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of the future?
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|Nest box for rent||No
|Solid Veteran Administrator, Richard Esparza, Now at JLHS|
|A James Lick Parent Speaks Out, “We have the best of everything at Lick” by Phyllis Silva|
|NNV Interviews Four James Lick Students - “It’s too early to tell,” these students agree|
|Regional Medical Center Can Become State-of-the-Art If .....|
|“It’s a Clear Choice” say the CDF and the Fire Safe Council|
|Dick and Don’s Great Airplane Adventure - Scoping out Pombo's Road|
|Bioterrorism, Disaster Preparation in Santa Clara County by Supervisor Pete McHugh|
|Walking in the Park - an Alum Rock Park poem by Howard Shellhammer|
|Be a Patron and a Patron of Our Wonderful New Library Branch|
|Explorer Anza in Santa Clara County, Part 2 by Greg Smestad and Edward Allegretti|
|You Dig It?
|Damp Skies Don’t Deter Going Native Garden Tour Enthusiasts|
|Irate #64 Bus-driver Disses NNV Editor - Who has the ‘tude, dude?|
|FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
On April Fools’ Day, NNV interviewed Richard “Rick” Esparza, one of the
Esparza-Herrera-Rice director team which has set about the task of reorganizing
James Lick High School. It was April Fools’ Day, but it was clear there is no
foolin’ around going on with this pleasant but serious-minded man. Rick Esparza,
like Bill Rice (another of the three new directors – see
Rice interview in last month’s edition of NNV),
seems to be exactly the sort of person that wise parents would put in charge of
their child’s education. He is “solid” and obviously confident that he and his
colleagues have the strength of will and purpose to effect significant change at
the high school.
Like Bill Rice, when tapped in January for the Lick reorganization, Rick
Esparza was contentedly working at a school from which he figured he would
“graduate” into retirement status one of these years – although he was in no
hurry. He was an administrator at the Eastside Cadet Academy, an Alternative
Education Program which is housed at the Cathedral of Faith.
This self-described “downtown kid” is a 1959 graduate of Andrew Hill High
School and doesn’t have an Eastside background beyond visiting his extended
family here over the years. However, he actually worked for a while at Lick High
School beginning in 1970 as a “liaison” with the community. He brought his
bilingual (English/Spanish) skills to the job and found he enjoyed working with
kids and parents in an educational setting so much that he went back to school
(San Jose State) to study Industrial Technology “with an emphasis on education.”
He has taught mechanical drawing, beginning math, pre-algebra and basic science
as well as coaching wrestling.
The three-man director team has divvied up the responsibilities giving
Esparza the responsibilities of Attendance, Discipline, School Climate and
Facilities. (Rice’s assignments are the Master Schedule and Curriculum
Development. Herrera oversees the Budget, Community Relations and “articulating”
with the two feeder middle schools.)
NNV: Why do you think you were chosen for this challenge at Lick High
R.E.: Because of my background in “campus climate procedure.” I was an administrator for sixteen years at three different schools and evolved as an effective disciplinarian.
NNV: How do you define the challenge at Lick?
R.E.: In several ways. First, there must be acceptance of the leadership team by the students and staff. Second, meaningful communication with the community must be established. (The school has developed something of a stigma which makes parents hesitant to send their kids here – we need to change that negative perception.) Third, we need to upgrade the facilities. For instance, the gymnasium was built in 1949! And, of course, the obvious: we need to improve test scores. We also have the challenge of connecting parents, students, community and staff.
NNV: What have you changed about the “school climate” at Lick?
R.E.: There had been a misunderstanding about the “open period” which some students had. Students who had free periods (because they had completed their courses) were allowed to roam rather freely around the campus and were a distraction to those who were supposed to be in class. Now those students with free periods spend that time in the library, Career Center or a classroom where they can get help – or give help by mentoring other students.
I’ve also given my support to dress code restrictions by clarifying the interpretation of “Common Dress.” (NNV Note: “Common Dress” at some ESUHSD high schools limits clothing styles and colors to very basic, tasteful shirts, trousers or shorts. Lick chose the colors black, white, green - their school color - and gray-green.)
NNV: Will you please comment on the “system for discipline” which Bill
Rice mentioned in our recent interview?
