El Centro, Calif. – February 10, 2016 – El Centro Regional Medical Center announced today that effective immediately the hospital is taking steps to prevent the spread of flu to its patients by restricting visitation to one (1) family member per patient and no one under the age of 16. ECRMC is also asking visitors with a cold, cough, or fever not to visit patients or accompany them to visits at the clinics.

“For the safety of patients and staff, ECRMC is restricting visitors, however individuals who need medical attention for flu-like symptoms should continue to seek care from ECRMC or its outpatient clinics located in El Centro and Calexico,” said Oscar Garcia, chief nursing officer at ECRMC.

To reduce the risk to uninfected patients, ECRMC has implemented the following visitor restrictions and other safeguards:

  • People with flu-like symptoms, or under the age of 16, should not visit loved ones who are hospitalized at ECRMC.
  • People with flu-like symptoms should not come to their loved ones’ outpatient appointments at ECRMC clinics, or come with them to the emergency room, if at all possible.
  • Anyone with flu-like symptoms – whether they are a patient or a visitor who absolutely needs to come – must wear a mask while they are at any ECRMC facility. Masks are available at entrance desks.
  • Exceptions to these restrictions can be granted by the patient’s care team.
  • ECRMC staff that have contact with patients must either have been vaccinated against the flu, or must wear a mask when they are with patients.

Sacramento, CA… State Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), today introduced a bill that would eliminate the sunset date of January 1st, 2018 for the pilot program Increased Access to Responsible Small Dollar Loans and make it permanent for Californians.  Senate Bill 984 will continue to increase the availability of responsible small dollar installment loans of at least $300 but less than $2,500.

“According to the Consumer Protection Bureau, forty-five million Americans have low or no credit history,” stated Senator Hueso.  “Unlike other loan products for individuals with low or no credit, this program provides the opportunity for individuals to build or reestablish their credit because lenders are required to report their activities to credit bureaus. This gives customers the opportunity to eventually have access to more traditional forms of credit like bank loans and credit cards.”

In 2011, the California Legislature created a pilot program which was intended to increase the availability of installment loans on terms that were more affordable to borrowers and would help them build or reestablish their credit scores.  Until this program came to place, many Californians with low or no credit only had access to high cost loans with triple digit interest rates and with no ability to build credit to access lower interest loans.

“The program provides individuals who do not have other viable options for credit access to affordable capital,” stated Luis Alejo, Chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus and Principal Co-Author of the bill. “With over half a billion dollars loaned in four years, this program has proven to be a success. Consumers certainly benefit when they have access to a wider range of lending options.”

In the last four years, the Department of Business Oversight, which oversees the program, has reported that repeat customers of the pilot program have seen their credit increase an average of 355 points.   Making the Increased Access to Small Dollar Loans program permanent will encourage more lenders to participate in providing these loans and give comfort to existing companies to expand, enhancing low income Californian’s access to affordable credit.


ALADDIN Performance

Join Aladdin as he ventures into a swirling sandstorm of famous Arabian Tales from Ali Baba to Scheherazade and even Sinbad the Sailor when the Missoula Children’s Theatre and more than 40 local students perform an original musical adaptation, ALADDIN.

The local cast features Holtville Unified School District G.A.T.E.-Honors and Freedom Academy of Imperial Valley students. Eduardo Reyes assumes the role of Aladdin and Cambria Day is his Mother. Audrey Abatti as Princess Dory and Kayla Morgan as her father, the Sultan. The Sultan’s  adviser, the Grand Vizier, is played by Jared Garewal. Abigail Garewal and Yazmin Ornelas are the Keeper of the Book of Answers, Dinazade, and her sister, Scheherazade. Joseph Magallanes as The Mysterious One and Kenlee Merten, Paityn Hoff, and Jose Ornelas as the mischievous Genies. A stubborn Donkey and spunky Goat are played by Lauren Ripley and Julie Lopez. Scheming Cassim and Ali Baba played by Arianna Venegas and Jeshua Garcia. Sinbad,  Dorian Maize, and his Sailors played by Angela Loya, Sophia Irungaray, Gabrielle McDonald, Macy Birdsall, Ruby Castro, Lilllie Strahm, and Clara Strahm. Wise-cracking Palm Trees played by Jasmine Garewal and Nicholas Singh as fleet footed Camels. The Cave of Wonders are played by Vanessa Gonzalez, Gianna Irungaray, Francisco Morales, and Delyse Avina. Vagabonds are played by Blaze Vessey, Brett Terrill, Landon Kellum, Luis Gonzalez, Zuhey Luna, Vanessa Ruiz, Jeremiah Underwood, and Alexandra Kaufman. A pack of lost Penguins are played by Demi Mange, Drew Kellum, Mallory Kellum, Andrew Garewal, and Jared Avina.

