On Monday, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced the soft launch of the Convenient Care Initiative in Bakersfield. This pilot program, initiated as part of the Veterans Choice Program, allows veterans receiving their healthcare from the VA to access local walk-in urgent care clinics for minor medical issues if they cannot be seen by a local VA clinic in a timely manner.

Previously, veterans had to wait until their local VA clinic could schedule an appointment, travel to Los Angeles for care or wait indefinite amounts of time until they could be seen by a non-VA healthcare provider through the Choice program. With this pilot program, veterans will be able to fulfill most of their basic healthcare needs without having to leave their local communities, allowing them the option to use walk-in clinics after-hours, on weekends, or if the local VA clinic is booked.

As part of the soft launch, veterans in Bakersfield may receive healthcare benefits at a number of newly accessible facilities. As of the launch date, five facilities in Bakersfield began accepting veteran referrals through this program.

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Kern County Agricultural Commissioner Glenn Fankhauser announced that 12:01 a.m. April 15 is the date establishing 75-percent petal fall on the north side of citrus trees for all citrus groves south of 7th Standard Road.

This announcement is to serve as a signal to the bee industry that the use of pesticides that are toxic to honeybees may be used on or after Tuesday without notification to the beekeeper. The announcement of petal fall lifts the restrictions of applications to citrus groves with materials toxic to honeybees. This will allow the citrus grower to apply the necessary pesticides to protect their crop from insect pests.

In order to comply with regulations, Fankhauser wants to remind the citrus industry that Carbaryl (Sevin) cannot be applied to citrus until there has been complete petal fall in the citrus grove. All citrus growers, pest control operators, and beekeepers are reminded that they must comply with the regulations covering bee protection. 

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To recognize National Donate Life Month, Dignity Health Hospitals of Bakersfield will promote donation by flying or displaying "Donate Life" flags in honor of organ, eye and tissue donors.

The flag-raising ceremonies take place Tuesday. The Mercy Southwest Campus hosts its ceremony at 8:30 a.m. by the flagpole. The Mercy Downtown Campus will raise its flag at 10:30 a.m. at its flagpole and Memorial Hospital will hold its ceremony at 2:30 p.m. in the Children's Healing Hospital.

Each ceremony will begin with prayer and reflection, a donor family will be present to share their story and the "Donate Life" flag will be raised by local EMS staff.

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