R.E.: We are in the process of enhancing our system. It is based on an agreement which each student reads, understands and signs. The agreement, the start of our plan, is a document called the Uniform Disciplinary Chart which states exactly what students can expect to happen as the result of clearly defined infractions. The effectiveness, of course, is dependent on the “buy-in” of the staff. Part of promoting the understanding of this personal responsibility agreement is the teachers explaining and discussing it with their students.
We have instituted “consistency in behavior policy.” Kids know what to expect and they know we will be fair.
NNV: How many students attend “Saturday School” detention and what do
they do while they’re on the campus?
R.E.: Usually it’s no more than about 3% of the students. It is my expectation that the program will be eliminated as the numbers diminish and it’s no longer necessary. While they’re at Saturday School, the students are limited to doing homework or studying Language Arts or Pre-Algebra or Algebra I. They must use the time to work on academics.
NNV: Bill Rice mentioned that he believes the team has brought a “new
sense of purpose” to the school and the students. Do you agree?
R.E.: Yes! We demonstrate that by our visibility on campus. The students see us demonstrating what we believe.
NNV: “Achievement and Success, Nothing Less” is the powerful motto
which you, Bill Rice and Joel Herrera chose. What is its source?
R.E.: It just evolved when the three of us were discussing what we wanted for the school and the students under our watch. Bill just capsulized what we were all thinking and spoke the words, “what we want is ‘achievement and success – nothing less.’” It stuck – and now it resonates with the kids.
NNV: Will you comment on the teaching staff?
R.E.: They’re just great! They have really supported us in our endeavors and ideas.
NNV: What would you like to say to the community which we haven’t
R.E.: Come in and see us! Talk to us and get to know us before you draw conclusions about Lick High School, and especially before you make decisions and choices for your students. Work with us!
Click here for a photo of Rick Esparza.
NNV Note: You can phone Rick Esparza at (408) 347-4420 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some people hear the words “James Lick High School” and immediately label it as your typical “eastside” school. This is so not true! Our children will excel at James Lick High School, just like at any other school. They have honors and advance placement classes, together with college prep courses, for your child to take. Every year, several graduates go on to Stanford University, Santa Clara University, Cal Poly, USC, Cal Berkeley, UCLA, and the list goes on.
What is so disturbing is that the community does not realize that we have the best of everything here at James Lick. We are a small school, with dedicated teachers who stay for extended hours to tutor your children, just so they can attain higher standards. The tutoring program is available for all students after school, from 2:00 to 3:00 PM, with some extending to 4:30 PM. If this school did not care about their students, then why are teachers spending extra time trying to help them?
Our sports program has improved greatly, with our football team having the best season in years (thanks to the awesome coaching staff), our basketball team went to CCS, our wrestling team took league championship for the last 3 years, our badminton team is undefeated, and baseball is outstanding.
James Lick High School is a common dress school. I, as a parent, do not oppose the common dress. Nor do my children who attend there. They are used to a uniform, so the transition was easy. I feel that being in common dress is less distracting, as the boys tend to focus on what the girls are wearing instead of what they really need to focus on. I believe in “freedom of expression,” but having pants worn so low, exposing the top portion of the backside, is not attractive. The downside to common dress is that outsiders can dress the same way as students. They can come onto our campus and cause problems.
Thanks to our wonderful new administration team, they are implementing the student ID card to be worn at all times, with a designated James Lick lanyard. This will also help to identify outsiders. Since our new administration team came onboard, I have seen only positive results. Students are not wandering the halls, they are in class when the tardy bell rings, the campus is kept tidy, and the administration interacts with students before school, during breaks, lunch and after school.
As an alum of James Lick and a parent of two children who attend Lick (my son is a Junior and my daughter is a Freshman), I could not be prouder to have my youngsters attend my alma mater. My children are involved in sports and activities at Lick which keep them pretty busy. I, myself, am also involved with school activities. I help with concessions at sporting events, and am a member of the School Site Council. I know the students and they know me. I am called “Mom” by practically half of the student body. Parents are encouraged and welcome to come onto the campus. Parent participation is a must! Show your children that you care by participating in school activities, and they will in turn excel in their education.
