On Friday, Kern Medical unveiled its new approach to combating Valley Fever in Kern County. Plans were unveiled for an expansion of the clinical space used for Valley Fever patients at the hospital.
“This indeed is a momentous day,” exclaimed Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh.
Valley Fever is a respiratory infection. Last year it claimed nine lives in Kern County.
Valley fever spores are found in dirt and once the soil is disturbed they’re released into the air. The infection is most common in the Central Valley due to our dry, hot climate.
“It impacted my life for about a year and I have a scar in my lung,” said Paula Einstein, Valley Fever awareness advocate.
Einstein suffered from Valley Fever as a child, thankfully her father knew the warning signs.
“He noticed it right off, could’ve been a real difference in my life if he hadn’t,” said Einstein.
Her father, Doctor Hans Einstein, a pioneer in Valley Fever research and the founder of the study group that has now grown to be the Valley Fever Institute.
“The Valley Fever Institute has been made possible because of valley people fervor,” said Goh. “It’s been the fervor of people like Doctor Hans Einstein.”
Assemblyman Rudy Salas, Senator Jean Fuller and Assemblyman Vince Fong helped secure $3 million in this year’s state budget for the institute.
“We’ve never had the means to reach out to outside of our local environment, so now with this institute we are able to reach out to other communities in the northern part, southern part in the central part that also suffer from valley fever,” said Doctor Augustine Muñoz, pulmonary specialist.
They have a three-fold plan to invest in the institute: first; research, then; awareness and education, and third; treating battling Valley Fever.
“Our goal is to make the community more healthy,” said Russell Judd, Kern Medical CEO. “To do something that significantly impacts the effects of this disease and hopefully we prevent it, but if someone suffers from it we want to provide the very best care possible.”
Kern Medical estimates the institute to be up and running spring of 2019.