War II in 1945 to describe how the U.S. used its dominance to bring peace and prosperity to the world. 

After months of “nice,” Biden was a little less nice ordering federal workers to get vaxed, and OSHA to lean on employers with 100 workers to mandate vaccinations.

But all you need to remember from the speech was the last line, when Biden in a hushed, aggressive whisper said, “Get vaccinated.” 

What are you waiting for—a death bed conversion? 

It’s time to get serious about public health, about caring for our country and each other. 

We can end the war on COVID if we all do our part, masked and vaxed. 

I wonder if Biden knows about a non-profit in Stockton called Little Manila Rising

“Someone Pulled a Gun” 

You know what guns do to a situation. In the COVID wars, the anti-vaxers are insane. 

One of the handful of Filipino American canvassers for Little Manila Rising going door to door to provide the public with good information, got a rude greeting from an anti-vaxer.

“A gun!” said Amy Portello-Nelson, the head of the Get-Out-The-Vaccine drive in Stockton. The canvassers are armed only with information. No one was hurt, but you see how dangerous fighting COVID can be when you’re armed only with facts. 

Here’s what Little Manila Rising’s done in two months on the job. It has knocked on more than 32,000 doors and had 20,000 conversations. The area they’ve worked has gone from a vaccination rate of 32% to more than 50%. 

Talking to people and telling them to get vax works. It’s how we’re going to get back to normal. It’s going to take a “Vax Americana” effort.

The Recall

Of course, whatever happens with this gubernatorial recall will determine how quickly the state gets to the 70%-80% rate that gives us an effective herd immunity. 

My deadline is before any official recall results. And even then, mail-in ballots with a September 16 postmark will take time to be counted. 

The talk of voter fraud is greatly exaggerated. There’s more rhetorical fraud than anything else. 

With more than 8 million ballots in already, unless there’s a strange crossover vote, the Democrats should continue in power. 

But let’s say the recall succeeds and a person with the most votes among 46 also-rans becomes the new governor, it would not bode well for the state.

The Black conservative Larry Elder was leading among those who want to replace Governor Gavin Newsom.

Elder is an anti-vaxxer and has espoused views indicating that – under his leadership– California would look a lot more like Alabama, Texas, Louisiana and Florida on the COVID map. 

That would be the real monumental tragedy for California and for Vax Americana. 

Let’s face it, the political virus unleashed by the Republicans on our democracy is worse than COVID. 

The recall effort needs to die a natural death this week.

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