No one said it would be easy. Your brave NNV editor actually met with four James Lick students all at one time to do an interview about student perceptions of the new administrative team at the school. Bad idea!
It would have been much wiser to see these kids one at a time in a situation where their responses were not colored by the presence of their peers - don’t misunderstand, these were respectful, “regular” students. While they are not academic stars exactly, they are bright, capable kids who maintain decent grades in the B range. However, getting any sort of consensus was about as difficult and unlikely as getting cats to walk on leash.
Here is what NNV gleaned: high school kids (or at least these particular kids) are essentially oblivious to the changes in the administration at their school. Or, at least that is what they would have NNV readers believe. When asked what’s new since January when the new administration began its reorganization of the school, they were quick to pounce on the topic with, “Too strict!” When asked what “Achievement and Success, Nothing Less” means to them, one boy professed to never having heard of it. The other kids admitted to having heard it – maybe – but they think that only the administration is buying into it. However, one young man said thoughtfully, “It’s too early to tell.” And, the other students agreed! Yay!
There was very little consensus regarding the individuals who make up the new leadership team. Mr. Rice seems to have made the most impact, but two kids thought he was good and two thought not. All seemed neutral on Mr. Esparza. They said they hadn’t gotten very familiar with Mr. Herrera yet. Asked who they would want as an administrator if they could do the choosing, they actually all agreed that Lick advisor, Ms. Clausell, would be their choice.
NNV asked whether these kids agreed that a critical mass of students is buying into the new more academic-minded climate at the school. One student said she thought that more than 50% of the students are embracing the new school attitude. The other three thought the number would be lower.
NNV asked what’s good about Lick High School and the students named the
exceptional teachers they particularly like and respect. Special favorites of
these four students are: Mrs. Current, Mr. Frausto, Mr. James and Mr. Evans.
What else is very good, they say, is that the students can earn “Free Dress Days” if they keep attendance up. Three of the students (all boys!) don’t like “Common Dress.” The one female student didn’t particularly mind it. The topic of common dress kept popping up again and again throughout our interview. Your editor shared with the kids that common dress might be adopted by ALL the high schools in ESUHSD if the Superintendent has her way. “No way!” was the amazed (secretly pleased?) response.
What the new administrators need to address, according to these four buddies, are the following deficiencies:
• The school offers no manual arts courses such as auto shop and wood shop
• The school is poorly maintained and needs renovations
• The bathrooms are beat up, have no mirrors, soap or towels, but do have roaches and graffiti tags
• The school needs better P.E. equipment and more creative P.E. teachers – except for Mr. James. (He’s cool.)
• The school should have better football coaching
• The textbooks are too old
• The P.E. lockers are terrible
• There should be no Common Dress
• Saturday School, at four hours, is about 2 ½ hours too long. (Only one of these students admitted to ever having to attend Saturday School and, then, he said, it was only because he had forgotten a book, once!)
NNV invites more students (and parents) who would like to share their points of view to call (408) 272-7008 or to send an e-mail to JudyET@NNVESJ.org. And, from here on out, your editor will try to make those interviews one-on-one.
For people in the Alum Rock area, HCA’s plans to transfer all the goodies from the old hospital downtown on Santa Clara Street to a much expanded Regional Medical Center on Jackson Avenue is a clear win. Not only would we have a nearby hospital, but we’d also have trauma, neurosurgery, cardiosurgery and neonatal care centers which we have never had before. Suddenly (in several years actually) we would find ourselves with all the most state-of-the-art services available - right in our own neighborhood.
Of course, the people who live downtown object most vociferously to losing their treasured hospital services and don’t believe that a trauma center several miles to the east will serve their concentrated population well at all. HCA, the owners of both hospitals, says there is great overlap between the populations which use San Jose Medical Center and Regional Medical Center – and they say the overlapping populations form “almost exactly the same ‘catchment’ area.” They point out that even though the downtown hospital will be leaving, there will still be plenty of medical services available. The doctors and medical groups which have offices in the buildings surrounding the old hospital will stay where they are; downtowners will be able to see their regular physicians just as before. The only changes are that their doctors will use Regional Medical when hospital services are necessary and, more critically, people will have to go further to visit an emergency room.
