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The Californian

Courtenay Edelhart covers health care for The Californian. Reach her at cedelhart@bakersfield.com, at Facebook.com/TBCHealth or on Twitter@TBCHealth.

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Sue Benham, chief development officer of Bakersfield Memorial Hospitals, brothers Baldev (David) Munger and Kewel (Kable) Munger, Jon Van Boening, president/CEO of Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, pose for photographs during the public announcement of the Munger family's $2 million gift to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital on Dec. 5, 2012. The family is now making another donation, this time of $1.5 million.

ANOTHER BIG GIFT FOR BMH: The Munger family is donating $1.5 million to the Bakersfield Memorial Hospital Foundation.

That's on top of the $2 million the successful farming family donated in 2012. Combined, the donations are the largest gift from a single donor in the hospital's history, said chief philanthropy officer Sue Benham.

The original gift established the Sarvanand Heart and Stroke Center at Memorial, which brought to Kern County advanced cardiac technologies that local patients previously had to go out of town for.

The second gift will expand on that by funding the consolidation of services in a new hybrid endovascular catheterization lab. The new lab will enable patients to have surgery immediately if an emergency arises during a normally routine cath lab procedure.

"They can have an operation on the same table by the same people, without having to be moved or assembling a new team, which results in better outcomes," said Memorial President and CEO Jon Van Boening.

An immigrant who moved to California from India in 1966, Lajpat Munger retired in 1988 to devote himself to philanthropy full-time.

His sons run Munger Farms, one of the largest blueberry producers in the world.

The family has funded schools and hospitals in its native India, and took a particular interest in local cardiovascular care after Lajpat Munger suffered two heart attacks.

Design and construction of the new hybrid lab is set to begin later this year.


Remember the old saying, "If mama ain't happy, nobody's happy?"

Well, it's true, according to a new study by researchers at the California Center for Population Research at UCLA.

When single mothers lose their jobs, their children suffer ill effects into young adulthood, the study found.

It looked at 30 years of data comparing people whose mothers were laid off to those whose mothers were not laid off.

The study found "significantly higher" rates of depression among the children of laid-off mothers, even among people in their late 20s.

They were more likely to report poor appetite, difficulty sleeping and trouble getting motivated, among other symptoms.

The study also found children of laid-off mothers were less likely to graduate from high school and college.

Not surprisingly, adverse affects were most pronounced among children who were older when their mothers lost their jobs.

There were no lingering negative affects among children age 5 or younger at the time.


California hospitals rank 9th in the nation for patient safety , but local hospitals aren't doing so hot, according to The Leapfrog Group, a coalition of employers that advocates for transparency, quality and safety in hospitals.

Leapfrog rated more than 2,500 general hospitals across the United States using hospital safety data on infections, injuries and medical and medication errors.

In its spring 2014 Hospital Safety Scores report, the group failed 22 hospitals nationwide, including Kern Medical Center.

None of the hospitals in Bakersfield earned an "A," but 104 others in California did, putting the state ninth behind Maine, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Illinois, Hawaii, Tennessee, New Jersey and Virginia.

The group did not score Maryland because it said it had insufficient data there.

Locally, Mercy Hospital downtown ranked highest with a "B."

Bakersfield Heart Hospital, Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, Mercy Southwest Hospital and San Joaquin Community Hospital all got "C's."

To read more about the safety scores, visit www.hospitalsafetyscore.org.


Telling youngsters what they should eat is more effective in the fight against childhood obesity than telling them what they shouldn't , according to researchers at UC Davis.

A nutrition program they developed reduced the percentage of overweight or obese children from 56 percent to 38 percent over the course of a single academic year.

Four elementary schools in two California school districts participated in the study.

The "Shaping Healthy Choices Program," which meets Common Core educational standards, is a curriculum that integrates classroom nutrition activities with physical activity and gardening.

In a randomized control study, the researchers found that fourth-graders who participated in the nutrition program ate substantially more vegetables and lowered their body mass index, a measure of body fat based on height and weight.


Here's a unique idea for a Mother's Day gift.

Invite tu mamá to the Go Red Por Tu Corazón: Luncheon and Bilingual Heart Health Conference, sponsored by the American Heart Association.

It's part of the health care advocacy group's campaign to educate Latinas about heart disease, which annually kills more American women than all cancers combined.

The event includes shopping, healthy cooking, Zumba, fashion, and heart health information. It's 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the Four Points Sheraton, 5101 California Ave.

Tickets are $40. For information, call 327-1173.


Average annual growth in per capita personal health care spending for the elderly was 4.1 percent from 2002 to 2010, the lowest among any other age groups studied, according to a report by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Office of the Actuary released Monday and published in the journal Health Affairs.

Personal health care costs consist of all the medical goods and services used to treat or prevent a specific disease or condition in a specific person.

Growth in spending among groups over this time period varied, especially during the recent recession. For instance, in 2008--10 the largest difference in average spending growth between males and females was for people in the workforce (age 19-64). In this period, per capita spending growth for this group was 4 percent for men but 2.6 percent for women.

A 3.7 percent decline in the birth rate during those years may be one of the causes. Growth in spending for females ages 19--44 slowed as they spent relatively less on maternity care.


As summer draws near, the state of California is reminding people to be vigilant around pools and bodies of water to prevent drowning accidents.

Drowning is the leading cause of death for children, causing about 60 fatalities a year in California over the last five years.

The California Department of Developmental Services serves 737 survivors of near drowning accidents who have suffered brain damage and disabilities as a result.