ALADDIN will be presented on February 12, 2016, at 6:30 p.m. at the Finley School Auditorium. Tickets are $5 and limited at the door. DOORS OPEN AT 6:00 p.m.

The Missoula Children’s Theatre residency in Holtville is brought to you by the Holtville Unified School District G.A.T.E.-Honors Program and Freedom Academy of the Imperial Valley. For more information, call Shannon Lehman or Marci Mange at (760) 356-2974.


Important: Presenters subsidized by local, state, and national arts agencies, as well as corporations and individual sponsors should list information as requested by the funders.


Sacramento, CA… Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee, today commended the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for making meaningful progress on reforms since he and his fellow Committee members held oversight hearings in 2015 to examine the agency’s operations. The CPUC is responsible for regulating California’s private for-profit water, phone, electric, and gas utilities – including San Diego Gas and Electric – as well as various transportation service providers. Current CPUC President Michael Picker took over as head of the agency in January of 2015.

“President Picker came in front of our Committee last year and said he was committed to turning things around at the CPUC,” said Senator Hueso. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but I am pleased with progress made to date. Many of the reforms implemented by the Commission over the course of the last year were in direct response to criticism leveled by our Committee members. It is gratifying to see an agency take such criticism to heart and follow through with meaningful change.”

Among the important reform measures the CPUC enacted in 2015, Senator Hueso noted the creation of an Internal Audit Unit, greater Commissioner engagement in administrative oversight, the development of an organization-wide strategic plan, and a new regulatory compliance tracking database. According to the CPUC’s new Annual Report released today, the Commission in 2015 adopted 584 formal decisions on energy, water, safety, telecommunications, and transportation matters, and held 307 days of evidentiary hearings to gather factual evidence from parties to proceedings, as well as input from the public.

“What is important now is to keep the momentum going,” said Senator Hueso. “Senator Leno and I have co-authored SB 215 this year, which would strengthen CPUC oversight and accountability by overhauling rules governing communications between the agency and the companies it regulates. We hope to work with the Commission, the Governor, and all interested stakeholders to make our bill as strong as it can be.”

SB 215 is a follow-up measure to SB 660, which was vetoed by Governor Brown last year, and has been revised to address several of the points in the Governor’s veto message. SB 215 was unanimously approved by the State Senate last Tuesday, January 26th, and is currently pending referral to a policy committee in the State Assembly.

“The goal is to have a CPUC that we can trust to fulfill its mission, which is to ensure safe and reliable service at just and reasonable rates,” Hueso added. “We need the Commission to succeed in order for California to succeed. The Legislature, the Governor, and the CPUC must be partners to ensure we improve the agency’s performance, protect Californians from harm and implement groundbreaking policies, especially the aggressive renewable energy and energy efficiency goals enacted last year by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León’s SB 350.”

The Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee will hold a follow-up hearing this spring to further examine recent CPUC reforms and help orient the Commission toward improved operations in the year ahead. The Committee will give special attention to what role the CPUC can play in helping prevent future gas leaks like the one at SoCalGas’s Aliso Canyon storage facility in Porter Ranch.


“The Design-build process acts as a single entity and is responsible from the budgeting to the design and construction portion,” stated Senator Hueso.  “In today’s cost conscious construction industry, this method is a win-win for all of those involved as the Design-Build team has the same goal and takes full responsibility to complete a project in a timely and efficient manner.  Authorizing hospitals to utilize this method will cost less; projects will be produced faster and will help many families take advantage of the hospitals facilities earlier.”

Under the design-build methods, a single contract covers the design and construction of a project with a single company that acts as both the project designer and builder.  The design-build entity arranges all architectural, engineering and construction services and is also responsible for delivering the project at a guaranteed price and schedule.

“California Healthcare Districts are working to expand access to critical health care services to meet community needs,” said Ken Cohen, Executive Director of the Association of California Healthcare Districts. “Design-build authority gives Districts an important tool to develop hospital and clinic infrastructure efficiently and effectively. We greatly appreciate Senator Hueso’s leadership in helping Healthcare Districts prepare for the future of health care delivery.

“SB 957 provides healthcare districts with the ability to utilize an efficient and cost-saving project delivery method that ensures a highly skilled and trained workforce, most likely made up of California residents, will build these hospital and clinic facility projects,” said Robbie Hunter, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council. “We look forward to working with Senator Hueso and the Association of California Healthcare Districts on this legislation that will improve the quality and access to healthcare facilities for California residents.”

The bill is co-sponsored by the Association of Healthcare Districts and the California Building Trades Council. SB 957 is also co-authored by Senators Jerry Hill and Lois Wolk.

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