The first community input meeting was held in late April at the Mexican Heritage Center. Organized by District Five Councilmember Nora Campos and her staff, the meeting drew perhaps sixty citizens to hear presentations from the City’s Planning Department, Regional Medical’s CEO, and the architect for the proposed expansion. A large model showing the old and new elements of the vastly enlarged hospital and many renderings and plans ringed the room.
The meeting presented an opportunity to give an overview of the planning process necessary to bring the Regional Medical Center Expansion from concept to reality. An Environmental Impact Report will be the first component – we can expect to see and hear about it this month and next. The General Plan will be submitted to the Planning Commission at a hearing in August and to the City Council at a hearing in September. The Planned Development Zoning will be considered by the Planning Commission at a hearing in August and at a hearing in September by the City Council. HCA will have to demonstrate that the expanded Regional Medical Center is a good fit for the neighborhood and for the neighbors.
A few factoids which readers may appreciate:
• The new Regional Medical Center complex will eventually have four entrances – one each on Jackson (which will continue to be the main entrance), Alexian Drive, McKee and Jose Figueres.
• The HCA/Regional property includes a great deal of undeveloped space - including an open field - going all the way to Jose Figueres on the west.
• East San Jose is the fastest growing area of San Jose and Regional Medical Center is readily accessable for emergency vehicles from both 101 and 280/680.
• Regional’s current emergency room is the second busiest after Valley Medical Center’s, but many trauma patients are transferred either downtown or to VMC because Regional doesn’t have the facilities to treat them. For example, if you have a serious heart attack and go to Regional now, you’ll probably have to be transferred elsewhere for appropriate treatment.
• East San Jose has the largest number of women of child-bearing age in the
• There will be a high-rise helipad at the south end of the complex (it will be on top of the building to facilitate faster landings and minimize noise).
• The new trauma/emergency center will triple the size of Regional’s existing center.
• The new trauma center will have six “Fast Track” rooms, thirty-five emergency treatment rooms and six trauma rooms.
• There will be thirty-two Post-Partum beds, thirty-two Medical-Surgical beds, eight Pediatric Intensive Care beds, sixteen Neonatal Intensive Care beds and twenty-four ICU beds.
• There will be three new specialized operating rooms – Trauma, Neurology, and Cardiac.
• There will be two Cardiac Catheterization services and three Endoscopy suites.
• All the new patient rooms will be private rooms with separate showers (showers are now “down the hall”).
• Regional Medical Center serves everyone – regardless of their ability to pay – and will continue to do so.
Regional Medical Center CEO Bill Gilbert says that HCA is “here for the long term” and is prepared to invest $140 million in Regional Medical Center. They want to treat “the same people with new equipment in better facilities.” With Regional’s expansion there will be a very positive effect on Emergency Medical Services because there won’t be the need for all the “transferring” of patients from facility to facility for specialized services which goes on now. The expanded state-of-the-art facilities which include a new medical office building will draw new talented physicians to this comprehensive “hospital of the future.”
None of this is simple – the facilities downtown can’t be expanded easily and major earthquake retrofitting is needed. If the City forces HCA to expand and upgrade the downtown facilities, or another company takes it over, HCA will probably not expand Regional because these two facilities serve the same market, which can’t support two major hospitals. Both hospitals are losing money now ($38 million last year) so something has to be done soon. Basically, if the City and the residents don’t accept HCA’s plan, we won’t have any state-of-the-art hospitals nearby – either here or downtown.
Councilmember Campos proposes June for the next community meeting. NNV will keep its readers apprised as opportunities for community input arise. Readers can contact project managers Rich Buikema at email@example.com or (408) 277-8551, or Deanna Chow at Deanna.firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 277-8555 and Councilmember Nora Campos at District5@sanjoseca.gov or (408) 277-5157.
Click here for some photos from the meeting.
Caskey Country Club Properties, Call Larry and Barbara Caskey at (408) 926-5400
E.M.S. LLC, Environmental
Management Systems, (408) 501-4200
Windermere Silicon Valley
Properties, (408) 251-5860
Keith Bush, Artist/Sculptor, (408) 923-6666, www.keithbush.org
The financial planning firm PW
Papier, (408) 747-1222
The last two paragraphs of Meaghan Clawsie’s NNV story on the October, 2000, fire near Alum Rock Park are:
"More than anything, the fire was like a big warning to us," (Mike) Endris says. "The danger of fire in these parts is very real, and we all need to stay alert and prepared."
