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Medical bills for border wall injuries

 October 6, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, October 6th.

C-B-P is increasingly leaving California with the bill for border wall injuries.

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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An Oceanside man pleaded guilty yesterday to threatening to kill Senator Chuck Schumer in a voicemail message.

The profane message was left on the voicemail for SCHUMER'S WASHINGTON, D.C. OFFICE EARLIER THIS YEAR.

Johnathan Ryan McGuire is expected to be sentenced in January and faces up to 5 years in prison.

An AFFIDAVIT from an FBI agent ALSO ALLEGES THAT BETWEEN 2019 AND 2021 U.S. CAPITOL POLICE HAVE DOCUMENTED NUMEROUS THREATS BY MCGUIRE TO VARIOUS MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND A Capitol Police OFFICER.

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For the first time in 12 years, San Diego County has a new top crop.

The category of “Bedding Plants, Color & Perennials, Cacti & Succulents'' surpassed the ornamental trees and shrubs category in the 20-21 crop report.

The report was released yesterday and also found that the county’s agricultural value decreased to 1-point-7-billion-dollars in 20-21

That’s about 3 percent less than the previous year.

Avocados are one of San Diego’s staple crops.

But, last year was the first time their value was less than 100 million dollars since the crop report started in 19-96.

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K. Barry Sharpless from Scripps Research in La Jolla has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

for the development of a technique called click chemistry.

He won the award along with two other researchers.

SHARPLESS COINED THE CONCEPT OF CLICK CHEMISTRY AROUND 2000.

IT’s A FORM OF SIMPLE AND RELIABLE CHEMISTRY THAT RESULTs IN REACTIONS that OCCUR QUICKLY AND EFFICIENTLY.

It’s the second time Sharpless has won a Nobel Prize.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

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The number of migrants hospitalized after falling from the border wall is at a record high.

But who picks up the bill when they leave the hospital?

It used to be Customs and Border Protection.

KPBS Border reporter Gustavo Solis followed the money and found that is increasingly not the case.

Former President Donald Trump didn’t deliver on his 2016 campaign promise to build a new wall covering the entirety of the U.S./Mexico border. But his administration did succeed in doubling the height of some existing portions of the border wall. And though there is little evidence that the higher wall has slowed illegal border crossings, it has caused a big spike in serious injuries to people who’ve fallen off the 30-foot wall. UCSD Health received 270 border fall patients last year, 200 more than in 2019, when the wall was at a lower height. The hospital is already on pace to get more than 300 this year. Doctor Jay Doucet is head of UCSD’s  trauma unit. He says they’re getting so many patients from Customs and Border Protection, or CBP,  that the hospital now has a special section for them. “We had to open up another ward just to deal with the surge from the border wall.” Many of those patients require lengthy stays in the ICU and multiple surgeries to repair broken bones. This reality is putting pressure on hospital resources. “As the length of stay goes up and the more surgeries that are required, the more expensive things are as well.” But who is responsible for picking up the bill? That’s where things get murky. CBP is responsible for the medical expenses if the patient is in their custody when they’re discharged from the hospital. And that was usually the case as recently as 2019 and 2020. Data from UCSD shows CBP paid for roughly 75% of the patients their agents brought into the hospital in 2019 and 80% in 2020. But staff at the trauma unit saw a shift in 2021. “Well now we noticed that they’re not sticking around as much.” Doucet is referring to the CBP agents. Beginning in 2021, CBP began keeping far fewer patients in custody. Instead, the agents were increasingly giving them a notice to appear in immigration court and walking away. This change in approach coincided with a new California law that extended health benefits under the state’s taxpayer-funded MediCal program to undocumented immigrants. Doucet says that by releasing the patients from custody, CBP is essentially handing their hospital bills over to California, which pays them with a mix of state and federal funds. CBP’s own data backs up Doucet’s claim. In the San Diego Sector, the federal agency covered the medical expenses of roughly 3,000 patients in fiscal year 2019-2020. That number dropped to only 550 during the first ten months of the current fiscal year. Meanwhile, the average cost per patient has quadrupled. From $1,500 in fiscal year 2019-2020 to $5,500 in fiscal year 2020-2021. CBP officials would not comment specifically on their new approach, instead issuing a statement confirming that patients who are not kept in custody receive notice to appear in immigration court. Meanwhile, the practice is drawing criticism from both sides of the immigration debate. Hans von Spakovsky is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. He’s an outspoken critic of CBP’s so-called “Catch and Release” policy – where border patrol agents apprehend migrants who crossed the border illegally and then let them go with little more than the notice to appear in court. “In essence, they are saying we’re going to release you into the country and we’re just not going to worry about you anymore.” Von Spakovsky says there’s a significant risk that migrants will simply not show up to their immigration court hearings and continue to live in the country with no legal status. Pedro Rios is an immigrant rights activist with the American Friends Service Committee. He says the taller wall was built specifically to injure people and deter others from crossing illegally. The fact that CBP is not paying for many migrant patients is a sign that the federal government is not taking responsibility for the consequences of building the taller border wall. “In fact, they are leaving the rest of San Diego County, the rest of California to pay for the injuries that are caused as the result of poorly thought through enforcement plans such as a border wall that is causing these injuries.” Von Spakovsky sees this as a much larger trend in which local communities end up paying for the federal government’s border enforcement policies. “There are numerous studies that have been done on the costs of this kind of illegal immigration and all of those studies show that the vast majority of these costs are paid by local governments, not the federal government. And healthcare costs are one of the big factors.” He blames this on what he considers the Biden Administration’s lax enforcement policies. Gustavo Solis, KPBS News

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San Diego residents hope the region’s air quality regulators help them control odors coming from a green fuel plant in Barrio Logan.

KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson has details.

Barrio Logan residents are gathering signatures in an attempt to force New Leaf Biodiesel to control the strong odors coming from their Newton Avenue plant.  The company turns used cooking oil into green diesel fuel.  The Environmental Health Coalition’s Nicholas Paul says the smell is so bad that it forces people to stay locked up in their homes. “22 senior residents with an average age of 75 years old.  Are experiencing and living in a situation where they can’t open their windows.”  New Leaf Biofuels officials say they are working with regulators to fix the problem. Barrio Logan is a neighborhood that has long struggled with environmental justice issues.  It is also one of the few city neighborhoods where industry and housing are so close together. Erik Anderson KPBS News

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Oceanside has a new clinic offering mental health care for active duty service members, veterans and their families.

The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic opened its doors on Wednesday.

Its purpose is to meet the increasing mental health needs of the military community.

Marine Corps Colonel Daniel M. Whitley says that investment is vital.

“Having access to high quality and timely care specifically mental health care is critical to what we do for the nation. Not just for the service members but also for their families.”

Clinic founders chose Oceanside because of its proximity to Camp Pendleton and the impact 9/11 left on the community.

The Oceanside site is the second Cohen Clinic in California. There’s one in Mission Valley. A third location is set to open in Los Angeles by the end of the year.

Dr. Anthony Hassan is the president of Cohen Veterans Network.

His organization’s mission is to reduce veteran suicides… and increase care for service members.

“Many of our families can't afford to pay two and three hundred dollars a session so they can come here to this clinic   and get care with no barriers. If you can't afford it, we’ll figure it out. 

The clinic will offer therapy for a variety of mental health challenges including PTSD, grief and family issues.

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Coming up.... A new museum and cultural center is opening in Chicano Park this weekend. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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Even shift workers who may be active at all hours are best off when they eat only within a ten-hour window.

KPBS Science and Technology reporter Thomas Fudge has more on a study of San Diego firefighters, done by U-C-S-D and the Salk Institute.

San Diego battalion chief David Picone has been a firefighter for 25 years. He said if you believe that people who work at all hours should eat at all hours, the study proved that is not true. “You feel like, maybe I need to eat something to have more energy. And what the study showed is that it’s completely opposite. You actually get tireder and less healthy by eating at those odd hours.” Time restricted eating often means only eating within a 10 hour window each day. That’s what 137 San Diego firefighters did. It led to reductions in both blood pressure and in blood sugar levels. Study co-author and UC San Diego medical professor Pam Taub said restricted eating also reduced a bad cholesterol called VLDL. “Shift work isn’t going away, It’s a really important part of society. It’s what keeps so many things functioning well. So within the confines of shift work, we need to come up with better strategies to optimize the health of our shift workers, and that includes time restricted eating.” Chief Picone said, for now, he hopes they are getting the word out to the firefighting community that this is something that can help. SOQ. 

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The San Diego Padres are on their way to the postseason!

Fans are excited the team came through … even without superstar Fernando Tatis Junior.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says many are hoping for a long playoff run, and potential championship for a town that's had a tough time with professional sports.

For the second time in the last 16 Major League Baseball seasons, the San Diego Padres are going to the playoffs. Starting Friday they’ll play a best-of-three wildcard series against the New York Mets. Ahead of the final game of the regular season, fans like Chula Vista’s Nick Meraz (May-RAHZ) were excited for the postseason. “Honestly it means the world to me, because all my friends, we like the Padres… When we heard that they clinched and all that, in school we started to go “aaaaah!!!!!” … it was awesome.” If the Padres can win two games against the Mets in New York … they’ll go on to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the best-of-five National League Division Series starting Oct. 11. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

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After years of planning and anticipation from the community, The Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center will host its grand opening this weekend.

The new center represents the completion of a years-long vision… after the San Diego city council granted a 20-year lease for the property in 2018.

Josie Tala-montez is a historian, co-founder of Chicano Park and member of the Chicano Park Steering Committee.

She joined KPBS’s Jade Hindmon with more on the museum’s opening.

When you last spoke on the show the lease for this property had just been granted. What’s it like to see the vision for this center finally come to fruition?

Going back to 2018, the city council vote to grant the lease for this museum was unanimously in favor. Do you feel like the city, as a whole, is behind efforts to commemorate the history and culture of Chicano Park and Barrio Logan?

What does this museum mean for the residents of Barrio Logan to have this museum in the community?

Can you tell us a bit about how this center will highlight the history of Chicano Park, as well as the broader history of Latino culture in Barrio Logan as well?

So what are some of the upcoming exhibits visitors can expect?

TAG: That was Chicano Park co founder Josie Tala-montez, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon.

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That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

The number of migrants hospitalized after falling from the border wall is at a record high, but who picks up the hospital bill? In other news, Oceanside has a new clinic offering mental health care for active duty service members, veterans and their families. Plus, we hear about how The Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center came to fruition.