"The biggest thing this fire taught me is that you need to have a plan," echoes (Gary) Rauh. "You need to know what you'd do if a fire struck -- where you'd go, what you'd save, and how you'd evacuate."
Since then, we’ve had big fires in southern Santa Clara County (the Croy fire in September, 2002), smaller fires near Mount Hamilton and really big fires in Southern California last fall, but it’s been quiet around here. What does this mean?
It means simply that the hazardous fuels have continued to accumulate around here – in our parks and in our backyards. It doesn’t mean that the San Jose Fire Department and the CDF can stop any fire in this area before it gets to our homes (all these agencies are affected by the budget crunch – read our last story here – we haven’t heard the end of this yet). Our County is much more focused now on “Bioterrorism Preparation” than on Wildfire Preparation – see Supervisor Pete McHugh’s story below.
It’s fine to prepare for what may happen here but let’s also prepare for what we know will happen here. Wildfire Preparation is one of the things we need to do for ourselves.
Wildfire Awareness Week, May 9-15, 2004, “It’s a Clear Choice”
Wildfire Awareness Week is sponsored annually by the California Fire Safe Council, the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (CDF) and, locally, by the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council.
The theme for this year’s Wildfire Awareness Week, “It’s a Clear Choice,” has multiple meanings. The sponsors say, “In light of last year’s fire siege, Californians have a clear choice in making fire safe decisions if they live in a wildland area. Clearance, installing and maintaining a fire resistant landscape, building with fire resistant materials, being active in fire safety in the community, and reporting suspicious activity are just some of the ‘choices’ that can make a difference.”
The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council has a new 20-page, step-by-step guide for property owners and residents. Living With Fire in Santa Clara County outlines the steps you can take to build Defensible Space around your home. It’s available on their Web site at www.SCCFireSafe.org.
Do we live in a Wildland Area?
Alum Rock Park is next door, the people in San Jose look in this direction to see green (soon to be brown) hills and San Jose Fire Department Battalion Chief Joe Carrillo has said they believe that “it would take twenty-five of the city's thirty-one engines to fight a major fire in the Country Club area.” Next question?
How can I make any Defensible Space around my home?
If you’ve looked at Living With Fire, you may say, “They want me to clear 30 feet around my home – how can I do that – 30 feet takes me into my neighbor’s living room.” “And I’m not cutting down the big tree between our houses. I like that tree!”
Nobody wants you to have to cut down that tree. The idea is to trim the tree, and other vegetation near the tree, to remove “ladder fuels” and prevent fires from jumping from lower shrubs to nearby trees. There’s a simple formula on Page 12 of Living With Fire to calculate the recommended clearance depending on the height of the shrubs near the tree. And don’t forget to trim the tree branches about 15 feet from chimneys. Even hazardous eucalyptus trees can be trimmed to be safer. Click here for a photo of your editor admiring a well-trimmed eucalyptus.
What started the last big fire near Alum Rock Park?
As Meaghan reported, the October, 2000, fire was “ignited by the combination of gale-force winds, fallen power lines and flying sparks in the hills near Alum Rock Park.” That’s a combination that’s likely to happen again – perhaps sooner rather than later. Lightning in the hills, unsafe outdoor fires and carelessly discarded cigarettes are other causes of wildland fires.
Let’s do what we can. You know we have overhead power lines in this area. Page 15 of Living With Fire outlines how to plant and trim trees near power lines (please be careful if you do this yourself). It also covers how to call PG&E and get them involved if need be.
OK, OK, but 20 pages is too much. Where can I find a simple list of what I need to do?
Click here for the simple list of the things to do for this area written by Fire Captain Ralph Ortega of the San Jose Fire Department. Most fire departments in this area prefer to provide advice and ask the property owners and residents in their coverage area to prepare for fire season. They also know where the most hazardous areas and homes are and have plans for where they will go in a big fire and what they can protect. The idea is to get your area and home in shape so they can protect it when there is a fire.
Incidentally, the 30-foot defensible space is not just a guideline – it’s the law in California (http://www.fire.ca.gov/Education/PublicCode4291.asp). You can’t expect your fire department (or your insurance company) to have much sympathy (or much more than sympathy) if you don’t do your part.
But wait! Where’s the big Wildfire Awareness Week event? The hoopla and celebration?
Don’t worry, there’s more! Governor Arnold will be making a proclamation about Wildfire Awareness Week. There will be more fire safe information (and some stuff for kids) at local community events. But the real celebration will be in your own backyard as you light up your barbecue (hopefully in a safe area) after you complete the first few steps of your Wildfire Preparation Plan and make plans to do what else needs to be done (and to help your neighbor if necessary). If your plans include new plants, you may want to check Page 17 of Living With Fire for a list of Fire Resistant Plants.
Next time: But what do I do if there is a fire? What should I take? Where do I go? Is there an evacuation plan?
If you looked skyward on Monday, April 5th and saw a little plane hovering over the Mount Hamilton Road/Alum Rock Avenue area, you might just have been looking at U.S. Representative Richard Pombo (R-Tracy) and his good bud, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), scoping out our neighborhood for the western terminus of Pombo’s proposed six lane highway.
Federal Transportation Chairman Young visited the Tracy Municipal Airport for an event centered on traffic solutions for the Eleventh Congressional District. The district includes the towns and cities on the “back” side of the Mt. Hamilton and a little piece on “our” side. Dick Pombo is looking for a new way to get his commuting constituents over the mountain range to Silicon Valley where many of them work. He invited Don Young for an airplane ride to view traffic and congestion from the air.
At the event, Mr. Young was quoted as saying, “Richard and I frequently discuss the transportation problems in his District and he is working on solutions that will benefit everyone. I realize that Richard is constantly working to create cohesive transportation plans, and I am coming out to the District to get a firsthand look at the problems and to meet with Richard and local officials on the efforts to improve the region’s transportation system.”
For his part, Mr. Pombo said, “A seamless transportation plan is what people in the District want and need. When gas prices are high and the work-day is long, the last thing folks want to be doing is sitting in traffic – they deserve to be home with their families. More options will give people economical, environmentally smart, safe means of travel. I meet with folks from every area of my district on transportation needs and I’m very happy my good friend Don Young will join me to take stock of our challenges and solutions.”
What’s missing from these lofty words? There is no mention of the people who live in our congressional districts (Districts 15 and 16) and how our lives will be impacted as we host the commuters from the eleventh district who would use our neighborhood as a throughway. In what way would a solution which carves out a six-lane highway from pristine grazing land “benefit everyone”? Presumably “everyone” includes the people who live on Mt. Hamilton Road and its tributaries, and the people who live in the Alum Rock Avenue area. There is no “benefit” to the people whose quiet neighborhoods would be usurped to lay down six lanes of pavement. Our area residents “deserve to be home” with their families in the clean rural air of the foothills.
NNV sees that Dick and Don are planning to throw our neighborhood to the wolves to solve Dick’s district’s dilemma. Their “challenges and solutions” just do not consider the rights of the people of East San Jose.
NNV Note: Maybe you think we're just crying wolf here? Read "Pombo's freeway gains Congressional support" (4/9/04, Pleasanton Weekly), "Congressmen look at Valley's transit" (4/6/04, Tri-Valley Herald)* and "Pombo knows a better way to San Jose" (3/31/04, Tri-Valley Herald)* to see what they're telling the people on the other side of "our" hills.
We asked Drina Collins, Manny Diaz’ Chief of Staff, what the buzz in Sacramento about “Pombo’s over-the-mountain road” might be. Here’s what their transportation aide found out: Our congressional representative, “Zoe (Lofgren), is vehemently against the proposal. One obstacle is that (Representative) Pombo is Chair of the House Resources Committee. Caltrans has looked at the issue before and has said that it was not feasible. Environmentalists and ranchers have also spoken against the proposal. Last year, Pombo introduced legislation directing the Secretary of Transportation to study the feasibility of constructing a highway, but with no co-sponsors, the bill went nowhere.”
NNV knows that Representative Pombo will keep-on comin’-on. The folks who own the right of way for the proposed road will be sure that the project happens. According to some, that right-of-way has been established, bought and paid for long ago. A lot of money is at stake. It’s only a matter of time until Mr. Pombo trades enough favors in Washington to convince someone to co-sponsor his next piece of highway legislation. We who live here should not rest until Mr. Pombo assures us that, if such a road ever comes to pass, San Jose’s East Foothills will not be spoiled and that our neighborhood will not be the site of its western terminus.
Zoe can’t fight this all by herself, folks. We need to help her. Click here for our article on whom to contact. Click here to see an illustration of Pombo's Radical Road.
* These two Tri-Valley Herald articles have been removed from the articles we can link to but they are available (for a fee) in the Tri-Valley Herald archives at www.trivalleyherald.com by searching the archives using words from the titles above.
Over the past five years, Santa Clara County has made the response to disasters by the local medical community an ongoing priority. In the aftermath of the “9/11” events, all levels of government have increased their attention on bioterrorism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) have recently acknowledged the County’s efforts in the area of bioterrorism response planning.
The County’s Public Health Department received one of five grants the CDC and NACCHO awarded to public health agencies nationwide. The grant pays the County $500,000 to establish an Advanced Practice Center (APC). The APC designation requires the County to produce a blueprint for first responder collaboration and partnerships, and a tool kit to implement the blueprint. In addition, the CDC and other public health agencies may use the Center to conduct their own formal training sessions and demonstrations.
The blueprint and tool kit that the Public Health Department will develop will serve as a model for the nation’s 3,000 public health agencies. Specifically, the Public Health Department will use the grant to further enhance three vital components of emergency preparedness. It will focus on our Countywide medical response to disasters, the detection and investigation of disease, and the education of the public.
The Department has already created the blueprint for a Countywide Medical Response System (CMRS) that the County will activate in the event of a regional disaster. This system establishes the groundwork for interagency collaboration across jurisdictions in the delivery of vaccines or pharmaceuticals to 1.7 million County residents in a matter of days. It also devises a plan for isolation and quarantine in the event of public health threats and emergencies. The grant will allow the County to implement the blueprint.
The Public Health Department will also use the grant to construct a disease surveillance and investigation model for other public health agencies to adopt. The system aims to improve the means for detection, surveillance, timely reporting, early communication and effective control of diseases. The Department has already implemented a number of mechanisms to facilitate disease detection and surveillance. A 24-line fax broadcast system alerts potentially all of the County’s 4,000 physicians to urgent County health issues within moments. A surveillance system monitors every County emergency room daily for reports of any unusual symptoms that could pose potential public health risks. “Zebra Packets,” another of its many innovative tools, contain an easy-to-display, single laminated page of information for identifying various possible bioterrorist agents.
A third area of the grant’s focus will involve outlining a plan for risk communication and public education. The plan will provide techniques for communicating risks and educating the public about potential or existing threats in a timely, effective and comprehensive manner. Thus far, the Public Health Department has demonstrated a highly proactive approach in keeping County health care providers and residents abreast of potential public health risks.
Some of these efforts include:
• Establishing a learning venue called Disaster University to equip public health workers, County agencies and external partners with hands-on tools and knowledge for addressing health emergencies.
• Creating a series of fact sheets in multiple languages to inform the community and health care providers about specific risks and methods for prevention and protection.
• Providing regular updates via the website regarding emergency preparedness efforts, resources, and current public health concerns, such as West Nile virus and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
• Setting up public hotlines for easy access to current emergency preparedness and response information.
• Hosting satellite broadcasts, webcasts, teleconferences and other presentations on a variety of bioterrorism and disaster-related topics.
I hope that the County never has to implement its plans in case of a bioterrorist attack. However, the prevalence of threats to public safety dictates that we prepare vigilantly and thoroughly for the possibility. The County’s Health and Hospital Departments, including Public Health, will strive to continually improve their emergency preparedness strategies to best protect the County’s residents.
(This newsletter is in two sections to reduce the download time for this page)
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Copyright© 2004 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127
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Copyright© 2004 by Judy Thompson. All rights reserved. Updated 5/7/04.